SPORT THE WEEK AHEAD: MAIN EVENTS

TODAY

Football: Local rivals Coventry and Aston Villa meet at Highfield Road tonight, and both clubs could do with the three points. Gordon Strachan's side have performed well at home recently and should perform well against travel-sick Villa, who have so far failed to replicate the form they displayed early last season.

Tennis: The first day of the ATP Tour World Championships in Hanover, Germany. Disappointingly, both Greg Rusedski and Tim Henman have missed out on the chance to take part in this lucrative tournament, both Britons finishing the year outside even the top 10.

TOMORROW

Football: After a short break, the Champions' League is back this week. Manchester United need to improve in Europe if they are to repeat last year's success, but Sir Alex Ferguson's side should see off Fiorentina, who have not been playing well in Serie A recently.

WEDNESDAY

Football: More European football tonight, as Chelsea face Feyenoord at Stamford Bridge. Much like Fiorentina, Chelsea have so far underperformed in domestic competition, although Gianluca Vialli's men will probably be too strong for the Dutch. Feyenoord are unbeaten in the Champions' League,having drawn five of their six group games.

Sports Book of the Year Award: Sponsored by William Hill, the shortlist of five includes two books about Muhammad Ali, but not Sir Alex Ferguson's autobiography. The winning author will be announced at Sportspages Bookshop in London, and will walk away with pounds 7,500 cash and a free pounds 1,000 bet from William Hill.

THURSDAY

Cricket: England meet South Africa in Johannesburg for the first of five Tests. The hosts will be keen to redress the balance for their narrow defeat in England last year, as well as their ignominious exit from the World Cup. England, however, have been steadily improving since an embarrassing start to the tour, and Mark Butcher and Michael Atherton seem to be finding better form. Expect a blood-and-guts affair, and watch for a revival of the Atherton/Donald confrontation.

SATURDAY

Football: In the Premiership this weekend, Sunderland travel to Vicarage Road to face fellow promotees Watford. Since August, Graham Taylor's side have had a far rougher ride than Peter Reid's, but the Hornets have still managed to sting some big clubs this season. Meanwhile, Derby County are desperately looking for points, but already this month they have had to face Liverpool and Manchester United, and today they take a trip to Highbury. The fixture list has not been kind to Jim Smith - next week, Derby play Leeds.

Racing: Plenty of action today, including the Hennessy Gold Cup from Newbury, in which the Martin Pipe-trained Hanakham may well start as favourite after an impressive return at Cheltenham.

SUNDAY

Football: More Premiership football, from Stamford Bridge. Neither Chelsea nor Bradford City have so far had the results they would have liked this season. Chelsea seem to be distracted by European competition, despite Vialli's insistence to the contrary. Bradford, meanwhile, are winning respect but few points. On paper the teams are a league apart, but don't rule out an upset.

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