Defending champions Bayern Munich have travelled to London to take on Arsenal at the Emirates, while emerging power Atlético Madrid take on waning power AC Milan.
Sunday’s Liverpool-Arsenal match at Anfield is the marquee matchup of the weekend, but there are a bunch of games worth checking in on if you’re looking for something to watch. Especially if any of the transfer activity shows up on the pitch.
Here are our picks–a few games each from the Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A (plus one from the Eredivisie):
Saturday, Sept 1
|10:00am||Tottenham Hotspur vs Norwich City||Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Deportes|
|12:30pm||Manchester City vs Queens Park Rangers||Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Deportes|
|2:45pm||Bologna vs Milan||beIN Sport 1 USA, RAI Interna..|
Will Dempsey play for Spurs? Maicon for City? Granero for QPR? de Jong for Milan? Probably not.
The City-QPR fixture is of course the one that decided the Prem League title in such dramatic fashion last May. We’ve included it here partly only so we could repeat James Richardson’s plea that this fixture should really be retired, so that it’s not sullied by some dreary nil-nil draw (or more likely a 5-0 drubbing).
Sunday, Sept 2
Liverpool-Arsenal at Anfield is the big match–the first match of the season that feels like a big one. Not just b/c it’s between two (ostensibly) “big” clubs, but a fortiori because both teams need to get their first win of the season to avoid falling futher off the pace in the table. Read (if you have the stamina) Kirby’s comprehensive Arse-centric post (this extensive excerpt represents but a sliver of the post):
Arsenal has a crunch match against Liverpool up at Anfield on Sunday (8:30 EST, Fox Soccer Channel). Both teams have yet to win a game this season, although it’s not quite crisis intervention time, as it’s only the third game in. Still, Arsenal has yet to score a goal, which is worrying since we just sold the player who scored 40% of our goals last season. Coupled with that, we sold the one who provided the most assists. Also, Liverpool nearly beat the champions last weekend in their 2-2 home draw with Manchester City. I don’t know that we could have done the same. In fact, I’m pretty sure we couldn’t. However, I don’t know that Liverpool could do so again, either.
Liverpool get Daniel Agger back from suspension, while reports have Laurent Koscielny in contention to return to the central defence, with Wojciech Szczesny facing a fitness test on Saturday. Liverpool have bolstered their ranks with the likes of the impressive Joe Allen (Brendan Rodgers’ playmaker at Swansea) and almost-Gunner Nuri Sahin, on loan from Madrid. More on Sahin to follow. They’ve also shipped out Charlie Adam to Stoke and loaned Jay Spearing to Bolton, Andy Carroll to West Ham. As a team stacked with dead wood ourselves, we could learn a thing or two there.
But the day offers up a handful of additional compelling matches. If you’re a follower of the Dutch game, PSV-AZ is a good matchup. The two Serie A matches are feature four teams that will be aiming to finish near the top of the table. Real Madrid should deal with Granada–but including it gives us an excuse to link to our post about Granada from last spring. Finally, the late La Liga game could be a good one. Valencia battled Barcelona to a draw last season, and did the same with Real Madrid just a couple weeks ago.
Monday, Sept 3
|3:30pm||Real Betis vs Atlético Madrid||Sport TV1|
The one match of the day is the match of the week–Chelsea goes crosstown to take on Arsenal at the Emirates. Kickoff is at 8pm in London (3pm ET; watch it on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, or ESPN3.com in the US).
Here are a handful of links to get you ready for the big match:
–Prior to the Chelsea-Arsenal match in early October, we posted a look at the players of African origin on each squad.
–Here is Goal.com’s match preview, which also has links to lineups and match stats (updated once the match is underway).
–Here is ESPNSoccerNet’s match preview, which predictably lists Samir Nasri and Didier Drogba as the players to watch (Nasri perhaps having replaced the too-oft-injured Fabregas as Arsenal’s talisman), and lists the following as the key match-up:
Key Battle: Bacary Sagna v Ashley Cole. One of the Premier League’s finest right-backs, Sagna’s strength and pace create an excellent outlet and his defensive nous is of great importance given the sometimes shaky nature of the Arsenal defence. On the right side, he bombs forward and possesses a decent final delivery, but he will be required to track back to counter the threat of Cole. The former Arsenal left-back certainly knows a thing or two about his old team, but Sagna poses a different challenge, having joined the club a year after Cole left for Chelsea. Both are full of running and attacking ambition, but it will be how they deal with their defensive duties that settles this battle.