Futaa's Five big matches to watch out for this weekend
After a brief break, the English Premier League will once again bounce back into our lives this weekend with a full schedule spanning Saturday to Monday, with Manchester City and Wolves closing out the action.
There are key battles at the top and the bottom of the world-famous English Premier League, while Real Madrid will attempt to dig themselves out of a hole in Spain.
West Ham vs Arsenal
Saturday's early kickoff is another London derby for Arsenal, who dispatched Fulham on New Year's Day. They visit the unpredictable West Ham United, who now have in their ranks the controversial and talented Arsenal old boy Samir Nasri. Watch out for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has scored six goals and assisted two more in his last four London derbies.
Burnley vs Fulham
The two worst defensive teams in the Premier League meet here in a hugely important battle at the bottom. Burnley have shipped 42 goals this season; Fulham 47. Fulham went out of the FA Cup at home to Oldham, so their focus will now be squarely on EPL survival. They did beat Huddersfield with a stoppage-time Aleksandar Mitrovic goal just before the turn of the year, and they'll need more of the same here. Burnley beat the same opponents three days later, and it feels as though there's nothing to pick between these struggling sides on Saturday.
It's certainly not going to be pretty, but it's a match that neither team can afford to lose.
Tottenham vs Man United
Many observers believe that this will be the first true test of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's management credentials. Still, it's hard to deny that his influence has been a positive one both on and off the pitch. United have won four straight EPL matches but in Tottenham, they face a fellow top four contender. Tottenham has won their last two home battles with United in the Premier League, which indicates the size of the task facing Solskajer and his charges.
This is arguably the highlight of the weekend action.
Marseille vs Monaco
Cesc Fabregas hasn't signed on the dotted line yet, but his arrival at AS Monaco is all but decided and that should give the struggling Ligue 1 outfit a boost. Arsenal legend Thierry Henry will be glad to have one of his favourite former teammates on board; Spaniard Fabregas will add experience to a youthful side desperately in need of points.
Monaco progressed to the French Cup semifinals but their focus will be to lift themselves higher than second-bottom, a position which they precariously currently occupy. There have been 25 goals scored in the last five Ligue 1 meetings between these sides, so fireworks are on the cards, but Henry would love a 1-0 win.
Real Betis vs Real Madrid
European Champions Real Madrid doesn't seem to have adjusted to life without Cristiano Ronaldo. They endured a tough start to the season, steadied the ship a little bit towards the end of 2018 but 2019 has started badly as the Spanish giants slipped to a 2-0 defeat at home to Real Sociedad.
They travel to Real Betis, a side only one place below them in LaLiga, known for their attacking and sometimes unpredictable brand of football. It isn't going to get any easier for Real Madrid, who surely must win this game to stay in the title race.