Lewis Ambrose·22 September 2023
Lewis Ambrose·22 September 2023
This one is a blockbuster weekend and here are five games will cannot wait to tuck into.
It was all going so well for Monaco too, with Folarin Balogun netting his first goal for the club and sending them on their way to a fourth win in five league games to start the season. Clearly, that wasn’t to be and their defence, with seven conceded in five games, looks like it could be the thing that prevents an on-fire attack from launching an assault on the title.
This week is a big test, then, facing a rival in Nice and a team that put three past PSG last Friday. Terem Moffi was exceptional in the 3-2 win at Parc des Princes, delivering a man of the match performance and riling Kylian Mbappé in the process.
Nothing is better or more high stages than a derby when both teams are in top form.
Ajax are in crisis. In the last week alone they went two goals down to Twente within 11 minutes (and lost 2-1) and let 2-0 and 3-2 leads slip at home against managerless Marseille on Thursday.
Asked about rumours he could be sacked ahead of the game, head coach Maurice Steijn said he had not spoken to sporting director Sven Mislintat about the possibility: “No. I had to read this on the internet yesterday.”
Mislintat himself is under scrutiny after reports he had a conflict of interest in sealing a move for summer signing Borna Sosa from ex-club VfB Stuttgart: Mislintat will not attend games as an investigation takes place.
It’s not ideal timing for a Klassieker against reigning Dutch champions Feyenoord, who have won their last four across all competitions and already sit six points ahead of Ajax in the Eredivisie table. Another disappointing result could send the Netherland’s biggest club into a tailspin.
From De Klassieker to Le Classique, Marseille are another would-be crisis club right now after manager Marcelino resigned this week having presided over just eight matches.
His decision came amid tensions with fans, who were unhappy with the club’s start to the season, though Marseille were not so understanding when Marcelino delivered his decision.
“The entire club is extremely disappointed to have to deal with the departure of a coach and technical staff, who only arrived in Marseille on June 23 and were fully committed to the club, for non-sporting reasons,” a statement read.
It’s not the best timing for an enormous game against a PSG team that appeared to click as they dominated Borussia Dortmund in Tuesday’s 2-0 win. Now it’s time for them to impress in the league, having already dropped seven points this season, and nothing would help the mood in the capital than a win over their bitter rivals.
The short trip across the Spanish capital will take them to the home of local rivals Atlético for a fixture that has treated Los Merengues well in recent campaigns.
Atleti, you see, have won just one of the last 15 LaLiga derbies between the teams (a 1-0 victory in 2022) as well as tasting defeat in the Copa del Rey and Supcopa de España in that time.
And this time they will have to face Jude Bellingham, who seems to relish occasions like this and has six goals (including two injury-time winners) in as many games for his new club.
For the first time since September 1990, both teams enter a north London derby unbeaten this weekend. Tottenham have not won a Premier League game at the Emirates Stadium since 2010 and you have to go back to 1993 for their last win in this fixture before that.
But Ange Postecoglou is doing things his way and he is not interested in settling for a point. Asked on Friday whether he would adapt things for the derby, the Australian said:
“In terms of the way we play, we’re not changing, mate. We’ll go out and scare the life out of them.”
Ambitious. Arsenal, for their part, are on 13 points from their opening five league games — the same as Spurs — and took things up a notch as they beat PSV in midweek, with Gabriel Jesus marking his first start of the campaign with a goal and a superb all-round performance.
Both sides have already beaten Manchester United this season but this looks like a much bigger test for the two north London clubs in what is widely considered the Premier League’s most consistently entertaining and intense derby. Someone is leaving the stadium disappointed on Sunday, but who?