Six must-see Premier League games on NBC Sports early in 2014-15 season

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With the announcement of the 2014-15 Premier League TV schedule on NBC Sports Group arriving on Wednesday ahead of the new season, there are some cracking games coming your way.

There is just one month until it all begins on NBCSN, NBC, CNBC and across the network of channels.

[RELATED: 2014-15 PL TV schedule]

Massive clashes between title contenders, local derbies and plenty more mouth-watering matchups are coming your way during the first three months of the season. Below are details on the top six matches to pencil into your planner, plus every single game in the first three months of the season and how you can watch them via NBC Sports.

You will not want to miss these.

Don’t forget: all Premier League games will be streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices and tablets.

Is it August 16 yet?

NBC Sports Group’s “Pick Six” Matches for the First Three Months of the Season

LIVERPOOL V. SOUTHAMPTON: Sunday, Aug. 17, 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Two teams on the heels of a successful 2013-14 season will meet in the Premier League’s opening weekend: Liverpool, which earned a Champions League berth as league runners-up, and Southampton, which finished eighth, equaling their best-ever Premier League finish. The Reds acquired former Southampton teammates and England internationals Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert this summer, but face Southampton without Premier League leading scorer Luis Suarez (31 goals) who was transferred to FC Barcelona. The match will be Southampton manager Ronald Koeman’s first with the club.

MANCHESTER CITY V. LIVERPOOL: Monday, Aug. 25, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Last season’s top two teams face off as Liverpool head to the Etihad for a Monday matinee with defending champions Manchester City. In the most recent meeting between the two clubs on April 13, the Reds edged City, 3-2, in an unforgettable match that many consider the best of the 2013-14 season. The win put Liverpool in control of the title race, but a loss to Chelsea was followed by a shocking 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace, and Manchester City went on to win their final five games and lift the trophy on Championship Sunday.

source: AP
Chelsea and Man City will square off early in the season.

MANCHESTER CITY V. CHELSEA: Sunday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Last season, despite beating eventual champions Manchester City in both league meetings, Chelsea finished third under manager Jose Mourinho. This summer they’ve strengthened their attack by bringing in Spanish international forward Diego Costa, who led La Liga champions Atletico Madrid with 27 goals last season, and his World Cup teammate Cesc Fabregas, a 27-year-old playmaker who has starred for both FC Barcelona and Arsenal during his 11-year club career.

“DOUBLE DERBY DAY:” LIVERPOOL V. EVERTON: Saturday, Sept. 27, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN:

The sixth week of the Premier League season is highlighted by two of the biggest derbies in English soccer. First, the Merseyside derby takes center stage, as Everton and U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup goalkeeper Tim Howard (15 clean sheets last season, third-most among BPL ‘keepers) make the less-than one mile trip across Stanley Park to face neighbors Liverpool. Everton looks to build upon last year’s success under manager Roberto Martinez, who guided the Toffees to a fifth place finish in his debut season to earn a Europa League berth.

“DOUBLE DERBY DAY:” ARSENAL V. TOTTENHAM: Saturday, Sept. 27, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN:

Following Liverpool-Everton is a London Derby featuring rivals Arsenal and Tottenham at the Emirates, where Spurs haven’t won since 2010. Last season, the Gunners completed the season double over Tottenham with a pair of 1-0 wins and finished ahead of their rivals for the 19th straight year. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, the longest-tenured manager in the league, guided the club to the 2013-14 FA Cup title, ending a nine-year trophy drought. Spurs will be looking to re-establish themselves as top-four contenders under newly appointed manager Mauricio Pochettino.

MANCHESTER UNITED V. EVERTON: Sunday, Oct. 5, 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Everton travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United and new manager Louis van Gaal, who will join the squad this week after leading Netherlands to a third-place finish at the World Cup. The Toffees came out victorious in both meetings last season, completing the season double over United for the first time in 44 years.

Full NBCUniversal schedule for the first three months of the Premier League season

(NOTE: TBD indicates that there will be one match in that time slot on NBCSN, in some cases one match on mun2, and remaining non-NBCSN games on Premier League Extra Time. Final channel assignments for those matches will be made in the coming weeks.)

