Winter is in full swing but the non-stop football action is hotting up. Alasdair Hooper picks out five things that you should be keeping your eyes on this weekend…
1) Can this Manchester City team be stopped?
Are they the best team we have ever seen? Will they match Arsenal’s Invincibles and go unbeaten for an entire season? These questions are being asked on a regular basis regarding Pep Guardiola’s table-toppers.
No team has ever had as many points at this stage of a season as Manchester City do right now on 49 and they have just broken the record for most straight wins in a Premier League season with 15.
They have dropped just two points all season and that was to Everton when they were down to 10 men.
After managing to dispatch Manchester United in the derby and Swansea in midweek another tough test arrives this Saturday evening as Tottenham visit the Etihad. Spurs are obviously one of the best teams in the league – but is that enough?
2) Real Madrid eye silverware
It may have passed you by but the ‘prestigious’ Fifa Club World Cup has been taking place in the United Arab Emirates – and the final is this Saturday.
Champions League winners Real Madrid are looking to defend their title and have safely made it into this year’s showpiece following a nervous victory over Abu Dhabi club Al Jazira.
Their opponents are Brazilian side and Copa Libertadores champions Gremio. This could be a lot closer than most people predicted before the competition started.
3) Will Dortmund continue their resurgence against the manager tipped to be their next boss?
After weeks of looking to be a dead man walking, Peter Bosz was finally sacked as Dortmund manager on December 10. His replacement Peter Stoger had himself been fired by bottom side FC Koln just a week before.
In the Austrian’s first game in charge Dortmund managed to register their first win since September. However, many predict Stoger is only intended to be a short-term appointment and the man linked to the Signal Iduna Park hotseat is bringing his team to the ground this Saturday evening.
That would be much-touted Julian Nagelsmann – the Hoffenheim manager. The 30-year-old has had to deny the speculation this week but it will be very interesting to see if his team is affected in any way.
4) Do Liverpool have the know-Howe?
Remember what happened the last time Liverpool travelled to the Vitality Stadium to face Bournemouth in the Premier League? They went 3-1 up with 15 minutes to go then all hell broke loose and they ended up losing 4-3.
While Liverpool’s attack remains as fearsome an entity as it was then, their old failings of being wildly unpredictable and inconsistent also remain. Eddie Howe may just sense another opportunity to kick-start his team into gear.
5) Olympic battle in Ligue 1
While Paris Saint-Germain are inevitably running away with the league the battle for second place in Ligue 1 is intriguing.
Monaco, Lyon and Marseille are all locked on 35 points and two of them go head to head this Sunday night in the ‘Clash of the Olympics’.
Lyon are coping tremendously after more significant losses of playing staff in the summer, while Marseille have also bounced back from mediocrity (with a certain Dimitri Payet captaining them).
Big derbies in French football are always feisty, entertaining affairs and this is certain to be no different.
You can Follow Alasdair Hooper at @adjhooper1992