Weekend Wanderings: Liverpool face Bournemouth, Manchester City take on Chelsea and Ipswich manager Paul Lambert returns to former club in East Anglian derby

Whether it is title races, relegation scraps or trying to progress in cup competitions we are fast approaching crunch time in the season.

With every point becoming increasingly valuable there are yet more big games this weekend as clubs try to chase glory or avoid danger.

Alasdair Hooper has all the games you should be keeping tabs on this weekend.

1. Can Liverpool reclaim the Premier League top spot?

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With Manchester City playing in midweek, and Liverpool being held to West Ham on Monday, Pep Guardiola’s side have reclaimed top spot in the Premier League courtesy of their win against Everton.

While the team have played a game more than Liverpool, the Reds will be the first to take to the field at the weekend.

A win against Bournemouth would see them overtake City but with two draws on the spin – and two wins in their last five – is the pressure starting to show?

Monday night’s game against West Ham was far from a vintage show from Jurgen Klopp’s team but they will need to find their form very soon if they are to end that long wait for a league title.

2. Can Manchester City keep the pressure on by downing a top six rival?

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Regardless of whether Liverpool win or lose on Saturday, Manchester City have a difficult task ahead of them on Sunday.

Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea make the trip to the Etihad on Sunday afternoon knowing they are capable of beating one of the best outfits in the land – they’ve already done so this season after all.

But while Chelsea are more than capable of putting on impressive displays they also have a habit of mysteriously imploding – see their game against Bournemouth by way of an example – and that often leaves the manager calling out his players in public.

On paper Manchester City’s test this weekend looks infinitely tougher than Liverpool’s but, if the full force of City’s attack shows up on Sunday, then we all know what it can do to any defence.

3. Will Manchester City dish out a double defeat to Chelsea?

While Manchester City and Chelsea go head-to head in the Premier League on Sunday at 4pm, three hours earlier the women’s teams also face off in the WSL.

Manchester City Women will host Chelsea Women just a matter of days after the same two clubs met in the League Cup semi-finals.

A Nikita Parris double sealed a 2-0 win for City who made it through to the final on that Wednesday night at Kingsmeadow.

Nick Cushing’s team certainly have the momentum at this moment in time, they sit top of the table and are sure to have extra confidence from their cup win.

But we all know what Emma Hayes’ Chelsea side are capable of when they’re in full flow.

At the moment the Blues need to concentrate and focus on getting out of their current run of form.

Everything seemed rosy after they toppled Arsenal in the WSL but since then – leaving aside a 2-0 FA Cup win over Everton – they’ve lost key games against Birmingham and Manchester City.

4. A not-so-welcome return for Paul Lambert

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Not so long ago Paul Lambert was making waves as manager of Norwich City and was touted as the second coming of Martin O’Neil.

However, since his departure in 2012 the Scot has gone from Aston Villa to Blackburn to Wolves to Stoke and now finds himself managing Norwich City’s rivals Ipswich.

What’s more, to say Ipswich are in a pickle right now is a bit of an understatement.

The team are rooted to the foot of the Championship with just three wins all season and 18 points picked up.

So what could be the perfect reminder for Lambert of his past glories?

A trip to Norwich of course, where the Canaries are flying with Daniel Farke at the helm.

Norwich currently sit top of the Championship on goal difference and level on points with Leeds and on paper this derby game is a mis-match.

But stranger things have happened.

5. Can Real Madrid usurp their city rivals?

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Elsewhere in derby land we are also treated to another in Spain – the Madrid derby.

It’s no secret that Real Madrid’s sticky start to the season has left them playing catch up for most of the campaign.

With the occasional hiccup still in them they have eventually started to claw their way back to a position more familiar to them.

At present they lie third in the table on 42 points.

The team above them in second just happen to be their city rivals Atletico, who are now just two points clear after defeat last time out against Real Betis – a not so welcome debut for Chelsea loanee, and former Real player, Alvaro Morata.

Naturally, if there’s one thing you can expect from this Saturday afternoon clash, it’s will be intensity – it is a derby match with Diego Simeone occupying one of the dugouts after all.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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