European Look Ahead: Gunners seek payback, Bundesliga returns and more

ManUArsenal (Getty Images)

By JOHN BOSCHINI

The last time Arsenal and Manchester United faced each other, the end result looked less like an outcome between two of England's heavyweights and more of one between a Premier League side and a League Two outfit.

The Red Devils ran rampant at Old Trafford back on Aug. 28 with an 8-2 thrashing of the Gunners. Since then, however, Arsenal are back in the race for fourth place while Manchester United have been fighting to find solid footing since getting bounced from the Champions League.

A loss for United could leave them six points adrift of the title, while a loss for Arsenal would put their European hopes in serious jeopardy. Thierry Henry is a game-time decision for the Gunners, as he battles a calf strain he suffered in training this week.

The Bundesliga returns to action on Friday as two title contenders face off when Borussia Monchengladbach welcomes Bayern Munich. Neither has played a league game since Dec. 18, so rust might be a factor for both top-four teams.

Here is the full slate of action set for the weekend as all major European leagues are back in action following their respective winter breaks:


ENGLAND

While Arsenal vs. Manchester United is a must-see game in any season, Sunday provides a delicious appetizer when Manchester City welcome Tottenham. This will be a massive litmus test for Harry Redknapp's men, as any sort of result at the Etihad seriously bolsters their title credentials. Manchester City have lost two consecutive games at home and are still without the suspended Vincent Kompany.

SATURDAY

Norwich City vs. Chelsea, 7:45 a.m.
Everton vs. Blackburn Rovers, 10 a.m.
Fulham vs. Newcastle United, 10 a.m.
Queens Park Rangers vs. Wigan, 10 a.m.
Stoke City vs. West Bromwich Albion, 10 a.m.
Sunderland vs. Swansea City, 10 a.m.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Aston Villa, 10 a.m.
Bolton Wanderers vs. Liverpool, 12:30 p.m.

SUNDAY

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 8:30 a.m.
Arsenal vs. Manchester United, 11 a.m.

GERMANY

It's awfully crowded near the top of the table as the Bundesliga gets back underway. The top four teams are separated by a mere four points, so getting off to a good start is vital for the title contenders. Borussia Dortmund face a road trip to relegation-threatened Hamburg, while third-place Schalke welcome VfB Stuttgart.

FRIDAY

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Bayern Munich, 2:30 p.m.

SATURDAY

Nurnberg vs. Hertha Berlin, 9:30 a.m.
SC Freiburg vs. FC Augsburg, 9:30 a.m.
Schalke 04 vs. VfB Stuttgart, 9:30 a.m.
TSG Hoffenheim vs. Hannover 96, 9:30 a.m.
VfL Wolfsburg vs. FC Cologne, 9:30 a.m.
Kaiserslautern vs. Werder Bremen, 12:30 p.m.

SUNDAY

Hamburg SV vs. Borussia Dortmund, 9:30 a.m.
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Mainz, 11:30 a.m.

SPAIN

Both Real Madrid and Barcelona must be careful to avoid a post-Clasico hangover after Wednesday's testy affair. Valencia are trying to solidify their spot in third place and will try to extend Osasuna's winless streak to six games. Athletic Bilbao are making a push up the table but face a mighty challenge against Madrid.

SATURDAY

Espanyol vs. Granada, 12 p.m.
Racing Santander vs. Getafe, 12 p.m.
Real Sociedad vs. Athletico Madrid, 2 p.m.
Real Betis vs. Sevilla FC, 4 p.m.

SUNDAY

Osasuna vs. Valencia, 6 a.m.
Rayo Vallecano vs. Mallorca, 10 a.m.
Granada vs. Espanyol, 10 a.m.
Malaga vs. Barcelona, 12 p.m.
Levante vs. Real Zaragoza, 1:45 p.m.
Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao, 3:30 p.m.

