|UPCOMING SPORTING TALKING POINTS & PREDICTIONS
The fourth round of the FA Cup takes place this weekend. Manchester united play League Two side Yeovil this evening, with 86 league positions separating the teams, the most of any fixture in the round. Will Alexis Sanchez start his Manchester United career at Huish Park? The fixture also marks Mourinho’s 100th game in charge of United on his 55th birthday. They have won 61 of 99 games since he took charge. Having signed a new contract earlier this week will Mourinho now look to buy a house in Manchester as opposed to living in a hotel? The Lowry hotel will hope not – at £816 a night, an extra year of Mourinho’s business is worth circa £300k to them, or a basic weeks wage to Alexis Sanchez.How much do top managers earn compared to players? Last October, Business Insider put together a list of the 15 highest-earning managers in the world of international and club football, using various sources of data. Despite 8 of the top 15 coming from Premier League clubs, top of the list is the manager of the China national football team, Marcello Lippi, who purportedly earns an annual wage of £18 million per year. The Manchester clubs make up the top 3, with Guardiola and Mourinho earning circa £15m per year. Surprisingly no Italian or Spanish based managers make the top 10.
The Six nations begins next weekend, and as usual it is being built up as the most competitive tournament in recent history. Are there arguments in favour of this? Whilst it’s almost impossible to see Italy winning the tournament, could the winner realistically come from any of the 5 other nations?
England start as favourites to win their the third consecutive 6 Nations, with 22 wins from 23 games under coach Eddie Jones and ranked second in the world. England have the longest injury list with over 15 possible inclusions either ruled out or struggling to make it back to full fitness. They travel to Italy on February 4th, where we will see how far Italy have progressed under Conor O’Shea, and what their tactics will be against England this year.
Ireland are third in the world rankings and favourites to end England’s reign as 6 Nations champions. They beat South Africa by a record 35 points in the Autumn and if they can beat France away in the first weekend, they have 3 home fixtures before they travel to Twickenham on the final day. Will that game be the Grand Slam decider? Domestically Leinster and Munster have qualified as No 1 and No 3 seeds in the Champions Cup quarter-finals, meaning that form and confidence will be high for the bulk of the team.
Scotland travel to Wales, having beaten them for the first time in the tournament since 2007 last year. They came very close to beating New Zealand in the Autumn and put 50 points on Australia. Wales will be without their two leading fly-halves but have a proud home record. According to the bookies, Wales start this game as marginal favourites, although Scotland’s odds to win the tournament are 8-1, as opposed to Wales at 16-1. If Wales get momentum from winning the first game do they become serious contenders? We think that Scotland, Ireland and England will win on the opening weekend but that ultimately this will be Ireland’s year….
Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki will face top seed Simona Halep from Romania in the women’s singles final of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Saturday at 8.30am GMT. The men’s singles final is scheduled to start 24 hours later. British No.2, Kyle Edmund reached the semi finals but was overcome by Marin Cilic. Cilic will face defending champion Roger Federer in what will be their tenth meeting, with Cilic only having beaten Federer once at the US Open in 2014. Federer has not lost a set in the tournament and is aiming for his 20th Grand Slam. Is he playing the best tennis of his career at 36?
Super Bowl LII takes place in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Sunday, 4th February. This will be the 52nd Super Bowl, and is a rematch of the 2004 Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, which the Patriots won 24-21. The Patriots are seeking to become the first team to win back to back Super Bowls since they won Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX in 2004 and 2005. The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to win their first ever Super Bowl championship, having previously lost on two occasions. They have not played in a Super Bowl final since losing to the Patriots in 2004.12 inches of snow fell in Minneapolis last Monday, the northernmost city to host a Super Bowl.