Weekend Football: Arsenal vs Liverpool, Solari’s Real Debut & More

After engaging in Cup fixtures midweek, Europe’s top divisions return to league action over the weekend. For most top clubs, there’s a looming Champions League match-day with group-stage matches scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Here’s a low-down on what the European elite are up against.

Premier League

The marquee clash on Halloween Weekend in England – or across Europe – pits Arsenal against Liverpool at London's Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Unai Emery's side saw an 11-match win streak across competitions halted on their previous Premier League outing, a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace last week. But in Liverpool - unbeaten in ten league games so far themselves, and level atop the standings with Manchester City - the Gunners get the sternest examination of their credentials since back-to-back defeats to open the campaign.

Reigning champions City are unbeaten too, and have kept clean sheets in their last six matches – a run likely to extend on Sunday when they host Southampton, who haven't scored in their last five.

Chelsea – the third undefeated team ten games into the 2018/19 season – are at home to Crystal Palace, who have won twice on their last three visits to Stamford Bridge in the league.

Manchester United are in early action on Saturday, 3 November, when they travel to sixth-placed Bournemouth hoping to go four matches without a loss after earlier enduring their worst start to a season in 29 years.

Fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, meanwhile, are away at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Real Madrid players react after conceding a goal during their 5-1 defeat to Barcelona.
Real Madrid players react after conceding a goal during their 5-1 defeat to Barcelona.

La Liga

Real Madrid eye a belated kick-start to their La Liga campaign when they welcome Real Valladolid to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

A horror run of five matches without a win in the league – Real’s worst streak since 2009 – has seen Julen Lopetegui sacked, and interim manager Santiago Solari oversaw a comfortable 4-0 win over third-division Melilla in the Copa Del Rey to ease nerves in midweek.

Owned by former Real and Brazil striker Ronaldo, Valladolid will provide a tougher test for Solari. The Castilians are two points and three spots above the European Champions on the Spanish table.

League leaders Barcelona visit basement-dwellers Rayo Vallecano later on Saturday, in what should be a routine affair for the Catalan giants even in the continued absence of the injured Lionel Messi.

Alaves - shock holders of the second place as things stand - face Eibar away from home, while third-placed Sevilla are at Real Sociedad.

Atletico Madrid, two points off the top in fourth, visit cross-town Leganes on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring Juventus’ opening goal against Empoli.
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring Juventus’ opening goal against Empoli.

Serie A

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to make an impression on Serie A – not just with his goal-scoring, but also with his fitness and work ethic.

The five-time world player of the year is second on the scoring charts in Italy, with seven goals from the opening ten rounds. But his famed physical superiority is earning more admirers.

"His training sessions have shocked me. After the long trip to Manchester (United) in the Champions League, we were all tired, but the next day, he trained harder than anyone else." - Blaise Matuidi, Juventus midfielder

Massimiliano Allegri will call upon Ronaldo to extend his run of form at home against Cagliari on Saturday, ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Turin in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

Inter Milan and Napoli are separated only by goal difference in second; Inter host Genoa at San Siro on Saturday, while Napoli welcome Empoli on Friday night.

Juve are six points clear of Inter and Napoli after ten games.

Fourth-placed AC Milan visit Udinese on Sunday, with AS Roma traveling to meet Fiorentina.

File photo of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in action during PSG’s League One clash against Caen.
File photo of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in action during PSG’s League One clash against Caen.

Ligue 1

Legendary ex-Italian custodian Gianluigi Buffon is in line for his first big-ticket action since joining Paris Saint-Germain.

Coach Thomas Tuchel has decided he wants the former Juventus captain in goal for next week’s crunch Champions League tie at Napoli, and 40-year-old Buffon will get a chance to prepare when he’s fielded in PSG’s Ligue 1 table-top tussle with Lille on Saturday.

Victory against the second-placed outfit will hand the Parisians an 11-point lead atop the table, and make them the first team across Europe’s top five leagues to win the first 12 matches of a season.

Goals could be in the offing in abundance when third-placed Montpellier host fifth-placed Marseille on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Thierry Henry is still in search of a first win as Monaco coach – the 2016/17 champions, currently languishing second-from-bottom in the division, play at Reims on Saturday.

Borussia Dortmund players celebrate after scoring a goal against Hertha Berlin.
Borussia Dortmund players celebrate after scoring a goal against Hertha Berlin.

Bundesliga

German table-toppers Borussia Dortmund will be eager to make amends at Wolfsburg on Saturday, after letting slip a lead to drop points away to Hertha Berlin last week.

Dortmund’s 2-2 draw – despite a double from English teen starlet Jadon Sancho – saw Bayern Munich cut short their advantage to two points.

The Bavarians will aim to keep that pressure on when they entertain Freiburg in Munich.

Bayern boss Niko Kovac still remains under scrutiny after an iffy start to the season, but his wards will be overwhelming favourites against a team which has lost 16 and drawn two of its 18 matches at the Allianz Arena.

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