This Week in Sport: 1st – 7th February 2021

As we cautiously stagger into the new month, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic this week starting with a Monday NHL offering which will see the Washington Capitals meet the Boston Bruins at the Capital One Arena. Men's Tennis’ greatest talents will descend on Melbourne this week to represent their nations in the second annual ATP Cup. 

Two NBA teams tussling for position in the East lock horns on Wednesday as the Milwaukee Bucks entertain the Indiana Pacers. Tottenham and Chelsea will renew their rivalry in a fiery Premier League showdown on Thursday. Cricket fans across the globe are eagerly anticipating England’s 1st Test with India – the action gets underway on Friday. Meanwhile, England’s Rugby Union representation will kick-off their Six Nations campaign in a testing opening clash with Scotland. One of the sporting calendar’s showpiece events will bring the curtain down on this week in sport, as Super Bowl LV is contested in Tampa.

Monday 1st February 12:00AM GMT (Tuesday 2nd) – Ice Hockey: Washington Capitals v Boston Bruins 

Two East Division rivals meet in this unmissable NHL showdown – the action from Capital One Arena begins at 12:00AM GMT on Tuesday. 

The Washington Capitals will look to round off their six-game homestand with a fifth win from that stretch, as they welcome the Boston Bruins back to Capital One Arena. These two sides became well acquainted at the weekend, as Washington celebrated an OT win to retain top spot in the East Division. That win came courtesy of Alex Ovechkin, who marked his return to the rink with a winning goal in overtime in what was his first game back since being forced to quarantine last month. However, his return was almost marred by a Capitals capitulation, after the hosts allowed a three-goal lead to slip which forced the bonus period. In spite of that wobble, Washington remain undefeated in normal time this term, and look a real prospect to be involved come the business end of the season. 

Meanwhile, after winning four-straight games at TD Garden, Boston lost ground on the Division leaders as Washington handed them their first defeat in two weeks on Saturday. The Bruins now sit third in the highly competitive East Division, but could move to within one point of the leaders with victory on Monday night. Despite eventually succumbing to Ovechkin’s late strike at the weekend, Boston would have taken plenty of positives from their initial outing at Capital One Arena, not least the return of the prolific David Pastrňák. Last year’s joint-leading goal scorer made his first appearance of the season in that loss against Washington after being sidelined with a hip injury in the early knockings of the campaign. Whilst he failed to jot his name on the scoresheet, Pastrňák was heavily involved in his first game back on the ice, and marked his return with an assist for Charlie McAvoy’s late equaliser. 

With two of the league’s most potent offensive weapons going head-to-head, will we see another high-scoring affair in the capital? 

Tuesday 2nd February 11:00PM GMT (Monday 1st) – Tennis: ATP Cup Day 1

The second edition of the ATP Cup gets underway at Melbourne Park in Melbourne on Monday 1st February at 11:00PM GMT.

Nine of the world’s top ten ranked tennis players will be within the field representing their countries in the ATP Cup in Melbourne this week. Due to Covid restrictions, the tournament format has been condensed, with only 12 teams competing in Australia instead of the 24 we saw last year. 

Amongst the favourites this week will be a Serbia side led by world number one Novak Djokovic. The Serbs are the defending champions, having defeated Spain in the Final 12 months ago. Novak Djokovic and team mate Dusan Lajovic will get their title defence underway on Tuesday against Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic, respectively. The Canadians will be out for revenge in Melbourne this week, after Serbia ended their run last year at the Quarter-final stage. However, the head-to-head record between Djokovic and Shapovalov makes for grim reading for the Canadian who has lost all five meetings with his Serbian counterpart. Meanwhile, having missed out on last year’s tournament, world number 13 Milos Raonic will be desperate to make a mark in his ATP Cup debut. 

