Preview: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur

The Premier League returns following the international break with a blockbuster North London derby on Saturday lunchtime, as Arsenal play host to Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates.

One week after the women’s teams made history in their North London derby, the men’s crops will battle for supremacy and the chance to sit pretty at the top of the Premier League table.

Match preview

Fabio Vieira celebrates scoring for Arsenal against Brentford on September 18, 2022

A total of 47,367 supporters made the journey to the Emirates to watch Arsenal Women thump Tottenham 4-0 during the men’s international break, and if Saturday’s contest is anything as one-sided as the Women’s Super League version, Gooners are in for a treat.

Taking after his namesake Patrick, Arsenal new boy Fabio Vieira scored the pick of the bunch as Arsenal ran out 3-0 winners over Brentford on September 18, during which William Saliba and Gabriel Jesus headed home for the dominant Gunners in the first half.

Having successfully avenged their 2-0 loss at the Brentford Community Stadium last year – irking some with their ‘Nice kick about with the boys’ comments – Arsenal ensured that they would head into the international break one point clear of Spurs and Manchester City in first place.

Ending a four-game run without a clean sheet was also a sight for Mikel Arteta’s sore eyes, as his Arsenal side continue to demonstrate a ruthless streak notably absent in teams gone by, even if their only Big Six clash so far this season ended in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United.

The hosts have also prevailed in each of their last six Premier League matches at their Emirates headquarters, although they have conceded at least one goal in all of them, and Tottenham’s famed attacking line have more than one incentive to silence the home crowd.

Son Heung-min celebrates scoring for Tottenham Hotspur on September 17, 2022

After facing countless calls from Tottenham fans to drop the goalless Son Heung-min to the bench due, Antonio Conte’s bold move paid dividends against Leicester City, as the South Korea international ended his profligate streak in some style.

Son was introduced into the match in the 59th minute, and by the 86th minute he was confirmed to be walking home with the match ball, as his 13-minute hat-trick complemented strikes from Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Rodrigo Bentancur in a 6-2 romping.

Conte joked that Son can expect to be benched week in week out if he delivers similar super-sub performances in the future, as Tottenham remain on the coat-tails of Arsenal and reigning champions Man City in third spot prior to the trip across the capital.

The Lilywhites bounced back from their Champions League disappointment at Sporting Lisbon in perfect fashion versus Leicester, but only two of their last seven competitive matches away from home have ended in victory, and the Emirates is not their happiest hunting ground.

A 3-1 Arsenal triumph in this fixture last season means that Spurs have failed to win any of their last 11 North London derbies away from home in the league, but they served their capital counterparts a slice of humble pie with a 3-0 win in May, and Conte’s crop are not the same side that Nuno Espirito Santo led to their demise at the Emirates last term.

Team News

Hugo Lloris in action for Tottenham Hotspur on September 17, 2022

While Arsenal are sure to be without Mohamed Elneny (hamstring), Emile Smith Rowe (groin) and Cedric Soares (knock), there is optimism that Kieran Tierney, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Thomas Partey will all shake off their physical problems to be ready for the contest.

Takehiro Tomiyasu is also set to feature after his release from Japan due to ‘club circumstances’, while Martin Odegaard battled back from a knock to feature for Norway in the international break and will most likely demote Vieira to the bench.

Smith Rowe – who scored in this fixture last season – is now out until December after undergoing groin surgery, but there may be a place in the squad for Reiss Nelson as he aims to make his first competitive appearance of the year following a quadriceps injury.

A slice of personal history could also be on the line for Arteta, who is aiming to become only the third manager in Arsenal’s history to win their first three league games against Spurs at home, following in the footsteps of George Morrell and Terry Neill.

Tottenham have concerns of their own on the injury front for Saturday’s derby, as number one goalkeeper Hugo Lloris withdrew from France duty with a thigh injury, and it is currently unclear if he will be fit to return this weekend.

Lloris’s issue was described as a small one, but Fraser Forster is on standby, and Conte will also hope to have Ben Davies (knee) and Lucas Moura (tendon) fit and available here.

Ivan Perisic has also been given the all-clear after being forced off for Croatia in the international break due to a rough challenge from teammate Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but Dejan Kulusevski has reportedly returned to England with a hamstring problem.

The Sweden international is therefore a doubt for the contest, which could see Richarlison hold his spot in the attack, but there have been calls for Conte to switch to a 3-5-2 and introduce Yves Bissouma from the off.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Jesus

Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Romero, Dier, Lenglet; Perisic, Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Sessegnon; Richarlison, Kane, Son

Match Preview: Hull City vs. Luton Town

Hull City play host to Luton Town on Friday evening looking to end a run of four successive defeats in the Championship.

However, despite nine positions separating the two clubs in the standings, the Tigers will move ahead of their 11th-placed opponents with victory at the MKM Stadium.

