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Arsenal and Chelsea lead weekend lineup

Published: Friday 28 September 2012, 9.15CET
London and Prague await big derby games, while major domestic tests await champions FC Zenit St Petersburg, Juventus and AFC Ajax as surveys the weekend's top ties.

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Published: Friday 28 September 2012, 9.15CET

Arsenal and Chelsea lead weekend lineup

London and Prague await big derby games, while major domestic tests await champions FC Zenit St Petersburg, Juventus and AFC Ajax as surveys the weekend's top ties.

Russia: FC Zenit St Petersburg v FC Lokomotiv Moskva (Saturday, 12.00)
With his side already weakened by injuries, Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti sent Russian internationals Igor Denisov and Aleksandr Kerzhakov to train with the reserves at the end of last week. Having lost their last two home matches, the heat is on the champions.

Slaven Bilić's Lokomotiv claimed high-profile scalps in their last three league outings. They also scored three unanswered goals against FC Torpedo Armavir in the Russian Cup in midweek, while Zenit won 2-1 at FC Baltika Kaliningrad. "This win will give us confidence," said defender Bruno Alves, who scored the winning goal. "Important games lie ahead and I'm sure we have all we need to keep on winning."

England: Arsenal FC v Chelsea FC (Saturday, 13.45)
Two of the four unbeaten sides in the Premier League go head-to-head, with the Blues looking to extend their early lead at the summit. The London rivals have conceded just two goals each in their opening five matches, with Chelsea's summer signing Eden Hazard grabbing many of the early-season headlines. The 21-year-old midfielder has been involved in seven of Chelsea's nine league goals.

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger is a keen admirer of the Belgian international. "He was voted best player in the French league for two consecutive years," said Wenger. "You need some quality to do that at his age. I'm not surprised at all that he goes to Chelsea and straight away is one of their stars because everybody knew about him."

Czech Republic: SK Slavia Praha v AC Sparta Praha (Saturday, 20.00)
"It is the only real derby we have in the Czech Republic," said Slavia midfielder Karol Kisel, the club's top scorer this season with five goals. "Slavia and Sparta represent the oldest football tradition, which is why we want to win this extraordinary match."

The 278th Prague derby finds Slavia trailing Sparta by five points, but the UEFA Europa League contenders are reeling after the second of two straight league defeats, 2-1 at home to SK Sigma Olomouc on Monday. Slavia boss Petr Rada, though, is taking no comfort from that. "That game will not play any role," he said. "Every match starts at 0-0 – the performance on the day will decide it."

Italy: Juventus v AS Roma (Saturday, 20.45)
Juventus dropped their first points of the season in a 0-0 draw at ACF Fiorentina on Tuesday, but the champions will hope to bounce back against Roma. "Our stadium will be like the pit of hell for them," Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci said, with the Giallorossi currently seventh in the table, trailing the Bianconeri by five points.

Roma goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg is not intimidated, even though their opponents have not lost in 44 Serie A games. "We have enough quality to beat any side," the Dutchman said. "Juventus are the strongest side in Serie A, but Fiorentina outplayed them on Tuesday, so they can be beaten."

Netherlands: AFC Ajax v FC Twente (Saturday, 20.45)
With wins in their first six Eredivisie games, Twente matched a 44-year-old club record. However, having been up against lesser sides in their opening fixtures, visiting the defending champions represents the Tukkers' first major domestic challenge of the season. "This will be a good way of measuring ourselves," said captain Peter Wisgerhof. "We might not have had the strongest opponents so far in the league, but we have proved what we are capable of against some tough opponents in Europe."

Six points adrift of Twente, Ajax beat FC Utrecht 3-0 in the Dutch Cup in midweek, and coach Frank de Boer said: "At times, I saw us play some excellent football. We have to keep that going in the upcoming matches."

All times CET

Last updated: 04/12/13 19.15CET

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