Christmas is fast approaching and, while a number of us can start thinking about stuffing our faces with turkey, footballers don’t have quite the same luxury. With games coming thick and fast the pressure is ramping up, and Alasdair Hooper is here to let you know what to keep your eyes on this weekend.
1) Will Paul Clement’s sacking act as a catalyst for Swansea City?
As the old proverbial saying goes – another one bites the dust.
On Wednesday evening, the Premier League’s bottom club Swansea City sacked Paul Clement, the man who guided them to safety last season.
However, after having his star men sold in the summer – namely Fernando Llorente and Gylfi Sigurdsson – the Swans have dipped and they look desperate.
As is so often the case when things need a kick-start sacking the manager seems the solution and Clement paid the price three days before a vital game.
On Saturday the Swans face a direct rival in Crystal Palace, whose form has improved dramatically with Roy Hodgson at the helm.
Will the Eagles keep up their form and dish up a heavy blow to the Welsh side?
2) Is there actually a title race in Scotland?
Last weekend Celtic’s remarkable 69-game unbeaten run at home came to a shuddering end as Hearts trounced them 4-0.
The result means the Hoops are still top of the table by five points but suddenly they don’t seem as invincible.
On Saturday they might just be there for the taking as second-placed Aberdeen travel to Celtic Park.
Derek McInnes’ side have a history of not performing in these crunch ties but they still represent the toughest opposition – and challenge – to Celtic’s hold on the league crown.
Should the Dons perform as we know they can, then this game might go a long way to hinting at where the championship will end up.
3) Will we see a classic El Clasico?
However, with Barcelona storming ahead at the top of the La Liga table – and Real Madrid currently 11 points behind in fourth – it’s not quite a title-deciding affair.
Despite that though, the passion runs deep between the two sets of fans and the current political situation between Madrid and Catalonia will also spice things up.
The script might not be Oscar-winning on this occasion but the spectacle could easily turn into a satisfying thriller.
4) Will the situation at AC Milan get even worse?
After a summer of optimism off the back of a raft of new signings much was expected of AC Milan this year (a bit like Everton in truth).
However, the team has struggled for consistency and the manager was sacked with Gennaro Gattuso taking charge.
Last Friday UEFA formally rejected Milan’s application for a voluntary agreement to meet their Financial Fair Play obligations and they could be hit with financial penalties as a result.
Furthermore the ongoing furor regarding star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and his contract is creating another circus show.
This Saturday Everton’s Europa League slayers Atalanta come to the San Siro currently level on points with the Rossaneri.
A defeat will only pile pressure onto the club’s ownership, manager and players even further.
5) Can Juventus claim some valuable points or will Roma close in?
Staying in Italy, such is the closeness of the top four teams, there seems to be a game every couple of weeks that could have implications over who wins the Serie A title.
Napoli currently occupy top spot on 42 points with Juventus second on 41 points.
In third place lie Inter on 40 points while in fourth, on 38 points, it is Roma.
This Saturday evening second play fourth as Roma travel to Turin to face the reigning champions.
Considering the quality both teams possess this promises to be an absorbing encounter in this intense title race.
You can Follow Alasdair Hooper at @adjhooper1992