Real Madrid v Deportivo La Coruna

Real Madrid approach Saturday afternoon's La Liga clash with Deportivo La Coruna at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu looking to end a run of three league games without a win.

Both teams are struggling for form. Los Blancos did manage to record a 1-0 Copa Del Rey win over Leganes earlier this week, but in the league they have won only two of their last seven matches to fall a massive 19 points behind Barcelona.

There has been talk this week that manager Zinedine Zidane will quit the club in June. For now though he's focused on the next game and says that the win over Leganes on Thursday was a step in the right direction, if not an entirely satisfactory performance, from what was largely a second-string team.

"We have to get back to winning games, keeping clean sheets," he said. "[Thursday] was a step that way. We cannot say we played a great game, but we got an important result in the tie.

"Today we played a bit worse than against Villarreal last weekend, but we scored and we won.

"We hope this is a turning point. We are happy with the result. We need this for confidence. Sometimes things get a bit more difficult, but we must be patient and know we can come through all together.

"The result is very positive for us. Now we want three or four results in a row."

Deportivo La Coruna have problems of their own: they have won only one of their last nine league games and are in the relegation zone, two points adrift of safety.

Captain Pedro Mosquera says unity at the club is crucial if they are to improve their situation, and also feels that there have been recent signs of improvement.

"If we correct those small mistakes that have cost us a lot during the first round, the second can be good. There has to be a change.

"Those details make a difference between gaining points and not gaining them. It's due to focus. I don't believe it's due to attitude. We have to be in the game and correct the small mistakes that give and take away points.

"In the second round, we have to be a family, us, fans, and even you. We have to work in the same direction. We can't ask our fans for more because they're always there, they're the ones who support us.

"In the last two matches we only gained one point. They were tough rivals but there were moments, stages of the match, where the team played at a very good level. We have to hold on to those minutes and try and prolong them for a longer time and try to keep our goal at zero," Mosquera told his club's website.

Cristiano Ronaldo has not scored in three league matches but with his career average, it's pretty likely that his next goal will come soon. With Karim Benzema out injured, Ronaldo, who was rested for a cup match in midweek, becomes even more crucial.

Adrian Lopez was named as his club's best player for December after some lively performances up front although it's Romanian Florin Andone who has been the visiting side's most potent weapon this season with five goals in 15 league appearances.

Benzema is recovering from a leg muscle problem. Sergio Ramos, Marcos Llorente and Jesus Vallejo are also injury doubts for the hosts.        

Right wing Federico Cartabia is Deportivo's only reported injury absentee, although Sidnei is also doubtful.

AmaZulu v SuperSport United

AmaZulu will be desperate for a return to winning ways when they welcome SuperSport United to the King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi on Saturday night.

The hosts have failed to win any of their last eight matches and have slowly been sucked into a relegation scrap.

They are presently third bottom and could sink to the bottom of the standings should results go against them over the weekend.

The last time Usuthu won was against Mamelodi Sundowns in October and coach Cavin Johnson admits they need a big result this week.

“Even though results have not been great, I don’t think we’ve been playing too badly,” he said. “But unfortunately in football results are the driving factor and without results you are nothing.

“So we know where we stand. We watched SuperSport in midweek and they look a bit tired. Hopefully we can capitalise on that.”

Matsatsantsa ended a similar run – eight matches without a win – when they overcame Maritzburg United in midweek. It was their second of three successive games in KwaZulu-Natal, with the AmaZulu game rounding off a near-two week stay in the province.

The three points gained in their last game has lifted them up to 11th on the table.

Onismor Bhasera could return from injury, but Thabo Mnyamane, Mandla Masango and Bradley Grobler are all sidelined.

New signing Camaldine Abraw will play some role for Usuthu, but captain Thapelo Nyongo is suspended.

Free State Stars v Maritzburg United

Free State Stars will try to set a club record of five straight Premiership wins when they welcome Maritzburg United to Goble Park in Bethlehem on Saturday.

Ea Lla Koto have never won five games in succession, but they have a good chance this wekend, considering the purple patch they have hit, which has put them second on the table.

