Football Across Europe: December 9-11 (Recapped)

English Premier League

Leicester City vs. Manchester City: High-flying Man City travel to the King Power Stadium on Saturday afternoon to take on the slumping Foxes. Though Leicester advanced to the knockout stages of their surprise Champions League run, they sit 16th in the table,  17 points back of City, and nowhere near their magical form of last season. City’s Sergio Agüero is second in the Premier League in scoring thus far in 2016/17.

Result: Leicester City 4 – 2 Manchester City: Jamie Vardy scored in the third minute en route to a hat trick and Leicester dispatched Man City in a convincing manner, looking the most like the reigning Premier League champions they have perhaps all season. 

Manchester United vs. Tottenham: United welcome Spurs to Old Trafford on Sunday. Though the teams sit in fifth and sixth place respetively in the table, it will be a match United, six points behind Spurs, are desperate to win to stay within striking distance of the table leaders. A returned Harry Kane for Spurs will be looking to best the Red Devils’ star power of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and more.

Result: Manchester United 1 – 0 Tottenham: United, desperate for every point as they seek to stay in the title race, combined stout defending, the usual David de Gea soundness, and a 29th minute goal from Henrikh Mkhitaryan to beat Spurs on Sunday.

Chelsea vs. West Brom: Chelsea are back to looking like Chelsea, as they sit alone atop the EPL table entering Sunday’s affair with West Brom. The Blues haven’t lost in the league since Sept. 24, with goal-scoring maestro Diego Costa and majestic Eden Hazard shredding the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham and Everton in November. Continuing it through Sunday won’t be easy, as West Brom haven’t lost a match since October.

Result: Chelsea 1 – 0 West Brom: West Brom came into the match in great form and fought hard, but Chelsea proved too much for the Baggies as a 76th minute goal from Diego Costa, his fifth in his last six matches, gave Chelsea a late victory on Sunday and maintained their three point lead atop the table.

 Arsenal vs. Stoke City: The Gunners bring a 13-match unbeaten streak into this weekend’s league showdown against mid-table Stoke City. In-form Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez looks to add to his goal-scoring tally after a hat trick against West Ham last Saturday, while the Gunners can move level with Chelsea atop the EPL table with a win and a Blues loss over the weekend. Stoke can nab a third-straight league win if they pull off the upset at the Emirates Stadium.

Result: Arsenal 3 – 1 Stoke City: Stoke led 1-0 through a 29th minute goal, but Theo Walcott scored just before half and Mesut Özil scored minutes into the second half as Arsenal pulled off the come-from-behind victory to move, albeit briefly, atop the Premier League before Chelsea’s victory on Sunday.

Liverpool vs. West Ham United: Liverpool welcome the Hammers to Anfield on Sunday fresh off their first defeat in 16 matches, a calamitous meltdown away to Bournemouth last weekend. With Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge both ruled out due to injury, the Reds will hope West Ham’s poor recent form continues. Liverpool couldn’t beat West Ham least season in four tries, losing both league matches and managing a draw to force a second-leg matchup in the FA Cup, which saw the Reds dumped from the tournament.

Result: Liverpool 2 – 2 West Ham United: Liverpool led early through a fifth minute Adam Lallana goal, but a gorgeous Dimitri Payet free kick and a poorly conceded goal to Michail Antonio saw the Hammers up at halftime as Liverpool’s defensive fragility reared its head once again. A goal three minutes into the second half from in-form striker Divock Origi would save the Reds a point, but they drop another two behind both Chelsea and Arsenal.

La Liga (Spain)

Real Madrid vs. RC Deportivo: Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid hope to close out their league year on a high mark in a home showdown with Deportivo de la Coruña. Sergio Ramos’ late equalizer in El Clásico last weekend kept Los Blancos six points atop the La Liga table, but keeping that distance through the new year is critical with Lionel Messi and Neymar’s Barcelona nipping at their heels.

Result: Real Madrid 3 – 2 RC Deportivo: Scoreless at halftime, an Álvaro Morata goal in the 50th minute gave Real Madrid a lead, but it was short-lived as Joselu scored twice in two minutes to give RC Deportivo a 2-1 lead through 66 minutes. An 84th minute Mariano equalizer would give Real Madrid a chance, and Sergio Ramos delivered in stoppage time to secure all three points for Real Madrid who remain six points clear atop La Liga. 

Osasuna vs. Barcelona: Barcelona travel to the north of Spain on Saturday to take on Osasuna. Though advancing with ease through the group stage of the Champions League, Barca comes into this match on the heels of three straight league draws, including their last match, El Clásico against Real Madrid, who now sit six points clear of Barca in the La Liga table.

Result: Osasuna 0 – 3 Barcelona: Barca returned to their winning ways at the expense of Osasuna, who surrendered over 80% possession to Barcelona and registered only one shot on goal. Usual suspects and superstars Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi (double), provided all the scoring. 

Serie A (Italy)

Torino vs. Juventus: Juventus and Torino meet on Sunday in the derby della Mole, or Turin Derby. Turin’s top two teams battle for bragging rights in one of Italy’s oldest derbies. This match will be at Torino’s home grounds, with the rematch moving to Juventus Stadium in May. Between league and Coppa Italia play, Juventus swept all three meetings with Torino last season.

Result: Torino 1 – 3 Juventus: Torino drew first blood in this fierce derby matchup, but new striker Gonzalo Higuain equalized in the 28th minute and put Juve ahead in the 82nd to ensure another victory for Juventus against their bitter rivals.