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What they’re saying: Premier League managers reflect

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The first day of the Premier League season is in the books.

Goals, penalties, red cards, refereeing controversy and plenty more all came to the fore on a frantic and encapsulating opening day of action.

With six games down in the morning kick offs, let’s catch up with the men who make all the decisions and will either be reveling in victory, or wallowing in defeat as we speak.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup, Villa stun Arsenal, Saints, West Ham and Fulham also win)

We hear from every single Premier League manager following their teams first game of the 2013-14 season.

Here it goes. There will plenty of post-game chat from the gaffers in the coming weeks and months.

Arsenal 1 – Aston Villa 3

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on spending more money: “I’m there to buy, if we find them we’ll do it. I’m not the only one working on that. It’s not my money, it’s the money of the club. Why should I resist (spending)? I just defend the idea that you spend the money you have and not the money you don’t have. For years I did that. Today we have more so we can spend more. It’s as simple as that. Of course I am excited by that prospect but what I want to convince you of is that we are ready to spend the money if we feel that the players makes us a better team tomorrow morning.”

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: “I’m proud of them, they deserve credit. The front three lads are a handful for any team. We’re a really young side with enthusiasm and hunger for the game and to do well. There’s a long, long way to go, we will have ups and downs, but after that I’m over the moon.”

Liverpool 1 – Stoke City 0

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on the win: “It was a terrific performance all round – but of course, the goalkeeper gets the plaudits when he saves a penalty right at the end. Obviously when you don’t take your chances – and we created numerous chances and didn’t do that – and then get a penalty against you at the end, there’s sometimes that sinking feeling. I think from that, you also saw the spirit in the team, what we’re trying to cultivate here as well and the energy and attitude of the players.”

Stoke assistant manager Mark Bowen: “When you come to Anfield for the first game of the season you know it’s going to be tough but we can’t fault the way lads stuck at it. Some teams have been known to go under here but going into the last 20-25 minutes I thought we were in the ascendancy. When you come to places like Liverpool you know you are going to come under pressure but we coped really well. The lads are disappointed; that’s natural when you get a penalty so late on and don’t score.”

Norwich City 2 – Everton 2

Norwich manager Chris Hughton on Ricky van Wolfswinkel: “He’s certainly done today what we wanted him to do. That’s about working hard for the team. He certainly gave us a good outlet up front. He’s a willing runner up front and I’m really pleased for him. It was certainly a nice feeling to get a goal on his debut.”

Hughton on the 2-2 draw: “I think it was a fair result. They showed what a good side they are. They are seasoned side so we are delighted with the result. You want to win every home game but overall I am quite happy.”

Everton manager Roberto Martinez on the result: “Conceding two goals made it difficult but we created some good chances and showed some good signs. In general terms I am delighted. We looked like a team that could create enough chances. It was a very positive start from a tricky fixture.”

Sunderland 0 – Fulham 1

Fulham manager Martin Jol: “I think it was a perfect away result but not a perfect performance. We had to grind out the result. It was a very scrappy game for us. Sunderland put so many players up front – they had four attacking players. We didn’t do well at times. We have to try to control the midfield – we didn’t do that in the first half and couldn’t keep the ball. Against an energetic Sunderland team… it was a bit easier than we thought, in hindsight.”

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio: “We played attractive football and dominated but in this country more than any other, set-pieces can cost points. It wasn’t even an incredible challenge in the air. We played in their half for 80 minutes and delivered 30 balls into the opponents’ area but didn’t put the ball into the net. The only clear ball into our box cost a goal. I warned my players before – the players from abroad have to learn. If my players learn quickly why we lost the game, we will have a very good season.”

West Ham United 2 – Cardiff City 0

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce on Cardiff: “We came up to the Premier League having won more Championship games away than we did at home. But last year in the Premier League it was a huge task to pick up points on the road, we only won three games in the entire season away. Your home form is what you need to get right to stay in the Premier League. Hopefully with what Malky has brought to the club Cardiff will get the results they are looking for.”

Malkay Mackay on the defeat: “I thought we started the first 15-20 minutes slowly, after that we had plenty of possession. We knew we were coming to a good team, to play in a good atmosphere in a good stadium. And we knew we had to start better. They were clinical in the way they took that first goal. The last half hour of the first half we had a lot of possession but no penetration and a couple of shots that were blocked. But I cannot be too harsh on the players, overall it’s about learning and at times we gave a good account of ourselves.”

