Weekly Football Preview – Week 4
With an international break just around the corner, this upcoming weekend is the last round of fixtures before the teams in Europe’s top divisions take their first break of the season. It is a frustrating concept for many fans that a break is forced upon us just as the season has started, but it does perhaps give some coaches a few extra days to go over what is and isn’t working in their current setup. The transfer window will slam shut on September 1st too, so these final few days are likely to see a scramble for players.
The last weekend was as eventful as usual with Chelsea recording their first win of the season and Manchester United getting back to winning ways. Many of the big teams around Europe such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG, Bayern Munich and AC Milan all won their matches meaning there were fewer surprises than in previous weekends.
This time around there are no fixtures of note on Monday as players join up with their national teams, but Friday is another busy day. Highlights of the weekend include Brighton against Newcastle, Liverpool versus Aston Villa and Arsenal against Manchester United in the PL. Elsewhere Bayern travel to Gladbach in Germany and PSG face a potentially tricky trip to Lyon on Sunday. Napoli host Lazio in the biggest game of the weekend from Italy and the highlight from Spain is probably Atletico Madrid versus Sevilla on Sunday.
Friday’s top action
Whilst the attention of many will be on the transfer window, which closes on Friday evening, there are also plenty of good matches from around Europe on Friday evening. Luton will get to play their first home match of the season, against West Ham, at their home stadium of Kenilworth Road. The stadium was deemed to be not quite ready to host top level football at the start of the season but now everything is in order and the atmosphere should be electric for the first ever PL match at the smallest ground in the top division. In France, Nantes host Marseille and in Germany Dortmund are at home to Heidenheim. There are two matches scheduled to take place in Italy’s Serie A on Friday evening with Sassuolo at home to Verona before AS Roma take on AC Milan in what should be an intense encounter. There are also two matches in Spain, with Cadiz taking on Villarreal and Almeria against Celta Vigo and there is also action from Portugal and Turkey.
Saturday’s English Football
The PL action on Saturday starts with Sheffield United against Everton. Both teams are winless and neither have a point to their name so far with three losses so far. Sheffield United will have been hoping for something perhaps, but Everton will be the more concerned out of the two. They only just avoided relegation last season and don’t look any better this time around, it’s been a worrying start for both these two. The afternoon matches are Brentford versus Bournemouth, Burnley against Tottenham, Chelsea versus Nottingham Forest and leaders Manchester City hosting Fulham. The late match is arguably the match of the day as Brighton welcome Newcastle to the south coast. These two teams were excellent last season and exceeded expectations with both qualifying for Europe. Both teams lost last weekend though, so will be hoping to return to winning ways here.
Saturday Highlights from around Europe
Bundesliga action on Saturday starts with five matches in the mid-afternoon kick-off slot. Amongst the teams in action are Bayer Leverkusen, Freiburg and Wolfsburg. The late match sees Bayern Munich on the road, travelling to Gladbach looking to carry on their good start to the season. In France’s top flight, Brest host Rennes and Monaco take on Lens whereas in Italy, four matches are scheduled with the highlight of the day being the late match between Napoli and Lazio, last season’s top two teams. La Liga action starts at 2 pm as Real Sociedad take on Granada before Real Madrid host Getafe. Later on Valencia travel to Alaves and finally Betis host Rayo Vallecano.
Sunday’s English Football
Three matches are on offer from the top flight in England on Sunday starting with Crystal Palace against Wolves and Liverpool versus Aston Villa in the 3 pm slot. Liverpool will be boosted by their comeback win over Newcastle last weekend and will hope to add another three points to their tally against Aston Villa, a tough opponent who have two wins to their name so far this season. The late match is one of the most eagerly anticipated clashes of any season, Arsenal against Manchester United. Arsenal will be disappointed at their failure to beat Fulham last week and will consider it two points dropped. They will hope to get back to winning ways against old rivals Manchester United. The Red Devils from Manchester are yet to hit top gear this season and needed to mount a strong comeback at home against Nottingham Forest last weekend after going two goals down. This will be a step up and a big challenge for the team from Manchester as they hope to close the gap on last season’s top two.
