Man City v Arsenal and Real Betis v Atletico Madrid feature in our games of the week

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

We are almost at the business end of a splendid season in the top five leagues across Europe. With the additional cup fixtures needing extra attention, variables like squad rotation also come into the equation while tackling a game in the weeks and months ahead.

Meanwhile, football fans are treated to an increased number of games across all competitions. The Champions League is just around the corner but a host of mouthwatering fixtures await us this weekend, as we count the days until European football’s grandest competition returns.

As always, we take a look at the best fixtures across the top five leagues in Europe.

LA LIGA

Real Betis will make sure Atletico Madrid work hard for their win

Real Betis will make sure Atletico Madrid work hard for their win.

Fixture: Real Betis v Atletico Madrid

Where: Estadio Benito Villamarin

When: Sunday

Time: 18:15

With Barcelona hosting an upbeat Valencia and Real Madrid taking on dark horses Alaves, choosing the best game in La Liga is not an easy task.

However, Betis hosting Atletico should stand atop the podium, mainly due to the contrasting styles of the two teams and the fact that the hosts are in desperate need of a win.

When the two teams met earlier this season, Los Rojiblancos edged out Betis marginally. Diego Simeone’s men are on an 18-game unbeaten run, having avoided defeat since their 2-0 loss to Celta Vigo on matchday three. Betis have won just one game in their last five, despite dominating most of them.

Antoine Griezmann and Giovanni Lo Celso will be key for their respective teams in this key clash.

PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester City are in very much need of a win against Arsenal

Manchester City are very much in need of a win against Arsenal.

Fixture: Manchester City v Arsenal

Where: Etihad Stadium

When: Sunday

Time: 20:30

A blockbuster fixtures awaits us in the Premier League this weekend as the defending champions take on Arsenal in a bid to overcome the midweek defeat against Newcastle United.

Unai Emery’s men have had a mixed start to 2019 as they followed a 2-0 win over London rivals Chelsea with a defeat against Manchester United which led to their exit from the FA Cup.

It does not help Arsenal’s case that City hold a 13-3 aggregate in the last five games between the two teams in all competitions.

Both need a win and it all comes down to who wants it more. Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling will have to be on top of their game to see off Arsenal, as the visitors hope that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will set off the fireworks.

SERIE A

AS Roma Turkish forward Cengiz Under

AS Roma Turkish forward Cengiz Under

Fixture: Roma v AC Milan

Where: Stadio Olimpico

When: Sunday

Time: 23:30

It’s number four taking on number five in the Serie A this weekend. Roma have been the superior side in the last five games between the two clubs, winning three of them. However, Milan edged the Giallorossi 2-1 earlier this season, making this fixture anyone’s game.

Both teams are unbeaten in their last four games but were winless in their previous fixture in the Serie A. Roma shared points with Atalanta in a six-goal thriller, whereas Napoli and Milan played out a goalless draw.

A win for Roma could move them into a Champions League spot and a draw or Milan win will do little to disturb the table.

New signing Krzysztof Piatek will be looking to kick-start his Milan career in inspiring fashion as Edin Dzeko will be hoping to build on his brace against Atalanta.

BUNDESLIGA

FBL-GER-CUP-LEVERKUSEN-BAYERN-MUNICH

Fixture: Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich

Where: BayArena

When: Saturday

Time: 18:30

Bayern Munich head to the BayArena on Saturday as they attempt to extend their seven-game winning run in the Bundesliga.

Leverkusen have experienced mixed fortunes, but they did well to follow up their 1-0 defeat to Borussia Mochengladbach with a thumping 3-0 win of Wolfsburg.

Niko Kovac’s side cruised to a comfortable 3-1 win when the two teams met earlier this season and they will start as outright favourites here.

Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz feature in the midfield battle as Robert Lewandowski and Kevin Volland will fight it out in the final third to assert supremacy.

LIGUE 1

Nabil Fekir

Nabil Fekir will be called upon to shine for Lyon as they take on the champions.

Fixture: Lyon v Paris Saint-Germain

Where: Parc Olympique Lyonnias

When: Monday

Time: 00:00(+1)

Lyon will be hoping to be the first team to beat PSG in Ligue 1 this season, but if the result from the reverse fixture is anything to go by, the hosts have a herculean task ahead of them.

