Football Weekend Preview

Football Weekend Preview

The football season continues this weekend after a bumper midweek of league and domestic cup fixtures across Europe and here comes the preview.

The English Premier League starts with a match-up between West Ham United and Manchester United.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is likely to make sweeping changes after Tuesday’s defeat by Derby County.

Forward Marcus Rashford returns from a three-match ban, while Marcos Rojo is the only long-term absentee.

West Ham forward Marko Arnautovic could return from the knee injury which ruled him out last weekend.

Midfielder Carlos Sanchez picked up a knock in the 8-0 League Cup win over Macclesfield Town and will face a fitness test.

Lingard in action against West Ham.
Lingard in action against West Ham.

Arsenal vs Watford

Arsenal has been far from convincing in many of their opening eight matches of the season, but half-a-dozen wins in all competitions have given Unai Emery something to work with at the Emirates Stadium.

The North London outfit have now netted at least two goals in each of their last seven matches, and Emery’s side will prevail more often than not should they continue to create so many opportunities in the final third.

A narrow home defeat to Manchester United ended Watford’s winning start to the campaign, but decisions went against Watford in their Premier League visit to Fulham and the EFL Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur.

A trip to the Emirates Stadium continues a tough set of fixtures for Watford, but Gracia will be aware that the short trip to North London is the last showdown with a top-six club until November 24.

That could result in Gracia attempting to ease the pressure on his side this weekend, with Watford still sitting in a Champions League spot and – perhaps more importantly – holding an 11-point cushion above the relegation zone.

Also Read: Hat-Trick Hero: Saido Berahino Fathers 3 Babies In 3 Months

 

Huddersfield vs Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur will be aiming to keep pace with the top three when they return to Premier League action this weekend with a trip to Huddersfield Town.

Progression to the next stage of the domestic cup – very much fourth on the list of Tottenham’s priorities this season – was secured thanks to a penalty-shootout win over Watford in midweek, following on from a dramatic 2-2 draw in normal time at Stadium MK.

The good news for Spurs is that Harry Kane appears to be back on track, having netted from the spot in the win at Brighton to make it three goals for the season, with that spot kick ensuring that Tottenham have scored in 31 of their last 32 Premier League matches, including all six games this term.

Following their 3-1 loss away to Leicester City last time out, when squandering an early lead at the King Power Stadium, Huddersfield remains one of just three sides seeking a first win of the Premier League season.

Their scoreless run of five home Premier League fixtures is the longest in the competition since Southampton’s six that ended in August 2017, and it is now just three short of Manchester City’s record run of eight in 2007.

 

Manchester City vs Brighton

Manchester City could temporarily move top of the Premier League table on Saturday when they welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to the Etihad Stadium.

The defending champions have dropped just two points from their opening six outings so far this season and will be heavy favourites to add another win to their tally against a Brighton side without a victory in five.

Even ignoring Man City’s substantial quality for one moment, Brighton’s away form would make them underdogs as visitors to almost any Premier League ground and their primary objective on Saturday could well be damage limitation from the off.

It is now almost 10 months since Brighton last picked up an away win in the Premier League, picking up just five points from a possible 48 on the road since their 1-0 triumph over Swansea City on November 4.

 

Chelsea vs Liverpool

Two of the Premier League’s three remaining unbeaten sides face off at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening as Chelsea play host to early pacesetters Liverpool.

Three days on from their eventful EFL Cup third-round tie at Anfield, which the Blues edged late on, the sides do battle all over again with three league points on the line.

As it is, the Londoners have enjoyed a near-perfect start to life under Maurizio Sarri, winning seven and drawing one of their opening eight fixtures in all competitions, having also overcome PAOK in last week’s Europa League opener.

Defeat to Chelsea in the week was the first blemish for Jurgen Klopp in his third full season in charge, with his side being made to pay the price for a sluggish performance in the final stages of the match

 

The Spanish La Liga also hosts some very interesting matches with the Madrid Derby being the pick.

Capital rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will meet for the 163rd time in the league on Saturday night, with the Bernabeu hosting the latest instalment of the Madrid derby.

Real have been dominant in this fixture over the years, but the European champions will enter this match off the back of a shock 3-0 defeat at Sevilla on Wednesday night, and have struggled at home against their rivals of late.

As a result, Real Madrid will enter this weekend’s match in the second position in the table, level on points with Barcelona. Atletico has had their own problems in the early weeks of the campaign, but Diego Simeone’s side is third, and sit just two points behind the top two as things stand.

Real have incredibly not beaten Atletico at the Bernabeu in a La Liga match since the 2012-13 campaign. Indeed, Simeone’s side has won on three of their last five visits and stayed unbeaten in the process.