Also in action on Day 1 are Rafael Nadal and Spain, who will hope to go one better after finishing runners-up at last year’s inaugural edition. Whilst opponents Australia will be desperate to impress in front of their home crowd, in Rafa Nadal and Roberto Bautista Agut, Spain boast one of the strongest duos in the field. What’s more, whilst Alex de Minaur has lost all three meetings with Nadal, his Australian team mate John Millman is yet to beat Agut in five attempts. Can the Aussies spring an opening-day surprise, or will the Spaniards get off to the perfect start in Group B?

Wednesday 3rd February 12:00AM GMT (Thursday 4th) – Basketball: Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers 

The NBA sees a bitter fight in the Eastern Conference as the Milwaukee Bucks welcome the Indiana Pacers to the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Thursday 4th February at 12:00AM GMT.

It has been an unusual start to this unprecedented NBA season for Milwaukee, who currently sit third in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bucks seem just as capable of putting together a lengthy winning streak as they are a losing one, and, having lost against the New Orleans Pelicans and the Charlotte Hornets over the weekend, they will be desperate to return to winning ways to keep tabs on the frontrunners. The Bucks will certainly fancy their chances against a Pacers team who have typically struggled in this particular fixture across the last two seasons, with the former having won six of the last eight meetings, with both losses coming away from Milwaukee. The Wisconsin-based outfit will be welcoming Indiana to Fiserv Forum with open arms, where Pacers haven’t won since 2018. 

Whilst their recent struggles against the Bucks are clear for all to see, there is a growing sense of optimism around Bankers Life Fieldhouse that something special could be developing in Indi. Under the tutelage of first-year head coach Nate Bjorkgren, Indiana are playing a more aggressive brand of basketball, encapsulated best by Pacers big man Myles Turner, who leads the league in blocks per game with 4.1. However, for all their added energy on the court, Indiana remain fourth which is just about where they should be, judging by their recent finishes in the East. The real test for this franchise will come in the postseason, where they have notoriously struggled in recent years. A win over the Bucks would go some way to proving their playoff credentials, but can Bjorkgren’s exciting brand overthrow the dominant Bucks? 

Thursday 4th February 8:00PM GMT – Football: Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea  

One of English football’s fiercest rivalries will be renewed on Thursday evening in this Premier League blockbuster – kick-off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium comes at 8:00PM GMT. 

For the second week running, Tottenham will headline the midweek fixture list as they prepare to welcome another top four rival to N17. Last week, Liverpool took all three points from their visit to north London, piling the pressure on a Tottenham team struggling desperately for consistency. That result meant Spurs still haven’t won back-to-back Premier League games since November, when they constructed a four-game winning streak. Just as worryingly for the Tottenham faithful, Spurs’ defeat to Brighton at the weekend represented a second straight league loss. The Lilywhites are yet to lose three games in a row this term, but will Chelsea inflict further pain on their former manager on Thursday night?  

Similarly to their local rivals, Chelsea have struggled for form in recent months, so much so the board saw fit to enforce a changing of the guard in the Stamford Bridge dugout. In Frank Lampard’s seat now sits Thomas Tuchel, who has overseen a decent start to the new era in SW6. After recording a 0-0 draw in his first taste of English football, Tuchel guided the Blues to their first home league win since mid-December in a 2-0 triumph over Burnley at the weekend. Just like their friends from north London, Chelsea haven’t won consecutive league games since November, but will that all change in this mouth-watering midweek matchup?

Chelsea are yet to defeat Tottenham in two attempts this season, but certainly looked the more likely of the two sides in their most recent meeting when they played out a 0-0 draw in late November. 

Friday 5th February 4:00AM GMT – Cricket: India v England (Day 1, 1st Test) 

Two of the best Test teams in world cricket meet in Chennai to contest the highly anticipated 1st Test – play gets underway from 4:00AM GMT. 

