Weekend Wanderings: A day of derbies, plus vital clashes in France and Spain

Another weekend of football action is around the corner and it’s a bumper edition, packed full of derby clashes and battles between rivals, writes Alasdair Hooper.

From the Manchester derby and the Madrid derby, to a pivotal game at the top of the WSL, your Saturday and Sunday are pretty much covered.

Here’s what you can enjoy in this weekend wanderings.

Cardiff City v Swansea City (Saturday, 12.30pm)

Kicking off Saturday – also known as the day of derbies – is the South Wales derby between Cardiff and Swansea.

Neil Harris’s Bluebirds go into the game off the back of their fourth straight league win, most recently their 2-1 victory over Stoke in midweek.

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Despite their fine recent form that lifted them into ninth place, they will have to raise their game against Swansea, who come to Cardiff four points ahead in fourth place.

The Swans drew 0-0 with Bournemouth in the week, but they might get a small sense of relief just by playing away; the pitch quality at the Liberty Stadium has left many at the club ‘searching for answers’, as head coach Steve Cooper described it.

Manchester United v Manchester City (Saturday, 5.30pm)

This Saturday evening it’s the first Manchester derby of the Premier League season – and both sides have already had their ups and downs this year.

But ahead of the match it’s Manchester United (again) who find themselves in a downward trajectory, after their powers of recovery ran out in the Champions League and they exited the competition.

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The Red Devils – currently in sixth place – could do with fixing that issue of repeatedly giving teams a head start, but frankly who knows what will happen with the side that can switch from sublime to awful in the space of five minutes.

Meanwhile City have certainly had their fair share of early season struggles, but they played out a relatively easy win against Marseille in midweek with two successive Premier League victories under their belt as well.

Even though they are a place and a point behind United, they will probably be many people’s favourites in this game.

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid (Saturday, 8pm)

Speaking of topsy turvy form, let us present to you Real Madrid.

Ahead of this weekend’s derby against Atletico, their recent form guide in La Liga reads: won two, lost two, drawn one.

After securing passage into the Champions League last-16, Zinedine Zidane’s side could do with finding some form if they are to put a stop to the questions surrounding the manager’s future.

Domestically speaking however, it is Atletico who are very much top dogs, with Diego Simeone’s side showcasing their title-challenging credentials.

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They are top of the table, with two games in hand on second-placed Real Sociedad, and have only conceded two La Liga goals this season.

Couple that with Joao Felix blossoming into the attacking force many believed he could be, and the prospects look good. This game, as ever, will be a huge test to see if they can be in contention for the title again.

Manchester City Women v Arsenal Women (Sunday, 2.30pm)

Over in the WSL the congested nature at the top of the table means we could well be on for a four-way title tussle at the end of the season.

But this weekend it’s the turn of fourth-placed Manchester City – who managed to beat Everton last weekend – to take on second-placed Arsenal.

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A win for City would lift them to just a point behind the Gunners, but Joe Montemurro’s side will want to do everything in their power to stretch their gap on the Manchester side.

With Manchester United and Chelsea also proving to be formidable sides, these clashes at the top only take on greater significance.

Paris Saint Germain v Lyon (Sunday, 8pm)

Over in France, we’ve become so used to seeing PSG dominate – but there’s an air of fragility about them, despite the fact they are still top of the table.

They’ve already lost three league games this season and this Sunday they host rivals Lyon, who are just two points and two places behind.

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While everyone will remember Lyon’s efforts in the Champions League last season, they have finally clicked into gear after a slow start to this year’s league campaign.

With four straight wins on the bounce they present a real challenge to PSG and could quite easily be ahead of them at the end of the weekend.

With plenty of star quality on show, this will be the ideal way to finish off your weekend of football.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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