This weekend across Europe brings several intriguing clashes, most notably in England, with a Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool. The Toffees are off to a tremendous start with a perfect 4-0-0 record and will be looking to win their first derby against the Reds since 2010. Meanwhile, Arsenal and Manchester City will meet at the Etihad in another high-profile fixture.
Over in Italy, we’ll have a Derby di Milano between Inter and AC Milan at the San Siro, with both sides also playing solid football early on in the campaign. Another match to keep an eye on this weekend in Serie A will feature a high-flying Atalanta squad facing Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli.
Lastly over in Germany, Borussia Dortmund visits Hoffenheim, who is tied with Lucien Favre’s side in sixth place currently.
Everton vs Liverpool
This year’s first Merseyside derby has a different feel to it. Everton is the side currently running riot on their oppositions. After a busy summer where Carlo Ancelotti brought in three key players in James Rodriguez, Allan, and Abdoulaye Doucoure, the Toffees are enjoying immediate success, much in part to these signings. Former Real Madrid star Rodriguez has been the most impactful signing for Everton, already bagging three goals and tallying two assists. The other two have also given Ancelotti tons of solidity in the middle of the pitch.
The main man who is flourishing in front of goal though has been Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who already has six goals to his name. His impressive start to the term already earned him a first call-up to the Three Lions, scoring in his first appearance for England.
🗨️ | “We have to be focused to do our best, excited and happy to play our game. We don’t need to have pressure, we want to play the best game we can play."@MrAncelotti on the challenge of Saturday's #MerseysideDerby 👇#EFC 🔵 #COYB
— Everton (@Everton) October 15, 2020
The current title-holders in Liverpool head into this clash with Everton coming off an embarrassing 7-2 defeat against Aston Villa two weeks ago. It was very unlike Jurgen Klopp’s men to concede this many, considering they typically have a strong backline, led by Virgil van Dijk. But, the Lions dominated the Reds, with Ollie Watkins netting a hat-trick in his debut for Dean Smith’s side. Regardless, Liverpool is still 3-0-1 on the season, with previous victories against Chelsea, Leeds, and Arsenal. However, they were also outplayed by Leeds on Matchday one, going goal for goal in a 4-3 win against the Peacocks.
The last time Everton left a Merseyside derby with three points was ten years ago to the day of this fixture on October 17th, 2010. The previous meeting between these two resulted in a scoreless draw in June, but it could be a much different story this time around with a new-look Toffees squad looking to continue their fine form.
Manchester City vs Arsenal
As the Citizens look to capture another Premier League title after missing out last term, they’re not off to an ideal start, going 1-1-1. Their only win was a 3-1 victory over Wolves, then Pep Guardiola’s squad lost 5-2 to Leicester City the following weekend. Their last outing was a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Leeds, who played extremely well against a strong City side. Sergio Aguero is hopeful of returning this weekend against the Gunners after recovering from a knee injury that he suffered back in June, but they will be without Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus, who both have minor injuries.
Man City did a great job of signing two key defenders in the summer transfer window, addressing their most notable weakness from last season. They brought in former Bournemouth standout Nathan Ake and Benfica star Ruben Dias, who have both impressed so far. It’s a work in progress for City, but with two more additions to their backline and another key attacker in Ferran Torres, it’s only a matter of time until this team begins to put together a string of positive results.
Arsenal is showing a ton of promise already after a busy summer. They’ve lost just once through four appearances, beating Sheffield on Matchday four. Gabriel Magalhaes has been a vital signing for the Gunners at the back. Former Chelsea man Willian has been lethal in the final third, playing a key part of the attack after making the switch from Stamford Bridge. Mikel Arteta was able to get the Thomas Partey deal over the line just before the transfer deadline, bringing in the former Atletico Madrid midfielder on a 45 million euros deal. The Ghanian international is set to make his debut for the club against City, bringing a ton of versatility to the Arsenal midfield with box-to-box abilities.
Heart reacts only.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 16, 2020
The Gunners got the best of City last time out, winning 2-0 in July in FA Cup. This should be a very entertaining match though, which could go either way. With Man City missing several important players, Arsenal may have the advantage here.
