FA Cup: Five to Watch

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The Premier League has the weekend off due to FA Cup action, with many first-division sides involved in the fourth round of England’s top domestic tournament. But, with twelve games today, and the majority of those taking place at the same time, how to choose which to watch?

Bournemouth vs. Liverpool (7:45 a.m. ET)
The day’s FA Cup action kicks off in Bournemouth, where the Cherries  have a massive game ahead of them. They’re currently 16th in the Championship, but Bournemouth aren’t used to such dizzying heights, having climbed to the second tier of English football just once before. Now, the financial crisis that saw them fall out of the Football League has been stymied by investment from Russian owner Maxim Demin, but manager Eddie Howe wants glory as well. 30 years ago, Bournemouth beat cup-holders Manchester United in Round 3. Now the side is looking to go down in history once more – but they might have to stop the likes of Luis Suárez to do so. Sure, Liverpool’s star will probably be on the bench, but should things not be going the visitors’ way, he’ll be available to crush the hope out of the Cherries.

Manchester City vs. Watford (10 a.m. ET)
Fans of the popular Twitter game #WheresJoJo might be excited for this matchup – Stevan Jovetić, an expensive purchase for Manchester City in the summer but barely seen since – made a rare appearance for City against West Ham in the League Cup, and there’s no reason he won’t be spotted again today. Unless he’s already hurt again, that is. While it’s always fun to watch City’s “B Squad” and realize just how good this side is, taking a chance to watch Watford isn’t such a bad proposition. They’re an intriguing side: basically a Championship club where players from Serie A club Udinese are shipped off on loan. They’re managed by Italian Beppe Sannino and have some familiar faces amongst their ranks, including goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and venerable defender Marco Cassetti.

Port Vale vs. Brighton and Hove Albion (10 a.m. ET)
Two sides competing for promotion meet in Burslem on Saturday, in what just might be an interesting matchup. You probably can’t find a way to watch this one, so keep an eye out for live updates at the least. The hosts are pushing for promotion from League One, the Seagulls up to the Premier League, and both, of course, want to make it to the next round of the FA Cup. It’s the visitors that are favored, thanks to their Championship position, but it will be tough to take out the hosts at Vale Park, where they haven’t lost a game since November.

Sunderland vs. Kidderminster Harriers (10 a.m. ET)
79 places separate these two opponents – and with Sunderland still in the bottom three in the Premier League, you can just imagine where Kidderminster fall in the pecking order. They’re the only non-league side left in the tournament, and they travel to the Stadium of Light with just one goal: find a way of knocking out the Black Cats. But with Sunderland still on a high after knocking Manchester United out of the League Cup midweek, will it be possible to overtake the hosts? Perhaps Andy Thorn should instruct his team to just hang on and make it to penalties. After seeing the ones Sunderland put in against United, he’s got to fancy his teams chances in that area. Thorn, though, might be boosted by his own FA Cup experience, as the manager was part of the Wimbledon side that surprised the country in 1988 by defeating Liverpool in the final. Will Sunderland, too, find a Thorn in their side?

Stevenage vs. Everton (12:30 p.m. ET)
The day winds down with the Toffees making a visit to Hertfordshire, taking on League One side Stevenage. The hosts have experience lifting trophies; specifically, the FA Trophy. Don’t let that confuse you, as this particular trophy is hosted by the winner of non-league competition. As for the FA Cup, should Stevenage pull this off it would truly be a cup-set. They’re dead last in the table and have won just one league game in the past two months. They managed to beat struggling Championship side Doncaster away to get to the tie with Everton, but it’s hard to see the Premier League side, even saddled with injuries and using its reserves, having much trouble at Stevenage.

La Liga: Las Palmas stuns nine-man Valencia, Atleti settles for draw

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Las Palmas 2-1 Valencia

It’s never ideal when you finish a match with nine men, and that was the case on the day for third-place Valencia. Things were going according to plan for the visitors early on at the Gran Canaria when Santi Mina scored five minutes into the match.

However, goals from Jonathan Viera (22nd minute) and Jonathan Calleri (53rd minute) brought Las Palmas in front, and they wouldn’t relinquish the advantage.

Gabriel Paulista‘s second yellow card, which set up Las Palmas’ penalty kick in the second half was the first sending off for Valencia, while Ruben Vezo joined his teammate in the locker room with three minutes remaining in regulation.

The victory moves Las Palmas into 19th place in La Liga.

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Girona

Barcelona’s lead at the top of La Liga will likely grow courtesy of Atletico’s inability to apply pressure on the Blaugrana. Antoine Griezmann’s first-half strike wasn’t enough to cushion the Atleti lead, and in turn, Girona equalized with 17 minutes left in regulation when Portu scored off of a great take out of the air.

Espanyol 0-3 Sevilla

Franco Vasquez got things started for the visiting side after just 15 minutes, and before halftime Sevilla managed to double their lead through Pablo Sarabia. For good measure, the sixth-place side added a third goal in the 90th minute as Luis Muriel finished off a pass from Sarabia.


Elsewhere in La Liga

Villareal 2-1 Levante


Sunday’s La Liga matches

Alaves vs. Leganes — 6 a.m. ET
Real Madrid vs. Deportivo La Coruna — 10:15 a.m. ET
Real Sociedad vs. Celta Vigo — 12:30 p.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Barcelona — 2:45 p.m. ET

Blockbuster trade sends Kamara to Galaxy, Zardes to Columbus

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The MLS offseason has been in full force for some time now, and the blockbuster moves continue to take shape.

