Even as Boxing Day came I wasn’t sure that I wanted league football so soon after the World Cup, but such is the nature of a football fan that once it gets underway, one can’t help but feel involved. Here are my thoughts on the first matchday on the resumption of the Premier League, in which the top dogs impressed as the pressure grows for some at the bottom.
Some quick thoughts after a routine yet essential win for Xavi's Barcelona over Emery's Villarreal.
After an engrossing week of action on the continent, it’s back to domestic football on the weekend. As well as Der Klassiker, it’s also Arsenal hosting Liverpool, while Xabi Alonso makes his top flight managerial debut with Bayer Leverkusen and Jorge Sampaoli returns for his second stint at Sevilla.
Napoli had the standout performance, while Salzburg and Brugge proved there is still place for meritocracy in an increasingly stratified game. On the other hand, Sevilla and Leverkusen put in abject displays, bringing about the end of their manager’s reigns.
The derby weekend in the Premier League saw plenty of drama with brilliant performances from Arsenal and City, while the questions increase for Liverpool and Forest.
Club football returns with one of its busiest stretches as the World Cup looms ever closer in the horizon. Derbies in Manchester and North London take top billing this weekend, while there is also Mourinho taking Roma to his old stomping ground in Milan amongst other interesting storylines across Europe’s Big Five leagues.
A shortened Premier League matchday sees plaudits for Arsenal, City and Fulham while the doubts grow for Leicester and Forest.
Some big games in Italy, the Madrid derby, the Ruhr derby and Lyon hosting PSG are amongst the many interesting games lined up this weekend.
Club Brugge deliver the result of the round, Bayern and Real just know to win while Atleti and Juve struggle for European relevance.
There may be no football in England this week, but there is still plenty to look forward to including Marco Rose returning to Dortmund with his new side Leipzig, Monaco taking on Lyon and a crucial game in the race for La Liga's top four.
Matchday 1 saw lots of success for the underdogs, with Club Brugge, Dinamo Zagreb and most impressively, Shakhtar Donetsk, all shining.
Arsenal falter in their toughest test, United's resurgence continues, but the weekend was most illuminated by Bournemouth, Brentford and Brighton.
Rating the players after an engrossing Merseyside derby, with Pickford and Alisson both shining for their teams.
In a weekend packed full of narrative and excitement, I pick 15 games across the big five leagues, including the Milan derby, the Merseyside derby, United against Arsenal, alongside many others.
The good vibes keep on going at Craven Cottage, the Reds get lucky, while the champions two new forwards look great.
The first midweek action of the season sees some intriguing games including West Ham hosting Spurs, Liverpool taking on Newcastle and Lille jostling with Nice in Ligue 1.
Chelsea show some class in adversity, Liverpool delivered a much-needed romp and steady improvement continues at United.
Italy takes centre stage this weekend with three big clashes in Serie A, while there is a big derby in the South coast of France.
Analyzing the draw for the group stages of the Champions League and speculating about which sides may progress to the round of 16.
Brighton continue to impress, Fulham look a different proposition under Marco Silva, while Zaha and Eze enable the Eagles to soar.
United hosting Liverpool is the big fixture of the weekend, while there is also the West London derby, the two richest teams in England taking on each other and Atalanta hosting Milan to look forward to.
Arsenal maintained their excellent start to the season, while Brentford had the standout performance and result of the weekend.
It's the first weekend where all five of Europe's Big Leagues are in action this season, which means its time to pick out some great fixtures to follow.
Fulham, Arsenal and Bournemouth made exceptional starts to the new season. United and Leicester less so.