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WEEKEND PREVIEW: The BIG 7

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Arsenal and Chelsea Face Off

What a story, Arsenal. Two losses followed by a 22-game unbeaten run, but it’s been such a long time now since those months when Arsenal seemed invincible. The invincibility was quickly replaced with an embarrassing defeat to rivals and worse still, Arsenal look unrecognizable.

You could split the events of Arsenal’s season already and you’d have enough to last a whole season; on top of that, Mesut Ozil is likened to a luxury car in the hands of a village chief: a mismatch.

Chelsea aren’t in their best form either, not as decisive as they were at the start of the season, add to that their inability to see of games give opposition teams all the incentive they need to claw back into games.

But Chelsea, for all the laxity displayed in games, is in a much better position to do an unwanted domestic double over Arsenal.

NPFL Matchday 3

Another NPFL season began six days ago, however, due to the pressure of meeting up with the set CAF deadline, the LMC and the NFF have the league running at 100km/h.

In those six days, and two matchdays have been concluded, by Sunday the third will be played.

Each team having partaken in three games in eight days and unfortunately, the cycle goes on and on again until the second weekend in February. By which time, each team would have played nine games in the space of 30 days.

The positives so far have been just as much as the negatives. Two coaches –Fatai Osho (Remo Stars) and Moses Aderele (Abia Warriors) have already resigned and you’re left wondering, after just two matchdays? The toughest league in the world is back.

Continental Football Returns

Both Lobi Stars and Enugu Rangers are involved in continental football this weekend. With Nigeria’s CAF coefficients bettered by Enyimba’s run to the semi-final of the CAF confederations cup last year, both Nigerian representatives have been particularly superb in this campaign.

Rangers have a foot in the group stages thanks to the 1-2 first leg scoreline in Lesotho last weekend, time to see off the task and then let’s see how much further they can go.

Lobi Stars are surpassing all expectations at the moment and you can’t rule out the Nigerian champions from reaching the semi-finals but first, Asec Mimosas waits.

Senator Manny Pacquaio Returns to Boxing at 40

Manny Pacquaio, an eight-division world champion will take on Adrien Broner in defence of his WBA welterweight title this Saturday.

It will be the 70th fight of the 40-year old who made his debut some 24 years ago, and with nothing else on the line, one wonders: what really motivates Pacquaio?

There are talks of a possible rematch against retired Floyd Mayweather, who will be in attendance at the MGM Grand.

Adrien Broner, on the other hand, hasn’t lived up to expectation in previous big fights against Marcos Maidana, Mikey Garcia, and Shawn Porter. And his run off three wins in his last six bouts doesn’t inspire confidence going into the biggest bout of his career.

The Bundesliga Returns

Borussia Dortmund were deservedly crowned winter champions, but it doesn’t end there. In fact, no one will remember the impeachable first half of the season if they throw away a healthy six-point advantage on second-placed Bayern Munich come May.

The fixture list hasn’t been particularly kind to the Yellow and Black, RB Leipzig won’t be an easy nut to crack, but who wants an easy ride to the championship win? And having already put four goals past Leipzig in the reverse fixture, this one will be a proper clash.

Advantage Bayern? Not exactly. Hoffenheim will host the champions this weekend and although Die Kraichgauer need a win to keep pace with the European places, it’s hard to think Bayern will pass on an opportunity to close the gap on Dortmund.

Bundesliga is back!

Serie A Equally Returns

Juventus is running away with the league just as they are dominating the country. Fresh from another Supercoppa Italiana win, their second in four years and 10th title in that same time, this side is buzzing.

AS Roma is still chasing the leading pack and a bit of consistency will help the Giallorossi, two points away from Champions League places.

Real Madrid and Sevilla Battle for Third Place

In one of the oddities of the year, Real Madrid is at an all-time low. The 1-0 loss to Leganes on Wednesday evening in the second leg of the Copa del Rey was the 10th defeat suffered this season in only 32 games.

To put this in context, that is more than the team suffered last season (9) in the 62 games played across all competitions – the worst since Guus Hiddink was in charge 21 years ago.  

Real Madrid’s first embarrassing defeat of the season was at the hands of Sevilla. A 3-0 bashing that hands Sevilla a comfortable head-to-head advantage.

This weekend both sides will face off for the second time this season; Real Madrid will parade a second manager in this fixture and will hope for a better result else they might be back in fifth place by Monday.

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