When an established elite side are performing badly, you can’t help but watch. In the case of Chelsea, who have been in meltdown since the first day of the Premier League campaign, that’s been the case for a lot of fans, transfixed by the deterioration of class players and the undesirable antics of Jose Mourinho.
So as the Blues get set for another challenge this weekend, without their manager banished from the stadium, they’re a must-watch. They’re the only Saturday selection ahead of a stacked Sunday, which includes two derby matches from England and Germany, a cracker from La Liga and a finely poised MLS Cup playoff to round things off.
There’s one honorable mention too, a massive derby match between two of the top teams in Serie A.
All kickoffs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy your football!
Roma vs. Lazio
Sunday, November 8, 9:00AM, beIN SPORTS and fuboTV
It’s never dull when these two teams meet and both sides will be desperate to secure a win. Roma lost their spot at the summit of the table after losing to Internazionale last week, while Lazio have lost some momentum in recent weeks, losing their last two matches in succession.
Stoke City vs. Chelsea
Saturday, November 7, 12:30PM, NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra
Mourinho’s recent conduct means he has been banned from being in attendance when his Chelsea team seek to get their campaign back on track, as they face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
The Blues boss was in peculiar mood after his side meekly surrendered a one-goal lead against Liverpool in their last outing, refusing to answer any questions afterwards on BT Sport. Since then he has been hit with the stadium ban, fined and had to fend off questions of a player revolt. The Portuguese will be desperate for his players to respond this weekend.
Stoke should be in good spirits after recently eliminating Chelsea in the League Cup, with the Potters’ Player of the Season so far Jack Butland saving a decisive penalty kick. Their Premier League form has been patchy as of late, but backed by a raucous crowd, they’ll fancy their chances of getting one over an awful Blues team.
This fixture last season saw the Blues turn in an excellent performance and take an easy 2-0 win, showing all the minerals which helped them secure the Premier League title. Mourinho’s men are nowhere near those levels at the moment, but a win here could be the start of a revival of sort for the Stamford Bridge outfit.
Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04
Sunday, November 8, 9:30AM, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Soccer 2GO.
The rivalry between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 is one of the fiercest in Bundesliga football, making the Revierderby a fixture that’s not to be missed this weekend.
Dortmund are back in rampant form ahead of this clash with their bitter rivals. At the time of writing, in their last three matches BVB have ran in a whopping 15 goals, with Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan running riot. Thomas Tuchel’s side will be desperate to keep that attacking momentum going when Schalke come to town.
For the visitors it’s been a decent beginning to the campaign, as they sit six points behind Dortmund in fourth place. Andre Breitenreiter’s team have coped well with the summer sale of talisman Julian Draxler, with a lot of other players stepping up. The man who’ll be their biggest threat on Sunday is Leroy Sane, who has dazzled so far this season.
Dortmund will still have outside hopes of winning the Bundesliga title despite Bayern Munich’s marvelous start. The league leaders dropped their first points of the campaign last time out and are now just five points ahead of BVB. Tuchel will know there is absolutely no way his team can afford to slip up if they’re to remain in contention, even in derby matches such as this.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur
The north London derby is always one of the most hotly-anticipated games on the Premier League calendar, but the fact that Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are the two form teams in the division is likely to make this one extra special.
Arsene Wenger’s team have been tremendous. Even without Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, the Gunners were able to notch a very impressive 3-0 win away at Swansea City in midweek. That was their fifth league win in succession, keeping the Emirates Stadium outfit level on points with league leaders Manchester City.
Spurs have been excellent too. Mauricio Pochettino’s men have not been beaten in the Premier League since the opening day of the season, showcasing an admirable endeavor and steeliness in the subsequent weeks. Now they’re scoring goals again too, with Harry Kane seemingly back in the groove following a stuttering start to the term.
One things in Spurs’ favor could be Arsenal’s midweek endeavors, when they travelled to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. However, this is match which the hosts always seem to raise their game for, meaning Tottenham will have to play superbly if they’re to take anything at all away from the Emirates.
Sevilla vs. Real Madrid
Sunday, November 8, 2:30PM, beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS Español and fuboTV
Real Madrid are the only team in any of European football’s top five leagues and will be seeking to continue that run of form against a potentially dangerous Sevilla team.
Typically, a trip to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium is one of the most difficult on the calendar, but Unai Emery’s men have found it difficult to get going this season. At times they’ve sparkled, as was evident in a 2-1 win over Barcelona last month, but they’ve been vulnerable to teams who can break with pace and quality, as Manchester City did superbly in a 3-1 win last week.
Although Benitez has made Los Blancos rock solid, there are a few disgruntled Madridistas. Real supporters are used to seeing enterprising attacking play, but under the Spaniard they’ve not been privy to that. Expect this clash to be no different, with the capital club likely to sit in and seek to expose the flaw of Sevilla when the game is stretched.
Whether you like Benitez or not, he’s getting the job done at Real, as they go into this weekend top of the pile in La Liga. Three points here against an outfit capable of causing the top teams problems would be another milestone reached as they seek to bring an overdue La Liga title back to the Santiago Bernabeu.
FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders
Sunday, November 8, 7:30PM, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Soccer 2GO
In what was a tight round of MLS Cup conference semi-final fixtures, the contest between the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas was the standout match of the weekend. With Seattle taking a 2-1 lead to the Toyota Stadium, it’s set up perfectly for a thrilling second leg.
The Sounders have been brilliant to watch in the post-season so far. A 3-2 win over LA Galaxy was one of the standout matches of the campaign, while a late fightback against Dallas was a measure of this team’s outstanding fighting spirit. Goals from Andreas Ivanschitz and a Clint Dempsey winner four minutes from time gives them momentum heading down to Dallas.
Oscar Pareja will be a little disappointed by his side’s late surrender, especially after taking an early lead through Fabian Castillo. But they are a strong outfit on home soil and with away goal, will feel as though they’re still favorites to make it through to the conference finals.
Both of these teams have so often fell short in pursuit of the ultimate prize, but they’ll each feel as though they have a fine chance of going all the way here. Getting through what is set to be a pulsating second leg could provide the momentum they need to eventually go all way.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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