Match preview

Hull City manager Shota Arveladze on August 27, 2022

When Hull started the campaign with eight points from four matches, their form was matching the level of ambition and investment of the club’s recently-arrived owners.

However, a run of five defeats in six matches have left Shota Arveladze’s team down in 20th spot, just one point above the relegation zone and with by far the worst defensive record in the division.

Hull have conceded at least twice in their most recent six games, the last three times without getting on the scoresheet themselves, and Arveladze may feel fortunate that he is still in a job.

The legendary Georgian has now recorded nine wins and 15 defeats from 30 matches in charge, putting him under substantial pressure ahead of an upcoming quartet of fixtures which will be deemed to be favourable.

Oscar Estupinan has scored all but four of Hull’s 11 goals in the second tier this campaign, and the Ecuadorian needs help in the final third if this team are going to make headway up the table.

Luton Town boss Nathan Jones on August 6, 2022

As far as Luton are concerned, there will be a sense of relief that Brighton & Hove Albion quickly appointed a new head coach given speculation regarding Nathan Jones.

The link was somewhat of a surprise with Luton having struggled at times this season, but the Hatters have responded from a slow start to record 11 points from their last six outings.

Although a surprise home defeat to Wigan Athletic prevented more optimism from being felt from their recent run, a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers before the international break kept things trending in the right direction.

Ahead of the weekend’s fixtures, Luton now have the chance to move into fifth position, and they will be confident of doing so having emerged victorious in their last two away games in this division.

Team News

Chelsea youngster Harvey Vale in action against Middlesbrough in March 2022.

Tobias Figueiredo’s ever-present run in the Hull defence could come to an end after his poor performance against Swansea City last time out.

That may lead to an immediate recall for Alfie Jones, while Ryan Woods and Greg Docherty are both pushing for opportunities in central midfield.

Chelsea loanee Xavier Simons could come into the reckoning for the first time, but fellow Blues youngster Vale should retain his spot on the right flank.

With Amari’i Bell representing Jamaica against Argentina on Tuesday night, the left wing-back is unlikely to feature from the start of this contest.

Alfie Doughty could come into the team in his place, potentially representing the only change to the team which defeated Blackburn.

Hull City possible starting lineup:
Baxter; Coyle, Jones, Greaves, Elder; Woods, Slater; Vale, Tufan, Pelkas; Estupinan

Luton Town possible starting lineup:
Horvath; Burke, Lockyer, Potts; Bree, Lansbury, Clark, Doughty; Campbell; Woodrow, Morris

Preview: Cuiaba vs. America Mineiro

Two sides with contrasting aspirations clash in the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A on Thursday, as relegation-battlers Cuiaba welcome in-form America Mineiro to Arena Pantanal.

While the hosts are winless in their last five games, the high-flying visitors are looking to extend what is now their longest unbeaten run in the top flight of Brazilian football.

Match preview

Cuiaba's Rafael Gava celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates June 23, 2021

With just nine goals scored and eight goals conceded at home this campaign, Cuiaba are building their bid to avoid relegation around a stingy defence and clinical finishing, particularly in front of their own fans.

Often looking to frustrate and pounce on the counter, just three of their 27 league fixtures have been decided by a margin greater than one goal.

Despite winning just once in their last 11 league games, Dourado have only lost one of their nine home outings since early June, including a 1-1 draw with Sao Paulo in their last such match.

Their last outing further underlined the fighting spirit of a side that senses that they might be in danger, coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Copa Libertadores finalists Athletico Paranaense.

Playing 45 minutes with 10 men after the dismissal of Paulao, former Deportivo Alaves forward Deyverson lashed into the top corner to rescue an unlikely point.

Promoted to the top flight for the first time in their history in 2021, becoming the first team from the state of Mato Grosso to play in Serie A since 1986, each result goes a long way for a club who are not used to such lofty heights.

With just seven points separating Cuiaba in 18th and Botafogo in 11th, another narrow win here could make all the difference.

Visitors America Mineiro, however, provide stubborn opposition, which Cuiaba will know all too well having fallen to defeat to them four months ago.

Since a narrow 1-0 defeat to runaway leaders Palmeiras, the club from Belo Horizonte are undefeated in nine league games, with six wins and three draws constituting the best unbeaten run in the side’s Serie A history.

In addition, with five clean sheets across their last seven appearances, Coelho boast one of the meanest defences in the division, a statistic that bodes well with a visit to the league’s lowest scorers to come.

In his 25th stint as a manager, his second at America Mineiro, coach Vagner Mancini will be taking charge of his 445th game of Brazilian league football on Thursday, having managed just one top-10 finish in the top flight.

Nonetheless, currently sitting in eighth place, just one point behind city rivals and last season’s champions Atletico, a push for Copa Libertadores qualification would represent a hugely successful campaign for a club who were promoted to the top division, alongside Cuiaba, just two seasons ago.

