Arsenal's Giroud reacts with team-mates Gibbs and Podolski after missing a scoring chance during their English Premier League soccer match in London

Premier League club-by-club needs, as transfer deadline looms

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Happy Monday morning to all of you out there. “Why does he sound so chipper?” You may be ask. Well folks, I’ll tell you exactly why.

This time next week the summer transfer window will be slammed shut. No more outlandish transfer rumors, cryptic Tweets and confusing reports leaked by agents, clubs and other outlets…. Well, until, mid-December, early January at least.

This transfer window has had some man sagas since the 2012-13 season finished back on May 19.

But with seven days left to wheel and deal, plenty of clubs will be readying final bids for players as the deadline edges closer. So I thought we’d take look at the specific areas each Premier League squad should strengthen in.

Will all the business be done before 00:01 on Monday September 2? History suggests plenty of deals will go right up to midnight on Sunday. The tension is already building.

A tense week for teams, players, chairman, managers and fans has begun.

Arsenal: Where do we start? Arsene Wenger obviously needs a whole host of names. Their squad has been decimated over the summer, with plenty of players released and no senior players of note arriving. They’re being linked with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, who would be a tremendous addition. Arsenal is two quality signings away from pushing on this campaign.

Aston Villa: It seems as though Paul Lambert is going to stick with what he has at Villa Park, and following promising displays against Arsenal and Chelsea and a tough loss to Liverpool, they look okay. However adding extra depth in defense should be a priority.

Cardiff City: After that showing against Manchester City on Sunday, it’s hard to see where Cardiff can improve. Maybe another winger to add to Craig Bellamy would be worthwhile. Other than that the arrival of Andreas Cornelius, Gary Medel and Steven Caulker has developed a new core to their hungry squad.

Chelsea: José Mourinho doesn’t really need to add anyone… but he probably will. Wayne Rooney is the obvious candidate, but will Manchester United sell him to one of their biggest rivals? Apart from that the arrival of Willian this week will add more competition out wide.

source: AP
Will Rooney and Torres be teammates next season?

Crystal Palace: Ian Holloway still needs heavy reinforcements if Palace has any chance of staying up. It’s early in the season but it’s very clear the South Londoners will struggle without signing quality. One new signing in attack, midfield and defense will give them a chance but the Eagles need to splash the cash. Can’t see that happening.

Hull City: A proven goalscorer will be at the top of Steve Bruce’s wish list. Hull are hard to beat and a horrible team to play against. They have plenty of depth in midfield and defense but lack a real difference maker going forward. Can Bruce loan in another gem, like he did by getting Mikael Forssell when he was in charge at Birmingham back in the day, before the deadline?

Everton: Roberto Martinez has already done plenty of business, but we could still see a few of the Wigan old boys popping up at Goodison Park. Callum McManaman and maybe James McCarthy could arrive depending on what happens to Marouane Fellaini.

Fulham: The Cottagers are struggling to find the correct balance in their squad. They have Darren Bent, Dimitar Berbatov, Bryan Ruiz and now Adel Taarabt who are great going forward, but there’s no solidity. How can Martin Jol fit them all in? Don’t expect him to do any business, picking up Scott Parker was a good buy.

Liverpool: The Reds seem to have calmed Luis Suárez’ situation down and reports suggest the Uruguayan may sign a new contract later this week. They maybe need one great wide player, but Rodgers may persist with Iago Aspas out wide or stick Daniel Sturridge out there when Suárez returns.

Manchester City: A new central defender would be handy to have at the Etihad. Both Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic have gone done injured and suddenly City look thin at the back. Manuel Pellegrini could move to bring in Pepe from Real Madrid. Do the Citizens need him?

Manchester United: Three new players will ideally be added by David Moyes, another central defender and an attacking midfielder are needed. If Rooney leaves, United are still covered up top with Danny Welbeck and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez still around. But maybe Moyes will add another forward. Work to do this week.

Newcastle United: Another central defender to boost their options at the back would really suit the Magpies. Steven Taylor has been caught out plenty of times and question marks surround him despite his passion and commitment to the cause. Maybe another top striker too, but Loic Remy should start when he recovers from injury.

Norwich City: Don’t expect Norwich to add any more players. A trio of quality attackers have arrived over the offseason, with Gary Hooper, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Johan Elmander giving the Canaries strength in-depth up front. They’re set.

source: Getty Images
Will Newcastle add another attacker alongside Remy?

Southampton: Only three new names for the Saints, but they spent over $55 million on Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama and Pablo Osvaldo. A new winger with real pace to burn could be the only signing needed for Mauricio Pochettino.

