With the international break looming large, we implore you to immerse yourself in a fine set of domestic action weekend. And as luck would have it, there’s a quintet of wonderful fixtures to take in over the course of the next couple of days.
We’ve got two games from the Premier League—a division which has averaged a whopping 2.85 goals per game this season—that will be engrossing clashes. In Spain, we’ve also got a contest between two sides looking to mount a title charge and an interesting tie for Real Madrid, who welcome one of the most dangerous but currently underwhelming sides in La Liga.
The coupe de grace on this excellent weekend schedule comes from Italy, as the top two sides in Serie A—both of who boast perfect records to date—go head-to-head. We’ve also chucked in a couple of honorable mentions for good measure.
As usual, all kick off times are in Eastern Time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Aston Villa vs. Manchester City, Saturday, October 4, 12:30PM, NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra
After an unflattering performance in the Champions League in midweek, Manuel Pellegrini’s side will be desperate to bounce back at Aston Villa. Paul Lambert’s side have lost consecutive games 3-0 in the Premier League, but after they beat City 3-2 in this fixture last season, they should be confident coming into this one.
Last season’s top two in France go head-to-head on Sunday evening, but it’s a game you suspect neither team will really fancy at this juncture. PSG should be bouncing into this one after their 3-2 win over Barcelona in the Champions League, but their Ligue 1 displays have been terrible so far. Monaco have also had an extremely poor start to the season and are clearly reeling from the loss of James Rodriguez and Falcao.
Programming note: For viewers in the United States, select games from this weekend’s La Liga, Championship and Serie A games are being shown exclusively on beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS Espanol and DishWorld. Even if you don’t have a TV subscription to beIN SPORTS, you can access those channels via online streaming service DishWorld for $10/month. Read our review of DishWorld. And sign up for DishWorld via their website.
Valencia vs. Atletico Madrid
The Spanish champions face a real test of their credentials when they travel to the Mestalla, where they’ll face a rejuvenated Valencia side. Diego Simeone will be back on the touchline for Atletico, and they’ll be desperate the cling on to the coattails of Barcelona, who are currently two points clear atop of La Liga.
Atletico put in their best performance of season in La Liga last time out, swatting aside high-flying Sevilla 4-0 at the Vicente Calderon. They followed that up with a superb 1-0 win over Juventus in the Champions League, and the aura that emanated from this team throughout their remarkable 2013/14 season looks to be festering once again.
But there are few trickier places to visit in the Spanish top flight than Valencia at the moment. They’re also two points off the league leaders, and a win over the champions would be a major statement of their intentions this season. Inspired by young forward Paco Alcacer they’ve been superb so far this campaign, and they have the quality to give Atletico a very tough game.
After summers of big transition and relatively solid starts for both of these Spanish giants, this match will say plenty about the credentials of both sides. Either way, it’s a cracking clash to get the weekend under way.
Manchester United vs. Everton
Sunday, October 5, 7:00AM, NBCSN, mun2 and NBC Sports Live Extra
If you’re all about the goals, then this match could be the one for you as two free-scoring and defensively suspect teams lock horns at Old Trafford. Manchester United will of course be the hosts, and they’ll go up against an Everton team that will be looking for a repeat of the 1-0 win that saw them take all three points from the Theatre of Dreams last season.
Louis van Gaal will be without his captain and former Everton man Wayne Rooney for this one, but the firepower he has at his disposal should see the Red Devils have enough to get at the Toffees. Indeed, Falcao will be looking to get off the mark for his new club, and in Robin van Persie, United look to have a striker back in red hot form.
Everton should come into this one with some momentum after scoring late equalisers against Liverpool and Krasnodar. Roberto Martinez’s side have struggled for rhythm in the early stages of the season, but there have been signs that some cohesion is coming back into this XI. They’ve got the attacking quality to trouble this creaky United defence too.
Both sides boast reams of attacking talent and both managers will be urging their teams to go out and play in an enterprising fashion. A win here could inject some major impetus into a stuttering season for either side.
Chelsea vs. Arsenal
Sunday, October 5, 9:05am, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
For Arsene Wenger, Arsenal’s visit to Stamford Bridge last season represented one of the most embarrassing moments of his 18-year tenure. The Gunners completely crumbled against the power of Jose Mourinho’s side, eventually losing 6-0. You can bet the Frenchman will be desperate the put that right this time round.
The talent is definitely there to pick up a positive result, but it depends on what Arsenal side turns up. They’re been excellent in some matches while in others they’ve really struggled for rhythm. But they’re definitely in possession of a centre-forward who’s confidence will be sky high, that’s after Danny Welbeck smashed in his first professional hat-trick against Galatasaray in the Champions League.
But Chelsea are looking formidable, and you wonder if the Gunners have the physical and mental strength to cope with Jose Mourinho’s side. Diego Costa has taken to the Premier League magnificently since his summer move, and the burly centre-forward is exactly the type of player that’s given Arsenal nightmares down the years.
It’ll be a strange day for Cesc Fabregas, and it’ll be intriguing to see just how he fares against the club at which he made his name. Arsenal fans will also be disappointed to see Didier Drogba back on the bench in Chelsea blue; the Ivorian has an excellent goalscoring record against the Gunners.
Juventus vs. Roma
The top two sides in Italy will put their perfect records on the line on Sunday as Juventus welcome Roma to Turin. Both of these sides have began their Serie A campaigns in sensational fashion and the duo looking likely to battle it out for the title throughout the rest of the campaign.
Juventus remain the overwhelming favourites for the title, and although they didn’t bring in a raft of players that’ll go straight into their first XI in the summer, they’ve preserved a wonderful core of talent that should see them challenge both in Europe and in Italy too. Defensively they’ve been absolutely outstanding—they’ve yet to concede a goal in domestic matches—and in attack they’ve been forensically clinical.
But you suspect Massimiliano Allegri’s side will have to be at their very best if they’re to topple Roma, who have been magnificent themselves. Rudi Garcia recruited exceptionally well in the summer, and they’ll rock up at the Juventus Stadium looking to assert their Scudetto credentials at the home of the Italian champions.
It’ll be a massively difficult though, even for a team as classy as this Giallorossi one. Staggeringly, the Bianconeri have won their last 21 games at home in Serie A.
Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao
After suffering back-to-back defeats in Week 2 and 3 in La Liga, Real Madrid have bounced back in style, scoring 22 goals in their last five matches. And Carlo Ancelotti’s side will be looking to extend their recent run of stellar goalscoring when they welcome a struggling Athletic Bilbao side to the Santiago Bernabeu.
The knives were out for Los Blancos after they lost to Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid in consecutive clashes. But they’ve responded, with Cristiano Ronaldo once again showcasing his magnificent goalscoring prowess. It’s no coincidence that performances have improved after new signings Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez have started to settle in either.
Athletic are a team that are usually capable of giving any side in Spain a game on their day and their qualification for this season’s Champions League is a measure of their undeniable quality. But it’s just not clicked this year and they’re currently languishing just one point off the bottom of the table. They won’t get relegated, but things must improve quickly if they’re to repeat last season’s heroics.
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