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: Bit late for fireworks

Top of the table clashes in England, France and Italy are highlights of this weekend, but the big story will be at Goodison Park where Everton look to start regaining the points they lost after breaching the Premier League's finance rules.

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

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All times are UK


Ligue 1: Paris Saint-Germain v Monaco
20.00 on TNT Sports 3
By the time we get to the other side of the third international break, the leagues are starting to settle into their pattern for the season. The genuine title challengers have risen to the top and those who surpassed expectations in the opening weeks are beginning to slip away (Girona is the obvious exception to this). It’s also when the trends start to become apparent. In Ligue 1 the trend is low-scoring and missing opportunities: less than 2.5 goals per match at an xG of 2.86 (by comparison, the Bundesliga is at 3.6 goals from an xG of 3.5). Luckily for us these are the only teams in the league that buck that trend. PSG’s star man Kylian Mbappe leads the way in the scoring charts and took his number of career goals to 300 during the international break with a stat-padding hat-trick for France against Gibraltar. Of course, 27 of those goals were for Monaco, mostly in their title winning season of 2016/17. PSG’s new wonderkid Warren Zaire Emery also scored in the Gibraltar game but the 17-year-old’s debut for France was cut short through an injury that will keep him out for the rest of the year. With skipper Marquinhos also picking up an injury on international duty there’s a hole in PSG’s central midfield that Adi Hutter’s side will look to exploit. However they have their own problems in midfield with Youssouf Fofana missing the game having picked up three yellow cards within a run of ten games. With central players unavailable, both sides could approach this one with more caution than usual. Let’s hope they don’t. GS


A-League: Sydney v Western Sydney Wanderers
08.45 on TNT Sports 1
Last time Sydney featured in the Boxset your humble correspondent sniffly predicted a change of manager would do nothing to arrest the Sky Blues’ abysmal start to the season. Ufuk Talay’s side then proceeded to stick five past a much-fancied Adelaide side in South Australia in a somewhat damning indictment of former boss Steve Corica. Talay has had the luxury of an international break to work with his new charges ahead of an impossible-to-call Sydney Derby. Wanderers may go into this weekend top of the table but this is largely thanks to superior goal difference after thrashing Western United. Marko Rudan’s side have been similar to most of the rest of the top six: capable of outplaying any side but maddeningly inconsistent. Sydney probably have the stronger starting XI but less depth, and Wanderers’ Brandon Borello is one of the more lethal forwards in the competition. The Socceroo has never scored against the Sky Blues and will fancy his chances against a shaky defence, but with Talay still bedding his philosophy into the side, you could make a case for almost any result bar a goalless stalemate. Expect some form of fireworks with your morning cornflakes. GA

Premier League: Manchester City v Liverpool
12.30 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
Part one of the Manchester v Merseyside double header begins with a full-on, no holds barred, top of the table summit meeting. It’s also a game with some additional narrative in view of the whopping ten-point deduction imposed on Liverpool’s great rivals, Everton, about more elsewhere. English football is alive with discussions on how City face 115 counts of financial sustainability for which they have not been nor, let’s face it, are likely to be punished. The apparent injustice may prove to be damaging to City in the longer term. After all, what’s the point of sportswashing if everyone thinks you’re a cheat. Some Everton fans have organised a plane protest in time for this game which Sky may or may not show depending on how willing they are to upset City’s owners. In amongst all this will be a football match. The danger is that big games like this can fall flat but so far this season we’ve seen enough vulnerabilities in both teams to suggest that there could be some chaos. Liverpool performed very well to dispatch Brentford 3-0 but were disastrous against Luton and suffered an embarrassing defeat at Toulouse in the Europa League. City on the other hand, while well worth their top spot, allowed themselves to be dragged into an NBA match against Chelsea the weekend before last. City coach Pep Guardiola will be anxious to avoid a repeat and we can expect some tactical discipline. As a neutral I hope that strategy fails because they’re fantastic when frail and that frailty brings out the fun, especially when the mercurial Jeremy Doku is on the ball. TD

