Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Lineups and discussion: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Swansea City


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.


Klopp to the Kop: Multiple reports say deal agreed at Liverpool

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 24:  Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp shouts to his players during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Juventus and Borussia Dortmund at Juventus Arena on February 24, 2015 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp is on his way to Liverpool to sign a contract naming him the next coach of the Reds.

The celebrated manager, 48, has been on “hiatus” from football since leaving Borussia Dortmund last season.

[ MORE: Messi to stand trial in Spain ]

Reports starting emerging earlier today that an agreement was imminent, and now the BBC is among those reporting that Klopp will be rolled out Friday morning.

From the BBC:

No contract has yet been signed but that is viewed as a formality when Klopp arrives in Liverpool later on Thursday. He will be officially unveiled by Liverpool on Friday morning at 10:00 BST.

There’s not much to say besides this: Klopp’s addition to the Premier League will give more color and brilliance to the country’s footballing scene. Only a certain class of manager can be instantly expected to find a better system for an inherited group of players.

This could and should be a game changer on Merseyside.

Appeal rejected! Lionel Messi will face court trial in Spain

VIGO, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 23:  Lionel Messi looks dejected after the La Liga match between Celta Vigo and FC Barcelona at Estadio Balaidos on September 23, 2015 in Vigo, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Alex Caparros/Getty Images
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It was a mere 48 hours ago that Lionel Messi looked close to in the clear when it came to tax evasion charges.

Now the question is whether a Spanish court will lock away the greatest active footballer, as a judge rejected the prosecutors’ (!!!) request to drop the charges.

[ WATCH: Hilarious spoof pegs Messi, Ronaldo as “Friends” ]

Messi and his father have already made a $5.5 million corrective payment, but there’s principle in play here. And the judge wants to know how Messi can claim he had no idea what was being done with his money.

From the BBC:

Lawyers acting on behalf of the tax authorities demanded 22-month jail sentences for both defendants.

“There are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties,” wrote the judge in a court filing, according to the AFP news agency.

Can you imagine one of the world’s richer men ending up in a Spanish prison? It’s very difficult to consider. In some ways it’s more plausible that he would buy his own island and start the “Messi Isle Premiership”.

Still, we won’t laugh off the idea, especially with FIFA apparently going down. Messi in prison. That’s something. Sepp in Switzerland. Lionel in Spain.