Weekend Wanderings: battles for promotion aplenty in the Championship, while rescheduled Women’s FA Cup returns

Alasdair Hooper runs down the top picks from this weekend’s matches.

After the disruption caused by Storm Ciara last weekend – to fixtures and last week’s preview of games – everyone will be hoping that Storm Dennis won’t have the same impact.

So, as the country prepares to batten down the hatches for the second weekend in a row, here are the games you might be able to enjoy if they go ahead.

Fingers crossed.

Lazio v Inter Milan (Sunday, 7.45pm)

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One game that should certainly go ahead has the potential to be a thriller as the Italian title race heats up.

With Juventus losing last weekend, Inter winning the Milan derby in exhilarating fashion, and Lazio also coming away with three points, the top three in Serie A are separated by just one point.

This weekend top-of-the-table Inter take on Lazio in Rome, with both sides knowing that whoever wins will gain vital ground in the race for the Scudetto.

Many will back Inter in this match – Antonio Conte has won titles before with Juventus after all – but the rise and form of Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio side has the underdogs in with a real fighting chance.

This should be ideal Sunday night entertainment.

Arsenal v Newcastle United (Sunday, 4.30pm)

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The Premier League may be in its winter break but there is still half a fixture list to take place.

When the season started, many people would probably have laughed in your face if you had said Arsenal and Newcastle would meet in February on the same number of points. Yet here we are.

Both teams come up against each other at The Emirates locked on 31 points – a sign of how bad Arsenal have been, but also of how Steve Bruce has impressed and managed to get results with his Newcastle team.

Logic dictates that Mikel Arteta’s team should be favourites here but, while the atmosphere has improved since the Emery days, translating Arsenal’s performances into wins is proving to be a struggle.

With 13 draws to their name this season, there’s a clear reason as to why Arsenal are where they are in the league table.

With that in mind, Newcastle might just fancy their chances in this game.

Leeds United v Bristol City (Saturday, 3pm)

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The race for promotion from the Championship has heated up in recent weeks.

For much of the season West Brom and Leeds looked as if they would fight it out in the two automatic spots. But – whether it’s mental fragility or a customary Marcelo Bielsa drop-off – Leeds United’s form has dipped.

That recent run has now left them on 56 points, still in second, but with a host of clubs breathing down their necks.

One of those sides – seventh-place Bristol City – travel to Elland Road this weekend. They are just three points behind Leeds.

With two defeats and a draw in their last three games, the home side desperately need to change the momentum if they are to get promoted after years out of the top flight

West Bromwich Albion v Nottingham Forest (Saturday, 12.30pm)

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Speaking of promotion races, West Brom appear to have addressed their own mini-slump that coincided with the one Leeds were experiencing.

But three wins in their last three means Slaven Bilić’s side have stretched ahead and are now six points clear at the top of the table.

But they also face the prospect of a fellow promotion-contender coming to their ground with a real chance.

After years of instability, Nottingham Forest are finally enjoying a season of positivity under the management of Sabri Lamouchi.

They are currently fifth but that second automatic spot should really serve as added motivation for everyone involved.

Chelsea Women v Liverpool Women (Sunday, 12.30pm)

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After the fixtures in the women’s game were wiped out by Storm Ciara last weekend, it’s time for the return of the Women’s FA Cup.

At Kingsmeadow it is an all-WSL affair as Chelsea host a Liverpool side who are striving to find some inspiration and momentum from somewhere.

Vicky Jepson’s side did win their last league fixture against Bristol City – although that was some time ago now due to the fixture issues – but this represents a chance to play without fear.

Chelsea will undoubtedly be favourites to advance and they are in imperious form.

This game also means we might get to see more of the Blues’ prospects of the future on the pitch, such as 16-year-old Emily Murphy who has already caught the attention with her goalscoring exploits.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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