The sporting week ahead (25/09/11)


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The Independent Online


Anyone thinking Scotland will breeze past Argentina in their crucial World Cup pool game should, in the words of the song, be sent homeward to think again. Scotland's win ratio stands at 33.33 per cent, but they will not take too much notice of that. Victory assures them a quarter-final shot, irrespective of next Saturday's meeting with England. Ireland, the team to watch, should ease past Russia. The cricket season draws to a close when England play West Indies in a Twenty20 at The Oval. Cricket junkies need not worry: England's winter begins two weeks hence with a one-dayer in India.


Namibia have hardly distinguished themselves at the World Cup and Wales should brush them off, so everything rests on their final group game against Fiji, who so embarrassed them in 2007. In the Premier League Norwich v Sunderland may not prove attractive enough to disrupt your evening plans.


Owen Hargreaves will have to watch Manchester City take on Bayern Munich, where he made his name, from the stands as he is not registered for the Champions League. Should make good viewing, though. Interest will also be high in CSKA's game with Internazionale, where their new manager, Claudio Ranieri, will be looking to make an instant impression.


No game at the Emirates can be classed as a home banker these days, but Arsène Wenger will probably expect to concede no more than three (we're talking a serious improvement here) against Olympiakos. Chelsea face a difficult test in Valencia.


London-based Irish could outnumber Tottenham supporters when Shamrock Rovers play at White Hart Lane in the Europa League. The craic will be mighty. Stoke, Birmingham, Fulham and Celtic are also in action.


Wales will be keeping a firm eye on South Africa v Samoa, hoping for a convincing Bok victory.


Scotland never need an excuse to get themselves up for a game against England but further incentive should come from a potential quarter-final against New Zealand awaiting the losers – should they still qualify. In football, the Merseyside derby is by a distance the pick of the day.