We are in “loan” season around MLS.
This is when, increasingly, teams abroad look to rent out MLS men to cover short-term gaps, or to boost troop strength or stage a preemptive strike against the scourge of attrition or … heck, maybe just because they like having someone around.
As for the big names, I think we can be quite safe in the assumption that Landon Donovan is not going anywhere. (It really was surprising last week during MLS Cup proceedings how many media minds still believe the guy is about to pack his bags and board the next boat for the Port of Liverpool, for yet another loan spell at Everton. Seriously … haven’t they been listening?)
Donovan isn’t going anywhere. Not on loan, that is.
But … his defending champion Galaxy teammate certainly may be. Robbie Keane’s loan spell was somewhat less ballyhooed last year, but he did come and go with relative success at Aston Villa.
The mitigating factor here is Keane’s extra-busy summer, the intense training and playing time for Ireland in the European Championships. So, perhaps he’s due for a rest. Then again …
I haven’t even thought of it, to be honest with you. I look forward to a rest now. It’s been a long season for me, I’ve played a lot of football. … It’s not certain now. I’ll think about it in a couple of weeks.”
He’ll be at home in Ireland while he thinks about it – and being a little closer to it all might just increase the chances that he’ll find an EPL loan assignment. He was certainly good enough over the season’s final three months to attract ample interest.
- Foxes unbeaten in five vs. Stoke
- Drew 2-2 at the Potteries on Nov. 4
- Leicester leads all-time 34W-34D-31L
Leicester City can rejoin the Top Seven with a win and help on Friday when it hosts relegation-threatened Stoke City (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).
The Foxes sit eighth in the Premier League table, a point back of Burnley (The Clarets host Southampton on Saturday)
Stoke, meanwhile, is two points back of safety. The half-full glass says the Potters have only lost once since Paul Lambert took over as boss, but the half-empty one sees draws against Watford and Brighton to go a loss at Bournemouth.
What they’re saying
Leicester boss Claude Puel on Stoke’s fortunes: “Shaqiri can make the difference and at the moment they play well with a good fighting spirit. I think they play good football on the floor. When they recover the ball they try to get in behind and make good pressing on the opponent. Shaqiri has more freedom and plays between the lines and they are a good team at this moment.”
Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri on Paul Lambert’s style: “He has a German mentality with his teams… I’m really glad he came here. With German teams they always sit together – there are no phones on the table. It’s brought us more together – when you eat together you have to speak more to other team-mates who you don’t normally speak to. It’s a good thing.”
Phone ban or no, it will take improved communication to deal with Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, and Adrien Silva. Leicester gets another win, 3-0.
The English Football Association has charged Pep Guardiola for wearing a political message.
Guardiola has been wearing a yellow ribbon in support of Catalan independence, and that’s in breach of the FA’s kit and advertising regulations.
[ PL PREVIEW: Liverpool vs. West Ham ]
The Manchester City boss was born in Santpedor in central Catalonia, and played for Catalan club Barcelona in addition to representing both the Spain and Catalonia national teams.
Guardiola has until Monday to respond to the charge.
He’s spoken of jailed Catalans and Spain’s unwillingness to allow a Catalan independence vote as a concern for democracy.
- West Ham one loss in last 8 PL matches
- Reds won 4-1 in London on Nov. 4
- Liverpool leads all-time 70W-37D-28L
Liverpool can move second in the Premier League if it handles its business against West Ham United at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).
The Reds enter the day two points and two goals of differential behind Manchester United, and are a point ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea. The Red Devils and Blues meet on Sunday.
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A Mohamed Salah double led the Reds past the Irons in a London Stadium meeting earlier this season, but West Ham is a much different team under David Moyes.
Part of that is a firing Marko Arnautovic, who has seven goals and three assists in his last nine matches for West Ham.
The Irons announced the sale of Jose Fonte to Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang on Friday.
What they’re saying
Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool’s Spanish training camp: “As always with a training camp, you want the boys to be together the whole day. We are a lot together but not when we have time off so we had that time as well. The weather was brilliant and everything was easier – if you have to do hard work, which we did there, it is easier if the weather plays in your cards and that was a change of circumstance after a long winter. ”
West Ham’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez on the Irons renewed season: “We had our targets, but they changed. At the beginning of the season, we were aiming to qualify for European competition, but now we are fighting against relegation, but that is sport, that is football and part of life, so we need to accept it and try to be better and get out and see what’s going to happen next year. If we have all these players recovered, probably next year we are going to be fighting for a European position, you never know.”
The Reds are hard to predict, but the lay-off between their Porto triumph in the Champions League and Saturday’s match should benefit Liverpool. 2-1 to the hosts.
Mousa Dembele‘s been appreciated as a midfielder for sometime, but the Belgian is getting as many rave reviews as any other non-scorer these days.
Tottenham’s middle man got the twice-over from his manager on Friday, as Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino prepares for Crystal Palace.
[ MORE: Europa League draw ]
Calling Dembele a “genius,” Pochettino heaped praise on the 30-year-old.
“I’ve told you, I put him next to Ronaldinho, Maradona, Okocha – players I’ve been lucky enough to play with. For me he’s one of the unbelievable talents in the history of football.”
The temptation is to make a joke about Dembele being next to Ronaldinho and Maradona in the lobby of an awards ceremony, but the player has been dynamite for some time.
The advanced stats, for what they’re worth, aren’t incredibly kind to Dembele aside from his club-best 93 percent passing percentage and average of 2.2 successful dribbles per game. Still, it’s improbably hard to ignore the eye test, and Dembele passes that one every time.
Spurs are off to Selhurst Park for a Sunday match with Palace (Watch live at 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).