Team News

America Mineiro coach Vagner Mancini on September 11, 2022

After suffering a thigh injury at the beginning of the month, Cuiaba’s starting goalkeeper Walter will be out for the rest of the season, opening the door for stand-in Joao Carlos to make his third consecutive start.

Wide player Felipe Marques is still out with a knee problem, while midfielder Camilo and centre-back Paulao are both suspended.

Both Pepe and Andre Luis are back from yellow card suspensions, and should find themselves back in the starting lineup, while star attacking players Deyverson and Rodriguinho should both start further forward.

For the visitors, new signing Emmanuel Martinez is out after fracturing his foot against Botafogo, after having made a bright start to his America Mineiro career.

Felipe Azevedo limped off against Corinthians last time out, but has been training normally after twisting his foot, and should be straight back into the starting eleven, particularly after the departure of star winger Pedrin ho to Lokomotiv Moscow this month.

Lucas Kal could return to the midfield after suspension, while Henrique Almeida looks set to lead the line once again.

Cuiaba possible starting lineup:
Joao Carlos; Marllon, Joaquim, Empereur; Sidcley, Gava, Pepe, Joao Lucas; Rodriguinho, Deyverson, Andre Luis

America Mineiro possible starting lineup:
Cavichioli; Lopes, Eder, Silva, Caceres; Juninho, Kal; Azevedo, Benitez, Matheusinho; Almeida

Preview: Norway vs. Serbia

With promotion to the UEFA Nations League’s top tier at stake, Norway and Serbia clash in Oslo on Tuesday evening, in a winner-takes-all encounter.

Locked together on points atop League B Group 4, the two sides meet on the final day knowing that – due to their head-to-head record – anything other than a Serbian victory would see the hosts seal first place.

Match preview

Erling Braut Haaland in action for Norway on September 24, 2022

Despite their slip-up in Slovenia at the weekend, Norway can still reach League A after Tuesday’s Group 4 finale, having started the inaugural Nations League among Europe’s third echelon back in 2018.

Promoted at the end of the first edition, the Lions then finished second on their first appearance at League B level, and are now within touching distance of mixing with the elite.

After registering an impressive record of three wins and a draw from their quartet of games in the summer, Norway resumed with a trip to Ljubljana on Saturday, and Erling Haaland’s 21st international goal from just 22 caps put them on course for another success shortly after the interval.

However, their hosts fought back, and strikes from potent front pair Andraz Sporar and Benjamin Sesko – the latter currently following in the footsteps of Haaland at RB Salzburg – consigned the Norwegians to a 2-1 defeat.

Combined with a Serbia win over Norway’s Nordic rivals Sweden later in the day, that saw Stale Solbakken’s side caught on 10 points by the World Cup-bound Eagles; setting up a dramatic conclusion to the group at Ullevaal Stadion.

By contrast with their visitors, Norway have failed to qualify for a major tournament since Euro 2000 – during Solbakken’s playing days – but with an exciting new era apparently dawning – led by Haaland and captain Martin Odegaard – they will aim to continue their upward trajectory on Tuesday.

Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring for Serbia on September 24, 2022

Resounding winners over Sweden on the fifth matchday, Serbia’s only defeat of the current Nations League campaign came at home to the Norwegians, in June, when they were ultimately beaten by a single Haaland strike despite dominating both the ball and the shot count.

Otherwise, the Eagles have continued to soar this year, as they now follow an impressive qualification for Qatar 2022 with a productive run in Europe’s newest international competition.

Once again, star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic was to the fore in Belgrade, with a hat-trick against the Swedes helping his nation to a comprehensive 4-1 victory – and that after going a goal behind early on.

Now only one goal short of his international half-century, the Fulham hotshot features among an impressive cast of attacking players for Dragan Stojkovic’s side; befitting the style in which the Serbia coach gained such renown in his playing career. Furthermore, they have now won eight of their last 12 matches.

Having already accumulated four more points than in their previous Nations League campaign, when they only avoided relegation on goal difference, adding three more in Norway would take them into the continent’s elite next time around.

After finishing above Portugal to dramatically clinch automatic World Cup qualification – secured through Mitrovic’s 90th-minute winner on the final day – the Serbs also have one eye on the looming global finals, so Stojkovic’s squad will be keen to impress and secure seats on the plane to Qatar.

Team News

Norway manager Stale Solbakken on September 24, 2022

Having generally settled on a 4-3-3 setup in recent months, Norway coach Stale Solbakken must decide whether to stick or twist on the final day, with just one point enough to beat their opponents to top spot.

In any case, the personnel which started the loss to Slovenia should not change too much, with Martin Odegaard skippering the side after overcoming a calf problem which kept him out of Arsenal’s most recent game. Erling Haaland leads the line up front, having netted his sixth goal in five Nations League matches on Saturday – Norway have scored seven in all.

