Matchday 11 of the English Premier League season is this weekend, and there are plenty of matches on the schedule with significant implications.
The race for the title is still as tight as ever, and the three sides jockeying for position may all experience difficult tests this weekend. League leaders Manchester United look to keep their roll alive, but it may be more difficult than expected, as the Red Devils must travel to Villa Park, in what could be a difficult match.
On Sunday, Manchester City looks to take all three points at home against Tottenham Hotspur, but the North London club has aspirations of its own. A win at the Etihad would put Spurs within two points of the third-place side, as well as a potential leg-up in the race for a Champions League spot.
Chelsea also will try to make life at the top of the table more interesting, as the club hosts Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. This may be a match that Liverpool needs to grab all three points, as the Reds slow start to the season sees them in 12th.
There is also an intriguing match between two mid-table sides, as Newcastle welcomes West Ham United to St. James' Park. Last year's surprise side, Newcastle may need to pull out some magic against the East London club. The Hammers impressed many to start the season, and the side shows no signs of slowing down.
Intrigue surrounds other matches
The relegation battle will heat up this weekend, as Norwich City travels to Madejski Stadium to meet Reading in a match where both could use three points. Queens Park Rangers heads to the Britannia to face Stoke City, and a win could bring the Hoops closer to exiting the drop zone.
Wigan also hosts a surprising West Bromwich Albion side on Saturday, while Arsenal faces Fulham in a all-London fixture. Everton and Sunderland will clash at Goodison Park.
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Two giants in the test cricket world will meet later this week in the first of three matches, as South Africa kicks off its tour against Australia.
The first match of the tour for the Proteas brings them to the Brisbane Cricket Ground in Woolloongabba, Queensland. The match is set for November 8, at 7 p.m. EST. It will go through November 12.
After this, the two sides will reconvene for the second test match, which takes place at the Adelaide Oval in South Australia. The first day of the second test starts at 7 p.m. EST on November 21. This will continue until the final innings are played on November 25.
The third test begins on November 29, at 9:30 p.m. EST. It takes place at the Western Australia Cricket Association ground in Perth. The match will have its final innings on December 3.
Currently, The ICC Test Ranking has South Africa in first place with a rating of 120. Australia is in third place, with a rating of 116. This is only one point behind England for second.
Sides share long test history
Australia and South Africa met several times in the past, as both toured extensively. The last time the two met was in 2011, with two test matches. The two countries split the meetings.
The first time the countries met in a test series was in 1902, with Australia taking the second and third tests, after a draw during the first meeting. Recent history in the fixture favored the Baggy Greens, as they won seven of the past nine test series against South Africa. However, with the latest draw, the last time the Proteas earned a win was in 2008-09, with a 2-1 series victory. That year, South Africa toured Australia, winning in Perth and Melbourne, with a loss to close out the series in Sydney.
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Both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka look to find the first win of their respective Ranji Trophy campaigns, as the two play in Chennai later this week.
The two sides each had one match already on the schedule, but neither earned an outright win. Baroda earned a 237 and a 249 against. Karnataka, as that side only managed a 284 and a 102/1, but the match ended in a draw after 32 overs. This gave Baroda three points and left Karnataka with one.
Tamil Nadu registered a 67/3 against Odisha, but the match was called with no result due to rain. Each side earned a point.
The match between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu starts at 11 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 8.
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The Premier League had another action-packed weekend, as Manchester United took advantage of struggles from its fellow title challengers.
United took advantage of Arsenal's recent poor form, with a dominating victory over the North London side. The 2-1 victory was only made close with a Santi Cazorla goal in stoppage time. Both former Arsenal attacker Robin van Persie and Patrice Evra found the back of the net at Old Trafford, pulling the club one point ahead of Chelsea and two ahead of Manchester City.
Chelsea only managed a 1-1 draw at Liberty Stadium against Swansea City, as a late goal from Pablo Hernandez ensured the Welsh side shared the spoils. Manchester City failed to take advantage of the Chelsea draw, as the club only managed a point against West Ham at Upton Park. The draw helped West Ham further solidify its spot in the top-half of the table, and continued its impressive start to the season.
Wigan helped distance itself from the relegation battle, as the Latics edged out a 1-0 victory at White Hart Lane against Tottenham. Ben Watson's goal in the 56th minute prevented Tottenham from taking advantage of the Arsenal loss, in order to pull itself into the thick of the Champions League race.
