Weekend Sport: Arsenal, England and McIlroy
The respective tennis and Formula 1 campaigns may have drawn to a close but do not fear, we still have a host of tantalising football fixtures to look forward to this weekend, as well as golf, cricket and rugby action.
London’s Premier League clubs will be looking to get their respective campaigns back on track over the next few days following an indifferent weekend of results.
Arsenal, West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers will all be hunting for much needed points when they face up against West Brom, Newcastle United and Leicester City respectively, whereas Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Tottenham will all be looking to continue that winning feelings against their respective opponents.
The Gunners quickly overcame defeat to Manchester United against German side Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night, when they secured their first clean sheet of the Champions League group stage with a 2-0 win to secure their passage through to the knockout stages of the competition for the 15th consecutive season.
Arsene Wenger will take his side to the Hawthorns on Saturday in hope of leapfrogging five other teams to fourth place.
Elsewhere, across London, Chelsea will also be out of town, as they bid to make it 20 games unbeaten in all competitions this season against Sunderland.
England will be looking to salvage a sense of pride and dignity when they host Australia in their final autumn international at Twickenham on Saturday.
Last weekend may have seen Stuart Lancaster’s men secure their first win of the series against an underwhelming Samoan outfit, but the performance was far from convincing.
England know they have to cut out the errors that have already thwarted progress against New Zealand and South Africa – and at times stifled any renaissance against Samoa – if they are to stand a chance against the Wallabies.
The clash brings together the autumn’s two underperforming nations. Australia’s tour of Europe has so far seen a ‘smash and grab’ victory over Wales followed up by defeats to France and Ireland.
Injuries to integral players ensured the autumn was going to be far from straightforward for Lancaster and this week’s withdrawal of Saracen forward Billy Vunipola has only depleted his stock further.
At this stage, Lancaster will be preying for any sort of victory to ensure the players remain on check mentally for what is going to be a rollercoaster countdown to the World Cup next year.
Defeat, on the other hand, would only spell disaster for Lancaster with 10 months remaining until England kick off the World Cup on home soil, and would cast further doubt over his ability to lead England to Webb Ellis success.
England will be looking to bounce back in their second one-day international against Sri Lanka on Saturday having kicked off the seven match ODI series with a 25 run defeat in Colombo on Wednesday.
The game will be marked with a two-minute silence, as both nations pay their respects Australia batsman Philip Hughes, who tragically passed away on Thursday.
Rory McIlroy may have cantered to the European Tour Race to Dhabi title, as well as confirming his status as the world number one for 2014, but the season hasn’t finished for Europe’s prize golfer.
The 25-year-old is looking to finish the year in style at the Australian Open, where he triumphed last year. McIlroy is very much still in contention at the halfway point as he sits menacingly tied for second on four under par, just one shot adrift of outright leader and local lad Greg Chalmers.
Picture Credits: Josh Wright and Rory McIlroy