European Football Weekend PREVIEW

By Marcus Louison

TOTTI-VIDAL

We’re back to the bread and butter of European domestic action, even though the dust has hardly settled on a sensational round of midweek Champions League matches. We had goals, performances and matches that simply took the breath away, and we’re hoping for more of the same in the final round of league play before a two-week international break. The Barclays Premier League, as always, has a match that will be viewed the world over, as Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea host Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. There is arguably an even hotter ticket in Italy, as perennial Champs Juventus, put their 100% record up against title-chasers AS Roma, also unbeaten in theleague..

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Aston Villa (6th) vs Manchester City (3rd) – Saturday October 4th @12:30PM ET

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Aston Villa host the Champions hoping to halt the mini-skid they’ve had in recent matches. Back to back 3-0 defeats have brought the Villans back down to earth, and Manchester City will aim to add to the West Midlands Club’s slump.

Paul Lambert will be elated to welcome Belgian striker Christian Benteke back to the matchday squad, after the striker missed months with a ruptured achilles. Villa have sorely missed the goals and presence of the attacker, but his Premier League re-introduction will likely come from the bench. Center-back Ron Vlaar is still struggling with a groin injury, so Nathan Baker will have the opportunity to build on his impressive recent form alongside Philippe Senderos.

The Citizens will be without the services of Samir Nasri, as the playmaker continues to struggle with a groin strain, but Fernando is back in the squad to challenge Fernandinho for a spot at the base of midfield. James Milner returns to his former club, and should have the chance to see pitch time, as he has become a vital figure in recent weeks. Manuel Pellegrini will again be hoping for more from Yaya Toure, as the Ivorian has struggled mightily to shake his early season lethargy.

Manchester United (7th) vs Everton (15th) – Sunday October 5th @7AM ET

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Manchester United aims to build on their win against the Hammers last weekend against an Everton side hoping to repeat the well-earned Old Trafford victory from last season.

Louis Van Gaal waxed lyrical on assistant Ryan Giggs at a charity dinner in midweek, and he’ll be hoping the two can mastermind the type of performance and result that breeds genuine optimism. The mood all around Carrington has been hot and cold in recent weeks, and back to back wins will go some way to quieting the negativity surrounding the Red Devils. Wayne Rooney misses out, as he begins his three match ban, and that likely means another chance for Juan Mata to impress. The unfortunate Ander Herrera misses out with a cracked rib and his place in the XI should go to Darren Fletcher. LVG still has problems in defence and Paddy McNair, an impressive debutant vs West Ham, will fill in again on the right side of the center defence, as Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans remain on the treatment table.

Roberto Martinez hopes there is no sign of a Europa League hangover, as he’s desperate for the positive result that will kickstart the Toffees disappointing start to the season. Kevin Mirallas damaged his hamstring vs Liverpool and will miss out along with long-term absentee Ross Barkley. There is better news on the injury front in the form of likely returns for Steven Pienaar, Seamus Coleman and Sylvain Distin.

Chelsea (1st) vs Arsenal (4th) – Sunday October 5th @9:05AM ET

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Chelsea welcome Arsenal to Stamford Bridge hoping to add to the pain of last season’s 6-0 annihilation. Classic matches are commonplace when these two meet, and there’s no reason to think Sunday will be any different, as arch-enemies Mourinho and Wenger match wits yet again..

The Blues have an almost fully fit squad, with Ramires and Drogba the only injury absentees. Diego Costa is set to lead the line, and will try to add to his 8-goal Premier League tally. Francesc Fabregas, in inspired from since his move from Barcelona, goes head to head with his old teammate and longtime friend, Mathieu Flamini. Nemanja Matic delivered a masterful midfield performance on his return to Portugal in the UCL, combining strength, tackling, passing precision and tactical discipline to perfection. The battle between himself, Fabregas and Oscar vs Flamini, Wilshere and Ozil will likely go a long way to determining the outcome of the match.

The Gunners will be happy to have a settled backline to call on, as they rely on cohesion through continuity. Hat-trick hero Danny Welbeck will be bursting with confidence, and will be relishing the physical battle with John Terry and Gary Cahill. The latter will have to be on his toes to match the pace of the English striker, as any one v ones with Terry will surely give Welbeck the upper hand.

OTHER NOTABLE EPL MATCHES

Liverpool (14th) vs West Bromwich Albion (10th) – Saturday October 4th @10AM ET

Tottenham Hotspur (8th) vs Southampton (2nd) – Sunday October 4th @9:05AM ET

ITALIAN SERIE A

Juventus (1st) vs AS Roma (2nd) – Sunday October 5th @12PM ET

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Rudi Garcia and his Roma team arrive in Turin in buoyant mood, following a strong performance at the Etihad and 5 wins out of 5 in the Italian Seria A. Juventus, however, is just the team to burst their bubble, as they also have a 100% record and an almost impenetrable defense, especially at home.

Juve have been the standard bearers in Italian football in recent seasons, amassing an incredible 102 from a possible 114 points over the last campaign, and going unbeaten two seasons before. The departure of Antonio Conte, in somewhat acrimonious circumstances at the end of last season, has done little to stop Bianconeri momentum, as Massimiliano Allegri has combined experience and a fair degree of common sense in his short time at the helm.

Rudi Garcia and Rome seem to be a match made in Heaven as the Frenchman has been a revelation since arriving in the Italian Capital. Garcia led Roma to their highest ever points tally last season, 85, and there are no signs of letting up.

The midfield battle is a fascinating one, as Miralem Pjanic, imperious vs Manchester City, combines with the emerging Radja Nainggolan and Seydou Keita, in a bid to get the better of the top-class trio of Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal. Andrea Pirlo is still missing with injury, but there is no shortage of Italian legends on show, with Francesco Totti and Gianluigi Buffon still performing at a very high level. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Kostas Monolas were shaky at times in the Champions League, and will need to tighten up, as Carlos Tevez has the bit between his teeth.

LIGA BBVA 

Real Madrid (5th) vs Athletic Bilbao (16th) – Sunday October 5th @3PM ET

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Ernesto Valverde’s Bilbao team have started the season in miserable form, and it isn’t set to get any easier as they visit Estadio Bernebeu; A place they’ve lost 13 straight matches while conceding 33 goals and scoring 9. Valverde sits on the edge of the managerial bubble and will be hoping for a miraculous upturn in fortune against a Real Madrid team that’s beginning to find their feet and spearheaded by the goalscoring machine that is Cristiano Ronaldo.

OTHER NOTABLE LIGA MATCHES

Valencia (2nd) vs Atletico Madrid (3rd) – Saturday October 4th @10AM ET

Rayo Vallecano (9th) vs FC Barcelona (1st) – Saturday October 4th @12PM ET

BUNDESLIGA 

FC Bayern Munich (1st) vs Hannover 96 (6th) – Saturday October 4th @9:30AM ET

Borussia Dortmund (12th) vs Hamburger SV (18th) – Saturday October 4th @9:30AM ET

LE CHAMPIONNAT

Paris Saint-Germain (4th) vs AS Monaco (12th) – Sunday October 5th @3PM ET

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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