English Premier League
Manchester United vs. Everton on Sunday at 10pm AEDT
Manchester United limp into Sunday night’s match without 11 of their first team squad due to injury and suspension. This crisis was further exacerbated with captain Wayne Rooney receiving a three match ban and new signing Ander Herrera breaking a rib. United’s defence could go into the match unchanged for the first time this season after Paddy McNair made a solid Old Trafford debut.
The Toffees are on a high after Phil Jagielka’s injury time thunderbolt secured a point in the Merseyside derby last weekend. Roberto Martinez will be hoping his team can push on after a poor start to the season that has seen them concede 14 goals, the highest in the league. The last time these teams met it finished Everton 2 Manchester United 0, it was David Moyes last match in charge of the Red Devils.
Prediction – Manchester United 3 Everton 1
Chelsea vs. Arsenal on Monday at 12.05 AEDT
This London derby has been contested on 185 occasions with Arsenal on 71 wins to Chelsea’s 59 with 55 draws. The last time these sides met at Stamford Bridge, Oscar led the Blues to a record 6-0 victory which all but ended Arsenal’s title hopes. Chelsea and Arsenal are the only clubs remaining that are yet to experience defeat but a win for Chelsea will see them move nine points clear of Arsenal after just seven matches.
An intriguing subplot to the match will be former Arsenal captain, Cesc Fabregas who will face the club that he played over 300 games for the first time since moving back to England. The Spaniard leads the league in assists (6) and key passes per match (3.5) proving that he is a contender for signing of the summer.
Prediction – Chelsea 4 Arsenal 3
Best of the Rest
- Leicester vs. Burnley on Sunday at 12am AEST
- Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion on Sunday at 12am AEST
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Southampton on Monday at 12.05am AEDT
Spanish La Liga
Valencia vs Atletico Madrid on Sunday at 12am AEST
Both sides come into the match with 14 points after six rounds with goal difference the only factor that sees Valencia sit in second and Atletico in third. Valencia have scored 14 goals this season which is third most in La Liga behind Barcelona and Real Madrid but they boast the highest goal to shots on target ratio with 54% of their shots on target finding the back of the net.
Atletico manager Diego Simeone returned from his eight match touchline ban last week with his side winning 4-0 over a usually compact Sevilla. Atletico have stuck to what has brought them so much success in recent year and that is their defence. Other than Barcelona, Atletico has conceded the least shots per game (8.5).
Prediction Valencia 0 Atletico Madrid 2
Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao on Monday at 6am AEDT
Real Madrid started the season poorly with Carlo Ancelotti criticized for getting the balance wrong but after 15 goals in their last three games the Galacticos are surging up the table. Real have the most shots per game (17.8) and shots on target per game (7.5) so it is little wonder why Cristiano Ronaldo leads the league with 10 goals in just five games, averaging six shots a match. A win could move the Madrid giants to within a two points of Barcelona.
Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde admits that his side has approached matches with the wrong attitude and believes his side need to be more clinical in the final third. Currently sitting fourth in La Liga for average possession but are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference after just four goals in six games. A heavy defeat could see them pushed to the bottom of the table.
Prediction – Real Madrid 2 Athletic Bilbao 1
Best of the rest
- Rayo Vallecano vs. Barcelona on Sunday at 3am AEDT
- Celta Vigo vs. Villareal on Monday at 2am AEDT
- Espanyol vs. Real Sociedad on Monday at 4am AEDT
Bayern Munich vs. Hannover 96 on Saturday at 11.30pm AEST
The Bavarian giants look to have sorted out any kinks in the armour with two victories in a row after a misfiring start that saw them in mid table after four games. Bayern have had 11% more possession than any other team in the Bundesliga which exemplifies their dominance. Xabi Alonso has been immense thus far leading the league for average passes per match with 125 which is 45 more passes per match then Borussia Dortmund’s Neven Subotic who is second. A point will mean that Bayern will remain on top for another round.
Hannover has done extremely well to acquire 10 points in six games considering they have only scored five goals so far. They have only conceded four against which is the third best in the league with credit being given to defensive midfielder Christian Schulz who is second in the league for defensive interventions with 22. An upset win could see Hannover move within a point of their Saturday night opposition.
Prediction – Bayern Munich 1 Hannover 0
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Mainz 05 on Monday at 2.30am AEDT
Other than Bayern Munich, Monchengladbach are one of the Bundesliga’s best teams when it comes to ball retention. They are fourth for ball possession (52.4%) and second for pass success rate (82.5%). This dominance of the ball is one of the major factors why Monchengladbach are the second best defensive side in the Bundesliga and a win against Mainz could see them move above Bayern Munich.
