Friday, 28 August 2015
Mourinho reaches milestone as Real Madrid & Juventus eye improvements
The Chelsea manager is set to take charge of his 100th home game in the Premier League, while the Serie A champions travel to Roma and Thomas Tuchel hopes to make history MILESTONE MADNESS AT STAMFORD BRIDGE
Chelsea finally managed to get a win on the board in this season’s Premier League courtesy of a hard-fought and dramatic 3-2 win at the Hawthorns last Sunday. Now, with that welcome victory under his belt, Jose Mourinho will be confident of another win at home to Crystal Palace this weekend, in what will be his 100th Premier League home game.
So far, the Portuguese coach has racked up an impressive 76 wins in his league fixtures at Stamford Bridge, while losing only one (vs Sunderland 2-1 in April 2014). The clash with the Eagles will also be Mourinho’s 200th Premier League game overall and, come the final whistle on Saturday, he is already assured of registering the most points accrued by a manager in the league after 200 games (currently 453 points from 199 games).
However, the milestone madness doesn’t end there, with Chelsea also on the cusp of hitting 200 goals on home soil in Premier League London derbies (they currently have 199, as do Arsenal). As for visitors Palace, Alan Pardew’s record of winning four of his last seven league games against Chelsea as a manager will boost his hopes of a shock result.
Current table-toppers Manchester City host new-boys Watford with the aim of maintaining their 100 per cent start to the new season. The game will also see the in-form Sergio Aguero look to extend his run of scoring in each of his last five home league outings (seven goals scored in total). Manuel Pellegrini's side have won 14 and lost just one of their last 18 Premier League home games, winning the last eight in a row. However, the fact that Watford currently have the edge over City in their 12 league meetings, winning five to City’s four, means the league-leaders shouldn’t take anything for granted.
The red half of Manchester have also enjoyed a decent start to the new season, with seven points from a possible nine. However, Garry Monk’s upwardly mobile Swansea did win both league clashes between the sides last season. Striker Bafetimbi Gomis has now netted eight in his last nine league games and could become the first Swansea player to score in each of their opening four games of a Premier League season.
This weekend also sees Arsenal travel to Newcastle on the back of some fine away form, taking 19 points from a possible 21 on the road. However, having failed to score in five of their last nine league fixtures, Arsene Wenger’s men need to find their shooting boots. Liverpool host West Ham on Saturday - a side who have now gone 42 top-tier games without securing a victory at Anfield. Liverpool have won nine and lost just two of their last 14 home league matches.
BENITEZ HOPING FOR REAL IMPROVEMENT
Barcelona got off to a winning start in La Liga last weekend courtesy of a 1-0 win away at Athletic Bilbao. Luis Suarez was the hero in that game, which also saw Lionel Messi miss from the penalty spot. Against Malaga this weekend, Barca boss Luis Enrique will be looking for more attacking potency from his superstar charges.
Just one of Barca's last 19 league meetings with Los Boquerones ended in defeat (W16 D2). However, that one loss did come at the Camp Nou in February of this year (0-1), while Barca have failed to find the back of the net in both of their last two games against Malaga. Indeed, Javi Garcia’s side were the only team to stop Barcelona from scoring in both league matches last season.
Rafa Benitez’s Real Madrid tenure got off to a disappointing start with a goalless draw at promoted side Sporting Gijon. However, at home to Real Betis this Saturday the Spanish giants have a chance to rectify their opening day flop against a side who have always struggled at the Bernabeu. Betis have failed to win any of their last 12 league away clashes with Real Madrid while, overall, Los Verdiblancos have only won only one of their last 23 away Liga matches (D5 L17).
Elsewhere, Real’s rivals Atletico Madrid travel to Sevilla on the back of a narrow opening day victory against Las Palmas. Los Rojiblancos are unbeaten in their last four trips to the Sanchez Pizjuan (W2 D2), last losing there in October 2010. However, they will face a strong Sevilla side who have scored at least twice in each of their last six home games (W4 D1 L1).
