B/R Experts' Big-Game Predictions, September 16-17
After a thrilling, goal-filled couple of days of European action, domestic football is back to take centre stage.
There are big games across the leagues, but the highlight is Chelsea's home clash with Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Our experts have been hard at work in a bid to pinpoint the results. Read on for their views.
Liverpool vs. Burnley
Suspended Sadio Mane will be a huge miss for Liverpool, but manager Jurgen Klopp must prove he has the nous to mastermind a win in such circumstances.
Whether you agreed with the red card or not after last weekend's boot in the face of Ederson, one thing you cannot defend is the way the Reds folded.
Playing against Manchester City with 10 men is not easy, but questions must be asked about Klopp's game-management, particularly after the side also threw away a win over Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League.
Liverpool are a good attacking team but now need consistency and resilience; they should not underestimate a Burnley side who begin the weekend one position above in the table. The Clarets already showed against Chelsea what can happen if they are not treated with respect.
Last season ended in a narrow 2-1 home win, and Burnley will make the Reds work hard for the points again.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Burnley
First goalscorer: Sam Vokes
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Swansea City
Harry Kane is bang in form, and Spurs are looking to make sure their Wembley Stadium hoodoo is dead and buried.
There was never any real doubt that this impressive bunch would eventually come good at the national stadium, but Wednesday's 3-1 success over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League has opened the door for Mauricio Pochettino's men to build some momentum.
Kane has scored six goals from his last four games for club and country and will look forward to the chance to extend the impressive record here. Millions of Fantasy Premier League managers around the world will no doubt be naming him as their captain in expectation of at least a couple of goals in this clash.
From a Swansea City angle, it will be interesting to see if Renato Sanches begins to show his class as he adapts to life in the Premier League. The club have fared better away from home so far this season.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Swansea City
First goalscorer: Harry Kane
Getafe vs. Barcelona
Barcelona's good start to the season has helped allay fans' fears they will be miles behind rivals Real Madrid; and with confidence flowing again, this is the type of fixture the Catalan side typically breeze through.
Getafe picked up their first win of the campaign last weekend, but they have little to trouble Barca with in attack, and let's face it, their defence isn't exactly as resolute as that of Juventus.
Nobody has been able to stop Lionel Messi yet this season—other than the opening-day woodwork—and that isn't going to change at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez. Expect a comfortable Barca win.
Prediction: Getafe 0-3 Barcelona
First goalscorer: Ousmane Dembele
Atletico Madrid vs. Malaga
Atletico Madrid have begun reasonably well, though they would have hoped for a couple of extra points. But Malaga are where they were expected to be after a disappointing summer: struggling, losing and failing to score goals.
It's likely they will head to Atleti with a defensive stance, hoping to frustrate and hold out as long as possible, but the home side have varied options in attack and are likely to find a way through eventually—even if they have failed to score in their last two games.
They also haven’t conceded in either of those, so at worst, they should have until the late stages of the game to breach Malaga's back line.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Malaga
First goalscorer: Fernando Torres
Bayern Munich vs. FSV Mainz 05
Last weekend the house kind of fell down around Bayern Munich; they lost at TSG Hoffenheim for the second successive season, Robert Lewandowski irritated his club's chief executive and Carlo Ancelotti was spuriously linked with a move to China.
In midweek, though, they found a Champions League tonic in the form of 10-man RSC Anderlecht, who they put to bed 3-0 thanks to goals from Lewandowski, Thiago Alcantara and Joshua Kimmich. That's what top clubs do: They bounce back from disappointment with an authoritative tone.
Expect FSV Mainz 05 to follow in the path of Anderlecht and suffer at the Allianz Arena.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-0 FSV Mainz 05
First goalscorer: Robert Lewandowski
Chelsea vs. Arsenal
It is difficult to give Arsenal much of a chance in this fixture, as their two away matches so far have ended in defeat to Stoke and Liverpool.
The game at Anfield was a huge embarrassment, but there were signs against Bournemouth that lessons had been learned.
Arsenal were more aggressive in the way their forward players pressed high up the pitch to win back possession, and the movement was much more like we expect from the Gunners.
However, setting the tone against Bournemouth is different from doing the same thing against Chelsea, and it remains to be seen how they will adapt to winning the ball back at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have been building confidence week by week and have won their last four matches on the spin. Alvaro Morata will be confident about finding space to convert more chances on Sunday.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal
First goalscorer: Alvaro Morata
Manchester United vs. Everton
This could be an afternoon when we realise just how good Manchester United's business was over the summer.
