As the European football season rumbles on, SportsPundit looks forward to five of the biggest matches that will be played out over this weekend.
Arsenal will face one of their most difficult tests in the Premier League on Saturday when they take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Arsene Wenger’s side will head into the encounter five points clear at the top of the table, but in City they will confront a team who have yet to drop a single point at home in the league. Manuel Pellegrini’s Citizens have been in good form of late, having defeated Bayern Munich 3-2 at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League in midweek, and will know that a victory at home will move them up to just three points behind the Gunners.
Barcelona suffered their first La Liga defeat of the season at the start of the month when a poor performance in the Basque country saw them go down 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao. Although Gerardo Martino’s side have since eased past Cartegena and Celtic in the Copa del Rey and the Champions League respectively, the Blaugrana are now level on 40 points with Atletico Madrid at the top of the league table with Real Madrid just three points behind in third. Villarreal, who started the campaign brilliantly, have slowed down in recent weeks but they will head to Camp Nou on Saturday evening knowing that they have the ability to stage an upset and leapfrog Bilbao into fourth place.
Napoli commenced the 2013-14 Serie A season as one of the main challengers for the title, while Inter Milan were expected to be fighting for a top-three finish. After 15 rounds of matches, it looks more and more that both are contenders for a Champions League slot; while Sunday’s hosts are eight points behind leaders Juventus, the Milanese giants are a place and four points behind in fourth. This will also be the first time that Inter coach Walter Mazzarri will face his former club, having left Napoli for the Nerazzurri in the summer after four successful years in Naples.
Tottenham Hotspur will entertain Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday with confidence, having successfully bounced back from their 6-0 drubbing at Manchester City last month with five matches without a defeat. However, Andre Villas-Boas’s side have won just one of their last five league contests at White Hart Lane and taking on a Liverpool side who boast a certain Luis Suarez and who are second in the standings will be very daunting indeed. Suarez has scored 29 goals in his last 29 matches for the Reds but the Merseyside outfit have won just one of their past seven games on the road.
AC Milan might be struggling in Serie A at the moment, but of the three Italian teams who competed in the group stage of the Champions League, Massimiliano Allegri’s side are the only ones who could book their place in the last 16. Perhaps that would inject them with a much-needed boost of confidence when Roma visit them at the San Siro on Monday evening. Rudi Garcia’s charges are just three points off the pace and returned to winning ways last weekend with a narrow 2-1 home victory over top-three challengers Fiorentina.