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

Jurgen Klopp coy over links with Liverpool

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25:  Jurgen Klopp manager of Borussia Dortmund speaks during a Borussia Dortmund press conference, ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group D match against Arsenal, at Emirates Stadium on November 25, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Based on all the reports, it seems like a matter of when, not if, Jurgen Klopp will be named the next manager at Liverpool.

The former Borussia Dortmund boss had been heavily linked with the Liverpool job even before Brendan Rodgers was fired, and now that Rodgers is out, Klopp’s name is once again grabbing all the headlines.

While some reports state he could be appointed manager by the end of the week, nothing is official yet as Klopp is still in Germany, unemployed as of today.

[ REPORTS: Nigel Pearson approached by Sunderland ]

Klopp was approached by a reporter from German news outlet Bild in Leverkusen, and was asked about the vacant Liverpool job. While he did not confirm he was in talks with the club, he didn’t deny the links either.

There’s nothing to say. Neither a definite yes nor a definite no. I’m going home now.

It is believed that a deal between the club and the manager is in the works, with a few details still needed to be worked out before anything is made official.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League Playback: Rodgers gone, but not forgotten ]

One of the biggest roadblocks in the deal is Liverpool’s use of a transfer committee when buying new players, while Klopp is supposedly keen on having full control over the team’s signings. The club has said no moves are made without the manager’s approval, although it is reported that Rodgers was limited on what players he could bring in, having multiple moves shot down by the committee.

Former Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is still in the running for the vacant position, but at this time, Klopp is the out-and-out favorite to take over.

Reports: Sunderland reaches out to Nigel Pearson

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - APRIL 11:  Nigel Pearson, manager of Leicester City during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City at The Hawthorns on April 11, 2015 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Sunderland is without a win and without a manager, as the Black Cats are in desperate need of some help.

After manager Dick Advocaat resigned following Sunderland’s 2-2 draw against West Ham, the club has been searching for a replacement to help lead the club off the bottom of the table.

Reports out of England state the North East club has approached former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson, who has been out of work after being fired over the summer.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Pearson knows what it takes to win with a team in a relegation battle, as he led Leicester to a 14th place finish last season after sitting bottom of the table at Christmas. Still in last place in March, the Foxes won seven of their final nine matches to stay up in the Premier League.

However, Pearson was sacked over the summer after having a fall-out with the Leicester board, and it was well-documented that he had a tumultuous relationship with the club’s owners.

It is being reported that Sunderland’s technical director Lee Congerton approached Pearson about the job, but that club owner Ellis Short would rather bring former West Ham manager Sam Allardyce on board.

[ REPORTS: Liverpool could appoint Jurgen Klopp manager by end of the week ]

When you look at Nigel Pearson, he is a polar opposite of Dick Advocaat. Advocaat came to Sunderland towards the end of his managerial career, with experience winning titles with major clubs throughout Europe. However, he had never managed in the Premier League, and had no experience with a club fighting for survival.

Pearson, on the other hand, is fresh off a relegation battle and his fiery attitude may be what’s needed to turn Sunderland around. While Pearson may not always see eye-to-eye with the media or the board, he is fiercely loyal to his players and is a no-nonsense type-manager.

With the Premier League on an international break, Sunderland has a bit of time to figure things out, but expect Pearson’s name to continue to be linked with the job.