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ProSoccerTalk’s Premier League Best XI: Suarez and Yaya Toure headline

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Certain players just stick out when crafting a Best XI from the 2013/14 Premier League.

Luis Suarez, Yaya Toure, Eden Hazard — no right-minded journo would argue that these men don’t deserve a place in the Best XI. This season we can even throw Southampton’s talismanic captain, Adam Lallana, into that mix after the 26-year-old attacking midfielder swerved and slipped his way through nearly every defense he faced.

Yet the deeper one delves into a Best XI, the more controversial the picks become. Many would argue Steven Gerrard should be guaranteed a spot, while others will tell you that the love for Stevie G is the result of a heavy-handed media and too many conversions from the penalty spot.

Mile Jedinak in his place? Don’t be ridiculous. But the fact is, Jedinak was a bull in the Crystal Palace midfield this season and arguably just as important to his team as Gerrard was to Liverpool. Plus, Jedinak didn’t slip up when everything was on the line.

Too soon?

Point being, one of the best things about the beautiful game is it truly is in the eye of the beholder. Below, we the writers of ProSoccerTalk set forth our Best XI of the Premier League season.

Disagree? Consider the comments your friend space.

GOALKEEPER: DAVID MARSHALL

source: Getty ImagesBesides the greatest villain/owner the Premier League has ever known (Vincent Tan), the best thing to come out of Cardiff City this season was undoubtedly David Marshall.

In his first Premier League season, the 29-year-old Scot wowed audiences with his plastic-like extensions and finger-tip saves, 153 of them to be exact. Proving why, despite the Bluebirds being relegated, Marshall is a prime candidate for a summer transfer back to the Premier League.

PST’s Goalkeeper Nominees
Nicholas Mendola: Wojciech Szczesny
Kyle Bonn: David Marshall
Joe Prince-Wright: David Marshall
Richard Farley: David Marshal
Mike Prindiville: David Marshall

DEFENDERS: SEAMUS COLEMAN, JOHN TERRY, GARY CAHILL, LEIGHTON BAINES

source: APThe best center-back duo joins the best full-back duo in our team of the year. It was a glorious season for the Chelsea defense, conceding a league best 27 goals, with Terry and Cahill forming a formidable partnership along the way. Both men possess the bulk, aerial and tackling ability to frustrate any striker and remain persistent threats on set pieces.

The partnership of Baines and Coleman frustrated many a side by playing more like wingers who recover defensively than full-backs who get forward. In past seasons, Everton’s pitch was tilted left towards Baines but this season things evened out and perhaps even tilted in the opposite direction when the tireless Coleman bombed forward to score six goals.

PST’s Defender Nominees
Nicholas Mendola: Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Skrtel, Curtis Davies, Leighton Baines
Kyle Bonn: Pablo Zabaleta, John Terry, Vincent Kompany, Leighton Baines
Joe Prince-Wright: Seamus Coleman, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Luke Shaw
Richard Farley: Seamus Coleman, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Leighton Baines
Mike Prindiville: Seamus Coleman, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Leighton Baines

MIDFIELDERS: YAYA TOURE, ADAM LALLANA, EDEN HAZARD, STEVEN GERRARD

source:  No shocks here as all four of these players enjoyed incredible seasons. At 31-years-old, Yaya Toure beasted his way towards his best season ever, scoring 20 league goals, more than double his tally from any previous season. That effort was nearly mimicked by Gerrard, who at 33-years-old ripped off 13 goals and 13 seasons in a redefining season for the Liverpool captain.

Perhaps no player busted out this season like Lallana, who notched nine goals and six assists for the Saints earning him an undisputed spot on the plane to Brazil. Joining the playmaker is Hazard, who lit up the Chelsea wing, scorching defenders for 14 goals and 7 assists all the while infuriating manager Jose Mourinho for a lack of defensive grit. Go figure.

PST’s Midfielder Nominees
Nicholas Mendola: Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana, Eden Hazard, Mile Jedinak
Kyle Bonn: Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana, Eden Hazard, Steven Gerrard
Joe Prince-Wright: Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana, Eden Hazard, Steven Gerrard
Richard Farley: Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana, Eden Hazard, Fernandinho
Mike Prindiville: Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana, Eden Hazard, Ross Barkley

FORWARDS: LUIS SUAREZ, DANIEL STURRIDGE

source: Getty ImagesArguably the most competitive spot to earn a Best XI accolade was up top where, besides the Premier League record tying goals feat of Luis Suarez (31), it was a free for all.

Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko both enjoyed fantastic seasons, the former slightly derailed by injury and the latter by a lack of early season playing time, while Wilfried Bony (16 goals) basically put the entire Swansea City side on his back and dragged them to relegation safety.

But at the end of the day, Daniel Sturridge was fantastic putting home 21 goals and seven assists in just 29 appearances. Alongside Suarez, the duo known as SAS was the most formidable strike partnership in the world but even more impressive was the class Sturridge displayed when the Uruguayan was out – scoring worldies from all over the pitch. Late season injuries dulled him down a bit but it mattered little because in the 2013/14 season, Sturridge announced himself as one of the most dangerous strikers in the world.

PST’s Forward Nominees
Nicholas Mendola: Luis Suarez, Wilfried Bony
Kyle Bonn: Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney
Joe Prince-Wright: Luis Suarez, Sergio Aguero
Richard Farley: Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge
Mike Prindiville: Luis Suarez, Edin Dzeko

Blatter says he will accept verdict as CAS appeal begins

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter speaks during the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at The Konstantin Palace on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter arrived for his appeal hearing against a six-year ban from football on Thursday, pledging to accept the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport

“I do hope it will be positive for me,” Blatter, sporting a light gray beard, told reporters at around 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) ahead of a hearing expected to last several hours.

The court’s verdict is expected within several weeks, and could be challenged in a further appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court.

The 80-year-old Blatter denies wrongdoing in authorizing a $2 million payment to former FIFA vice president Michel Platini in 2011. They claimed it was for backdated and uncontracted salary for work Platini did in advising Blatter from 1999 to 2002.

[ MORE: Ranking Champions League groups ]

The so-called “disloyal payment” led Blatter to be put under investigation for criminal mismanagement by Swiss federal prosecutors last September. That investigation is ongoing.

FIFA’s ethics committee judged the $2 million deal was a conflict of interest and initially banned Blatter and Platini for eight years last December. FIFA’s appeal committee cut both bans to six years.

Platini’s appeal to CAS was already judged in May, when Blatter appeared in person as a witness. Platini promised a further appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal after his ban was only cut from six to four years.

Platini arrived at the hearing around midday local time to be a witness. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

Blatter’s comments Thursday suggest he would not pursue a federal case. Federal judges can intervene only if legal process is abused.

“We are football players, we learned to win but also we learned to lose and it will not be the end of the world,” Blatter said outside CAS.

The three-member panel for Blatter’s case is expected to respect the verdict of a separate panel which judged Platini.

A failure to overturn the ban for Blatter would likely end his hope to one day be named FIFA honorary president by its 211 member federations.

[ MORE: Ranking Champions League groups ]

The case already ended Platini’s chance to replace Blatter as FIFA president, and also forced him out of European governing body UEFA.

On Sept. 14, UEFA members will elect a successor to replace Platini who had a mandate through March 2019. By imposing a four-year ban, the CAS panel ensured UEFA had to replace Platini, rather than wait for him to return.

The “disloyal payment” emerged last year when Platini was strongly favored to win the election to replace Blatter, who had announced his departure plans after 17 years as president amid pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating senior FIFA officials.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

Both men were questioned at FIFA headquarters last September by Swiss investigators who were waiting for them outside an executive committee meeting.

During the turmoil in world football, Platini’s right-hand man at UEFA, Gianni Infantino, submitted an election candidacy on the entry deadline day and won the vote in February.

Arriving at the hearing with his Zurich-based lawyer Lorenz Erni, Blatter said he hoped the CAS panel “will understand that the payment made to Platini was really a debt that we had against him.”

“This is a principle, if you have debts you pay them,” Blatter said.

NASL weekend preview: Miami, Minnesota meet playoff fortunes head on

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There are still two full months of soccer to go in the NASL’s Fall Season, but this weekend could be a major day for the title fortunes of one squad in particular.

Miami FC and Minnesota United are level on points with 15 heading into Saturday’s match at FIU Stadium.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

If you’re unfamiliar, the NASL Playoffs involve four teams: the Spring champion (Indy Eleven), the Fall champion, and two other teams with the best combined record between seasons.

