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Arsenal eye City bonus, Mazzarri returns to Naples

Published: Friday 13 December 2013, 9.48CET
Arsenal FC face a test of their title credentials at Manchester City FC on a weekend when Rafael Benítez and Walter Mazzarri face former employers and Zurich will come to a standstill.

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Published: Friday 13 December 2013, 9.48CET

Arsenal eye City bonus, Mazzarri returns to Naples

Arsenal FC face a test of their title credentials at Manchester City FC on a weekend when Rafael Benítez and Walter Mazzarri face former employers and Zurich will come to a standstill.

England: Manchester City FC v Arsenal FC (Saturday 13.45)
Laurent Koscielny says Arsenal need to improve on the performance they gave against SSC Napoli in midweek if they are to fare better versus a City team who have scored 29 goals in recording seven successive home league victories this season. "We need to play much better to win at Man City," the centre-back, who featured in the Gunners' 2-0 loss in Italy on Wednesday, told the Arsenal website. "We are on top of the table so we need to keep this [five-point lead], and December is a very important month in the Premier League." Manuel Pellegrini's men, meanwhile, will close to within three points of their opponents if they extend their perfect record at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Spain: FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF (Saturday 20.00)
Villarreal take an impressive away record to the Camp Nou, Marcelino García Toral's fifth-placed side having won four of seven top-flight games on their travels this season. That said, midfielder Tomás Pina still referred to the encounter against the Liga pacesetters – winners of their last nine home matches in all competitions – as "one of the most difficult of the year", against "a rival that is almost unbeatable". However, the 26-year-old was keen to add: "If we didn't believe we had a chance, we wouldn't even bother to play the game. If we are focused and aggressive, we know we can compete against anyone."

Switzerland: FC Zürich v Grasshopper Club (Sunday 16.00)
Having drawn 1-1 away to league leaders FC Basel 1893 last time out, third-placed Grasshoppers head into this prestigious match in good fettle. "Getting a point against Basel was a step in the right direction − now we are looking forward to the derby next Sunday," said coach Michael Skibbe. Zürich, in seventh, progressed to the Swiss Cup semi-finals last week and on Saturday scored four without reply against struggling FC Lausanne-Sport. Four defeats in their last five derbies, though, does not bode well.

Turkey: Kasımpaşa SK v Beşiktaş JK (Sunday 18.00)
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Stadium will host a meeting of two sides who have not recorded a win between themselves in recent weeks. Kasımpaşa are eight points shy of frontrunners Fenerbahçe SK following three successive draws, while Beşiktaş's past two Süper Lig assignments have also ended in stalemate. Furthermore, the Black Eagles were upset last week in the Turkish Cup by second-tier Bucaspor and are without the injured Pedro Franco, Cenk Gönen, Ömer Şişmanoğlu, Kerim Frei and Gökhan Töre for a game where victory would lift them above their opponents into second.

Italy: SSC Napoli v FC Internazionale Milano (Sunday 20.45)
Following the disappointment of their UEFA Champions League elimination, Napoli return to Serie A action against Inter in a contest which pits both coaches against former employers. "When I take the stairs leading to the pitch I will remember the four years I spent at the San Paolo stadium," said Inter coach Walter Mazzarri. "But right now I don't think about that, I'm only focused on my team." After three consecutive draws, Inter are fourth, four points behind third-ranked Napoli. "We have to forget the Champions League elimination, our next game against Inter is too important," said Rafael Benítez.

France: Olympique Lyonnais v Olympique de Marseille (Sunday 21.00)
Lyon enter 'the battle of the Olympiques' in tenth place, their lowest position after 17 games since 1996/97. Their opponents, in fifth, exited the UEFA Champions League with no Group F points following a 2-1 home defeat by Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday and last weekend lost 1-0 at the Stade Vélodrome to FC Nantes, a result which prompted the dismissal of coach Élie Baup. Speaking before the Dortmund fixture, Marseille president Vincent Labrune said: "The most important game of the week is against Lyon. Losing there can't be countenanced."

All times CET

Last updated: 13/12/13 17.22CET

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