Five crunch midweek clashes to look forward to

Five crunch midweek clashes to look forward to

The busy festive schedule for Europe's major leagues is just around the corner with football matches flowing through thick and fast. 

The UEFA Champions League group stage concludes on Matchday 6 with only half of the knockout stage spots filled, and the rest set to be concluded this week.

There is also English Premier League action with a London Derby on the cards as West Ham host Arsenal.

What are some of the key fixtures you can look forward to this week?

West Ham vs Arsenal - Monday 

Arsenal will head to the London Stadium to take on Manuel Pellegrini's West Ham. The Hammers had been on a losing streak until their 1-0 win over Chelsea, before Wolves blanked them 2-0 last week. 

Arsenal, on the other hand, are struggling and lost 2-1 at home against Brighton last week. Freddie Ljungberg will be keen on winning his first match in charge, having drawn and suffered a defeat in his opening two fixtures.

This promises to be a cracker of a match.

Salzburg v Liverpool - Tuesday 

A win against Salzburg is the only sure way for Liverpool to book a place in the next round.

They will need to do so against an interesting side in Europe that has scored 16 times, with three of those coming at Anfield against the Reds. 

Erling Braut Haaland is the team's dangerman, and for Salzburg to stand a chance of upsetting the holders, they will need him at his best 

Ajax v Valencia - Tuesday

Group H is one of the most complicated groups with no team yet assured of a place in the next round. Ajax will need only a point to book a place, while Valencia will need three points. 

Chelsea are expected to beat Lille and book a place, and in such a scenario, either Ajax or Valencia will drop out. 

Ajax won the reverse fixture 3-0 in Spain, and are favorites once again playing at their fortress. 

Inter Milan vs Barcelona - Wednesday

Barcelona have already booked a place in the next round with Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund left to battle for the remaining ticket. 

Both teams will be playing at home and that can determine a lot. A win for Antonio Conte's men will see them through, even though Dortmund can complicate the qualification if they win with a bigger margin against Slavia Prague. 

Atlético Madrid v Lokomotiv Moskva - Wednesday 

Atlético Madrid had not lost more than once in a group campaign since 2019/10, but back-to-back defeats by Leverkusen and Juventus have ended that run and put qualification in doubt.

A victory over Lokomotiv would still see them through, though the Russian team has already won in Germany and led for a long while in Turin in their previous away fixtures. 

They will be a tough nut to crack for Diego Simeone's men, but they can be up to the task as only a win will guarantee them a spot in the next round.