At least one switch will be made in midfield, though, as Kristian Thorstvedt must serve a one-match ban due to accumulated bookings; Morten Thorsby is his most likely replacement.

While the hosts have a fearsome forward to worry the Serbian defence, the visitors’ front line will be led by vice-captain Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has racked up 49 goals in 75 international appearances following his treble at the weekend.

Influential midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will be sidelined, though, after picking up another yellow card against Sweden, which may see Sampdoria’s Filip Djuricic or Ivan Ilic of Verona drafted into the side that starts in Oslo.

Nikola Milenkovic is absent from the back three due to injury, so Serbia’s defence will be lacking a little experience – two of the trio that lined up on Saturday have just three senior caps between them.

It appears that Dragan Stojkovic has now settled on a regular goalkeeper, and Sergej’s younger brother Vanja Milinkovic-Savic should pip Sevilla’s Marko Dmitrovic to feature as the Eagles’ last line of defence.

Norway possible starting lineup:
Nyland; Ryerson, Hanche-Olsen, Ostigard, Meling; Odegaard, Berge, Thorsby; Elyounoussi, Haaland, Sorloth

Serbia possible starting lineup:
V. Milinkovic-Savic; Babic, S. Mitrovic, Masovic; Lazovic, Lukic, Ilic, Kostic; Djuricic, Tadic; A. Mitrovic

Preview: Hungary vs. Italy

Deciding both teams’ destiny in the UEFA Nations League, a crucial clash between Hungary and Italy on Monday sees the pair battle for a place in next summer’s finals.

While the hosts’ latest upset of a top European nation sees them two points clear at the top of League A Group 3, the Azzurri’s win over England means they can snatch first place with victory in Budapest.

Match preview

Hungary's Adam Szalai celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on September 23, 2022

Concluding their latest Nations League group-stage campaign, Hungary have once again defied expectations to begin the final round in prime position to beat Germany, England and Italy to Group 3 supremacy.

After four games in June, the Magyars resumed with another eye-catching result on the first of two matchdays this month, as they defeated Hansi Flick’s side in Leipzig on Friday.

A Bundesliga mainstay over the past decade – though now plying his trade in the Swiss Super League – veteran striker Adam Szalai scored the only goal in the 17th minute, directing a clever back-heeled flick into the corner of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s net.

Having played such a prominent role in handing Flick a first loss in charge of the Germans, the 34-year-old later announced his retirement would come after Hungary’s final group game, back in Budapest.

His time in the red jersey therefore draws to a close as his team host Italy, knowing even a draw sees them through to the Nations League’s latter stages for the first time.

Should they slip up and miss out on Monday, Hungary’s record in Europe’s newest international competition would still make impressive reading: when the inaugural tournament kicked off in 2018 they started in the third tier, but successive promotions have seen them rise to League A status.

Now, the once-more ‘Mighty Magyars’, are within touching distance of qualifying for next June’s finals; in part making up for their failure to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.

Giacomo Raspadori celebrates scoring for Italy against England on September 23, 2022

Like Hungary, the visitors were unable to reach this winter’s global gathering in the Middle East, but can at least qualify for the Nations League finals with the right result at the Puskas Arena.

Victory is the only option for Roberto Mancini’s men, who kept themselves in contention by edging out England in a drab encounter in Milan on Friday night, Napoli striker Giacomo Raspadori scoring the decisive goal midway through the second half.

As a result, the Azzurri sit two points adrift of their opponents, who they managed to beat 2-1 in Cesena earlier this year, handing Hungary their only Group 3 defeat.

While an unheralded Italian coach, Marco Rossi, has taken the Hungarians to new heights – following Euro 2020 qualification with a double win over now-relegated England and taking four points off Germany – his compatriots have laboured since winning the Euros just over a year ago.

Not only did Italy suffer the ignominy of a World Cup playoff exit to North Macedonia, but they have also been beaten by three-goal margins in both the ‘Finalissima’ against South American champions Argentina and in their most recent away fixture – a 5-2 crushing by the Germans.

Indeed, they have posted just five wins from their last 15 matches all told, but seemingly out of nowhere, a slim chance of redemption has appeared for a squad undergoing transition before taking the road to Euro 2024.

After finishing third in the Nations League’s previous edition, La Nazionale can yet go further and lift their second trophy in the space of two years, but such hopes depend on taking maximum points on Monday.

Team News

Hungary manager Marco Rossi on September 23, 2022

Though Marco Rossi will be without first-choice forward Roland Sallai, who missed out on another Hungary call-up because of a recent eye injury, MLS-based Daniel Gazdag deputised on Friday and could do so again versus Italy.

Dominik Szoboszlai will also start in support of centre-forward and captain Adam Szalai, who bids an emotional farewell to the home fans in his final game for the Magyars.

Loic Nego is likely to feature at right wing-back, with teenager Milos Kerkez hoping to build on his senior debut in Leipzig by keeping his place on the left; regular starter Zsolt Nagy is injured.

