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.