 

Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona will hope to get their season back on track when they host Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

Both clubs saw their unbeaten starts in La Liga come to an end on Wednesday when Barca lost 2-1 to Leganes and Athletic lost 3-0 to Villarreal.

Barcelona comes into the clash on the back of two disappointing results. Prior to their 2-1 loss at Leganes, they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Girona after Clement Lenglet was sent off in the first half.

Athletic have not won a game since the opening match of the season, but they held Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw earlier this month and are capable of causing Barca problems if the Blaugrana aren’t at their best.

Madrid also slipped on Wednesday so Barcelona is level on points with their title rivals. The Catalans cannot afford to drop more points in the coming weeks or they’ll find themselves playing catch-up, so it’s vital they win here.

Lionel Messi, captain of FC Barcelona.
Lionel Messi, captain of FC Barcelona.

 

This weekend seems to be a fest of top-billed matches with two of such in the Italian Serie A and the first match is the Roman derby between Roma and Lazio.

Both clubs won their midweek league matches but Lazio has been in better form winning their last four matches compared to Roma who just got their second win of the season.

Roma is unbeaten for 3 home matches with at least one goal scored while Lazio has won the last 2 away matches.

 

Juventus vs Napoli

Juventus have made a flying start to the season, with their best points haul after the first 6 games since 1930. Napoli, on the other hand, has also made quite an impressive start sitting only 3 points behind the Turin club.

The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus has forced Allegri to rethink how to set his team up. Although against this Napoli team it is expected that the Italian will set up in a 4-3-1-2 formation.

Ancelotti, on the other hand, will try utilising Allan by making him press Pjanic/Can high up the pitch and forcing them to play backwards.

This will allow the likes of Insigne, Mertens and Callejon to remain high up the pitch and force the Juve players into mistakes.

Ronaldo in action.
Ronaldo in action.

 

Inter Milan vs Cagliari

Inter Milan are up and running in Serie A now, with their midweek win landing them back in the top six. They’re grinding out results now, and their poor form which started the campaign seems to have cleared up.

This weekend sees Cagliari heading to Milan to face the Nerazzurri, but will they cause a shock? Luciano Spalletti needs his charges to gather some form, following pressure on him early in the campaign.

The hosts claimed a victory over Fiorentina in midweek, which was a strong result to put their early troubles to bed.

The away side come into this encounter without a victory in their last three games. They drew 0-0 at home to Sampdoria in midweek, a point which is good enough to keep them just clear of danger.

They’re still 15th in the table, and everything points to another worrying season in the top flight for the Sardinians.

 

Sassuolo vs AC Milan

Sassuolo has a formidable home record since March but AC Milan are looking to put a considerable dent in it.

Only Roma have beaten the Reggio Emilia-based Serie A club within their last 10 home games and indeed the Black and Greens have won four out of four on their own pitch this term, including when scoring five goals against both Ternana in the Coppa Italia and Genoa.

Milan’s neighbours Inter have already come unstuck at the Mapei Stadium.

Milan has played one fewer fixture than the vast majority of their rivals because their game against Genoa was postponed due to the tragic Morandi Bridge collapse, but their only defeat in their opening five matches was a narrow one away to Napoli.

 

The preview for some of the top matches in the German Bundesliga goes thus:

Hertha Berlin vs Bayern Munich

On Friday, Bundesliga action takes centre stage as Hertha Berlin host Bayern Munich at the historic Olympiastadion in Germany’s capital city.

With the 1-1 draw with Augsburg on still fresh in their minds, the Bundesliga champions will be hoping to bounce back in style when they face third-placed Hertha.

For the hosts, Marius Gersbeck, Peter Pekarik, Vladimir Darida and Jordan Torunarigha will all definitely miss Friday night’s clash. An ankle problem will keep Marko Grujic out, but Karim Rekik is fully fit and should start at centre back.

Arjen Robben could be dropped despite his recent goal, with Gnabry and Franck Ribery set to start on the wings. Elsewhere, Jerome Boateng should be rotated in at centre-back, while Kingsley Coman, Rafinha and Corentin Tolisso are all definitely out.

Bayern Munich players celebrating a goal.
Bayern Munich players celebrating a goal.

Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund

Bayer Leverkusen rebounded from a dreadful opening to the new season by winning three on the bounce across competitions. The positive thread started in Europa League as Die Werkself bagged a 2-3 victory away at Ludogorets on the opening day of the continental competition.

They went on to see off both Mainz and Fortuna Dusseldorf in the last two league games and improve the record to two wins and three defeats in five rounds. Can Heiko Herrlich’s men keep such form going with a result in the derby of the Matchday on Saturday evening?

It will be quite a big challenge for the locals at BayArena given the opposition comes in the likes of Borussia Dortmund. The visitors head into the game with a demolishing 7-0 victory over Nuremberg in their pocket.

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