Get ready for an unmissable week of sport. In the FA Cup, Bournemouth take on Arsenal. Both sides are having relatively disappointing seasons, making this game a vital morale boost. The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers meet for an LA-rivalry game in the NBA, under the shadow of the sad passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant. Manchester City host Manchester United in the Semi-final Second Leg of the Carabao Cup. City will be confident as they bring a 3-1 aggregate advantage into the game. Super League and Super Rugby return this week. How will the start of these exciting competitions play out? The Women’s Final of the Australian Open marks the start of the weekend. With so much talent vying for places in the final, it’s no doubt going to be a great game. Finally, the Kansas City Chiefs meet the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. You couldn’t ask for a better game.
Bournemouth and Arsenal clash in the fourth round of the FA Cup at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth.
Both Bournemouth and Arsenal have had tough seasons and Monday’s FA Cup clash will provide a welcome distraction from their respective seasons in the league. The Cherries are currently languishing down in 18th place in England’s top tier, but returned to winning ways last time out, defeating Brighton 3-1. However, Bournemouth have generally undelivered in the FA Cup, reaching the Fifth Round on just two occasions in the club’s history. Despite Arsenal’s underwhelming displays in the league, they are the country’s most successful side in this competition, lifting a record 13 titles. They have failed to reach the Fifth Round just once in their last eight attempts and the Gunners will be strong favourites to continue their march to a 14th FA Cup win.
**This game has been postponed due to the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a horrific helicopter crash**
In the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers face the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
This rivalry match will take on extra meaning following the tragic death of Kobe Bryant on Sunday. Bryant was not only a career Laker, but a player whose talent, dominance and attitude affected the whole league. As the Lakers take the court tonight, they will all be carrying the memory of Kobe in their hearts. The game was already a vital one. The Lakers need a win to extend their lead at the top of the conference. Meanwhile, the third-place Clippers can continue to close the gap with a victory. But for 48 minutes tonight, the implications of the result won’t be anyone's primary focus. The place where Kobe became a legend will honour him with the thing he dedicated his life to - basketball.
Manchester City host Manchester United for the second leg of their Carabao Cup fixture at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.
Manchester City will welcome Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United side to the Etihad with one foot already in the final. A dominant first half display at Old Trafford three weeks ago earned City a 3-1 lead heading into this decisive second leg. That result leaves United with it all to do on Wednesday if they are to reach their tenth League Cup final. Although the Red Devils have already won on City’s turf this term, they currently find themselves in a poor run of form, losing their last two league games without finding the net themselves. Meanwhile, Man City have been unstoppable in this competition in recent years and remain unbeaten in their last 15 League Cup outings. Pep Guardiola’s men have netted at least three times in every single Carabao Cup tie this term but the order of the day this time round is to keep United at bay as City eye a third straight final appearance.
As Super League rugby returns, Wigan Warriors host the Wolverhampton Wolves at the DW Stadium in Wigan.
Two of the grandest teams in Super League history will do battle on the opening day of the new Super League season as Wigan entertain Warrington at the DW. Both of these teams finished in the top four last term, but were unable to capitalise on their impressive finishes as they both faltered in the playoffs. Wigan were one of the league’s most dominant forces in the last decade, reaching six Grand Finals, winning the top prize on four of those occasions. Three of those Grand Final wins came against Thursday’s opponents, who lost more times in the showpiece game than any other team. Can Warrington reverse their fortunes in this first Super League season of the new decade or will the Warriors continue their dominance?
A new season of Super Rugby begins as the Sharks host the Bulls at Kings Park Stadium in Durban.
Friday’s action from the new Super Rugby season is headlined by an intriguing battle in the South African Conference between the Sharks and the Bulls. This unique competition always provides plenty of excitement for fans of Rugby Union, with 15 teams from five different countries battling it out for the prize. The Bulls and the Sharks were the two best South African outfits last year, finishing fifth and sixth in the overall standings, respectively. With this competition often dominated by New Zealand representatives, the Bulls remain the only South African side to ever win the title, doing so on three occasions between 2007 and 2010. They will be desperate to return to the lofty heights of the Super Rugby Final as they look to dethrone the dominant Crusaders from Christchurch in New Zealand.
