By JUSTIN FERGUSON
After two exciting weeks of action to get the season going, the English Premier League will have its first “Super Sunday” this weekend with the latest edition of two major derbies—Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool vs. Manchester United.
Sunday’s North London Derby match between Spurs and Arsenal will be a battle between two teams in opposite directions when it comes to squad depth. While Tottenham continues to make moves ahead of Gareth Bale’s impending sale to Real Madrid, Arsenal have sealed just two free transfers as their injury list continues to grow.
Tottenham have made an early surge toward the top of the table after posting back-to-back 1-0 wins to start the season. Andre Villas-Boas’s squad has done extremely well defensively in the early EPL and Europa League matches, but both of their league goals in a Bale-less offense have been from the penalty spot. Recent matches between these two bitter North London rivals have been high-scoring—can a still-gelling Spurs squad match Arsenal’s offensive production?
Before the North London Derby kicks off, another major English rivalry will resume at historic Anfield. Like Tottenham, Liverpool have posted two 1-0 wins to start their EPL campaign, and their defense will be tested early Sunday with a visit from the defending champions.
Manchester United did not have the most thrilling of followups to their 4-1 victory at Swansea City earlier this week, when they played out a scoreless home draw with Chelsea. Both Man United and Liverpool have their fair share of injury problems heading into Sunday’s derby, which the Red Devils have not lost since March 2011. Liverpool will be looking to make it three straight league victories to open the season, something they have not accomplished in almost two decades.
Here is a closer look at the weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
After last weekend’s shocking loss at Cardiff City, Manchester City return home this weekend to face another newly promoted side in Hull City. The Tigers are coming off a surprising result of their own, a 1-0 win over Norwich that featured an early Hull red card. The Citizens have not lost back-to-back EPL matches since October 2010 and will be raring to set the record straight on Saturday. Relegation favorites Hull have some momentum going after wins over Norwich and Leyton Orient in the last week, but it will be a tough task to walk out of the Ethiad with a road point.
Cardiff will try to make it two-for-two in home matches this weekend against an Everton side that has drawn both of its opening fixtures. The Bluebirds have not won back-to-back home matches in the top flight in over 40 years, while Everton are winless in their last nine league matches away from Goodison Park. Both sides will be looking for all three points Saturday, making Cardiff City Stadium a place to keep your eyes on for the second straight weekend.
Here are this weekend’s matches in the English Premier League:
Manchester City vs. Hull City
Cardiff City vs. Everton
Newcastle United vs. Fulham
Norwich City vs. Southampton
West Ham United vs. Stoke City
Crystal Palace vs. Sunderland
Liverpool vs. Manchester United
Swansea City vs. West Bromwich Albion
Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Two of the 2-0-0 squads in La Liga will face off at the Bernabeu this Sunday. While Real Madrid have edged both of their opponents in the young campaign by one goal, Athletic Bilbao are coming off a solid 2-0 victory over local rivals Osasuna. New manager Ernesto Valverde has Bilbao, who slumped to a bottom-half finish last season, playing well in the young 2013-14 campaign, and they will look to continue their form against a Real side that is continuing to gel under Carlo Ancelotti.
Fresh off a Spanish Super Cup win over Atletico Madrid, Barcelona hit the road again this weekend to take on Valencia. The hosts lost to another team from Barcelona last week, giving up three unanswered goals to fall 3-1 to Espanyol. After their opening day rout, Barcelona’s offense has been tame as star forward Lionel Messi struggles to get back to ful fitness. The defending champions have scored only twice in their last three matches, a 1-0 victory over Malaga and a 1-0 two-legged win over Atletico Madrid.
