Its that date that you mark on the calendar when the fixture list comes out. Its that period of the season when you forward to an opportunity to mock your fiercest rivals by virtue of your geographical location. When it comes to derbies in England; the Merseyside Derby and the North London Derby are two of the biggest installments of local derbies available. Who gets the bragging rights till the next installment will unfold before our eyes over the weekend.
Other parts of Europe are not left out, with Germany also providing another installment of the Ruhr Derby and defending champions Atletico Madrid taking the trip to Seville; we preview the big games in England, Spain and Germany.
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspurs
Goals have been hard to come by for Tottenham Hotspurs in this clash with their North London neighbours; its been three games since Spurs scored in this clash with Arsenal. A lot has been made of the expectations at Spurs under Mauricio Ponchetino; however he has not been able to get his team playing like he did at Southampton. A number of inconsistent performances has been the hall mark of the Spurs side; Emmanuel Adebayor and Christian Eriksen are the biggest culprits for me. The Gunners are undefeated thus far this season, however they have been somewhat disappointing thus far this season; injuries havent been fair on the Arsenal, but then that comes with the territory.
Arsenal are undefeated in their last 20 games at the Emirates and look very much like sure bets to win this, but I feel this is the game where Spurs will pick themselves up and give a worthy performance.
Halftimeng.com Prediction: A score draw (surprisingly)
Liverpool v Everton
Liverpool have struggled this season especially with coping with the departure of Luis Saurez; Mario Balotelli has failed to leave up to his supposed talent coupled with a number of the reds summer signing yet to settle in at the club. The story is also the same at the Toffees; this is possibly the first time in quite a while that both Merseyside clubs would both be in identically wretched form especially defensively for Everton with Tim Howard being the main culprit. Incredibly; Liverpool have already lost three times this season; but have a great recent record against Everton (undefeated in their last 16 games). The Toffees have conceded the most goals this season so far, so its imperative they get that sorted out especially if Liverpool’s Talisman Daniel Sturridge makes a return this weekend.
Everton look quite good going forward and Liverpool struggle with their midfield combinations with this being the major worry for most Reds fans; I think this may be the time Everton break their derby jinx.
Halftimeng.com Prediction: Liverpool to get the result
Schalke v Borussia Dortmund
This is another derby where the two teams have had a yoyo season; inconsistencies has been the order of the day for both teams. Dortmund have struggled with injuries and look very suspect in defense; back to back losses have not helped team morale; so this offers Schalke a great opportunity to make it three defeats in a roll. Both teams are almost identical with respect to the head to head; but Dortmund just edges it.
Both teams are looking forward to the return of some really important personnel; Dortmund would welcome Mats Hummels back whilst Schalke will welcome Kevin Prince Boateng back to their midfield. You can expect goals in this one as well as a very open game with both teams going for it.
Halftimeng.com Prediction: Score draw in this volatile derby
Atletico Madrid v Sevilla
If for any reason Sevilla get a point against Atlético Madrid, this will make it the club’s best start to a La Liga season in its history. Form is definitely in favour of Sevilla, 13 points from a potential 15, which puts the Andalusian side level on points with Barcelona at the top of the table. Atletico are undefeated in their last 22games at home; so a defeat seems quite unlikely, whilst also taking into consideration that Atletico are undefeated in their last 9 matches against Sevilla.
Diego Simeone’s side have found it difficult with the adjustments of the new signings; Mario Mandzukic seems like the only one who has settled in well; new signings Raul Jimenez and Antoine Griezmann have not started their Atlético careers in great stride. Under Unai Emery, Sevilla like to keep the ball, playing some level of possession football which may play into the compact and combative style of Los Colchoneros; who would absorb pressure and pounce on the counter attack.
Halftimeng.com Prediction: Atletico to end Sevilla’s winning streak