With Germany and Italy’s top divisions on winter hiatus this weekend, the English Premier League and Spanish Liga BBVA will be in European spotlight. French soccer will also be on display when the country’s Coupe de France resumes.
The top four race in England is heating up and Manchester City’s trip to Watford on Saturday will be critical in City’s title aspirations in 2016. The Citizens currently sit third in the league table, three points behind league leaders Arsenal, while the Hornets sit firmly in the top 10 with 29 points. Two of the Premier League’s top goal-scorers will do battle when City’s Sergio Aguero and Watford’s Odion Ighalo meet at Vicarage Road.
In Spain, fourth place Villareal will travel to sixth place Deportivo La Coruña on Sunday with the hopes of keeping La Liga leaders Barcelona in sight. Lucas leads the way for Deportivo, having totaled 12 goals this season in league play. At that mark, the winger only trails Barcelona duo Neymar and Luis Suarez, as well as Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Three of the top four (Arsenal, Leicester City, and Manchester City) will be featured on Saturday, however, Sunday’s duo of fixtures will be just as delectable. Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea kicks the day off against fifth place Crystal Palace, while Tottenham looks to remain in the EPL title chase when they travel to Everton.
Hiddink has seen his second stint in London begin with two consecutive draws against Watford and Manchester United, and Sunday’s trip to Palace won’t be any easier. Alan Pardew’s team comes into the matchup six games unbeaten, including a 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle back in November.
Over at Goodison Park, Roberto Martinez and his side look to crack the top 10 with a win over Tottenham, while Spurs could leap into the top 3 with three points. Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, second in the EPL with 15 goals this season, will pace the home side, while Tottenham forward Harry Kane leads the traveling side with 11 finishes in league play.
West Ham United vs. Liverpool
Arsenal vs. Newcastle United
Leicester City vs. AFC Bournemouth
Manchester United vs. Swansea City
Norwich City vs. Southampton
Sunderland vs. Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion vs. Stoke City
Watford vs. Manchester City
Crystal Palace vs. Chelsea
Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur
SPANISH LIGA BBVA
Barcelona resumed league play on Wednesday with a 4-0 victory over Real Betis, following its FIFA Club World Cup title 10 days earlier. The Blaugrana will take on mid-table side Espanyol on Saturday, looking to keep tabs on the top spot in the league. Luis Enrique’s side is riding a 17-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, a feat that has made Barcelona one of the world’s most in-form clubs.
Towards the bottom of the table, Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad will each do its part to remain afloat in La Liga with a win this weekend. Rayo sits in 19th place as things stand, while Sociedad is just two points above the drop zone with 16 points.
Espanyol vs. Barcelona
Atletico Madrid vs. Levante
Malaga vs. Celta Vigo
Rayo Vallecano vs. Real Sociedad
Granada vs. Sevilla
Real Betis vs. Eibar
Athletic Bilbao vs. Las Palmas
Deportivo La Coruña vs. Villareal
Valencia vs. Real Madrid
Sporting Gijon vs. Getafe