The sporting landscape is in limbo this weekend, with the Premier League taking a FA Cup break, Super Rugby still in its warm-up stages, Six Nations sees an intermission, and the cricket action shifting to its shorter format, but there are some key encounters that no one can afford to miss.
South Africa vs England (T20 cricket)
!st match: Friday, 18:00 / 2nd match: Sunday, 14:30
Both nations will be using the series as groundwork for the T20 World Cup tournament where they will interestingly face each other on 18 March, which is South Africa’s opening match. The Proteas’ T20 side has had a proud recent record of under the leadership of Faf du Plessis; recording series victories in both Bangladesh and India last year. The visitors will desperately be looking to bounce back after their loss in the ODI series. Under Eoin Morgan, they’ve built a highly skilled and powerful T20 unit that employs a rousing and aggressive brand of cricket that can be a treat for viewers. England are unbeaten in their last six T20’s and like South Africa, they will be using the series as opportunity to hone their game ahead of the World Cup.
Arsenal vs Hull (FA Cup)
Arsenal’s bid to become the first side to win three consecutive FA Cups in over a century resumes against a side they have disposed of on their way to both of the last two trophies. However, with a genuine chance to win a first Premier League title in 12 years, and the not so insignificant matter of a Champions league last-16 first leg at home to Barcelona just three days after the Cup tie, Wenger is expected to make changes to his side. It is an attractive tie for Hull, but they are top of the Championship and promotion is their priority – they can see the pot of gold, which should add some impetus to the game.
Bath vs Wasps (Premiership rugby)
Wasps are the best team in Premiership on current form having gained 19 league points from their last six encounters. Wasps have won their last four games in the competition and have not won five in a row since season 2012/13. The two clubs have already met on three occasions this season with Wasps victorious in the Premiership meeting at Ricoh Arena in October and then each side winning its respective away game when the two met in the back-to-back Rounds Three and Four clashes in the European Champions Cup in December. Wasps have not won at the Recreation Ground in Premiership since 2010. Bath are looking to get their form back on track after ending their six-game losing streak last weekend.
Chelsea vs Manchester City (FA Cup)
The lure of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time will weigh heavily on Manuel Pellegrini’s mind, asManchester City and Chelsea prepare for a heavyweight FA Cup fifth-round clash on Sunday. With City flying to Ukraine to face Dynamo Kiev just 24 hours after Sunday’s showdown with Chelsea, the FA Cup tie could not have come at a worse time for Pellegrini, who is reluctant to field his strongest side. While both teams will line up at Stamford Bridge on the back of defeats, Chelsea are no doubt aware that the Cup presents their best chance of ending the season with a trophy.