After their successful excursion to Sri Lanka last month, England will continue their tour of Asia to take on number two ranked Test side India on their own patch. After winning the two Test matches against Sri Lanka by seven and six wickets, respectively, England will be full of confidence on their travels to southern India. The travelling party however has some self imposed issues ahead of this week’s crucial showdown with Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood two significant absentees, as they are rested. There is some positive team news for the tourists, with two key players in the shape of Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer set to return to the fray. 

Whilst England’s Test win in Sri Lanka was impressive, it pales in insignificance to the Indian heroics displayed in Australia in their electrifying Test series. Winning on Australian soil is no mean feat, but doing it without several of their key men ensured India’s triumph would go down as one of the biggest Test wins in recent memory. This week, head coach Ravi Shastri will eagerly welcome the return of Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah to the squad, both of whom missed the final Test down under.  

Since going unbeaten versus England in the noughties, India have struggled in recent meetings with their English adversaries, winning just one of the last five Test series’. These two sides last played out a Test series back in 2018, which England won 4-1, but on England’s last visit to India they were on the wrong end of a 4-0 drubbing. In what promises to be one of the matches of the year, which side will come out on top? 

Saturday 6th February 4:45PM GMT – Rugby Union: England v Scotland 

Which side will get their Six Nations campaign off to the perfect start? Tune in from 4:45PM GMT to find out.

On the 150th anniversary of the first ever international match contested between these famous old rivals, England and Scotland will contest the Calcutta Cup in their Six Nations curtain-raiser. England regained the prestigious Calcutta Cup when the two sides met in a Six Nations clash in February last year, putting an end to Scotland’s two-year reign. More importantly, Saturday’s hosts head into this year’s Six Nations as the defending champions, after coming out on top in last year’s heavily disrupted edition. Spirits will certainly be high within the England camp after they rounded off a successful 2020 with a win at the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup to add yet another trophy to their well-used cabinet. When you also consider they are the highest ranked team participating at the competition, it is hard to look far past England as likely title favourites – but can their closest rivals deal their title hopes a blow on opening day? 

Scotland will certainly hope they can as they look to make a faster start at this year’s competition, after losing back-to-back games to kick off their Six Nations campaign last time out. However, the omens are not promising for the Scots, who last won a Calcutta Cup matchup at Twickenham way back in 1983, when this competition operated under the guise of the Five Nations Championship. Since then, England have gone 18 games unbeaten against Scotland at their famous home stadium, but the visitors did come close back in 2019, when they played out a historic 38-38 draw. Scottish fans will be hopeful of another thrilling affair on Saturday as their team go in search of a maiden Six Nations title this time around.

Sunday 7th February 11:30PM GMT – American Football: Super Bowl LV 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, which kicks off at 11:30PM GMT – who you got?!

This unique NFL season has seen 268 games so far, but Sunday’s is the one that matters most. Come Monday morning, either Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs will be crowned world champions. 

Whilst we can’t provide any excuses as to why you will be late to work on Monday morning, we can give you a whistle stop guide of Sunday’s showpiece event. Super Bowl LV pits the two best pass offences against each other, with Brady and Mahomes once again proving they are very good at football – but you didn’t need us to tell you that. Extraordinarily, Tom Brady has won more Super Bowls (6) than Kansas City and Tampa Bay have appeared in (4, combined)! Having won the only Super Bowl they have appeared in back in 2002, the Buccaneers are one of just four teams able to boast a 100% win record in the sport’s biggest game, but that will be under serious threat when Messrs. Mahomes and Reid come to town on Sunday night. 

Mahomes is looking to become the first quarterback to guide his team to back-to-back Super Bowl wins since Tom Brady achieved the feat with New England in 2004 and 2005. Upon reaching the showpiece game, Mahomes has become the youngest QB to appear in back-to-back Super Bowls and is wasting no time in writing his own NFL legacy. However, the Chiefs have been anything but a one man band this season, and in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, Andy Reid has two of the league’s most productive receivers at his disposal. During the regular season, only Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills racked up more receiving yards than Kelce, whilst only Davante Adams scored more receiving touchdowns than Hill. With an embarrassment of offensive riches on display in Tampa on both sides, expect a war of attrition in this, the 55th annual Super Bowl. 

