Top 5 Must-See Soccer Games: Jan. 16, 2015

Sanchez City

The league leaders from France feature in the best five of the weekend for the very first time this season. And while they may be playing a team struggling for form, such is the quality possessed by this vibrant young side, they fit firmly into the bracket of “must watch”.

In addition, the Premier League’s title race is set to hot up with both of the division’s realistic contenders for glory facing difficult games this week. A league down the footballing pyramid will also see one of English football’s most gripping derby matches played out.

The fifth game will see one of the surprise packages in Italy this season go toe-to-toe with an establish juggernaut of the division.

All kick-off times are Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!


Derby vs. Nottingham Forest

Saturday, January 17, 7:15AM, beIN SPORTS and DishWorld

Derby forest

This derby match is always a fiercely contested affair and there are enormous pressure on both sides going into this one, with both Derby County and Nottingham Forest looking to get an early win over their rivals in 2015.

For Forest boss Stuart Pearce, a win is imperative. The club’s former defender took over at the start of the campaign and things were looking good after a fine start at the City Ground. But the club are on a dire run at the minute and have won just two of their last 18 games in the Championship.

They’ve also lost their last three in succession and that’s a run that doesn’t look likely to show any upturn when they visit Pride Park. Derby are currently sat in second place and can temporarily jump above table toppers Bournemouth with a win over their rivals. With a host of in-form sides chasing them, three points here is vital for Steve McLaren’s men to preserve their spot in the top-two.

On the face of things this could be really embarrassing for Forest. Derby beat them 5-0 in this fixture in what was an iconic result for the Rams last season; if Pearce’s men don’t respond this weekend, there could be a similar scoreline on the cards and he could well find himself out of a job.


Swansea City vs. Chelsea

Saturday, January 17, 10:00AM, NBC Sports Live Extra and Premier League Extra Time

Chelsea v Swansea City - Premier League

Life after Wilfried Bony begins in earnest for Swansea City this weekend and they couldn’t face a sterner test of their credentials, with Chelsea the visitors to the Liberty Stadium for what should be an enthralling Premier League game.

The Swans faithful will be disappointed to lose their talisman to the might of Manchester City, but this is a game they should be confident heading into. Garry Monk has guided this team wonderfully throughout the campaign and although replacing Bony’s goals may be a big ask, there’s enough quality in this team to do so with a collective effort.

A win against Chelsea would set a strong precedent for doing exactly that, and although the Blues currently lead the way in English football’s top flight, they’ve looked vulnerable on the road as of late. Indeed, Jose Mourinho’s men have only won one of their last five away games; their most recent game away from Stamford Bridge was the 5-3 humbling at White Hart Lane.

But to dismiss the Blues’ chances here would be naive. They’re a team in possession of some fine players and after a week’s rest following their hard-fought win over Newcastle United, expect to see a galvanised and refreshed Chelsea performance.


Lens vs. Lyon

Saturday, January 17, 11:00AM, beIN SPORTS Connect


Every now and then you see an emerging side in European football, when an astute manager instils a prosperous philosophy or a team of young players gel to devastating effect. Lyon, who are perched atop of Ligue 1, are arguably this season’s unexpected stars and there’s an ideal chance to watch them in action this weekend against Lens.

Centre-forward Alexandre Lacazette is a player worth taking the time out to watch. In Lyon’s previous win over Toulouse he notched another brace, making the Frenchman only the fourth ever player—along with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez—to bag two goals in four consecutive top flight European league games.

Lacazette is the crown jewel of the side, but to attribute their magnificent season—one in which they actually lost three of the first four games—to his exploits alone would be misguided. Indeed, there are a host of exciting young players that are blossoming under the tutelage of Hurbert Fournier, including Nabil Fekir, Maxime Gonalons and Samuel Umtiti.

By contrast, Lens are really struggling in the lower reaches of the division and are in desperate need of a win. They’re completely devoid of confidence and while it may mean indulging in a little bit of schadenfreude, this match could be the perfect opportunity to this effervescent Lyon team in action.


Lazio vs. Napoli

Sunday, January 18, 6:30AM, beIN SPORTS Connect


Lazio remain the surprise package in Serie A this season and will be hoping to cling on to third place in the table when they face Napoli—just one point and one place further back in the division—at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Rome outfit were so close to derby glory last weekend and after going 2-0 up against Roma, Stefano Pioli will have been extremely disappointed to see his team relinquish two points. But it was the kind of display that suggests this Lazio team is very much the real deal and in Felipe Anderson, they have arguably the division’s best player at the moment.

The 21-year-old winger has been sensational in recent weeks and if he continues his ridiculous run of form this weekend, it’s going to be hugely difficult for the Partenopei to control him. Remarkably, Anderson has five goals and five assists in his last five games, dazzling defences with his remarkable intricacy and forensic finishing.

But Napoli are a side that will fancy causing Lazio a few problems of their own. They Naples outfit were well beaten by Juventus last time out, but there were a few signs of life from Rafael Benitez’s team. They’ll need key men like Gonzalo Higuain, Marek Hamsik and Jose Callejon to be at their very best if they’re to get anything from this game, though.


Manchester City vs. Arsenal

Sunday, January 18, 11:00AM, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra


Arsenal will be desperate to show that they have the mettle to do the business away from home against the biggest teams in the division, and they may just fancy their chances when they make trip North to face champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

Arsene Wenger pulled a real rabbit out of the hat this summer by getting Alexis Sanchez on board at the Emirates and the traveling Gunners will be desperate for their mesmerizing Chilean to turn in another masterclass. On current form he’s arguably the very best player in the Premier League and is a forward that’s shown himself to be capable of hauling Arsenal to victory.

City have a few players of their own who are of that kind of calibre however. David Silva has been in majestic form since his return from injury and somewhat ominously for the Gunners, Sergio Aguero also made his first appearance of the year in City’s 1-1 draw at Everton last time out. If those two click into gear, any side would struggle to contain their mercurial talents.

Arsenal have shown a perennial unwillingness to learn from their mistakes recently and even with Sanchez in situ, if they go to the Etihad looking to play an open, expansive game then they’ll be picked off by the champions. Lets not forget, a league leading Arsenal side were humbled 6-3 in this fixture last season and it’s something Wenger must ensure doesn’t happen again.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball

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