October marks Black History Month in the UK, and the Premier League (and clubs thereof) have paid particularly escalated homage to their ongoing ‘No Room for Racism’ campaign – striving towards tackling racism and discrimination in football and in wider society.
Everton duo Carlo Ancelotti and Dominic Calvert-Lewin were awarded PL Manager & Player of the Month, respectively, for September. Ancelotti’s Toffees won all their opening three matches, with the English striker netting five of Everton’s eight goals.
Calvert-Lewin, 23, subsequently received his first senior call-up, making his national team debut for the Three Lions in a friendly vs Wales; DCL scored in the 3-0 win against Ryan Giggs’ Dragons.
In the Nations League, England saw off top-ranked team Belgium before coming up short against Denmark.
Ukraine snapped their 3-game UNL losing streak with a slim 1-0 win over Luis Enrique's Spain.
Head coach – and record goalscorer – Andriy Shevchenko was without 12 players, several through illness. Playing in front of a crowd of 20,000 in Kiev, Shevchenko’s side had just two shots compared to the 21 attempts at goal from the 2010 World Cup winners, who also had almost three-quarters ball possession.
La Furia Roja conceded to Ukraine for the first time in five meetings – stretching back to September 2003 when Shevchenko grabbed a consolation in a 2-1 Spanish victory; several all-time greats featured in that match including Casillas, Xavi and captain Raúl (who scored both of Spain's goals).
Selected UNL results:
Croatia 2 - 1 Sweden
England 2 - 1 Belgium
France 0 - 0 Portugal
Spain 1 - 0 Switzerland
Ukraine 1 - 2 Germany
Croatia 1 - 2 France
England 1 - 2 Denmark
Germany 3 - 3 Switzerland
Iceland 1 - 2 Belgium
Italy 1 - 1 Netherlands
Portugal 3 - 0 Sweden
Ukraine 1 - 0 Spain
With two rounds of fixtures remaining in the UNL group stages, 20-year-old Norwegian forward Erling Haaland has the most goal contributions – currently with six goals and an assist.
The past month of Premier League action has by no means deprived us of goals. Spurs battered Man Utd 6-1 at Old Trafford to give José Mourinho his first win in three versus his former team.
Mere hours later the footballing world was left yet more stumped, as Liverpool suffered a humiliating 7-2 beating at the hands of Aston Villa.
The last time the Reds lost by the same scoreline (vs Spurs in the 1962/63 season), neighbours Everton were crowned league winners that same season.
Man City hosted Arsenal as Pep Guardiola went head-to-head with apprentice Mikel Arteta.
City‘s stand-in skipper Raheem Sterling scored the only goal of the game as Guardiola got the upper hand over his protégée, by a goal to nil.
A weekend filled with rivalries aplenty began with what was perhaps the most hotly-anticipated Merseyside Derby in recent times. Huge stakes were on the line, with it being a top-of-the-table clash as well considering their respective stadiums are separated by less than one mile.
Liverpool took an early lead when Mané got onto the end of Robertson’s cross. Everton leveled through a Michael Keane header which left the rampant rivals deadlocked at the half interval.
Calvert-Lewin became Everton’s first player since 1938 to score in all of their first five league games, as the Toffees equalised once more just minutes after Mo Salah restored Liverpool’s lead.
A ferocious final few minutes saw tempers flare as Richarlison was given his marching orders for an egregious challenge on Thiago Alcântara.
Jordan Henderson had the ball in the Everton net however VAR cruelly deemed the goal offside, and the game ended in a stalemate – full-time at Goodison Park, two goals apiece.
London, too, was divided as West Ham travelled north to Spurs. Both teams were on top form heading into the contest, however it was Mourinho’s side that were three goals to the good inside the opening 20 minutes. Gareth Bale made his long-awaited Spurs return as he subbed on in the second half.
David Moyes’ Hammers pulled a rabbit out of the hat as they netted three goals in the final ten minutes – including Manuel Lanzini‘s screamer in the final minute of play – to dramatically snatch a point off their noisy neighbours.