Best events from around Europe
There are six Ligue 1 matches scheduled from France on Sunday starting with Toulouse versus Clermont in the early match and ending with the highlight of the weekend, Lyon against PSG. With Lyon yet to win this season and PSG only picking up their first win last time out, both teams are in serious need of all three points here. In the Bundesliga, Eintracht Frankfurt host FC Köln before early leaders Union Berlin face a tough task against RB Leipzig. Inter start things off in Italy against Fiorentina on Sunday with Torino also in action, taking on Genoa. Later on in the evening, Empoli host Juventus and Lecce play Salernitana. The highlight of the weekend in Scotland is the first ‘old firm’ derby of the season as Rangers host Celtic in the early kick-off. In Spain, there are four Sunday matches lined up with the highlights being Atletico Madrid against Sevilla and Osasuna against last season’s winners Barcelona.
AS Roma vs AC Milan
Roma’s season hasn’t got off to the best of starts, with one draw and one loss on the board so far. Jose Mourinho is allowed back on the touchline after his ban and will be hoping to inspire his team to three points in this tricky match. Should they fail to win, it will be the first time since the 2011/2012 season that Roma failed to win any of their opening three matches. Romelu Lukaku has just joined the club and will work with Mourinho again with the hope being that he will solve Roma’s biggest problem last season, goalscoring. They only scored 28 goals at home last season and Paulo Dybala is the latest player to pick up an injury, joining Tammy Abraham on the sidelines.
AC Milan got off to a good start to the season, scoring six goals in two matches. Last weekend’s 4-1 win over Torino was a convincing performance with Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud on the scoresheet again. AC Milan are unbeaten against Roma in the last seven matches, winning four of those and the last time they lost against the team from the capital was back in 2019
The odds state there is very little to choose between these two sides, it is almost impossible to pick a favourite. Last season both meetings ended in draws and AS Roma have only won one of the last ten.
Manchester City vs Fulham
Manchester City have started the season where they left the last with three wins from their opening three matches. They are the only team in England’s top flight with that record so even at this early stage they are top of the table with a two point gap to their nearest rivals. Another three points will be expected here against Fulham as this is a match that has only had one winner in recent times. The club are still debating whether or not to go into the market to replace Keven de Bruyne, with Wolves player Matheus Nunes the latest to be linked.
Fulham strengthened their ranks this week with the signing of Belgium international Timothy Castagne from Leicester but the feeling is they still lack a real goalscorer following the departure of Mitrovic. That being said, they did manage a very creditable draw with Arsenal last weekend and also knocked Tottenham out of the EFL Cup in midweek. They will be hoping that they can keep hold of some of their more coveted players, including a player who scored last week, Palhinha.
Manchester City are heavily favoured to win this match, understandably and it is also expected to be a high-scoring affair. All of the last ten meetings were won by Manchester City and we have to go back to 2009 for the last Fulham win.
Brighton vs Newcastle
The late kick-off from the PL on Saturday comes from the south coast and is likely to be a hard fought contest between Brighton and Newcastle. Both will be disappointed that they lost their last matches and will be eager to get back to winning ways here. Brighton started the season very well, registering home and away 4-1 wins but then fell to a 3-1 loss at home to West Ham last weekend. The worry for Brighton this season is whether their squad can cope with European football as well as the loss of some more big name players, such as Moises Caceido, who went to Chelsea.
Newcastle were left wondering how they managed to lose against Liverpool last weekend, a match they were in charge of especially given the fact that Liverpool had a player sent off in the 1st half. However, two quickfire goals from Darwin Nunez consigned Newcastle to their second defeat in a row and they will be keen to avoid a third loss. This is a tough match for them though, given the circumstances and heading home with any reward will surely be regarded as a success. New signings Sandro Tonali and Harvey Barnes seem to have fitted in well and manager Eddie Howe will be hoping to get back into the winning routine before we head into the international break.
This match often ends in a draw with five of the last ten matches ending in a stalemate. Newcastle have three wins from the remaining matches and Brighton two, so there really isn’t much to choose between these two.
