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Manchester City v. Chelsea – 4 Youngsters to Watch

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As Manchester City and Chelsea set to commence their second meeting on stateside soil in less than three days, both teams are handing starts to four youngsters looking to make their respective breakthroughs.

For Chelsea, they’ve opted to bring three youngsters into the fold.

Andreas Christensen (pictured) is a 17 year old Danish international who signed with the club in early 2012 after numerous top English clubs, including City, sought his signature. The 6ft tall center-back is expected to a key man to the Blues back four in the coming seasons, and notably signed with the West London club after they agreed to hire his father as an academy goalkeeping coach. Christensen will partner with David Luiz in today’s clash.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a 17 year old box-to-box midfielder who has been at Stamford Bridge since the age of 8. The England U-17 international has recovered from nagging hip and groin injuries to make seven appearances in the club’s NextGen Series. Expect him to line up alongside Jon Obi Mikel and to control possession and utilize his range of passing skills to set free Fernando Torres and Demba Ba, who partner each other in today’s Starting XI.

Finally, Nathan Ake is an 18 year old Dutchman who joined the Blues from Feyenoord in the summer of 2011 after being noticed in the Under-17 World Cup. Interim manager Rafa Benitez has shown his affinity for Ake, handing him a debut against Norwich on Boxing Day 2012, starting him against Middlesborough in an FA Cup fifth-round tie in February 2013 and giving him a full 90 against Ruben Kazan in the 3-2 quarter-final second leg defeat. Look for Ake to be deployed as a left-back alongside Christensen, Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta.

For City, interim manager Brian Kidd has opted for a full strength lineup but for the inclusion of Dedryck Boyata. Since joining City in 2006 from Brussels, Boyata has struggled to find himself at the Eastlands club. He was handed his debut in January 2010 and marshaled the back four to a 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.

Over the course of the next year and a half Boyata made 10 appearances for the Citizens  before being sent on loan to Bolton Wanderers in 2011-12 and FC Twente this past season. He struggled to make a dent at both clubs, managing only 14 appearances with the Wanderers and 8 with the Dutch side. Today he’ll state his claim that he deserves a chance to battle Matija Nastasic for a spot alongside captain Vincent Kompany, who he’ll be partnering at center-back in today’s mach.

Today’s match kicks off at 6pm and can be seen on Fox Soccer.

Chelsea Starting XI: Hilario, Luiz, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Ake, Loftus-Cheek, Mikel, Ramires, Oscar, Ba, Torres

City Starting XI: Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Nasri, Yaya Toure, Silva, Boyata, Barry, Aguero, Tevez

Conte not going to sell Matic, enjoys quality midfield headache

VELDEN, AUSTRIA - JULY 20: Nemanja Matic of Chelsea reacts during the friendly match between WAC RZ Pellets and Chelsea F.C. at Worthersee Stadion on July 20, 2016 in Velden, Austria. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images
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Antonio Conte feels he has a bit of an embarrassment of riches in his midfield, not that it’s a problem outside of deciding who hits the pitch.

The Chelsea boss does not plan on selling Nemanja Matic despite the acquisition of N'Golo Kante — in fact Conte thinks Matic can be one of the best in the world.

[ MORE: New club for Pato ]

That’s not surprising, given that Matic was one of the keys to Chelsea’s 2014-15 PL title run.

Conte says he has some tricky selections to make in the coming days, as Chelsea prepares to open its Premier League season Aug. 15 at West Ham United.

From ChelseaFC.com:

“Kante is a good player and he was a target of our market. I am pleased the club took this player, it’s fantastic,” said the 46-year-old. “The players in a great team like Chelsea must know there are many players that can play. It’s important for me to have a good choice to try the best solution game by game. It’s important for me to see always the right attitude and behaviour from the players.

“When I have players like N’Golo, Nemanja, Cesc, Oscar and Chalobah, and Mikel who is in the Olympics, it is not easy to choose. I want to have this problem.”

For a manager who loves to keep it tight in the midfield, it would be far from shocking to see Matic and Kante behind two attacking mids (Willian and Hazard?) or even three.

Regardless, Chelsea’s match day tactics will be one of the more fascinating subplots of 2016, especially when Conte matches up against the Blues’ former boss Jose Mourinho (Oct. 22 at Stamford Bridge and April 15 at Old Trafford).

Spain’s Villarreal signs Brazilian striker Pato

SWANSEA, WALES - APRIL 09:  Alexandre Pato of Chelsea in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at Liberty Stadium on April 9, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
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MADRID (AP) Brazilian club Corinthians says it has agreed to transfer striker Alexandre Pato to Villarreal in Spain.

Corinthians says on its club website that it has “agreed to the final administrative details of the negotiation” for Pato’s move to Villarreal.

[ MORE: MLS All Star Game preview ]

It adds that both clubs have agreed to not release the financial details of the transfer.

The 26-year-old Pato played for AC Milan from 2007 to 2013, before returning to his native Brazil with Corinthians. He played the second half of last season on loan at Chelsea in the English Premier League.

Roberto Martinez linked to Atlanta United gig by Taylor Twellman

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Roberto Martinez, manager of Everton gives instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Everton at the Stadium of Light on May 11, 2016 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
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When news of Sigi Schmid’s departure from Seattle broke, there were plenty of folks wondering who could be the second coach in the Sounders’ MLS history.

One of those doing so publicly was ESPN writer Marc Connolly, who asked whether former Wigan and Everton boss Roberto Martinez could be interested in the gig.

[ MORE: Sounders, Schmid part ways ]

Fellow media member Taylor Twellman is obviously well-connected, and his reply raised some eyebrows, especially given the news that technical director Carlos Bocanegra is closing in on selecting the first manager in Atlanta United history.

Ryan is the quarterback of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, for those unaware. Martinez and Twellman worked together for ESPN this summer.

Is Martinez to MLS really a thing? He’s also been linked to the vacant Hull City job, and would be one of the highest profile coaches to make the switch in the history of the league.

Premier League preseason: Everton, Burnley win; Spurs fall to Juventus

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - JULY 26:  Muhamed Besic of Everton celebrates after scoring the third goal during the pre-season friendly match between MK Dons and Everton at Stadium mk on July 26, 2016 in Milton Keynes, England.  (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images
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Four Premier League teams were in action on Tuesday, with two picking up wins and not a clean sheet in the joint.

[ MORE: Sounders, Schmid part ways ]

MK Dons 1-3 Everton

Ronald Koeman‘s men got goals from Gerard Deulofeu, Ross Barkley and Muhamed Besic, but wasn’t entirely pleased with every facet of their game.

From EvertonFC.com:

“The team, the players, we need to press better. The pitch in some stages of the game was too long. If you press up front, it means the midfielders they need to push up as well and it’s the same for the defenders.”

Bolton 1-2 Burnley

Andre Gray will likely be a well-known Premier League entity when his career is done, and the way he’s playing it could be by the time this season is complete. The Burnley man scored for the fifth time in four preseason games, and Josh Ginnelly also scored for the Clarets.

Barnsley 2-2 Hull City

Adama Diomande and Jarrod Bowen scored as the Tigers stayed unbeaten in preseason play.

Spurs 1-2 Juventus — RECAP