This Week in Sport: 16th – 22nd December 2019

Another unmissable week in the sporting calendar lies ahead, starting with a meeting between two heavyweights of the NFL as the New Orleans Saints welcome the Indianapolis Colts to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Tuesday brings us a huge Carabao Cup clash between Aston Villa and Liverpool as the Premier League sides compete for a place in the Semifinals. This week’s NBA action is headlined by a showpiece affair on Wednesday as the Philadelphia 76ers take to the court with the Miami Heat with the two sides tussling for top spot in the Eastern Conference. There is a winner-takes-all Test match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, when the visitors will be looking to avenge their early-season defeat to the Oilers. The weekend’s action is defined by two pivotal fixtures in the Premier League, with Manchester City taking on Leicester City on Saturday, before Tottenham welcome London rivals Chelsea to N17 on Sunday for what could be a defining match in the race for Champions League football.

Monday 16th December 1:15AM GMT (Tuesday 17th) – American Football: New Orleans Saints v Indianapolis Colts

In the NFL, the New Orleans Saints host the Indianapolis Colts at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

The New Orleans Saints will be eying their 11th win of the campaign as they do battle with the Colts on home turf. The hosts were involved in a thriller last time out, losing narrowly to San Francisco as the Saints suffered just their third defeat of the season. This week’s assignment sees Sean Payton’s side do battle with a struggling Colts outfit who have just six wins to their name this term, a return which sees them currently reside in third place in the AFC South. Another loss for Indianapolis will all but seal their fate this season, whilst the Saints have already clinched the division and will be starting to prepare for their third straight postseason campaign.

Tuesday 17th December 7:45PM GMT – Football: Aston Villa v Liverpool

Aston Villa take on Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham in the Quarterfinals of the Carabao Cup.

Aston Villa will hope to capitalise on Liverpool’s hectic schedule to progress to their first Semi-final in this competition since 2013. With the Reds scheduled to compete in two different tournaments in the space of 24 hours, many expect Jürgen Klopp to ring the changes and field a second-string team, as the German prioritises Wednesday’s Semi-final in the Club World Cup. This presents the home team with a unique opportunity to topple the runaway Premier League leaders as Villa continue their hunt for a sixth League Cup title. However, the hosts have been winless in their last four outings, albeit facing four of the league’s top six sides in this stretch, and they will hope to put this poor run of form behind them in this potentially season-defining clash.

Wednesday 18th December 12:00AM GMT (Thursday 19th) – Basketball: Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat

In the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers host the Miami Heat at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.

Second plays third in the East on Wednesday as both Philadelphia and Miami look to keep tabs with Milwaukee, the conference leaders. The 76ers have been perfect on their home court this term, winning each of their 14 games at the Wells Fargo Center. This incredible form has propelled Philadelphia into second place in the Eastern standings, leaving them in good stead to be playing postseason basketball for a third straight season. This match sees two of the top defensive players in the game go head to head, with Ben Simmons, league leader in steals, taking on Jimmy Butler who sits second in that category. Don’t miss a minute of this show-stopping clash.

Thursday 19th December 5:00AM GMT – Cricket: Pakistan v Sri Lanka (1st Day, 2nd Test)

Pakistan and Sri Lanka begin the second Test of their two-Test series at the National Stadium in Karachi.

These two famous nations of the sport will take to the field once more on Thursday to battle out the 2nd Test of the series. Poor conditions heavily disrupted play during the initial Test which ended in a draw, setting up an important second match. Two of the top Test batsmen in the world will take to the crease this week as Dimuth Karunaratne of Sri Lanka and Pakistan’s Babar Azam look to showcase their skills on the highest stage. In the 1st Test, it was Azam who came out on top in the batting stakes, as he went for 102 not out from just 128 balls. Karunaratne will be out to out do him this time round as Sri Lanka seek a fruitful excursion to the southern coast of Pakistan.