22,000 spectators will be inside Raymond James Stadium to watch the biggest show in town on Sunday night – but who will be celebrating come Monday morning?

Other sporting highlights from around the globe 

Honourable mentions around the globe go to the ATP Tour, where the Murray River Open and Great Ocean Road Open will play out all week, with both drawing to a close on Sunday. Meanwhile, on the WTA World Tour, the Yarra Valley Classic and Gippsland Trophy will also unfold throughout the week, with the respective Finals scheduled for Saturday night. Also remember to keep up to date with all the action from the Grampians Trophy, which gets underway on Wednesday!

The NBA boasts another typically hectic schedule this week, starting with a Tuesday double header featuring the Golden State Warriors’ clash with the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets’ meeting with the LA Clippers. We will see the other LA outfit in action on Thursday night as the Lakers entertain the Denver Nuggets, before the Clippers return to action the following evening when they will play host to the Boston Celtics. There is a colossal Eastern Conference clash set to play out on Saturday as the Philadelphia 76ers welcome the Nets to the Wells Fargo Center. This action-packed week in the NBA doesn’t stop there, with two more heavyweight clashes scheduled for Sunday in the shape of the Phoenix Suns versus the Celtics and the Pacers against the Utah Jazz. 

There is a Premier League extravaganza to look forward to this week, with another full midweek fixture list set to unfold. Tuesday’s four-game bill is topped by Southampton’s trip to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. Marcelo Bielsa’s enchanting Leeds United will welcome Everton to Elland Road on Wednesday night, whilst Aston Villa do battle with West Ham at Villa Park. The Premier League’s big boys will be back in action across the weekend, including Aston Villa who will take on Arsenal in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off. Super Sunday is headlined by a mouth-watering showdown between England’s two powerhouses of recent years in Manchester City and Liverpool. There is a Serie A clash between Italian football royalty this weekend as Juventus cross swords with Roma. 

The NHL will throw up plenty more unmissable matchups this week as the Colorado Avalanche take on the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday and Thursday, whilst the Columbus Blue Jackets share the ice with the Dallas Stars on the same evenings. There is a mouth-watering grudge match to watch out for as the Philadelphia Flyers play host to the Bruins on Wednesday and Friday. the Flyers will return to action on Sunday evening to do battle with the Capitals. 

There is plenty of cricket going on this week, including England’s 1st Test in India which will play out across the weekend. Meanwhile, Bangladesh will play host to the West Indies in the 1st Test at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. Day 1 of Pakistan’s 2nd Test with South Africa will be contested on Thursday, with that match also playing out across the weekend. The Challenger match in the Big Bash League is scheduled for Thursday evening, when the Perth Scorchers will take on the Brisbane Heat, with the winner set to face the Sydney Sixers in Saturday’s Final. In the Women’s game, South Africa meet Pakistan on Wednesday in the 3rd T20I of their series. 

Tune in for some high-octane snooker from Thursday as the BetVictor Shoot Out gets underway.

A busy weekend of Rugby Union action starts in Bristol as the Bears host Sale Sharks in a pivotal Premiership fixture. The other standout fixture from the domestic schedule will see Newcastle Falcons lock horns with Exeter Chiefs on Sunday. France will begin their Six Nations campaign with an away tie against Italy, whilst Wales will seek the perfect start in their curtain-raiser against Ireland. 

The PGA Tour takes us to Scottsdale this weekend where the Waste Management Phoenix Open will play out from Thursday. Meanwhile, on the European Tour, the sport’s elite players will take their talents to King Abdullah Economic City where they will contest the Saudi International.

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


Photos by Washington Capitals, ATP Cup, Indiana Pacers, Chelsea FC, Team India, England Rugby, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Written and information correct on 31st January at 9pm GMT

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