Football Across Europe: November 18 | North London Derby Takes Center Stage

Premier League (England)

It’s Match Week 12 in England, just about a third of the way into the season. The two Manchester clubs remain atop the table, but our main focus this weekend goes south to London where it’s another edition of the North London Derby to get things started on Saturday. Tottenham travels to The Emirates to take on their bitter rivals, with the clubs sitting third and sixth in the table respectively. Let’s look at all the matches that caught our eye this weekend, including table-leaders City visiting Leicester:

Arsenal vs. Tottenham: It was a lackluster run of form going into the last international break for Arsenal, whose fans saw an unconvincing draw in the Europa League and a 1-3 loss to City. The Jekyll & Hyde season continues for Arsene Wenger’s Gunners, and the first test coming out of the break is no picnic. They welcome their North London rivals Tottenham to The Emirates with the first kickoff of the day Saturday. Spurs have won four of their last five league matches, conceding only twice in that span. Spurs striker Harry Kane has scored in every match he’s played against Arsenal in the league, though both he and Dele Alli will have to brush aside concerns over some lingering injury woes to see the pitch. For Arsenal, Mesut Özil, Alexis Sánchez, and Alexandre Lacazette should all feature.

Leicester City vs. Manchester City: The positive for Leicester is that they have taken points from their last five matches in all competitions, including two wins in the league. Further good news is that they find themselves at home this Saturday. The bad news is that they welcome perhaps the deadliest-looking team in world football at the moment to the King Power Stadium in the form of Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s men visit Leicester having won 15 straight matches in all competitions. City have more than double Leicester’s goal output and have only conceded seven in the league, their Achilles heel last season. Sergio Agüero, Raheem Sterling, veteran Fernandinho, and others will give Leicester all it can handle.

Manchester United vs. Newcastle: Mighty Manchester United have been treading water amid a slew of injury problems, but expect to see some pivotal players return when they welcome Newcastle United to Old Trafford. Chief among them is Paul Pogba, who hasn’t played since September 9 and will serve as a key reinforcement to a United midfield that has been lacking since his injury. Zlatan Ibrahimovic also makes his triumphant return from last season’s ligament tear. However, Ibra will likely begin on the bench behind striker Romelu Lukaku, who hasn’t scored an EPL goal since September after opening with seven in his first seven matches. The Red Devils still sit second in the table, but a loss along with wins from Spurs and Chelsea would see them drop to fourth. As for Newcastle, losers of two straight, they desperately need to string points together if they hope to avoid another relegation battle.

 

La Liga (Spain)

Leganes vs. Barcelona: Manager Ernesto Valverde has FC Barcelona stomping through La Liga after falling flat in their league title pursuit last season, and the train rolls through to face Leganes at the weekend. Barca have only dropped two points through eleven matches in league play, four points ahead of second-placed Valencia and perhaps most importantly, a comfortable eight points clear of Real Madrid. Lionel Messi has been at his best; his 12 league goals are three more than any other La Liga player and nine more than any teammate. Leganes have begun their second-ever season in top flight football brilliantly, coming into this matchup in ninth place with 17 points. But getting anything out of their hosting of the Spanish giants would be pretty miraculous.

Atlético Madrid vs. Real Madrid: Probably the most pivotal match of the entire European slate this weekend takes place in Madrid, as Atlético and Real clash in a Madrid Derby that features massive implications both ways. The clubs are tied in the table with 23 points apiece, and a potential loser from this bout could slip eleven points below league-leading Barcelona before the match day concludes. Grabbing three points in a hostile environment is a must for Real Madrid, who have lost two out of three in all competitions coming in and will hope that the international break gives Cristiano Ronaldo a chance to get going after he’s slotted just one league goal this season. Stars on both sides of the pitch, Antoine Griezmann for Atlético and Gareth Bale for Real, will have to plug their ears to incessant transfer rumors and find a way to make a winning contribution.

Serie A (Italy)

Roma vs. Lazio: AS Roma will be the de facto home team on Saturday, but there will be no clear advantage for either side in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for the first edition of this season’s derby della Capitale or Rome derby. One of the fiercest local derbies in football, Rome’s two major clubs clashing always means an intense affair, and for this edition, they sit a mere point apart in the table, in fourth and fifth respectively. Roma have won four straight in the league and five straight overall in all competitions, including a 3-0 thrashing of Chelsea in the Champions League. Lazio have won five straight in the league, including over reigning champions Juventus a month ago. Only Napoli and Juventus have scored more goals than Lazio, while no Serie A club has allowed fewer than Roma’s seven. Saturday’s match has all the ingredients for a memorable affair in Rome.

Football Across Europe: November 4-5 | United Storm Stamford Bridge

Premier League (England)

Match Week 11 promises one of the most sizable shake-ups to the top of the table, with everything centering on Sunday’s key fixtures. Super Sunday guarantees to shed some light on the title chase, with sizable favorites Manchester City facing an improving Arsenal side and second-placed Manchester United visiting west London giants Chelsea. While there are plenty of matches to catch the eye in England over the weekend, the masses will be focused on the Etihad Stadium, where most of the league will be hoping Arsenal can steal some points from City and keep the league leaders within reach as we reach mid-season.

Manchester City vs. Arsenal: Title favorites Manchester City face a tough task in a fixture against resurgent Arsenal FC at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday that could go a long way toward defining each team’s season. City have the look of a machine that cannot be stopped, riding an unbeaten season in all competitions and a five-point lead in the league table. A 1-1 draw to Everton on Aug. 21 marks the only time Pep Guardiola’s men have failed to win in 90 minutes this season, with Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne on fire of late. As for the Gunners, they fell on hard times early in the campaign before turning things around over the last several weeks. Whether or not Alexis Sánchez, who’s been linked to City, and Mesut Özil can drown out speculation over their futures and focus on the task at hand will decide whether or not Arsenal can hang against the goliaths of City and stunt their momentum.

