Premier League Football: Leicester City vs Chelsea
Monday, 8pm, Sky Sports 1
Though they are traditionally known for their cunning, one would nine times out of ten expect a fox to come off worse in a battle with a rampant lion. Domestically the dog outranks the cat in the food chain, but the majesty and strength of the King of the Jungle allows it to outmuscle most opponents with an embarrassing ease which justifies its regal position. For the last decade or so it has been fitting, then, for the West-Londoners of Chelsea Football Club to proudly display the Top Cat on their crest as they not only won titles, but won them well. The foxes of Leicester City would normally see a visit from the lions of Chelsea as a game where they had nothing to lose; a free hit which would yield success around about as often as the aforementioned unlikely duel.
This season, however, the winds of change have blown strong from the Midlands right down through to London and have shaken the established order. The wily Tinkerman Claudio Ranieri has ordered enough pizzas to continue the party started by Nigel Pearson and Jamie Vardy; catapulting the foxes from relegation fodder this time last year to dark horses for a European place, or even *psst* becoming Chelsea’s successors for the title. A spot was open at the bottom of the table, and if you show me a football fan who claims to have predicted that Chelsea would be the ones to fill it, I’ll show you a liar.
What has made this campaign a special one for the cocky Portuguese who so famously gave himself that title is its stark contrast to anything Mourinho has had to face before. Results home and away have been embarrassing, even to the point that football fans making jokes at their expense are dwindling. Like any episode of The Simpsons past Season 11, Chelsea are no longer funny but a tragic example of the fall of a titan. Only one team has ever reached the top 6 from their current position (Aston Villa in 03/04), and if this dire farce is to halt any time soon, Chelsea must win this game.
Whether Mourinho can outwit the fox he replaced in his first stint at Stamford Bridge remains to be seen, but the early Christmas party at the King Power Stadium is one you really won’t want to miss.
Boxing – British and Commonwealth Heavyweight title: Anthony Joshua v Dillian Whyte
Saturday, 5pm, Sky Box Office (Ringwalks at an expected time of 10.45pm)
The eyes of the Boxing world will be on the O2 Arena this Saturday night as two undefeated heavyweights meet in what promises to be a titanic tussle. Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte both own unbeaten professional records – for now. By the time the sun rises on Sunday morning, one fighter’s record will no longer be unblemished. Joshua is the favourite, and the stats show why: 14 wins, 14 knockouts, 0 opponents who have made it past round three. Since turning professional after winning Olympic Gold in 2012, no fighter has been able to compete with – let alone beat – the Londoner.
But will Saturday be different? Whyte certainly talks a good game, suggesting that Joshua has yet to face a ‘young, live opponent’ and calling him ‘a scumbag and a fake’. He also beat Joshua when the pair were amateurs in 2009. But he has had a much rockier journey than his opponent in the six years since that day. While Joshua was preparing for Olympic success, Whyte was serving a two year drug ban. His perfect record is slightly less perfect than Joshua’s too, with ‘only’ 13 of his 16 wins ending in knockouts.
This fight has not received the hype of Fury-Klitschko two weeks ago, yet it could be even more entertaining. It will be fascinating to see how Joshua responds if Whyte lasts longer than three rounds, and anyone tuning in for a quick knockout could be disappointed. Equally, if the Olympic champion maintains his scarcely believable record it will be further evidence of his brilliance. Either way, Saturday night will not be short on drama.