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Jose Mourinho calls Arsene Wenger a “nice guy” – honest or insidious?

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Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has spoken about his respect for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, claiming “he’s a very nice guy.”

The remarks about Wenger come as a bit of a surprise after the two managers endured a troublesome relationship during Mourinho’s first stay at Stamford Bridge.

It was during that time that Mourinho infamously referred to Wenger as “a voyeur” for commenting on his rivals.

But now Mourinho claims the two have become fast friends since a series of encounters at several of the world’s biggest football tournaments.

“I started meeting him in UEFA, at the Euros (European Championships), the World Cup, we had dinner and so on,” the Portuguese said in several newspapers today.

“And when you are not in the same league and when you are not playing against each other, it is easier to know people, it is easier to go deeper. It is easy to speak about football, he’s a very nice guy.

“I respect him a lot and I will show my respect always. (In) football sometimes even if you are friends and respect each other, you say something the other doesn’t like and you react.

“But at the end of the day I respect him a lot and I have the feeling that he is the same in relation to me. I wouldn’t bet on one single problem between us.”

So, are we to take Mourinho’s words at face value?

This could very well be the dawning of a new era of Mourinho. He’s older, wiser and has already rebranded himself ‘The Happy One,’ so it’s possible that he just wants a few friends in his second Premier League venture.

With old pal Sir Alex Ferguson now retired, Mourinho needs a new friend to sip scotch with after a long day at the park (although with Wenger it’s more likely green tea than booze). It’s also not unrealistic to think that Mourinho wants to align himself with a manager whom he perceives to be one of the few remaining members of the Premier League old guard.

As Mourinho re-enters the Premier League, he has a lot of catching up to do and there’s no better person than Wenger to provide the ins and outs of what has happened in England since Jose left in 2007.

On the other hand, Mourinho’s comments could be Mourinho’s way of telling Wenger and Arsenal that he doesn’t see them as competition this season. The Gunners are just “nice guys” who are not immediate threats to Chelsea’s title challenge.

When it comes to Mourinho and his penchant for mind games, one never really knows.

EFL Cup Tues. preview: Spurs-Reds, plenty of non-PL participants

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27:  Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on August 27, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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Sixteen teams remain in the battle to clinch the Premier League’s first European place of next season’s tournament, and we have some tremendous battles on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday in the EFL Cup (formerly the League Cup).

Today we focus on the 24 hours ahead of us, focusing on Tuesday’s five matches and allowing the Manchester Derby, West Ham-Chelsea, and Southampton-Sunderland to percolate a bit.

[ MORE: Finland’s “Leicester” gets it done ]

That’s not to say we don’t have a pair of giants dueling on Tuesday. Liverpool is three wins away from a return to the final, where the Reds fell in penalties last season. Standing in their way is Tottenham Hotspur, a deep squad which won’t have to worry much about a quick turnaround from Saturday.

That said, the Reds didn’t have to play at all last week, while this will be Spurs third match in a week. Spurs have been to the EFL Cup final thrice since 2008, and one of two teams (Chelsea) to make three finals this decade. Liverpool will start Simon Mignolet between the sticks.

The remaining four EFL Cup matches include at least one team outside the Premier League.

Arsenal will host USMNT midfielder Danny Williams and Reading.

— Hull City is off to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City.

— Newcastle United is leading the Championship, and will get a visit from Preston North End in the first of two matches between the two sides this week.

— Norwich City will pay a visit to Elland Road and Garry Monk‘s Leeds United.

FC Dallas gave injured Mauro Diaz a home champagne shower (video)

FRISCO, TX - APRIL 12:  Mauro Diaz #10 of the FC Dallas controls the ball against the Seattle Sounders FC on April 12, 2014 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images
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FC Dallas has two jewels of its triple crown all set, having claimed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.

One of the key reasons the club was able to sustain its pace this season was Mauro Diaz, 25, who shone even as Fabian Castillo shockingly left the club before the stretch run.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

A River Plate product, Diaz gave FCD seven goals and 15 assists over 32 appearances before tearing an achilles tendon last week.

Diaz underwent season-ending surgery, but his teammates made sure he was a part of the champagne celebration by heading to his very nice-looking house for an early morning visit.

[ MORE: Pre-playoff power rankings ]


VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week – Matchday 9

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There was some eye-popping moments in the Premier League this weekend, yet still very little debate who shone brightest.

Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of Goal of the Month competitors in the same day in the Potters’ 2-0 win at Hull City on Monday.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

The first was a curling wonder from distance, while the second came from a bit closer as the big-calfed Swiss attacker bamboozled the Hull wall and goalkeeper.

The Potters are up to 16th in the Premier League table with nine points.

Finnish fans celebrate surprise title for IFK Mariehamn

IFK Mariehamm
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HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.

“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.

Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.

[ MORE: Full MLS Cup bracket ]

Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.

Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.

Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast