Weekend Wanderings: Southampton fight for survival, the Scottish Cup Semi-Final takes off and Schalke face Borussia Dortmund in a European derby

Have we caught our breath yet following that week of Champions League action? After one of the most incredible weeks in European football Alasdair Hooper looks ahead to the domestic action which will no doubt be packed full of drama this weekend. Whether it’s last minute winners, dramatic turnarounds or controversial refereeing decisions there are bound to be some if not many in his Weekend Wanderings.

1) Will Southampton’s race for survival be over with a loss this weekend?

In answer to this question, officially, no. Should Southampton lose against Chelsea on Saturday then relegation is not guaranteed.

However, following a disastrous defeat to West Ham and a last minute demoralising loss against Arsenal last time out you get the feeling Mark Hughes and his team need a boost – and soon.

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Meanwhile Chelsea are in need of a boost themselves with hope of Champions League qualification pretty much extinguished. A loss to Tottenham followed up by a draw against West Ham has left Antonio Conte’s 2017 title-winners in fifth, ten points adrift of Tottenham.

Either way, this is a game where both teams need points on the board as quickly as possible.

2) Has Manchester City’s aura vanished following a disastrous week?

Manchester City will still win the Premier League title at a canter but considering recent events suddenly this characteristic of them being one of the best sides ever has disappeared.

After being humbled by Liverpool in the Champions League and beaten at home by rivals Manchester United in what should have been their title party, suddenly there are no other trophies up for grabs.

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With ‘only’ a double now on the cards, Manchester City will have to snap out of their current form as on Saturday evening Tottenham could dish out a fourth defeat in a row – all in the space of a week and a half.

But still, you can only be so upset when you’re essentially Premier League title-winners elect.

3) Who will advance to the Scottish Cup final?

This weekend we are treated to one Scottish cup semi-final on Saturday and another on Sunday, with the latter having a particularly feisty and familiar feel about it.

On the Saturday Motherwell play Aberdeen with Derek McInnes desperate to add another trophy to his repertoire so that there is more to show for his work in the Granite City.

However, the following day there is an Old Firm Derby to look forward to as Celtic and Rangers do battle once again.

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Celtic have continued to have the edge over their city rivals this season as they dramatically won the last derby 3-2 in March.

Either way someone mighty will fall at the last hurdle before the showpiece final.

4) Will Manchester City or Chelsea reach the FA Cup final?

Although the WSL1 title race is potentially a battle between five clubs right now the top of the table has a familiar look about it.

Chelsea are top with Manchester City second – two sides who have established themselves as the new powerhouses in women’s football in England. As such it is always a big occasion when Emma Hayes and Nick Cushing’s teams play each other and this Sunday that’s exactly what we’ve got.

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To add extra spice to the occasion it is also the semi-final of the FA Women’s Cup.

These encounters are always close but someone has to lose ahead of the final at Wembley.

5) Why not kick back and enjoy two special European derbies?

Because there were too many exciting fixtures this weekend we had to combine two.

On Sunday there are two classic derby match-ups, which are sure to entertain fans on our shores.

First up is the Ruhr derby as Schalke face Borussia Dortmund and if it’s anything like their last league meeting it will be immense.

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On that occasion Dortmund blew a 4-0 lead to draw 4-4 so will come out on top this time?

Later that day in Italy, it’s the Rome derby as Lazio play Roma – a few days after the latter side’s success in coming back and knocking out Barcelona in the Champions League.

To make matters at the Stadio Olympico even more exciting both teams are locked together on 60 points.

Not only will the derby be a fiery occasion, it could also be a key fixture in the Serie A top-four race.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992


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