In a week that will see the start of a new decade, there is a flurry of unmissable sporting action starting with Monday’s mid-table clash in the Big Bash League as Hobart Hurricanes welcome Melbourne Stars to the University of Tasmania Stadium. Tuesday’s offering comes in the shape of a blockbuster meeting between two NBA heavyweights with Houston Rockets hosting the Denver Nuggets. 2020 will begin in the only way the sporting world knows how as the Darts World Championship final plays out at Alexandra Palace. The breathless Christmas period in the Premier League concludes on Thursday with Sheffield United paying league leaders Liverpool a visit at Anfield. There is plenty more cricket to sink your teeth into this week including the next offering from South Africa as England take on the hosts on Day 1 of the 2nd Test. Playoff football in the NFL begins on Saturday with the Wild Card round, and the pick of the ties sees the New England Patriots entertain the Tennessee Titans. The week concludes with one of the most exciting weekends in the English football calendar as the third round ties of the FA Cup play out, with Liverpool’s clash with Everton headlining the action.
In the BBL, the Hobart Hurricanes and Melbourne Stars face off at the University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston.
The Hurricanes will look to avenge their only loss of the season so far as they welcome the Stars to Tasmania. They have played well in their first three games, with the bowlers coming through in particular. The efforts of players like Qais Ahmad has been supplemented by strong run-scoring from the likes of D’Arcy Short. For the Stars, captain Glenn Maxwell has led by example as the team have also jumped out to a 2-1 start. Eyes will also be on Marcus Stoinis, whose 81 runs was the deciding factor in the first meeting between these two sides. This is set to be a great rematch between the two sides.
The Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets go head-to-head in the NBA at the Toyota Center in Houston.
The NBA’s Wester Conference is competitive and even a single loss could see a team tumble down the standings. Going into this highly-anticipated matchup, the Nuggets are chasing the conference-leading Lakers. This season, Denver have maintained an approach that have served them well over the past few seasons. They have relied on a well-rounded core of players and once again, it is bringing them success. For the Rockets, themselves chasing the Nuggets, it’s all about one man - James Harden. The perennial MVP candidate is having a phenomenal season, averaging nearly forty points a game. Furthermore, reuniting Harden with Russell Westbrook in the offseason has only made the Rockets better as they chase a title. This is going to be game you won’t want to miss.
The William Hill World Championships concludes at Alexandra Palace in London.
The PDC darts season will come to an end today with the Final of the World Championships. Can Michael van Gerwen retain the title, and win his fourth overall Championship? If the Dutchmen were to win, he would be the first back-to-back winner since Adrian Lewis in 2011 and 2012. However, could we see Nathan Aspinall upset van Gerwen in the Semifinals? The Englishman will be eager to cap off an excellent tournament, and season, with the ultimate prize. Gerwyn Price came into the tournament having retained his Grand Slam of Darts title this year. Could he become the first Welsh World Champion? Or will it be the colourfully-haired Peter Wright who lifts the trophy? This is sure to be a memorable Final.
Unstoppable Liverpool play high-flying Sheffield United in the Premier League at Anfield in Liverpool.
After extending their unbeaten record in the league during the festive period, Liverpool kick start the new decade with one hand already on the Premier League trophy. With the Reds having built up a 13 point gap on their closest rivals, many fans believe Jürgen Klopp’s side have already cultivated an unassailable lead. However, the German will insist there is no room for complacency, particularly when a team like Sheffield United are in town. Chris Wilder’s men have been the surprise package of the Premier League so far, and currently sit eighth in the table and in touching distance of the Champions League spots. These two sides last met back in September, on which occasion Liverpool narrowly edged out a stubborn United side following an untimely blunder from their goalkeeper. Could there be another twist in Sheffield’s fairytale season or will Liverpool maintain their extraordinary unbeaten league run?
South Africa and England begin the second Test of England’s tour at the Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town.
England will look to build on the lessons they learned in their loss to South Africa last week. Despite a six-wicket performance from Jofra Archer, and a valiant second-inning chase, England fell 107 runs short of the hosts. If they are to bounce back in Cape Town, they will need to limit South Africa’s time at the crease. South Africa will be inspired and motivated by their first win in five Test outings. Having got a feel for England, they will be eager to keep the visitors on the back foot. With England expected to be at full strength after an illness-hampered first Test, today will be very interesting indeed.
In the NFL Wild Card round, the New England Patriots host the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
For the Patriots, beginning their playoff campaign on Wild Card weekend is unfamiliar territory. Such has been the dominance of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, New England last took part in a Wild Card round back in 2009, despite qualifying for the playoffs every term since. Meanwhile, in qualifying for the playoffs, Tennessee find themselves in unfamiliar territory full stop. The Titans made a post season appearance on just one other occasion during the last decade when none other than New England sent them home in the Divisional round. The outcome this time round is far from a foregone conclusion, however, particularly considering the outstanding form of Derrick Henry. The four-year pro led the league in rushing yards during the regular season, and he will be expected to carry much of the offensive load as Tennessee seek to mastermind a way past the league’s best defence.
There’s a Merseyside Derby in the FA Cup as Liverpool and Everton face off at Anfield in Liverpool.
Liverpool return to action just three days after their meeting with Sheffield United as they host Everton for a third round FA Cup clash. In a repeat of last year’s third round fixture, Everton will return to Anfield in search of their first win on their rivals’ turf since 1999. However, in light of their frenetic recent schedule, one might expect Jurgen Klopp to ring the changes for Sunday’s meeting, which could hand the incentive to Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton side. The Italian tactician will be hoping to lift the FA Cup for the second time in his illustrious career, having already achieved the feat with Chelsea back in 2010. Ancelotti will hope to endear himself to the Everton faithful this weekend with what would be a famous scalp for the Toffees should they overcome high-flyers Liverpool.
Honourable mentions around the globe to go the Sentry Tournament of Champions. This prestigious tournament on the PGA Tour begins in Hawaii on Thursday. Elsewhere, some of college football’s biggest teams are in action. Virginia face Florida in the Orange Bowl. Baylor take on Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Wisconsin go head-to-head with Oregon in the Rose Bowl Game. Monday will also see the Semifinals at the Darts World Championship play out as four become two before Wednesday’s final. There is plenty more cricket to whet your appetite this week as South Africa take on England and Australia host New Zealand in their third Test of the series. Australia’s Big Bash League will also surely provide plenty of excitement this week, with fixtures including Sydney Sixers versus Adelaide Strikers, Sydney Thunder versus Melbourne Stars and Adelaide Strikers against Sydney Thunder. Meanwhile, India and Sri Lanka play their first ODI. There is another instalment of an age old Premier League rivalry taking place on Wednesday as Arsenal entertain Manchester United. This breathless NBA season continues all week long, with the showpiece games including the Houston Rockets versus the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat versus the Toronto Raptors. The Wild Card round in the NFL provides some mouth-watering clashes, as the Houston Texans lock horns with the Buffalo Bills, the New Orleans Saints host the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Seattle Seahawks. The Premiership Rugby season throws up two more electrifying games in prospect this week as Sale Sharks entertain Harlequins and Gloucester take on Bath. In tennis, the new ATP Cup team event gets underway.
A week of world class sport awaits. Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by Hobart Hurricanes, Houston Rockets, Professional Darts Corporation, Liverpool FC, England Cricket, New England Patriots, Liverpool FC
Written and information correct on 30th December at 6am GMT
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