The Premier League has the week off this week, and it's really good timing for many of the teams with the African Cup of Nations claiming many of the top players in the world and making them unavailable for their sides. That's not to say that there isn't some big time soccer going on in the world this week that should not be missed.
Liverpool vs. Southampton, Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET ( beIN Sports )
Liverpool has made a mess of its campaign in both the FA Cup and the EFL Cup, and both messes will have to be addressed this week. The Reds, who are still playing without Joel Matip for the time being as he works through his FIFA clearance, are behind 1-0 in the EFL Cup after 90 minutes of the home-and-home affair with Southampton.
The Saints were clinical in that first meeting a couple weeks back, securing a 1-0 victory in spite of the fact that they were hardly on the ball. They took advantage of plenty of Liverpool errors though, and if the Reds botch this one up and allow a goal as they did on the road and as they did three times against lowly Swansea City in the Premier League over the weekend, they're going to be in a world of hurt. The likelihood of them scoring three times to overturn the 1-0 loss and the away goal conceded is virtually nil, though it should be noted that the books have this as a pick 'em right now in terms of who is advancing into the EFL Cup Final to face almost certainly Manchester United.
Celta de Vigo vs. Real Madrid, Wednesday, 3:15 p.m. ET ( beIN Sports )
Last week at this time, we were worried about Barcelona having troubles in the Copa del Rey against Real Sociedad. Instead, we should have been worried about Real Madrid. Los Blancos, fresh off of one of the best runs in the history of European soccer, have been in terrible shape of late, including losing 2-1 at home to Celta de Vigo, a team in eighth place in La Liga with just one away win domestically in eight tries.
Now, Real Madrid has to go on the road and win, likely by two goals if it wants to keep playing in the Copa del Rey. It should be noted that 3-2 is good enough, but it's going to be hard to see Celta de Vigo scoring twice again in this match after doing so at the Bernabeu.
Southampton vs. Arsenal, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET ( FOX Sports 1 )
As if this week isn't hard enough for the Saints. They already have to deal with Liverpool in a match that is going to be a grind at Anfield, and then on Saturday, they're going to have to turn around and go to the Emirates to play against an Arsenal team that is in good form.
That said, there's a real chance that Arsene Wenger isn't going to be available in this match for the Gunners after he was sent off at the end of the match against Burnley and then getting into a shoving match with the fourth official on his way out the tunnel.
The winner of this match is going to be on to the fifth round proper of the FA Cup and have some legitimate aspirations of claiming silverware. In the meantime, it wouldn't be all that surprising if either one or both of these teams took this match a little bit for granted, knowing that there's a long way to go to get to the finale.
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