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Five big weekend predictions

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Friday, November 23, 2012 - 7:00 AM
Source: SportsFan
Author: Ben Hocking and Barnaby Smith

1. Heart put on a show for Becks

This weekend's A-League action will have to take a backseat to continuing speculation that David Beckham will join the competition with one of three teams from January. The clubs that have tabled offers for his services are Perth Glory, Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Heart. Perth and Central Coast, reportedly, have bigger offers on the table, but it is more likely Melbourne that will suit Becks and Posh's lifestyle. With that in mind Saturday's game against Newcastle gives the Heart a chance to prove what it can achieve on the football field. The first battle will be to try and draw a big crowd to AAMI Park, which won't be easy, but if it can do this and get off the bottom of the table with a win they may be one step closer to securing the competition's most prized signature. - BH

2. Bruised Wallabies too good for Italy

Despite the scoreline, Italy were far from swamped against New Zealand last weekend, and their always daunting pack will present Australia with a different problem to the relative inexperience of England's forwards. The Azzurri are also playing with unprecedented gusto under Jacques Brunel, which could make for an entertaining game. The Wallabies, on the other hand, can congratulate themselves on probably their best result of the year at Twickenham and thus have plenty to build on in the final two games of their European tour. Surely, they will head to Florence under no illusions as to how tough Italy will be, and it a definite plus that Scott Higginbotham, with his aggression, is set to be involved. The prospect of Italy playing a more open game – along with their shortcomings out wide – open up the chances of Australia actually scoring more than one try in a match. That would be wondrous. Australia by about 15 points. - BS

3. Swansea pip Liverpool

Swansea City's 2-1 away victory at St James' Park last weekend probably says more about the ennui that is blighting Newcastle than their own form. Nevertheless, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers faces a bumpy ride against the club with whom he made his name. Rodgers is yet to fully implement at Anfield the precise short passing game that characterised Swansea, despite glimpses of something taking shape, and Liverpool's away form this season has not exactly been stellar. Swansea, while perhaps not holding any huge grudge against their former manager, will be primed and fervent in their quest to bring him down on Sunday, and it would be one of Liverpool's best results of the year if they can go to Liberty Stadium and win – Swansea are, after all, above them on the table, albeit by just one point. In an extremely close encounter, Swansea may just snatch it 2-1. - BS

4. Webber wins in Brazil, Vettel takes title

Fernando Alonso has done an amazing job to keep the Formula One title alive going into the final race of the season. Unfortunately for him the final race of the year is in Brazil, at a circuit that most suits Red Bull and a track where he has never greeted the chequered flag first. Alonso's task is made even harder by the fact that a win alone won't be enough to give him the championship, as he needs Sebastian Vettel to finish fifth or lower as well. The fact Vettel only needs to finish fourth to secure his third title, and become the youngest driver in the history of the sport to do so, should work in Mark Webber's favour. Vettel will be playing it ultra conservative this weekend and with the Red Bull tuned to perfection it is the perfect opportunity for the Aussie to grab a win. - BH

5. Aussies, Proteas reach another stalemate

For a ground that so often presents itself as a batsman's paradise, Adelaide Oval has only produced two draws in the last 14 Tests. The Brisbane Test showed that both South Africa and Australia are laden with batting talent, but the attacks were found wanting. If that continues to be the case then another draw is almost certain to result. Australia's bowlers performed the best at the Gabba, but the pressure will really come to bear on Nathan Lyon this weekend, with spinners expected to do the lion's share of the work in Adelaide. If a draw is the result, it will be the first time these two sides have played consecutive draws against each other since 1921. - BH

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of BigPond Sport.

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