Chelsea vs. Manchester United: It’s been two straight league wins for reigning champions Chelsea since their dreadful loss to last-place Crystal Palace. They are, however, coming off a 0-3 loss midweek to Roma in the Champions League, and will need focus hosting Manchester United on Sunday. Chelsea are hoping to welcome midfielder N’Golo Kanté back into the starting XI behind key man Eden Hazard. Second-place United responded to their first league loss of the season with a big 1-0 win over Tottenham last week. Paul Pogba seems set to miss another match, so United will look for Romelu Lukaku and the likes of Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford to find goals without the help of the star midfielder. United have made that look easy of late, winning their last three matches in all competitions without conceding. Chelsea, though, have only lost once in their last 14 home matches against United.

 

La Liga (Spain)

Now is typically the time in Spain when the two goliaths separate themselves in the table, but you couldn’t tell it by looking at the table entering Match Week 11. Barcelona does sit atop the table with 28 points in just 10 games, but Real Madrid are a whopping eight points back from their rivals with Valencia sitting in a surprise second-placed position with 24 points. Considering the run Barca is on to start the season, it could require a near-perfect next six months from Madrid if they hope to make La Liga interesting this season.

Barcelona vs. Sevilla: Despite being only ten matches into the season, Barcelona FC looks like they might not be stopped in La Liga with a sizable eight-point lead over rivals Real Madrid. Their title quest continues with one of their marquee affairs of the season at home to Sevilla. Barca have entered the month of November still unbeaten on the season with just one draw in the league to show. Lionel Messi has been his usual magnificent best, shining even more with Neymar gone and Ousmane Dembele sidelined. However, the draw to Atletico Madrid last month showed that the right defensive commitment can stifle Barcelona and take them out of their comfort zone. Sevilla enter Saturday’s prime-time fixture with the unenviable task of doing just that for 90 minutes.

Real Madrid vs. Las Palmas: It’s been two straight losses for the Spanish giants Real Madrid, including midweek to Tottenham in Champions League and last week to Girona in La Liga. Gareth Bale should return to join Ronaldo in the starting XI for Real, though Dani Carvajal remains injured. Las Palmas sit in 18th place, but all the pressure is on Los Blancos to take all three points and look to regain their immaculate form from last season.

 

Bundesliga (Germany)

Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich: It is another edition of Der Klassiker in the Bundesliga with Saturday’s final kickoff in Germany when Bayern Munich travel to the Westfalenstadion to play Borussia Dortmund. The two clubs, who have combined to win 20 of the last 23 league titles in Germany, find themselves in a familiar spot at first and second in the table. Borussia Dortmund have only one win in their last five matches in all competitions. Bayern, on the other hand, have won five straight. Bayern will be without the attacking threat of Franck Ribéry, though Robert Lewandowski should be joined by Thomas Müller in the starting XI after some injury time off. With three points separating the two giants, it promises to be a lively match.

 

Football Across Europe: October 21-22 | Spurs Host Liverpool

Premier League (England)

We are already to Match Week 9, just about a quarter of the way through the season, in the Premier League. With 29 goals in eight matches and 22 points from a possible 24, all eyes are on Manchester City. However, Match Week 8 gave us our requisite reminder that, at this level, anything can happen, with goalless and pointless Crystal Palace defeating Chelsea. City host surprise Burnley this weekend, and we’ll be watching. Let’s take a look at all the matches that grabbed our attention this weekend, including Liverpool’s visit to Wembley on Sunday to take on Tottenham:

Chelsea vs. Watford: The time is now for Chelsea FC to find the form they had a month ago if they want to defend their Premier League title, and it starts with a home affair against Watford. The Blues suffered defeat last weekend in one of the most shocking results of the young season, falling 2-1 to a Crystal Palace side that hadn’t produced a goal or a point in their opening seven matches. Following a 3-3 Champions League draw in the mid-week to Roma, the Blues are now approaching a month since their last league win. The road doesn’t get any easier Saturday, facing a Watford side that has risen to fourth in the table with 15 points. Eden Hazard will need to return to his sparkling form of last season, while Cesc Fàbregas has to come up big in the midfield with N’Golo Kanté still out with a hamstring injury.

Manchester City vs. Burnley: Can anyone stop Manchester City? Pep Guardiola’s club has the look of a wrecking ball, tearing through the league as they gear up for another potential decimation Saturday at home to Burnley. City are atop the league with seven wins and a draw to their name, but only sit two points clear of Manchester United. Following a 7-2 obliteration of Stoke at the Etihad Staidum last weekend, City fans are hoping for more of the same. Manchester City still await the return of Sergio Agüero, but the strike force of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling are more than doing their job in the goals department. Burnley surprisingly sit in seventh place with just six goals conceded through eight games. However, securing a clean sheet for the fourth time in six games will be quite the tall order against the most in-form club in Europe.

Huddersfield Town vs. Manchester United: For the new faces of Huddersfield Town, it’s been a dip since the early few weeks of their promotion campaign. They have a mere two points from their last five league matches, losing the last two by a combined score of 0-6, including 0-4 at home two weeks ago to Spurs. The going does not get easier on Saturday at John Smith’s Stadium, with second place Manchester United coming to town. The Red Devils surprised some by parking the bus last weekend at Anfield, leading to a goalless draw and marking only the second time this season they failed to secure all three points from a match. United appear as if they will still be without Paul Pogba for this match. But with Romelu Lukaku and some support from the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford, or Anthony Martial, one would think José Mourinho will have more than a point on his mind this time.

Tottenham vs. Liverpool: Despite the frustration of a goalless draw at home last weekend against their bitter rivals Man United, Liverpool were likely thinking themselves unlucky not to have taken all three points with their possession and constant pressure. They certainly were clicking midweek, with a 7-0 thrashing of Slovenian champions Maribor in the Champions League. New men Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as the Brazilian duo of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, were all among those who found net, prompting Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino to heap praises on Liverpool when speaking to the press ahead of this weekend’s match. But it is his Tottenham squad who is higher in the table, alone in third place behind the two Manchester clubs. They’ve won their last three league matches and battled Real Madrid to a draw midweek in the Champions League. However, Spurs have thus far been far better on the road than they have at their temporary home at Wembley. Harry Kane, tied for second in the Premier League in goals scored, will be looking to change that on Sunday.