Stoke City: Mark Hughes should add another forward to his ranks. He has Juan Agudelo coming in but that isn’t until January. Peter Crouch is going through a drought, while Jonathan Walters, Kenwyne Jones and Cameron Jerome have hardly been prolific.

Sunderland: Paolo Di Canio has added 11 new faces to his squad and will be content with how they’ve fared so far. May take a few months to gel. Can’t see the Sunderland board releasing more funds until January.

Swansea City: Michael Laudrup’s side has lost two from two but they shouldn’t be concerned. He has no real areas to strengthen and will be happy with his squad as they aim for another top 10 finish.

Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs should bolster their defense with another central defender a priority. Younes Kaboul and Etienne Capoue are backups behind Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen. But only young Zeki Fryers is around after those four.

West Bromwich Albion: Steve Clarke may need to invest in another forward, Nicholas Anelka’s sudden departure has left him short up top. Goals will be a problem for the Baggies this season if they don’t add someone this week.

West Ham United: Big Sam has bought well again, with Stewart Downing already looking revitalized out on the wing and Andy Carroll set to return from injury. The Hammers did all their business early.

Leicester fan will win $50,000 from $10 bet if Foxes win Premier League

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy celebrates after scoring against Manchester United, his eleventh consecutive goal in the Premier League, during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Manchester United at the King Power Stadium, Leicester, England, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Vardy becomes the first man to score in 11 consecutive English Premier League soccer matches after finding the back of the net against Manchester United today.(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
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As their odds of winning the Premier League title continue to be slashed, tales of Leicester City fans set to win an incredible amount of cash continue.

The latest story is a beauty.

[ VIDEO: Ferrell – “I got Mourinho fired” ]

On the eve of the 2015-16 Premier League season one Leicester City fan, Chloe Cope, decided to put $10 on her side to win the title. The odds were 5,000 -1. So, with the Foxes five points clear at the top of the table with just 13 games to go, the first league title in Leicester’s 132 year history would not only bring unbeliavable amounts of jubilation to the East Midlands city but also plenty of cash for its fans. $50,000 for this Miss Cope, in fact.

The story gets even better. Check this out.

[ MORE: Report – Mourinho tells friend he will take over at United

Miss Cope’s flutter on her beloved Foxes was actually her first-ever bet. She opened up an online betting account last summer in the UK with Sky Bet and was rewarded a free $30 bet which she used to make a bet that Leicester would finish in the top six this season. That’s virtually assured so she will win another $637.

The two bets she made back on August 7 2015 are shown in the Tweet below via Jacqui Oatley.

A few other Leicester fans are also in line to win plenty of cash, but this one seems to have the most riding on it.

Will big changes in Europe threaten UEFA Champions League’s future?

FC Barcelona, 2014-15 UEFA Champions League winners
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With talk of the UEFA Champions League being threatened by a “super league” of some sort, that notion has been undermined by some of Europe’s top teams.

For now.

[ MORE: What is USMNT’s best XI?

On Wednesday in Paris the European Clubs’ Association (ECA) met at its 16th annual congress and confirmed it will seek to change the way the UEFA Champions League and Europa League is run when the current term of agreement cycle expires at the end of the 2017-18 season.

With over 200 member clubs the ECA represents many of the biggest teams on the planet with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Chelsea all included.

In the past there has been a growing notion for a European “super league” to replace the Champions League and that perennial European giants should not have to rely on qualifying for Europe via their domestic competitions.

That is one of the factors currently being discussed by the ECA, as they released the following statement after the congress in France this week.

“In light of the upcoming 2018-21 UEFA Club Competition Cycle, the clubs are currently discussing the future of UEFA’s main club competitions, namely the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. As in the past, the clubs are in constant dialogue with UEFA to further develop and improve both competitions. All ECA Member Clubs have gathered in informal working groups to exchange initial thoughts and ideas.”

[ MORE: Reports claim Mourinho to United is “done deal”

The current ECA chairman and chairman of Bayern Munich, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, also spoke about the need to revamp both club competitions.

“I believe both ECA and UEFA are interested in an evolution of the competitions. Stagnation means regression,” Rummenigge said. “We have always jointly looked into ways to further develop and improve the competitions. It is important to find a good and balanced solution for everyone involved.”

So, overall, it seems that for now both ECA and UEFA is willing to work together to improve the current format of the UCL rather than go their separate ways and the ECA member clubs beginning their own competition, as had been mooted by Rummenigge and other high-ranking officials in the past.

