Weekend Wanderings: Arsenal face West Ham and Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan reunion
Another weekend of football action is set to roll in with the German Bundesliga starting back up following the off-season. As always there are some exciting fixtures ahead, Alasdair Hooper brings us what you should be keeping your eyes on this weekend.
1) Who out of the Gunners and the Hammers can cash in their first points?
Ahead of the start of the Premier League season, two clubs that had big expectations were Arsenal and West Ham.
The Gunners are being headed up by multiple Europa League champion manager Unai Emery to oversee a new era after Arsene Wenger, while West Ham had hired former Premier League winner Manuel Pellegrini as manager and spent big on transfers.
However, two games into the season and both teams are still awaiting their first points.
In fairness Arsenal have had the toughest of starts facing Manchester City and Chelsea in their first two games, whereas West Ham lost to Liverpool and surrendered their lead to Bournemouth last week.Embed from Getty Images
There is also the small matter of Jack Wilshere returning to Arsenal just a few months after his release on a free transfer.
One of these teams has to break their duck this Saturday, the question is – who?
2) No more Miller time
Across the border in Scotland we have already witnessed one of the most surprising storylines of the season as Kenny Miller departed Livingston, just seven weeks after taking over as player/manager.
The former Scotland international and Rangers striker joined on with the newly-promoted club in June 2018, succeeding David Hopkin, but by August he has already walked out of the door.
With the Premiership season just two games old, Livingston had asked Miller to become focus solely on managing and leaving his playing career aside.
Instead the 38-year-old said he wasn’t ready to quit playing so the two parties went different ways making Livingston’s summer pursuit of Miller look a tad farcical.Embed from Getty Images
This Saturday the West Lothian side, headed up temporarily by Gary Holt, will take on fellow newly-promoted club St Mirren.
We wait and see as to what Miller’s exit will do to the team.
3) Is Steve McClaren facing a losing battle already?
From one manager who has already left his job, to another who may be staring down the barrel, Steve McLaren’s latest foray into management could have gone a lot smoother.
Queens Park Rangers’ last two outings in the league saw them thumped 7-1 by West Brom and defeated 3-0 by Bristol City.
They now sit bottom of the table following four straight losses and McLaren, who has had poor runs in other jobs, looks vulnerable again.Embed from Getty Images
Times are tough for the former England boss at Loftus Road but he has to pick up his young team and get them going for the visit of Wigan.
Paul Cook’s side are renowned for being hard to play against so there could be more misery on the cards in West London this Saturday.
4) Ancelotti’s Milan reunion
This Saturday evening AC Milan, managed by former midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, travel to Naples to play Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli side.
Gattuso was at the heart of the Milan midfield that proved so successful at the San Siro when Ancelotti was in charge between 2001 and 2009, but the 40-year-old boss now heads up a team who look far healthier than in recent months.Embed from Getty Images
This will be Ancelotti’s first meeting against Milan since he left all those years ago but he has enough talent amongst his Napoli team to do some damage – just ask Lazio last week.
There are plenty of narratives when these two teams meet on Saturday night but, to look at it more simplistically, this is expected to be a great game between two very talented clubs.
5) Bundesliga is back with a bang
The German Bundesliga returns this weekend and one fixture of choice is a match-up that has developed a bit of added spice over the last couple of years.
Borussia Dortmund, for so long the hipster’s choice of football club, take on RB Leipzig – a team who for some represent corporate controlled football at its worst.Embed from Getty Images
As a result of the two teams’ stark backgrounds, a rivalry has existed when the two fans almost came to blows at Signal Iduna Park two seasons ago.
This game is expected to have plenty of fire but from a footballing perspective, there are also some intriguing questions that need to be answered.
How will RB Leipzig cope now Naby Keita is plying his trade at Liverpool and how will Lucien Favre perform as Dortmund’s new boss?
Follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992
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