Bundesliga: Eintracht Frankfurt v Stuttgart
17.30 on Sky Sports Mix
Despite a recent two game losing snap, Stuttgart have been one of the most exciting teams to watch this season. Coach Sebastian Hoeness took over towards the back end of last season and kept the team up after a convincing relegation play-off win against Hamburg. This season his team have taken the league by storm. This is mostly down to the phenomenal goal scoring form of Serhou Guirassy who has found the net 15 times in the nine games he’s played this season. The Guinea international has always been a solid striker but this burst of form has come from nowhere. Interestingly his personal xG for the season so far is 8.3 which is still an impressive figure. But they’re not a one-man team; Deniz Undav and Chris Furich have caught the eye. As has Dan Axel Zagadou in defence who never really settled despite showing great promise at Dortmund. The team’s expected points (xPts) puts them in one place higher in the table than their actual position of second, so they’re no flash in the pan and we can expect them to give Eintracht a thorough examination. The Frankfurt club’s season so far is better than their league position of seventh suggests. Die Adler have only lost once all season in the Bundesliga. The trouble is they could do with converting some of their draws to wins. Last matchday’s 2-2 draw at Werder typifies their season. If they can find that extra level then they could push for a Champions League spot, especially if the unexpected early front runners, specifically Hoffenheim and of course Stuttgart, start to drop off in form. A win for either side lays down a big marker. TD


Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa
14.00 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
Ange Postecoglu deservedly picked up the Premier League Manager of the month award for October (making it three from three for the season) but Unai Emery must have been very close in the reckoning. Of course the value of such trinkets is questionable - Erik ten Hag is most likely to pick up this month’s. In the 12 month’s since he took over from *checks notes* Steven Gerrard, Unai Emery has done what so many have failed to do and given hope back to the club’s fans. Last season he led Villa to their first top half finish in over a decade and this weekend will see them break into the top four should they win here. Over the international break Spurs have had time to stew on their loses to Wolves and Chelsea. With City and Newcastle to come over the next two weekends, the need to bounce back here puts the pressure firmily on the home side. The loss of Maddison to injury has been a huge blow to Postecoglu’s side but they welcome back Romero and Udogie from suspension, though Yves Bissouma is suspended for a second time having picked up another yellow in the Wolves game. Every time we’ve had Villa in the Boxset this season there have been a hatful of goals: they beat West Ham 4-1 and Brighton 6-1 but were on the end of a 5-1 pasting at the hands of Newcastle on the opening day. Everything says this game should be a feast of goals - and we all know what that usually means. GS

Premier League: Everton v Manchester United
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
Everton aren’t happy - they’re really not happy. From the boardroom to the fan groups, their ire can be felt across the media, and when the weekend rolls around, we’ll all feel it. I say weekend, as the first protest will not be at Goodison, but at The Etihad where City will be hosting Liverpool (see above). Everton supporter group, The 1878s, plan to fly a plane over the ground trailing behind it a special message for the Premier League. A bigger TV audience is being cited in some quarters, but the fact that Everton, guilty of a single breach of the Premier League’s financial rules have been sanctioned, whereas City, potentially in breach of over a hundred, have received none, must play a part. Back at Goodison, there’ll be flags, banners and placards highlighting (alleged) Premier League corruption - expect an electric atmosphere. For Everton boss, Sean Dyche, this will certainly play to his advantage. All week he’ll have been telling his players: “everyone is against us”, “they’ve taken points from us”, “but will they beat us?”. Without a loss in their last four competitive games, Everton are a team that can overcome the ten-point deduction. Ranged against them is a United side fresh from a narrow win over Luton and an embarrassing capitulation in Copenhagen. So fragile are Ten Hag’s men that there’s a real chance they could shatter in this environment. Unmissable; expect a spectacle. JB

Serie A: Juventus v Inter
19.45 on TNT Sports 1
Depending on which games you count, this is the 250th official Derby d’Italia. With Milan losing ground in the table, this pair have opened a gap between themselves and the rest. That Inter are top is no surprise given some of the football they’ve been playing but Juventus are keeping pace despite the recent litany of controversy surrounding the club, which is testament to the tactical nous of Massimiliano Allegri. The last six months have seen their sporting director and two players given long term bans, all for entirely different reasons. Juve go into this trailing their oppoents by two points but on a run of five straight wins, and have conceded just one goal in their last seven. Their packed midfield could be missing Manuel Locatelli, who remains a fitness doubt having pulled out of the Italy squad with a cracked rib. The only defeats either side have suffered in the league so far this season came at the hands of those perennial disruptors Sassuolo (who sit 15th having only won one other games this season). Inter are playing with a swagger, typified by Federico DiMarco’s goal from the halfway line against a pretty decent Frosinone side, in the last game before break. They also go into this without being too distracted by their upcoming midweek trip to Benfica, having already booked their place in the next stage of the Champions League with two group games to go. If Simeone Inzaghe’s side can open up a five point lead at the top this weekend they may not be caught. GS

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham, Jan and Gary

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