Weekend Wanderings: Arsenal vs Man Utd and derby rivals face off

After a phenomenal midweek of action, and some startling results in Europe, it’s time to turn our attention back to the domestic football this weekend.

With rivalries, points and titles all up for grabs, Alasdair Hooper looks at the games you should be keeping an eye on.

  1. Does the Solskjaer train show any sign of stopping?
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Considering the way Manchester United are playing right now you do not want to be a player on the opposition team, just ask the PSG team from Wednesday evening.

As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tightens his grip on the job permanently the next boss to come up against United is one who has already fallen to the side in the FA Cup.

Arsenal and Unai Emery play host as Manchester United travel to the Emirates but – as well as rivalry – there’s also plenty at stake.

A win for the Gunnars will see them overtake Mancester United in fourth.

But a win for United, and it’s difficult to see anything else right now, leaves them four points clear in the final Champions League spot.

2) Who will come out winners in the M23 derby?

One of football’s stranger rivalries takes place on Saturday with both Crystal Palace and Brighton hovering a little too close for comfort to those relegation spots for their liking.

In truth both sides are probably safe as the pair picked up valuable victories last weekend.

Roy Hodgson’s side will be in a particularly buoyant mood following their convincing 3-1 win over Burnley but Brighton also temporarily halted their 2019 slump by beating Huddersfield.

A win for either side will help them look up rather than down but a loss, maybe more so for Brighton, will leave them looking over their shoulders.

3) Can Birmingham put aside their off-pitch issues and claim a valuable derby win?

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Birmingham City have been exceeding expectations this season on the pitch but off the pitch it’s a less positive story.

The club have had financial issues for some time now and a potential breach of the EFL’s financial rules could leave them with a points penalty.

However, with that threat still lingering the playing personnel have to focus on the matter at hand and try to beat city rivals Aston Villa.

Dean Smith’s side’s form has been mixed to say the least but they picked up an important win last time around.

However, they too also have financial issues of their own after posting a £36.1m pre-tax loss earlier in the week.

These are two sets of fans that want nothing more than just football to do the talking.

4) Can Celtic storm clear of the rest with a win over inconsistent Aberdeen?

Brendan Rodgers’ departure was never likely to derail Celtic’s title challenge as Neil Lennon stepped into his old new job with relative ease.

This weekend Celtic host a team who are capable, on their day, of causing them problems.

However, the thing with Aberdeen – while they are undoubtedly one of the stronger teams north of the border – they also have a distinct lack of consistency.

If the Dons spring a surprise and win then the title race remains relatively interesting.

A loss for the Dons, however, could leave them trailing even further behind second-placed Rangers.

5) Have Dortmund blown their league title chances?

In a slightly similar fashion to Liverpool – sorry Liverpool fans – the large lead amassed by Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga has suddenly disappeared by March.

Lucien Favre’s side have won just one of their last five league fixtures and after last weekend’s defeat to Augsburg they are now level on points with Bayern Munich.

Confidence is fragile, and this young team will need to dig deep in their game over Stuttgart this Saturday if they are to keep their title dreams alive.

If there are any more slip-ups you get the feeling Bayern will capitalise fully.


You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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