Serie A (Italy)

It’s been an exciting start to the football season in Italy. Usually dominant Juventus has been, going 6-1-1 through their first eight matches. And yet that is only good enough for fourth in the table entering play this weekend. Napoli have won all eight of their matches with a +21 goal differential. Inter Milan are 7-1-0, and Lazio joins Juventus at 6-2-2 but already boast a win over the Turin giants. And now, Match Week 9 gives us a clash of the top two clubs:

Napoli vs. Inter Milan: For Napoli fans, it’s been a magical start to the 2017/18 season. They remain perfect in the league, and battled red-hot Manchester City to a close 1-2 loss in the Champions League midweek. At home, they have won their last two league matches by a combined 9-0. They will put their first place standing on the line on Saturday when they welcome second-place Inter Milan to the Stadio San Paolo. Inter are on a roll of their own, securing all but two of their possible points this season, and fresh off an emotional 3-2 win over cross-town rivals AC Milan last weekend. Juventus have won the league six years running, and will be looming all season. For both of these other giant Italian clubs, Saturday’s match could go a long way in determining if they will be able to usurp the reigning champs.

Football Across Europe: October 13-14 | United Visit Anfield

Premier League (England)

Match Week 8 in England kicks off with a bang this weekend with Manchester United visiting their bitter northwest rivals Liverpool. Any match between these two clubs feels like the tensest of derbies already, but José Mourinho and company are also forced to try to put the pressure on their actual Manchester derby rivals City, who join them atop the table with 19 points from a possible 21. Liverpool will be looking to re-assert themselves as genuine contenders after another frustrating draw in their last match before last week’s international break. We take a closer look at that match and others around Europe this weekend that caught our eye:

Liverpool vs. Manchester United: Liverpool may have felt they were back on track after a 3-2 win over Leicester away from home in late September, but a pair of 1-1 draws — one in the Champions League and one away to Newcastle two weeks ago in the league — have raised old frustrations. Manager Jürgen Klopp will hope his players have no shortage of motivation, however, with bitter rivals Manchester United coming to town for the first kickoff on Saturday. If Liverpool are to prevail, they will have to do it without the use of Sadio Mané, who picked up an injury over the break. The Red Devils are not without injuries of their own, as both Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba will be forced to miss the match, but the Reds’ suspect defense will still have their hands full with striker Romelu Lukaku, who is surely no stranger to the derby atmosphere at Anfield.

Manchester City vs. Stoke City: League-leading Manchester City can’t afford a slip-up on their return from the international break when Stoke City visit Etihad Stadium for a Saturday afternoon battle. Before the break, City notched their biggest three points of the season in a gutsy road win at Chelsea, ensuring they kept pace with United’s 19 points. However, Stoke City surprised the Etihad in last year’s trip to Manchester when they pulled out a surprise draw. While Pep Guardiola’s crew look to be a different monster this season, with Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne in spectacular form, they’ll need laser focus to avoid a letdown. City could also get a boost with Sergio Agüero potentially available off the bench after missing a few matches with a rib injury.

Crystal Palace vs.  Chelsea: Mired in a horrendous slump, Crystal Palace just can’t catch any breaks with West London giants Chelsea traveling across the city for a Saturday showdown. Typically a top half club in the table, Palace have endured one of the most treacherous starts to an EPL season in recent memory. Not only have they failed to secure a point in seven games, but they haven’t even scored a goal while allowing 17. The Blues have spent some of the international break figuring out what went wrong in their recent home loss to City, but they preceded that with a strong win streak. Expect Eden Hazard and company to flex their muscles against a Palace squad who can’t get anything going.

Tottenham vs. Bournemouth: With points from their last five league matches, Tottenham find themselves in a familiar position in the early part of the season: only one defeat on their record, but still looking up at the league leaders. Saturday will present an opportunity to take all three points with Bournemouth visiting Wembley. Only Crystal Palace (with no points) have managed less through seven matches than Bournemouth’s four. The Cherries did manage a draw in their last match, however, and manager Eddie Howe would no doubt be content with another point in a tough test for his squad. Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and company will be looking to ensure that Spurs show they can be ruthless enough to take all three points from relegation zone teams as they’ll need to if they want to truly contend for the title this season.

La Liga (Spain)

Getafe vs. Real Madrid: The time is now for Real Madrid to get going if they want to revitalize their La Liga title defense, and it starts with a road trip to Getafe slated for Saturday. Starting the season 4-2-1 isn’t considered bad for most teams, but it is for Los Blancos, especially when Barcelona have begun a perfect seven for seven. Cristiano Ronaldo is still finding his form after an early season suspension, while the stacked strike force of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Isco surrounding him have yet to truly kick it into gear. A sense of urgency is critical for Madrid against 12th-placed Getafe, who scrapped to a 2-1 defeat to Barca earlier in the season and dismantled Villarreal 4-0 three weeks ago.

Atlético Madrid vs. Barcelona: FC Barcelona emerged from a disastrous summer to surprise in their opening of La Liga play, looking to continue their perfect season with a tough trip to face Atlético Madrid. Lionel Messi has shown he can carry the squad with 11 goals thus far in the season, making him the league’s top scorer by a margin of five. That’s only one less than Atlético Madrid have notched as a team this season. However, Atleti do sit one point up of Real Madrid with 15 points, and could get to within three of league-leading Barca with a surprise win at the Wanda Metropolitano. Messi may not be at his brilliant best with fatigue likely to kick in after he had to carry his Argentina side dramatically into World Cup qualification during the week, but his best may not be needed to achieve three points.

Serie A (Italy)

Roma vs. Napoli: It’s a fun and exciting early part of the season in Italy as Turin giants Juventus have not been their usual perfect. True, a draw just before the international break is their only blemish, but that is enough in the early going to keep them from atop the Serie A table, where high-flying Napoli sit with a perfect 21 points from 21. Napoli have already scored 25 league goals in seven matches and have won their last five matches in all competitions, scoring at least three goals in all of them. Dries Mertens has seven goals, good for third in the league, and will be looking for more. But hosts Roma are flying, too, also winning their last five matches in all competitions, including a 2-0 win over AC Milan the last time out. In front of their supporters, it promises to be a fun one on Saturday night under the lights at the Stadio Olimpico.