Meanwhile, after a somewhat makeshift side managed to get the better of England at San Siro, Italy are likely to persist with their 3-5-2 setup and similar personnel.

As midfield trio Marco Verratti, Sandro Tonali and Lorenzo Pellegrini, plus Napoli winger Matteo Politano, all withdrew from the squad due to injury, Davide Frattesi and Manolo Gabbiadini were called up as replacements – the latter ending an international exile of some five years.

West Ham United striker Gianluca Scamacca was given his fourth start for the Azzurri – replacing last season’s Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile, who missed out in Milan with a thigh problem – and could partner his former Sassuolo teammate Giacomo Raspadori again if Immobile cannot recover in time.

While Frattesi competes with Roma’s Bryan Cristante for a place in the visitors’ midfield, wing-backs Federico Dimarco and Giovanni Di Lorenzo are set to remain in place due to a paucity of other contenders after both Cristante’s clubmate Leonardo Spinazzola and the versatile Manuel Lazzari were omitted from Roberto Mancini’s latest selection.

Hungary possible starting lineup:
Gulacsi; Lang, Orban, At. Szalai; Fiola, Schafer, Gazdag, Kerkez; A. Nagy, Szoboszlai; Ad. Szalai

Italy possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Toloi, Bonucci, Bastoni; Di Lorenzo, Barella, Jorginho, Frattesi, Dimarco; Raspadori, Immobile

Preview: Italy vs. England

Over 14 months on from locking horns on the biggest European stage, Italy and England renew hostilities for Friday evening’s UEFA Nations League clash in League A Group 3.

The Three Lions are already guaranteed to miss out on a place at the Nations League finals, while Roberto Mancini’s side sit three points better off.

Match preview

Italy coach Roberto Mancini on March 29, 2022

The Azzurri faithful will not be booking any holidays to North Macedonia anytime soon, as the reigning champions will be forced to watch the 2022 World Cup from home after succumbing to a 1-0 playoff defeat to the world’s 64th-ranked nation.

From storming to continental glory at Wembley in 2021 to failing to qualify for the biggest tournament of them all for the second consecutive time, Italy won 15 games in a row up until last summer – they have now posted just four wins from their last 14 in all tournaments.

Taking five points from their opening three Nations League clashes was a far from disastrous way to start proceedings, but Mancini’s side were torn to shreds in a 5-2 defeat to Germany during their most recent game, which leaves them languishing in third place in the standings.

Qualification for the finals is still within the Azzurri’s reach, with the European champions seeking to improve on their third-placed Nations League finish in 2020-21, but the previously steadfast Italian defence have now gone six games without a clean sheet at home.

Only once have the hosts failed to score in a Nations League game on Italian turf, though, and the consolation of Nations League qualification may help Mancini and co get through their November friendlies with fellow Qatar absentees Albania and Austria that little bit easier.

England manager Gareth Southgate pictured on June 14, 2022

Germany’s 5-2 win over Italy would likely have made back-page headlines on any other day, but England’s 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Hungary unsurprisingly dominated talk of the Nations League in June, as Gareth Southgate’s men were well and truly humbled at Molineux.

Some fans quickly pointed the finger of blame at the organisers for scheduling four international fixtures in quick succession after a gruelling domestic campaign, as the Three Lions suffered their heaviest home defeat in 94 years to send them to the bottom of the pile.

Still without a win in the 2022-23 Nations League, the Euro 2020 runners-up mathematically cannot finish first in League A Group 3 and only have the one goal to boast from their opening four games – no other team in League A have been as profligate as England.

Unlike their upcoming hosts, England do have a World Cup to prepare for as they warm up for clashes with Iran, Wales and the USA in Group B, but optimism will not be at its highest point in November if the Three Lions are to exit the Nations League with a whimper.

England and Italy butted heads in front of a youthful Molineux crowd back in June, with only children and their guardians permitted to attend following the disgraceful scenes of crowd disorder at Euro 2020, but the two continental giants could only play out a drab goalless stalemate.

Team News

Ivan Toney in action for Brentford on September 18, 2022

Italy have already lost a trio of experienced players to injury for September’s games, as Lorenzo Pellegrini and Matteo Politano have been forced to withdraw alongside Marco Verratti. Davide Frattesi and Manolo Gabbiadini have been called up as replacements.

Mancini controversially decided against calling up Davide Calabria and Nicolo Zaniolo for September’s fixtures, while Leeds United’s Wilfried Gnonto and West Ham United’s Gianluca Scamacca have both made the cut.

A distinct lack of options out wide should benefit Gnonto’s chances of starting, especially after the 18-year-old scored against Germany last time out, but Scamacca will likely take a back seat as Ciro Immobile seeks his first international goal in 15 months.

