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Premier League duels top the weekend bill

Published: Friday 20 January 2012, 10.30CET
The Eredivisie is back in full swing with an epic encounter at the summit while Sunday's matches could prove vital in the Premier League title race as picks out some key contests.

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Published: Friday 20 January 2012, 10.30CET

Premier League duels top the weekend bill

The Eredivisie is back in full swing with an epic encounter at the summit while Sunday's matches could prove vital in the Premier League title race as picks out some key contests.

Belgium: KV Kortrijk v RSC Anderlecht (Saturday, 18.00)
Hein Vanhaezebrouck is enjoying a successful second spell in charge of Kortrijk having initially guided the club into the top flight in 2008. His side are fourth in the table, nine points adrift of leaders Anderlecht and in the semi-finals of the Belgian Cup for only the second time in their history. Defender Ervin Zukanović, captain Nebojša Pavlović and on-loan forward Dalibor Veslinović make up the spine of a team who have only lost once at home this term and boast R. Standard de Liège and Club Brugge KV among their scalps. "For the third season in a row we are already relatively safe and that makes me happy," said Vanhaezebrouck. "Now we want to maintain our position in the table, but we will take it match by match."

Spain: Real Betis Balompié v Sevilla FC (Saturday, 22.00)
With Betis back in the Liga after a two-season absence, expectation is high in Seville ahead of the 83rd top-flight meeting between these neighbours, and the first since February 2009. Los Béticos enjoyed a 2-1 win against their city rivals last time out and should they prevail again, they would go level on points seventh-placed Sevilla, who have lost three of the clubs' last four league fixtures. "To finish the first half of the season on a high would give us wings," Betis defender José Isidoro Gómez said. "Our opponents are a strong team but we are very eager to get this derby started and enjoy what will be a very special experience."

Andorra: FC Lusitans v FC Santa Coloma (Sunday, 12.00)
Reigning Primera Divisió champions and pacesetters Santa Coloma play second-placed Lusitans hoping to inflict a first defeat of the season on their rivals. Despite both teams registering an average of more than three goals a game in the campaign to date, Santa Coloma coach Luis Blanco told he expects a tight game. "It will be a tough match in which our opponents will most likely be quite compact at the back and look to catch us on the counterattack," he said. "The atmosphere within our squad is very good at the moment and we know a win would give us an important advantage with regards to the league play-offs."

England: Manchester City FC v Tottenham Hotspur FC (Sunday, 14.30)
First hosts third in the Premier League with Roberto Mancini's side looking to open up an eight-point gap on their opponents. The Manchester outfit triumphed 5-1 when the sides met back in August, and City's Joleon Lescott does not think much of their opponents' title challenge. "No disrespect to Spurs, but we see Manchester United as our main rivals because they are second in the league," he said. "As much as the points are vital to create a gap between us and Spurs, it is more important to pull away from United." Indeed, it could prove to be a decisive day in the title race with Arsenal FC out to banish the memory of an 8-2 reverse at the hands of Manchester United FC at the beginning of the campaign when the two sides meet later in the day.

Netherlands: AZ Alkmaar v AFC Ajax (Sunday, 14.30)
The leaders entertain the defending champions in their first league game after the winter break with Ajax looking to bridge the five-point gap to AZ at the summit. AZ have a 100% home record to defend but will have to do so without Swedish international midfielder Pontus Wernbloom who has joined PFC CSKA Moskva. Maarten Martens is back from injury for the Alkmaar club while highly rated 18-year-old Adam Maher will have a more prominent role following Wernbloom's departure. "Maher can play right midfield very well as he did that during his youth development," said AZ coach Gertjan Verbeek. "Martens is more attack-minded in the No10 position. Our game will be a bit different because of the changes but I hope it will makes us even more surprising."

Italy: FC Internazionale Milano v S.S. Lazio (Sunday, 20.45)
After beating AC Milan in last weekend's derby – their sixth win in a row in Serie A – Inter face Lazio knowing that victory will claim fourth place from their opponents in the table. Lazio coach Edoardo Reja, who has fitness doubts over defender Abdoulay Konko and Brazilian midfielder Hernanes, said: "We need to be at our best to take the three points at San Siro. Inter played a great match in the derby and have regained belief under Ranieri; it will be a stern test."

All times CET

Last updated: 05/12/13 19.27CET