This week saw some exciting football and shocking results as the European championships featured across various grounds mid-week, we saw Barcelona stunned, Napoli’s unbeaten run ended by Madrid, Arsenal mauled and the Pogba brothers sharing more hugs than tackles. The bread and butter of league football however makes a return this weekend but in England, the Premier League fades to the background this weekend as the FA cup takes center stage. You can be forgiven for thinking all other leagues are also on break but that is wrong as league football continues across all other countries, here are the top 5 highlights to look out for this weekend across the world.
1. The NPFL enters Week 9- The Nigerian Professional League which took a break from midweek football returns this weekend with some juicy ties across the centers. Remo Stars new manager Fatai Osho has to hit the ground running as his team lie bottom of the log, they host 8th place Lobi Stars and know that only three points will do the Ogun State based team a world of good. League leaders Plateau United host Niger Tornadoes as they seek to bounce back from their first defeat of the season, other fixtures include, Abia Warriors at home to El Kanemi Warriors, Katsina United VS Shooting Stars, Gombe United VS Akwa United and Sunshine Stars away at Nasarawa United. The likes of MFM, ABS and Enyimba have had their games postponed as their opponents all have continental engagements.
2. Barcelona seeks to bounce back: After the shocking defeat the Catalan giants suffered in Paris during their Champions league tie, under pressure Luis Enrique will be seeking for some form of response from his team as they welcome Leganes to the Nou Camp Sunday night, league leaders Real Madrid who enjoyed better fortune in Europe will welcome Espanyol as they seek to maintain their top position on the log whilst third place Sevilla host Eibar in a game they just need to win so as not to stay too far off the top two teams. Villareal who got battered in the Europa cup are away at Real Sociedad while Athletico Madrid will take on Sporting Gijon in some of the key fixtures.
3. Upsets in the FA Cup?: The FA cup has always had the glory of major scalps being taken over the years even though we have seen the big teams taking it bit more serious of late as the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United are recent winners. There is no really mouth watering tie in this round as the top sides have been kept apart but don’t rule out an upset from any of the grounds.
Key fixtures: Wolves VS Chelsea, Millwall VS Leicester City, Fulham VS Tottenham Hotspurs, Blackburn VS Manchester United and Monday night football where Sutton United welcome Arsenal.
4. Across other leagues: In Germany, Bayern Munich who are 7 points clear on the log and off the back of their annihilation of Arsenal in the Champions league making the second leg more or less a formality are away at Hertha Berlin, second place Leipzig are also away at Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund host Wolfsburg. In France, the race is on as PSG who are in a fine vein of form are just three points away off leaders Monaco, whilst Monaco who have been free scoring are away at Bastia, PSG hosts Colosseum. Third placed Nice are also away to Lorient. In Italy, runaway leaders Juventus host Palermo, Roma host Torino, Napoli are away at Verona whilst the Milan teams, Inter and AC takes on Bologna and Fiorentina respectively.
5. Lights out for Arsene Wenger?- All eyes will be on the Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger this weekend following his teams defeat in the hands of Bayern Munich and the voices calling for his exit seemingly more united than ever over the last few days. Luckily for him, it is a little matter of Sutton in the FA cup on Monday night and this should give the team a chance to at least restore sanity with a convincing win. Arsene Wenger has been in the news since Wednesday night as pundits, fans and analyst have had their say on his career and the time for him to finally call it quit. However, for fans of football, especially followers of the Premier league, how best do you think Arsene Wenger will be remembered? The manager that re-defined the style of English football, the man who helped them make that move from Highbury to the Emirates, the manager who has failed to win the league in 13 years, the manager who has seen his team knocked out in the second round of the Champions league for the last six years (maybe seven) and who has never won the big trophy, how best will fans remember the French man if he does eventually reject the new contract offered and call it quit at the end of this season?
**Share your thoughts below in the comments section.