England team mates set to resume title rivalry
LONDON: Having combined seamlessly for England, the players of Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur will resume battle in the Premier League title race this weekend with the two main protagonists facing testing fixtures.
Hostilities were put to one side as the likes of Leicester striker Jamie Vardy and Spurs counterpart Harry Kane both impressed as England won in Germany and lost at home to the Netherlands.
Yet with the international break over, Kane, one of five Spurs players in the England squad, and Vardy, who played alongside England debutant and club mate Danny Drinkwater, are back in opposing camps.
Kane, who scored against Germany, will be hoping that his team win at Liverpool on Saturday and narrow the gap to leaders Leicester, who play Southampton at home on Sunday.
Vardy, who scored his first two goals for England in Saturday's game in Berlin and Tuesday's match at Wembley, is hoping to get back on the scoresheet after five league games without a goal.
"The (England) goals can only be good for my confidence and I will hopefully be scoring again at the weekend," he said.
With only seven matches remaining, Leicester, seeking a fourth straight win when they face Southampton, are top with 66 points, five ahead of Spurs on 61.
Arsenal are a further six behind with a game in hand and on Saturday have a quick opportunity for revenge against Watford, who ended the Gunners' bid for a third successive FA Cup triumph when they beat them 2-1 at the Emirates three weeks ago.
Fourth-placed Manchester City, whose title hopes virtually evaporated when they lost 1-0 at home to Manchester United, travel to Bournemouth, while fifth-placed West Ham United will be looking to continue their top-four push at home to Crystal Palace.
Palace have tumbled from fifth on New Year's Day to 16th and will be desperate to end a run of 13 league matches without a win that has dropped them far too close to the relegation zone for comfort.
Bottom-placed Aston Villa, who sacked French manager Remi Garde on Tuesday, look to have very little chance of escaping and have caretaker Eric Black in charge for the visit of outgoing champions Chelsea on Saturday.
Unless Palace's nosedive continues, two from Norwich City, Sunderland and Newcastle United look set to go down with Villa.
Norwich are at home to Newcastle, who now have 11 players sidelined with injuries after goalkeeper Rob Elliot was ruled out for the season after damaging knee ligaments in Ireland's 2-2 draw with Slovakia.