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Premier League Week 2 Team of the Week (Video)


It was another exciting week in the Barclays Premier League with plenty of twists and turns.

Manchester City, who looked so good last Monday against Newcastle, lost at new-boys Cardiff City. An undermanned Arsenal side bounced back from last week’s devastation to defeat Fulham. And two teams that everyone thought would impress, Manchester United and Chelsea, did anything but that in yesterday’s nil-nil draw.

At the end of it all, Chelsea remains atop the standings with seven points with Liverpool and Spurs both hot on the Blues’ tail at six points each and a game in hand.

Here is the Team of the Week for Week 2 of the Premier League.

Goalkeeper – Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)

Ben Foster was sublime during Saturday’s goalless draw at Everton. The West Brom net-minder recorded eight saves in the effort, including a face-busting parry on Marouane Fellaini from two yards out. The Baggies could struggle going forward, however, as Foster suffered a foot injury in the 78th minute that will keep him sidelined for the next 12 weeks.

Defender – Kolo Toure (Liverpool)

Manchester City must be reeling at having let Kolo Toure go in the off-season. In his two matches at Liverpool Toure has looked every bit a lock down defender, boasting two clean sheets. Last weekend he put the clamps on Villa striker Christian Benteke, who entered the match with three goals in two league contests.

Defender – Jose Fonte (Southampton)

After securing his side a clean sheet in Week 1’s victory over Sunderland, Jose Fonte was at it again last Saturday, securing a draw for the Saints with an 88th minute header.

Defender – John Terry (Chelsea)

After an injury riddled 2012-13 campaign John Terry has come out of the gates this season looking young and sprightly. Against Manchester United he was the highlight player for Chelsea in an otherwise drab match, recording 11 interceptions and winning 5 aerial duels to preserve a point for the Blues.

Midfielder – Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur)

After 9 loan spells in his first four seasons at Tottenham, Andros Townsend looked like a man marked for departure. But Townsend earned a start in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Swansea City and made the most of it, terrorizing the right wing and drawing the penalty that resulted in Spurs’ game-winning goal. The display impressed many, including England manager Roy Hodgson, who called Townsend into the senior squad for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Moldova and the Ukraine.

Midfielder – Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)

From the looks of it, Aaron Ramsey has finally arrived for Arsenal. The midfielder has been fantastic in both of Arsenal’s Premier League matches as well as their Champions League triumph over Fenerbahce.  Against Fulham, Ramsey was the best player on the field, orchestrating the Gunners to the 3-1 victory.

Midfielder – Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) 

Aron Gunnarsson was a hellion in the Cardiff City midfield on Sunday. With his box-to-box movement and defensive hunt, Gunnarsson frustrated the City attack while coming up with his biggest achievement to date, netting the Bluebirds first Premier League goal.

Midfielder – Sone Aluko (Hull City)

Sone Aluko was key to Hull City’s 1-0 victory over Norwich City on Saturday, chasing down defenders and providing a creative spark for the Tigers going forward. After Yannick Sagbo was sent off, Aluko continued to give the Canary defense headaches, helping to secure his side’s first Premier League victory.

Forward – Frazier Campbell (Cardiff City)

Frazier Campbell was sensational in Cardiff City’s 3-2 triumph over Manchester City. The former Manchester United striker scored twice in the second half and embarrassed world-class defender Pablo Zabaleta while doing so. As to the $930,000 (£600k) transfer fee that Cardiff paid Sunderland for Campbell last January? Yeah, that’s looking like a pretty savvy investment.

Forward – Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)

For the second consecutive week Daniel Sturridge made Liverpool fans forget about Luis Suarez as the Englishman bagged the winner in a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa. Sturridge’s goal was one of pure class, dragging the ball across Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender Antonio Luna before cleverly toe-poking into the roof of the net.

Forward – Lukas Podolski (Arsenal)

After being relegated to a substitute role against Aston Villa in Week 1, rumors began to circulate that the German forward may be on his way out of North London. But after his brace against Fulham suddenly those voices have quieted and everyone around Arsenal is keen on one thing – keeping Podolski happy. Funny how that works.

