The weekend is heating up with some sporting action kicking off on Friday, with the Proteas resuming their ODI series against England, while Six Nations rugby gets stuck into Round 2, and the Premier League continues to thrill and excite with two massive encounters on Sunday.
Here’s what you need to know about the big matches:
South Africa vs England (ODI Cricket)
South Africa take on England in the fourth One Day International (ODIs) at New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday afternoon. After winning the first two matches, England suffered their first defeat in the ODI in the third match against South Africa. That has kept the Proteas’ hopes of winning the series alive, despite trailing 2-1 heading into the fourth match. South Africa will be hoping for another victory in the fourth ODI to level the series, while England will have to rely once again on their batsmen, but also hope their bowlers can shine at the same time. Except Adil Rashid, every bowler conceded more than six runs per over and Eoin Morgan will be looking to restrict the African side throughout Friday’s encounter.
France vs Ireland (Six Nations rugby)
Ireland will look to get their championship ambitions back on course in the 2016 Six Nations on Saturday, but they face a mammoth task as they visit Paris to battle France. The holders were pegged back by Wales in their opening match of tournament, drawing 16-16 in Dublin, and they now need a win to stop their best hopes going up in smoke. The French came through a near defeat against Italy in Round 1, narrowly prevailing 23-21 at the Stade de France, and will need to play better against a powerful and motivated Ireland. The French are clearly still finding their feet and the back-to-back champions must have a gut feeling that if they can hit their stride, and keep Sexton on the pitch, the game is theirs to lose.
Wales vs Scotland (Six Nations rugby)
Both Wales and Scotland will be seeking to secure their first 2016 win when they go head-to-head at the Principality Stadium on Saturday. The Welsh played out a pulsating 16-16 draw with Ireland in their opener and will have been disappointed not to have taken maximum points from the contest. Meanwhile, the Scots were beaten on home soil by a narrow 9-15 margin against England and will be hoping to respond in Cardiff. On home soil, Wales are a pretty formidable opponent, and they also have a fine record against their Week 2 opponents, having last sampled defeat at Murrayfield in 2007.
Arsenal vs Leicester (English Premier League)
A high-profile matchup between two of the 2015-2016 Premier League’s top contenders, Arsenal FC (14-5-6, 48 points) and Leicester City FC (15-2-8, 53 points), will unfold on Sunday. The two teams are coming off impressive wins in their previous matches and both would like to further gain momentum as the current season moves forward. Howver, the Foxes, who has a firm grasp of league leadership being five points clear off closest pursuers Arsenal and Tottenham, are unbeaten in their last six outings and are currently on a three-game winning run, which could give them the confidence they need to put Arsenal away.
Manchester City vs Tottenham (English Premier League)
With Tottenham visiting third-placed Manchester City on Sunday, just a few hours after Leicester take on fourth-placed Arsenal, Spurs’ position could well be even stronger come the end of the weekend. Tottenham ripped Manchester City apart to win 4-1 at White Hart Lane in September, when Kompany was also missing. Since then Spurs have only gotten better and more assured, while City continue to frustrate and embrace inconsistency. There could well be an emphatic contrast in the work rate of the two teams in Sunday, with a Tottenham side featuring furious young energy going up against a City team that often looks labored and complacent.