Weekend Wanderings: London derby and Sassuolo take on titans for top spot
Another weekend of football is around the corner, and it feels like there’s light at the end of the tunnel following the announcement that fans – however small – could soon be returning.
In the meantime, Alasdair Hooper is here with some of the games you can look forward to this weekend.
From battles at the top, to surprise packages looking to show what they are made of, there’s plenty to enjoy.
Sassuolo v Inter (Saturday, 2pm)
The tiny club of Sassuolo has spent more time in the fifth tier of Italian football rather than the first in the last 40 years. Remarkably they are second in Serie A.
While the club have become a familiar sight in the top flight in recent years, this incredible start has got people really excited.
Under the management of 41-year-old Roberto De Zerbi they have already drawn comparisons with Leicester City and they’ve won plenty of admirers along the way for their expansive style. We all remember what Leicester did in 2016 after all.
This Saturday, the proverbial underdogs go head to head with Inter, a side we all fully expected to challenge for the title again this year.
Instead, the Milan side find themselves in fifth – three points behind Sassuolo – but they will undoubtedly be hungry to make up some ground on a top-of-the-table rival.
Can Sassuolo make another huge statement?
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, 4.30pm)
With Liverpool performing, and Manchester City struggling, Chelsea and Tottenham have emerged as real challengers at this stage of the season.
This Sunday the two face off with both sides in buoyant moods. Spurs arguably had the most eye-catching performance last weekend when they beat Manchester City 2-0 to see them sit top of the table at this moment in time.
Should the side perform as they did last week – with the likes of Harry Kane pulling the strings again – then there is a strong chance they could stay at the summit.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have really stepped up a gear and have also improved their defence. That said this is going to be a proper test for Frank Lampard’s side – certainly a sterner affair than what they faced against Newcastle last week.
Of course, there’s also the narrative of Mourinho facing his former club and his former star player in Lampard so this is bound to have fans gripped.
Arsenal v Wolves (Sunday, 7.15pm)
With Arsenal blowing hot and cold, this Sunday’s game against Wolves looks like another cracking match up on paper.
Just a point separates the sides in the Premier League but – such is the congested nature of the league – a win could see each side rise towards the upper echelons of the table.
Mikel Arteta will obviously be without the likes of Nicolas Pepe, after the forward headbutted his way out of contention, but the Arsenal boss is still wrestling with finding an attacking system that works.
Similarly, Wolves will also be looking for greater consistency after their draw with Southampton on Monday.
Napoli v Roma (Sunday, 7.45pm)
On Sunday, Serie A treats us to another clash at the top as Napoli host Roma.
Both sides have similarly emerged as potential challengers to Juventus’ crown – along with a number of other clubs – with Roma particularly catching the eye at this stage.
After a pivotal takeover in the summer, the team find themselves third in the table, three points behind first-placed Milan, with plenty of plaudits for Paulo Fonseca’s side.
Napoli have also been impressive themselves and currently lie in sixth place, just three points behind Roma, which sums up the congested nature of Serie A right now.
This could be another twist in what seems to be an exciting title race in Italy.
Real Sociedad v Villarreal (Sunday, 8pm)
Speaking of surprise packages in Sassuolo, step forward Real Sociedad.
The side from San Sebastian are top of the pile in La Liga having lost just one league game, while scoring an impressive 21 goals – that makes them the division’s top scorers.
There’s also plenty of familiar faces spearheading the team’s rise right now, including former Manchester City talisman David Silva and ex-Manchester United starlet Adnan Januzaj.
But Villarreal have also earned plenty of plaudits this season under the management of a rejuvenated Unai Emery.
The club are four points behind Real Sociedad in third place making this a real top-of-the-table clash between two teams we probably didn’t expect to be up there.
Follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992
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