Inter Milan vs. AC Milan: It is another Milan Derby on Sunday, with Inter Milan the official “home” team, though they will have no distinct advantage with fellow San Siro residents AC Milan lining up against them. Both editions of this match ended in 2-2 draws last season, and there is excitement this year behind an Inter squad that has 19 points from a possible 21 and is level with Juventus on points in second place in the league. AC Milan have lost their last two league matches, both by 0-2 scorelines, after also starting hot out of the gate. They still have 12 points, good for seventh in the league, and will look to use the energy of another derby della Madonnina to get back on track against their cross-town rivals.

Football Across Europe: September 23 | Manchester Clubs Look to Pull Away

Premier League (England)

Match Week 6 in England gives us a range of interesting matches this weekend. Manchester City is riding high, now level with United atop the table on the heels of a 6-0 thrashing away to Watford. Spurs and Liverpool were held to draws on their home grounds by Swansea and Burnley respectively, and Chelsea and Arsenal battled to a goalless draw in London, which could be a big confidence boost to a Gunners squad seemingly adrift a few short weeks ago. None of the big six clubs play one another this weekend, but four of them hit the road, and there could be some tricky tests in store for the top clubs. Here, we take a look at them:

West Ham vs. Tottenham: The Spurs are riding high but can’t afford another slip-up in the league as they visit troublesome West Ham. The Hammers could give Tottenham serious problems if they continue a recent trend; Spurs have only won once at West Ham in the last four seasons including two successive 0-1 defeats. Currently in fifth, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Dele Alli will have to be at their brilliant best against a West Ham side that’s struggled with just four points through five games. One positive pointing Tottenham’s way is that the Hammers are tied for the most goals conceded in the league.

Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace: Pep Guardiola’s City bring their world-class form into a Saturday fixture against Crystal Palace, pegging the team atop the EPL table against the only team yet to notch a single point. The Manchester City strike-force of Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus have been unstoppable in recent weeks, as the club produced 15 goals in three matches before a League Cup win to West Brom this week. Crystal Palace have undergone such a treacherous start to their 2017/18 campaign that they fired Frank de Boer after just four matches, replacing him with former England manager Roy Hodgson, who will surely be on a short leash with Palace falling further into the relegation zone.

Southampton vs. Manchester United: The Red Devils take aim at keeping pace with their Manchester rivals and eye three points on a road trip to Southampton. With victory this weekend, Manchester United would equal a club record with 16 points through six matches. Paul Pogba is out with injury, putting the onus on United’s deep midfield to get the job done against the Saints, who are coming off a win and looking to break out of a seven-team deadlock of teams with eight points. United striker Romelu Lukaku has been in fine form with his new club, and could be the first Premier League player to score at St. Mary’s for three different clubs after scoring there for Everton and West Brom.

Stoke City vs. Chelsea: It’s been a trying few days for Stoke City since being the only team to manage a result against Manchester United earlier in the month. They followed that up with a 1-2 loss to newly returned Newcastle last weekend and a 0-2 League Cup defeat to Championship outfit Bristol City midweek. The good news is they are back at home in newly renovated bet365 Stadium on Saturday. The bad news is they welcome the champions of Chelsea to town. Chelsea drew Arsenal last weekend before dispatching Nottingham Forest 5-1 in their League Cup match on Wednesday. They will be without David Luiz who is out through suspension, but Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kanté, and so-far fairly quiet new man Álvaro Morata will still be a lot to handle for the Potters.

Leicester City vs. Liverpool: It’s been a tough slate of games for Leicester, registering only a point against newly promoted Huddersfield in their last three league matches. They will be full of confidence, though, at home in King Power Stadium for the final kickoff this Saturday despite welcoming the Reds of Liverpool to town. For one, Liverpool do not have a win since August in all competitions. For another, Leicester beat Liverpool on the very same ground 2-0 in the League Cup on Tuesday. It will likely be two very different squads on Saturday, but Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare will be happy to hear Liverpool’s already shaky defense may be in crisis mode, with many defensive names on the injury sheet. The Reds will also be without key man Sadio Mané, who is serving suspension time. They should, however, see Philippe Coutinho in close to full-match action after a 45 minute tune up midweek that saw him closer to his usual full speed and dangerous form. Jürgen Klopp will absolutely want to see something positive before his squad flies off to Russia for their Champions League match early next week.

Football Across Europe: September 16-17 | Chelsea, Arsenal Clash in London

Premier League (England)

We are on to Match Week 5 in the Premier League. Seven clubs had European play midweek and may need to shuffle their starting XI for weekend clashes. Match Week 4 brought us some attention-grabbing results. Ten-man Liverpool suffered their worst defeat of the Klopp era. Arsenal got back on the winning side. Stoke held United to a draw. Chelsea won their third straight to make their opening day loss a far more distant memory. Here are the matches we’re most interested in this weekend, including the huge derby in London on Sunday:

Liverpool vs. Burnley: Liverpool take aim at bouncing back from their first true adversity of the season when Burnley FC visit Anfield in a Saturday fixture. The Reds got embarrassed seven days prior, a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of perceived title favorites Manchester City that saw star winger Sadio Mane sent off for a high challenge. With Mane suspended for the next three matches, it’s the perfect time for Philippe Coutinho to be re-inserted into the squad. After a tumultuous summer in which Coutinho was linked heavily to Barcelona, the Brazilian made his season debut in a mid-week Champions League draw to Sevilla. Meanwhile, Burnley have been one of the surprises of the EPL season with wins at Chelsea, versus Crystal Palace and a draw to Tottenham. Liverpool will need to flush out their defensive woes, or risk plummeting down the table.

Tottenham vs. Swansea: After a shaky August, Tottenham Hotspur are riding high entering their fifth match at temporary home Wembley Stadium as Swansea City comes to town for the league’s marquee Saturday match. The opening month saw defeat at home to Chelsea and a draw to Burnley, but Spurs opened September by smacking Everton 3-0 and toppling Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in the Champions League. Harry Kane is back to goal-scoring form, while Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen are causing loads of trouble for opposing defenses. Swansea have only scored twice in four league matches, and they’ll need much more offensive output to keep pace with Tottenham’s electric attack.

