New Season Match Preview – Week 5

Midweek saw another round of fixtures squeezed in across most of the top competitions across Europe. With the season being compacted to fit the World Cup in most clubs, players will have to accept that they will be playing two times a week. European Cup action kicks off next week too and most domestic cups have already started.

Match Overview

Due to the aforementioned matches taking place midweek, Friday is a slow start to the weekend with only one match taking place in Germany, Turkey, and Spain respectively. There are no Friday fixtures from the Premier League, Serie A or Ligue 1.

The serious action starts on Saturday lunchtime with the first Merseyside derby of the season as Everton host Liverpool. The home team have had a tough start to the season with only two points from their first four matches. They have arguably a weaker squad this time out and only just avoided relegation last season.

Liverpool thrashed Bournemouth 9-0 last weekend for their first win of the season and will be hoping to follow that up with another win over their local rivals. Afternoon highlights include London derbies as Chelsea host West Ham and Tottenham clash with Fulham, whilst the late kick-off sees struggling Aston Villa up against Manchester City.

Paris SG will be looking to get back to winning ways on Saturday evening as they travel to Nantes having only managed a draw against Monaco last weekend. Marseille and Lyon are also in action on Saturday. Another team that had to settle for a draw last weekend, Bayern Munich, are up against Union Berlin this time around in the Bundesliga. 

The late kick-off sees two teams hoping to fight for top four up against each other as Eintracht Frankfurt host RB Leipzig. Over in Italy, Juventus travel to Fiorentina and Lazio are up against Napoli but the highlight of the round is the Milan derby taking place at 18:00 on Saturday afternoon. One of the most passionate football rivalries reignites on Saturday as Celtic host Rangers in the Scottish Premier League.

The major teams in Spain are all in action on Saturday as Real Madrid are up against Betis, Atlético Madrid travel to Sociedad and Sevilla welcome Barcelona in three interesting match ups.

There are only two Premier League matches taking place on Sunday with Brighton welcoming Leicester to the south coast before Manchester United take on Arsenal in the late kick off.

In France, Lille travel to Montpellier in the early kick off and Monaco are away at Nice in the late match. The highlight from Italy on Sunday sees Udinese up against AS Roma in the late match.

There are four matches taking place in Spain with Villareal and Valencia both in action whilst in Turkey Besiktas travel to Ankaragucu.

On Monday there are three Serie A matches on offer from Italy and one match apiece from Spain and Turkey, where Galatasaray take on Gaziantep. There is no Monday night Premier League action so fans of English football will be watching a northeast derby between Middlesborough and Sunderland, always a passionate and hotly contested event.

Saturday 03/09

Everton vs Liverpool

One of football’s most passionate derbies kicks us off on Saturday afternoon as Everton welcome Liverpool in this season’s first Merseyside derby. Neither team have had the start to the season they would have wanted with Everton struggling down in 17th place having yet to win a game and Liverpool only winning two out of five so far.

Everton have a long injury list to contend with, including star striker Dominic Calvert Lewin being unavailable as he was for most of last season. They were unable to recruit many in summer due to financial rules and lost their star player, Richarlison, to Tottenham. Their last three league matches have ended in draws with the midweek encounter against Leeds ending 1-1.

Liverpool have the better record in this fixture having won five of the last ten with Everton only winning one, a famous 2-0 win at Anfield the season before last. Liverpool have had their own injury issues with the likes of Thiago, Konate and Jota still unavailable. They needed a 98th minute winner to escape from St James Park with all three points in midweek. Manager Jurgen Klopp will surely be hoping for a more straightforward win this time around.

It is hard to look past a Liverpool win here, as they seem to be regaining some form that was missing at the start of the season. Their 9-0 thrashing of Bournemouth was a sign that they can still turn it on and Everton will be wary, especially as they have yet to keep a clean sheet in the league this season.

Chelsea vs West Ham

A tough match is to be expected in this London derby with West Ham making the journey west to Chelsea on Saturday afternoon. Thomas Tuchel was very unhappy with the performance of his players last time out as they lost 2-1 in the midweek fixture against Southampton. His criticism of the club and players is somewhat unusual considering the amount of money spent this summer. A win is desperately required if they are to keep pace with their rivals at the top of the table as they look for only their third win of the season in what will be their sixth match. This is no easy match for Chelsea though as they have only won four of the last six matches against the Hammers.

West Ham had a very poor start to the season, losing their first three league matches before eventually picking up three points against Aston Villa and a draw at home to Tottenham in midweek. Last season both teams won their home fixtures with Chelsea narrowly defeating West Ham by a goal to nil. Manager David Moyes has never won at Stamford Bridge, a record he will be looking to break.

Chelsea have struggled defensively recently so an away goal here is fairly likely and they will be reliant on Raheem Sterling to try and score as most of his team mates have been quite goal shy so far this season. Another draw in a London derby would be seen as a welcome result for West Ham but Chelsea will surely be hoping for more. Given the lack of clean sheets for both teams, this season the goalscorer and totals markets are the most appealing in this match.