Date Time (ET) Home Away Network
Sat., Aug. 16 7:45 a.m. Man United Swansea City NBCSN, mun2
Sat., Aug. 16 10 a.m. Leicester City Everton TBD
Sat., Aug. 16 10 a.m. West Ham Tottenham TBD
Sat., Aug. 16 10 a.m. Stoke City Aston Villa TBD
Sat., Aug. 16 10 a.m. Queens Park Rangers Hull City TBD
Sat., Aug. 16 10 a.m. West Brom Sunderland TBD
Sat., Aug. 16 12:30 p.m. Arsenal Crystal Palace NBC, mun2
Sun., Aug. 17 8:30 a.m. Liverpool Southampton NBCSN
Sun., Aug. 17 11 a.m. Newcastle Man City NBCSN, Telemundo
Mon., Aug. 18 3 p.m. Burnley Chelsea NBCSN, mun2
***
Sat., Aug. 23 7:45 a.m. Aston Villa Newcastle NBCSN
Sat., Aug. 23 10 a.m. Chelsea Leicester City TBD, mun2
Sat., Aug. 23 10 a.m. Crystal Palace West Ham TBD
Sat., Aug. 23 10 a.m. Southampton West Brom TBD
Sat., Aug. 23 10 a.m. Swansea City Burnley TBD
Sat., Aug. 23 12:30 p.m. Everton Arsenal NBC, mun2
Sun., Aug. 24 8:30 a.m. Tottenham Queens Park Rangers CNBC
Sun., Aug. 24 8:30 a.n. Hull City Stoke City Extra Time
Sun., Aug. 24 11 a.m. Sunderland Man United NBCSN, Telemundo
Mon., Aug 25 3 p.m. Man City Liverpool NBCSN, mun2
***
Sat., Aug. 30 7:45 a.m. Burnley Man United NBCSN
Sat., Aug. 30 10 a.m. Man City Stoke City TBD, mun2
Sat., Aug. 30 10 a.m. West Ham Southampton TBD
Sat., Aug. 30 10 a.m. Aston Villa Hull City TBD
Sat., Aug. 30 10 a.m. Newcastle Crystal Palace TBD
Sat., Aug. 30 10 a.m. Swansea City West Brom TBD
Sat., Aug. 30 10 a.m. Queens Park Rangers Sunderland TBD
Sat., Aug. 30 12:30 p.m. Everton Chelsea NBC, mun2
Sun., Aug 31 8:30 a.m. Tottenham Liverpool NBCSN, mun2
Sun., Aug 31 11 a.m. Leicester City Arsenal NBCSN, Telemundo
***
Sat., Sept. 13 7:45 a.m. Arsenal Man City NBCSN, mun2
Sat., Sept. 13 10 a.m. Chelsea Swansea City TBD
Sat., Sept. 13 10 a.m. West Brom Everton TBD
Sat., Sept. 13 10 a.m. Sunderland Tottenham TBD
Sat., Sept. 13 10 a.m. Southampton Newcastle TBD
Sat., Sept. 13 10 a.m. Crystal Palace Burnley TBD
Sat., Sept. 13 10 a.m. Stoke City Leicester City TBD
Sat., Sept. 13 12:30 p.m. Liverpool Aston Villa NBC, mun2
Sun., Sept. 14 11 a.m. Man United Queens Park Rangers NBCSN, Telemundo
Mon., Sept. 15 3 p.m. Hull City West Ham NBCSN
***
Sat., Sept. 20 7:45 a.m. Queens Park Rangers Stoke City NBCSN
Sat., Sept. 20 10 a.m. Aston Villa Arsenal TBD, mun2
Sat., Sept. 20 10 a.m. Tottenham West Brom TBD
Sat., Sept. 20 10 a.m. Swansea City Southampton TBD
Sat., Sept. 20 10 a.m. Newcastle Hull City TBD
Sat., Sept. 20 10 a.m. Burnley Sunderland TBD
Sat., Sept. 20 12:30 p.m. West Ham Liverpool NBC, mun2
Sun., Sept. 21 8:30 a.m. Leicester City Man United CNBC
Sun., Sept. 21 11 a.m. Man City Chelsea NBCSN, Telemundo
Sun., Sept. 21 11 a.m. Everton Crystal Palace Extra Time
***
Sat., Sept. 27 7:45 a.m. Liverpool Everton NBCSN, mun2
Sat., Sept. 27 10 a.m. Hull City Man City TBD, mun2
Sat., Sept. 27 10 a.m. Man United West Ham TBD
Sat., Sept. 27 10 a.m. Chelsea Aston Villa TBD
Sat., Sept. 27 10 a.m. Crystal Palace Leicester City TBD
Sat., Sept. 27 10 a.m. Sunderland Swansea City TBD
Sat., Sept. 27 10 a.m. Southampton Queens Park Rangers TBD
Sat., Sept. 27 12:30 p.m. Arsenal Tottenham NBCSN, mun2
Sun., Sept. 28 11 p.m. West Brom Burnley NBCSN
Mon., Sept. 29 3 p.m. Stoke City Newcastle NBCSN
***
Sat., Oct. 4 10 a.m. Liverpool West Brom TBD, mun2
Sat., Oct. 4 10 a.m. Tottenham Southampton TBD
Sat., Oct. 4 10 a.m. Swansea City Newcastle TBD
Sat., Oct. 4 10 a.m. Hull City Crystal Palace TBD