Gladbach vs Bayern Munich
The late kick-off from the German Bundesliga sees mighty Bayern Munich travel to Mönchengladbach hoping to continue their good start to the season. The home team will certainly go into this match as underdogs. They have managed a draw from their opening two matches but suffered a heavy 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen last weekend. Things don’t get any easier this time around with the defending champions coming to town.
Bayern Munich made it two wins out of two last weekend as they beat Augsburg 3-1 as they look to put the disappointment of losing the German Super Cup behind them. Harry Kane has hit the ground running in Germany, he scored two last week to add to the goal scored on the opening day of the season. He has already stated that he is very much enjoying life in the Bavarian city and his start is ominous for all defences in the German top division.
Last season Bayern struggled somewhat against these opponents, only managing to retrieve one point from the two matches played. In fact, this has been a very tough match for some years now with the last win for them coming back in May 2021. Mönchengladbach have actually won six of the last ten matches between these two with Bayern Munich only winning two. Despite that recent history, it is the visitors who are very strong favourites to win this match.
Napoli vs Lazio
This meeting between the top two in Serie A last season is bound to be an entertaining matchup, despite the poor start to the season for the visiting team. Napoli have started where they left off with two wins from two and share the lead at the top of the table at this early stage in the season. So far they have had comfortable wins over Frosinone and Sassuolo but this will undoubtedly be a tougher challenge. Despite much speculation, top scorer Victor Osimhen has stayed with the Italian champions and he was on target last weekend and is certainly the man to watch out for.
Lazio have had a surprisingly poor start to the season, following up a loss at Lecce on the opening day with a defeat at home to newly promoted Genoa. They will certainly need to up their game here, as an away trip to Naples is certainly a challenge. Last season though they did manage to leave with all three points so the aim will be to repeat that. Maurizio Sarri will be hoping to inspire his team to a much better performance and result this time around as starting the season with three defeats is definitely not what they will have had in mind.
None of the last ten matches between these two have ended in a draw. Napoli have won seven and Lazio have won three and most of them have been fairly close contests.
Arsenal vs Manchester United
The match of the weekend and arguably one of the highlights of the season overall in England takes place at the Emirates stadium in the late afternoon on Sunday. Neither team have tasted PL glory for many years now but going back to the 90s and 00s these two dominated the top division in England. Arsenal look to be well on their way back to being a team that regularly challenges for the title and will be hoping to push Manchester City once again this season. A draw last weekend against Fulham was far from ideal and they will be looking to return to winning ways in this match. They clearly miss Gabriel Jesus up front as a focal point and it was Leandro Trossard who started in that role last week.
Manchester United have not had the most impressive start to the season but they did manage a comeback win at home to Nottingham Forest last time out. They will need to perform much better in this match though, as Arsenal are without a doubt the toughest opposition they have faced at this early stage in the season. Already a few injury worries are taking their toll with the likes of Varane, Shaw and Mount missing for this match.
This match last season was a 3-2 thriller that the home team won and Arsenal have won five of the last ten meetings. Manchester United won the last meeting, although that was only a pre-season friendly match and overall have won three of the last ten encounters between these two. Arsenal will definitely be favourites to win here as they look far more comfortable and settled than their opponents so far this season.
Inter vs Fiorentina
It’s a late afternoon kick-off for Inter, who take on Fiorentina this week hoping to build on their positive start to the new campaign. Two wins from two matches, albeit only over Cagliari and Monza, is just what Inter would have wanted as they aim to close the gap on last season’s winners Napoli and hold off the challenge of other teams. Lautaro Martinez has started the season in a positive mood, scoring three goals in his first two matches and will be hoping to add to that tally here.
Fiorentina have had a busy start to their season with ECL qualification matches added to their calendar already. So far in the league they managed a comfortable away win at Genoa but could only follow that up with a draw at home to Lecce last week, despite dominating proceedings. Last season’s 8th place finish was a decent result for the team from Florence and the ambition this time around will surely be to go one step further and finish in the European places, as this year they qualified due to the exclusion of Juventus.
Inter’s last league defeat came against last season’s winners Napoli back in May with their previous one back in mid April against Monza, so they seem to have carried last season’s good form into this year. Inter have won six of the last ten meetings with Fiorentina only winning one, last season.