Friday 20th December 2:00AM GMT (Saturday 21st) – Ice Hockey: Edmonton Oilers v Pittsburgh Penguins

In the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The Edmonton Oilers will look to defend their home rink on Friday as they welcome an in-form Pittsburgh Penguins side to Alberta. The Canadian outfit has struggled to gather any momentum in recent weeks, winning just one of their last six outings in the league. Despite the poor return from the team’s recent efforts, the one shining light for Edmonton continues to be centre Connor McDavid who has notched 20 goals already, and leads the league in points scored with 57 from 35 games. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh have had no trouble finding the net themselves, ranking as the sixth highest scorers this season. This game is hard to predict so sit back and enjoy the action.

Saturday 21st December 5:30PM GMT – Football: Manchester City v Leicester City

In a vital Premier League battle, Manchester City host Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

Manchester City and Leicester will look to keep their faint title hopes alive when the two sides meet in the north west on Saturday. Before a ball was kicked this term, the title race was dubbed as a two horse race between holders Manchester City and Liverpool, but it is Brendan Rodger’s Leicester who are currently Liverpool’s closest competitors. Pep Guardiola will be demanding an upturn in form, with his side having already lost four times this season. Their most recent defeat came on their last outing at the Etihad, as local rivals Man United ran out 2-1 winners, a result which all but ended City’s title aspirations. Leicester’s pursuit of a second title in five years was also dealt a blow in recent weeks, as Norwich put an end to the Foxes nine-game winning streak, earning a 1-1 draw at the King Power. Which side will grab the win on Saturday night and keep Liverpool in their sights?

Sunday 22nd December 4:30PM GMT – Football: Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea

Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea clash in a Premier League London derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

Tottenham and Chelsea will lock horns in north London on Sunday for what will surely be another fiery derby day between these bitter London rivals. Chelsea are clinging on to fourth spot by their fingernails, after seeing their 12 point lead over Spurs reduced to just three ahead of Sunday’s showdown. Frank Lampard’s side have mustered just one Premier League win from their last five outings, but a win on Sunday will go some way to redeeming their recent run of poor form. Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has had an instant impact since taking the reigns in N17, winning four of his first five league games in charge. The Portuguese will be desperate to get one over on his former employers and will hope to endear himself to the Tottenham faithful with a derby win this weekend.

Other sporting highlights from around the globe

Other sports highlights around the globe include the World Darts Championship, the showpiece of the PDC Tour, which continues all week long. There is also plenty more cricket to sink your teeth into, including the Final of the Mzansi Super League season as the Paarl Rocks face the Tshwane Spartans. Two of the best ODI teams in the world meet in Visakhapatnam and Cuttack this week as India host West Indies in the 2nd and 3rd ODI’s respectively. There is plenty of T20 action to enjoy as the Big Bash League returns for its ninth season. There is also an offering from the world of Equestrian sport as the London International Horse Show gets underway. Premier League action continues on Monday as Crystal Palace host Brighton and Manchester United will continue their quest to secure Champions League football as they meet Watford at Vicarage Road on Sunday. The Semifinals at the FIFA Club World Cup will play out as Flamengo battle with Al-Hilal and Monterrey meet Liverpool in Qatar before the winners meet in the final on Saturday. We have reached the Quarter-Final stage of the Carabao Cup, which will see Oxford take on Manchester City, Everton face Leicester and Manchester United entertain Colchester. In La Liga, El Clásico takes place between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Wednesday. The heavyweight clashes come thick and fast in the NBA this week, with the LA Clippers taking on the Houston Rockets and the Milwaukee Bucks facing the LA Lakers, before the Lakers return to action on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets. Meanwhile, the European Tour continues with an exciting event as the Australian PGA Championship gets underway. There are some great Rugby Union clashes this week, as Gloucester host Worcester and Saracens take to the Allianz Park field with the Bristol Bears in the Premiership, whilst Leinster host Ulster in Pro14 Rugby. The NCAA College Football season continues on Saturday as UAB meet Appalachian State in the New Orleans Bowl whilst Washington clash with Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. The American Football continues all weekend long, with the New England Patriots hosting the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers’ game against the LA Rams headlining the action in the NFL. Elsewhere in the National Football League, the Philadelphia Eagles will tussle with the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field, after the Tennessee Titans have done battle with the New Orleans Saints at Nissan Stadium.

A week of world class sport awaits. Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!

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Photos by New Orleans Saints, Aston Villa, Philadelphia 76ers, ICC Cricket, NHL, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspurs

Written and information correct on 15th December at 10pm GMT

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