Monchengladbach is one of four teams yet to lose and their opponents on Monday are another. Mainz who upset Borussia Dortmund a fortnight ago have only won two matches having drawn a equal league high of four. If Mainz are to push on they will need to turn those stalemates into three points. That could start this weekend with a win that could move them to within a point of first place.
Prediction – Borussia Monchengladbach 1 Mainz 05 2
Best of the Rest
- Borussia Dortmund vs. Hamburg SV on Saturday at 11.30pm AEST
- Hoffenheim vs. Schalke 04 on Saturday at 11.30 AEST
- Bayer Leverkusen vs. Paderborn on Saturday at 11.30pm AEST
Italian Serie A
Juventus vs. AS Roma on Monday 3am AEDT
Last season they were one and two and this season the Turin and Rome giants remain first and second in Serie A. Both sides have a perfect five wins from five games and both sides come into the match on the back of 2-0 wins in their last league games. Juventus forward Carlos Tevez has been in fine form, he is joint top scorer in Serie A with four goals and he causes havoc for opposition defences with a league high of 4.5 shots per match.
Roma on paper have the second best team in this match but as a team, they are one of the best in Europe with the extreme capacity to destroy teams on the counter attack. The pace of Mattia Destro, Adam Ljajic and Gervinho seem to work perfectly with the talisman Francesco Totti who became the oldest player ever to score in the Champions League against Manchester City midweek at 38-years-old. There won’t be much in this match and Massimiliano Allegri and Rudi Garcia would probably take a draw considering it will keep them both locked into equal first place.
Prediction – Juventus 0 AS Roma 0
Fiorentina vs. Inter Milan on Monday at 5.45am AEDT
Fiorentina have the highest amount of possession other than Juventus and Roma (60%) in Serie A but this ball retention has only amounted to six points from their opening five fixtures. Vincenzo Montella’s team has struggled for goals with only two so far and they are lucky to have only let in three which has kept them from falling to the lower realms of the Serie A table.
Inter were stunned by Cagliari 4-1 in their last match and will be keen to show that was only a blip in a season that manager Walter Mazzarri expects the side to be competing for a top two finish. Before the Cagliari match, Inter had the equal second best defence in the league which is complemented by 11 goals which makes them the Serie A joint highest scorers, a winning combination. Inter need a win to move into the top four.
Prediction – Fiorentina 1 Inter Milan 1
Best of the Rest
- Verona vs. Cagliari on Sunday at 3am AEST
- AC Milan vs. Chievo on Sunday at 5.45am AEDT
- Napoli vs. Torino on Monday at 5.45am AEDT
French Ligue 1
Olympique Lyonnais vs Lille OSC on Monday at 2am AEDT
Lyon has played better than their mid table ranking suggests with Hubert Fournier’s side going through a rebuilding phase that has produced just as many underachievement’s as over achievements. Lyon’s high tempo playing style has yielded 12 goals but has also led to them conceding eight, a win over Lille on Monday morning could see them move into the Europa League spots.
Lille sits in third spot having only scored seven goals in eight matches. This is obviously because their defence has been superb with Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama keeping a league high of six clean sheets.
Prediction – Olympique Lyonnais 0 Lille OSC 2
Paris Saint Germain vs AS Monaco on Monday at 6am AEDT
Any team undefeated after eight games should be at the top of the league. That is not the case for PSG who have only won three games and drawn five games which is the highest of any team in the major European leagues. They were held to a draw with Toulouse last weekend and Laurent Blanc will be hoping a rousing 3-2 win over Barcelona in the Champions League midweek will help get the troops up for a match against the Principality club. A win could move the Parisians into second.
Things have been even more difficult for Monaco who sits in 12th after losing their derby to Nice last weekend. The cash rich club were tipped to push PSG for the title but have looked a shadow of last season with key midfielders Jeremy Toulon and Joao Moutinho struggling to pull the strings. Both sides will be desperate for a win but you couldn’t say either are a certainty to win.
Prediction – Paris Saint Germain 2 AS Monaco 1
Best of the Rest
- Stade Reims vs. Bordeaux on Saturday at 2am AEST
- Caen vs. Marseille on Sunday at 1am AEST
- Bastia vs. Lorient on Sunday at 5am AEDT
Best of the Rest across Europe
- Nottingham Forest vs. Ipswich Town in the English Championship on Monday at 1am AEDT
- Ajax vs. PEC Zwolle in the Dutch Eredivisie on Monday at 1.45am AEDT
- Dynamo Kyiv vs. Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukrainian Premier League on Monday at 3.30am AEDT
- Porto vs. Braga on the Portuguese Primeira Liga on Monday at 4am AEDT
- Olympiakos vs. PAOK in the Greek Super League on Monday at 4.30am AEDT
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