The Women’s Singles Final headlines the penultimate day of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne.
The women’s draw has already given us some unforgettable tennis and has highlighted the competitiveness of the women’s game. With defending champion Naomi Osaka and legends like Serena Williams already eliminated, the Final is wide open. World number one, and Australian native, Ashleigh Barty will look to win a Grand Slam title on home soil. Meanwhile, could Ons Jabeur make history by becoming the first African, and Arab, winner of the Australian Open? The Tunisian star has been making waves throughout the tournament so far. Angelique Kerber is the only former champion left in the draw. Could this be the year she clinches another title? Whoever ends up contesting the Final, it’s a match you won’t want to miss.
Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers clash in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
The eyes of the sporting world will be firmly locked on Miami, Florida on Sunday night as Kansas City battle it out with San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV. The Chiefs’ playoff spot looked in some doubt during the regular season, but a six-game winning streak at the end of the campaign propelled them into the Divisional Round. There, they weathered an early Houston Texans onslaught to run out 51-31 winners and progress to the Conference Championships. They fell behind early against the Tennessee Titans in front of their home crowd once more, but again prevailed in the end to reach their first Super Bowl since 1969. Patrick Mahomes has thrown for a total of eight touchdowns in his two post season appearances this year, and the 49ers will have their hands full containing the electrifying young QB. However, San Francisco were one of the standout teams in the regular season, winning their first eight games and losing just three all term. The California-based outfit have carried their impressive form into the postseason, easing past both the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers by a 17-point margin. There is nothing to split these two explosive teams so sit back and enjoy one of the greatest spectacles in sport.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the NBA where six unmissable matchups will take place this week. There are two Eastern Conferences clashes as the Miami Heat face off with the Boston Celtics, before the latter return to action against the Philadelphia 76ers later in the week. The Houston Rockets will be tested against two of the league’s best sides in the form of the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks. The Denver Nuggets also face two tricky tests this week as they too tussle with Utah before taking to the court with the Milwaukee Bucks. England will look to close out the 4th Test against South Africa after taking a commanding lead last week, whilst New Zealand face India in the 3rd, 4th and 5th T20 Internationals. Australia’s Big Bash League will provide us with plenty of electrifying action all week long as the playoffs begin in earnest. The Eliminator game will take place on Thursday, before the Melbourne Stars host the Sydney Sixers in the Qualifier. Then, the winner of the Eliminator game will meet the Adelaide Strikers in Saturday’s Knockout at the Adelaide Oval. Saturday also brings us T20 action from the women’s game as Australia entertain England. In the world of Track Cycling, the Six Day Series will continue in Berlin. The Australian Open will play out all week long, culminating in the Men’s Singles and Doubles Finals on Sunday. There is also plenty more football to keep an eye on this week, starting with the Semi-final second leg in the Carabao Cup between Aston Villa and Leicester City. There is Premier League action on Wednesday as West Ham United take on Liverpool at the London Stadium. The top-flight action continues at the weekend with Leicester taking on Chelsea and Tottenham entertaining Man City. The PGA Tour resumes on Thursday as the Waste Management Phoenix Open gets underway in Scottsdale. The World Athletics Indoor Tour takes us to Karlsruhe in Germany on Friday for the 2020 meeting. The opening weekend of this year’s Six Nations is headlined by Ireland’s meeting with Scotland at the Aviva Stadium and France’s clash with England at the Stade de France. The opening weekend of this year’s Six Nations is headlined by Ireland’s meeting with Scotland at the Aviva Stadium and France’s clash with England at the Stade de France and the World Rugby Sevens Series continues this week with the Sydney tournament.
A week of world class sport awaits. Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by AFC Bournemouth; NBA; Manchester City; Wigan Warriors; The Sharks; Australian Open; San Francisco 49ers
Written and information correct on 26th January at 10pm GMT
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