Chelsea vs. Arsenal: Two London giants that appeared to be in serious trouble just weeks ago are both showing signs of life, and they clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as Chelsea host Arsenal. The reigning champions emerged from a shocking opening defeat to Burnley and have since won three straight in the league, appearing to be serious challengers yet again. Arsenal are still stuck in tough times with uncertainty around Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil’s future, but they got back to their winning ways last weekend with a 3-0 win over Bournemouth before a 3-1 Europa League victory over FC Koln. If Eden Hazard can make his first start of the season after injury, the Gunners will be hard-pressed to continue their win streak against their rivals.

Manchester United vs. Everton: It should be a warm welcome for Wayne Rooney in his first return to Old Trafford in a blue shirt as Everton travels to take on Manchester United in the final kickoff of the weekend on Sunday. It has been a brutal opening schedule for the Toffees, as they have faced City, Chelsea, and Spurs in their last three league matches since their opening victory at home. To make it worse, they suffered a 0-3 loss to Italian outfit Atalanta in the Europa League on Thursday. United also played midweek, beating Basel 3-0 on Tuesday. The Red Devils did, however, only manage a draw against Stoke in their last league match, the first time this season they were forced to settle for less than three points. Romelu Lukaku scored again, joined by Marcus Rashford. They’ll be looking to get back to winning ways against an Everton club that is looking to weather a tough stretch of fixtures.

La Liga (Spain)

 

Getafe vs. Barcelona: Barcelona travel to take on Getafe on Saturday atop the La Liga table, yet to drop a point or concede a goal. Lionel Messi is in exceptional form, even for him. He’s scored seven of his team’s ten goals in all competitions so far this season. Luis Suárez is back healthy and Ousmane Dembélé debuted and showed that anyone who predicted the coming downfall of the Catalan club was perhaps being hasty. For Getafe, the final club winning promotion from Spain’s second division last year, is coming off the first win of the season, beating then-undefeated Leganés last week. Still, they are enormous underdogs even at home in the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez.

Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid: It might seem strange to say a win and two draws is a disappointing start to a season, but for Spanish giants Real Madrid, their title defense season is not off to the start they’d hoped. Los Blancos beat APOEL, the reigning champions of Cyprus, 3-0 in the Champions League midweek, but have drawn their last two league matches. This match will be the final match without suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, though Marcelo will also miss the match through suspension and there are reports that both Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio will miss out due to injury. And they will be facing an in-form club in Real Sociedad. The Basque Country team has won four straight in all competitions, including a 4-0 midweek thrashing of reigning Norwegian champions Rosenborg in the Europa League. They will be looking to keep it going at home and take advantage of a Real Madrid squad missing  a number of big names.

Bundesliga (Germany)

 

Bayern Munich vs. Mainz: It was a rare stumble for Bayern Munich last weekend, losing 0-2 to Hoffenheim, who find themselves tied atop the Bundesliga through the first three match weeks. The Bavarian giants did, however, thrash Anderlecht 3-0 at home in the Champions League midweek, and will be in front of friendly fans again against Mainz this weekend at the Allianz Arena. Robert Lewandowski and co. will be looking to get back to their goal-scoring and winning ways against a Mainz club who only have three points to their name, but did secure them in their last league match against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend. They will be looking to give Bayern a rare losing streak, but will enter the match as heavy underdogs.

Football Across Europe: September 9 | Liverpool Travels to the Etihad

Premier League (England)

The long International Break is over and Match Week 4 in England is upon us. Managers will be hoping all of their squads are back healthy and can either start fresh after an abysmal start (West Ham, Palace, Arsenal) or continue their momentum (United, Liverpool, Huddersfield). Here are the matches we’re most excited about this weekend, starting with the opening kickoff.

Manchester City vs. Liverpool: Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was likely among the managers cursing the timing of the break as his club is coming off a dazzling display. They carved Arsenal to pieces at Anfield, 4-0. The front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané, and Mohamed Salah all found net, as did Daniel Sturridge off the bench. The Reds will hope this attack stays on full throttle at the Etihad. Klopp has successfully retained Philippe Coutinho, though he likely won’t join the affair on Saturday. City are level on seven points in the table and are coming off an away win at Bournemouth. They drew Everton 1-1 in their last home match, however, and their last-gasp effort to acquire Alexis Sánchez fizzled by Deadline Day. With Sergio Agüero and Kevin De Bruyne leading the attack and what seems so far an improved defense, however, City remain a deep and dangerous squad. It’s a clash of two clubs with legitimate hopes for the league title.

Leicester City vs. Chelsea: Leicester have alternated losses and wins through their first three matches. Losses away to Arsenal and United surround a home win against Brighton. Their tough early-season schedule continues with reigning champs Chelsea visiting the King Power Stadium. Manager Craig Shakespeare will be hoping the home crowd and long break will give his team a good chance to secure a result. But the test will be tough. After a nightmare season opener, Chelsea have beaten Spurs and handily beat Everton before the break. Star man Eden Hazard should be in the squad on Saturday, as well as former Leicester man N’Golo Kanté, though his fellow recent Leicester transfer Danny Drinkwater will not. Still, Chelsea has the depth and quality to test every ounce of Leicester’s resolve.

Everton vs. Tottenham: Everton opened the season with a 1-0 win at home and then hit the road for tough matches away to City and Chelsea. They managed a point from those two and will be happy to return to Goodison Park where new man Wayne Rooney will look to continue his good form. The competition, however, will not let up this weekend as Tottenham come to town. Spurs will be looking to right the ship, however, as they suffered a loss to Chelsea and a home draw to Burnley just before the break. Harry Kane has fired over twenty shots this campaign but has yet to open his scoring account and will no doubt be looking to do so on Saturday.

Stoke City vs. Manchester United: In Saturday’s last kickoff, Manchester United travel to the newly renovated bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City. The Potters have won at home over Arsenal and drew West Brom away since their opening loss away to Everton. They will no doubt be inspired to spring the upset as they look to build momentum early in this season in front of their home fans. Their guests, however, have so far looked impossible to slow down. United have taken all nine possible points and have scored ten goals without conceding. Romelu Lukaku has looked the perfect fit and Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba have looked lethal in midfield. With Spain keeper David de Gea manning the posts, Stoke will have their hands full everywhere on the pitch on Saturday.

La Liga (Spain)

Real Madrid vs. Levante: Levante were promoted to La Liga this season after winning the Segunda Division last season. They’ve already captured four points from their first two matches, but the test will be exponentially tougher on Saturday at the Bernabeu. Even without Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid have looked just as dangerous as ever. Isco, Marco Asensio, and a whole host of others have ensured that Los Blancos fans see the results they will demanding all year as they looked to defend their league and European titles.

