By NICK IUELE
English Premier League heavyweights Arsenal and Manchester City face off on Sunday in the weekend's most highly-anticipated match-up.
Both sides were in Champions League action during the week as the Gunners won against Montpellier and City was downed by Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid. The clubs enter this clash undefeated in Premiership play with two wins and two draws each. The match should prove to be a barometer of form at this point in the campaign.
Arsenal-City isn't the only high-profile clash in the Premier League this weekend. Bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool square off in the latest installment of their heated derby. Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra are likely to lock horns while Liverpool look to get off the poor early-season slide that has them far off the pace in England.
In Germany, Bayern Munich takes on Jermaine Jones and Schalke in a battle of Bundesliga top four sides. Both clubs have yet to drop a fixture on the young season, but Munich will attempt to make it four wins in four matches. Last year’s Champions League runner-up have been on a scoring frenzy this season, netting 12 goals in just three league matches.
AC Milan and Udinese meet in a matchup of Serie A clubs struggling to find themselves. Poor form has forced slow starts to the season, but given the talent level on both sides, something has to give sooner rather than later. Milan comes off a shock loss to Atalanta and a draw to Anderlecht in Champions League, while Udinese has yet to win a league match.
Here is a closer look at all the weekend's action in Europe's top leagues:
After rampant starts to the campaign, Everton and Swansea City play amid slight dips in form. The Toffees may have been at the wrong end of controversy Monday night, having two goals disallowed in a draw with Newcastle, while the Swans fell to Aston Villa 2-0. Still, both remain on the top half of the table and will be after nothing less than all three points.
Historic clubs Manchester United and Liverpool go at it on Sunday. United , who may get Wayne Rooney back from a leg injury, has won all three matches since they lost on opening night. The Reds are still looking for that elusive first victory, but will be hard-pressed to find it against the Red Devils.
Here are this weekend’s English Premier League matches:
Swansea City v Everton
Chelsea v Stoke City
Southampton v Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion v Reading
West Ham United v Sunderland
Wigan Athletic v Fulham
Liverpool v Manchester United
Manchester City v Arsenal
Tottenham Hotspur v Queens Park Rangers
Undefeated sides Napoli and Catania face off on Sunday. Catania is off to an unexpected start with a win and a draw in their first two contests, while Napoli won both of their matches and sits tied on points for the top spot in the table.
Roma will play Cagliari looking to get back on track after their last-gasp defeat at Bologna last week. I Lupi remain at fifth in the table and have a good chance to move up against a Cagliari side that has yet to win a match this season.
Here are this weekend’s Serie A matches:
Parma v Fiorentina
Juventus v Chievo Verona
Sampdoria v Torino
Atalanta v Palermo
Bologna v US Pescara
Cagliari v Roma
Catania v Napoli
Inter Milan v Siena
Udinese v AC Milan
Lazio v Genoa
Real Madrid will try to extract confidence from their Champions League win over Manchester City and apply that to their league match with Rayo Vallecano. It has been a rough go for the defending Spanish champions in La Liga play, their two losses already matching last season’s total. Perhaps the UCL win against one of the best teams in the world will be the spark they need to get back on track.
Mallorca, who is having an exceptional start to the season, will take on a Valencia side that is struggling to find form. Mallorca as yet to drop a match in league play, while Champions League side Valencia has managed only one victory so far this term.
Here are this weekend’s La Liga matches:
Real Zaragoza v Osasuna
Celta Vigo v Getafe
Real Betis v Espanyol
Barcelona v Granada
Mallorca v Valencia
Levante v Real Sociedad
Athletico Madrid v Valladolid
Athletic Bilbao v Malaga
Rayo Vallecano v Real Madrid
Deportivo La Coruna v Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt has won all three of their matches this season and will put their 100% record on the line against Nurnberg. The latter has had an unexpectedly solid start to the Bundesliga season and has eyes on their third match of the campaign. A win for either side would keep pressure on table-toppers Bayern.
Borussia Dortmund is on a roll heading into their match with lowly Hamburg, but it is not a match the title holders should take lightly. Hamburg is 0-3 on the season, but the losses have come against Werder Bremen, Frankfurt and Nurnberg, all quality sides. Hamburg is a better side than they are showing, so Dortmund should not look past them, even with next week’s showdown with Frankfurt on their minds.
Here are this weekend’s Bundesliga matches:
Nurnburg v Eintracht Frankfurt
Fortuna Dusseldorf v SC Freiburg
Hamburg SV v Borussia Dortmund
Mainz v FC Augsburg
Schalke 04 v Bayern Munich
VfL Wolfsburg v SpVgg Greuther Furth
Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Monchengladbach
TSG Hoffenhein v Hannover 96
Werder Bremen v VfB Stuttgart
St Etienne has a tough assignment in reigning champions Montpellier after a shock defeat at the hands of Sochaux last weekend. Etienne barely remain in the top half of the table, but with Montpellier perhaps weakened by their mid-week UCL clash with Arsenal, the away team has a chance.
Sochaux takes on Troyes in a fight to get out of the relegation zone. Toryes has yet to win a match and Sochaux has already lost four times. Both sides will try to get their seasons on track, with Sochaux looking the more likely after a win last week. Troyes is simply fighting to stay in Ligue 1 after being promoted to the top flight for this season.
Here are this weekend’s Ligue 1 matches:
Montpellier v St Etienne
Bastia v Paris St Germain
Brest v Valenciennes
Lorient v Nice
Sochaux v Troyes
Stade de Reims v AS Nancy Lorraine
Toulouse v Stade Rennes
Bordeaux v AC Ajaccio
Marseille v Evian Thonon Gaillard
Lille v Lyon