West Bromwich Albion 0 – Southampton 1

West Brom manager Steve Clarke: “I think it was (a harsh) result. We struggled to get into it in the first half but I think we had better control after the interval. The fans will be disappointed with me and the team. I’ll think about that (making new signings) more on Sunday. Today is all about disappointment. I’ve seen it. [penalty decision from referee] There’s no doubt in my mind, it’s a very soft decision.”

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino on the 1-0 win: “We are very pleased because the team performed very well and put in great effort today. I think we actually deserved to win 2-0 because we were disallowed a goal in the first half, which should have been allowed to stand. West Brom is a very difficult place to come against a very good team so overall we are very pleased.”

New St. Louis stadium plan calls for state land contribution

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ST. LOUIS (AP) Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has made it clear he’s opposed to state funding for stadiums, yet a revised proposal for a $200 million soccer stadium in St. Louis calls for the state to contribute land that’s potentially worth millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, a city aldermanic committee delayed a vote Thursday to advance a measure putting the proposal, which also requires city voters to approve $60 million in funding, on the April ballot.

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The investor group SC STL’s proposal calls for a 22,000-seat stadium near Interstate 64 and Union Station, a key component in the group’s effort to lure a Major League Soccer expansion team. MLS officials have expressed strong interest in St. Louis, but only if a stadium is built.

Time is of the essence: The league is expected to award two new expansion teams in the fall, with play starting in 2020.

St. Louis’ project was on life support after Greitens, a Republican who took office this month, said repeatedly that he opposed taxpayer funding for stadiums, calling it “welfare for millionaires.” SC STL had been seeking $40 million in state tax credits.

But a provision of SC STL’s revised financing plan, presented at Thursday’s meeting at City Hall, says the state would contribute the majority of the 24-acre project site, which is currently owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation, and perform some site clearing and infrastructure work.

The value is still being appraised, but given its location and the amount of land, it likely is worth several million dollars.

Greitens spokesman Parker Briden told The Associated Press in a statement that the governor “remains opposed to state funding to build the soccer stadium.” He did not immediately respond to a question about how the potential donation of land doesn’t conflict with Greitens’ hard-line stance.

[ MORE: Jones labels Howard’s comments “dangerous” ]

The first hint of compromise with the governor came in an email from SC STL spokesman Jim Woodcock late Wednesday, when he wrote that a “path forward” had been reached after two weeks of meetings.

“Gov. Greitens has made it clear to us that he is very supportive of adding a new professional sports franchise to the State of Missouri, and that’s a sentiment we wholeheartedly share,” the statement said.

The stadium project also requires taxpayer help from the city. The city Ways and Means Committee heard from SC STL officials Thursday, but no vote was taken on whether to ask the full Board of Aldermen to place the issue on the April ballot. The committee is expected to reconsider the measure Monday.

SC STL would be responsible for at least $95 million of the project cost, the entire $150 million expansion fee and all maintenance costs going forward.

Bundesliga returns: Will Bayern hold off competition again?

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Germany’s top flight returns to action Friday when Bayern Munich travels to Freiburg in an attempt to keep the pressure on new boys RB Leipzig.

[ MORE: Galaxy adds Portugal CM ]

For those who haven’t paid a ton of attention to the Bundesliga this season or need a bit of a refresher after several weeks away, here’s what to monitor over the next several months.

Really Big surprise Leipzig looks to keep title race going

Formed in 2009, RB Leipzig is a lot of German fans’ least favorite club after cash infusions caused a rapid rise into the top flight.

The new club is looking down at most of the haters, however. League leaders for much of the first half, Leipzig is three points shy of league leading Bayern Munich.

Bayern waxed Leipzig 3-0 before the holiday break, and the two sides won’t meet again until May 13. How long can the new boys keep up the show?

Historic relegation candidates

What does USMNT strikers Bobby Wood and Aron Johannsson share besides a national team? Both are on sides that have been in Germany’s top tier longer than the players have been alive.

Wood’s Hamburg has six national titles and hasn’t seen the second tier in 54 years. That’s the longest stretch in the league, two more seasons than Bayern Munich. Hamburg is a currently third-bottom, which would force them into a relegation-promotion playoff against the third-placed team in 2.Bundesliga.

As for Johannsson, his Werder Bremen side is just three points ahead of Hamburg. Bremen has been in the top flight for 36 seasons.

