What to watch this weekend: Derby returns to Kolkata after two years while City hope to knock Arsenal off their perch

The biggest leagues of the world will see a lull in high voltage action with this week being one of those rare instances where there is an absence of so-called big matches. However, the biggest match of the week will be a lot closer to home as archrivals ATK Mohun Bagan take on East Bengal in the Kolkata derby in the Indian Super League on Saturday.

Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal (7.30 PM)

The Indian Super League will host its marquee clash on Saturday when ATK Mohun Bagan take on East Bengal at the iconic Salt Lake stadium. Considered one of the most famous derbies in the world, this match between the Mariners and their red and yellow counterparts has a long and storied history with tales of sporadic violence between their two groups of supporters have made headlines on countless occasions. For all the hype, however, the recent matches between the two have been rather one sided. In the ISL, ATK Mohun Bagan have an overwhelming lead, beating their rivals every time they have met. In their last league meeting at the Fatorda stadium in January, a new star was born when youngster Kiyan Nassiri came off the bench and scored a hattrick for the green and maroon brigade.

This is the first derby under the ISL banner since the Covid when these two teams return to Salt Lake stadium. But that doesn’t guarantee an electric atmosphere. While East Bengal’s supporters might feel downcast due to the team’s poor form, ATK Mohun Bagan fans have been staging protests demanding the removal of the first three letters in the team name.

Even on field, the form of both teams has been far from inspiring. In their season opener, ATKMB let a one goal lead slip and conceded twice against Chennaiyin FC but have since demolished last year’s finalists Kerala Blasters 5-2 away from home. East Bengal have had it worse, losing their first two games against Kerala Blasters and Goa FC and defeating NorthEast United.

Both teams are languishing at the bottom half of the table, with East Bengal at 8th and Mohun Bagan at 7th. The Mariners, however, have a game in hand and a win on Saturday will propel them towards the top four if all other match results go their way. East Bengal, meanwhile, will be aiming for their first derby win since 2019 and give their fans something to cheer about.

Leicester City vs Manchester City (Saturday 5 PM)

The reigning champions Manchester City will pay a visit to the King Power Stadium on Saturday to take on a Leicester City who are seeing an upturn in form after a horrid start to the season. Last week, the Foxes bested Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-0 while City easily defeated Brighton with Erling Haaland scoring a brace. However, they were held to a goalless draw against Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Leicester, who managed to get themselves out of the relegation spot with back to back victories against Leeds and Wolves, will hope to achieve what the German team achieved against City but it’s going to be a rather tall task.

Riyad Mahrez will return to his former club after missing a penalty against Dortmund but will hope to turn his fortunes around if he gets a chance to feature in the starting XI. Arsenal having dropped points last week, City will have a golden chance to leapfrog them and go on top of the table so expect Pep Guardiola to go all guns blazing in this match. City have just 1 win in their last 3 matches in all competitions. They drew with both Dortmund and Copenhagen in the UCL and lost to Liverpool before ending that streak against Brighton last week. With City’s away form being patchy this season, expect Leicester to go all in, hoping for at least a draw.

Brighton vs Chelsea (Saturday 7.30 PM)

Graham Potter will return to Amex on Saturday as his former club Brighton welcome his current club Chelsea. It was just as recently as last month that Potter was standing near the home dugout, willing his Brighton team on. Those visuals seem like a distant memory now. Expect Brighton to rain on Potter’s party on Saturday. Potter has had a bright start at Chelsea having already qualified for the Champions League knockout stages while still remaining unbeaten in 9 games in all competitions.

However, Chelsea have a glaring problem, something that they have common with Brighton as well. Both teams don’t seem to have a regular goal scorer. Brighton tend to create a plethora of chances but fail to find the back of the net on most occasions. Chelsea, meanwhile, have a proven striker like Pierre Emerick Aubameyang in their ranks but they still don’t score as many goals that they should. This came back to haunt them last week when Manchester United came back at the death and cancelled out the Blues one-goal lead and nicked a point off them at Stamford Bridge. The last two meetings between these two teams have resulted in draws and if their recent form is anything to go by, that is exactly the result we may be looking at this Saturday.

Liverpool vs Leeds (Sunday, 12.15 AM)

The match that has the potential to steal the show this weekend is the clash between Liverpool and Leeds at Anfield. Liverpool have been heavily reliant on Mohamed Salah’s form. In matches where the Egyptian does well, Liverpool have been utterly dominant, blowing away opposition but if he has an off day, the Merseyside outfit is more often than not in danger of throwing away the match. How else would you explain the fact that Liverpool defeated Manchester City one day and the next week, they lost to relegation threatened Nottingham Forest. Leeds are also in the relegation zone and will hope to take heart from Forest’s result last week. But there is just one difference. Liverpool lost away to Forest while Leeds are travelling to Liverpool’s fortress, a place where they are unbeaten for the last 29 matches. City found that out the hard way and Leeds might also be in for a world of suffering.

On the other hand, Leeds can at least hope to clinch a point if Liverpool lose concentration, something they are guilty of a lot this year. But it won’t be easy, especially after Leeds lost 3-2 to Fulham at Elland Road last week, with the fans chanting for former coach Marcelo Bielsa. Their morale at an all time low, Leeds have their backs against the wall. But they have proved they can handle high pressure situations having escaped relegation on the last day of last season. Can they do it tonight? A point at Anfield may be a step in the right direction.

Honourable mentions

Manchester United vs West Ham (Sunday, 9.45 PM)

Valencia vs Barcelona (Sunday, 12.30 AM)

Marseille vs Tottenham (Wednesday, 1.30 AM)

Juventus vs PSG (Thursday 1.30 AM)

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