Column by: Elias Sekkal, Aaron Kleiner, Manas Jain, Matthew Kleiner
Each week, The Echo’s own football pundits will discuss two of Europe’s biggest matches at the weekend and make their prediction.
With Arsenal’s hopes of advancing to the knockout stages of the Champions League hanging in the balance after a humiliating loss to Bayern Munchen midweek, the Gunners could use a strong performance in the North London derby to bolster morale. Tied with Manchester City at the head of the table, Arsene Wenger’s side is looking for a first Premier League title since the famous unbeaten 05-06 season. The Gunners’ underperformance in the Champions League has not been mirrored in league play and have scored 16 in the last five fixtures while conceding thrice. Tottenham presents a potent attack force with Harry Kane and Erik Lamela, but will require an impressive turnout in order to stay in a European spot.
Elias: The latest installment of the most heated rivalry in London is sure to be an exciting one with plenty of goals to be scored. 3-2 Arsenal wins
Matthew: The Gunners will easily put the Champions League disappointment behind them, as they so often have and move to top of the table after an Aston Villa victory. 2-0 Arsenal wins
Manas: In the history of this rivalry, Arsenal has scored more goals against Tottenham than any other club while under Arsene Wenger and Arsenal has won six of the last nine fixtures against Tottenham. Add another one to the win column. 2-1 Arsenal wins
Aaron: In the first North London derby of the current campaign, Arsenal will prove that their top spot in the domestic league is well-deserved. 3-1 Arsenal wins
Arguably the most storied derby in world football returns to the European stage this weekend. A rivalry defined for almost a century by two sides’ pure hatred for one another, the Derby della Capitale never fails to give viewers the excitement and drama they so crave. In this fixture a year ago, Francesco Totti led Roma from 2-0 down at the break to a historic 2-2 draw, famously celebrating his second goal with a selfie in front of the Curva Sud. Unfortunately for the Giallorossi, this time around, Totti will not be able to provide the inspiration as he is currently serving a long spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. However, the Lupi find solace in the fact that Edin Dzeko, widely heralded as Totti’s eventual successor, ended his recent goal drought with a crucial goal in the Champions League earlier this week. With last week’s loss at Inter leaving Roma two points below the top spot, the Giallorossi are all-the-more desperate to top their bitter cross-town rivals. Lazio will also be out for blood, needing to put an extremely poor performance against Milan behind them. The memories of last year’s two less than desirable results against the Giallorossi will incite Stefano Pioli’s side further. But the Biancocelesti faithful are surely worried heading into the first derby of the campaign, given their squad’s recent struggles. Regardless of the result, the Stadio Olimpico is sure to provide an electric atmosphere with both sides under massive pressure to prove their dominance.
Elias: Sitting 5 points under their cross-town rivals coming into the match, Lazio will have much to prove, and prove they will. 2-1 Lazio wins
Manas: Roma is coming off a Champions League win against Bayer Leverkusen, while Lazio is coming off a loss to 6th place Milan. Lazio will be unable to compete against a strong Roma. 2-1 Roma wins
Matthew: This weekend’s Derby della Capitale will bring excitement, violence, and a massive Roma victory to the Italian capital. 3-0 Roma wins
Aaron: Roma’s recent domestic dominance came to a halt with a loss last weekend at Inter, but the Giallorossi will rebound with a convincing display against their cross-city rivals. 2-1 Roma Wins
World Football Weekly
1 point for correct result, 2 for correct scoreline