A win over the Team on Choice will mean Stars temporarily join leaders Mamelodi Sundowns on 31 points, although the Brazilians could regain their three-point advantage when they host Platinum Stars later on Saturday.

Maritzburg to have been in smashing form with their dazzling play leading them to four wins from six matches before they lost for the first time in 2018 against SuperSport United in midweek.

And coach Fadlu Davids is expecting a difficult encounter when the league’s two form teams meet.

“They are the masters of Goble Park where they know how to beat teams 1-0,” he warned. “They play smartly and they wait for their moments. I think their one of the best counter-attacking sides in the league.

“So it will be tough and we’ll have to be at our best to get the result.”

Both sides have no fresh injuries to report and neither are there any suspensions.

Arsenal v Crystal Palace

Arsenal will be desperate to pick up all three points against Crystal Palace in their Premier League clash at the Emirates on Saturday.

The six-placed Gunners have not won in 2018 and come into this match on the back of three draws and two defeats, having last lost 2-1 to Bournemouth after drawing 0-0 with Chelsea.

Palace, meanwhile, enjoyed a run of eight games without defeat before losing to Arsenal. But two wins and a draw, plus just one further defeat to Brighton, ahead of beating Burnley 1-0, has left Palace in a relatively comfortable 12th place after 23 games.

Speaking to the press, Arsene Wenger said, ahead of this game: "I am confident yes, but it is down to our performance. Crystal Palace were in a good run before we played against them and since they have had positive results again, so we just have to focus on our performance and make that we win the game."

Palace manager Roy Hodgson added: "The fact is we're still in a relegation battle. We're not alone now, we're a little bit less isolated than we were some weeks and months ago and we're happy, of course, about that.

"But we're still in a bigger group of teams now who must be aware that unless they can keep their form going, unless they can keep points coming in, unless they can keep performances at the very highest level, they're going to be involved in a scrap to stay in the league right to the end."

In team news, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil return for the Gunners after their respective injuries, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles (flu) is a doubt, while Olivier Giroud is one week away from his return.

Joel Ward and Yohan Cabaye should be available again for the Eagles, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek is out with a back injury.

Andros Townsend, Jeffrey Schlupp, Mamadou Sakho, Scott Dann, Jason Puncheon and Connor Wickham remained sidelined.

Stoke City v Huddersfield Town

New Stoke City manager Paul Lambert will be hoping to get his tenure off to a positive start on Saturday when the Potters host a Huddersfield Town side struggling for form.

Lambert watched from the stands at Old Trafford on Monday night as Stoke were thrashed 3-0 by Manchester United, and will take charge of his first game when Stoke are at home to the Terriers.

Stoke have won only one of their last eight Premier League games, against West Brom, and are currently on a three-game losing streak, during which they have not scored a single goal and have conceded nine times.

"I know roughly what they are like from last season, albeit they’ve brought one or two new lads in, and it’s going to be a tough game – every game is tough in the Premier League," Lambert revealed at his press conference ahead of the clash.

Meanwhile, the visitors are without a win in their last five league fixtures. They drew three consecutive games, against Southampton, Stoke, and Burnley before losing to Leicester City and West Ham United. The recent clash with Stoke resulted in a 1-1 draw at John Smith's Stadium, which featured goals from Tom Ince and Ramadan Sobhi. 

The Terriers' recent dip in form has seen them drop three places in the standings, from 11th to 14th, but a win for David Wagner's charges could lift them into the top half.

Wagner told his pre-match press conference: "We played against Paul Lambert twice since I’ve been here in Huddersfield; Blackburn away when he was in charge and Wolves away when he was in charge, so this means we are aware of what Paul Lambert’s mindset is."

In team news, Stoke will hand Ryan Shawcross and Glen Johnson late fitness tests, while new full-back Kostas Stafylidis could feature. 

Huddersfield could give new signing Alex Pritchard his first game, while Collin Quaner, Chris Lowe, and Michael Hefele are back in contention. Philip Billing, Martin Cranie, and Jon Stankevic are still out.

West Ham United v Bournemouth

West Ham and Bournemouth will both be looking to continue climbing the standings when they meet in their Premier League clash at the London Stadium on Saturday.

The Hammers have picked up four wins in their last eight matches to climb from 19th to 11th in the standings, beating West Ham and Huddersfield either side of a 1-1 draw with Tottenham as new manager David Moyes looks to put things in order.

The Cherries have won two of their last four league matches, drawing the other two, the latest of which was a particularly encouraging 2-1 comeback against Arsenal. That has lifted them up to 13th in the standings, just one point behind the Hammers, after an eight-match winless run had them wallowing in the drop zone over Christmas.

Speaking ahead of the match, West Ham assistant coach Alan Irvine talked about their positive recent form and said it’s "always good to win and keep that momentum going".

"Our run of form has been very good for a number of games now and we’re unbeaten in six matches," Irvine said.

"We’re delighted with that, but we still feel there is plenty of scope for improvement. We’re in a better place than we were when we first came in and it’s vitally important we continue to build on that.

"Bournemouth have got a strong squad. Everybody thinks ‘little Bournemouth’ but they’re a very well-run club and a club who have built a very good squad over the years and they play a lot of very attractive football."

Cherries boss Eddie Howe had to explain their 3-0 defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup on Wednesday, but chose to focus more on the win over the Gunners.

"Wednesday was our last moment of football and it wasn't great, so the challenge was to reflect in the right way and focus on the game ahead," Howe said.

"My way of thinking is the next game and that's always the most important thing. We've tried to focus a lot on our attacking play and make sure we're brave in our approach as we are an attacking team."

In team news, the Hammers are unsure on the fitness of Javier Hernandez, Andy Carroll, Cheikhou Kouyate and Winston Reid, all of whom are doubts.

Junior Stanislas and Joshua King are both getting closer to full fitness, and will be tested ahead of the game, while Howe will make wholesale changes from the team who lost to Wigan, as he "wasn't happy with the quality of the performance".

Everton v West Brom

Everton have hit another rough patch, but will get little sympathy from relegation-threatened West Brom when they meet in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Toffees enjoyed a revival under Sam Allardyce, winning four of a seven-match unbeaten run that saw them climb from 16th to ninth in the standings. However, three defeats in a row, the most recent a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Spurs, had Allardyce admitting that "the honeymoon period is over".

The Baggies are having an even tougher time, and currently sit second-last in the standings. They did, however, break a 20-match winless streak last weekend with a 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion, providing hope of better things to come in 2018.

Ahead of the match, Baggies boss Alan Pardew admitted that the win over the Seagulls has cheered up the mood, but further joy will have to come at the expense of other teams battling the drop.

"We saw the game out comfortably against Brighton," Pardew said. "Our attacking play was good. The team is functioning much better and we will take that to Everton.

"Everton are in a tricky period right now but I know Sam and he’ll be readying them. It’s a tough place to go and they’ve signed a couple of new players.

"Our agenda is to drag teams into the relegation fight. To do that we need to win games. We want to put pressure on other teams."

Big Sam also tipped his hat to the opposition, insisting that their 10 defeats, 10 draws, and just three wins this season don’t tell the full picture.

"I expect a very tough match," Allardyce said. "West Brom have been performing far greater than results suggest. When we went down there a few weeks ago it was a really tough match and one we had to dig out for a 0-0."

In team news, new Everton signing Theo Walcott is in line to make his debut for the club after signing from Arsenal. Defender Michael Keane is available after recovering from a toe injury, while Seamus Coleman might also be ready to feature.

For Albion, there are doubts about Craig Dawson and Ahmed Hegazi, but Pardew is "pretty confident that they should be okay".

Cape Town City v Ajax Cape Town

It's blue versus red in the Mother City on Saturday afternoon as Cape Town City host Ajax Cape Town in what should be a heated local derby.

The match at the Cape Town Stadium (15H30 kick off) is the fourth clash between the somewhat bitter rivals, the Citizens having won the previous three.

While Benni McCarthy's City side are well-placed in third spot on the league table, they head into Saturday's showdown on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Free State Stars last weekend.

