Weekend Wanderings: Liverpool face Everton in the Merseyside derby as Lincoln City take on Shrewsbury in the EFL Trophy and Manchester City close in on the Premier League title

With plenty of stunning midweek European action behind us this week all eyes return to domestic leagues where there are points and silverware on offer.

This weekend brings us a mix of derbies, a managerial return and a Wembley cup final.

Alasdair Hooper is here to tell you what you should be keeping your eye on this weekend.

1) Will Manchester City finally wrap up the title against their biggest rivals?

After being ripped apart by Liverpool’s attack in the Champions League, Manchester City can finally seal the deal domestically this weekend.

Pep Guardiola’s side have been stunningly consistent and a win on Saturday evening will confirm their seemingly inevitable title win – the earliest any team has won it in the Premier League era.

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But the game is extra spicy purely because of their opponents as rivals Manchester United travel to the Etihad.

Will City rise to the occasion or will they have one eye on the second leg against Liverpool?

2) Will Liverpool’s thunderous form pile more misery on their Merseyside rivals?

The first chapter of the ‘derby day’ starts early Saturday as Liverpool travel to Everton.

The ever-eventful Merseyside derby often brings excitement but Jurgen Klopp’s reds will be soaring following their efforts on Wednesday night.

However, there are question marks over the fitness of star man Mohamed Salah and – much like City – they may have their focus pointed elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce and Everton – while they may sit ninth in the table – have come close to petering out.

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With the season coming to an end there isn’t much for the Toffees to play for and Allardyce remains a man who is tough to love from the perspective of the Everton faithful.

Time will tell if Big Sam can give Goodison Park a Merseyside triumph.

3) Will Real Madrid close in on second place in La Liga?

With many still gasping open mouthed at Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning goal in the Champions League Real Madrid now have to turn their attention back to a big derby match on Sunday.

Overall, considering the quality they possess, Real’s La Liga campaign has been bitterly disappointing but since the turn of the year their form has been impressive.

As a result they have risen to third place and are four points behind second-placed Atletico Madrid – who they play on Sunday afternoon.

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On the other side Diego Simeone’s side continue to battle in the Europa League and they remain relatively consistent in La Liga but they have now lost two of their last five in the league.

We all know Atletico are capable of holding off their city rivals but Real are in flying form right now.

4) The return of Aitor Karanka to Middlesbrough

After enjoying promotion with Middlesbrough, Aitor Karanka returns to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday for the first time since his departure last season.

The Spaniard, now in charge of Nottingham Forest, should receive a warm welcome from fans despite the highs and lows.

However, in terms of the game, Forest come into the match following a defeat and three draws in their last four.

Tony Pulis, now in the hot seat at Middlesbrough, is still working on securing the clubs playoff place.

Boro are without a win in three league games but they are clinging onto that final play-off spot, one point ahead of seventh-placed Bristol City.

Karanka may receive a warm welcome but he could seriously impact his old side’s promotion hopes.

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5) Who will take home the EFL Trophy at Wembley?

On Sunday we are treated to a cup final as League Two Lincoln City face League One’s Shrewsbury at Wembley in the EFL Trophy.

Everyone remembers Lincoln’s stunning FA Cup run last season and – under the stewardship of brothers Danny and Nicky Cowley – the side are continuing to rise.

Last season they were a non-league side but they are currently battling it out in a playoff spot seeking promotion to League One.

Meanwhile Shrewsbury have impressed for much of the season and currently sit second in League One.

As a result that will probably make them favourites although they will be missing captain Abu Ogogo because of a knee injury.

Cup final’s are always a special occasion, however, and this affair is sure to be a closely fought encounter.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992


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