WATCH: Cardiff host Manchester City, Spurs face Swansea on Sunday

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Two massive games will take place on Sunday, as Week 2 of the Premier League continues.

Both Welsh clubs will be in action at 11am ET as Cardiff City prepare for their first-ever home game in the Premier League against Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City side. You can catch that contest live online  from the Cardiff City Stadium.

While in North London Tottenham’s first home game of the 2013-14 campaign sees them face Swansea City (11am ET, watch live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra) after both sides were in Europa League action on Thursday.

Both games will be fiercely contested, especially as Swansea and Cardiff are still searching for their first points of the season following disappointment in their opening matches.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup; Arsenal, Liverpool, Hull and Stoke all win)

Looking towards Cardiff against Man City, the Citizens dismantled Newcastle United with ease last Monday by smashing four past the Magpies, and it could’ve been more. The last time Cardiff played Manchester City in the league was 1985 in the second-tier, when a 2-2 draw played out. Safe to say the Bluebirds would take a similar result on Sunday after their opening day defeat at West Ham.

Tottenham will be looking to build on their 1-0 win against Crystal Palace last Sunday as a talented Swansea side rolls into town. However Spurs are returning from a long midweek trip to Georgia, as they battered Dinamo Tbilisi 5-0 in the first leg of their Europa League playoff game.

Swansea also scored five in the first leg of their Europa League playoff tie, but did so at home against Romanian outfit Petrolul Ploiești.

Remember, you can watch both games live at 11am ET on Sunday, via NBC Sports Live Extra.

Injuries

Manchester City will be without captain Vincent Kompany for a month, after a groin injury against Newcastle. While Cardiff could start record signing Andreas Cornelius, after the Danish international missed the season opener with an ankle injury.

In the other game, Spurs will be hoping Aaron Lennon and Jan Vertonghen return after missing the trip to Tbilisi. While Swansea will be without winger Nathan Dyer after his hamstring injury.

Key Stats

  • Against Newcastle on Monday, Manchester City completed 90% of their passes – the best ratio in the PL in the opening round of fixtures.
  • Cardiff City have not lost at home since a 2-0 Championship defeat to Brighton in February.
  • Swansea have never won a league match at White Hart Lane in 15 attempts, losing 13 and drawing two.
  • Tottenham have lost just two league games since December 2012

Predictions

I can see Manchester City rolling into Cardiff and putting on a clinic. Fans of Cardiff City will be excited to welcome Premier League soccer to town but Pellegrini’s men looked so good going forward and Cardiff’s defense wasn’t the best in their opening day loss to West Ham. Comfortable win for Man City.

While Spurs vs. Swansea will be a tricky one to call. Both teams played midweek in the Europa League and a long trip to Eastern Europe, like Spurs endured, does strange things to teams. I’m going for a narrow Tottenham win.

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Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

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A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

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This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.