Manchester sides, Bayern face fatigue test after break

Tottenham Hotspur are now being touted as the perennial bridesmaids of the English football, thanks in part for their knack for flattering to deceive every season while actually being an escort party.
Adebayor of Tottenham is chased down by Yaya Toure of Man City during the Premier League last season. (Net photo)
Adebayor of Tottenham is chased down by Yaya Toure of Man City during the Premier League last season. (Net photo)

Saturday

Man City 1-2  Spurs 1.45pm

Tottenham Hotspur are now being touted as the perennial bridesmaids of the English football, thanks in part for their knack for flattering to deceive every season while actually being an escort party.

But Frank Lampard believes the team now managed by Mauricio Pochettino are a lot stronger and cannot be taken for granted today as they visit the Eastlands to face the champions.

Whether Lampard is right or not does not matter; what is clear is that Spurs are not going to concede 6-0 like they did at Etihad last season.

Pochettino has claimed he does not even remember the 6-0, 5-1 drubbing the champions inflicted on Spurs last season. All he is focusing on is a good result. Manuel Pellegrini will be without Samir Nasri, who is still nursing a groin injury, while Fernandinho is struggling with a hamstring.

Spurs, unbeaten on the road, will give late fitness tests to winger Nacer Chadli (hip) and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (groin) while Emmanuel Adebayor will start against his former club despite struggling for goals this season.

But the current team is good enough to frustrate or even upset the champions, who seem to be struggling with “too much stars” syndrome. I dare go for away draw or win.

Saturday

Newcastle 0-0 Leicester 4pm   

Allan Pardew is the proverbial cat with nine lives. How he has kept his job despite the fans’ ire and the board’s indifference, is something only his contract details can tell.

Pardew is set to celebrate his 700th game in permanent management this Saturday but said the milestone will count for little if he is left with the more unwanted statistic of leading the north-east club to its worst start in Premier League history.

Failure to beat Leicester City will post an eighth game without a victory at the outset of the campaign, one more than the current low in 1999.

Goalkeeper Tim Krul recovered from an elbow injury and is set for his regular place between the sticks. But Pardew will monitor Senegal forward Papiss Cisse and Ivory Coast midfielder Cheick Tiote who returned late from international duty.

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson returns to the club where he was on the coaching staff from 2006 to 2008 and had two spells as caretaker manager. He has a fully fit squad, and will be chuckling that Cisse could be ‘tired’ from the Senegal duty.

 Sunday         

Stoke   0-2 Swansea 5pm

Mark Hughes said his side deserved nothing when they went down to Sunderland in the last league outing. Sunderland had not won a game until then.

Tomorrow, the Potters welcome the Swans who are on the decline after flattering with the top tier for the first seven games until leaders Chelsea inflicted a heavy defeat on them.

However, Garry Monk knows he still has it within his side to pull out the kind of result he needs a match like this that is finely balanced. Stoke are a side that struggle at home, while the Swans have been better on the road.

Monday

West Brom 3-2 Man Utd 9pm

Manchester United will only be without Wayne Rooney but that will not affect their forward line. The only thing that can hurt is the international break, where the visitors had the majority of players travelling.

It is this kind of fatigue that the Baggies can exploit to the maximum. United are aware the kind of threat Saido Berahino poses at the moment.

The Baggies took the game to Liverpool at Anfield last time but fell short and will want to have a go at United as well. This will be a test for the ‘tired’ visitors.

Saturday

Bundesliga

Koln  1-3 Dortmund  3.30pm

Jurgen Klopp’s men are 13th in the Bundesliga table but have been buoyed by the availability of Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus. Dortmund’s dreadful start to the season has seen them accumulate just seven points from a possible 21.

They have lost four games. However, Klopp has a psychological edge over Peter Stoger today, having won all eight of his previous meetings against the Rhineland side since joining Dortmund in 2008.

Koln started their return to the Bundesliga fairly quickly following a draw with Hamburg and a 2-0 win at Stuttgart in their opening two matches, but things have turned upside down since and Koln are currently on a run of three successive league defeats. Just the kind of thing Dortmund wants.

Saturday

Bundesliga

Bayern 2-2 Bremen 3.30pm

Pep Guardiola’s men scored 14 goals without reply in seven matches before the international break, so they will be confident of seeing off their struggling visitors.

 Bayern have only dropped points in two of their opening seven matches and boast a 100 per cent record at the Allianz Arena.

However, not the entire squad will be bristling with confidence, as the German entourage of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Thomas Miller and Mario Gotze could tip the ante.

The Germany contigent had a torrid international duty away to Poland and then at home to Ireland and will want to forget that sooner.

Franck Ribery returned to training but Thiago Alcantara joins the likes of Bastian Schweinsteigger on the stretcher. Bayern will have it tough at home.

Saturday

Serie A

Roma  3-0  Chievo   6pm

The Romans were level on points with champions Juventus and dared to dream when visiting the Old Lady of Turin in the top of the table clash. It was a game in which the sides showed their rivalry.

Three penalties and two red cards chalked up the 3-2 win that made the difference between the champions and their runner-up last season. But now Roma are poised to turn their frustration on visiting Chievo Verona.

The hosts will be sweating on the fitness of former Barca midfielder Seydou Keita who picked up an injury on international duty.

The Mali ace was forced off just 30 minutes into Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifying clash in Ethiopia with a calf injury. But Rudi Garcia will expect a comfortable win to soothe the nerves of his stooges.

Sunday

Serie A

Inter 2-1 Napoli   8.45pm

Walter Mazzarri admitted after Sunday’s 3-0 loss at Fiorentina that his Inter players are ‘mortified’ by their poor form in Serie A. The Nerazzurri have picked up just eight points from their opening six games and the humiliating 4-1 defeat to Cagliari two weeks ago does not do them any favour.

Mazzarri is aware of the pressure that is mounting on his head and will want to arrest the scalp sooner than later. Sadly, this fixture is even tougher, given that Rafael Benitez’s men have not dropped lost to Inter in the last three outings.

But Napoli themselves are struggling to be what they have been in the last two seasons. Ten points from six games and being eight adrift of leaders Juventus after just six rounds is not the kind of stat Benitez could have foreseen in his side.

Seeing how they laboured to beat Torino at Sao Paolo in the last outing, Napoli could have it hard at San Siro.

Sunday

La Liga

Atletico 2-2 Espanyol    12pm

Champions Atletico Madrid seem to have already given up on the dream of retaining the La Liga title before they had even started.

But all is not lost if they keep picking up some results before they face the top sides. The champions are in the fifth place, five points adrift of leaders Barcelona who they pipped to the title last season.

Diego Simeone’s side will be welcoming an Espanyol side that looks resurgent are able to compete for Champions League place again.

After driving Barca hard, eighth placed Espanyol will fancy their chances against the champions who are yet to forget the two iconic figures in their title surge last season—Diego Costa and keeper Thibaut Courtois—despite acquiring former Bayern talisman Mario Mandzukic. This could be a tough encounter.

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