A smallish weekend preview

There is one game that sticks out across Europe this weekend and it is the clash at the Emirates which seems to be pointing to an away win. Meanwhile in Italy, Sinisa Mohajlovic takes on Roma as Bologna look to lift themselves away from the drop zone against the conquerors of Chelsea.

Arsenal v Manchester United, Premier League, November 8, 2008

Can the Gunners return to form against United?

The English football weekend kicks off with a match between the two teams who have been most successful in Premier League history.

Going into the game, Arsenal are under a whole load of pressure after a difficult week and to compound matters they will be missing some key players. Since last week’s 4-4 draw with local rivals Spurs, the Gunners have lost at Stoke and drawn in the Champions League with Fenerbahce.

Arsene Wenger’s side have come in for a whole raft of criticism since their visit to the Britannia stadium where Arsenal’s defence and goalkeeper failed to deal with Rory Delap’s long throws and succumbed to a 2-1 defeat.

The defeat to Stoke also left Arsenal without Theo Walcott and Emmanuel Adebayor due to injury and Robin van Persie who was sent off for a needless exchange with Thomas Sorensen.

November is a difficult month for the Gunners with games against Manchester City, Aston Villa and Chelsea whilst they are still not certain of progressing to the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
This clash with United is massively important for confidence for the rest of the season and could well spell the end of any Arsenal title challenge. Wenger’s much-fancied side have already lost this season to Hull, Stoke and Fulham and can ill-afford a defeat to United.

In contrast, Manchester United come into this match in good shape having not lost a game since their defeat at Anfield in September. United’s attack really seems to be firing now and Dimitar Berbatov has settled well at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson will be keen to keep up the pressure on Liverpool and Chelsea at the top of the league and will relish another battle with Arsene Wenger. The form book points to United, but with all their problems this could be a could game to evaluate the progress of Arsenal’s young team.

101gg predicts: Arsenal 2 – Manchester United 2

Bologna v AS Roma, Serie A, November 8, 2008

New Bologna manager Sinisa Mihajlovic faces a baptism of fire against struggling Roma on Saturday night.
The former Inter Milan center back took over early this week and has his work cut out with Bologna struggling in Serie A. They are currently 19th having won just two games this season and have let in a whopping 19 goals in 10 matches.

Mihajlovic outlined the importance of this game when he was unveiled as manager: “I am confident we will avoid the drop but we must start to get points, beginning with our game against Roma. A victory against Roma would give us a big morale boost.”

Roma, who in the last few seasons have challenged at the top of Serie A, have had a disastrous start to the campaign. They sit just two places above their opponents in 17th and questions have been asked over the future of manager Luciano Spalletti.

They did however cause arguably the shock of the Champions League week by seeing off Chelsea 3-1 at home in a result that could kick-start their season.

Following the win, Spalletti said: “With this win the lads will have a further motivation to give continuity to our results, Against Chelsea they showed the quality that we have displayed in the past. Now we are more confident of ourselves although considering our situation in the Serie A standings it’s always important not to be too calm.”

There is no doubt Roma have enough quality, will the Champions League win give them the confidence to improve their league form?

101gg predicts: Bologna 1 – Roma 2