West Ham United v Cardiff City - Premier League

Cardiff plan to get physical as Manchester City roll into town

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Cardiff City’s first-ever home game in the Premier League on Sunday (11am ET, watch live online via NBC Sports Live Extra) will be a feisty affair.

Manchester City’s players have been warned.

The newly promoted Welsh team are planning to make it an uncomfortable afternoon for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, as City’s big names of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and others come to the Cardiff City Stadium.

Cardiff’s 21-year-old defender Steven Caulker believes his teammates will be fired up from the start.

“The key is not to pay them too much respect. We have to get in their faces and use the fact that we are at home and the passion of supporters in our favor,” Caulker said. “We must not lay off them because they have players who will cause us massive problems. Our job is to stand up ready for the fight – and a good start will be massive.”

(MORE: West Ham United 2-0 Cardiff City; Cole and Nolan sink Bluebirds)

Malky Mackay’s men didn’t get their first ever PL campaign off to a good start last weekend, as they lost 2-0 to West Ham at Upton Park and barely threatened going forward. However defensive solidity is Mackay’s forte and the Bluebirds will have to be at their best at the back to keep out Man City’s abundance of attacking panache.

Caulker is certainly up for the battle.

“Today, against Manchester City, it’s a big day for everybody,” Caulker said. “Playing against the likes of Aguero and Manchester City’s other stars always gets the adrenalin going. Cardiff City have the chance this afternoon to challenge some of the best players in the world. It’s a dream come true for all of us.”

The $10 million summer capture from Tottenham will marshal the defense alongside 6 foot 4 giant Ben Turner. Cardiff’s entire squad have battled it out in England’s second-tier for most of their careers and their passionate fans down by the River Taff will aim to make it an intimidating atmosphere when the Citizen’s star names arrive in South Wales. Caulker is relishing the occasion.

“The home support from a capacity attendance will be amazing and our job is to give City a tough match.”

Report: Atletico’s Fernando Torres has interest from MLS, NASL

Real Madrid v Atletico de Madrid - Copa del Rey: Round of 16
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Spanish outlet Marca claims that a number of North American sides are among the clubs chasing Fernando Torres.

The Spanish striker has only scored more than 11 goals once since 2009-10, and is uncapped since 2014. But that doesn’t mean clubs from China to to the U.S. and the UAE to Japan aren’t interested in the 31-year-old.

[ JPW: Recapping the top stories from an intense Premier League weekend ]

The Marca report claims three MLS teams are interested and also name drops the New York Cosmos of the NASL, who’ve recently brought Venezuelan legend Juan Arango on board.

It’s hard to imagine anyone outside the MLS rich sides taking a risk on Torres. Maybe Montreal would look to reunite him with Didier Drogba, and Torres certainly has experience combining with New York City’s David Villa. As for the third… Orlando City? Chicago?

Your guess is as good as ours, though it could be moot if this is solely about money. China continues to spend well.

Difficult fixture run looms as Aston Villa aims for great escape

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  Joleon Lescott of Aston Villa (3L) celebrates with team mates as he scores their first goal with a header during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at Villa Park on January 12, 2016 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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Gabriel Agbonlahor is riding high, as the Premier League Player of the Week broke his duck this weekend and is thinking “great escape” for his Aston Villa side.

Villa has eight points in its last five matches, doubling its season total to 16. That’s still table bottom, but Remi Garde’s bunch would love to see their way out of the drop zone after a brutal start to the season under Tim Sherwood.

What would it take for Villa to pull that off, and avoid the first Premier League relegation in club history?

[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Week ]

Turns out, a lot.

There is no easy match in the next five, and Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal are all on the schedule after that.

Villa next five matches
Feb. 14 – vs. Liverpool
Feb. 27 – at Stoke City
March 1 – vs. Everton
March 5 – at Manchester City
March 12 – vs. Spurs

The Villans do have three relegation six-pointers left, and two of those are at Villa Park with Bournemouth and Newcastle United. Villa also heads to Swansea City.

But Villa has to make up 12 points on the Cherries, 11 on Swans and eight on the Magpies. And while they are within two goals difference of Newcastle, they have eight goals to make up on Bournemouth and 11 to make up on Swansea.

That doesn’t include Sunderland and Norwich, sides four and seven points ahead of the Villans (though both have tricky runs left as well).

If Garde’s club is to make its escape, it will be close to unbelievable. That it will close with a match against Arsenal makes it even trickier, but that would be just the final impressive note in what could only be considered a Garde-conducted masterpiece.

VIDEO: Recapping the top stories from an intense Week 25 in the Premier League

JPW at Stamford Bridge
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What a weekend. Let’s relive it.

Round 25 of the Premier League provided plenty more thrills, shocks and excitement as two unlikely title contenders — Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur — are pushing ahead.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Our own Joe Prince-Wright recaps all the major headlines from what could turn out to be a pivotal weekend in the Premier League title race.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League news

Click play on the video below to join JPW as he battles the elements and checks in from outside Stamford Bridge in London following Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United.

WATCH: USMNT’s Gonzalez nets first for Pachuca, earns exuberant “Gol” call

Marouane Fellaini, ,Omar Gonzalez
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Come for the goal, stay for the “Gol” call.

Or should we say the “Gol. Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Gol” call.

[ MORE: Angry Louis van Gaal rips journalists for “inventing” stories ]

USMNT defender Omar Gonzalez has opened his account for Pachuca with this 88th minute header, and it’s worth it if just for the auditory performance.

Gonzalez also pulls out the high-capacity weapon celebration, though he’s apparently opted to do the version closer to the “Scarface” finale (Spoiler alert).