Honorable Mention – GK Allan McGregor; D James Chester (Hull City); D Billy Jones (West Bromwich Albion); D James Collison (West Ham United); Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur); M Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur); M Etienne Capoue (Tottenham Hotspur); M Charlie Adam (Stoke City); M Theo Walcott (Arsenal); M Santi Cazorla (Arsenal); F Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)

French PM says Benzema has no place on national team

Karim Benzema, France
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PARIS (AP) The French prime minister joined in the criticism of Karim Benzema on Tuesday, saying the Real Madrid striker “has no place” on the France team at the European Championship in the wake of a blackmail scandal.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Benzema is one of France’s key players as it gets ready to host the Euro 2016 tournament, but the forward faces charges of conspiracy to blackmail relating to an extortion scam over a sex tape. He is suspected of having played an active role in pressuring France teammate Mathieu Valbuena, a case that has badly damaged his reputation.

“A great athlete should be exemplary,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls told French radio Europe 1. “If he is not, he has no place within the France team.”

The investigation, centering on wiretap evidence, started when Valbuena took legal action after being contacted by a man claiming to possess an incriminating sex tape.

In a case that could drag on for months, Benzema’s involvement has not yet been fully determined. But investigators who charged him in October believe he was approached by a childhood friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers.

“If a minister was handed preliminary charges, he would no longer be part of the government,” Valls said.

Benzema denies any wrongdoing but his arguments were undermined last week when Valbuena spoke directly about his attempts to pressure him in an interview with Le Monde newspaper.

[ MORE: City now valued at $3 billion ]

The French football federation has also joined the case as plaintiff.

“There are so many kids, so many youngsters in our suburbs that relate to great athletes,” Valls said. “They wear the blue jersey, the colors of France, which are so important in these moments.”

Preliminary charges under French law mean magistrates have strong reason to believe a crime was committed, and allow time for further investigation. The charges may later be dropped. In 2010, Benzema was handed preliminary charges for soliciting an underage prostitute but was acquitted in a case that lasted more than three years and tarnished his reputation.

Benzema’s image was further dented last month when he spat on the pitch after the national anthem was played at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium in a tribute to the 130 fatalities of the Paris attacks ahead of a match against Barcelona.

Benzema’s action ignited a wave of criticism on social media, prompting his lawyers to issue a statement in which they condemned “the scandalous interpretation” of the incident. Benzema, who has 27 international goals, had posted several messages in support of the victims in the days that followed the attacks.

League Cup preview: Man City, Liverpool, Everton look to make semis

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The Capital One Cup quarterfinals take place on Tuesday and Wednesday with five Premier League left among the last eight.

[ MORE: Follow League Cup scores live

Only one all-Premier League tie is set up with Southampton hosting Liverpool as Ronald Koeman pits his wits against Jurgen Klopp at St Mary’s in the tie of the round. Saints will be without captain Jose Fonte through injury, while Liverpool have Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge available but both may be used from the bench as they build up their match sharpness. Saints and Liverpool drew 1-1 at Anfield last month so expect another tight encounter down on the South Coast.

PL leaders Man City welcome Championship side Hull City to the Etihad Stadium with Manuel Pellegrini aiming to win the League Cup for the second time in three years. David Silva could make his first start in over two months for City, but Joe Hart remains out injured as Steve Bruce‘s Tigers come to town.

Everton also face second-tier opposition in Middlesbrough with a tricky trip to the Riverside awaiting the Toffees. Roberto Martinez’s team have to shore up at the back after drawing 3-3 at Bournemouth in the league last weekend, as they face Aitor Karanka’s flying-high Boro who are pushing for promotion from the Championship. This one seems like the biggest banana skin for PL clubs.

Talking of banana skins, Stoke City host Sheffield Wednesday at the Britannia and although the Potters will fancy their chances of making the final four after they knocked out Chelsea in the last round, Wednesday comprehensively beat Arsenal last time out and the Owls will provide a stern test for Geoff Cameron and Co.

Below are the fixtures for the next few days, while you can click on the link above to follow all the last-eight games live.

