The football weekend is here again after a bumper midweek of very fascinating matches especially in the English Premier League (EPL) and this stage is set for a continuation of such action on Saturday and Sunday.
Here is a preview of matches in EPL involving the top teams:
LIVERPOOL VS BOURNEMOUTH
Unbeaten Liverpool travels to high-flying Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday knowing that a win could send them to the summit of the Premier League.
With the Reds playing at 3 pm on Saturday, and Man City facing a tough away trip at Chelsea in the later kick-off, Jurgen Klopp’s side will climb into first with a home win.
But Bournemouth will be full of confidence after beating Huddersfield 2-1 on Tuesday, with in-form striker Callum Wilson taking his goal tally to eight for the season.
The Cherries are currently seventh in the standings, above struggling Manchester United and level on points with Everton, and long-serving boss Eddie Howe has been rewarded for keeping faith in his current crop of players, adding only a few new names to the squad over the summer.
MANCHESTER UNITED VS FULHAM
Man Utd is looking to end a run of three consecutive draws when they take on Fulham this weekend.
Jose Mourinho’s side has not won in the Premier League since their late victory over Bournemouth at the beginning of November.
Fulham, meanwhile, has secured four points from a possible nine since Claudio Ranieri’s appointment – drawing their last match at home to Leicester City.
Fulham remains rock-bottom of the table, United are eight-points off the Champions League places. In summary, they both desperately need a win.
ARSENAL VS HUDDERSFIELD
Arsenal will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to 21 games under Unai Emery when they host Huddersfield Town at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners twice took the lead against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday night before Jesse Lingard’s second-half strike earned the hosts a 2-2 draw.
The performance showed just how the appointment of Emery has given the north London side a breath of fresh air this season and spirits are high in the Arsenal camp following the emphatic 4-2 win over Tottenham in the north London derby.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, know that a victory may be a tall order but, with the Terriers already finding themselves in a relegation fight, every point counts.
CHELSEA VS MANCHESTER CITY
The last two winners of the Premier League collide this weekend when Manchester City travel to face Chelsea.
City is currently on course to retain their crown, sitting on top of the Premier League table after 15 games, while Chelsea is in fourth having lost two of their last three matches.
After a positive start to the season and life under Maurizio Sarri, cracks are beginning to show at Chelsea with two defeats in their past three games.
Sarri did lose before the season started in the Community Shield, against Saturday’s opponents Manchester City, with the defending Premier League champions brushing through the FA Cup holders with ease.
And Pep Guardiola’s men have built on that win domestically. They are still unbeaten in the Premier League, having won 13 of their opening 15 games.
On Tuesday, City overcame a tough test against Watford, winning 2-1 despite some late pressure to remain top of the Premier League table, two points clear of Liverpool in second.
City may still fancy their chances against a wounded Chelsea side on Saturday, but Sarri’s men go into the game with a point to prove.
LEICESTER CITY VS TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Tottenham travels to Leicester City on Saturday evening knowing three points will consolidate their top four status ahead of the busy festive period.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side has won 11 of their 15 Premier League games this season to climb above Chelsea into third in the table.
However, Spurs tasted defeat on their last visit to the King Power Stadium and that will hand Leicester a psychological boost.
The Foxes continued their run of six games without defeat when they drew 1-1 at Fulham on Wednesday, but this will be a much tougher test for Claude Puel’s side.
Their two home defeats this season have come against Liverpool and Everton, teams who are currently above them in the table, and Spurs could be next on the list.
The Spanish La Liga also hosts some very interesting matches and here is a preview of a handful of them:
ATLETICO MADRID VS ALAVES
Atletico Madrid looks to extend their unbeaten run at home when they welcome the miserly Alaves to the Wanda Metropolitano this Saturday.
Simeone’s men are unbeaten at home this season and have a big advantage against a side like Alaves whose best performances so far have come at their home turf.
The visitors have been quite inconsistent on the road this season and they will find it hard to break through the sterile defence of Atletico Madrid despite having a striker like Jony on form.
VALENCIA VS SEVILLA
Valencia lurks at the bottom end of the table, but they sit at home in good spirits this Saturday after picking two wins from the last three La Liga games.
The Los Che have been draw specialists in this first half of the season with eight of their first 10 league games resulting in stalemates. It is an ample amount of points dropped which indeed affected the team’s confidence.
Sevilla is sitting second in the table at a point behind FC Barcelona. Yet, they are not close to being called a title contender with the majority of points bagged from home matches.
ESPANYOL VS BARCELONA
The latest instalment of the Catalan derby will take place at RCDE Stadium on Saturday night as Espanyol welcome the Spanish champions Barcelona in La Liga.
Espanyol has lost their last three in the league to drop down to the seventh position in the table, while Barcelona currently tops the pile on 28 points, one point ahead of second-placed Sevilla.
That said, the Catalan outfit is just three points off the top four, and just seven off leaders Barcelona. The likes of Valencia and Villarreal have struggled this season, which could mean that a top-six finish is a very real possibility for Espanyol.
Barcelona ran out 2-0 victors over Villarreal at Camp Nou last weekend and will bring a three-match winning run into Saturday’s contest.
They will host Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League next week having already booked their spot in the next round as group winners, before travelling to Levante next weekend.
HUESCA VS REAL MADRID
Real Madrid has suffered some embarrassing results this season but a defeat to Huesca on Sunday would top the lot.
The minnows are propping up La Liga and haven’t won in the league since the opening day of the season when they defeated Eibar 2-1.
Real’s forwards should have far too much pace and power for them, despite crashing 3-0 at Eibar on their last La Liga road trip.
That has been the only blemish so far for new boss Santiago Solari, who has steadied the ship well since taking over from Julen Lopetegui.
The preview of some of the matches on Italian Serie A goes thus:
NAPOLI VS FROSINONE
Napoli will be looking for a comprehensive confidence-boosting victory on Saturday afternoon when they host Frosinone in the 15th round of Serie A.
The visitors sit second from bottom with just eight points from 14 league games so far in the season. They won just one match in the process and have a dreadful 1-1-5 record on travels this term.
CAGLIARI VS AS ROMA
Roma will hope to end a dismal streak of three consecutive games without a win across competitions to an end on Saturday evening when they travel to Sardegna Arena to take on Cagliari in the Matchday No 15 tie.
The Romans are having an underwhelming campaign in this term of Serie A. They only hold the 7th place in the league ladder after 14 rounds and are already as many as 20 points shy of table-toppers and defending champions Juventus at the very top.
The visitors could face hard times breaking the deadlock on Saturday at Sardegna Arena. Cagliari only conceded four goals in six home matches so far in the season.
They are yet to suffer a defeat in front of the home crowd this term even though they sit as low as 13th in the league table.
JUVENTUS VS INTER MILAN
The stage is set for Derby d’Italia as Juventus host Inter Milan in the first game of the Matchday No 15 in Serie A on Friday night at Allianz Stadium.
The reigning champions head into it as clear favourites given the obvious gulf in quality between them and the rest of the league.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men are eight points clear at the top of the ladder after winning 13 and drawing 1 of 14 league games so far in the season.
Only a potential defeat to fierce rivals from Milano could potentially instil drama into the championship.
Nevertheless, it’s really hard to expect anything else but Juventus’ success here. They’ve really been super dominant so far in the season.
They currently boast both league’s best attacking and defensive record at the same time with the goal difference of 31-8 after 14 rounds.