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This Weekend: City meet Arsenal in the FA Cup, the Berlin Derby and more


FotMob - about 2 months ago

The best matches to follow this weekend

By Bill Biss


🏆 The FA Cup fourth round begins, tonight, with a blockbuster tie between Manchester City and Arsenal, currently the two teams best placed in the Premier League title race. This is, of course, a different competition but due to cancellations and fixture quirks, Guardiola and Arteta’s sides haven’t actually played each other for a full calendar year.

So this then, is the first test for City and Arsenal’s class of 2022/23, ahead of further showdowns in February, and April, back in the league.

🇫🇷 In Ligue 1, the Friday night drama is provided by Lorient and Rennes, who meet in an all-Breton derby. Rennes fans perhaps see Nantes as the bigger regional rival but this season, at least, Lorient might pose the bigger threat to Rennes chances of finishing in the European qualification places.

Lorient have won just once in the league since the turn of the year, a run that has seen them drop to eighth while Rennes moved fifth, five points above them, following the win over PSG two weekends ago. They were however knocked out of the Coupe de France in their last game (vs. Marseille) while Lorient made it past lower league opposition on penalties.


🇩🇪 For some sides in Germany’s top flight, Saturday’s games will be their third in little over a week – that, after the mammoth 10 week gap in the league programme caused by the World Cup and winter break!

Leaders Bayern, who have failed to win their two games – against Leipzig and FC Köln – now face the prospect of fourth placed Eintracht Frankfurt at home.

You might think first versus fourth constitutes the biggest game of the day but that’s before you hear that second placed Union play at fierce city-rivals Hertha in the Berlin Derby. Union are unbeaten in five previous meetings between the two and won the corresponding fixture 4-1 at Hertha last season, a repeat of which the struggling hosts – who sit second bottom in the table – will be desperate to avoid.

🇪🇸 LaLiga front-runners Barcelona are the biggest draw in Spain on Saturday, with their trip to Girona providing them with the opportunity to extend their lead over Real Madrid to six points.

The 1-0 win against Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, thanks to a goal from Ousmane Dembélé, extended their current unbeaten run to 12 games. For their part, Girona have looked steady following their top flight return and they sit 11th in the table despite last week’s defeat to Villarreal.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Back in the FA Cup, ties pitting Premier League sides against Championship opposition is the theme of the day. Manchester United play Reading, who are managed by former-United midfielder Paul Ince while Spurs go to Preston North End, both classic English sides nicknamed the Lilywhites, and Fulham face Sunderland.

Elsewhere, Accrington Stanley, of League One, only confirmed their place in the fourth round late on Tuesday night after an extra-time penalty saw them beat non-league Boreham Wood. That means they’ve had very little time to prepare for what is a lunchtime kick-off against Premier League Leeds United.

🇮🇹 In Serie A, Inter travel to bottom side Cremonese as they seek to get back-on-track after last Monday’s surprise home defeat to mid-table Empoli. That was the kind of result that sums up the frustration at Inter this season – Simone Inzaghi’s side had beaten Milan convincingly in the Supercoppa just a few days before that and earlier in the month, they ended Napoli’s long unbeaten record only to follow that with a draw against Monza. They do however, remain fourth and just a point behind Milan, who sit second.

Another game that might be worth keeping an eye on is Atalanta‘s clash with Sampdoria. The Bergamo club have been rampant in recent matches, scoring 16 goals in their last three with the likes of Ademola Lookman in inspired form – he’s bagged six and set up two others in that run. They’ll be licking their lips at the prospect of facing what is the third worse defence in Serie A.

🇫🇷 Two of French football’s biggest names also meet on Saturday evening, with Marseille (3rd) coming up against Monaco (4th). Heading in to this one, the side from the principality haven’t lost in eight away games but Marseille have only conceded three goals in the six competitive games they’ve played since the re-start. And they’ve won all of those.

The sides last faced one another just before the World Cup break, with Marseille coming out on top in a five-goal thriller thanks to 98th minute winner, from Sead Kolašinac.


🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 The FA Cup action continues in to Sunday – and indeed Monday when West Ham travel to fallen giants Derby County. Getting back to the weekend though, Liverpool return to Brighton, the scene of their 3-0 defeat in the Premier League just two weekends ago. Will Jürgen Klopp’s side get their revenge or will Roberto De Zerbi’s in-form Seagulls continue their rich vein of form against England’s big six?

Wrexham, the last remaining non-league (and non-English) side left in the competition are also in action. They face in-form Championship club Sheffield United. Having recently gone top of the fifth tier National League, promotion to the EFL remains the priority for the Hollywood-backed club but this will be a good test against a Blades side unbeaten in nine, and with promotion ambitions of their own.

🇮🇹 The fixture schedule looks busy in Italy with four of the top five all involved on Sunday, plus Juventus, who would be up there were it not for their recent points deduction.

Runaway Scudetto candidates Napoli meet Roma in the week that coach José Mourinho celebrated his 60th birthday. And how he’d love to ruin the current buoyant mood in Naples by becoming the first coach to beat them on home soil since April 2022.

Lazio looked mightily impressive in Tuesday’s 4-0 drubbing of Milan so watch out for their clash with Fiorentina. Rome’s other club will also be aiming to keep a fourth straight clean sheet as they look to better Milan‘s result against Sassuolo and move second in the table.

🇪🇸 In LaLiga, we get a huge match-up between the two sides attempting to chase down Barcelona – Real Madrid (second, three points back) against Real Sociedad (third, another three points further back).

It’s a second key game in a matter of days for Madrid after they eventually overcame derby rivals Atlético in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, after extra-time, on Thursday night. Goals from Rodrygo, Karim Benzema and Vinícius Júnior turned the game in their favour after Álvaro Morata had scored for Atleti. And that game itself, came off the back of tough league tests against in-form Villarreal and Athletic Club, a testing run that Carlo Ancelotti’s side have, it has to be said, come through with flying colours. Real Sociedad’s midweek Copa loss to Barcelona was their first competitive defeat since November so they’ll be fighting for the three points that they know will take them level with their hosts.

Elsewhere, Atlético Madrid go to seventh placed Osasuna amidst rumours that coach Diego Simeone is readying himself to leave his position – rumours dismissed by the man himself – in the aftermath of Thursday’s exit from the Copa.

🇫🇷 Playing last in Ligue 1 this weekend, PSG could find themselves needing a win to re-open the gap between themselves and Lens at the top of the table. Post-World Cup defeats – to Lens, and Rennes – have left them looking more than a little vulnerable. And a superstar line-up were held for almost half-an-hour by sixth tier amateur outfit Pays de Cassel in last week’s Coupe de France encounter before the floodgates eventually opened, allowing Kylian Mbappé to plunder five of seven unanswered goals.

So then, a healthy league win, at home against Stade Reims should restore some order to an ever-restless fanbase.

🇩🇪 Lastly, Bayer Leverkusen, who’ve won six of their nine Bundesliga games and have moved up to eighth in the table since Xabi Alonso took over as coach in October, now face fifth placed Borussia Dortmund.

Edin Terzić is still striving for that kind of consistency at Germany’s second biggest club this season but the black and yellows have won both of their games since the re-start – albeit they’ve needed late Gio Reyna winners to do so against both Augsburg (4-3) and Mainz (2-1).

If you want to follow any of the games mentioned above, click on the relevant link and tap the bell icon to receive all the key match updates.

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Cover Image from IMAGO