Here are this weekend’s matches in La Liga:
Almeria vs. Elche
Rayo Vallecano vs. Levante
Celta Vigo vs. Granada
Real Valladolid vs. Getafe
Osasuna vs. Villarreal
Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao
Espanyol vs. Real Betis
Real Sociedad vs. Atletico Madrid
Sevilla vs. Malaga
Valencia vs. Barcelona
Bayer Leverkusen notched three straight wins to kick off their Bundesliga season, and they will be eyeing another victory away from home this Saturday. Their opponents are Jermaine Jones and Schalke 04, who are coming off a tense end to their Champions League playoff earlier this week. Schalke will be desperate to get a great result at home this weekend after recording just one point in their first three Bundesliga matches of the season.
With Bayern Munich out of the country on UEFA Super Cup duty this weekend, Borussia Dortmund have a chance to pass their bitter rivals in the league table with a road win over Eintracht Frankfurt. Bayern were forced to share points with Freiburg earlier in the week, giving them just a one-point lead over Dortmund, Leverkusen and Mainz. In past Bundesliga races, draws have been almost as important as losses, so a win would give Dortmund the early edge in their race to reclaim the league title.
Here are this weekend’s matches in the Bundesliga:
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Werder Bremen
Hamburg vs. Eintracht Braunschweig
Hannover 96 vs. Mainz
Nurnberg vs. Augsburg
Wolfsburg vs. Hertha Berlin
Schalke 04 vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Stuttgart vs. Hoffenheim
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Dortmund
Juventus victoriously opened up their quest for a three-peat in Serie A on the road last weekend, and the defending champions are back in Turin for what will be an intriguing matchup in their home opener. Lazio, last year’s Coppa Italia winners, are coming into Juventus Stadium on the heels of a hard-fought 2-1 win over Udinese. The two sides met in the Supercoppa before the start of the regular season, and Lazio will be focused on revenge from their embarrassing 4-0 defeat at the hands of Juve.
AC Milan will also open up their home schedule this weekend when they welcome Cagliari to the San Siro. Milan followed up their disappointing 2-1 loss to Hellas Verona with a commanding 3-0 victory over PSV that secured their spot in the Champions League group stage. Despite their early season struggles in 2012-13, Milan defeated Cagliari in their last home meeting, and they will be looking to jumpstart their quest for the Scudetto with another win Sunday.
Here are this weekend’s matches in Serie A:
Chievo Verona vs. Napoli
Juventus vs. Lazio
AS Roma vs. Hellas Verona
AC Milan vs. Cagliari
Atalanta vs. Torino
Bologna vs. Sampdoria
Catania vs. Inter Milan
Genoa vs. Fiorentina
Sassuolo vs. Livorno
Udinese vs. Parma
Marseille and AS Monaco, the top two teams through the first three matchdays in Ligue 1 will square off this weekend at the Stade Velodrome. Monaco were held to a scoreless draw last weekend, but Marseille are 3-0-0 to open their hunt for the title in France. The visitors will try to slow down the two-headed OM attack of Andre-Pierre Gignac and Dimitri Payet, who have scored three goals apiece in the early season. Marseille will also have their hands full on defense with Monaco’s tandem of Emmanuel Riviere and prestigious summer signing Radamel Falcao.
After grabbing their first wins of the season last weekend, defending champions Paris Saint-Germain and newly promoted Guingamp will look to keep the momentum going Saturday at the Parc des Princes. PSG took care of another new member of Ligue 1, Nantes, last weekend, thanks to a second-half goal from Ezequiel Lavezzi. The Parisians are undefeated in their last 14 matches in Ligue 1, and they will have a great chance to keep that streak going at home this weekend.
Here are this weekend’s matches in Ligue 1:
Evian Thonon Gaillard vs. Lyon
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Guingamp
Bastia vs. Toulouse
Lorient vs. Valenciennes
Sochaux vs. Ajaccio
Stade de Reims vs. Nantes
Stade Rennes vs. Lille
Saint Etienne vs. Bordeaux
Nice vs. Montpellier
Marseille vs. AS Monaco
Which European matches are you looking forward to the most this weekend? Who do you think will take the first North London Derby of the season? Think Liverpool will keep their win streak alive with a victory over Man United? See Lazio getting revenge on Juventus this Saturday?
Share your thoughts below.