The sporting week ahead (28/04/13)

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The Independent Online


Arsenal will provide Manchester United players with a guard of honour today, and wouldn't it be typical of Sir Alex Ferguson to treat the Emirates to Robin van Persie plus a shadow side just to ram the point home? And if he does, will Arsène Wenger clap along with the rest of his players? Down the M4 there aren't likely to be too many cheers no matter who wins between Reading and Queens Park Rangers because both teams are surely doomed to relegation. For Chelsea, victory over Swansea is a must.

In rugby union, Saracens bid to reach their first Heineken Cup final by seeing off Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon, which might sound like a step too far to some.


When Paolo Di Canio was appointed Sunderland manager he must have ringed today's encounter with Aston Villa as a must-win game to avoid relegation. But such has been his impact that the Black Cats now peer down at the drop zone. They might even get away with losing this, which is not something you can say of Villa.


Lost Cause Part One: Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund. If Jose Mourinho can conjure up a 3-0 win and take the tie on away goals he should surely be renamed the Exceptional One.


Lost Cause Part Two: Barcelona v Bayern Munich. Sorry, there's just no way back from 4-0 down.


There is starting to be a sense of déjà vu about Chelsea's season: manager gets sacked, replacement gets them to European final. Rafa Benitez will be hoping to emulate Roberto Di Matteo by disposing of Basle in today's Europa League semi-final second leg.


If Graeme Smith is ever going to score any runs for Surrey, this game against Middlesex – which began yesterday – would be a good time to start.


A fairly lacklustre Premier League programme means that Sir Bradley Wiggins may hog the spotlight when he begins his challenge in the Giro d'Italia. Wiggins has come to mean summer in most people's minds, so welcome back... to both of you. In cricket the first tourists, New Zealand, open up at Derbyshire.