United overshadow FA Cup again in match of the weekend

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 February, 2000, 12:00am

It's rare that a single Premier League match can outweigh the FA Cup quarter-final programme but that's the case this week as the top two clubs, Manchester United and Leeds, go head-to-head on Sunday.

The match kicks off at the surprisingly early hour of 11.30am in England, 7.30pm here, and CABLE's coverage begins at 7pm.

Bearing in mind the stakes - United lead Leeds by three points - it will be interesting to see how much restraint, if any, the two sides apply in the wake of recent disciplinary criticism both have faced.

Their first meeting, early in the season (also seen on CABLE), gave a worldwide audience its first appreciation of Leeds' potential as title challengers. David O'Leary's youngsters played the better football for the first hour at Old Trafford but were beaten by two Dwight Yorke goals.

Last week United suffered their third loss of the campaign, 3-0 at Newcastle, with Roy Keane sent off. They rarely lose two in a row.

Leeds won a scrappy match at home to Tottenham, courtesy of a moment of Harry Kewell magic. But their form since the New Year has been patchy with three losses and two wins from five games.

While this clash of the giants usurps the FA Cup from it's position of pre-eminence there are still some intriguing matchups in the knockout competition.

And CABLE has every one of those four games live, too. There is only one match from England tomorrow, the all-First Division Bolton v Charlton tie. Then Sunday it's near-continuous live action from 7pm through to 2am on Monday. The league match from Elland Road is followed by Tranmere v Newcastle both on Channel 6. While the latter match is still in progress CABLE will use Channel 18 to cover the Chelsea v Gillingham match, which has the biggest potential for an upset.

Then, at midnight, the round concludes with the only all-Premiership tie as Everton, unbeaten at home, face Aston Villa who are on a roll of good results.

There are also four live Serie A matches this weekend with two of them absolute standouts. There seem to be great games each week in Italy these days, mainly because there are at least six sides still in the title hunt.

This week the pick of the bunch are fourth-placed Roma at home to eighth-placed Fiorentina (late tomorrow) and then third-placed AC Milan at home to second-placed Lazio (late on Sunday).