Back to basics as teams return to domestic front

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 March, 2002, 12:00am

It's back to domestic league action for Europe's big clubs this weekend after their excursions in the continental cup competitions.

The big match in the English Premier League is a title clash between Newcastle and Arsenal at St James Park tomorrow.

The match will be a tasty appetiser to next weekend's FA Cup quarter-final between the two in-form sides, also at St James Park.

Liverpool will be hoping to shrug off their habit of dropping points in stalemate encounters when they travel to Craven Cottage to meet money bags Fulham and their expensive array of French talent.

An intriguing match up at Portman Road sees Ipswich and Southampton, two sides coached by wily Scotsmen, meet in a relegation battle of wits.

Ipswich will want to return to their Christmas form when they won six out of seven matches, a streak that was stopped in its tracks by rampaging Manchester United's 6-0 thrashing.

United play at Derby on Sunday, with the hosts being boosted by the return of talismanic striker Branco Strupar and the new leadership of John Gregory, former boss of Aston Villa.

The highlight of the Italian League is the Milan derby between AC and Inter, which will be shown live from the San Siro stadium on Cable TV at 3 am on Monday.

The battle between Lecce and league leaders AS Roma will be screened on Cable TV at 9.30 pm on Sunday.

In Wednesday's matches, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp scored as English side Arsenal extended its Champions League winning streak at home to seven with a 4-1 win over German side Bayer Leverkusen in Group D.

Spain's Real Madrid became the first team to reach the European Champions League Cup quarter-finals, winning 2-1 at Porto of Portugal. Real has a five-point lead in Group C over second-place Panathinaikos from Greece which beat visiting Sparta Prague from Czech 2-1.

Spanish side Deportivo de La Coruna joined Arsenal at the top of the group by defeating Juventus of Italy 2-0.