Chasing the Golden Boot

Robert Lewandowski has scored the most goals in two of the past three seasons, with Alexander Meier of Eintracht Frankfurt seizing the honor in 2014-15.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is leading the pack by three goals, but is with Gabon at the Africa Cup of Nations to help open the door for the rest of the bunch.

Koln’s Anthony Modeste is second with 13, while Lewandowski has 12. Two players, Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) and Sandro Wagner (Hoffenheim), have nine.

Can surprise Europe-chasers hold up?

Hertha Berlin was in 2.Bundesliga a few seasons ago, while Eintracht Frankfurt was there a season prior to that. RB Leipzig, as mentioned earlier, wasn’t even a club until 2009.

Eintracht made a Europa League run one year later, but neither was expected to be competing for a spot in Europe this season. As it stands, all three are in the mix.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 16 12 3 1 38 9 29 7-2-0 5-1-1 39
 RB Leipzig 16 11 3 2 31 15 16 6-1-0 5-2-2 36
 Hertha BSC Berlin 16 9 3 4 24 16 8 7-0-1 2-3-3 30
 Eintracht Frankfurt 16 8 5 3 22 12 10 5-3-0 3-2-3 29
 1899 Hoffenheim 16 6 10 0 28 17 11 4-5-0 2-5-0 28
 Borussia Dortmund 16 7 6 3 35 19 16 5-3-0 2-3-3 27
 1. FC Köln 16 6 7 3 21 15 6 4-4-0 2-3-3 25

Report: El Tri’s Chicharito to LAFC in 2018

Bayer Leverkusen's Javier Hernandez, left, and Atletico Mineiro's Mattheus Rolden fight for possession of the ball during the first half of a Florida Cup soccer match, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
AP Photo/John Raoux
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It makes a lot of sense, you know?

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will turn 30 in 2018, not a spring chicken for a striker but still plenty productive if healthy.

His national team, Mexico, will likely be revving its engines for the World Cup, and won’t be upset to have the forward playing a bit less soccer and a lot closer to home.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines ]

And Los Angeles FC will want to make a massive mark as it seeks to butt its head into a market dominated by the LA Galaxy (and, perhaps still then, Mexico national teamer Giovani Dos Santos).

So, tell us more, Steve Brisendine of MLSSoccer.com:

“[LAFC] are going to do everything possible to sign the current Bayer Leverkusen player, whose contract ends in 2018 and could therefore leave for a reduced fee. That’s what AS.com has confirmed with sources close to the project. LAFC hope to announce their new manager this spring and dream, a little later, to do the same with Javier Hernandez, aka Chicharito.”

Make it happen. Make. It. Happen. We’re already reserving his spot on our MLS fantasy teams.

Transfer rumor roundup: Jagielka, Begovic, Berahino, Zarate

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 13: Saido Berahino of West Brom challenges for the ball with Phil Jagielka of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Everton at The Hawthorns on September 13, 2014 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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There’s action all over England, from those defending the goal mouth to others striving to conquer it.

[ MORE: More transfer gossip ]

— Bournemouth wants an upgrade on Artur Boruc, according to The Telegraph, and that could come in the form of Chelsea backstop Asmir Begovic.

The Cherries reportedly had a $12.5 million bid turned down by Antonio Conte, who has Thibaut Courtois in the No. 1 seat and Portugal national team backup Eduardo in the ranks (along with three keepers on loan and young goalie Mitchell Beanie).

— Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger shut the door on acquiring West Ham wantaway Dimitri Payet according to Sky Sports’ Transfer Centre:

“We have many players offensively who can play in this position. You are interested by the quality of the player but there needs to be a need as well, and we have no need in this domain.”

— Clubs in need of experienced Premier League backs need look no further than Everton, where manager Ronald Koeman has admitted that England international Phil Jagielka could leave Goodison Park. The 34-year-old center back has 40 caps for England and has made 337 appearances for Everton. He could be a massive upgrade for Sunderland if David Moyes is up for a reunion.

— Stoke City chairman Peter Coates says a purchase of Saido Berahino from West Brom is not contingent on a sale of Bojan Krkic. The latter has been linked to Middlesbrough.

— Mauro Zarate may be returning the Premier League. Watford boss Walter Mazzarri has been largely let down by his strike corps as Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney have taken steps back this season. Could $4 be enough to bring the ex-West Ham and QPR man from Fiorentina to Vicarage Road? Zarate has four goals in nine matches for La Viola, and has nine goals in 40 Premier League matches.