Everton also had an opportunity to take control in the race for fourth, but squandered it at Craven Cottage, with a draw against Fulham. After the Cottagers took the lead on a Tim Howard own goal, Marouane Fellaini put the Toffees in command during the second half. However, it wasn't enough, as Steve Sidwell scored in the 90th minute to help keep Fulham's impressive start going.
Norwich also managed to defeat Stoke City on Saturday, as the Canaries hopped the Potters in the table, with its second win of the year. Aston Villa overcame Sunderland at the Stadium of Light after a second half strike by Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Sunday matches end in draws
Both Sunday fixtures ended level at 1-1, as Liverpool was unable to take advantage of Fabricio Coloccini's red card, despite a second-half goal from Luis Suarez to rescue a point. Additionally, Queens Park Rangers managed a point against Reading to temporarily climb out of the last spot in the league.
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With three matchdays of the Champions League group stage complete, clubs are now past the halfway point. However, this means the competition is only just beginning to heat up as clubs jockey for position to qualify for the Round of 16.
In what may be the biggest match during matchday four, Real Madrid faces off with German side Borussia Dortmund. One point separates the two clubs, and a win for either side will put them on the fast-track to qualification. The other match in Group D features Manchester City and Ajax, and a win for both sides is vital. A loss for City would all but eliminate them from any chance of qualification, while Ajax could improve its chances with at least a point in England.
Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk meet for the second time in Group E, and a win by the Ukrainian side would make qualification a formality. However, if the Blues manage to win or draw, it would give both Nordsjaelland and Juventus a fighting chance to qualify, as well.
Qualification from Group F wide open
Valencia, BATE Borisov and Bayern Munich sit level on six points in Group F, and it could be a frantic finish for the three sides. While Bayern faces bottom-feeders Lille, it may be necessary for Valencia and BATE to grab all three points in their fixture.
Manchester United could lock up a qualification spot in Group H with a win against Braga. However, that may aid Both Cluj and Galatasaray in their quests to grab the second spot in the group.
In other matches, Schalke and Arsenal face-off to decide who will take control of Group B, while AC Milan looks to get into position for qualification against Anderlecht. Celtic's disappointing last-second loss on the previous matchday against Barcelona hurt its chances of qualifying from Group G, but a draw or win against the Spanish giants would put it in cruise control for the second qualification spot in the group.
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Chelsea had an opportunity to enter cruise control in the Premier League title race on Sunday, but a spectacular effort by Manchester United kept the race as tight as ever. Additionally, Manchester City's win this weekend piled further pressure on the London club, as the two Manchester-based giants are now knocking on the door.
United managed to defeat Chelsea 3-2 on Sunday, as Javier Hernandez struck the winner in the 75th minute, recouping a two-goal deficit early in the match. The win put United within one point of the league leaders after Matchday nine. Manchester City also managed to tighten the race for first, as the club managed to defeat Swansea City 1-0. The game was not only notable for the City win, but also because it was the longest match in Premier League history, with 12 minutes of stoppage time added.
Merseyside derby ends in controversial draw
Liverpool and Everton drew 2-2 at Goodison Park, but not without a questionable ending. The Reds took charge of the match with two goals in the first 20 minutes, but Everton responded with two of its own in the next 15 minutes. In stoppage time, Luis Suarez scored what was thought to be the winner, but was called offside to end the match as a draw.
Arsenal also managed to pull out a win and help the club's march toward the top of the table, as the North London side overcame Queens Park Rangers at Emirates Stadium. Rivals Tottenham Hotspur defeated a tricky Southampton side at St. Mary's Stadium.
Newcastle managed to pull out another win in a match against West Bromwich Albion, as Papiss Demba Cisse scored the winning goal in stoppage time. Reading also managed to snatch a point from Fulham, as Hal Robson-Kanu scored the equalizer in the closing stages of the match for a 3-3 draw. Additionally, Aston Villa and Norwich shared the spoils, while Wigan surprised West Ham United 2-1.
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The English Premier League calendar is jam-packed with 10 fixtures this weekend, none bigger than the battle between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Chelsea is currently in fine form, with 22 points from eight matches, and Manchester United resides in second, only four points behind. While a Manchester United win won't change the fact that the Blues will remain in first, it could bring the club back down to earth after an impressive start to the season.
The early match on Sunday is the Merseyside derby, with Everton and Liverpool set to battle at Goodison Park. Everton's strong start to the year would be punctuated by a win against the red side of the city, but Liverpool's recent form may suggest that even at home, the Toffees may find three points hard to come by.