Ajax meanwhile ended a run of three consecutive defeats by beating Platinum Stars 3-1 to climb out of the relegation zone, although they remain just one point above the now bottom-placed Dikwena.

Urban Warriors head coach Muhsin Ertugral, recently back at the club for the fourth time, has made several potentially crucial signings in the attacking department, including Tendai Ndoro, Fagrie Lakay (on loan from SuperSport) and Yannick Zakri (on loan from Sundowns).

Ertugral is especially pleased with what former Orlando Pirates marksman has brought to the team.

"He came back from Saudi Arabia very fit, scored left right and centre [in training] and immediately won the trust of the team," he said.

"I am thankful to the chairman and committee for getting me Ndoro, a player who I really wanted to have, as he will definitely add big volume to us here in terms of scoring goals.

"He will do very well for us. He is always playing at an angle that means he will keep one of the centre-backs so occupied that he will open his backline."

Meanwhile, Citizens boss, John Comitis, who departed Ajax a couple of years ago in unhappy circumstances, chose to stand in at Thursday's press conference on behalf of McCarthy, explaining that he wanted to allow his coach to avoid the media glare and focus on his duties.

Comitis admits though that the Urban Warriors team he helped found 19 years ago will be hungry for revenge.

"There's no doubt that the pressure is on," he said. "There's no doubt that we are aware that there's a lot more desire at the club there [Ajax], as it becomes something when they've never managed to beat us. We are fully aware of the challenge at hand and are by no means underestimating it.

"If you ask me to predict, I'm going to be as neutral as I can to say that it depends on the day, because the capacity on that side, on their day, can match anyone in the PSL, but I know that on such an occasion with us, we are unstoppable."

With Teko Modise back from injury for City, both teams should have a clean bill of health for the derby although Ajax are without suspended central defender Isaac Nhlapo.

Adding to the excitement and intensity will be the large home-grown contingent of players in both teams, especially Ajax. 

Leicester City v Watford

Injury concerns are at the forefront of both manager's minds as Leicester City prepare to take on Watford on Saturday afternoon.

While the eighth-placed Foxes must continue to do without Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan and long-term casualty Robert Huth, the Hornets remain without a host of players, including Kiko Femenia, Miguel Britos, Younes Kaboul, Craig Cathcart, Tommie Hoban, Will Hughes, Isaac Success and Nathaniel Chalobah

Both sides have, however, been on the up in recent weeks, with Leicester  unbeaten in their last four games, having overcome Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup on Tuesday.

Watford, meanwhile, in 10th, last drew 2-2 with Southampton after seeing off Bristol City 3-0 in the cup, to end a run of two losses.

Ahead of the tie, Foxes boss Claude Puel said: "Simpson made his first training session with the team. He is playing in little games this morning, I don’t know if he is match fit for this game.

"For Morgan, he continues to make good progress. We will see.”

Adrien Silva is however, available, having come through two cup ties with Fleetwood.

Puel added: "It was a baptism of fire in English football and he is improving. We will see for the next game.

Hornets boss Marco Silva will hand a late fitness test to Tom Cleverley after he came off on the weekend with a hamstring complaint.

Silva said: "He felt a minor problem, a small injury in the last match. He is still in doubt, a doubt for the next game."

The manager added: "The list [of injured players] everybody knows. Some of them are improving but they are not ready yet. We still have a similar situation with Chalobah, Will [Hughes], Kiko, Kaboul and Britos and we’ll see when they are ready. We are doing our best to put them in a good condition.”

Goretzka agrees to Bayern switch

Schalke have confirmed that Leon Goretzka will join Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

The 22-year-old German international has been a target for a number of European clubs, with his contract with Schalke set to expire.

The former VfL Bochum midfielder passed a medical with Bayern before agreeing to the switch.

Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said: "Leon Goretzka has earlier this week informed us that he would like to leave the club and join Bayern Munich.

"We noted that with regret. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has told us that Leon has passed his medical. We are losing a very good player.

"He has signed a contract from July 1, 2018 with Bayern. We did everything possible to keep Leon."

Juventus, Liverpool and Arsenal had all been keen to sign the talented young German.