By NICK IUELE
The English Premier League has another appetizing week of matchups in store, headlined by defending Champions League winners Chelsea against an in-form Arsenal side. The Blues hold their perch atop the table, but Arsenal has played very well of late and should provide a stiff challenge. Chelsea was held by Stoke City last weekend, while the Gunners salvaged a point in a draw with Manchester City.
Italian giants Juventus and Roma face off on Saturday. Juve has yet to lose a match this season, while Roma has only dropped one and are fighting their way up the table. Both of these sides settled for draws during the week, so all three points will be a priority. I Lupi may be Juventus’ toughest challenge on the young season.
In Germany, third and fourth position holders Schalke and Fortuna Dusseldorf square off. Schalke is exactly where they expected to be at this point, but Dusseldorf is enjoying a surprise start after being promoted to the Bundesliga for this season. Schalke provides a barometer to see how good Dusselfdorf really is.
Barcelona takes on Sevilla in La Liga action. Barca had to work late magic to maintain their 100% record against Granada in their last fixture, while Sevilla is still yet to drop a match. Messi and Co. may have underestimated their last opponent, but there will be no such mentality against a solid Sevilla side.
Here are the rest of the matchups in Europe this weekend:
Manchester United will look to continue climbing up the table against an improving Tottenham Hotspur side on Saturday. The Red Devils were the beneficiaries of a questionable penalty call that decided the match against Liverpool last weekend, while Spurs edged Queens Park Rangers for their second win of the season. With both sides in good form, it should be a great match.
Liverpool has yet to win a match this season and there will not be a better opportunity to get on the good foot than against Norwich City this weekend. The Reds are currently in the relegation zone, one place under Norwich. However, with the quality Brendan Rodgers’ side possesses, this should be the breakout match for Liverpool.
Here are the the weekend’s English Premier League matches:
Arsenal v Chelsea
Everton v Southampton
Fulham v Manchester City
Norwich City v Liverpool
Reading v Newcastle
Stoke City v Swansea City
Sunderland v Wigan Athletic
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur
Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion
Napoli faces off against Sampdoria in a battle of top three sides. Both clubs will need a positive result to keep pace with table-toppers Juventus. Napoli is having a rebound season after a disappointing last term, while Sampdoria is making the most of life back in Serie A, having spent last season in the second tier.
AC Milan finally broke out of a funk with a 2-0 win over Cagliari during the week and will try to build on it against Parma. Even with three losses on the season, Milan’s six points are good for 10th in the table. With a favorable matchup against Parma on Saturday and a derby dual with Inter next weekend, I Rossoneri could potentially be back in the Europe conversation with two positive results.
Here are the weekend’s Serie A matches:
Parma v AC Milan
Juventus v AS Roma
Udinese v Genoa
Atalanta v Torino
Bologna v Catania
Cagliari v US Pescara
Lazio v Siena
Palermo v Chievo Verona
Sampdoria v Napoli
Inter Milan v Fiorentina
Malaga plays host to Real Betis on Saturday. Betis has stunned with three wins this season and hold the sixth position in the table, while Malaga has yet to lose this term. Malaga stumbled a bit with a draw last weekend and Betis fell victim to red-hot Atletico Madrid during the week. Both sides will try to regain form in this match.
Real Madrid finally got back on track with a win over Rayo Vallecano on Monday and can continue the momentum against Deportive La Coruna on Sunday. Madrid’s seven points put them on the outside looking in to European football, but every club in the league knew it was only a matter of time before the title holders set themselves right. This should be an easy three points for the champs.
Here are the weekend’s La Liga matches:
Valencia v Real Zaragoza
Malaga v Real Betis
Real Sociedad v Athletic Bilbao
Sevilla FC v Barcelona
Granada v Celta Vigo
Valladolid v Rayo Vallecano
Osasuna v Levante
Real Madrid v Deportivo La Coruna
Espanyol v Atletico Madrid
Hamburg plays host to Steve Cherundolo and Hannover on Saturday in a matchup in-form clubs. Hannover has had a dream start to the season, currently perched at third in the table. Hamburg is slowly climbing up the standings after a nightmare start to the campaign.
Bayern Munich will travel to Werder Bremen to make an attempt at their sixth straight league victory in the current term. Munich picked up their fifth win in a dominant showing against Wolfsburg mid-week. Bremen is coming off a win, but expect all three points to go Munich’s way.
Here are the weekend’s Bundesliga matches:
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Schalke 04
Bayer Leverkusen v SpVgg Greuther Furth
Hamburg SV v Hannover 96
Nurnberg v VfB Stuttgart
TSG Hoffenheim v FC Augsburg
Werder Bremen v Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmond v Borussia Monchengladbach
Eintracht Frankfurt v SC Freiburg
VfL Wolfsburg v Mainz
Paris Saint-Germain will look to continue surging to the top of the table against Sochaux. PSG is now in the third position in the table, four points back of table-toppers Marseille. Sochaux has played better of late, getting out of the relegation zone, but they should not be a problem for PSG in Paris.
Marseille puts their 100% record on the line against mid-table side Valenciennes. The Ligue 1 leaders will be away, but that shouldn’t bother them as they are 3-0 both at home and on the road so far this campaign. Marseille has netted nine goals this season while only allowing one.
Here are the weekend’s Ligue 1 matches:
Stade Rennes v Lille
Paris St-Germain v Sochaux
AC Ajaccio v Brest
AS Nancy Lorraine v Montpellier
Evian Thonon Gaillard v Lorient
Nice v Bastia
Troyes v Toulouse
Valenciennes v Marseille
St Etienne v Stade de Reims
Lyon v Bordeaux
What do you think of this weekend's match-ups? Which match are you most looking forward to watching?
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