What changes could be discussed for the 2018-21 UEFA Club Competition Cycle?

For me, it seems like it would be a good idea to somehow reduce the number of UCL teams who enter the group stage. That would help it preserve its elite status and potential shave two matchdays off the schedule to lessen the pressure on teams. Currently 32 teams qualify in eight groups of four teams and a total of 78 teams from across UEFA’s 54 member nations qualify for the UCL each season. 46 fall by the wayside in the qualifying rounds and many of those teams are too small to ever dream about getting anywhere near the group stages.

[ PHOTOS: New PL logo released

Perhaps just having one playoff round to make the UCL and limiting the number of spots for nations with lower UEFA coefficients is the way to go. That way those nations would back their teams competing in the Europa League and that competition will gain more prestige as a direct correlation between teams performing well in the Europa League will lead to certain nations being granted places in the UEFA Champions League. That’s the case now, but adding extra emphasis to the Europa League should be a big part of the next cycle.

The biggest situation the ECA seem to want to sort out here is how some of Europe’s biggest teams did not qualify for the UCL. The overriding notion seems to be that the ECA wants them to qualify each year. Even though the likes of past UCL winners Liverpool, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund weren’t involved in Europe’s elite competition this season, did the tournament really suffer because of it? In terms of gate revenue, perhaps, but it seems that the ECA is conflicted about the best way to get as many of its member teams involved in the elite competition as possible.

Another idea I’m just throwing out there could be to hand teams a spot in the UCL based on their current coefficient which takes into account their previous performances in UEFA Club Competitions. Perhaps four spots per season could be reserved for teams who don’t qualify for the UCL domestically, but have the highest coefficient of the non qualifiers. Just a thought.

There’s clearly plenty to sort out but it seems like — for now, at least — we haven’t seen the end of the UEFA Champions League. But tweaks will need to be made to stop it regressing.

VIDEO: Will Ferrell is feeling guilty – “I got Jose Mourinho fired”

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Sometimes there’s just something you have to admit.

[ MORE: Mourinho to United “done deal”

It sounds better if you say it out loud and get it off your chest. This is one of those moments for comedian, actor and now part-owner of a Major League Soccer franchise, Los Angeles FC, Will Ferrell.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Joining the Men In Blazers this week the self-proclaimed soccer nut joked that he was the one who actually got Jose Mourinho fired by Chelsea.

For real. Watch the video above to see Ferrell’s admission as he explains exactly what happened.

[ MORE: Arsenal, Spurs to fight for the PL title? ]

Just seven months after leading Chelsea to the Premier League title, Mourinho was dismissed by the west London club in December.

NOTE: Severe tongue-in-cheek mode activated.

WATCH: NBC to stream USWNT, every CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying game

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The CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championships kick off on Wednesday and NBC Sports will be streaming all 15 games of the tournament over the next 11 days.

Every single game will be streamed live online or on the app via NBC Sports Live Extra, in addition to up to four matches airing on NBCSN with the U.S women’s national team — aiming for a fourth-straight Olympic gold — featuring heavily in live broadcasts.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The eight-team tournament takes place from Feb. 10-21 in Houston and Frisco, Texas, with the top two teams advancing to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Below is a full schedule of the games.

2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Schedule

Frisco, Texas – Toyota Stadium
Houston, Texas – BBVA Compass Stadium
Times U.S. Central (U.S. Eastern in parentheses)

FIRST ROUND
Group A: USA, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica
Group B: Canada, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana

Wednesday, Feb. 10 (Frisco)
Puerto Rico vs. Mexico                                   5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA vs. Costa Rica                                    7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 11 (Houston)
Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago                  5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guyana                                           7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Saturday, Feb. 13 (Frisco)
Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico                              12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
USA vs. Mexico                                                 3 p.m. (4 p.m.) NBCSN at 9:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, Feb. 14 (Houston)
Guyana vs. Guatemala                                     12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
Trinidad vs. Canada                                          3 p.m. (4 p.m.)

Monday, Feb. 15 (Frisco)
Mexico vs. Costa Rica                                       5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA vs. Puerto Rico                                          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) LIVE on NBCSN

Tuesday, Feb. 16 (Houston)
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guyana                         5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guatemala                                      7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

SEMIFINALS

Friday, Feb. 19 (Houston)
Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up          4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m.) ***
Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) ***

FINAL

Sunday, Feb. 21 (Houston)
Semifinal winners                                            4 p.m. (5 p.m.) NBCSN at 11 p.m.

***USA’s semifinal, should the USA advance, will air LIVE on NBCSN