Weekend Wanderings: Derby weekend – North London, Old Firm, Rome

Another week has come and gone with most football fans still reeling at the demise of Bury as the Football League has now gone from 72 to 71 teams. However, the weekend approaches and the game goes on, with some huge rivalry fixtures lined up.

Here are the games you should keep an eye on in this edition of Weekend Wanderings.

Arsenal v Tottenham (Sunday, 4.30pm)

The most eye-catching fixture in the Premier League this weekend would be the latest North London derby.

It may be early on in the season, but it already represents compelling viewing as both teams go into the game at the Emirates off the back of a loss.

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For Arsenal it was a 3-1 defeat against Liverpool but Spurs – more shockingly – fell at home to a Newcastle side who had looked far from inspiring up until that point.

More worryingly from a Tottenham perspective is the current lack of creativity on show in the Spurs side, as well as mumblings of discontent among the squad.

Can a win over their nearest rivals jolt them out of gear or will Unai Emery’s Gunners claim a morale-boosting victory?

Rangers v Celtic (Sunday, 12pm)

Three games into the Scottish Premiership season and there is already a familiar look about the table as both Rangers and Celtic sit top with nine points out of nine.

But this weekend something has to give in the 418th Old Firm derby.

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Expect this to be another physical encounter between Neil Lennon and Steven Gerrard’s sides but, as ever with this fixture, there will be plenty of fireworks on the pitch – and that’s just focusing in on Scott Brown.

With both sides clearly a cut above the rest in the Scottish Premiership this early encounter could also go some way to giving us answers as to whether Rangers can usurp Celtic at the end of the season.

Gillingham v Bolton Wanderers (Saturday, 3pm)

After the criminal demise of Bury there has finally been a modicum of good news from League One as the takeover of Bolton Wanderers was completed this week.

In the short term that means the club avoid the threat of liquidation and expulsion, which was by far the worst-case scenario.

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But in the long term there is still a lot of work to do with creditors needing to be paid, a manager needing to be hired and a competitive squad needing to be built.

While victories on the football pitch may be hard to come by this year, this Saturday’s fixture against Gillingham will be a welcome relief for fans who feared there might not be a game to see at all.

Plus, with the pressure off this incredibly young team, who knows what stars of the future could emerge in this tough situation.

Juventus v Napoli (Saturday, 7.45pm)

This weekend is only matchday two in Serie A, but the fixture computer clearly decided to push out the headline-grabbing fixtures early on.

On Saturday night the reigning champions Juventus host last year’s runners-up Napoli and it’s another return to Turin for Carlo Ancelotti, who is less than welcome after his stint in charge of The Old Lady in 1999-2001.

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This game would also have had the added narrative of Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri taking on his former side except he will miss the match as he is suffering with pneumonia.

Away from the managerial talking points this remains a match between two teams who should be fighting it out for the title at the end of the season.

Can either of them gain an early advantage?

Lazio v Roma (Sunday, 5pm)

The Rome derby is another Italian fixture that is bound to get football fans tuning in from all over Europe.

Annoyingly it is being held the day before I fly out to Rome on holiday (that’s what happens when you book before the fixtures are released) but there should be no shortage of excitement.

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Lazio are looking like a force to be reckoned with already this season with the likes of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto back playing at their best.

Meanwhile Roma began their league campaign with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Genoa as new manager Paolo Fonseca tries to steer the club back to the Champions League.

But with a lot of new signings to incorporate, including the likes of Pau Lopez, Jordan Veretout and Leonardo Spinazzola, it may take a while for the team to click into gear.

A win over their city rivals might just help progress things a lot quicker.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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