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European football matchday: Steven Gerrard returns to Anfield; Robert Lewandowski eyes record


The Premier League’s top teams are all in action with the feature attraction being Steven Gerrard’s return to Anfield as manager of Aston Villa. Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp says he’s sure Gerrard will someday be the Reds’ manager but for now Liverpool has a chance to claim the league lead. Mohamed Salah leads the league with 13 goals though he and Sadio Mane might line up without forward Diogo Jota, who was injured last weekend. Danny Ings looks likely to return for Villa. Klopp’s high-scoring squad is one point behind leader Manchester City, who host Wolverhampton in the early game.

Third-placed Chelsea trail City by two points and will host Leeds. Arsenal have lost two straight games but have a favourable home match against struggling Southampton. Manchester United and new manager Ralf Rangnick visit relegation-threatened Norwich in the late game.


Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich host Mainz with another record beckoning for Robert Lewandowski. The Poland star has 40 goals in the Bundesliga in this calendar year, just two off the record set in 1972 by Bayern great Gerd Müller. Lewandowski already beat Müller’s old league record for goals in a season by scoring 41 for Bayern last season. Mainz haven’t conceded more than one goal per game in six straight league matches. Bayern will be without Leon Goretzka due to injury and Joshua Kimmich, who is still feeling the aftereffects from a coronavirus infection.

Wounded Dortmund visit Bochum without coach Marco Rose, who was sent off in his team’s contentious loss to Bayern last weekend.

Domenico Tedesco makes his debut as Leipzig coach against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hertha Berlin host Arminia Bielefeld in Tayfun Korkut’s second game as coach, and Freiburg welcome Hoffenheim. Wolfsburg host Stuttgart in the late game.


Sevilla visit Athletic Bilbao in second place and are looking to reduce the eight-point gap to LaLiga leaders Real Madrid. Julen Lopetegui’s side need to bounce back from a loss to Salzburg this week that cost them an exit from the Champions League group phase. Sevilla will be without injured forward Lucas Ocampos and midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who is suspended. Athletic are aiming to break a seven-round winless streak.

Last-placed Levante will seek a long-awaited first victory of the season when they visit Espanyol. Alessio Lisci, Levante’s third coach of the season, will coach his first league match after debuting in the Copa del Rey.

Elche will look for a third straight win under new coach Francisco Martínez when they visit Valencia, while struggling Getafe seeks their first victory on the road at Alavés.


AC Milan will be looking to put their Champions League disappointment behind it as they turns their eyes back to domestic matters and pushing on with the title charge. Milan lost at home to Liverpool 2-1 midweek and were eliminated from European competition. But the Rossoneri sit on top of Serie A, a point above city rivals Inter Milan, and visit lowly Udinese.

Juventus have had the opposite quandary. They qualified top of its Champions League group but have dropped out of Serie A title contention and could even struggle to qualify for next year’s Champions League as they are already seven points below fourth-placed Atalanta. The Bianconeri visit relegation-threatened Venezia.

Fiorentina are level on points with Juventus and host bottom-placed Salernitana.


Brest did not even win a league game until the end of October. But a remarkable turnaround means that coach Michel Der Zakarian’s team aims for a seventh straight win when they host Montpellier in a contest between mid-table sides. Victory may feel bittersweet for Der Zakarian, who played 10 years as a defender for Montpellier and coached them from 2017 until the end of last season. Brest’s resurgence is in large part down to the outstanding form of midfielder Romain Faivre, who has seven goals and four assists. Montpellier schemer Teji Savanier also has four assists and is again the team’s best player this season.

In the other game, last-placed Saint-Etienne are at struggling Reims in the first game since Saint-Etienne fired coach Claude Puel following last weekend’s 5-0 home loss.

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