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Big derbies dominate weekend agenda

Published: Friday 16 November 2012, 9.00CET
Top-of-the-table showdowns loom in Poland and Bulgaria amid a raft of mouth-watering derbies, starting in north London where Arsenal FC lock horns with Tottenham Hotspur FC.

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Published: Friday 16 November 2012, 9.00CET

Big derbies dominate weekend agenda

Top-of-the-table showdowns loom in Poland and Bulgaria amid a raft of mouth-watering derbies, starting in north London where Arsenal FC lock horns with Tottenham Hotspur FC.

England: Arsenal FC v Tottenham Hotspur FC (Saturday 13.45)
An inflammable mix of local rivalry and two teams plagued by inconsistency stokes the fire ahead of this lunchtime kick-off. Clubs with top-four ambitions, neither will be pleased with their start to the season. Tottenham, looking to get back on track after successive Premier League losses, find themselves one place above Arsenal who lie eighth; the Gunners have won just once in their last four league outings after surrendering a 2-0 lead to draw 3-3 at home to Fulham FC last weekend. "You understand the importance of it and the passion is very high," said Spurs manager André Villas-Boas. "It is a game that represents only three points but the history of the north London derby means it is about more than that."

Italy: Juventus v S.S. Lazio (Saturday 18.00)
Both sides arrive at this juncture in swashbuckling mood. Fifth-placed Lazio came from behind to triumph 3-2 at home to AS Roma in last Sunday's high-octane derby, while the Bianconeri restored their four-point lead at the Serie A summit by dismantling hosts Pescara Calcio 6-1. Despite that dynamic display, Juve midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah is keeping grounded. "We enjoyed a magnificent victory last weekend but that won't change our focus," Asamoah said. "We've had a good start to the season but there are plenty of games to play. Lazio will be a difficult match yet we believe it's one we can win. Our aim this season is to retain our title and we also want to go as far as possible in the Champions League."

Serbia: FK Crvena zvezda v FK Partizan (Saturday 14.00)
The most eagerly awaited fixture in the Serbian Super League sees heavyweights Crvena zvezda and Partizan go into Saturday's 143rd eternal derby with contrasting emotions. The visitors are buoyant – eight points clear at the peak of the table – while Crvena zvezda, in second, are wobbling following back-to-back defeats, which prompted the resignation of president Vladan Lukić last week. "Our club are in a transitional period and I must give everything to stay focused," said coach Aleksandar Janković. "It will be a tough match but I believe in the players, who will have the backing of our supporters." His opposite number Vladimir Vermezović added: "I am optimistic, we are in good form. Each Belgrade derby has a special story and we will be ready."

Poland: KKS Lech Poznań v Legia Warszawa (Sunday 14.30)
With a record attendance already guaranteed, the stage is enticingly set for Lech's hotly awaited duel with First Division frontrunners Legia. A crowd of 41,609 will flock to the Stadion Miejski to mark the home side's biggest gate for 28 years and winger Gergő Lovrencsics is bubbling with anticipation. "I have never played in front of such a big crowd," he said. Legia lead Sunday's third-placed opponents by a single point but will need to overcome the weight of history to extend that advantage, having failed to win at Poznań for eight years.

Spain: Sevilla FC v Real Betis Balompié (Sunday 21.30)
Cross-town rivals Sevilla's European and domestic successes of recent years have been a bitter pill for Betis fans, yet with the Verdiblancos currently occupying a UEFA Champions League berth and holding a four-point cushion over their tenth-placed neighbours, goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo suggests the tables are beginning to turn. "Sevilla were at a higher level than us but things are starting to level out now," he said. Having won three of their five Liga away games this term, Adrián and company are "eager to do well in what will be a great atmosphere" in a Seville derby which, he believes, "will have no favourites".

Bulgaria: PFC Ludogorets Razgrad v PFC Levski Sofia (Sunday 15.30) Ivaylo Petev's Ludogorets poured scorn on their underdog status last term when they celebrated their top-flight debut with a domestic double. Their quest to replicate that feat started in dashing style, with triumphs in their opening eight games. In recent weeks the wheels have come off, though, and their haul of five points from four A League outings has allowed Levski to displace them in pole position. Despite that – and his team are two points clear – Levski coach Ilian Iliev is "not entirely happy with the way we are playing. We have won games recently because we have shown good character, not because of the way we have played. The Ludogorets game is a moment of truth."

All kick-off times CET

Last updated: 04/12/13 19.04CET

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