Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Weekend Boxset: No time to Sky

Any one of six teams could be top of the Premier League come Sunday night, a position they’ll hold across the international break.

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

All times are UK


Championship: Stoke City v West Bromwich Albion
19.45 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event
Ten games in to the new Championship season and you could say that things are starting to take shape. I wouldn’t, but you could. The Baggies regained top spot in the table in midweek, cruising to a 4-0 win away to Cardiff in a game where their goalkeeper didn’t have a save to make. Stoke have had a decent enough start to the season despite having cleared out a large portion of their squad in the summer, now that their Premier League parachute payments have come to an end. With players like Jon Obi Mikel, James McClean and Sam Vokes now off the payroll, Michael O’Neill now has the chance to reshape the squad without the expensive additions of his predecessors. Having made some eye-watering financial losses in recent seasons, the Potters now appear to be cutting their cloth more accordingly. Having sold Nathan Collins to Burnley, they’ve replaced him at fraction of the price with Ben Wilmot from Watford. Their fifth place in the table is largely down to their four wins from five at home, which sets this game up perfectly as no one in the Championship has a better away record than West Brom. GS


Premier League: Manchester United v Everton
12.30 on BT Sport 1
Cristiano Ronaldo’s injury-time goal may have won the points for United against Villarreal in the Champions League on Wednesday but it didn’t settle the unquiet waters around boss Ole Gunnar Solskaer. This was a rematch of the Europa League Final and despite having a superior squad, United have, once again, laboured against Unai Emery’s side. It is said that individual brilliance is covering up the shortcomings of the coach and that the players are vibing through the season. But Ole still have many friends. As journalist and United fan, John Brewin tweeted, “Most United fans know he’s not up to it, but admitting that lessens Top Red status. You cannot betray a legend.” Meanwhile, on Merseyside, things are still a bit odd with Everton despite their good start to the season. Rafa Benitez team are on the same points as their opponents and while it may be a bit weird, hanging with their neighbour’s ex, it seems to be working out so far. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is still crook but Richarlison may return to boost the Toffees’ attack. TD

Premier League: Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal
17.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
Were it not for a stubborn Palace side, Brighton could have gone into this weekend top of the table. As it was it took an injury time equaliser from Neal Maupay to salvage a point in a fractious derby. Those dropped points might have cost Graham Potter the Manager of the Month award for September, which now looks most likely to be heading to his opposite number, Mikel Arteta. While such trinkets don’t really carry too much meaning (Jose Mourinho won one of them, last season) the fact that an Arsenal head coach hasn’t won the award for six years shows that the side has struggled to maintain any kind of form for a long time. The turnaround in performances from August to September, deserves to be recognised. Having given the rest of the Premier League a three game head start, Arteta’s suitability as Arsenal manager has been questioned and heaped criticism on the club’s summer transfer business, including the eyebrow-raising £50 million the Gunners’ forked out for Ben White. Since his summer move to North London, Brighton fans have retconned his contribution to their club from being their player of the season down to “our third best centre back”. Whether the young England defender proves to be worth the outlay, only time will tell, but having got over Covid in August, he’s started in each of Arsenal’s September wins and looks to be confidently growing into his new role. GS

La Liga: Atlético Madrid v Barcelona
20.00 on LaLigaTV
Expect a game lacking confidence but with plenty of desire to make amends. A string of poor performances and underwhelming to downright disastrous results are pushing Barca boss Ronald Koeman closer to the exit door. The latest being a 3-0 reverse to Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday. Not even the goal-scoring emotional return of Ansu Fati from long term injury against Granada can lighten the mood at the Camp Nou. That said, Koeman’s place may be secure for a while longer as the cash strapped Catalans may baulk at the pay-off require to dislodge the Dutchman. That, and I suspect that president Joan Laporta does not know with whom to replace him. Under optimal circumstances, this should be a home win. But things are not exactly optimal at Atleti. Diego Simeone’s side have found themselves needing injury-time point savers or winners on no less than five occasions this season. They lost their first match of the season last weekend to Alavés and struggled against an admittedly very good if unlucky Milan side on Tuesday. TD


Ligue 1: Rennes v PSG
12.00 on BT Sport 1
It’s eight straight wins in the league, for Paris and an unbeaten start to the Champions League. Last Tuesday’s win over Manchester City was particularly significant insofar as it was Leo Messi’s first goal for the club. The 34-year-old has struggled with an injury and his reaction to being hooked in the last league game against Lyon suggested beef between him and coach Pochettino. However, his goal and willingness to act as draught excluder behind a defensive wall, during the City game, suggests that the six-time Ballon D’Or winner is happy to get stuck in. Rennes have had a difficult start to the season, losing to Angers, Reims and Marseille without scoring. However, they bounced back with a 6-0 win against Clermont and a point at Bordeaux. They also managed a point against Spurs which is OK, I guess, and a win last night against Vitesse in the Conference. Alas, their flying winger, Belgian international Jérémy Doku, won’t be fit. The 19-year-old, who is being tracked by all the sexy clubs, has been out for five games with a hamstring injury and is not due to return until next week. TD

Premier League: Liverpool v Manchester City
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
The point Liverpool clung on to last week against Brentford is the only thing that separates them from a chasing pack of five teams at the top of the table, a pack that includes the champions City. Having got the better of a very dangerous Chelsea side at Stamford Bridge last weekend, the big games just keep on coming for Pep’s men. While a win here will throw down an important marker in the Premier League, the midweek 2-0 loss to PSG in the competiton they really want to win, will still sting. They are almost certain to progress from their group, despite that defeat, as RB Leipzig are so abject right now, but they still need to produce some kind of performance against decent opposition to convince others that it’s not the same old story of City in Europe. Liverpool on the other hand appear to be finding life a lot easier in a tougher group, breezing to a 5-1 win in Porto with all their three man attack getting on the scoresheet. City’s victory here last season was emphatic but also their first at Anfield since 2003. While another win is unlikely to see them finish another season 17 points clear of Klopp’s side, getting the better of their main rivals in consecutive weekends should open the path to a fourth title in five seasons for Guardiola. GS

Serie A: Atalanta v Milan
19.45 on BT Sport 1
As Terry alluded to above, Milan were unfortunate in their midweek Champions League fixture against Atlético Madrid - their first home game in the competition in almost eight years. They were so unfortunate they’ve lodged a formal complaint against Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir who missed a handball in the build up to Atléti’s injury-time-winning penalty decision. Atalanta’s 1-0 win against Young Boys was much more straightforward, if unspectacular, but they know they have tougher tests ahead with back-to-back games against Manchester United coming up. Having been the top scorers in Serie A for the past three seasons, Atalanta have made a slow start to this campaign, by their standards, with just eight goals in the first six games. That suggests they might struggle against a Milan side who are unbeaten domestically and have conceded just three goals in their six. That defensive strength has seen the side climb to second in the early table, just behind 100% Napoli, and earned an England recall for centre back Fikayo Tomori, who has played in every games for the Rossoneri having made his loan move from Chelsea permanent in the summer. GS

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry and Graham

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