European Weekend Preview: Arsenal hosts Manchester City, Benfica take on Porto, and more

BY DAN KARELL

A clash of ideologies meet this weekend in London as Manchester City travels down the M1 to take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal manager Arsené Wenger has proudly spoke of his “socialist” wage bill, with no one earning over £200,000 a week. Meanwhile, some of Roberto Mancini’s men earn that much or more, and are looking to catch up to first place Manchester United. A win at the Emirates for either side will be a massive momentum boost for the rest of the season.

A.C. Milan look to bounce back from a midweek loss to rivals Juventus in the Coppa Italia, when they travel to Sampdoria on Sunday, while the league leaders in Turin visit eighth-place Parma. The Old Lady currently has a five-point lead in the table over second-place Lazio.

In Spain, leaders Barcelona visit fourth-place Malaga in a bid to tighten their grip on first place even more. Barca have earned 52 of a possible 54 points, though a trip to Andalusia is never an easy task for the Catalonians.

In France, only four points separate fourth from tenth in the Ligue 1 table, and this weekend there are two match ups within that space; fourth-place Rennes faces seventh-face Bordeaux and sixth place Valenciennes travels to ninth-place Nice.

Finally, in one of the most dynamic and intense matches in all of Europe, Benfica hosts F.C. Porto this Sunday in a battle of the top two teams. The atmosphere in the stands will only be outdone by the likely fireworks on the pitch.

Here’s a closer look at the action in leagues all across Europe:

ENGLAND

Manchester United and Liverpool meet on a powerful Sunday in the EPL, with the Manchester City v Arsenal game to follow. Liverpool has played better as of late, and Luis Suarez is no doubt licking his lips with the chance to show Manchester United how good he really is. A win for United and a City loss will give the Red Devils a 10-point lead in the table.

Meanwhile, Saturday sees Queens Park Rangers’ Harry Redknapp host his former team Tottenham in the only London derby of the weekend. Also, Aston Villa takes on Southampton, and with both teams just outside the drop zone, each side needs to take the maximum points from the match.

Here are this weekend’s English Premier League matches:

Saturday, January 12

Queens Park Rangers v Tottenham

Aston Villa v Southampton

Everton v Swansea City

Fulham v Wigan Athletic

Norwich City v Newcastle United

Reading v West Bromwich Albion

Stoke City v Chelsea

Sunderland v West Ham United

Sunday, January 13

Manchester United v Liverpool

Arsenal v Manchester City

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ITALY

AS Roma, who thoroughly demolished A.C. Milan before the winter break, were themselves demolished last weekend at the hands of Napoli. Roma sits in sixth-place in Serie A, one spot outside of a Europa League spot. With all the money the new American owners are injecting into the club, they won’t settle for anything less than Champions League football.

Here are this weekend’s Serie A matches:

Saturday, January 12

Bologna v Chievo Verona

Inter Milan v US Pescara

Sunday, January 13

Torino v Siena

Cagliari v Genoa

Catania v AS Roma

Lazio v Atalanta

Napoli v Palermo

Parma v Juventus

Udinese v Fiorentina

Sampdoria v AC Milan

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SPAIN

While Barcelona is running away with La Liga, Real Betis has been the one of the stories of the year. Two years ago, Betis was in the Segunda Division. Today, they sit in fifth-place, in line for a Europa League berth. And Betis takes on their neighbor in the table this weekend, sixth-place Levante, who has also become one of the better teams in Spain the last two season. Valencia vs. Sevilla, a match that used to hold a lot more weight than it does now, could still have some moments of brilliance.

Here are this weekend’s La Liga matches:

Saturday, January 12

Real Valladolid v Mallorca

Espanyol v Celta Vigo

Osasuna v Real Madrid

Valencia v Sevilla FC

Sunday, January 13

Real Betis v Levante

Real Sociedad v Deportivo La Coruña

Atletico Madrid v Real Zaragoza

Malaga v Barcelona

Monday, January 14

Getafe v Granada

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FRANCE

Paris Saint-Germain, Olympique Lyon, and Olympique Marseille, all sit atop the Ligue 1 standings with 38 points, with PSG leading Lyon and Marseille on goal difference. This weekend all three take on weak opponents, but PSG welcomes the news that Zlatan Ibrahimovic was cleared of punishment after his actions during last month’s 1-0 win over Lyon. Finally, the defending champion Montpellier have dropped down to 12th place, and need a win over fifth-place Lorient badly this weekend.

Here are this weekend’s Ligue 1 matches:

Friday, January 11

Saint-Etienne v Toulouse

Paris Saint-Germain v Ajaccio

Saturday, January 12

Troyes v Lyon

AS Nancy Lorraine v Lille

Evian Thonon Gaillard v Brest

Montpellier v Lorient

Stade Rennes v Bordeaux

Sunday, January 13

Stade de Reims v Bastia

Nice v Valenciennes

Sochaux v Marseille

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One Response to European Weekend Preview: Arsenal hosts Manchester City, Benfica take on Porto, and more

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