Friday, May 12, 2017

By Aaron Doyle

CHELSEA could lift the Premier League title with a win over West Brom while Clermont Auvergne and Saracens face each other to see who is the best club in European rugby. Here are the sporting highlights for this weekend:

1 West Brom v Chelsea
The Hawthorns, Friday

N’Golo Kante returns for Chelsea tonight

Chelsea could clinch the Premier League title tonight with a win against West Brom to cap off what has been a great season for the Blues.
Antonio Conte’s men will have N’Golo Kante back for this game as the Frenchman sat out Monday’s 3-0 win over Middlesbrough with a thigh injury. That will mean that he should have a full-strength squad to pick from as the PFA and FWA player of the year was the main injury worry ahead of this game.
West Brom will be missing winger Matt Phillips due to a hamstring injury but Jonny Evans and Hal Robson-Kanu will be fit after overcoming injuries.
West Brom have a good record at home against Chelsea, winning three and drawing one of their last five but Chelsea will look to buck the trend as they hope to clinch their sixth title. The Baggies are not in the best form at the moment having not won a game since mid-March, while Chelsea have won their last three league games on the bounce. Kick-off for this game is at 8pm.

2 Clermont Auvergne v Saracens
European Champions Cup final, Murrayfield, Saturday

Morgan Parra can inspire Clermont Auvergne to victory over Saracens

The premier club rugby competition in the northern hemisphere is coming to an end for this season as Clermont and Saracens face each other at the home of Scottish rugby, Murrayfield.
Both sides overcame Irish opposition in the semi-finals with Clermont beating Leinster and Saracens beating Munster in the Aviva three weeks ago to make it to this stage.
Clermont are looking for their first ever European title having made the final twice in the last four seasons and they will be looking to players like Wesley Fofana, Morgan Parra and Flip van der Merwe. Saracens will be looking to retain their title, having beaten Racing in the final last year. They will have players like Owen Farrell, the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako, and Maro Itoje in their ranks.
Both sides come into this game with identical records in their last six games, winning five and losing one, and both sides will be involved in play-off action in their respective leagues, with Clermont having finished second in the Top 14 and Saracens finishing third in the Premiership.
This should be an even contest with the kick-off in Edinburgh at 5pm.

3 NHL play-offs
All Weekend

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins should have a big influence in their game against Ottawa

The race for the Stanley Cup is hotting up as the conference finals begin this weekend.
The Western Conference final sees the Nashville Predators take on the Anaheim Ducks. The Predators are on course for their first ever Stanley Cup, with the Tennessee team not even getting this far since they joined the league in 1997. Some of the main men to watch out for in the Predators’ side are defender PK Subban, goalie Pekka Rinne and winger Filip Forsberg. The Ducks from California are looking for their first cup since 2007 and they have plenty of attacking talent in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesleer. Game one of the best of seven series is on at Saturday morning in Anaheim at 2am Irish time.
The Eastern Conference final will see the Ottawa Senators take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins are the reigning champions and they have four cups in their history while Ottawa have yet to win one and have not been in the final since 2007, when they lost to the Ducks.
The main men to watch out for on the Penguins sides are Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and goalie Marc-André Fleury while the Senators will be hoping Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf and Bobby Ryan can come good for them. The first game of this series is in Pittsburgh at midnight on Sunday.

4 NBA play-offs
All Weekend

Isaiah Thomas has been a big player for the Boston Celtics

The final of the Western Conference and game six of an Eastern Conference semi-final take place this weekend as the Larry O’Brien trophy is still up for grabs in basketball.
Tomorrow’s game will see game six of the Eastern semi-final as Boston Celtics take on Washington Wizards in the American capital. The Celtics go into this game with a 3-2 series lead and if they win in Washington, they will go on to the Eastern final to face LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. Some men to watch out for on the Celtics team are Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Avery Bradley while the Wizards will call on players like John Wall, Bradley Beal and Bojan Bogdanovic. The game’s opening tip-off is at 1am on Saturday Irish time.
The Western final also take place this weekend with the Golden State Warriors taking on the San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors will be keen to return to the final, having blown a 3-1 series lead to lose to the Cavaliers last year. They have what has been dubbed the ‘Super Team’ this year with four of this year’s Western All-Stars coming from that team alone. Players like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are three to watch out for on the Warriors side while the Spurs are famed in the NBA for going about their business in a quiet and understated manner. Players like Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green have helped get the Spurs this far and they will be important as the first game takes place at 8:30pm on Sunday evening in Oakland.

5 Spanish Grand Prix
All Weekend

Sebastien Vettel will look to continue his good form for Ferrari

The fifth race on the Grand Prix calendar will take place in Barcelona on the Circuit de Catalunya as Sebastien Vettel looks to continue his form for Ferrari.
The German currently tops the standings after wins in Australia and Bahrain as he holds a 13-point lead over Lewis Hailton. Hamilton and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas have won the other two races with Hamilton winning in China and Bottas winning in Russia to put Mercedes one point ahead of Ferrari in the constructors’ standings.
The track has been part of the F1 calendar since 1991 and Max Verstappen won last year’s event for Red Bull. Both Vettel and Hamilton have won on this circuit before with Hamilton winning in 2014 while Vettel’s win was back in 2011. Kimi Raikonnen, Vettel’s team-mate, holds the lap record on this track with a time of 1:21.670 back in 2008.
The qualifying part of the race takes place at 1pm Irish time on Saturday while the race itself is at 1pm on Sunday.

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