Other fierce rivalries across Europe included the Old Firm Derby in Scotland which saw Glasgow Rangers pick up a 2-0 win at Celtic Park, which gave Steven Gerrard's men just their fourth win in 18 league meetings with their traditional foes.
AC Milan triumphed 2-1 over Inter as 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimović bagged a brace at the San Siro. The Rossoneri stretched their unbeaten run to 20 games and sit atop of the Serie A log; Ibrahimović returned for the Derby di Milano after overcoming COVID-19.
The granddaddy of European derbies took centre stage the following week, as Real Madrid visited Barcelona for the latest installment of El Clásico.
Captain Sergio Ramos was on the scoresheet as Los Blancos emerged 3-1 winners, to record only their third La Liga win at Camp Nou since 2008.
Days later, Barça travelled to Juventus for their UEFA Champions League group-stage fixture.
A prospective on-field meeting between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo was unfortunately not on the cards, after CR7 returned several positive tests for COVID-19.
The two sides put on an enticing encounter in which Barça ultimately overcame Juve; Messi put on a commendable performance, registering both a goal and an assist in the 2-0 win.
Bayern Munich began their UCL title defence with a dominant display in their 4-0 victory over Atlético Madrid, before they won 2-1 at Lokomotiv Moscow.
13-time winners Real Madrid suffered a shock home defeat, losing 2-3 to Shakhtar Donetsk. Zinedine Zidane's side later salvaged a 2-2 draw versus Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Man United's return to Europe's elite got off to a flyer, with their commanding performance away at last season's runners-up Paris Saint-Germain. For the second time in as many years, Marcus Rashford stole the show in the French capital to win the game late on for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s red army.
United’s following UCL game was at home to 2019/20 semi-finalists RB Leipzig. The Red Devils recorded a statement 5-0 victory as Rashford's hat-trick took his tally this campaign to 4 goals, more than anybody else in the competition.
Five teams have won their opening two UCL group matches – namely Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Man City & Man Utd.
Back in England, Everton’s unbeaten start came to an abrupt end with a 0-2 loss at Southampton.
Aston Villa’s impeccable start to the season also came crashing down with a 0-3 home defeat to Leeds Utd, with thanks to Patrick Bamford's hat-trick.
Leicester City's visit to Arsenal saw Jamie Vardy score the only of the game to guide the Foxes to their first win away at the Gunners since 1973.
South Korean star Heung-min Son leads the Golden Boot race with 8 league goals; DCL has netted 7 times while Bamford, Salah & Vardy currently sit on 6 goals each. Harry Kane leads the assists charts, thus far with 8.
Heading into matchweek 7, Liverpool and Spurs are the only representatives of the traditional ‘Big Six‘ teams to be inside the top 8 at present.
1. Everton PTS 13, GD+5
2. Liverpool PTS 13, GD+1 3. Aston Villa PTS 12, GD+7
4. Leicester PTS 12, GD+5
The start of November sees Man Utd host Arsenal. The following weekend of Premier League action features a double bill of Manchester vs Merseyside, as Man City host Liverpool while United travel to Everton.
Spurs close out the month with crucial clashes versus Man City and Chelsea.
Elsewhere, in the Bundesliga, Bayern prepare to welcome Borussia Dortmund for 'Der Klassiker' derby.
November also sees two more rounds of Champions League fixtures; Real Madrid lock horns with Inter Milan both home and away, while English champions Liverpool face off with free-scoring Italian outfit Atalanta.
The month ahead also sees yet another international break. On 11 Nov, Spain and the Netherlands clash for just the third time since that magical evening in Johannesburg 10 years ago.
In the Nations League, Portugal battle France once again meanwhile Belgium entertain England; thereafter Spain face Germany, and Croatia meet Portugal.
France, Germany and Portugal are altogether in Group F of Euro 2020, which is due to commence in June next year.
The Premier League amended their logo in light of Black History Month
Marcus Rashford MBE wore custom blackout boots in England‘s UEFA Nations League clash with Belgium