PSG stomped past Lyon, scoring five and keeping a clean sheet. Kylian Mbappe scored four of the goals and, with Neymar sidelined, all eyes will be on the Frenchman on Sunday night (Monday morning UAE time).

Lyon are undefeated in their last four games and will be looking up to Memphis Depay and Nabil Fekir for inspiration to overcome the champions.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praises Man Utd comeback but laments poor start

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United delivered an emphatic response to anyone who questioned their battling qualities after a stirring fightback against Burnley.

Solskjaer had overseen eight consecutive victories since taking interim charge last month although the honeymoon period looked to be coming to an end when Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood gave the Clarets a shock 2-0 lead.

It was the first time United had trailed under Solskjaer but Paul Pogba netted from the penalty spot with three minutes to go before Victor Lindelof struck in stoppage time, meaning they remain unbeaten under the Norwegian.

Solskjaer was slightly frustrated his troops could not find a winner at the death but said: “The way they came back was fantastic, so of course you’re happy with the point.


“Then again we could have got three. We just ran out of time towards the end and we started too late with the urgency that we needed, that’s a learning curve.








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Man United interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looking to the future at Old Trafford

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Man United focus will always be on winning trophies

“But now you’ve got your answer: can they come back if they go one or two down? I’m very happy with the response.”


United lacked the usual sparkle that has been a hallmark of the Solskjaer era so far, which was not lost on the former United striker, who made five changes to the team that overcame Arsenal in the FA Cup last Friday.


Solskjaer suggested their red-hot form under his stewardship might have contributed to a lacklustre first half, in which they dominated possession but failed to create many clear cut openings.


He added: “The danger of winning might be that you think that what we’ve done before helps or gives us the right to start off on 90 per cent because we’re winning one or two nil.


“But you have to start properly in each game and today we didn’t start off well enough to cause Burnley enough problems.


“We know they’re well organised, we know they’re happy if we keep crossing the ball so we needed more tempo and more urgency in the play and play our way into the box more.


“In the second half at times I thought we did fantastic in that respect but Tom (Heaton) is a good keeper and they headed the ball away when they crossed it but they found a way in the end.”


United’s evening ended on a possible sour note as midfielder Pogba was seen limping through the mixed zone after appearing to take a knock.


Provided by Press Association Sport



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Solskjaer hails character of players despite winning run coming to an end

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United delivered an emphatic response to anyone who questioned their battling qualities after a stirring fightback against Burnley.

Solskjaer had overseen eight consecutive victories since taking interim charge last month although the honeymoon period looked to be coming to an end when Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood gave the Clarets a shock 2-0 lead.

It was the first time United had trailed under Solskjaer but Paul Pogba netted from the penalty spot with three minutes to go before Victor Lindelof struck in stoppage time, meaning they remain unbeaten under the Norwegian.

Solskjaer was slightly frustrated his troops could not find a winner at the death but said: “The way they came back was fantastic, so of course you’re happy with the point.

“Then again we could have got three. We just ran out of time towards the end and we started too late with the urgency that we needed, that’s a learning curve.

“But now you’ve got your answer: can they come back if they go one or two down? I’m very happy with the response.”

United lacked the usual sparkle that has been a hallmark of the Solskjaer era so far, which was not lost on the former United striker, who made five changes to the team that overcame Arsenal in the FA Cup last Friday.

Solskjaer suggested their red-hot form under his stewardship might have contributed to a lacklustre first half, in which they dominated possession but failed to create many clear cut openings.

He added: “The danger of winning might be that you think that what we’ve done before helps or gives us the right to start off on 90 per cent because we’re winning one or two nil.

“But you have to start properly in each game and today we didn’t start off well enough to cause Burnley enough problems.

“We know they’re well organised, we know they’re happy if we keep crossing the ball so we needed more tempo and more urgency in the play and play our way into the box more.

“In the second half at times I thought we did fantastic in that respect but Tom (Heaton) is a good keeper and they headed the ball away when they crossed it but they found a way in the end.”

United’s evening ended on a possible sour note as midfielder Pogba was seen limping through the mixed zone after appearing to take a knock.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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