MATCHDAY: North London derby in EPL; PSG welcomes Nice
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Saturday:
The north London derby kicks off a seven-game lineup in the Premier League. Surprise leader Arsenal hosts Tottenham at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners have won six of seven games to sit one point ahead of defending champion Manchester City and Tottenham, the league’s only two unbeaten sides. Fourth-placed Brighton, another early season surprise, faces a stern test when it visits Liverpool. It’s the first match for new Brighton manager Robert de Zerbi, who took over following Graham Potter’s departure for Chelsea. Potter takes charge of his first league match with the Blues at Crystal Palace, Bournemouth hosts Brentford, Newcastle visits Fulham, Everton travels to Southampton, and West Ham hosts Wolverhampton.
Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain looks to extend its unbeaten run when it hosts Nice. The league leader will rely on Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, who all scored during the international break. Facing his former club, PSG coach Christophe Galtier expects a convincing win to boost confidence before a key Champions League match at Benfica next week. Sitting in 13th place, an underperforming Nice hopes to turn its season around. Nice has the second worst offense behind bottom side Ajaccio. PSG will miss Presnel Kimpembe and Marco Verratti, both suspended, while Nice defender Jean-Clair Todibo will also serve a one-game ban. This season has been a reality check for Strasbourg, in 18th place after finishing sixth in the last campaign. Strasbourg is chasing its first win of the season against Rennes. Rennes is still seeking consistency, which it hopes to earn with the return of playmaker Lovro Majer. He shone with Croatia in the international break, scoring the winner against Denmark and an assist in the win over Austria.
Barcelona travels to the Balearic Islands to play Mallorca without several players injured during the international break. They include defenders Jules Koundé, Ronald Araújo and Héctor Bellerín, midfielder Frenkie de Jong and forward Memphis Depay. The holes in defense likely mean veteran Gerard Pique will make just his second start of the season. A win by Barcelona would lift it one point ahead of Liga leader Real Madrid. The game comes before Barcelona goes to Inter Milan in the Champions League next week. Javier Aguirre’s Mallorca has lost 12 of Barcelona’s last 13 visits. Atlético Madrid can add more misery to Sevilla’s poor start when they meet in Seville. Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla has only one victory in eight games overall. Villarreal will move into the top four spots if it can win at Cádiz, which got its first victory in the last round but remains in the relegation zone. Getafe also seeks a third straight win at Valladolid.
Union Berlin, the only undefeated team in the Bundesliga, visits Eintracht Frankfurt. Union is two points clear of Borussia Dortmund going into the eighth round. Dortmund visits Cologne and could go top with a win if it receives a helping hand from Frankfurt. It will be Dortmund forward Anthony Modeste’s first return since his switch between the teams in the offseason. Freiburg, which is also mixing with the teams at the top, hosts Mainz. Bottom club Bochum visits Leipzig after claiming its first point in the last round before the international break, and Wolfsburg hosts Stuttgart. Borussia Mönchengladbach visits promoted Werder Bremen in the late game.
Roma coach 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 to Atalanta before the international break for going onto the field to remonstrate with the referee. The coach steered Inter to the treble of the Champions League, Serie A and Italian Cup in 2010. Sixth-placed Roma is four points below league leaders Napoli and Atalanta, with Inter a point further back. 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 champion AC Milan the chance to move level at the top of the table with a victory at Empoli.
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