Wearing red will be Romelu Lukaku, the most feared striker in the Premier League right now. Wearing blue will be Wayne Rooney, the former United man whose move back to his boyhood club seems some distance from living up to his dreams.
It was the right move for Rooney—and United—to leave Old Trafford, but it will surely hurt the club's record goalscorer to share a pitch with Lukaku, the man seen as the Red Devils' future.
Lukaku has 10 goals in eight competitive appearances for United so far, having failed to score in just one match. The only aspect of the matchup that could work in favour of the Toffees is that Paul Pogba is sidelined, so the link-up play may be more limited.
Everton were terrible at Atalanta on Thursday night, being beaten 3-0 just days after losing at Spurs by the same scoreline.
They may have enjoyed an impressive transfer window but it seems they are seriously lacking cohesion and pace. This is likely to be another game when they struggle to get out of their own half.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Everton
First goalscorer: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid
This is the big clash of the weekend in La Liga. Eusebio Sacristan's Real Sociedad have started in terrific form and are joint-top with Barcelona, a 100 per cent record and in superb confidence.
Against that, they were in Europa League action on Thursday and will have to contend with juggling both competitions this season, which could work in Real Madrid's favour after they made numerous changes both last weekend and midweek.
Madrid also have a good recent record at the Anoeta Stadium, with Gareth Bale a figure of influence over the last couple of years.
Los Blancos are already four points behind Barcelona, who are sure to win this weekend, and already it's at the stage where they don't want to concede too much more ground.
Prediction: Real Sociedad 1-3 Real Madrid
First goalscorer: Gareth Bale
Sassuolo vs. Juventus
Looking to recover from their heavy Champions League defeat at the hands of Barcelona, a meeting with Sassuolo on Sunday might prove to be just the tonic for Juventus.
The Neroverdi have yet to win a Serie A game this season, drawing with Genoa and losing to both Torino and Atalanta under new boss Cristian Bucchi.
The coach has moved away from the 4-3-3 that made Sassuolo so dangerous in previous years, instead opting for a 3-5-2 system. He will also likely have to cope without the injured Domenico Berardi.
Juve still have a lengthy list of absentees, but Giorgio Chiellini and Mario Mandzukic are expected to return as manager Massimiliano Allegri continues with the same 4-3-1-2 system he used against Chievo last week.
Prediction: Sassuolo 1-3 Juventus
First goalscorer: Douglas Costa
AC Milan vs. Udinese
Like Juventus, AC Milan are looking to bounce back after a heavy loss; their 4-1 defeat away to Lazio presenting the first real setback for Vincenzo Montella’s men this season.
The coach will be happy to face Udinese, though, a team who have lost their last five consecutive Serie A outings away from home.
Both sides will likely use a 4-3-3 formation, and Udinese will be in good spirits after winning against Genoa last week.
However, with Milan at full strength and spurred on by that aforementioned loss, they should have too much talent for the visitors to take anything away from them at the San Siro Stadium.
Prediction: AC Milan 3-0 Udinese
First goalscorer: Giacomo Bonaventura
Borussia Dortmund vs. FC Cologne
FC Cologne's terrible start to the season is yet to become a major talking point, but a few more losses and that will quickly change.
Despite strong recruitment in the summer, they haven't clicked at all, and it's unlikely to get any better for them on Sunday as they travel to Signal Iduna Park.
Borussia Dortmund have genuinely looked the best side in the Bundesliga over the course of three games, and they will likely feel they should be sitting on nine points, not seven. It's highly likely they will make it 10 here and pile the misery on Peter Stoger's men.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 2-0 FC Cologne
First goalscorer: Max Philipp
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon represents one of Europe's most enticing fixtures this weekend. It's first against third in Ligue 1, a collision of talent and a meeting of unbeaten league records.
The hosts have racked up a remarkable number of goals already this season, and it looks like they're steamrolling teams.
But the truth is Les Parisiens have struggled to pull teams apart early and have tended to do their damage late, when the game is stretched.
They will still have enough to beat Lyon on Sunday but only by a tight margin, we suspect.
Prediction: Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Lyon
First goalscorer: Edinson Cavani