A preview of what’s happening in European football on Saturday:
The North London Derby kicks off a seven-match Premier League schedule. Surprise leaders Arsenal welcome Tottenham to the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners have won six of seven games to go a point clear of defending champions Manchester City and Tottenham, the only two unbeaten sides in the league. Fourth-placed Brighton, another early-season surprise, face a stern test when they visit Liverpool. This is the first game for new Brighton manager Robert de Zerbi, who took over after Graham Potter left for Chelsea. Potter takes charge of his first league game for the Blues at Crystal Palace, Bournemouth welcome Brentford, Newcastle visit Fulham, Everton travel to Southampton and West Ham welcome Wolverhampton.
Reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain are looking to extend their unbeaten streak by hosting Nice. The league leader will rely on Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, who all scored during the international break. Against his former club, PSG coach Christophe Galtier is expecting a convincing win to restore confidence ahead of a key Champions League fixture at Benfica next week. Sitting in 13th place, an underperforming Nice hopes to turn things around. Nice have the second worst attack behind Ajaccio. PSG will miss Presnel Kimpembe and Marco Verratti, both suspended, while Nice defender Jean-Clair Todibo will also serve a one-game suspension. This season has been a reality check for Strasbourg, in 18th place after finishing sixth last campaign. Strasbourg is aiming for its first victory of the season against Rennes. Rennes are still looking for consistency, which they hope to gain with the return of playmaker Lovro Majer. He shone for Croatia during the international break, scoring the winner against Denmark and an assist in the win over Austria.
Barcelona travel to the Balearic Islands to face Mallorca without several injured players during the international break. They include defenders Jules Koundé, Ronald Araújo and Héctor Bellerín, midfielder Frenkie de Jong and striker Memphis Depay. The holes in the defense likely mean veteran Gerard Pique will only make his second start of the season. A win for Barcelona would put them one point ahead of La Liga leaders Real Madrid. The match takes place before Barcelona travel to Inter Milan in the Champions League next week. Javier Aguirre’s Mallorca have lost 12 of Barcelona’s last 13 visits. Atlético Madrid can add more misery to Sevilla’s poor start when they meet in Sevilla. Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla have just one win in eight games in total. Villarreal will move into the top four if they can win at Cadiz, who took their first win in the last round but remain in the relegation zone. Getafe are also aiming for a third straight win at Valladolid.
Union Berlin, the only unbeaten team in the Bundesliga, visits Eintracht Frankfurt. Union are two points ahead of Borussia Dortmund going into the eighth round. Dortmund travel to Cologne and could claim victory if they receive a helping hand from Frankfurt. It will be Dortmund striker Anthony Modeste’s first return since his spell between the sides during the off-season. Freiburg, which also rubs shoulders with the teams at the top, welcomes Mainz. Bochum last side travel to Leipzig after picking up their first point in the final round before the international break, and Wolfsburg host Stuttgart. Visits from Borussia Mönchengladbach promoted Werder Bremen late in the game.
Roma manager José Mourinho will not be on the touchline when he takes his side to former club Inter Milan in Serie A. Mourinho is suspended after being sent off in the defeat against at Atalanta before the international break for going onto the pitch to protest to the referee. . The coach steered Inter to a treble of the Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia in 2010. Sixth-placed Roma are four points behind league leaders Napoli and Atalanta, l ‘Inter one point further. With the rest of the top four teams not playing on Saturday, Napoli could move at least three points clear with a win over Torino. A defeat would give defending champions AC Milan the chance to step up to the next level with a win at Empoli.
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