By NICK IUELE
Robin Van Persie will face former club Arsenal for the first time since leaving the London club to join Manchester United when the English Premier League powers collide in the weekend’s most high-profile match.
The Gunners are in need of points in order to break into the top four, but they face a Man United side that is just a point behind Premier League leaders Chelsea at the top of the table. Van Persie could face boos from Arsenal fans on Saturday, though it is a safe bet there will be more cheers for him from the Old Trafford faithful.
In Italy, table-toppers Juventus will take on a surging Inter Milan squad. The Old Lady has yet to drop a match this season, while Inter is only four points back of the top spot and one point behind second-place Napoli. Both clubs stole one-goal wins in the last round of Serie A matches. This one should be a battle.
Radamel Falcao and undefeated Atletico Madrid can put immense pressure on first-place Barcelona by taking all the points against Valencia. Falcao has been the best player in La Liga outside of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, tallying 10 goals in league play. Valencia is a club that has had trouble finding consistently good form, but have the ability to put it all together and win a big match.
Here is a rundown of this weekend’s matches in Europe’s top leagues:
Despite settling for draws in their last three league matches, Everton remains in the fourth position and will be looking for all the points against a solid Fulham side. The Toffees have only lost once this season and have been in reasonably good form, while Fulham is has not lost in their last three matches.
Top-three side Manchester City plays West Ham United on Saturday. City has not dropped a match this term and is only one point behind Chelsea for the top spot in the table. The Hammers, who are having a very good season so far after being promoted back to the EPL, are in eighth place and could move into the Europe conversation with all three points.
Here are this weekend’s English Premier League matches:
Manchester United v Arsenal
Fulham v Everton
Norwich City v Stoke City
Sunderland v Aston Villa
Swansea City v Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur v Wigan Athletic
West Ham United v Manchester City
Queens Park Rangers v Reading
Liverpool v Newcastle United
West Bromwich Albion v Southampton
Napoli will be looking for nothing but all three points against Torino this weekend. Torino got off to a great start, but has now reverted back to a lower-third club. Napoli is three points back Juventus and one point ahead of Inter so a win would keep the pressure on while a loss could mean a drop out of the top three.
Lazio can keep pressure on the top three with a win over Catania on Sunday. Lazio has only lost once in their last five matches, but the last two have been a draw and a loss. Catania has had a solid start to the season and can sneak up on Lazio if the fourth-place club is not ready.
Here are this weekend’s Serie A matches:
AC Milan v Chievo Verona
Juventus v Inter Milan
US Pescara v Parma
Bologna v Udinese
Catania v Lazio
Fiorentina v Cagliari
Napoli v Torino
Sampdoria v Atalanta
Siena v Genoa
AS Roma v Palermo
Real Madrid can break into the top three for the first time this term with a win against Real Zaragoza on Saturday. After a rocky start to the season, Madrid has made a significant push up the table and are now on the verge of being back in automatic UCL position.
Malaga will look to take all three points from Rayo Vallecano in order to keep Real Madrid away from the top three. Malaga has only lost once this campaign, and that was to the buzz saw that is Atletico Madrid. The southern Spanish club has impressed so far in all competitions and can keep pace in La Liga with a win.
Here are this weekend’s La Liga matches:
Malaga v Rayo Vallecano
Barcelona v Celta Vigo
Real Madrid v Real Zaragoza
Valencia v Atletico Madrid
Real Sociedad v Espanyol
Deportivo La Coruna
Osasuna v Valladoild
Granada v Athletic Bilbao
Sevilla FC v Levante
Getafe v Real Betis
Table-toppers Bayern Munich will take on a solid surging Hamburg side on Saturday. Munich lost their first league match of the season last weekend and will be looking to regain dominant form. Hamburg, who started the season toward the relegation zone, has fought their way to seventh place and are win away from forcing themselves into the UCL conversation.
After losing last week, Eintracht Frankfurt will look to regain form against lowly Greuther Furth on Friday. Frankfurt dropped to third place in the table, but can regain the second position with all three points. They will be monitoring the result of the Schalke-Hoffenheim match.
Here are this weekend’s Bundesliga matches:
Eintracht Frankfurt v SpVgg Greuther Furth
Borussia Dortmund v VfB Stuttgart
Borussia Monchengladbach v SC Freiburg
Hannover 96 v FC Augsburg
Nurnberg v VfL Wolfsburg
TSG Hoffenheim v Schalke 04
Hamburg SV v Bayern Munich
Bayer Leverkusen v Fortuna Dusseldorf
Werder Bremen v Mainz
Only four points separate the top four in Ligue 1. Leaders Paris Saint-Germain takes on St. Etienne on Saturday and will need a positive result to stay in front. Toulouse and Marseille, who are tied for second with 19 points each, will be in action against Bordeaux and AC Ajaccio respectively. Fourth-place Lyon will try to move up with a result against Bastia on Sunday.
Here are this weekend’s Ligue 1 matches:
Brest v Lorient
Paris St.-Germain v St. Etienne
Evian Thonon v Lille
Nice v AS Nancy Lorraine
Stade Rennes v Stade de Reims
Troyes v Montpellier
Valenciennes v Sochaux
AC Ajaccio v Marseille
Lyon v Bastia
Bordeaux v Toulouse