Antonio Conte’s side is hungry to win their first Scudetto since 2010 after finishing as runners up last term. They’re off to a good start, going 2-1-0. With an already strong squad, Inter added more pieces in the summer. They brought in former Dortmund right-back Achraf Hakimi and Barcelona standout Arturo Vidal, among a few others. Their dynamic duo up top in Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez has continued their brilliance in the final third from last season, already scoring three goals apiece. Last time out, Internazionale played to a 1-1 draw with Lazio.
AC Milan has been a pleasant surprise. Despite bringing in no defensive reinforcements which were seen as a massive flaw, Milan is off to a perfect start. Along the way, they’ve yet to concede a goal through three matches, while scoring seven times. However, this will be their first real test after facing bottom-half opponents. Although Zlatan Ibrahimovic has only played once so far due to his COVID-19 diagnosis, the Swede was brilliant, scoring a double. He’ll be ready to feature against Inter after fully recovering. The signing of Italian Sandro Tonali has been a huge boost to their midfield, with the 20-year old joining the Rossoneri on loan from Brescia.
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) October 16, 2020
For the first time in awhile, both of these sides enter The Derby della Madonnina in good form. Fans usually play a crucial part in such a high-profile fixture, but nonetheless, expect this to be one of the more exciting games across the continent this weekend.
Napoli vs Atalanta
Napoli has been absolutely outstanding at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples, going unbeaten in their last eight on home soil. After starting off with two straight victories, Gennaro Gattuso’s men were handed a 3-0 defeat because they didn’t travel to Turin to face Juventus due to COVID-19 restrictions within the club. Although it doesn’t show on paper, they’re technically still undefeated. But, Napoli will have their hands full with a vibrant Atalanta side. Mexican striker Hirving Lozano is off to a fine start, bagging two goals so far this term. Attacking partner Dries Mertens has also scored twice as well. Summer signing Victor Osimhen has yet to score for his new club, but the Nigerian international has tallied an assist.
Atalanta has been the talk of Italy. After a historic season in 2019/20 where they scored 98 goals in 38 appearances, they’ve continued their dominance once again. Gian Piero Gasperini’s squad is off to a perfect 3-0-0, having already netted 13 times. They buried Cagliari 5-2 last time out and previously dominated Lazio in a 4-1 victory. Their free-flowing, attacking-driven style of play is a treat to watch, with many different players contributing in the final third. Papau Gomez has been key, already finding the back of the net four times. Atalanta has arguably one of the most exciting attacks in Europe. Napoli center-back Kalidou Koulibaly will be most definitely be tested for a full 90 minutes.
#Gasperini: "Domani affrontiamo una delle migliori squadre del campionato, non ha subito gol ed è forte in attacco"
— Atalanta B.C. (@Atalanta_BC) October 16, 2020
It’s hard to to look past Napoli’s impressive form at home. But, also, Atalanta has been unstoppable. This match should be easy on the eyes and full of goals, with the current league leaders looking to stay undefeated.
TSG Hoffenheim vs Borussia Dortmund
Over to the Bundesliga, where Hoffenheim will look for another big win against one of the country’s finest in Borussia Dortmund. They beat Bayern Munich 4-1 on Matchday two, but then lost to Frankfurt the following weekend. Croatian frontman Andrej Kramaric has been on fire, leading Germany’s top-flight with six goals. The 29-year old has almost scored all of Hoffenheim’s goals so far. Currently, in sixth spot with a 2-0-1 record, their form has been unpredictable, so it’s hard to know what Hoffenheim we could get this weekend. But, they pulled off the double against BVB last season, beating them on both occasions.
Was there any doubt? 😬
— TSG Hoffenheim EN (@tsghoffenheimEN) October 16, 2020
Dortmund has also been up and down this term. They beat Borussia Monchengladbach on Matchday one 3-0 but then lost to Augsburg the following weekend. Last time out, Lucien Favre’s side beat Freiburg 4-0 behind Erling Haland’s double. The Norwegian is coming off a torrid international break with his country, where he scored a hat-trick against Romania in the Nations League. He’s already netted four times with Dortmund and will surely be at the forefront this weekend for the black and yellows. Packed with bright young talent in Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham, and Gio Reyna, Dortmund will be looking to beat Hoffenheim for the first time since December of 2017.
Hoffenheim buried Dortmund 4-0 in June and will be relying on Kramaric to continue his brilliance on the attack. But, BVB will be seeking a positive result against their Matchday four counterparts for the first time in almost three years. This will surely be one of the tastier fixtures in the Bundesliga this weekend.