The top-class soccer is enjoyably relentless at the moment. Trawling through this weekend’s contests, I had another dilemma on what games to select for our weekly must-watch selection.
So much so, that I’ve included a few honorable mentions this week. Some great games in their own right, and contests that might take your personal fancy!
Three of this week’s five must watch come from the Premier League, which has a host of cracking games this weekend. We also have a huge derby from Catalonia and the two biggest teams in Greece going head-to-head.
As per usual, all kick off times are Eastern Time.
Watford vs Leicester City, Saturday 2nd November, 7:15am ET – An early start, but if it’s half as good as that playoff semi-final last season, this will be a marvelous encounter. (Available live on beIN SPORT Play).
Newcastle United vs Chelsea, Saturday 2nd November, 8:45am – Alan Pardew desperately needs a win, but Chelsea are starting to build up a head of steam under Jose Mourinho. (Available live on NBCSN).
Rayo Vallecano vs Real Madrid, Saturday 2nd November, 3pm – The lesser known of the Madrid derbies. Real banged in seven goals midweek, but Rayo’s supporters will create an intimidating atmosphere for their more illustrious opponents. (Available live on beIN SPORT Espanol and DishWorld).
San Lorenzo vs Boca Juniors, Sunday 3rd November, 5:15pm – A top of the table clash in the Argentinian league. Expect some marvelous supporter murals. (Available live on GolTV).
Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers, Sunday 3rd November, 10pm – The first of a two-legged tie in the MLS playoffs. Seattle will be hoping for a big performance from Clint Dempsey, who has netted just once since his move from Fulham. (Available live on NBCSN).
Now for the top five games of the weekend:
The first of our choices will see the Camp Nou host the Derbi Barcelona. Whilst the two sides are obviously in different classes on the pitch, the contests between the two are always well worth a watch.
Espanyol haven’t triumphed over their City rivals since the 2008/09 season when they won 2-1 at the Nou Camp. Five years on and they will be hoping to do the same again, but it looks unlikely given the recent form of La Blaugrana.
The win in El Clasico will have given Tata Martino’s team further impetus, and that was on show against Celta Vigo earlier in the week as Barcelona ran out 3-0 winners. Lionel Messi might not be at his sparkling best at the moment, but the performances of Cesc Fabregas and Neymar in recent games have made for some excellent viewing.
Is there any hope for Espanyol? With one win in their last six league meetings, their chances seem admittedly slim. But as that old cliché goes, form goes out the window in a derby game.
Panathinaikos vs Olympiakos, Saturday 2nd November, 1:30pm, Online streaming
The first time that a game from the Greek Super League makes it into our must-watch section. But, it a game well worth it’s selection as the two biggest sides in Athens – and in Greece for that matter – go head-to-head.
This game is billed as the ‘Derby of the Eternal Enemies’, which in many respects speaks for itself!
It certainly is a long standing rivalry rife with political and cultural undertones. Olympiakos have always been considered as the club for the people of Athens, with their location near the docks drawing in a lot of supporters from a working class background. Panathinaikos, on the other hand, are based in the centre of the capital and typically associated with the higher classes.
Naturally, these differences manifest themselves on the terraces in the form of fervent displays of fandom. In the first meeting of this campaign, things will be no different here.
Panathinaikos are toiling in fifth place at the moment, whilst Olympiakos are flying at the top of the table. It’s set-up nicely and should be a great contest with a wonderfully atmospheric back-drop.
Arsenal vs Liverpool, Saturday 2nd November, 1:30pm, NBC
A top of the table clash between two sides many thought were unlikely to challenge for the Premier League title. Arsenal sit atop the Premier League pile, but Brendan Rodgers and his progressing Liverpool side are only two points further back.
Read: Our Arsenal vs Liverpool preview.
This one is a massive game for both sides. Arsenal have been superb so far, but some maintain they have had a wholly favorable start to the campaign. Those critics have been validated somewhat, after successive home defeats to Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund. A win here against a side in red-hot form will reaffirm their championship credentials. But if they fall to defeat, those slight concerns could become a bit more substantial.
As for Liverpool, their wonderful start has left many claiming they are well in the title races. If they can win here, they must be considered challengers in my book. Can they do so? They certainly have the firepower.
Everyone is well aware of the merits of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, but the reintroduction of Philippe Coutinho should give the side even more attacking fluidity.
The one concern for the Reds will be how their flat midfield and back-three handles the clever movement and tight link-up between the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud. The former in particular loves to drift wide and overload the flanks, something that Arsenal might to exploit against a trio of central defenders.
Everton vs Tottenham, Sunday 3rd November, 8:30am ET, NBCSN
Sunday’s early contest in the Premier League sees two sides harboring top four ambitions go head-to-head at Goodison Park.
Roberto Martinez’s Everton side continued their impressive start to the season with a 2-0 win at Aston Villa last time out. The calming influence of Gareth Barry, the forcefulness of James McCarthy and the sheer brilliance of Romelu Lukaku have all combined to great effect for the Spaniard and they will be looking to show their Champions League credentials with a win here.
Tottenham will be a tough nut to crack, though. They have been solid if not spectacular in recent weeks, but that is certainly to be expected after the influx of players this summer. If anyone is going to nice a result on the road at Everton, Spurs look like to most likely candidates to do so at the moment.
The Toffees are a formidable proposition on home soil though and haven’t lost at Goodison since December 2012. Everton won this fixture in dramatic style last season, scoring twice in injury-time to overturn a 1-0 deficit.
Cardiff City vs Swansea City, Sunday 3rd November, 11am ET, NBCSN
One of the most hotly anticipated games in Premier League history. The two sides from South Wales lock horns for the first time ever in the top division of the football league.
Cardiff City will have the honor of hosting the game and it’s a match-up that supporters of both sides have been looking forward to for a long, long time. It will be the 106th time these teams have met, and the majority of games between the two have been rife with animosity, tension and on some occasions, downright hatred.
The man charged with refereeing this game will be Mike Dean, and he knows better than most how these games can sometimes boil over. The referee suffered a deep wound on his head after being struck by a coin back in 2009.
Away supporters were actually banned from attending the games for four years after crowd trouble soured events back in 1993 at what has become know as ‘The Battle of Ninian Park’.
This one is simply unmissable.
What games will you be watching? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter: @MattJFootball