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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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By ESPN Staff

Battle for Ligue 1 second place hots up

PARIS, Jan 13 (Reuters) - The battle for second place in Ligue 1 will resume on Saturday when AJ Auxerre entertain RC Lens and Girondins Bordeaux travel to Monaco.

Third-placed Auxerre, who slumped to a 1-0 defeat at second-placed Bordeaux on Wednesday, have 35 points from 21 matches and trail leaders Olympique Lyon by 15 points.

Lens, in fifth place with 33 points, suffered their first league defeat since July when they were beaten 2-1 by promoted Nancy.

New Monaco signing Christian Vieri will try to start the World Cup year on a high note when the principality team host Bordeaux, who have only conceded 11 goals in 21 outings.

'We must not look at the points difference with the top teams because if we go on playing like that, there is no hope,' Monaco coach Francesco Guidolin, whose side are four points adrift of Bordeaux, told reporters after their 1-1 draw earlier in the week against bottom club Racing Strasbourg.

Lyon will have the chance to provisionally extend their lead further when they visit Nancy in an early kickoff on Saturday.

The four-times champions, who are aiming a record fifth successive title, displayed their battling instincts with a 2-1 fight-back win over Olympique Marseille on Wednesday.

'It is true that our win against Marseille and Lens and Lille's defeats are good for us,' said club president Jean-Michel Aulas.

'The title is getting nearer. I've been thinking about it since I arrived in Lyon,' said Portugal midfielder Tiago.

Captain Claudio Cacapa, however, warned against complacency.

'Everything goes very fast in football. Nothing is done yet,' he told reporters.

On Sunday, Paris St Germain host promoted Troyes, while Marseille will be eager to please the Stade Velodrome when they entertain mid-table Stade Rennes.

St Etienne will need to prove they still can fight for second place when they play against Toulouse.