Thursday Lunchtime Sports Update

SOCCER

Arsenal, Chelsea, Celtic and Rangers are all in Europa League action tonight.

Chelsea have left Eden Hazard at home for their game against Salonika in Greece.


Bernd Leno could make his long-awaited Arsenal debut against Vorskla Poltava at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners paid Bayer Leverkusen 19 million pounds for the German goalkeeper in the summer, but he has yet to feature.

New Arsenal manager Unai Emery won the Europa League three times while manager of Sevilla, and he is eager to lift the trophy again.

Celtic meet Rosenborg for the third time this season.

The Scottish title holders overcame their Norwegian counterparts in the second qualifying of the Champions League, but failed to reach the play-offs.

Bhoys boss Brendan Rodgers has no issue with playing Rosenborg again and says a group stage encounter poses a different challenge.

BOXING

British boxer Anthony Joshua thinks his world heavyweight defence on Saturday night will be a cracker.

He faces the big punching Alexander Povetkin at Wembley.

AJ has told Sky Sports News that the style of the two fighters should make it a real spectacle.

GOLF

Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne are all preparing to tee off at the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura.

Harrington will be aiming to build on recent run of form.

The Dublin recorded his second successive top five finish for the first time in nine years at the Dutch Open last week.

He’s been speaking with Scott Elliot.

Ireland’s Robin Dawson was 1-under through 12 while Renato Paratore and Matt Wallace are the early leaders on six under.

Rory McIlroy faces an uphill battle to win the FedEx Cup at the season ending Tour Championship, which tees off in Georgia today.

The Ulster man lies 17th in the play-off standings. 

RUGBY

Munster will be without Keith Earls once again for tomorrow’s Pro 14 match against the Cardiff Blues in Wales.

Last season’s Irish player of the year had been available for selection following his summer break, but he picked up a knock during the week which has now ruled him out.

After last week’s big win over the Osprey’s, Earls says Munster are in a good position.

In all there are six changes to the Munster side that beat Ospreys last week as Castleisland’s JJ Hanrahan comes in at full-back.

Hanrahan joins Andrew Conway and Darren Sweetnam in the back three as Duncan Williams and Joey Carbery continue their half-back partnership.

CJ Stander makes his first appearance of the season in a back row that also includes captain Peter O’Mahony and Chris Cloete.

There is an all-changed centre partnership with Jaco Taute making his first start since returning from injury alongside Rory Scannell.

Hooker Mike Sherry and second row Jean Kleyn are the only two alterations to the pack.

James Cronin and Stephen Archer pack down in the front row with Sherry and Kleyn joins Tadhg Beirne in the engine room.

Academy prop Eric O’Sullivan and winger Angus Kernohan will make thier first starts for Ulster agains the Cheetahs in South Africa tommorow.

They come into the team as two of six changes to the side that beat the Southern Kings on Sunday.


England have raised a few eyebrows by leaving Danny Cipriani out of their latest squad.

Coach Eddie Jones says the decision was based on form, but Cipriani is considered to have excelled with Gloucester in the early stages of the season.

Cipriani was fined after pleading guilty to common assault and resisting arrest in Jersey in August, but Jones says his decision is “100 per cent” on rugby grounds.

England will face South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia in November.

RACING

There is racing today at Clonmel, where the first of a seven-race card goes to the post at 3.50.