League Cup quarterfinals


Manchester City vs. Hull City – 2:45 p.m. ET
Middlesbrough vs. Everton – 2:45 p.m. ET
Stoke City vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 2:45 p.m. ET


Southampton vs. Liverpool – 2:45 p.m. ET

Arsenal still waiting on severity of Alexis Sanchez’s injury

NORWICH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29:  An injured Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (17) is given assistance during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Arsenal at Carrow Road on November 29, 2015 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Arsenal’s fans are sweating on news regarding Alexis Sanchez’s left hamstring injury and it seems as though the wait for a diagnosis will go on.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Arsene Wenger has come under plenty of criticism for playing Sanchez, 26, despite the Chilean star complaining of a hamstring injury before the Norwich game on Sunday, and when he pulled up clutching his left hamstring in the second half Wenger’s face was one of anger and disappointment.

Multiple reports claim that Sanchez’s injury is still being assessed by Arsenal’s medical staff as Wenger faces an anxious wait to see how long his star forward is out for.

Here’s what Wenger had to say directly after Arsenal’s draw at Norwich, as the media questioned why he would play Sanchez if he was already struggling with a hamstring complaint.

“Nobody is scientifically developed enough, not even the press, to predict exactly when a guy will be injured,” Wenger said. “I would have rested him but he felt perfectly alright before the game. We declared that he had no problem. Despite all the tests he looked alright. The players are there to play football not to be rested when the press decides that they need to be rested. He [Alexis] says it is a kick on his hamstring but I believe that is not really the reality.”

The reality is that Sanchez — who has scored nine times in 20 appearances this season — could miss some crucial games for the Gunners, including their UEFA Champions League Group F showdown with Olympiakos next Wednesday in Greece. Arsenal need a win by a two-goal margin or any win by scoring three or more goals to advance to the last 16 of the UCL, but with Sanchez out and plenty of others struggling, the dreaded injury plague struck the North London club in November, a month they always seem to falter in, once again.

[ MORE: City now valued at $3 billion ]

Santi Cazorla suffered a knee injury against Norwich and like Sanchez it’s unclear how long the Spanish midfielder will be out for. The only piece of good news to come from Sunday’s draw in Norfolk is that Laurent Koscielny should be available to play against Sunderland on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra) after overcoming a hip injury which forced him off early last weekend.

However, with Francis Coquelin out long-term, plus Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs making their way back slowly and long-term absentees Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky out until January, Wenger’s squad is being stretched to the limit.

Report: Chelsea, Man United to battle for Muller

Telekom Cup 2015 - "Bayern Munich v FC Augsburg"

Chelsea are set to join Manchester United in bidding for Bayern Munich and Germany star Thomas Muller.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Muller, 26, has previously revealed he turned down a move to United but with Pep Guardiola’s future at Bayern unclear beyond the current season, the product of Bayern’s academy may feel now is the right time to move on even though he’s contracted to the German powerhouse until 2019.

If he does, Europe’s biggest teams will be lining up and according to a report in the Daily Mirror Chelsea want to sign Muller and will make an audacious move to make him their main striker as Jose Mourino and Diego Costa‘s fallout continued with the Spanish international left on the bench during the draw at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.

With Costa sulking, Mourinho  has been linked with moves for a number of strikers in January and next summer with Jamie Vardy, Saido Berahino and Antoine Griezmann all mentioned in the gossip columns.

[ MORE: City now valued at $3 billion ]

In the past Muller has said that he turned down “astronomical offers” to join foreign clubs and United were his main suitors. With the man who gave him his debut at Bayern, Louis Van Gaal, now in charge at United and the Red Devils continuing to spend big, Muller has been constantly linked with a switch to Old Trafford but many Bayern greats are urging him to remain at the Allianz Arena to become a Bayern legend, or at the very least join the all-conquering Barcelona rather than head to England.

Muller’s predatory finishing alongside Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian certainly seems like a good fit at Chelsea and you can understand why they would want to break the bank to get him, but offloading Costa and others first must be the priority which is why any such deal for Muller seems unlikely to happen until next summer at the earliest.

If the man who has scored 141 goals in 325 games for Bayern is intent on leaving the Bundesliga after spending his entire career in Bavaria, then Chelsea and United will be falling over themselves to sign him.