We’re just four games into the Premier League season and the competitive division has bared its sharp teeth already.
No team has a perfect record, we have our first managerial casualty of the campaign and as the season gets into gear again, the fascinating contests come thick and fast. There are two selections this week from English football’s top tier.
There’s a similar sort of edge in La Liga in 2017-18 too, with the champions dropping four points already and facing an extremely tough trip this weekend. Elsewhere, glamour ties from Major League Soccer and Ligue 1 round off the selections.
All of the kick-off times noted are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
WATFORD VS. MANCHESTER CITY
One of the most impressive sides in the early weeks of the Premier League season have been Watford and they’ll put their fine recent form to the test when they meet an illustrious Manchester City outfit.
Marco Silva took over at Vicarage Road in the summer having done an impressive job with Hull City last season. The team have purred under his guidance too, with a 3-3 draw with Liverpool on the opening day setting the tone for a positive start to 2017-18; they sit in fourth place on eight points after four games.
It means City should brace themselves for a difficult 90 minutes. There have been times under Pep Guardiola, particularly away from home, when the Etihad Stadium club have found it tough to compete in physical matches. The early indications from Watford so far this season are that they’ll make this a battle.
Nevertheless, City were exceptional in their 5-0 hammering of Liverpool last time out and have the attacking potency to cause problems for any team in the division. After winning 5-0 at this venue to finish Guardiola’s debut season in charge, they will not be taking a backwards step and that should make for a watchable contest.
LA GALAXY VS. TORONTO FC
Saturday, September 16, 10:30 p.m. ET, TSN, MLS LIVE, Spectrum SportsNet
Although the 2017 season has been one to forget for LA Galaxy, they will sense there’s an opportunity to find some momentum on Saturday against Toronto.
Granted, regardless of the result here, any upturn in form for Sigi Schmid’s side will likely come too late to force a playoff spot, as they currently trail sixth-place FC Dallas by 10 points going into this game. But after a dismal run of nine defeats and one draw in 10 games, the last two matches, from which four points have been taken, have offered some ray of light.
Leading the way in the Eastern Conference, Toronto have looked the team to beat in MLS this season. Last time out they swept by the San Jose Earthquakes 4-0 to chalk up their fifth victory in a row. It’s tough to see anyone catching them in the race for the Supporters’ Shield.
Still, for this fixture it’s likely they’ll be weakened in attack, with star forwards Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore both suffering knocks against San Jose. The StubHub Center crowd will surely see this as a big opportunity to upset the competition’s premier outfit.
CHELSEA VS. ARSENAL
Suddenly the early season woes that engulfed Chelsea have lifted and the Premier League champions will want to put one over again on their local rivals Arsenal.
Having beaten decent opposition in their last three games in Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Leicester City, the Blues are definitely back. Additionally, Eden Hazard is slowly recapturing his fitness, while new signings Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko have settled in brilliantly under Antonio Conte.
It’s a fixture that represents a litmus test for Arsenal. Though the 3-0 win over Bournemouth was undoubtedly a step in the right direction, few Gunners supporters have read too much into the victory; memories of poor performances in their last two away games will be vivid when they make the short trip to Chelsea on Sunday.
In this fixture in recent years the Blues have relished getting one over on their capital rivals and last term marched to an emphatic 3-1 win. Based on what we’ve seen from each of these two so far this term, the chasm between the two outfits has not closed.
REAL SOCIEDAD VS. REAL MADRID
After a 2016-17 in which they dominated La Liga and the Champions League, few would have anticipated Real Madrid getting off to such a sluggish start in the league this term. An improving Real Sociedad will hope to capitalise.
They may have been without the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo in these matches—they will be on Sunday too—due to his five-match ban, but Los Blancos have been far from good enough in home draws against Valencia and Levante. With that in mind, perhaps Zinedine Zidane and his players will relish an away fixture.
The Anoeta has been a venue where many high-profile teams have slipped up, though. And with three wins from their first three La Liga matches so far, Eusebio Sacristan’s team will be confident of springing an upset in this one. With Juanmi and Willian Jose helping La Real net 10 goals already, they certainly boast the firepower.
Of course, the La Liga season is still in its nascent stages, but the pressure will be on Madrid when they visit the Basque country on Sunday. Should Barcelona beat Getafe a day earlier, the champions will kick off seven points behind their biggest rivals.
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN VS. LYON
Sunday, September 17, 3 p.m. ET, Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon, 3pm, beIN SPORTS Connect and fubo Premier
It’s always one of the most captivating matches of the French football season when Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon meet. Though this one should have a little more spice about it.
Indeed, for PSG’s latest marquee capture, Kylian Mbappe, this will be the first time he takes to the Parc des Princes turf for his new club. Having netted in both of his games for the Ligue 1 giants on the road so far, you sense he’ll receive a rapturous acclaim from his new supporters.
The linkup between Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani in the last two matches has been mesmerising. In their last domestic outing they hammered five past Metz, while another quintet of goals were rattled in against Celtic in the Champions League. For the Lyon defence, this may well be a long night.
The visitors have started the season in decent form with three wins and two draws in their five games. Nabil Fekir and Mariano Diaz are good enough to cause the PSG defenSe issues, although keeping out their hosts will surely prove to be too difficult an assignment.