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Probable starting lineups for Manchester City-Manchester United (and the matchups they create)

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One of the great things about today’s big match: We’re unlikely to see any pre-match surprises. True, a good twist is often irresistible, but when a match is this delicious, it speaks for itself, beginning with the starting XIs.

Aside from long term absences (like Nemanja Vidic) each team has their first choices available. There are no new injuries. There are no suspensions, illnesses – lingering rifts between stars and bosses. There are no excuses.

These might not be the exact starting XIs come 3:00 p.m. ET, but it’s be a shock if they weren’t pretty dang close.

Here’s the team Roberto Mancini’s likely to select for the home team:

Manchester City, Probable Starting XI

G: Joe Hart
LB: Gael Clichy
LCB: Joleon Lescott
RCB: Vincent Kompany
RB: Micah Richards
DM: Gareth Barry
DM: Yaya Touré
M: Samir Nasri
M: David Silva
F: Carlos Tévez
F: Sergio Agüero

That Carlos Tévez will be in a position to win this league for City proves the inherently unpredictable nature of a universe addicted to irony.

Manchester United, Probable Starting XI

G: David de Gea
LB: Patrice Evra
LCB: Jonny Evans
RCB: Rio Ferdinand
RB: Rafael da Silva
DM: Michael Carrick
DM: Paul Scholes
LW: Nani
RW: Antonio Valencia
AM/F: Wayne Rooney
F: Danny Welbeck

Some interesting matchups these lineups imply:

Antonio Valencia vs. Gael Clichy – So much of what United has done this year (where they’re at their best) has involved Antonio Valencia. Gael Clichy is capable of containing him.

Wayne Rooney vs. Gareth Barry – The chances United has to counter will likely be the times Touré has surged into attack. That leaves Gareth Barry to lockup one of the Premier League’s best creators.

Nani vs. Micah Richards – The way these teams lean, expect Manchester United’s left flank to be wide open. As many nightmares as Nani’s given Premier League right backs, Micah Richards is just a terrifying for left midfielders tasked with marking the City’s juggernaut.

Nasri/Tevez/Silva vs. Carrick/Scholes – As deep as United’s midfielders are prone to sit, their job is more about clogging channels than offsetting their numerical disadvantage. Carrick and Scholes will need to stay disciplined and force overly-ambitious passes that can be cleaned up by Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and David de Gea.

Sergio Aguero vs. Rio Ferdinand and/or Jonny Evans – It’s a horrible matchup for United’s central defenders: A quick striker that reads the game beautifully and does his damage playing along the defense. Whether they can hold their own will likely depend on how much help they get from the players around them.

It’s a big game, it’s a weekday, so PST will be doing play-by-play. Check back at 2:30 p.m. ET as we take you moment-by-moment through Monday’s big match in Manchester: City vs. United, with the Premier League title at stake.

Ronaldo shows no sign of injury while hanging with Conor McGregor

instagram.com/cristiano/
instagram.com/cristiano/
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Cristiano Ronaldo may not be ready for the UEFA Super Cup, but he’s no longer limping around.

To explore the Real Madrid superstar’s Instagram is to see Ronaldo, sometimes clothed, hanging out with celebrities.

In the last couple weeks we’ve seen him with Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, and now his “bro” Conor McGregor.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Wait, what?

Yeah, Ronaldo is friends with the MMA star, and showed no ill form (and no brace of any kind) in several posed photos with McGregor.

Although admittedly, McGregor’s IG game is a bit better: The Irish fighter posted a photo of himself sunning in his briefs with the caption, “I’m gonna get him on the Forbes list by next year. But I’m gonna get him on the tan by next week.”

Good luck with both, bro.

Great to see you bro!!💪🏽🔝

A photo posted by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on Jul 24, 2016 at 3:48pm PD

Bruce pens letter to Hull fans: “Desperately wanted to make it work”

YORK, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Steve Bruce manager of  Hull City ahead of the pre-season friendly match between York City and Hull City at Bootham Cresent on July 23, 2014  in York, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
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Many Hull City fans didn’t want Steve Bruce to leave the club, and this open letter shows why.

After leaving the club by “mutual consent” on Friday — it was first widely reported that he quit — fans protested at Hull’s game on Monday.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Bruce may’ve had his problems with Hull’s ownership, but he certainly got his supporters’ feelings right down to the core.

From the Hull Daily Mail:

My biggest regret is having to walk away but it was a decision I had to make for the sake of the club. The last 12 months have been very tough and it felt like the right step for the club to move forward in a different direction and with someone else in charge.

I desperately wanted to make it work this summer and be a Premier League manager again but, sadly, it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, I’ve left Hull City with some fantastic memories that I’ll always cherish, including just eight weeks ago in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

Class from the longtime boss, and we imagine he’ll have a job very soon if he wants it.

Report: Everton to activate release clause of Stoke’s Arnautovic

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Marko Arnautovic (1st L) of Stoke City competes for the ball against Seamus Coleman (2nd L) and Gareth Barry (1st Rof Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Stoke City at Goodison Park on December 28, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
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Everton is going to activate Marko Arnautovic‘s $16 million release clause to bring the Stoke City striker to Goodison Park, according to a report out of Austria.

Stoke had been trying to sign Arnautovic to a contract extension, but the player was reportedly prepared to play out the final year of his deal.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

The huge 27-year-old Austrian has been with Stoke since 2013, and broke through with 11 Premier League goals last season.

Arnautovic would give Everton support behind Romelu Lukaku, and insurance in case the Toffees do wind up selling their Belgian striker. Everton also has Arouna Kone as a potential target forward, but Oumar Niasse is expecting to leave after less than a year at Goodison Park.

Chelsea wins the League… of Hate; Bournemouth, Leicester not hated

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium on February 27, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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A family of English newspapers conducted its annual survey of which teams are the most hated in the Premier League, and there’s a new champion.

Manchester United has dropped to second in the table to Chelsea in what the Manchester Evening News called the “League of Hate”.

[ MORE: Rooney’s England position not set ]

According to the MEN, 10,000 fans were quizzed on their love and hate:

A national survey asked fans of each top flight club which sides they hate, and which they love, and the west London club came out as the most disliked club overall.

United, who won the dubious accolade last year, have been revealed to be the next most reviled side.

It’s no surprise that the league’s more successful sides sit atop the table while newer PL clubs like Bournemouth and Burnley are not reviled. That said, Leicester’s dream story has them 19th. How much more success do they need to have before shooting up the hate table?

Here’s the Top Five, and all results:

1) Chelsea
2) Manchester United
3) Liverpool
4) Manchester City
5) Arsenal