Lineups and discussion: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Swansea City

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While news surrounding Spurs’ season continues to be dominated by Gareth Bale’s inevitable departure, the team is actually playing games. And with today’s visit from Swansea, both teams’ second match of the season, Tottenham has a chance at a six-point start, something that would place them no lower than fifth come the end of round two.

Of course, Bale won’t be in the team today, the Welsh international still nursing an ankle injury that’s kept him from playing for the better part of a month. His absence was felt last week, with Spurs unable to score from open play in their 1-0 win at newly promoted Crystal Palace. Though Tottenham kept 58 percent of the ball, they were only able to put three shots on target, the same as their hosts.

It will be up to Roberto Soldado, last week’s goal scorer, to change that. Likewise, Nacer Chadli and Andros Townsend, starting in place of the injured Aaron Lennon, will have to find a way to carry over some of the team’s Europa League form, with Spurs having won 5-0 at Dinamo Tiblisi mid-week. Etienne Capoue, who like Townsend was brought into the team in Georgia, maintains his place in the starting XI, with Gylfi Sigurdsson dropped from the team that faced Palace.

Swansea, who’ve lost their last three meetings with Tottenham, are coming off a 4-1 loss to Manchester United in their home opener, a match where clinical finishing from Robin van Persie and failings in Swans’ defense doomed Michael Laudrup’s side to a disappointing start. Like Spurs, though, Swansea moved on from their first week problems in Europa League, posting a 5-1 win over Petrolul Ploiesti on Thursday.

Laudrup’s made two changes to the team that faced Manchester United last Saturday. In midfield, Jonathan de Guzman comes in for Leon Britton at the base of midfield while Pablo Hernandez is in for Nathan Dyer on the wing. That means Ivorian attacker Wilfried Bony, the team’s much-hyped summer signing from Vitesse, won’t get his first Premier League start despite scoring on his debut.

If you’re not near NBCSN for the 11:00 a.m. Eastern kickoff, head over to NBC Sports Live Extra to check out streaming options for this as well as the league’s other 11:00 a.m. kickoff: Cardiff City vs. Manchester City.

Starting Lineups

Tottenham: Hugo Lloris; Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson, Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose; Etienne Capoue, Moussa Dembele, Paulinho; Andros Townsend, Roberto Soldado, Nacir Chadli.

Swansea: Michael Vorm; Angel Rangel, Chico Flores, Ashley Williams, Ben Davies; José Cañas; Jonathan de Guzman; Wayne Routledge, Jonjo Shelvey; Pablo Hernandez; Michu.

 

VIDEO: Pedro scores stunning goal for Chelsea

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Not a bad way to start the Premier League weekend…

12 minutes into the first game of Matchweek 9, Chelsea’s Pedro curled home a stunning effort into the far corner and off the far post after a corner was played short to him.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A simply stunning goal from the Spaniard which you can watch in the video above.

Watch Live: Chelsea v. Watford in top five clash

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Chelsea host Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as fifth and fourth clash.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea are without a win in three games in all competitions and some pressure is starting to build on the Blues as they’ve fallen further behind the two Manchester clubs atop the PL table.

As for Watford, Marco Silva‘s men are in fourth place and aiming to keep up their impressive away form in the PL this season with three of their four wins coming on the road.

In team news Chelsea’s injuries are piling up with Victor Moses and N'Golo Kante missing but Alvaro Morata does start after recovering from his hamstring injury, while Watford start Troy Deeney up top after his impressive cameo against Arsenal last week.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Courtois; Rudiger, David Luiz, Cahill; Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Alonso; Pedro, Morata, Hazard. Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Ampadu, Zappacosta, Musonda, Willian, Batshuayi

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenia, Cleverley, Doucoure, Holebas; Pereyra, Deeney, Richarlison. Subs:

Sky Blue’s Sam Kerr named NWSL league MVP for 2017

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CHICAGO (AP) Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr has been named the National Women’s Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player for this season.

Kerr, a standout on the Australian national team, had a league-record 17 goals and became the league’s fifth Golden Boot winner to also be named MVP.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

She became the first NWSL player to score four goals in a game on Aug. 19 against the Seattle Reign. Kerr rallied Sky Blue from a 3-goal deficit to beat the Reign 5-4.

Kerr’s award was announced Friday. The league had earlier announced the season’s other award winners: North Carolina’s Abby Dahlkemper was named Defender of the Year, teammate Ashley Hatch was named Rookie of the Year, Portland’s Adrianna Franch was named Goalkeeper of the Year and the Thorns’ Mark Parsons was named Coach of the Year.

The Mendy Effect: Pep praises injured back

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Full back Benjamin Mendy cost Pep Guardiola and Manchester City $68 million, but perhaps he’ll be just as valuable as a very expensive sports psychologist.

The “Shark Team” member was amusing on social media even before his ACL injury sent him to the sidelines until at least April, but he’s become a must-follow Twitter fixture with his in-game messages (See some of his work below).

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

City faces Burnley at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s fairly clear his act has translated in private, too, as apparently Mendy is just as good in group messages (Let us in, Pep. We won’t tell anyone). From ManCity.com:

“Usually, players who are out for a long time with injury are sad. They sometimes train apart and feel isolated.

“Mendy decided to be present. He is communicating on social media, WhatsApp and he calls his teammates and messages me. He is going to be so important outside the pitch because people like him make the atmosphere much better.”

It’s not surprising for anyone who’s been following the former Le Havre, Marseille and Monaco man.

Keep in mind, these Tweets below are from the last few days alone!