ProSoccerTalk’s Premier League Narratives: Matchweek 31 (Part Three)

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In the final installment of ProSoccerTalk’s Premier League Narratives for Matchweek 31 we examine the last three matches on the slate: Everton v. Stoke City, Aston Villa v. Liverpool and Fulham v. Queens Park Rangers.

EVERTON v. STOKE CITY (Goodison Park, Sat 1:30pm ET)

After soundly defeating Manchester City 2-0 in Matchweek 30, Everton looks to continue its push for European football against an out-of-form Stoke side that has lost three of its last four matches. Tony Pulis will have a full squad available for the clash at Goodison Park while David Moyes’ lack of depth could be exposed as both Steven Pienaar (red card) and Marouane Fellaini (card accumulation) are unavailable for selection.

The wheels look to be coming off at Stoke. Expect Kevin Mirallas (pictured) and Everton to capitalize.

ASTON VILLA v. LIVERPOOL (Villa Park, Sun 8:30am ET)

When these two sides met last December Aston Villa emerged from their slumber to inflict the Reds’ worst home defeat (3-1) for more than three years. Now Paul Lambert’s side must repeat the feat as only three points separates the Villains from an up-start Wigan side looking to break out of the relegation zone. For Liverpool, the fixture is a must-win if the Reds have any intent on realizing its European dreams.

Should be an absolute cracker of a match with goals galore. In the end, I think Liverpool gets its revenge.

FULHAM v. QUEENS PARK RANGERS (Craven Cottage, Mon 3:00pm ET)

With 8 matches remaining Queens Park Rangers sits at the bottom of the table, seven points from safety. It will take a mammoth effort from Harry Redknapp’s men if they are to make a great escape but the R’s gaffer remains upbeat about his side’s chances claiming they still have four or five wins in them. Fulham should consider that a warning shot. Sitting comfortably at 10th in the table on 36 points, the Cottagers have effectively ensured survival and will be keen on preserving a four match unbeaten run.

A very unassuming Monday night encounter but I bet this entertains as the sides share the spoils.

Pulisic: Dortmund can win the league

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Christian Pulisic isn’t short on confidence these days.

The rising star for the U.S. Men’s National Team is currently in preseason training with Borussia Dortmund, and he believes his side can push Bayern Munich for the title. Bayern has won five-straight league titles, but the last team other than Munich to win was Dortmund itself in 2012.

“We’ve got a big chance to win the league this coming season,” Pulisic said, via German publication Kicker.

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Pulisic has been firing on all cylinders so far in preseason. During Dortmund’s tour of China, Pulisic had three assists in a 3-1 win over AC Milan, and he also started and went the full 90 against Bochum on July 22 back in Germany.

The 18-year-old is coming off a breakout season for the Black and Yellows, scoring five goals with 13 assists over 43 games between the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League.

“Last season was a good step in my development,” Pulisic said, noting he wants to be “more dangerous” in the attack. “I want to build on that.”

Of course, Pulisic followed the U.S. Men’s National Team at the Gold Cup, taking the title for the sixth time. In less than a year’s time, Pulisic will likely be on the field, starting for the U.S. at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the hopes and dreams of many Americans on his shoulders.

“(It was) a good victory,” Pulisic said of the final.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Bale’s agent laughs off speculation

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It appears Gareth Bale has no plans of following Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez out of Real Madrid this summer.

“It’s a ridiculous, stupid story,” Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett told the BBC, following reports that Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane wouldn’t promise Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo that they’d staying with the club this summer.

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Of course, these prompted counter reports that Manchester United could take advantage of possible instability at the Santiago Bernabeu and swoop in for Bale, but it seems that Bale is not for sale.

Bale played just 27 times for Real Madrid last season in all competitions, scoring nine goals with three assists while dealing with multiple injuries. His entire career at Real Madrid in fact has been plagued by injury, but ahead of a World Cup year with Wales still in contention for a spot in Russia, Bale will be extra motivated to stay fit this season.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the world:

(more…)

Neymar storms off after training dustup with teammate

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Neymar just won’t stay out of the headlines.

As his long-rumored “will he, won’t he go” transfer saga between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona continues, Neymar stormed out of training on Thursday after getting into a tussle with teammate Nelson Semedo.

A video from the Daily Mail shows Neymar pushing Semedo before walking off and removing his training bib.

Neymar has reportedly agreed to personal terms with PSG over a move to France, but PSG have yet to come up with the nearly $260 million it would cost to trigger Neymar’s release clause. The news of Neymar possibly leaving Barcelona came as a shock, as he’s been content since joining the club to play slightly in the shadow of teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

If this fight is any indication, Neymar’s head could be turned and should PSG trigger the release clause, Neymar could be heading to Paris once Barcelona returns this weekend from its American sojourn.

In spite of all the transfer speculation, Neymar has dazzled for Barcelona on its tour of the U.S., scoring three goals in two games and delighting the thousands in attendance.

Australian women beat US 1-0 in Tournament of Nations

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SEATTLE (AP) Tameka Butt scored in the 67th minute and Australia beat the United States for the first time in the 28-game series, 1-0 in the Tournament of Nations on Thursday night.

The Matildas also snapped the Americans’ four-game winning streak.

Just moments after Butt’s goal got past goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, Carli Lloyd blasted a cross from Megan Rapinoe at Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who made a fantastic save. Lloyd had another chance that sailed just over the net.

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Japan and Brazil played to a 1-1 draw in the tournament’s opening game in the afternoon at CenturyLink Field.

Each of the four teams in the tournament is in the top 10 of the FIFA rankings. The top-ranked United States went into the game with a 25-0-2 record over the seventh-ranked Matildas.

Rapinoe, who plays for the NWSL’s Seattle Reign, had a good chance early on in the game but the Americans were unable to break through. Rapinoe has 12 goals to lead the NWSL in scoring this season.

The Matildas have been on the rise of the past several years, with quarterfinal appearances in both the 2015 World Cup and the Olympics last year.

Following the stop in Seattle, the tournament shifts to San Diego on Sunday before wrapping up in Carson, California, on Aug. 3.

U.S. Soccer is looking to host a Tournament of Nations each summer that there isn’t World Cup or Olympic competition.