The Premier League dominates the soccer landscape in Europe once again this weekend, with a trio of fascinating fixtures to savor from Week 9 of the 2017-18 season.
On Saturday the champions take on this season’s surprise package in what should be an absorbing clash of styles. Then on Sunday two teams from Merseyside take on two from north London in a pair of eyecatching encounters.
Elsewhere, in Italy the two most impressive teams in the division meet in what’ll potentially be the match of the weekend. We’ll then see two of French football’s biggest rivals meet in a match long known as Le Classique.
All kick-offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Chelsea’s defence of their Premier League crown appears to be in danger of fizzling out early after two successive losses and a lunchtime showdown with Watford will be another difficult assignment for the Blues.
While Antonio Conte’s side lost to an imperious Manchester City team at Stamford Bridge recently, few would have expected them to follow up that display with a loss at Crystal Palace. The nature of the performance will be most concerning to the manager, as the Blues appeared rudderless without the likes of N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata.
Watford, meanwhile, are a team on the up. A last-gasp win over Arsenal last time out was well deserved after a stellar second-half display from Marco Silva’s side. Tom Cleverley netted the dramatic winner, keeping the feel-good factor going at Vicarage Road and pushing them up to fourth in the table.
Also in favour of Watford is the respective records of each side. Chelsea have struggled at home this season, drawing one and losing two of their four Premier League games at the Bridge. Watford, meanwhile, have taken 10 points from a possible 12 on the road.
NAPOLI VS. INTER MILAN
Saturday, October 21, 2:45 p.m. ET, beIN SPORTS Connect and fubo Premier (7-day free trial)
With Juventus stuttering at the beginning of the Serie A season, Napoli and Inter Milan have emerged as serious contenders for the Scudetto.
Napoli lead the way as things stand and showed their title credentials with a brilliant win at Roma last weekend. Granted, they did come under pressure late on, but it was the kind of professional display many were hoping to see from Maurizio Sarri’s side; there’s no doubt they have the attacking pedigree to beat any side in the division.
The Partenopei’s surge to the top is perhaps not wholly unexpected after their strong finish to the previous season, though few would have expected to see Inter in second spot. Manager Luciano Spalletti has done an excellent job so far at the San Siro and the Nerazzurri gave themselves a huge boost last week with a 3-2 derby win over AC.
Mauro Icardi was the hero in that fixture, as he netted a last-minute winner to seal the points and complete his hat-trick. With so much attacking class on show here, it’s hard to see this encounter being anything other than a thrilling one.
After tough beginnings to campaigns that had promised so much, Everton and Arsenal are both in desperate need of a win.
The Toffees got out of jail at Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend, as a late error from Bruno allowed Wayne Rooney to snatch a late point. Manager Ronald Koeman is under big pressure and another defeat in front of some anxious supporters at Goodison Park would put his position under further scrutiny.
As for Arsenal, they too need a big performance. Away from home they’ve been abysmal this season, taking just one point from their four Premier League games on the road. Arsene Wenger will be demanding his side show more backbone at a venue they suffered a 2-1 defeat in the previous campaign.
The Gunners have shown already this season that they’re not equipped for a physical battle and clearly there are issues with their focus in matches away from the Emirates Stadium. Thankfully for Arsenal, Everton have shown little that suggests they are capable of capitalising on such frailties.
After fulfilling Champions League commitments this week, it’s back to the grind of the Premier League for Tottenham and Liverpool.
Even though they have a match against Real Madrid in their legs from Tuesday, at least Spurs will head to Wembley without the longstanding hoodoo hanging over them. Mauricio Pochettino’s side broke their Premier League duck at the ground against Bournemouth last week and will be confident against the Reds as a result.
Confidence will be high in the Liverpool camp too, that despite their struggles in the Premier League as of late. Jurgen Klopp’s outfit are one of the few teams in the division that seem capable of living with Spurs since Pochettino took over; the last time Tottenham beat the Merseyside club in any fixture was in 2012.
With plenty of time to recover from their midweek matches, this should be an entertaining fixture between two of the Premier League’s most dynamic sides. Wembley feels like a fitting venue to play host to this type of match.
If PSG are going to slip up this season in the chase for the Ligue 1 title, then you sense it’ll be in games like this one, against rivals like Marseille.
After Monaco’s defeat to Lyon last weekend, PSG already have a six-point advantage over the champions. That’s after a rotated team eventually came through against Dijon, with Thomas Meunier the unlikely hero for the Parisians with two goals, the last of which came in stoppage time to snatch the victory.
Marseille are a long way off being title challengers in the French top flight yet, although they’ve made some decent progress in recent weeks. Going forward they’ve been a huge threat, with the likes of Florian Thauvin, Lucas Ocampos and Dimitri Payet linking up to great effect.
Rudi Garcia’s side will fancy their chances of causing some problems for the league leaders at what is always an atmospheric Stade Velodrome for this fixture. With Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe all set to start for PSG, a stretched match will make the visitors extremely dangerous, though.
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