Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy head into a important clash in race for Premier League survival as Brighton & Hove Albion host Aston Villa in the early hours of Sunday morning (AEDT).
The Socceroos duo and Graham Potter’s side sit in 14th position, three points above the Villains, who are languishing in the Premier League’s bottom three heading into Round 23 of the season.
The Seagulls fell to a 1-0 defeat against Everton last week after kicking off the year by being knocked out of the FA Cup in third round by Sheffield Wednesday.
Potter’s side have won only one of their last seven league matches and Brighton have not beaten Villa in the league in their past seven attempts, a run stretching back 40 years.
Dean Smith’s side took a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture earlier this campaign and The Midlands club are off the back of a 2-1 win at Burnley on New Year’s Day.
Ryan and Mooy will need to be on their game to ensure the Seagulls soar towards Premier League safety at the AMEX Stadium at 2am AEDT on Sunday, 19 December.
Irvine’s Tigers go in pursuit of Luongo’s Owls
Aussies collide across in the Championship, as Bailey Wright’s Bristol City play host to Kenny Dougall’s Barnsley.
Jackson Irvine and Hull City are three points off the playoff places and the Tigers travel to Derby County, while – the team who hold that coveted sixth post – Massimo Luongo’s Sheffield Wednesday welcome Blackburn Rovers to Hillsborough.
Down in League One, Harry Souttar and Fleetwood Town are also three points outside the top six and entertain Shrewsbury Town. All of those matches in England take place at 2am AEDT on Sunday.
Rogic and Boyle up for the cup
It’s cup week up in Scotland, and Tom Rogic and Celtic head to Glasgow’s third team, Partick Thistle in a fourth round tie on Sunday at 4.30am AEDT.
Also in the Scottish Cup, Martin Boyle and Hibernian are on the road against Dundee United on Monday, 20 January at 2am AEDT as they battle for a place in the last 16.
Over in Germany, Matthew Leckie and Hertha Berlin return from their winter break to face Bundesliga heavyweights Bayern Munich at 1.30am AEDT on Monday, while Brandon Borrello and Freiburg SC play away against Mainz at 1.30am AEDT on Sunday.
Ajdin Hrustic’s Groningen FC are also back from the winter off-season and square off with FC Twente in the Dutch Eredivisie on Sunday at 5.45am AEDT.
Behich and Sainsbury in title hunts
Aziz Behich played in Istanbul Başakşehir’s 1-1 Turkish Cup Round of 16 first leg draw with Kirklarelispor on Tuesday and his side return to Süper Lig action at 1am AEDT on Sunday against Yeni Malatyaspor.
Istanbul are second in the ladder, four points behind Sivasspor, after 17 games, while Trent Sainsbury and Maccabi Haifa are four points behind and chasing Israeli Premier League leaders Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Sainsbury’s side meet lowly Sektzia Nes Tziona at 2.30am AEDT on Sunday.
Milos Degenek was in action for Red Star Belgrade on Thursday, coming on for 10 minutes in their 3-1 win against FK Čukarički, as they top the Serbian SuperLiga by 11 points.
In Saudi Arabia, Craig Goodwin and Al-Wehda play Saudi Pro League giants Al-Ahli in the quarter finals of the King Cup of Champions at 2.40am AEDT on Sunday.
Maclaren chasing Golden Boot down under
Jamie Maclaren is in action for Melbourne City, a goal back from Sydney FC striker Adam Le Fondre in the race for the Hyundai A-League Golden Boot.
The Victorian club host Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Saturday at 7.30pm AEDT with table toppers Sydney FC – who lead the way by 11 points from City – on a bye week.
On Sunday, Josh Risdon’s Western United play Central Coast Mariners at 4pm AEDT and Mitchell Duke’s Western Sydney Wanderers face Premiers Perth Glory at 6.30pm AEDT.