The sporting week ahead (23/10/11)


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The Independent Online


If New Zealand fail to beat France the Land of the Long White Cloud will turn several ugly shades of grey. Defeat has never been an option for the hosts and France hardly look equipped to deliver the sort of thunderbolt which this tournament has lacked up to now. In football, you won't get too many takers against the bet that whoever emerges as top team in Manchester will win the Premier League. And, by the time the smoke clears on today's Manchester derby, we might be a bit clearer as to where the title is going. A win for City would put them five points clear of their great rivals – the sort of gap even Sir Alex Ferguson will struggle to cover up. West London also hosts a derby, QPR against Chelsea, which will mean just as much for those around Loftus Road. Wembley hosts the annual NFL showpiece, this time between Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while England's cricketers move on to Mumbai for round four of an unnecessary series against India.


Brighton's attendances have rocketed this season in their new stadium, which should have the "House Full" signs out again for the visit of West Ham. The Hammers hope last week's defeat by Southampton was a blip not a portent.


The last time Aldershot played Manchester United, in 1970, they led before going on to lose 3-1. Something similar in the Carling Cup should keep everyone going for the next 41 years.


Stoke have already beaten Liverpool at the Britannia this season and will fancy another crack at them in the Carling Cup, a competition Kenny Dalglish clearly has designs on winning. Chelsea might also be caught out if they play too weak a team at Everton.


Tom Lewis, a winner this month in Portugal in only his third tournament as a pro, may once again be the one to watch at golf's Andalucia Masters.


Practice starts for the first Indian F1 Grand Prix, a race where Bollywood glitterati, Lady Gaga and Indian cricket's superstars will be dodging in between the cars.


No lazing all day in bed if you want to catch the best of the football action. High noon means Everton v Manchester United, which usually matches expectations, and 45 minutes later it's Chelsea v Arsenal.