AC Milan vs Inter

This will be the 177th Milan derby to take place in Serie A as these two giants of Italian football clash for the first time this season. Last season these two pushed themselves right to the end with AC Milan eventually triumphing and winning the league title, with both now having 19 titles to their name. Last season one league match ended in a draw with AC Milan winning the other whereas Inter got the better of their rivals in the Coppa Italia. Inter have the better H2H record overall in Serie A with 67 wins to AC Milan’s 53 and they also have the better recent record having won six out of the last ten encounters in total.

AC Milan have started the season with two wins and two draws and will be disappointed with the result last time out, a goalless encounter with Sassuolo. They do however still have one of the best defensive records in 2022, with 14 clean sheets to date. Defence will once again be a focus here as goalkeeper Maigan has managed five clean sheets in his last eight matches.

Inter continued their recent good form with a 3-1 win last time out, meaning they now have seven wins from their last eight league matches. They are the joint highest scorers in the league at this stage with nine goals already Lautaro Martinez is their man in form with three goals and one assist already to his name.

A tough match to call, with the odds indicating this match is very evenly balanced yet only two of the last ten matches have ended in draws. Goals are likely with seven of the last ten encounters ending with three or more goals.

Celtic vs Rangers

Unsurprisingly, these two old rivals occupy the top two spots in the Scottish Premiership with Celtic having a perfect record of five wins from five and a positive goal difference of twenty to lead the way. Rangers are two points behind having four wins and a draw to their name. This is the first meeting of the two giants this season and both will be wanting to put a marker down already. The last meeting was a 1-1 draw in May with two of the remaining three league matches going the way of Celtic last season. Rangers have had the better of things overall though, winning six out of the last ten encounters between the two.

Celtic thrashed Dundee United 9-0 last weekend so they go into this match as favourites. This is the last chance both teams will have before joining the Champions League groups stages where both face tough first tasks, up against Real Madrid and Ajax respectively. Rangers have had to contend with qualification matches but it was worth it as they have joined their rivals in the group stages. Antonio-Mirko Colak has hit the ground running with four league goals to his name already, so Celtic will need to watch him carefully.

With the home team unbeaten at home in the last 27 matches it’s a tough ask for Rangers to leave Celtic Park with three points. That being said the visitors have scored at least once in 14 out of the last 15 matches against Celtic. Nine out of the last twelve matches have involved both teams scoring and that looks like a good bet once again, perhaps alongside the home team to win.

Sevilla vs Barcelona

Sevilla have had an extremely poor start to the season and are yet to register a single win, something which hasn’t happened after three matches since the 2015/2016 season. Last year they did finish in the top four but this season that target is already looking unlikely. Interestingly manager Julen Lopetegui has never beaten Barcelona in a league match. His squad looks weaker this year with star defender Jules Kounde having transferred to Barcelona and likely to line up against them.

Barcelona have not lost to Sevilla since 2015 and will be optimistic of continuing that record as they have clicked into gear. After a disappointing goalless draw against Rayo Vallecano on opening day, they put four goals past both Real Sociedad and Valladolid and their new players seemed to have settled in. Recent records show that Barcelona have won six of the last ten encounters with Sevilla although they were held to a 1-1 draw in this fixture last season. With the Champions League upon us, this might be a match where manager Xavi rotates his large squad.

With Sevilla looking out of sorts so far this season it is hard to see anything other than a Barcelona victory. The only hope appears to come from the fact that Sevilla have only lost once at home in their last 22 league matches. Picking a goalscorer might be difficult due to potential squad rotation so perhaps predicting whether both teams will score or by what margin Barcelona will win is the way to go.

Sunday 04/09

Manchester United vs Arsenal

This is always one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the season as these two old rivals have entertained us with high-quality football and drama for decades now. As things stand neither team are probably going to be in with a shout to win the league at the end of the season but both are certainly hunting for top four. Both teams have spent money and brought in good players but it’s unlikely that both can qualify for the Champions League next season. That makes the matches between them even more important.

The fact the teams are viewed as so evenly balanced is reflected in the odds, where it is almost impossible to pick a favourite between these two. Manchester United will be hoping for a similar atmosphere at Old Trafford to their last home match, when they got the better of Liverpool.

New signing Antony should be in the squad and it’s likely that Casemiro will be able to start this match, certainly giving the home team more options. After two shocking defeats at the start of the season, the Red Devils now have two wins in a row under their belt but will know that they will have to fight for a third in this one. Last season both teams won their home matches in this fixture with United winning this match 3-2

Arsenal struggled a bit in their last two matches but they still managed maximum points against Aston Villa and Fulham. They will know, however, that a trip up to Manchester is a much tougher task. Arsenal have won four of the last ten encounters between the two whereas United have only won three so they have the slight edge here.

A tough one to call, although goals are to be expected. Both teams will think they have what it takes to win this one but perhaps the recent upturn in form from the home side and the new arrivals boosting morale will mean they might just have enough to grab all three points here.

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