Sat., Oct. 4 10 a.m. Leicester City Burnley TBD
Sat., Oct. 4 10 a.m. Sunderland Stoke City TBD
Sat., Oct. 4 12:30 p.m. Aston Villa Man City NBC, mun2
Sun., Oct. 5 7 a.m. Man United Everton NBCSN, mun2
Sun., Oct. 5 9:05 a.m. Chelsea Arsenal NBCSN, Telemundo
Sun., Oct. 5 11:15 a.m. West Ham Queens Park Rangers NBCSN
***
Sat., Oct. 18 7:45 a.m. Man City Tottenham NBCSN, mun2
Sat., Oct. 18 10 a.m. Crystal Palace Chelsea TBD, mun2
Sat., Oct. 18 10 a.m. Arsenal Hull City TBD
Sat., Oct. 18 10 a.m. Everton Aston Villa TBD
Sat., Oct. 18 10 a.m. Newcastle Leicester City TBD
Sat., Oct. 18 10 a.m. Southampton Sunderland TBD
Sat., Oct. 18 10 a.m. Burnley West Ham TBD
Sun., Oct. 19 8:30 a.m. Queens Park Rangers Liverpool NBCSN, mun2
Sun., Oct. 19 11 a.m. Stoke City Swansea City NBCSN
Mon., Oct. 20 3 p.m. West Brom Man United NBCSN, mun2
***
Sat., Oct. 25 7:45 a.m. West Ham Man City NBCSN, mun2
Sat., Oct. 25 10 a.m. Sunderland Arsenal TBD, mun2
Sat., Oct. 25 10 a.m. Liverpool Hull City TBD
Sat., Oct. 25 10 a.m. Tottenham Newcastle TBD
Sat., Oct. 25 10 a.m. Southampton Stoke City TBD
Sat., Oct. 25 10 a.m. West Brom Crystal Palace TBD
Sat., Oct. 25 12:30 p.m. Swansea City Leicester City NBC
Sun., Oct 26 9:30 a.m. Burnley Everton NBCSN
Sun., Oct 26 Noon Man United Chelsea NBC, Telemundo
Mon., Oct. 27 4 p.m. Queens Park Rangers Aston Villa NBCSN, mun2
***
Sat., Nov. 1 8:45 a.m. Newcastle Liverpool NBCSN, mun2
Sat., Nov. 1 11 a.m. Chelsea Queens Park Rangers TBD, mun2
Sat., Nov. 1 11 a.m. Arsenal Burnley TBD
Sat., Nov. 1 11 a.m. Everton Swansea City TBD
Sat., Nov. 1 11 a.m. Hull City Southampton TBD
Sat., Nov. 1 11 a.m. Stoke City West Ham TBD
Sat., Nov. 1 11 a.m. Leicester City West Brom TBD
Sun., Nov. 2 8:30 a.m. Man City Man United NBCSN, mun2
Sun., Nov. 2 11 a.m. Aston Villa Tottenham NBCSN
Mon., Nov. 3 3 p.m. Crystal Palace Sunderland NBCSN, mun2
***
Sat., Nov. 8 7:45 a.m. Liverpool Chelsea NBCSN, mun2
Sat., Nov. 8 10 a.m. Man United Crystal Palace TBD, mun2
Sat., Nov. 8 10 a.m. Tottenham Stoke City TBD
Sat., Nov. 8 10 a.m. West Ham Aston Villa TBD
Sat., Nov. 8 10 a.m. Southampton Leicester City TBD
Sat., Nov. 8 10 a.m. Burnley Hull City TBD
Sat., Nov. 8 12:30 p.m. Queens Park Rangers Man City NBC, mun2
Sun., Nov. 9 8:30 a.m. Sunderland Everton NBCSN
Sun., Nov. 9 8:30 a.m. West Brom Newcastle Extra Time
Sun., Nov. 9 11 a.m. Swansea City Arsenal NBCSN
***
Sat., Nov. 22 10 a.m. Man City Swansea City TBD, mun2
Sat., Nov. 22 10 a.m. Chelsea West Brom TBD
Sat., Nov. 22 10 a.m. Everton West Ham TBD
Sat., Nov. 22 10 a.m. Newcastle Queens Park Rangers TBD
Sat., Nov. 22 10 a.m. Stoke City Burnley TBD
Sat., Nov. 22 10 a.m. Leicester City Sunderland TBD
Sat., Nov. 22 12:30 p.m. Arsenal Man United NBC, mun2
Sun., Nov 23 8:30 a.m. Crystal Palace Liverpool CNBC
Sun., Nov 23 11 a.m. Hull City Tottenham NBCSN
Mon., Nov. 24 3 p.m. Aston Villa Southampton NBCSN, mun2
***
Sat., Nov. 29 7:45 a.m. West Brom Arsenal NBCSN, mun2
Sat., Nov. 29 10 a.m. Man United Hull City TBD, mun2
Sat., Nov. 29 10 a.m. Liverpool Stoke City TBD
Sat., Nov. 29 10 a.m. West Ham Newcastle TBD
Sat., Nov. 29 10 a.m. Swansea City Crystal Palace TBD
Sat., Nov. 29 10 a.m. Burnley Aston Villa TBD
Sat., Nov. 29 10 a.m. Queens Park Rangers Leicester City TBD
Sat., Nov. 29 12:30 p.m. Sunderland Chelsea NBC
Sun., Nov. 30 8:30 a.m. Southampton Man City NBCSN
Sun., Nov. 30 11 a.m. Tottenham Everton NBCSN

