Its the weekend before another International break to give room for World Cup qualifiers across the various continents; so we football fans have to milk this weekend to its fullest. This weekend we will take trips to Germany, Italy, Spain and finally England; where we have to big clashes that may shake the existing structure in the Premier League.
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspurs
The North London derby provides us an interesting match up as Electric Arsenal take on a dogged Tottenham Hotspurs side that are the only undefeated team in the Premier League. In years past Arsenal have dominated this fixture with commanding performances showing and proving to be the preeminent team in North London; however, Spurs have somewhat closed the gap and we have had really close clashes between both sides; case in question the games between both sides last season which ended in draws and overall Spurs are undefeated in their last four games against the Gunners.
Arsenal are undefeated in their last 15 games in all competitions especially since the opening day defeat to Liverpool which was at the Emirates, the Gunners have been playing some fabulous stuff so far and have shown an uncharacteristically strong mental resolve in games which ordinarily Arsenal have been known to crumble when the pressure is at its peak. The form of Ozil, Sanchez and the reemergence of Olivier Giroud have given the Gunners a different edge; coupled with the defensive understanding demonstrated between Mustafi and Koscielny.
So, we have a team thats scoring for fun, but may concede a few goals on one side and then a team struggling to score goals, but are able to keep it tight at the back. This gives an indication that we may be heading for a draw, but Spurs current poor form both in the Premier League and Champions League, tilts the tie in favour of the Gunners.
Prediction: Arsenal Win (Betting Punt: Under 3.5)
Chelsea v Everton
Chelsea come into this tie boasting a four game winning streak without conceding a goal, confidence is restored to the blue side of London; some balance has been achieved with the way the team is set up and some players have been reborn in the last few weeks. Everton on the other hand look like a team built to frustrate the big teams, expecting to punch above their weight, cause a stir every now and then, but disappoint when one of the lesser lights come calling.
Idrissa Gueye has been one of Everton’s stand out players this season, sadly he will be missing out through suspension, which leaves a huge gap for the Toffees to fill; thereby taking away the intensity, interceptions and industry Everton have demonstrated thus far this season. Already the Toffees have shown they can compete with the big boys with the solid performance at the Etihad.
Chelsea are undefeated in their last 22 home meetings against Everton in all competitions, but something tells me something would change here and the Toffees may just get something from this one. Lukaku is a beast of a striker at the moment, just the way Diego Costa is and both would bully the best defences anywhere in the world. I particularly like the way Everton set up, been able to mirror their opponents formation and been ready to mix and match things. Chelsea have found an unlikely balance in their defense with Azpilicueta playing as part of the back three; although i am still of the belief that it is a disguised back three; just watch Chelsea with out the ball and see the quick adjustment from a back three to a back four.
All in all Chelsea, look good enough for a fifth straight win, but Everton could nick a point; although Gueye would be a big miss in their grand scheme to conquer Stamford Bridge.
Prediction: Chelsea to Win (Betting Punt: Both teams to score)
Napoli v Lazio:
Napoli gave a good account of themselves on their visit to the Old Lady last week and I liked the look of their front three of Callejon, Insigne and Mertens; but we all know how these things work, an ex player always finds a way to drill the final nail in his former employers coffin. Lazio have been impressive this season despite the madness caused at pre-season with the premature resignation of Marcelo Bielsa and the eventual shock appointment of Simone Inzaghi.
Lazio currently have the best ongoing streak in Serie A which has them undefeated in their last six games and playing some decent football along the line. This is a battle between the inexperienced and coaching first timer in Inzaghi versus the experienced Maurizio Sarri; two managers with different paths to big jobs with established Serie A teams.
Napoli have a good record at home with ten wins out of their last eleven Serie A matches, so Lazio have it all to do as Napoli would be keen to bounce back from that defeat against table toppers Juventus to keep in touch with the title race.
Prediction: Draw (Betting Punt: Both teams to Score)
Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim
Bayern Munich remain undefeated in the Bundesliga, but have stuttered and looked less convincing in recent weeks. This week they come up against another team that are also undefeated in Hoffenheim, who are tutored by a young coach who’s stock is rising on a daily in European football.
Bayern remain top of the table with a slim two-point advantage over Leipzig, despite not been in the best of form lately under Carlo Ancelotti. Hoffenheim have been impressive reaching third spot at the moment and have not lost in the league this season. Julian Nagelsmann has led Hoffenheim to probably their best start in recent seasons, with the team winning five straight matches and could prove to be a solid test for FC Hollywood, hopefully their European exertions wouldn’t affect them; we can expect Bayern to dominate possession with Hoffenheim seeking to catch them on the break.
Prediction: Bayern to win (Betting Punt: Over 2.5)
Sevilla v Barcelona
Barcelona come into La Liga’s biggest game of the weekend on the back of two underwhelming performances; the one-nil victory last weekend in the League and the defeat in the Champions League against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Sevilla have had a good start to the season under the new guidance of Jose Sampaoli; at the start it seem like it may be a failed experiment, especially as they conceded a lot of goals as the season began, but they have been able to steady the ship and have turned on some really good performances both domestically and in Europe.
Last week’s draw must have destabilised the Andalusian club, but they bounced back emphatically in the Champions League. At the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan; Sevilla have built a fortress, you just need to look at their record at home; 19 wins from their 22 games at home speaks volumes.
Barcelona need to snap out of it, we must admit that they do miss the genius of Andreas Iniesta and two of their established back four out as well, you must start to worry for the Catalans. However, with an away record that reads 7 wins out of 8 away games and been undefeated in the last 16 games of 17 matches against Sevilla, must be a boost for Barcelona.
Prediction: Draw (Betting Punt: Both Teams to Score)