The weekend sees a series of intriguing clashes with implications at both ends of the table as best meets worst in England while old enemies clash on Merseyside. Arsenal face a key test while Barcelona look to retake the top of table in Spain. These are the five games to watch -- FOXSoccer.com's Jamie Trecker.
Premier League: Newcastle United v West Ham (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC nets)
Reasons to watch: The Hammers are in sizzling form, winning four straight following their midweek clash at Bournemouth. The win, surprising to some, elevated West Ham to fifth place and first year boss Slaven Bilić will hope his London side can maintain ground against the Premier League contenders with a complicated test vs. relegation-threatened Newcastle at St. James' Park.
Premier League: Aston Villa v Leicester (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC nets)
Reasons to watch: Another meeting of opposites, as Villa look to build on their first win in eons midweek with a home clash against the second-place Foxes. The rot is in deep at Villa, where the players look overpaid and inept, the fans are in revolt, and the owner is seeking to get out. It’s a bad, bad mess for a big club, and the Foxes are unlikely to be gracious visitors. Seemingly unable to lose, Leicester come off a big win over Spurs, and will be looking to retake the lead atop the Prem.
Premier League: Stoke v Arsenal (Sunday, 11:15 a.m. ET, NBC nets)
Reasons to watch A tricky clash for an Arsenal side that slipped up late in a thriller at Anfield to drop two points. Stoke have been far more fluent and entertaining this season, deploying a flying front four that torments, while also retaining their historic steel in the back. Arsenal have also show grit, but the absences of Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Alexis Sanchez are starting to show, and this could be a watershed game for the Gunners: win here and the Gunners have a comparatively easy road ahead. A loss would be damaging, and open the door back up for Manchester City.
Premier League: Liverpool v Manchester United (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, NBC nets)
Reasons to watch: Once the greatest rivalry in the game, this meeting of the two most successful clubs in English football has lost quite a bit of luster over the past several seasons. Liverpool are not the giants they once were; United have never recovered from the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. The Reds, however, are starting to show signs of flair under Jurgen Klopp while United generally look boring and miserable under Louis van Gaal. This is a must-win for the embattled Dutchman, but don’t expect them to pull it off.
La Liga: Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, beIN)
Reasons to watch: Barca will look to extend their 21-game unbeaten streak at the Basque club’s expense, with an eye on clambering back atop La Liga. Fresh off another Ballon D’Or win, Lionel Messi will steer a nearly injury-free side against an Athletic side missing a key player: Artiz Aduriz is suspended. That’s a killer as he has had the hot foot, banging in eleven goals so far this year. One place where Athletic can hurt Barca is in the back; they are better in the air and on set pieces.