Weekend Wanderings: Liverpool face Tottenham, Celtic take on second place Rangers and Sunderland go head to head with Portsmouth in the Checkatrade final

Wasn’t the international break fun? Unless you’re a Scotland fan of course. 

This weekend it’s time for a number of clubs to reassemble as they prepare to battle for the final two months of the season.

Alasdair Hooper has all the top games you should be keeping an eye on this weekend. 

1. Can Tottenham throw another spanner in the works in Liverpool’s quest for the title? 

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Arguably the game of the weekend comes from Anfield as Liverpool host Tottenham.

The Reds currently sit top of the table, although that could all change by the time the game kicks off as Manchester City – who also have a game in hand – take on Fulham on Saturday.

After their Christmas points advantage slipped away Jurgen Klopp’s team have had their uninspiring moments but have still been capable of producing a result when needed.

However, in Tottenham they face a team who have more than enough talent to go toe to toe with them.

Spurs may finally have gotten the chance to unveil their new stadium to the fanbase but that doesn’t hide their worrying recent form, with three league defeats in the last four.

Suddenly their rivals Arsenal are hot on their tails gunning for third spot and Mauricio Pochettino certainly won’t be wanting that to happen.

2. Will Celtic continue to break clear at the top of the table with an Old Firm win? 

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Whenever there is an Old Firm derby, the occasion itself is enough to gain the attention of fans all over.

Celtic may be cruising to another league title and Neil Lennon’s second stint as manager – albeit in the interim this time around – is going relatively smoothly.

A win against Steve Gerrard’s second-placed Rangers will give Celtic a 13-point lead and strengthen Lennon’s claims for the manager’s job on a permanent position, even though it seems pretty clear he will get it anyway.

The Northern Irishman currently has a 50 percent win record in old firm fixtures – the third best among Celtic managers over the last 19 years.

All eyes will be on him in his first Old Firm fixture since April 2012.

3. Can Southend escape their freefall after the sacking of Chris Powell? 

Following 11-games without a win, Chris Powell’s tenure as Southend manager came to an end on Wednesday with his sacking.

The former Southend player and the club looked to be a match made in heaven when he first arrived but in recent months results have taken a slide with the club now sitting just a place above the League One drop zone.

Of course, it’s been well documented that the League One relegation battle currently involves around 13 of the 24 teams with 12th-placed Gillingham only five points clear of Walsall in 21st.

So as Southend desperately try and climb their way up the table, their first match is pivotal as it comes against a relegation rival in Shrewsbury, who are just a place and a point above them.

Ricky Duncan, the head of Southend’s Academy is in temporary charge at the moment but a huge performance will be required to stop the freefall.

4. Will a trophy signal a change in fortune for Sunderland?

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Sunderland’s miserable past few years are well known – back-to-back relegations were just the tip of the iceberg.

However, following their drop into League One this year the club ownership was changed and in came Jack Ross from St Mirren.

It’s safe to say the work the Scot is doing is going down incredibly well with fans with the team on the hunt for promotion and a sense of joy returning.

However, Ross quickly identified the Checkatrade Trophy as a real opportunity to bring the club some silverware and this Sunday they take on their League One rivals Portsmouth at Wembley in the final.

With little separating them points wise in the league, Kenny Jackett’s Portsmouth will also believe they stand a good chance of winning in front of the 80,000 strong crowd.

They also have a manager, in the shape of Jackett, who has been around the leagues for a long time and knows how to get things done.

5. Can Arsenal hold onto the top spot in the WSL? 

The WSL title race is still incredibly close with Arsenal and Manchester City separated by just a point, although the Gunners have a game in hand.

Joe Montemurro’s side have long been scoring for fun and their resounding 5-1 victory over Liverpool last weekend showed just that.

Vivianne Miedema remains in incredible goalscoring form herself with 19 goals now in the league.

This Sunday Arsenal make the trip to Birmingham, who might just have a say in where the WSL title ends up.

The Blues have long been battling to be the best of the rest – behind Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea – and currently occupy fourth.

The Gunners will need to be on top form if they are to keep their place at the top of the table.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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