Arsenal has struggled as of late, losing to Norwich City last weekend, as well as German side Schalke in Champions League this week. The club will need to be in solid form Saturday to take down cellar dwellers Queens Park Rangers. On the other hand, the Canaries will have another opportunity to pick up a win, as they travel to Villa Park to take on Aston Villa.
Manchester City will look to keep pace in the title race, as it hosts Swansea City at the Etihad. Currently, City is in third place, level on points with Manchester United, but behind on goal differential. A big win could see the club pull into second place in the table.
Tottenham will have a big test on Sunday, as it will travel to the south coast to battle with Premier League new boys Southampton. Only a point from fourth, a win by Spurs could further help them jockey for position in the race for Champions League qualification.
In other matches, Wigan hosts West Ham United, Fulham travels to Reading and Newcastle faces West Bromwich Albion.
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With no Champions League for 20 days, the best clubs in Europe will look to take advantage of this week's fixtures during matchday three. There are multiple clubs that could put themselves within reach of a Round of 16 berth with a win, while some giants will need to get back on track after a rough start to the campaign.
Barcelona faces Celtic on Tuesday, with an opportunity to put itself on the verge of qualification through to the next round, however, if the Scottish giants can get a result, this may help them increase their chances of not only moving on, but possibly getting a shot at the top spot in the group.
Last year's runner-up, Bayern Munich faces French side Lille, which is a must-win for both. BATE Borisov surprisingly leads the group, and a win over Spanish representatives Valencia, could set BATE on track for an easy berth to the knockouts. Manchester United hosts Braga at Old Trafford, with a perfect start to Group H on the line. A win would put the English club in complete control of the group, with half of the group stage left.
Another English club in action on Tuesday, Chelsea faces Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk. The clubs are level on four points, but the Blues have plus-four in goal differential, compared to Shakhtar's plus-two. A win for either side could leave a difficult battle for second between the loser, as well as Juventus and FC Nordsjaelland, with both clubs set to face off simultaneously.
One of the most intriguing matchups this week is the match between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid. The Spanish side is on top of the group with six points, while Dortmund is close behind at four points. Anything less than a point could be a big issue for either side, as Manchester City and Ajax play in the other group match, with the Dutch side looking for its first points of the campaign, and City looking for the elusive first victory.
There's still plenty of Champions League left to play, so it is important to tune in as soon as you can. If you make a transfer of $100 or more on Xoom.com, you will get a subscription for Fox Soccer 2Go at no additional cost. This could get you all of the Champions League action you need to stay informed.
Through the early stages of this season of the English Premier League, Chelsea has been a step above the pack. After a convincing 4-2 victory over city rivals Tottenham Hotspur, the Blues kept their four-point lead over Manchester United and Manchester City, and look stronger than the rest of the competition.
Both United and City managed to keep pace with Chelsea with impressive wins over the weekend. City was able to come from behind to edge West Bromwich Albion 2-1, as Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko struck twice in the final 10 minutes to prevent the upset. United comfortably defeated Stoke City 4-2 at Old Trafford. The two clubs are level on 18 points with eight matches played, despite the Red Devils' edge in goal differential.
The Tyne-Wear derby took place on Sunday, with Newcastle and Sunderland sharing the spoils. Newcastle's French midfielder Yohan Cabaye scored during the third minute, but Demba Ba put the ball in his own net in the 86th minute to even the scoreline. Newcastle almost pulled off an impressive victory, as the club was down to 10 men for the final 65 minutes of regular time.
Arsenal's shock defeat at Carrow Road to Norwich City dropped the Gunners to ninth in the table. Grant Holt's first half strike helped the Canaries to their first win of the season, and out of the drop zone.
Relegation battle no clearer after weekend
While still quite early in the season, the relegation battle is shaping up to be quite competitive. Only five points separate 13th and 20th in the table, with cellar-dwellers Queens Park Rangers pulling off an impressive 1-1 draw against overachievers Everton. Additionally, Liverpool managed to take care of 19th place Reading, as the Royals are level on points with QPR. West Ham handled Southampton 4-1, which kept the Saints in the bottom three.
Fulham helped themselves to eighth place in the table, as they managed to squeak out a 1-0 win against Aston Villa, as the club is only one point clear of the drop. Wigan also didn't do itself any favors, as the club fell to Swansea City 2-1.
The English Premier League season is still in its early stages, so don't miss any of the action. By making your first transfer of $100 or more at Xoom.com, you will get a six-month subscription of Fox Soccer2Go at no extra cost. But it is important to hurry, as there's great action scheduled every week.