Miami’s played one fewer game, and both it and Minnesota — fresh off the news it’s headed to MLS in 2017 — are seven points shy of first-place FC Edmonton.

But Minnesota is on pace to make the playoffs through combined schedule, while Miami had a poor first half and would be better served to win the Fall Season if it wants a shot at the NASL Soccer Bowl Trophy.

Saturday
Carolina Railhawks at New York Cosmos
Rayo OKC at Tampa Bay Rowdies
Minnesota United at Miami FC

Sunday
Indy Eleven at Ottawa Fury
Puerto Rico at FC Edmonton

Arsenal reportedly set for $69 million double Friday buy

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 14:  Lucas Perez of RC Deportivo la Coruna reacts during the La Liga match between Rayo Vallecano and RC Deportivo La Coruna at Estadio Teresa Rivero on September 14, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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Arsene Wenger‘s much-maligned transfer business is about to take the “much” off the verb.

Lucas Perez of Deportiva de la Coruna is reportedly going to be joining Arsenal on Friday, and the Gunners are also close to finally landing Valencia center back Shkodran Mustafi.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

Perez, 27, broke out for a career-best 17 goals last season, and scored on debut last weekend. He’s set to cost $22.5 million, while Mustafi makes up the other $46.5 million.

The 12-times capped German center back stands 6-foot, and would bring stability to a Gunners unit which has (again) been beset by injuries.

From the BBC:

Spaniard Lucas, 27, scored 17 goals in 37 games last season and Arsenal will meet a 20m euro (£17.1m) buyout clause.

Germany international Mustafi, 24, is set to join for a fee in excess of £35m.

Is this, coupled with the Granit Xhaka buy, enough to help Wenger right the ship? Mustafi, especially, would be a key piece. Perez is a bit of a lesser-known quality.

MLS Weekend Preview: Desperation mounts as rivals meet in Oregon

Portland Timbers defender Vytas Andriuskevicius, second from right, trips up Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, right, in the second half of a MLS soccer match, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016, in Seattle. Andriuskevicius was called for a foul on the play, and the Sounders' Clint Dempsey scored a goal on the resulting penalty kick. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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Desperation is up-and-down the schedule this weekend in Major League Soccer, as the playoff race really heats up.

The calendar turns to September next week, and teams will end this weekend with a clear view of their runs into the season’s final Sunday: Oct. 23.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

The tumult that is an MLS season means only one team is more than two wins out of a playoff spot right now, and that’s Houston (7 points back of Western No. 6 Portland).

Here’s who is feeling the heat of their matches this weekend:

Portland and Seattle: The Cascadia Cup rivals tangle Sunday in Oregon, with the Timbers holding a one-point edge on the Sounders for the West’s final playoff spot. Seattle has played one fewer games than Portland, and a win on Sunday would be a double-whammy for PDX; The Timbers would be level on points with Seattle and Vancouver in the Cascadia Cup standings with just one match to go (compared to their opponents’ two).

Vancouver: The ‘Caps don’t have a Cup game this weekend, but will face an L.A. team which hasn’t lost at home. Vancouver is in real danger of moving more than one win behind in the fight for a playoff spot. If they lose to L.A. and both San Jose and Portland win, the Whitecaps will be five points back of a playoff spot. Of course, this being MLS, a win and help could see Vancouver in sixth when the smoke clears.

Columbus and New England: No one likes to comment on job status, but Revs’ boss Jay Heaps and his Columbus counterpart (Gregg Berhalter) have to be a bit concerned at this point. New England is a total mess, opening up a goalkeeping controversy, and is pinning its hopes on some Open Cup final karma. The Crew was supposed to contend for a title after last year’s final run, but is currently in the East’s cellar with just three home wins from 13 matches.

Schedule

Friday
Colorado at Real Salt Lake — 8 p.m. EDT

Saturday
Chicago at DC United — 7 p.m. EDT
Sporting KC at Philadelphia — 7 p.m. EDT
San Jose at Columbus — 7:30 p.m. EDT
Montreal at Toronto FC — 7:30 p.m. EDT
FC Dallas at Houston — 9 p.m. EDT
Vancouver at LA Galaxy — 10:30 p.m. EDT

Sunday
New England at New York Red Bulls — 2:30 p.m. EDT
Seattle at Portland — 5 p.m. EDT
New York City at Orlando City — 7 p.m. EDT