Barcelona vs. Espanyol: The hectic and dramatic Barcelona summer transfer window is finally closed. Neymar is gone, yes, and their long-running pursuit of Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho ended in frustration. However, they have all six possible points and have kept two clean sheets. Saturday could see the debut of new man Ousmane Dembélé and the season’s first action for Luis Suárez who was able to play for his native Uruguay during the international break. It is a derby weekend, though, with fellow Barcelona club Espanyol visiting Camp Nou. However, Barca and Lionel Messi are 9-1-0 in the last ten fixtures of this derby, and Espanyol will need an epic performance to buck that trend on Saturday.

Football Across Europe: August 26-27 | Arsenal Visit Anfield

Premier League (England)

Heading into Match Week 3 in England, there are usual suspects (Man United) and some new faces (Huddersfield Town) atop the table, with all possible six points in hand, joined by West Brom. West Ham sits in the cellar, having conceded seven goals through the first 180 minutes of the season. Chelsea responded to their dreadful start with a big win over London rivals Spurs last week. Here are our favorite matches this weekend, including Sunday’s clash between Liverpool and Arsenal.

Manchester United vs. Leicester City: With back-to-back 4-0 wins, nobody is flying higher to start the season than Manchester United. Summer signing Romelu Lukaku is scoring goals, the defense has yet to concede, and former Chelsea man Nemanja Matic has looked like the key in midfield, allowing Paul Pogba to show off his great skill. But with wins over injury-depleted West Ham and Swansea, the test may get tougher when Leicester come to Old Trafford on Saturday. The Foxes are coming in on the heels of a 2-0 win over promotion side Brighton & Hove after their heartbreaking last-minute 3-4 loss to Arsenal in the opening match of the season.

Chelsea vs. Everton: The defending champions rebounded last weekend with a needed win over Spurs in a match that could have left them with no points coming into the third weekend of play. Though they had less than 40% possession, Chelsea‘s defense held stout, with the only Spurs goal an own goal from Michy Batshuayi. Fullback Marcos Alonso provided both Chelsea goals. On Sunday, Everton come to Stamford Bridge. Key men Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kanté will look to lead a convincing display against the Toffees who come in with a win and a draw away to Manchester City on Monday, with new striker Wayne Rooney scoring in both. He’ll look to lead the Merseyside club to make an even louder statement that they are to be taken seriously this season by beating the reigning champs in their home.

Liverpool vs. Arsenal: The Gunners of Arsenal visit Anfield on Sunday to take on Liverpool. After a thrilling 4-3 comeback win to open the season, Arsenal looked flat in a 1-0 loss to Stoke last weekend. They should have star man Alexis Sánchez fit and on the pitch, though, joining Mesut Özil and the rest of the Arsenal attack who will look to make Liverpool pay for its high-pressing attacking style. The Reds must avoid an emotional letdown after securing advancement to this season’s Champions League group stage with a win over German side Hoffenheim midweek. Though it’s looking increasingly likely that the dangerous midfielder will remain on Merseyside, Liverpool will once again be without star player Philippe Coutinho and fellow midfielder Adam Lallana, further limiting manager Jürgen Klopp’s options should he look to shuffle his XI for fresh legs.

La Liga (Spain)

 

Alavés vs. Barcelona: It was an emotional opening match at the Camp Nou for Barcelona last weekend in the wake of the recent terror attack. The Catalan club won, though Lionel Messi, looking for his 350th La Liga goal, was denied, hitting the post three times. He will be looking to hit another historic milestone against an Alavés club who lost their opener on the road, but will be looking to spring the upset in front of home fans at the Estadio Mendizorrotza.

Real Madrid vs. Valencia: The title defense for Real Madrid got off on the right foot last week with a 3-0 win on the road over Deportivo. Though Cristiano Ronaldo remained suspended, Gareth Bale, Casemiro, and Toni Kroos all found net. They return home this weekend to open the season at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in front of their home fans.  Los Blancos will be without Ronaldo once again, as well as Sergio Ramos, who picked up a red card in the waning moments of last weekend’s match. Valencia comes to town with a win under their belt but will have to rise to the challenge of considerably tougher competition this weekend.

Bundesliga (Germany)

 

Werder Bremen vs. Bayern Munich: It was a 3-1 win for defending champs Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena last Friday in the Bundesliga opener, but manager Carlo Ancelotti could not have been pleased. Despite the scoring, including a Robert Lewandowski goal from the spot, they conceded 50% possession and 16 shots to Bayer Leverkusen. They hit the road this weekend, heading to the Weserstadion to take on hosts Werder Bremen who started their season last weekend with a 1-0 loss to Hoffenheim, though they were six minutes away from a point. They will need a similarly stout defensive effort against the German champions.

Serie A (Italy)

 

Genoa vs. Juventus: The Italian champs Juventus opened their title defense campaign at home in dominating fashion last weekend. Stars Mario Mandzukic, Paolo Dybala, and Gonzalo Higuaín all scored as The Old Lady dispatched Cagliari with ease. This week they travel to Genoa, who fought Sassuolo to a goalless draw last weekend and return to the home crowd in the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Manager Ivan Juric will be looking for his squad to pull the upset as Juventus will be looking to keep showing why they are the giants of Italian football.

Roma vs. Inter Milan: It’s a clash of two iconic Italian teams as Inter Milan travel to the Stadio Olimpico to take on Roma. Inter opened their season at the San Siro with a 3-0 win over Fiorentina last weekend, while Roma were 1-0 victors away to Atalanta. This season, both clubs will be looking to put more pressure on Juventus at the top of the table and will see this match as a major test. Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi is the new Roma captain, inheriting the armband from the long-time and legendary Roma star Francesco Totti.

