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.
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.