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Brad Guzan happy at Aston Villa, dismisses Arsenal move

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Brad Guzan’s terrific start to the Premier League season has seen him linked with plenty of big teams, including league leaders Arsenal.

However, the U.S. national team ‘keeper revealed to Jeff Carlisle that he’s happy to remain with Aston Villa, as he establishes himself as one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the PL.

“Aston Villa, they’ve stuck by me, especially the manager, [Paul Lambert],” Guzan said. “He’s given me a chance to play consistent football in Europe. It’s always nice when you’re linked with other teams, but for me, I’m very happy at Aston Villa.”

And why wouldn’t he be?

In 2012  it seemed as though Guzan’s career at Villa and his European adventure could’ve been over, after former manager Alex McLeish decided against offering the former Chivas USA star a new contract and Guzan released by the Midlands outfit. But when McLeish left and Paul Lambert arrived as gaffer, one of the first thing’s he did was hand Guzan a new deal and the rest is history.

(MORE: Report – Arsenal interested in Brad Guzan)

Guzan, 29, has grabbed his chance with both hands and is pushing USMNT number one Tim Howard all the way for a starting spot with the Yanks. But is he right to turn down a move to some of England’s top teams? It all depends, because at Villa he’s the reigning Player of the Year, has confidence and belief in what he’s doing and is loved by the staff, his teammates and the fans. Sometimes all of that is worth much more than a big money move to a team challenging for titles and playing in Europe. No matter how crazy it sounds, for a ‘keeper to play on a side struggling near the bottom, sometimes it almost better for his profile and reputation that he’s busy week in, week out, as Guzan has been able to showcase plenty of his talents following Villa’s shaky defensive displays last season.

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Guzan’s impressive displays this season have seen top PL clubs knocking on the door.

Plus, if the move to Arsenal did come off, would Guzan be No. 1 over Wojciech Szczęsny? That could be a gamble for Guzan, as dazzling while playing regular soccer in the PL is the only way he can expect to become Jurgen Klinsmann’s head honcho between now and Brazil 2014. So, he should probably stay at Villa.

For now.

And it’s certainly been a more promising start to this campaign for the Villans, who have been much better at the back. Guzan has impressed with his distribution (grabbing an assist on the game-winner against Manchester City), as well as his shot-stopping, with a man of the match display against Norwich City standing out amongst many other terrific displays. And the Chicago native believes the project Lambert is undertaking — taking a plethora of young homegrown players and molding them into a unit — is one he wants to stick around for.

“It’s a club that I think is definitely on the rise,” Guzan said. “And it’s something I want to be a part of.”

Bremen beats Wolfsburg to leave Bundesliga relegation zone

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Serge Gnabry of Germany reacts during the Men's First Round Football Group C match between Germany and Fiji at Mineirao Stadium on August 10, 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Midfielder Serge Gnabry scored twice as Werder Bremen moved away from the Bundesliga’s relegation zone with a 2-1 win at fellow struggler Wolfsburg on Friday.

Bremen and Wolfsburg are level on points and two above Hamburger SV, which is in 18th place and in the relegation zone.

It was a fifth defeat in six games for Wolfsburg coach Valerien Ismael, who won the league and cup double as a player with Bremen in 2004.

Gnabry fired the visitors ahead with a deflected shot in the 10th minute and made it 2-0 eight minutes later, controlling the ball with his chest before prodding home on the volley.

Striker Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Real Madrid, scored with his chest following a Wolfsburg corner as Wolfsburg hit back moments later.

Midfielder Daniel Didavi struck the post with a free kick as Wolfsburg kept pushing for an equalizer.

Mancini reportedly not interested in Leicester City, De Boer says no

GENOA, ITALY - APRIL 20:  Head Coach of FC Internazionale Roberto Mancini looks during the Serie A match between Genoa CFC and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on April 20, 2016 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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Two top candidates to replace Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City have reportedly turned down any interest in the job.

Roberto Mancini, the heavy favorite out of the gates after Ranieri’s dismissal, tweeted his support for Ranieri after the news broke. “I am sorry for my friend Ranieri,” Mancini said. “He will be in the history of LCFC, in the hearts of Leicester fans and all football lovers.”

However, the fellow Italian has rebuffed Leicester’s informal advances towards his services. According to Sky Sports, Leicester sent “intermediaries” to “sound out” Mancini’s feelings towards the position, but came back empty-handed. The report states Mancini was turned off to the club after a short and unsuccessful spell there as a player in 2001.

That leaves a host of other names who have been linked to the job, with no clear favorite. One person mentioned was Dutch legend Frank de Boer, who is unemployed after an unusually short stint in charge of Inter Milan. However, De Boer’s agent went public to say he was not ever in the running.

“There is zero possibility that Frank could go to Leicester,” agent Guido Albers told Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb. “I too heard these rumors, but that’s all they are – rumors. I can affirm without doubt that Frank will not become the Leicester City manager. This will 100 per cent not happen.”

Albers explained that De Boer is only interested in joining a club in the offseason, preferring to enter a project with a blank slate rather than joining midseason with particular goals already clearly laid out. With Leicester, it seems De Boer is turned off by the notion of a relegation battle.

Win over Las Palmas again has La Real on edge of CL spot

GETAFE, SPAIN - DECEMBER 11:  Xavi Prieto of Real Sociedad in action during the La Liga match between Getafe CF and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium on December 11, 2015 in Getafe, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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All it took was one mistake. Real Sociedad’s Xabi Prieto capitalized, and has La Real once again on the verge of next year’s Champions League.

La Real finished 7th in 2013/14, and 9th in 2015/16, and this year, they’re closer than ever. Preito’s goal on the mistake by Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas gave Real Sociedad the 1-0 road win and has them just a point off a Champions League place.

[ MORE: Antonio Conte pulling from experience to keep Chelsea on top ]

That could be even closer next week, as fourth-placed Atletico Madrid has to welcome Barcelona to the Calderon tomorrow, leaving the door open for La Real to make another move next weekend.

The goal down the stretch is not just to win the games they should, but make the teams above them work. La Real has won seven of their last ten matches, but the three losses came to Real Madrid, Villareal, and Sevilla, all teams fighting at the top of the table. They still have chances down the stretch, with matches against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Eibar coming up, with the latter on the docket next weekend.

Conte pulling from prior experience as title race pushes on

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea looks on during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at Molineux on February 18, 2017 in Wolverhampton, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Antonio Conte has recalled some painful memories to push himself and his players forward despite their commanding lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Chelsea sits eight points clear of Manchester City, and has the chance to go even further in front with many of the top teams off this weekend, but that won’t give the Italian any better sleep at night.

In the 1999/2000 season, Conte was nearing the end of his 13-year Juventus tenure. He’d won three league titles already, plus two league cup trophies and a Champions League title with the Serie A giants. With a comfortable nine point lead after 26 matches, the club became complacent. They would lose four of their final eight matches, collapsing on the final day in the pouring rain, allowing Lazio to come roaring back to win the title.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks for Week 26 ]

“I was captain of the team,” Conte said. “I remember after this game I must go to the European Championships with the national team. I didn’t sleep for six days because it was a shock for me to lose the title.”

Clearly, that still haunts him. “I have experienced this,” Conte continued. “When I continue to repeat that there are 13 games, there are 39 points… there is a long time before we can say we won the title. We must be focused, we must go step by step.”

The Blues host Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday before a trip to West Ham next weekend. If anyone believes the Chelsea players are complacent holding such a significant lead with 13 matches to go, it’s clear that’s not nearly the case. Anything can happen in three months.