BAYERN EAGER FOR TOP SPOT RETURN
Last weekend saw German champions Bayern Munich knocked off the top of the Bundesliga for the first time since matchday four of the 2014-15 campaign, as Dortmund sit top on goal difference.
Bayern will be confident of making it three wins out of three in the Bundesliga this Sunday, however, when they host Bayer Leverkusen. The Munich giants have lost just one of their last 27 competitive home games against Leverkusen (W21 D5) while they haven’t lost a game in the first half of a Bundesliga season since October 2012, although that defeat did come against none other than Leverkusen.
Leverkusen are enjoying a fine start to the season, winning their first two games of the new campaign and booking their place in the Champions League group stages courtesy of a midweek win over Lazio. They’ve also racked up 1,125 points and 322 wins since the beginning of 1996-97, figures only Bayern can better (1,391 points and 420 wins). g a fine start to the season, winning their first two games of the new campaign and booking their place in the Champions League group stages courtesy of a midweek win over Lazio. They’ve also racked up 1,125 points and 322 wins since the beginning of 1996-97, figures only Bayern can better (1,391 points and 420 wins).
Bundesliga leaders Dortmund host Hertha Berlin on Sunday with Thomas Tuchel hoping to become the first BVB boss ever to win his first three top-flight games. However, in Hertha, Tuchel & Co. will be facing a side who have claimed victory in two of their last three trips to Dortmund.
Hertha will also travel to the Westfalenstadion full of confidence, having picked up four points from their first two games, their joint-best ever start to a Bundesliga campaign.
WOUNDED JUVE LOOKING FOR ROMAN RELIEF
Serie A champions Juventus were brought right back down to earth on the opening day of the new season, with the all-conquering Turin giants beaten at home by Udinese. Now, Massimo Allegri faces a difficult journey to the capital to face fellow title-contenders Roma.
This clash will be the 163rd meeting in Serie A between the two, with Juve currently leading the head-to-head record by 77 wins to 37 (48 draws). Roma have won only one of their last 10 Serie A games against Juventus (3D 6L), with their last triumph coming back in February 2013.
Worryingly for manager Rudy Garcia, his side have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five league games, but they have never conceded in six consecutive Serie A fixtures under the French manager.
Another surprise defeat last weekend came in Florence where a new-look AC Milan side went down 2-0 to Fiorentina. This weekend Sinisa Mihajlovic’s charges can redeem themselves against Empoli at San Siro. The Rossoneri have won 12 of their 21 league meetings with Empoli, losing just two. Interestingly, both those wins came in Milan and both by a 1-0 scoreline, although the last of those victories came all the way back in 2007. Expect the hosts to secure all three points on Saturday evening.
PERFECT PSG FACE STERN TEST IN MONTE CARLO
French giants PSG have started the new Ligue 1 season superbly, with three wins out of three so far. At the weekend, Laurent Blanc’s gilt-edged side travel south to Monaco.
While the Parisians are enjoying a superb run of form which has seen them record their best-ever winning streak in Ligue 1 (12 wins), they have won none of their last 11 Ligue 1 games against Monaco (D8 L3), their longest current winless run against a top-flight side. Monaco have lost only one of their last 17 league games (W10 D6) so they are sure to give PSG a stern test on the south coast.
Buoyed by their 6-0 mauling of Troyes last time out, Michel’s Marseille side travel to Guingamp hoping to build on that fabulous victory. The omens are good for L’OM, who have won each of their last eight competitive games against Guingamp. While in Ligue 1, the side from Britanny have enjoyed just three victories in their last eight home clashes with Marseille (D2 L3).
One player who’ll be confident in getting amongst the goals again is striker Michy Batshuayi, who bagged two for Marseille against Troyes to make it four Ligue 1 braces in 2015 - more than any other player