Football Across Europe: August 18-20 | Spain, Germany, Italy Kick Off

Premier League (England)

The first weekend of the Premier League season is in the books and it was a wild one. Friday saw Arsenal score twice from the 83rd minute on against Leicester to take all three points despite twice being down a goal. Liverpool dropped two points in added time to what looked like a clearly offside goal from Watford who salvaged a 3-3 draw. Just those two matches alone saw 13 goals. Chelsea played with ten and then nine men en route to losing at home to Burnley, Wayne Rooney’s header was the only goal in a 1-0 Everton win in his debut, and new boys Huddersfield Town put a 3-0 hurting on Crystal Palace. Here’s a look at our favorite matches this weekend, including the big London derby on Sunday between Spurs and Chelsea.

Swansea City vs. Manchester United: Swansea held Southampton to a goalless draw last weekend to open their campaign and will need a to summon all their defensive prowess when they welcome Manchester United to Liberty Stadium in the first match of Saturday’s action. The Swans will have to do without Gylfi Sigurdsson, who completed a £40M transfer to Everton during the week. They will be facing a Manchester United side that is riding high off their first match, a 4-0 thrashing of West Ham at Old Trafford. They got two goals from new striker Romelu Lukaku as well as goals from Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba who was allowed to roam dangerously with midfield help from another new face in Nemanja Matic. The Red Devils will look for more of the same as they try to stay atop the table, even if it is only Week 2.

Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace: Liverpool return home to Anfield to face Crystal Palace after a disappointing 3-3 draw away to Watford last weekend which saw them drop two points in the waning moments of the match. They did see their attacking danger as the front three of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, and new winger Mohamed Salah all found net. But while manager Jürgen Klopp and Reds fans alike will no doubt bemoan what seemed a horrible missed offside call to allow the final goal, they must also note that their defending of set pieces, from which Watford got two of their goals, was woeful. They will need to tighten it up against Crystal Palace striker, former Red, and aerial threat Christian Benteke. Palace are also coming off a woeful performance, however, losing 3-0 at home to freshly promoted Huddersfield Town making their Premier League debut. Both teams will be hoping to get a sour taste out of their mouths.

Stoke City vs. Arsenal: Stoke City show off their newly renovated bet365 Stadium with a lofty opponent coming to town in Arsenal. Stoke got off to a frustrating start to the new league season last weekend with a 1-0 defeat at Everton, but Xherdan Shaqiri looks to lead the Potters into the win column and notch their first points of the campaign. Meanwhile, Arsenal are riding high on momentum after a heart-racing 4-3 comeback win last Friday against Leicester City. Star forward Alexis Sánchez is likely to be available after returning from injury, hoping to link up with Mesut Özil and new striker Alexandre Lacazette to continue their strong start to the season.

Tottenham vs. Chelsea: Do-or-die time rarely comes in August for reigning EPL champions, but Chelsea are undoubtedly up against it entering their star-studded clash with Tottenham at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. The Blues face-planted out of the gates in a loss to lowly Burnley, in which Cesc Fàbregas and Gary Cahill picked up red cards that see them suspended against the Spurs. Conveniently enough, Tottenham mounted the biggest challenge to Chelsea’s title last season and look poised to contend again this season after keeping a blistering strike force of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen intact through the summer. But after closing White Hart Lane, their home for the past 118 years, will there be an emotional let-down in their temporary home at Wembley?

Manchester City vs. Everton: Manchester City took care of newly promoted Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend and will welcome the Toffees to the Etihad in the first Monday match of the season. While City will no doubt be thrilled with the goal from star Sergio Agüero, they will likely be more thrilled with keeping a clean sheet. The test will be tougher against an Everton side who also won last weekend through new man and long-time City nemesis Wayne Rooney, who headed home the only goal in a 1-0 Everton win at Goodison Park before a delighted Merseyside audience who watched him make a splashy (second) debut for his boyhood team. It promises to be a fun one under the lights in Manchester.

La Liga (Spain)

It was another top-heavy season last year in Spain, with world giants Real Madrid winning the league as well as Europe, though they were denied the treble as fellow powerhouse Barcelona took home the Copa del Rey trophy but fell three points shy in the league. The biggest football story in Spain, if not the world, this summer, was the huge money departure of Brazilian super-star Neymar from Barcelona. The Catalan giants are looking to leverage their financial might in their quest to replace him, including a long-running drama over their pursuit of Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, and there seems to be no end in sight to the whirlwind until the transfer window closes come September. Whoever they acquire, most agree it will be another La Liga campaign of everyone trying to usurp Real Madrid from their throne. The two Spanish giants start their campaigns this weekend.

Barcelona vs. Real Betis: The Catalan giants can begin to put a disastrous summer behind them when they kick off their La Liga campaign against Real Betis at the Camp Nou. Barcelona got blind-sided throughout a dramatic transfer saga that saw superstar forward Neymar join Paris Saint-Germain on a record €222M fee, and recently lost 5-1 on aggregate to bitter rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup. Now with Luis Suárez benched for at least a month with a knee injury, Lionel Messi’s side could be nearing an all-out collapse and need a morale-boosting thumping of Real Betis, who finished 15th last season.

Deportivo vs. Real Madrid: Nothing short of a dominating La Liga title repeat will be acceptable for Real Madrid on the heels of another historic season, and they begin those efforts with a Sunday trip to face Deportivo. Cristiano Ronaldo remains banned for the next four matches following a referee-shoving incident in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, but that didn’t stop his Madrid comrades from pounding Barca in the second leg. Midfielders Isco and Marco Asensio are coming into their own for a Los Blancos side that has won four trophies in the last three months, but they can’t afford to get complacent entering the new season.

Bundesliga (Germany)

While there are dozens and dozens of teams in Germany with passionate fans and storied histories, it is hard for neutral fans not to simply associate German football with Bayern Munich lately. The 2016/17 season was no different. Upstart RB Leipzig made the first half of the season interesting, but Bayern still won the league by 15 points, their fifth consecutive league title. There will no doubt be challenges and intrigue as the season unfolds, but the Bundesliga season begins on Friday, with the champions in action.

Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen: The 2017/18 Bundesliga campaign kicks off at the Allianz Arena as Bayern Munich look to begin their quest for a record-extending sixth straight league title against last season’s 12th place finisher Bayer Leverkusen. They have taken young star James Rodríguez on loan from Real Madrid and still boast a deadly squad featuring captain and one of the world’s top goalkeepers in Manuel Neuer, Franck Ribéry, Robert Lewandowski, and long-time attacker Thomas Müller. However, the Bavarian giants over the summer said goodbye to long-time servants Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm, who both retired. For Bayer Leverkusen, they will hope the addition of center back Sven Bender from Borussia Dortmund will help them stay stout defensively against the dangerous firepower of their hosts, though they will be without striker Chicharito, who returned to English football this summer with a move to West Ham United.

