By O’Ben The Sports Man
The Premier League starts on Friday with Bournemouth hosting Brighton still without a point after four matches. There’s no indication Eddie Howe is about to lose his job at Bournemouth. But the other team on zero points, Crystal Palace, did fire its manager this week, ditching Frank de Boer after 77 days and hiring Roy Hodgson. Hodgson returns to management — more than a year after leaving the England job — with a home match against Swansea.
Saturday also has Tottenham trying to win at Wembley for the first time in the league this season, after collecting only one point from a possible six from its opening games at its temporary home. Tottenham did open its Champions League campaign by beating Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday for only its third success in 13 matches at Wembley.
The early front-runners are the Manchester clubs, who are locked on 10 points. City play at Watford on Saturday and United faces Everton the following day as Wayne Rooney returns to Old Trafford for the first time since leaving in the offseason.
he pick of the weekend fixtures has champion Chelsea hosting inconsistent Arsenal on Sunday. Also, the Real Madrid squad has been depleted by injuries and suspensions for Sunday’s game against Real Sociedad. Madrid is without Karim Benzema because of an injury, and missing Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo through suspensions.
The defending champions are coming off two consecutive home draws in the league, but things are going better in Europe. Zinedine Zidane’s team is four points behind the two perfect teams after three rounds — Real Sociedad and Barcelona, which plays at Getafe on Saturday.
Third-placed Sevilla visits Girona, and Athletic Bilbao is at Las Palmas. Atletico Madrid hosts Malaga later Saturday in the first match in Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Borussia Dortmund’s early season momentum has been halted by a couple of bumps. A 0-0 draw at Freiburg in the Bundesliga was followed by a loss to Tottenham in the Champions League. Both games showed that coach Peter Bosz still has some work to do to get the side operating as he desires.
So a return home for Cologne’s visit on Sunday is a welcome respite for Dortmund, which has yet to concede after three Bundesliga games. Cologne is yet to claim a point after three losses. Dortmund has won nine of its 10 home games this year and can extend its club-record of 39 games unbeaten at the Westfalenstadion.
Defending champion Bayern Munich faces Mainz on Saturday after a surprise loss to Hoffenheim.
Juventus and Napoli return to domestic duties after European disappointment.
Both have won their three Serie A games, scoring at least three goals in each match. In the Champions League, they are both on zero points after the group stage openers. Juve strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala were largely anonymous in a 3-0 loss at Barcelona on Tuesday, while Napoli lost at Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 the following day.
Juventus defender Mattia De Sciglio is likely to be absent on Sunday from the visit to Sassuolo after injuring his right ankle against Barcelona. Fellow defender Giorgio Chiellini, forward Mario Mandzukic and midfielder Sami Khedira could also be sidelined.
Napoli hosts newly promoted Benevento. Also on Sunday, AC Milan will hope to bounce back from last weekend’s 4-1 defeat to Lazio with a win at home to Udinese. —By Daniella Matar in Milan. FRANCE
Paris Saint-Germain has been far too strong for all of its opponents but faces its stiffest test so far against Lyon this weekend. PSG and its devastating attacking trident of Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar have scored 10 goals in their last two games, including a 5-0 routing of Celtic in the Champions league.
PSG, which extended its perfect record to five league wins last weekend, will be up against tougher competition when a rejuvenated Lyon travels to the Parc des Princes on Sunday. Still unbeaten this season, Lyon has made astute buying decisions in the summer transfer window in its quest to return to the Champions League next season. More than a dozen players including Alexandre Lacazette and Sergi Darder left, but their departures have been compensated as Lyon has rebuilt a solid squad with limited funds. The midfield has been strengthened with the arrival of Pape Cheikh Diop and Tanguy Ndombele while former Real Madrid forward Mariano Diaz has been enjoying a promising start with four goals in five games.
Defending champion Monaco, which was humiliated at Nice 4-0 last week, is looking to recover against promoted Strasbourg.