On Saturday, the Columbus Crew finalized a deal with the LA Galaxy to send striker Ola Kamara to the Western Conference side.

[ MORE: All of the picks from Friday’s MLS SuperDraft first & second rounds ]

In exchange for Kamara, the Galaxy have sent U.S. Men’s National Team attacker Gyasi Zardes and $400,000 in Targeted Allocation Money to the Crew. The amount of TAM could increase to $500,000 if Kamara scores 12 or more goals in 2018.

Since arriving on the MLS scene in 2016, the Norwegian had scored 34 regular season goals for the Crew, while adding five assists.

Meanwhile, Zardes has spent his entire professional career with the Galaxy up until this point, after having signed a Homegrown contract with the club over five years ago.

The USMNT winger has scored 34 goals in 131 regular season appearances since making his senior team debut for the Galaxy.

Sources: NYCFC’s Jack Harrison expected to join Stoke this winter

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One of New York City’s biggest soccer stars could be retracing his routes back to England this winter.

Several MLS league sources have confirmed to Pro Soccer Talk that New York City FC winger Jack Harrison is being tracked by Premier League outfit Stoke City, and that a bid has been placed for the 21-year-old “in the range of $5 million.”

[ MORE: Sergio Aguero continues to display brilliance for Man City ]

PST reached out to NYCFC for comment, but the club wasn’t available for immediate response.

Harrison was born in Stoke-on-Trent, and came up through Manchester United’s academy system as a youth player, prior to coming to the United States at the age of 14.

Additionally, league sources have revealed to PST that a deal is “likely to be reached between the two sides” before the end of the winter transfer window.

PL sides have until Jan. 31 to complete signings of players, which gives Stoke roughly 10 days to get a signature from Harrison.

Goal USA’s Ives Galarcep was the first to report the story of Stoke’s interest in Harrison. The Goal report states that Stoke’s initial bid for Harrison of $3 million was rejected by NYCFC last week.

Harrison was selected by NYCFC in the first round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, after the team executed a trade with the Chicago Fire. The 21-year-old was the first-overall pick in that season’s draft out of Wake Forest University.

In his time with the Eastern Conference MLS club, the England-native has scored 14 goals in all competitions, while adding 13 assists for the Cityzens.

Harrison earned his first call up with the England Under-21 national team in 2017 in a match against Scotland, before also appearing in a fixture against Andorra.

The interest from Stoke is far from surprising given the intrigue regarding Harrison from foreign clubs in the past. Stoke is currently in the midst of a fierce relegation battle in England, with the Potters sitting 17th place in the PL on 23 points.

Over the past year, Brighton & Hove, Everton and Leicester City are just a few of the sides that have tracked Harrison’s progress, although it never appeared that NYCFC was close to a deal with any of the aforementioned PL clubs.

From an NYCFC perspective, the move isn’t completely out of left field when considering the moves that technical director Claudio Reyna and manager Patrick Vieira have sought after recently.

The club has added attacking talents such as Designated Player Jesus Medina, Jonathan Lewis and Ismael Tajouri within the last 12 months to help prepare for such a move.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference giants still boast an attack led by forward and captain David Villa, while being complimented by Maxi Moralez and a strong midfield.

Sergio Aguero continues to display brilliance for Man City

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It’s hard to say that Sergio Aguero is an unforgotten man in Manchester City’s loaded lineup of talented attackers, but sometimes it does feel that way.

[ MORE: PL Roundup — Top three all victorious, Gunners thrash Palace ]

The 29-year-old striker proved his worth once again though on Saturday afternoon at the Etihad Stadium after scoring his second hat-trick of the 2017/18 Premier League season in Man City’s 3-1 victory over Newcastle United.

Although the match never seemed in doubt that Pep Guardiola‘s side would come out on top, Aguero has a way of finding himself in all the right positions, and more importantly, capitalizing on the chances he has when he gets into those spots.

An overwhelming amount of possession — which exceeded 80 percent in favor of Man City — gave the hosts the opportunities that it needed, and City manager Pep Guardiola has full confidence in Aguero, who continues to light up English football in his 200th PL appearance.

“I said we are not going to buy a striker because we have Sergio Aguero and in 2-3 weeks we will have Gabriel Jesus,” Guardiola said after the match. “We are so happy for him. We need a guy who scores the goals.”

The Argentine international is now tied for sixth-place in England’s top flight with seven career PL hat-tricks in his time with Man City.

The true beauty of what Aguero does though isn’t the fact that he scores so many goals, but instead how he manages to score them.

It certainly helps out when you have creative masterminds in the attack like Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and David Silva, but it’s been Aguero’s genius that has helped pace the Cityzens for so many years now.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The veteran goalscorer kicked things off for City 11 minutes before halftime, after nodding home the slightest header into the far corner.

Aguero then proceeded to score from the penalty spot in the second stanza, before adding his final finish after finding himself in the right position when Sane decided to take on the entire Newcastle backline.

[ MORE: Wenger hails Arsenal, talks Aubameyang move ]

Overall, Aguero’s 16 goals in the PL are third-most this season, only trailing the likes of Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah — who have had superb campaigns in their own right.

One thing is for certain though, if the Cityzens go on to become the “greatest team in PL history” much of the team’s success will — and should be — attributed to its star striker in Sergio Aguero.