Weekend Boxset: Cities and Uniteds



It's United v City this weekend. It's also City v City and United v United, and a load of other very watchable games too.

Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It's the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.

All times are GMT

Friday

Premier League: Leeds United v West Ham United
20.00 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
David Moyes is creating a decent side at West Ham, one that can give a game to anyone in the division. A series of strong displays in October saw them beat Leicester, draw against City and Spurs, and lead for the majority of the first half against the champions Liverpool. They followed that with three wins from three in November taking them up to fifth in the table. Their 3-1 defeat to Manchester United last weekend was harsh. Having dominated the first half, a ball going out of play was missed by the assistant referee and the VAR and lead to Paul Pogba's equaliser a sparked a comeback. Like the Hammers, Leeds also come into this games on the back of a 3-1 defeat in which they took an early lead against Chelsea. A win for Bielsa's side will see them go level on points with the Hammers. GS


Saturday

Championship: Cardiff City v Swansea City
12.30 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event
Unsurprisingly, the top three positions in the Championship are currently held by the parachute payment loaded sides that came down from the Premier League in the summer. If anyone is going to break into that group, it looks most likely to be either of these sides. Having started December nine points behind Swansea, Neil Harris's side could close the gap to just one point if Cardiff can get a win here. The Bluebirds are on a run four consecutive league wins with striker Kieffer Moore In top form. In Wales, there's still no indication of when fans will be allowed to return to stadiums. Both clubs along with Wrexham, the Welsh Rugby Union and Glamorgan cricket club have signed an open letter to the Welsh government pleading for them to reconsider their stance on letting fans back in. The Cardiff City Chief Executive Ken Choo has also invited First Minister Mark Drakeford to the stadium to see for himself the safety measures the club can employ to protect returning fans. GS


Premier League: Manchester United v Manchester City
17.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
If you're like me, you're still adjusting to the time-shift in the league table: it's getting near Christmas, so we must be almost halfway through the season - the top three must be the contenders for the title and the bottom three must be favourites to go down. These sides sit sixth and seventh respectively but have only played 10 games so far and while they're off the pace and hardly looking their best they certainly aren't out of the race. United's exit from the Champions League in midweek was an embarrassment, losing at home to a Leipzig side they had beaten 5-0 away just a few weeks ago seems to encapsulate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team right now. City's only joy against United last season came in their favoured Caraboa Cup, with Pep's side losing both league fixtures against United for the first time in a decade. Sadly, as Manchester is in the highest tier of Covid restrictions, there won't be any fans present but with both sides looking for a bit continuity in the league their should be enough at stake to make it a proper derby. GS


La Liga: Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
20.00 on LaLigaTV
It's been a dark time for the Empire but sunlit uplands are on the horizon. Real Madrid’s winless run of four games came to an end last week after a hard-fought 1-0 win at Sevilla thanks to an own goal from the home side’s ‘keeper Yassine Bounou. Defensive stalwarts, Danny Carvajal and Sergio Ramos are back from injury and midfielder Fede Valverde is expected to return for this game. Karim Benzema put Borussia Mönchengladbach to the sword on Wednesday with a brace to bring to a successful conclusion, a bizarre Champions League group. Coach Zinedine Zidane can allow himself a brief period of celebration. That is until the weekend and the small matter of the Madrid derby. Atleti are the new leaders of La Liga and have the pedigree to keep it that way. Diego Simeone’s team are undefeated in the league and have conceded only 2 (two) goals in 10 matches played. They’re also the league’s second top scorers. Top man up front is João Félix who with five goals and two assists has almost eclipsed his numbers from the 27 games he played last season. The lads coming good and Atleti are all the better for it. TD


Sunday

FA Women's Super League: Manchester City v Arsenal
14.30 on BT Sport 1
This season is the first in which the WSL has three Champions League spots up for grabs. Given the way most seasons have gone recently it looked certain that they would go to the three sides that have dominated since it returned to being a winter league. City, Arsenal and Chelsea have been, by some measure, better than everyone else in the league, and titles have generally been decided in the few games between them. This season however has seen the emergence of Manchester United who, having taken a point off City and beaten Arsenal, sit top of the table. City will be without US international Rose Lavelle after she picked up a minor knee injury in their win over Everton. City have struggled more than rivals this season and have yet to win back to back games in the league but have already secured last season's FA Cup this season (if you see what I mean) having beaten Arsenal in the semi-finals. GS


Bundesliga: Bayer Leverkusen v Hoffenheim
17.00 on BT Sport 1
Despite losing Havartz to Chelsea and Volland to Monaco, B04 have gone for strength to strength. With Havartz departure the way was paved for 17-year-old Florian Wirtz as the next wunderkind to sell to a Premier League club in a couple of years. But that’s not the story of Leverkusen’s success. Coach Peter Bosz has worked hard on the defence and has four first-team quality central defenders from which to pick. Bosz is well known for setting teams up to sacrifice defence in favour of goals; however, no team in the Bundesliga has conceded fewer goals than Leverkusen so far this season and this is why they should be taken seriously as title challengers. Hoffenheim’s 3-1 win against Augsburg last Monday was their first league victory since they beat Bayern way back in September. Rookie coach Dieter Hoeness has some decent attacking players at his disposal such as Florian Grillitsch, Andrej Krameric and Ihlas Bebou. However, their defence needs a bit of work with the third-worst expected goals against in the league. TD


Ligue 1: Paris Saint Germain v Lyon
20.00 on BT Sport 1
Given the battle between the league and its main broadcaster Mediapro, coverage of this match may be pulled. Mediapro have refused to pay their most recent installment of the TV rights payment believing they have the right to a discount due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. The story breaking as this newsletter is being put together is that Telefoot Chaine - the channel Mediapro set up at the start of the season is shutting down. There is talk that Canal+ will step in to take the rights but at considerably less than the sum offered by Mediapro. The result of all this is French football could be on the edge of a financial crisis similar to the collapse of ITV Digital in England or Kirch in Germany. Where this leaves fans of French football is anyone's guess but Telefoot hold the rights to four of the five TV packages, so disruption is inevitable. There was plenty enough drama in PSG's midweek Champions League fixture: a match they started on Tuesday evening and ended on Wednesday after the first attempt to play the game was abandoned when both teams walked off the field in protest at the actions of the fourth official. Not that the overnight delay put the Parisiens off their stride: they won 5-1 with Neymar scoring a hat-trick. Lyon are in great shape right now, on a run of four straight wins and should provide a stiff test. Worth watching, if we can. GS


Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry and Graham
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