As for England, Southgate’s ever-criticised squad selection saw a maiden call-up for Brentford striker Ivan Toney, but 50-goal captain Harry Kane ought to lead the line from the off as he closes in on Wayne Rooney’s record of 53 strikes for the Three Lions.

Kalvin Phillips has been forced to withdraw due to a shoulder injury which could threaten his participation at the World Cup; Jordan Henderson has been called up in his place but should be kept in reserve having just come back from his own hamstring injury.

The absence of number one Jordan Pickford should allow Aaron Ramsdale to prove his worth to Southgate this week, while John Stones will serve a suspension following his sending-off against Italy, and teammate Kyle Walker may not be risked either given his recent injury.

Italy possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bastoni, Bonucci, Emerson; Barella, Tonali, Jorginho; Gnonto, Immobile, Grifo

England possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; James, Tomori, Maguire; Trippier, Rice, Bellingham, Chilwell; Sterling, Kane, Foden

Preview: Kazakhstan vs. Belarus

Kazakhstan play host to Belarus on Thursday knowing that victory will be enough to secure promotion to the second tier of the UEFA Nations League.

Meanwhile, Belarus head into their remaining two fixtures in League C Group 3 aware that they need at least one win to avoid the relegation play-outs.Belarus' Vitali Lisakovic celebrates scoring their fourth goal with teammates on March 27, 2021

Having gone from September 2020 to November 2021 without a win, Kazakhstan were not necessarily the most confident of teams heading into the next year, but Magomed Adiyev is now overseeing a sharp improvement in fortunes.

The Hawks have collected 10 points from a possible 12 in League C Group 3, establishing a four-point lead over pre-tournament group favourites Slovakia with two games remaining.

As well as only conceding two goals, Kazakhstan are unbeaten at the same time that the other three teams in the group have each suffered two defeats apiece.

Kazakhstan will not get carried away as they bid to earn a spot at League B for the first time in their history, but they have been provided with the ideal two games to get over the line.

However, Belarus are the only team to take points off Kazakhstan, scoring a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw back on June 10.

Despite sitting at the bottom of the group, Belarus will argue that their campaign is not as bad as it seems when looking at the table.

Draws have been earned against each of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, while they only suffered a 1-0 defeat to Slovakia on matchday one.

The result which could ultimately make the difference between survival and an appearance in the relegation play-outs came last time out as they lost 2-0 in Azerbaijan.

Georgy Kondratyev’s team now face their toughest two fixtures in the group having scored just once in their previous four games.

Team News

With Bakhtiyar Zaynutdinov back in the Kazakhstan squad, the star man could be deployed on the left flank ahead of Yan Vorogovsky.

Barring any late withdrawals, the rest of the team could remain the same with Adiyev having little reason to make changes to his starting XI.

Yegor Bogomolsky could be handed an opportunity down the centre of the Belarus attack in place of Ivan Bakhar.

Pavel Savitskiy, who was missing last time out, will likely return to the side to replace Vladislav Malkevich on the left flank.

Artyom Bykov is also in line to return in midfield, potentially taking the spot of Valery Bocherov, but the defence could remain the same given Belarus’ respective record in that area of the pitch.

Kazakhstan possible starting lineup:
Shatskiy; Gabyshev, Alip, Mahiy, Marochkin, Dosmagambetov; Astanov, Darabaev, Tagybergen, Vorogovskiy; Aymbetov

Belarus possible starting lineup:
Pavlyuchenko; Shevchenko, Politevich, Khadarkevich, Pechenin; Ebong, Bocherov, Yablonskiy, Savitski; Klimovich; Bogomolsky

Preview: Scotland vs. Ukraine

Less than four months after battling it out in the World Cup playoffs, Scotland and Ukraine reconvene in the UEFA Nations League on Wednesday.

They both ultimately missed out on a place at Qatar 2022, but occupy the top two spots in League B Group 1 with a game in hand on the other two nations.

Match preview

Scott McKenna and Anthony Ralston celebrate scoring for Scotland against Armenia on June 8, 2022.

Having fallen at the penultimate hurdle of qualifying for a first World Cup since 1998 – being beaten 3-1 by Ukraine at Hampden Park amid emotional scenes – Scotland started their Nations League campaign in the summer with six points from their first three fixtures.

After beating Armenia home and away, Steve Clarke’s side sit second in League B Group 1, one point behind their Ukrainian counterparts and two ahead of the Republic of Ireland, despite losing their second game 3-0 in Dublin.

Scotland now play Ukraine twice either side of the return match against Ireland, so the events of the coming week will shape their Nations League destiny; deciding whether they can qualify for the competition’s top tier for the first time.

Since ending 2021 with six wins in succession, the Tartan Army have won only two of their subsequent six outings – both against minnows Armenia – but there have been green shoots of recovery for a success-starved nation in recent times.

With both Glasgow giants back in the big time, as they participate in this year’s Champions League group stage, and the national squad having taken part at Euro 2020, Clarke’s men will be keen to build momentum again and get the autumn action off to a winning start.