ITALY

Inter Milan are flying high after last-weekend's derby win over AC Milan. The road doesn't get any easier for manager Claudio Ranieri, though, as fourth-placed Lazio comes calling. Juventus have a paper-thin lead over AC Milan and need to break out of a minor goal-scoring slump that has produced only five goals in five games.

SATURDAY

AS Roma vs. Cesena, 12 p.m.
Atalanta vs. Juventus, 2:45 p.m.

SUNDAY

Bologna vs. Parma, 6:30 a.m.
Cagliari vs. Fiorentina, 9 a.m.
Lecce vs. Chievo Verona, 9 a.m.
Novara vs. AC Milan, 9 a.m.
Palermo vs. Genoa, 9 a.m.
Siena vs. Napoli, 9 a.m.
Udinese vs. Catania, 9 a.m.
Inter Milan vs. Lazio, 2:45 p.m.

FRANCE

While Paris-St. Germain is being linked with just about every high-profile transfer target, Carlo Ancelotti is trying to create some distance between PSG and the rest of the field. Stade Rennes and Marseille face off as both teams try desperately to stay in the Champions League picture.

SATURDAY

AJ Auxerre vs. AS Nancy Lorraine, 1 p.m.
Brest vs. Paris St Germain, 1 p.m.
Lorient vs. Sochaux, 1 p.m.
Lyon vs. Dijon FCO, 1 p.m.
Nice vs. Montpellier, 1 p.m.
Toulouse vs. Caen, 1 p.m.
Lille vs. St Etienne, 3 p.m.

SUNDAY

Evian Thonon Gaillard vs. Bordeaux, 11 a.m.
Valenciennes vs. AJ Ajaccio, 11 a.m.
Stade Rennes vs. Marseille, 3 p.m.

NETHERLANDS

The Dutch league returns with a bang as the first weekend after the winter break features a powerhouse matchup between league-leader AZ Alkmaar and Ajax, just days after their Dutch Cup replay. Ajax is only five points behind  the league leaders and four points off a Champions League spot, so achieving victory is crucial. PSV currently holds the final qualifying spot and faces relegation candidates FC Utrecht.

FRIDAY

ADO Den Haag vs. Roda JC Kekrade, 2 p.m.

SATURDAY

De Graafschap vs. Heerenveen, 12:45 p.m.
Excelsior vs. NAC Breda, 1:45 p.m.
FC Twente vs. RKC Waalwijk, 2:45 p.m.

SUNDAY

Vitesse Arnhem vs. NEC Nijmegen, 6:30 a.m.
AZ Alkmaar vs. Ajax Amsterdam, 8:30 a.m.
FC Groningen vs. SC Heracles Almelo, 8:30 a.m.
VVV Venlo vs. Feyenoord Rotterdam, 8:30 a.m.
FC Utrecht vs. PSV Eindhoven, 10:30 a.m.

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What do you think of this weekend's games? Excited to see the Premier League powerhouses play on Sunday? Happy to have the Bundesliga back? Do you think Inter Milan can continue their impressive winning streak?

Share your thoughts below.

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4 Responses to European Look Ahead: Gunners seek payback, Bundesliga returns and more

  1. patrick says:

    i like this, hopefully it becomes an every friday thing

  2. Davidos says:

    I am sometimes the first to bash him but I came across this today:

    link to youtube.com

    completely outrageous and unbelievable. even if he is a bit past it, I bet theres something like this left before hes back stateside – or I hope.

  3. hartley says:

    I am very pleased to see an EPL game live on “free” TV. This should be done more often. There are plenty of folks out there that love sports that do not have cable either because they can’t afford it or because they have sacrificed it for something else. I hope this is a fantastic game to watch and the ratings are good so that FOX and others will continue to slowly put more of these games on network television. Seriously, shouldn’t the upcoming USMNT friendlies be on ABC rather than ESPN?

  4. Patrick says:

    The upcoming friends aren’t on espn, they’re on I believe, gala vision, however you can catch them on espn3