Serie A (Italy)

If Bayern Munich is synonymous with German football of late, Juventus is Italian football. The Old Lady won her record sixth consecutive Serie A title as well as her record third-straight Coppa Italia. They were a match away from the dream treble, but fell to Real Madrid in the Champions League final over the summer. Fittingly, the 2017/18 Serie A campaign begins with the champions.

Juventus vs. Cagliari: Juventus begin yet another title defense at home in Turin against Cagliari, who finished 12th last season. Despite a dominating season (decade), Juventus supporters will no doubt be anxious over some summer departures, most notably long-time servant and back line fixture Leonardo Bonucci, who moved to AC Milan for €42M over the summer. The ageless Gianluigi Buffon returns between the posts, however, as does a dangerous squad featuring Giorgio Chiellini, Sami Khedira, and deadly attackers Gonzalo Higuaín and the young Paolo Dybala. With their home fans in full throat behind them, Juve will be a handful for a Cagliari squad who begin their campaign with the toughest challenge the league could provide them.

Football Across Europe: August 11-13 | Premier League Returns

Premier League (England)

The 2017/18 Premier League season is finally upon us. Chelsea will look to defend their title. Hull City, Middlesbrough, and Sunderland have left us, relegated to the Championship, replaced by long-time Premier League regulars Newcastle as well as Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town. Many players have come, many have gone. But on opening weekend, the table is level and everyone will have their eyes on a dream finish. Here we look at the most intriguing matches from the opening weekend of a brand new season.

Arsenal vs. Leicester City: The first match of the season is a Friday clash at the Emirates between the Foxes of Leicester and the North London giants of Arsenal. A year after their storybook season for the ages, Leicester stumbled in their title defense. Manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked despite an impressive run in the Champions League, and Leicester finished a meager 12th. Key men Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, and keeper Kasper Schmeichel return, though of course the transfer window remains open until September. For the Gunners, manager Arsene Wenger has decided to stay and will look to improve on the Gunners’ fifth place finish last season when they fell one point short of the top four on the last day of the season. Star Alexis Sanchez is reportedly staying in London, though will miss the opener due to injury. Mesut Özil, however, should be fit. He’ll be joined by new £52M addition and France international Alexandre Lacazette, the former Lyon striker. Both clubs will look to start their campaign off on the right foot after both losing their opener last season.

Watford vs. Liverpool: Saturday’s jam-packed slate of EPL football begins with Jürgen Klopp’s electric Liverpool traveling to face Watford. Coming off a top-four finish last season, the Reds aim to flex their attacking muscle in Vicarage Road against a side that barely finished above the relegation zone in 2016/17. Although the Hornets are relegation candidates again this season, they’ve revamped their squad over the summer with club-record signing Andre Grey along with arrivals of Tom Cleverley and Nathaniel Chalobah. For Liverpool, it’s been a turbulent summer marred by drama surrounding Philippe Coutinho’s link with a move to FC Barcelona and struggles to secure some of Klopp’s most coveted targets. Despite Coutinho and Adam Lallana being unfit for the opener, new signing Mohamed Salah should link up with Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino to create a lightning-fast strike force.

Chelsea vs. Burnley: The reigning English champions will open their title defense at Stamford Bridge expecting to overpower Burnley in front of their home fans. Despite winning the title in Antonio Conte’s first season with the Blues and returning the club to Champions League football, Chelsea have endured a surprising amount of squad turnover with Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic departing along with several squad players. Conte did secure the £70m Alvaro Morata, but only after losing the Romelu Lukaku sweepstakes to Manchester United. Fellow new signing Tiemoue Bakayoko will look to build chemistry in the middle with last year’s PFA Player of the Year N’Golo Kante as they face a lowly Burnley side whose point total they more than doubled a year ago.

Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Manchester City: The Seagulls of Brighton & Hove Albion make their Premier League debut and first return to the top flight in over 30 years in Saturday’s final match as hosts to Manchester City. They secured the second automatic promotion last season by finishing second in the Championship. Manager Chris Hughton and his squad will be looking to put their best foot forward against one of the league’s powerhouses. Pep Guardiola’s City squad finished third last season and were busy in the summer, adding fullbacks Kyle Walker from Spurs, Danilo from Real Madrid, and Benjamin Mendy from Monaco. Guardiola will hope the trio, which cost more than £100M in total, and new keeper Ederson will help firm up City’s defense to complement their dangerous attack. Sergio Agüero, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, youngster Gabriel Jesus, and many more dangerous names will be looking to give City a win in their first test as they eye a title run this season.

Newcastle United vs. Tottenham: With their one-year stint in the second tier behind them, Newcastle United rightfully return to the EPL with a daunting challenge looming on their first matchday. Tottenham Hotspur come to town Sunday, a club that’s come up short in the past two seasons but have surprisingly mounted the biggest title challenge in each. While some Spurs fans are frustrated with a lack of transfer activity and the loss of full-back Kyle Walker, the squad largely remains intact from the last two seasons headlined by Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli. Tottenham’s dominant attack notched the league’s largest goal differential in each of the last two seasons, and Newcastle will have their hands full limiting them in their return to the Premier League.

Manchester United vs. West Ham United: It was an up and down season for Manchester United last year, finishing sixth but winning both the League Cup and the Europa League, granting them a berth in this year’s Champions League group stage. José Mourinho will no doubt be looking for more this season, however. United welcome former Everton striker Romelu Lukaku to Old Trafford, as well as former Chelsea man Nemanja Matic. Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and world-class keeper David de Gea all remain as well. West Ham endured an 11th place finish last season, but they have welcomed a number of new names this summer, including former Man United player Javier Hernández, better known to the footballing world as Chicharito. They’ve taken former City keeper Joe Hart on loan to fix last season’s issues between the posts, and also added fullbacks Marko Arnautovic and Pablo Zabaleta. Manager Slaven Bilic will be looking to lead the Hammers to an upset victory away from home to start their season with a dream result.