Ukraine forward Artem Doybyk celebrates scoring against Scotland in their World Cup playoff on June 1, 2022.

Standing in Scotland’s way on Wednesday – and then next Tuesday, in their temporary home of Krakow – will be a Ukraine squad that has endured much adversity over the past few months, and also narrowly missed out on a place in Qatar by losing to Wales in the playoff final.

No competitive football has been played in the war-torn nation since December, when the Ukrayinska Premier Liha paused for its midwinter break, as fixtures were due to resume in late February until the Russian invasion occurred.

Despite the dangers, a new league season started in Kyiv last month, with all league games being played in the capital and further west, and Ukraine’s top clubs are back in European competition too – albeit with new-look squads; shorn of foreign stars.

Since their heartbreaking defeat at Cardiff City Stadium, Oleksandr Petrakov’s team have begun their Nations League campaign unbeaten, and after seeing off Ireland and Armenia in their opening two games, they most recently squared off against Stephen Kenny’s side in Lodz.

Letting their 100% record slip, Ukraine were held to a 1-1 draw after Artem Dovbyk equalised a Nathan Collins opener, but they still sit top of League B Group 1 with seven points.

Previously relegated from League A amid controversial circumstances – their decisive fixture with Switzerland was called off due to a COVID-19 outbreak and UEFA then forced them to forfeit the points – Ukraine will not be lacking in motivation this week, for any number of reasons.

Team News

Andy Robertson pictured at Euro 2020 on June 18, 2021

While Scotland captain Andy Robertson will be missing through injury for each of their three games this month, the timely return of Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney at least compensates, and the former Celtic full-back should start.

Meanwhile, Jacob Brown, Grant Hanley and Jon McLaughlin have all withdrawn from the squad, with Rangers goalkeeper Robby McCrorie called up as the latter’s replacement.

Hibernian centre-back Ryan Porteous has received his first call-up, as both John Souttar and Liam Cooper are sidelined, while midfield pair Ryan Jack and Kenny McLean are back in contention following long-term injuries. Despite a lack of playing time this term, Billy Gilmour, Jack Hendry and Anthony Ralston could all feature too.

While Robertson sits out for Scotland, a similarly influential left-footer will be absent for Ukraine, as Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko recently sustained a calf injury in training and may not return to action until next month.

Dynamo Kyiv’s Mykola Shaparenko suffered an ACL rupture in his club’s Europa League clash with Fenerbahce earlier this month, so joins Zinchenko on the sidelines.

Shakhtar Donetsk starlet Mykhaylo Mudryk and captain Andriy Yarmolenko are both among a familiar-looking squad, though, and both should start in support of either Roman Yaremchuk and Artem Dovbyk up front.

Scotland possible starting lineup:
Gordon; Hendry, McKenna, Tierney; Patterson, McGinn, McGregor, Hickey; Fraser, Adams, Christie

Ukraine possible starting lineup:
Lunin; Karavayev, Zabarnyi, Matviyenko, Mykolenko; Kovalenko, Sydorchuk, Malinovskyi; Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk, Mudryk

Preview: Atletico Goianiense vs. Internacional

Aiming to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat across all competitions, Atletico Goianiense welcome Internacional to the Estadio Antonio Accioly on Tuesday.

On the other hand, the away side make the journey to Goiania looking to extend their unbeaten run in the league which stands at five games.

Match preview

Atletico Goianiense were on the receiving end of a 2-0 loss against Cortiba when the teams faced off at the Estadio Couto Pereira on Sunday.

Jorginho’s men fell behind to Alef Manga’s opener on the stroke of half time before Fabricio Daniel put the game to bed five minutes into the second half.

With 22 points from 26 league games so far, the Dragons remain 19th in the Brasileiro table and have now fallen six points adrift of safety.

Coming up next is the challenge of an opposing outfit who have lost just one of the most recent seven meetings between the sides since 2020.

Having recently suffered a first defeat on home turf since July, Tuesday’s hosts will be keen to get themselves back on track in front of their fans.

Internacional made it three home wins on the bounce with a narrow 1-0 triumph over Cuiaba at the Estadio Jose Pinheiro Borda on Saturday.

Mano Menezes’s men broke the deadlock midway through the second half courtesy of Alexandre Alemao’s strike, and that was enough to get the job done.

As a result, Celeiro de Ases now sit second in the league table, eight points behind leaders Palmeiras with 12 games left to play in the ongoing campaign.

Currently on a run of one victory from their last eight matches on the road, Tuesday’s visitors will need to turn their away fortunes around to stand any chance of taking the title race down to the wire.

Team News

Internacional’s Alexandre Alemao has scored in each of his last two appearances and now sets out to continue his hot streak in front of goal.

Maciel Wanderson will be looking to deliver the goods for the away side once again having found the back of the net in the last edition of Tuesday’s fixture.

