The sporting week ahead (24/02/13)

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The Independent Online


When Capital One wrote their sponsorship cheque to take over the old League Cup, they probably had visions of a final between Manchester United and Chelsea or, at a pinch, Arsenal. Instead we have been blessed, and that really is the word, with a proper football occasion. Not the Capital One Cup so much as the Capital Fun Cup as Bradford and Swansea fight their way through the balloons and the ballyhoo at Wembley. More prosaically, the Premier League rolls on with Manchester City against Chelsea and Newcastle versus Southampton. In rugby union's Six Nations Declan Kidney's revamped Ireland team travel to Scotland, traditionally one of their least favourite opponents, while the World Track Cycling Championships conclude in Minsk.


Given that West Ham are hoping to move into the Olympic Stadium, you'd think they would be able to sell out Upton Park for the visit of neighbours Tottenham. But, judging by recent newspaper adverts they have been struggling, which begs a few questions about the sort of crowds they will attract assuming they do get the final go-ahead to move into their new home.


On paper, Oldham Athletic's FA Cup heroics should end with tonight's fifth-round replay at Everton. But a quick call to Brendan Rodgers across the park will make clear that nothing can be assumed.


Sixteen years ago, Middlesbrough and Chelsea played out one of the most boring FA Cup finals in history, so let's hope for a little more excitement from this delayed fifth-round tie. Meanwhile in New Zealand, England's cricketers turn their attention to the Test series with a three-day warm-up game against a New Zealand XI in Queenstown.


In golf, the rich and the even richer gather for the Honda Classic in Florida.


UK Athletics' new head coach, Peter Eriksson, has his first important test at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg. Dwain Chambers leads the charge in the 60m.


Manchester United's canter to the Premier League title continues with what looks like a comfortable home game against Norwich while, at the other end of the table, Queens Park Rangers know they must start winning to stay anywhere near contention to avoid the drop. Three points today at Southampton would at least be a start.