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WEEKEND PREVIEW: International Soccer Headliners
by Paul Kennedy, October 5th, 2007 7AM

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TAGS:  argentina, england, france

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RACE/ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Arsenal is the hottest team in the English Premier League with nine consecutive wins -- and 11 wins and one tie in 12 competitive matches -- and the Gunners will look to solidify their lead when they host promoted Sunderland on Sunday.

But Manager Arsene Wenger say it's too early to compare this season's young sensations to his "Invincibles," who went undefeated in the EPL in 2003-04. "We can try to be inspired by the kind of consistency we showed in 2004," the Frenchman said. "Right now, it is too early to compare. We went 49 games, there is still a huge difference. So let's go step by step."

Brazilian Gilberto Silva, one of the few holdovers from the 2003-04 team, is impressed with his young teammates. "The quality in which they do their job -- the pass and movement, the goals -- is fantastic," the midfielder said. "If one of the players is not in condition to play, another replaces him and will do a great job."

TV
SETANTA SPORTS USA, ARSENAL-SUNDERLAND, Sunday (live), 6 am ET

PLAYER/ELANO
Brazilian Elano has been one of the best signings of the summer transfer market.

Manchester City picked the 26-year-old midfielder up from Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk for $16 million, and he has been worth the money. He goal against Newcastle -- a long-range free kick -- is an early candidate for goal of the year in the EPL.

"His form shouldn't be a surprise," said City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. "He had a good Copa America although I think he was injured at the very end. But we knew about him, as did other coaches and the scouts that were here before me. They all knew about most of the players we bought, so it's teamwork that led to this and I'm very happy that we brought him here."

TV
SETANTA SPORTS USA, MANCHESTER CITY-MIDDLESBROUGH, Sunday (delay), 10 pm ET


MATCH/RIVER PLATE-BOCA JUNIORS
For once, River Plate-Boca -- one of the world's great derbies -- takes a backseat in Argentina. The game falls the same day as Argentina's quarterfinal match at the Rugby World Cup, where the Pumas are favored against Scotland.

Both clubs have been playing poorly, which explains why this fall's derby has lost some of its significance. Poor form by River Plate and Boca have their fans up in arms. River Plate coach Daniel Passarella rested several key players Wednesday night in anticipation of Sunday's derby, and River Plate lost to Argentinos Juniors, 4-1, to fall into 10th place in the Torneo Apertura.

Boca was knocked out of the Copa Sudamericana by Brazil's Sao Paulo and then lost to Newell's Old Boys, 1-0, on Monday, leaving it two points behind first-place Independiente.

TV
FOX SOCCER CHANNEL, FOX SPORTS EN ESPANOL, RIVER PLATE-BOCA JUNIORS, Sunday (live), 2 pm ET

COACH/ERIC GERETS
After Marseille's 1-0 win at Liverpool on Wednesday in the Champions League, Belgian Eric Gerets gets down to work to turn around OM's miserable league form.

With one win in nine games, Marseille is in 17th place in the 20-team Ligue 1, so it fired Albert Emon and brought in Gerets on the eve of its trip to Anfield.

"The team has too much talent to be in this situation," says Gerets. "I'm extremely happy to be in charge of a team like Marseille. Coming here was not a random decision on my part. The only thing that is wrong at the moment is the results. There's a big responsibility on my shoulders to put that right."

TV
TV5 MONDE ETATS-UNIS, ST. ETIENNE-MARSEILLE, Saturday (live), 11:05 am ET



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