In Part Two of ProSoccerTalk’s Premier League Narratives we take a look at three fixtures guaranteed to entertain in Matchweek 31: Swansea City v. Tottenham, West Ham v. West Brom and Wigan v. Norwich City.
SWANSEA CITY v. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (Liberty Stadium, Sat 11:00am ET)
Andre Villas-Boas has enjoyed a fine first season at Spurs but the manager’s mettle will truly be tested when his side heads to Wales to take on Swansea City. At 4th in the table and four points clear of 5th placed Arsenal, Spurs can’t afford to drop points and must recover quickly for Thursday’s Europa League showdown with FC Basel. With two straight losses Swansea looks to have taken their foot off the gas since raising the League Cup. Nevertheless, when it comes to the Swans at the Liberty, no team is safe.
Could be a captivating match, this one. I think the Swans throw a wrench in Spurs’ game and get a result.
WEST HAM UNITED v. WEST BROMWICH ALBION (Upton Park, Sat 11:00am ET)
Big Sam Allardyce has refused to sign a new contract at Upton Park until his side are mathematically safe from relegation. Losing three of their last four has made that possibility a real threat for West Ham and the Baggies, who have taken 10 points in the last 15 available, will fancy their chances.
West Brom could take this one but I think the Hammers will fight hard and earn a draw.
WIGAN ATHLETIC v. NORWICH CITY (DW Stadium, Sat 11:00am ET)
With Wigan looking primed to put together yet another end of the season dash to safety, Norwich will need to bring it’s ‘A’ game to Carrow Road. The Canaries scored a major coup this week by reaching a deal to sign Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon but the Dutch striker won’t be able to help Chris Hughton’s side until this summer. That leaves Grant Holt with 8 weeks to prove his value at Carrow Road while Wigan searches for the three points that could bring them on level pegging with 17th placed Aston Villa.
Arouna Kone (pictured) and the mighty Latics of Wigan will not be denied.
In a shocking twist, Chelsea could be prepared to bring back a former defender.
The Blues are reportedly lining up a bid for Brazilian central defender David Luiz, who exited the club two years ago to head to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. According to Daily Mail, Chelsea would pay up to roughly $41 million for the PSG centerback.
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Back in 2014, Chelsea received an astounding $65 million for Luiz from the French champions, but he has quickly grown out of favor with the club.
New manager Antonio Conte is looking to sure up the backline before end of the transfer window, and Luiz appears to be a final effort to do that after missing out on several defenders, including Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.
AS is reporting that Tottenham could be in for Real Madrid midfielder Isco.
While Spurs currently boast one of the youngest and most promising teams in the Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly keen on adding another playmaker into the fold as Isco’s future in Madrid is unknown.
Isco would leave on a loan deal, and while Spurs are seen as a contender for the Spaniard, Malaga is said to be interested in the player as well.
Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala could be on his way to Porto after joining the English side two years ago.
According to the Guardian, the 25-year-old would likely return to the Portuguese side on loan after disappointing for the Citizens since his arrival in 2014.
With the addition of John Stones this summer, Mangala has fallen further down the pecking order with new manager Pep Guardiola.
Middlesbrough has impressed at times during its return to the Premier League this season, and now the club looks to bolster its backline as the transfer window closes.
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The club announced the loan signing of Arsenal defender Calum Chambers on Tuesday, providing the Boro with a promising young player to contribute in the back.
Chambers, 21, has made 58 appearances in the PL with both the Gunners and Southampton, while also earning three caps for England.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka revaled his excitement over the signing, while also stating that the player addresses a big need on the backline.
“I’m really pleased,” said Karanka. “It’s a position where we’ve been working towards bringing the right player in. We haven’t been in a hurry because Calum was the player we were waiting for, and he’s going to help us a lot.”
The Gunners have been heavily criticized for not spending enough during the transfer season, however, Arsene Wenger has gotten the man he wanted to help out defensively.
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Arsenal announced the signing of Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi on Tuesday, after the German centerback had been previously been linked to the club for some time as their top transfer target.
Mustafi will likely figure immediately into the Arsenal defense, which has also added Rob Holding this summer. The 24-year-old made over 64 appearances for Valencia while in La Liga after beginning his academy career in England with Everton.
Hope Solo hasn’t had the best couple of weeks since the U.S. Women’s National Team bailed out of the 2016 Olympics.
On Tuesday, the U.S. keeper announced her decision to take a step back from her club team as well after receiving a six-month ban from U.S. Soccer.
The veteran American shot stopper took to Twitter to make her decision known, leaving her status unknown with the Seattle Reign in the future. Solo remains under contract until the end of the current campaign, however, it is not known as to how her decision to sit out will affect her financially.
Solo wil be eligible to return to the USWNT in February, but it will be up to head coach Jill Ellis to reintroduce the 35-year-old into the fold.