Ahead of another awesome weekend of sporting action, we point you in the direction of three must-see events taking place over the next couple of days…
The weekend’s headline Premier League clash sees Arsenal welcome Chelsea to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon for what promises to be a cracking London derby.
The Gunners head into the upcoming round of fixtures top of the table on goal difference from this season’s surprise package Leicester City, with Manchester City a further point behind.
Most fans and experts would have expected defending champions Chelsea to also be in the running for another tilt at the title at this stage of the season, but the Blues head across the capital in need of points for a rather more unexpected reason, currently languishing in 14th place just four points above the dreaded drop-zone.
Going into the game Arsene Wenger is expected to have key men Mezut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez back from injury and available for selection as his side continues its hunt for a first league crown since the 2003-04 campaign. Will Chelsea, now managed by Guus Hiddink rather than Wenger’s old nemesis Jose Mourinho, be able to throw a spanner in the works and repeat their 2-0 victory from earlier in the season at Stamford Bridge?
Arsenal fans will surely be hoping for something similar to this fantastic football match from years gone by…
It’s definitely a super Sunday in the United States as the NFL post-season reaches the Conference Championship stage – the final four teams now just one more victory away from a trip to Super Bowl 50 in a fortnight’s time.
The early game sees defending champions the New England Patriots travel to the ‘Mile High City’ to tackle the AFC top-seed Denver Broncos. As if there wasn’t enough riding on this mouth-watering contest already, we also have the small matter of whether this will be the final time future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning face-off against each other.
While the Patriots’ Brady seems to get better and better with age, Manning has struggled badly with injury and fading arm strength, leading many pundits to speculate he will retire at the end of the season. With four Super Bowl rings (plus three MVP awards) to his name already, few would bet against ‘Tom Terrific’ once again overcoming Manning, who despite a glittering career has tended to falter in the play-offs, even when in his prime.
Over in the NFC, quarterback Cam Newton will attempt to lead the Carolina Panthers to his first Super Bowl when they host the Arizona Cardinals. After posting a league-best 15-1 regular season record, the Panthers should be brimming with confidence having eliminated the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional round last week, although they did let the visitors reduce a first-half 31-0 deficit to a seven-point ballgame by the end.
The Cardinals head into the clash buoyed by a topsy-turvy 26-20 overtime victory at home to the Green Bay Packers, a game described by many as one of the best in NFL playoff history.
This weekend also sees the final round of pool matches in rugby union’s equivalent of the Champions League.
While Saracens, Racing 92, and Leicester Tigers can relax having already secured their places in April’s quarter-finals, the battle is on to see which teams will join them in the knock-out stages, with the five pool winners and best three runners-up set to progress.
On Sunday, Pool 2 looks as if it’ll go down to the wire with the four teams separated by just five points. Welsh region the Ospreys are currently top on 16 points but face a testing trip to Exeter, while home advantage looks to favour perennial Euro Cup challengers Clermont Auvergne, who lie second on 14 points, ahead of a hosting fellow French outfit Bordeaux.
Pool 5 is also shaping up for a tight finish with Toulon just a point ahead of Wasps before travelling to Bath for their final match on Saturday. Wasps will be hoping any French slip-up leaves the door open for them, presuming they take care of struggling Irish opponent Leinster at the Ricoh Arena.
We’re guaranteed to get some fantastic rugby action. To whet the appetite, here’s a behind the scenes look at last year’s final when Toulon overcame Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham…
What sporting highlights are you looking forward to this weekend? The continuation of the Australian Open tennis? Golf’s Abu Dhabi Championship? We’d love to hear your thoughts and predictions in the comments below…