It’s always entertaining when a division which has been dominated by a certain team starts with the champions a little out of sync, and that’s what’s happened in Serie A this season. No surprise, then, that two of our five selections this week do come from the Italian top flight, which has settled into an entertaining early groove.
Aside from those matches, there’s a couple of standout ties from a jam-packed Saturday in the Premier League. The other game is a late one from Major League Soccer on the same day.
All kickoffs are in Eastern time, enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City
Saturday, September 26, 7:45AM, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
After five games, there were plenty who thought Manchester City had this Premier League title race sewn up. But they head to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham Hotspur this weekend knowing they could potentially lose their lead at the top of the table.
Indeed, Manuel Pellegrini’s men need to respond after a poor performance at home to West Ham United. It was the first time the club have failed to win a game in the league this season, not to mention keep a clean sheet, and the manner in which they toiled without the creative force of David Silva will be a concern for the manager. A 4-1 win over Sunderland in midweek will have lifted spirits, though.
Spurs suffered a disappointing loss to north London rivals Arsenal in midweek, but can at least be buoyed by a decent overall performance in the match. They’ve won their last two Premier League games in succession too, with new signing Son Heung-min showing his quality with some splendid moments in the white jersey.
City will be hoping the loss to the Hammers was just a blip and will be hopeful of having Silva back in the side for this one. With Raheem Sterling and De Bruyne showing significant signs of life as of late, you suspect it’s going to be a tough ask for the home side to cope with that kind of attacking quality.
Leicester City vs. Arsenal
Saturday, September 26, 10:00AM, USA Network and NBC Sports Live Extra
Leicester City have been the big surprise package in the Premier League this season and they’ll be keen to pit their wits against Arsenal, who have been a little vulnerable themselves in the early stages of the campaign.
Claudio Ranieri seemed as though he was going to have a very difficult job on his hands replacing Nigel Pearson at the King Power Stadium, but the Foxes are still riding the waves of momentum which were created by last season’s strong finish. Their attacking quality, defensive cohesion and unrelenting fortitude have been hugely impressive in the opening six games.
Arsenal have been a little hit and miss to this point. The team once again showed their soft underbelly with a tepid surrender to Chelsea in their last Premier League outing. Arsene Wenger’s side do seem to be striving for a balance that’s not quite there yet and a team like Leicester will put any frailties to the test.
Leicester themselves haven’t come up against one of the elite Premier League sides in the opening weeks, so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare against the Gunners. If they can get three points in this contest, there’ll be plenty ready to take them much more seriously.
Napoli vs. Juventus
Saturday, September 26, 2:45PM, beIN SPORTS and fuboTV
Napoli and Juventus have both endured stuttering starts to the Serie A season, making this clash between the two at the San Paolo a very important match indeed.
Juventus, in particular, have had it tough so far. After losing Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo this summer, they’re a team that’s still striving for balance this season. The Bianconeri have recruited well, but manager Massimiliano Allegri seems undecided on his best XI currently, and which formation is most suited to include his very best players.
A 2-1 away win over Manchester City in the Champions League was a measure of what this group of players are capable of, but the disappointing 1-1 draw with Frosinone in midweek is a more accurate reflection on their current situation. A loss away to Napoli would potentially put Allegri, despite the successes of last season, under major pressure.
Napoli haven’t shown their best too consistently either. A 5-0 win over Lazio last weekend was backed up by a disappointing draw with Carpi on Wednesday. But three points against the champions could kickstart their campaign as they look to get amongst what’s shaping up to be an enthralling Serie A title race.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. New York City FC
Saturday, September 26, 10:00PM, MLS Live
The Vancouver Whitecaps are still top of the Western Conference despite their heavy 3-0 loss to Seattle Sounders last time out, but they’ll face a difficult challenge in their efforts to bounce back, as they welcome a New York City FC team that’s in good form.
Indeed, the MLS debutants have turned things around in their last two games, prior to which they had lost three in a row. NYCFC beat Toronto FC and San Jose Earthquakes in those matches, although they came close to throwing the three points away against the latter, despite leading 3-0 with 25 minutes left; New York eventually won 3-2.
There are big questions about just how good this NYCFC defense is at the moment and at BC Place, the Whitecaps will fancy their chances of putting it to the test. They should be smarting after the 3-0 loss to their bitter enemies from Seattle and will be desperate to secure a victory in what is the first ever meeting between these two teams.
New York still won’t have given up hope completely of qualifying for the end-of-season playoffs, but they need to continue this prosperous run they’re on at the moment. It’s tough to see their defense holding out at a very tough place to visit, though, meaning we should be in for a thoroughly entertaining game here.
Internazionale vs. Fiorentina
Sunday, September 27, 2:45PM, beIN SPORTS and fuboTV
It’s so refreshing to see grand names from Italian football back towards the summit of the Serie A table and this clash between Internazionale and Fiorentina will pit first place against second.
Inter lead the way the moment, as they continue to grind results out under Roberto Mancini. The Nerazzurri notched another 1-0 win in midweek over Verona, making it five wins from five to begin the season. They’ll preserve have slender hopes of a title challenge, but it’s encouraging how they’re getting positive results without playing all that well.
Fiorentina are only three points back and they would go to the top of the league themselves if they seize victory at the San Siro. La Viola have been a lot more entertaining to watch than their upcoming opponents, but Paulo Sousa has a big decision to make of whether to go to Milan looking to attack or stifle the league leaders.
The result should be a gripping clash between two teams desperately trying to reestablish themselves amongst Serie A’s elite. A win for either here and those fanciful dreams may start to look a lot more realistic.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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