Emerson Santos is yet to feature for Atletico Goianiense this term due to a long-term knee injury, and the 27-year-old is a guaranteed absentee for this one.

Goalkeeper Ronaldo continues to battle with a muscle problem, while the Brazilian Ramon Menezes is still a long way off making his return to action.

Atletico Goianiense possible starting lineup:
Renan; Junio, Klaus, Wanderson, Hayner; Willian, Edson; Luiz, Shaylon, Wellington; Ricardinho

Internacional possible starting lineup:
De Sousa; Rene, Mercado, Vitao, Bustos; Johnny, Gabriel, Alan; Mauricio, Alexandre, Wanderson

Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Manchester City

Top spot in the Premier League table is up for grabs for Manchester City when they travel to Molineux to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday lunchtime.

The Citizens ran out 2-1 winners over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in midweek, while the hosts have not been in action since beating Southampton 1-0 on September 3.

Match preview

Atletico Mineiro's Diego Costa pictured in October 2021

From becoming Wolves’ new marquee striker to suffering a devastating ACL injury in his first half of football for the Premier League side, Sasa Kalajdzic went through all the emotions as he now embarks on the long road to recovery.

With Raul Jimenez also struggling to cut the mustard, Wolves have turned to Premier League winner Diego Costa to spearhead their charge, with the ex-Chelsea man bringing his fiery and controversial playing style back to England for another year.

Wolves did not need Kalajdzic, Costa or Jimenez to sink Southampton 1-0 two weekends ago, as Daniel Podence came up with the game’s only goal in first-half injury time for their first win of the season, and their trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool was postponed in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

As such, Lage’s side still possess a three-game unbeaten run ahead of the visit of the champions, but their lack of firepower to this point has only allowed them to climb as high as 14th in the table with a league-low three goals – only West Ham United have also been as shot-shy.

Having conceded just one goal at Molineux and four in total so far this season, Wolves do hold the honour of being the Premier League’s best defensive team after six matches, and every inch of that rearguard nous will have to count if City are to walk away with anything less than three points.

Manchester City's Erling Braut Haaland celebates scoring against Borussia Dortmund on September 14, 2022

Out of respect for his former club, Erling Braut Haaland did not celebrate his winner against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, but the BVB faithful could have forgiven the 22-year-old for revelling in his acrobatic excellence at the Etihad.

Jude Bellingham marked his return to English turf with a deft header to open the scoring in that Group G clash, but a John Stones thunderbolt levelled the scores in the second half before Haaland channelled his inner Johan Cruyff to sink his old employers – the outside-of-the-foot cross from Joao Cancelo was not half bad either.

Friendly debates between Stones and Haaland over whose goal was the more spectacular provided some light relief for Man City fans, whose side were pushed all the way by Dortmund but successfully made it two wins from two in the 2022-23 Champions League.

Now returning to domestic action for the first time since drawing 1-1 with Aston Villa on September 3, Pep Guardiola’s side remain one point adrift of Arsenal at the top, but a draw would be enough to see the champions return to the summit before the Gunners tackle Brentford a day later.

City’s unbeaten run in all competitions now stands at eight games – with four of their most recent five ending in victory – and it has been over a year since Guardiola’s men lost a Premier League away match, winning 15 and drawing six since defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last August.

Wolves did overcome the Citizens at Molineux as recently as December 2019 – doing the double over them that year – but the champions have since won four in a row versus the hosts, and the four-goal Kevin De Bruyne masterclass helped City to a 5-1 win in this fixture back in May.

Team News

Manchester City's Kyle Walker pictured on September 2, 2022

Wolves new boy Kalajdzic is not the only player set for a long spell out of action, as Chiquinho went under the knife for his knee problem earlier in the summer and is facing several months on the sidelines.

Jimenez was a notable absentee from the showdown with Southampton, but he will likely be in the squad here after reports claimed that he was in with a strong chance of returning for the postponed clash with Liverpool.

Nevertheless, Costa ought to be ready to make his debut for Lage’s side against the reigning champions, although Hwang Hee-chan is waiting in the wings in case the 33-year-old needs more time to get up to speed.

The visitors also remain rather fortunate on the injury front, and Aymeric Laporte – who suffered his knee injury at Molineux last season – should be back in action after the international break following his return to training.

Laporte will miss this game, though, while the quick turnaround time also makes it difficult to picture Kyle Walker making himself available, but Guardiola should ring the changes either way.

Ruben Dias will expect to return to the backline for City, who also have Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva ready to return to the forward line, with Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez seemingly set to make way.

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Sa; Jonny, Kilman, Collins, Ait-Nouri; Nunes, Neves, Moutinho; Neto, Jimenez, Podence

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Stones, Akanji, Dias, Cancelo; Gundogan, Rodri, De Bruyne; Silva, Haaland, Foden