The international break is behind us, and the next month of club football gets going with a bang this weekend. There are a litany of top-notch contests across Europe, with big games taking place in each of the continent’s biggest leagues. In addition to our normal wakeup report today, we’re also taking a look at some of these games and what to expect from these massive clashes.
Saturday 10/14/17 (4:30 AM PT)
Liverpool vs. Manchester United (5)
Fresh out of the international break, the Premier League begins again with an absolute cracker of a
(7 AM PT)
Burnley vs. West Ham (3)
The Hammers again find themselves struggling early in the season, and if they don’t get on track fast, they could be looking at another battle for survival. Meanwhile, Burnley — who were expected to be in the bottom third preseason — have completely turned the tables, with 12 points in their first seven contests. Given their quality form so far this season, this is the Clarets’ game to lose.
Manchester City vs. Stoke City (3)
It is hard to imagine Stoke leaving the Etihad on Saturday with any points. The Potters haven’t been that bad this year, but they haven’t been that good either, and they are leagues away from favorites City. Though the Citizens certainly had more players away on international duty, even a tired outfit should be able to find its way past Stoke. It’s a good time for the Potters to catch them, though.
Crystal Palace vs. Chelsea (1)
The hunt for Crystal Palace’s first goal and point might have to wait another week. Clearly the league’s weakest link at the moment, the Eagles have little hope to knock off the Blues in this London derby. Antonio Conte’s men are coming off a tough 1-0 loss to City before the break, but they were on quite the roll before that and should be able to regain that form. Palace might be able to dig in, though, and get the point or even shock win that could jolt some life into their squad.
Tottenham vs. Bournemouth (1)
It is hard to tell how the international break will affect teams, but Spurs are hoping they immediately return to their form from a few weeks ago. Tottenham comes in on the heels of three wins and two draws domestically, as well as a pair of impressive Champions League results. Still, the Cherries could prey on the fact that Spurs look shaky and vulnerable at Wembley. With only four points so far this season, however, Bournemouth are going to need their very best to avoid becoming Tottenham’s first home win of the Premier League season.
This is one of those games that looks a lot more interesting late in the season than it does early. Both Swansea and Huddersfield have been in poor form, as the Swans haven’t won in four games while the Terriers haven’t in five. Additionally, the pair have played low-scoring games thus far, scoring just eight goals combined and conceding 15. This is an important match for both teams, particularly Swansea, who sit in the relegation zone and will expect a good result at home, but the likely lack of goals makes it an easy one to pass on.
(9:30 AM PT)
Watford vs. Arsenal (3)
Outside of their blowout loss to Manchester City, Watford have been a pleasant surprise so far, with three wins and three draws in their other six games. History doesn’t favor the Hornets this weekend, as Arsenal have won all four league meetings between the teams this century, but the form table tells a different story. Arsenal have won consecutive games and three of their last four, but they still haven’t looked like a side ready to dominate just yet. Playing under the lights and with a chance to move ahead of the Gunners, expect a spirited and strong Watford display in what should be an intriguing affair.
Sunday 10/15/17 (5:30 AM PT)
Brighton vs. Everton (2)
Since failing to score in their first three games, Brighton have started to pick up some momentum, with two wins and five goals in their last four matches. That’s not exceptional by any means, but it’s certainly a decent mark for a newly promoted side, and it definitely makes for prettier reading than Everton’s recent games. The Toffees have been dismal through seven games, with just four goals scored. The numbers are even uglier in the last five: four losses without a goal and one lucky win over Bournemouth. Given those struggles, Ronald Koeman should be starting to feel the heat, and should his side fail to get a win this weekend in a game which on paper it should triumph in, the calls for his sacking will grow louder.
(8 AM PT)
Southampton vs. Newcastle (3)
These teams are in very different veins of form at the moment, with Southampton limping in on the back of three defeats in four games and Newcastle flying in with just one loss (and three wins) in five. The Magpies will hope to continue their strong start, as they’ve been solid at both ends of the pitch. Southampton will like their odds of breaking out of their rut against a promoted club, but with Mauricio Pellegrino’s team struggling to find the net in its last five contests, that could prove a tricky proposition. Saints are the favorites despite their shoddy form, but this may well be a more evenly matched contest than it appears.
Monday 10/16/17 (12 noon PT)
Leicester City vs. West Brom (2)
In truth, this has all the makings of an unremarkable mid-table clash. Since winning their first two games, the Baggies have drawn three and lost two of their last five, scoring just four goals in that stretch. On the other hand, Leicester have three losses and two draws in their last five and are only above the relegation zone on goal differential, but the Foxes have actually played some decent football thus far and look far more threatening in the attack than West Brom. Three points would be far bigger for Leicester than for their guests, but again, this could be an even game, and no result would be too shocking.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Lyon vs. Monaco, Friday 10/13/17, 11:45 AM PT
The weekend starts with a terrific matchup in Ligue 1 between two of France’s top challengers to the throne. Defending champions Monaco haven’t really taken a big step back domestically despite their massive squad overhaul in the summer, but they’re not the same powerhouse they were a season ago. With that said, they still sit comfortably in second place, three points back of Paris Saint-Germain, and they’ll run away from the chasing pack unless the next group of teams can
Bonus European Game of the Week: Borussia Dortmund vs. RB Leipzig, Saturday 10/14/17, 9:30 AM PT
Like Monaco, Leipzig have taken a step back after taking the football world by storm a season ago, but they’re still a supremely talented squad with a ton of exciting players. They’ve also found their form, with a pair of wins before the international break taking them up to fourth place. They’ll have a huge challenge in what should be a very open game at the Signal Iduna Park. Dortmund are five points clear atop the Bundesliga table, with 21 goals scored and two conceded, and they’re playing with a ton of confidence at the moment. This very well could be an exhilarating, end-to-end affair between two teams that move the ball quickly and attack with intensity.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Roma vs. Napoli, Saturday 10/14/17, 11:45 AM PT and Inter Milan vs. AC Milan, Sunday 10/15/17, 11:45 AM PT
Statement games and movement at the top of the Serie A are in store this weekend. First, leaders Napoli will put their top spot on the line as they visit Roma. If the fifth-placed Romans can pull the upset, it will send the table into chaos, with five teams potentially all within a few points of each other. Both Roma and Napoli have aspirations to win the league (as they showed with their Champions League finishes last year), and a win here would go a long way to boosting either’s hopes. Then, on Sunday, Milan will be the center of Italy for the derby between two of the country’s biggest rivals. Inter sit tied for second and look like a real challenger for the title, while AC are still getting a full grip on their rebuild. Still, the Rossoneri have plenty of talent to pull the upset and are certainly going to put up a dogged fight. Knocking Inter off their perch would certainly be a big plus as they try to assert themselves in the race.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona, Saturday 10/14/17, 11:45 AM PT
There is a ton riding on the line at Atletico’s new Wanda Metropolitano stadium this weekend. The visiting Barcelona side is already five points clear of the rest of La Liga, and a win here would bury Atletico nine back and put a dent in their lofty title hopes. On top of that, recent events in Spain are hard to ignore and could certainly play a big role as a side story. As Catalonia teeters on a split with Spain, any game between Barca and a team from the capital city will have added meaning. This could be a spectacle in more ways than one.