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.