Karim Benzema signs new contract at Real Madrid

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Karim Benzema has signed a new four-year contract at Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Sargent to Werder Bremen

The French striker, 29, has become the latest star name to commit their future to the two-time reigning European champions with Marcelo, Isco and Dani Carvajal all signing new deals over the past week.

Benzema will now remain at Real until June 30, 2021, with the Frenchman scoring 181 goals in 371 appearances as well as winning two La Liga titles, three European Cups and two Copa del Rey trophies during his time in the Spanish capital.

It is believed this new deal has a release clause of over $1.35 billion as Spanish clubs are now becoming increasingly wary of losing their star players a la Neymar leaving Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain.

Despite his expulsion from the French national team for over 18 months due to his alleged involvement in a blackmail case involving a sex tape and former teammate Mathieu Valbuena, Benzema has been in fine form for Real since Zinedine Zidane took charge in 2015.

Benzema scored 19 goals in 48 games in all competitions last season and 28 in 36 games the season before that as his hold up play and ability to drift out wide or drop deeper crucial to getting the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Co.

That said, Benzema has scored just once in six appearances this season but Real are obviously happy with what he is producing aside from goals.

With question marks over the future of Bale at the Bernabeu, locking down Benzema shows just how important he is to Zidane’s attacking unit as they seek to seal a third-straight UEFA Champions League title.

FIFA open investigation into Chelsea’s youth transfer policy

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Chelsea could be in big trouble.

FIFA have confirmed they’re investigating Chelsea’s youth transfer policy yet again, specifically over the recruitment of foreign players under the age of 18.

What could the punishment be? The worst-case scenario is that Chelsea would be banned from signing any new players across its senior or youth levels but it is believed this situation isn’t as serious as previous investigations involving Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

Via the Telegraph, FIFA had the following to say about the investigation: “As the investigation is ongoing, no further comment is possible for the time being.”

Chelsea released a short statement saying: “Chelsea FC complies with all FIFA Statutes and Regulations when recruiting players.”

It will be the third time in eight years that world soccer’s governing body have looked at Chelsea’s youth policy and back in 2009 they were handed a transfer ban for two transfer windows over the signing of French teenager Gael Kakuta from Lens in 2007 but that was later overturned after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was successful.

Chelsea were also investigated last year over the signing of Bertrand Traore after images emerged of him playing for the club as a 16-year-old, before international clearance had arrived.

Spanish clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have been found guilty after similar investigations took place with Barca banned from signing players for two transfer windows and the same happening to Atletico who can’t sign any new players until January 2018, while Real Madrid had their ban reduced to one window after an appeal.

In the UK both Liverpool and Manchester City have recently been handed fines and bans for not following rules over recruiting young players domestically.

For foreign players signing for a team in another country there are strict rules in place.

Their family must either be relocating for non soccer reasons to the country where the new club is based, they must live no further than 50km from a national border and the club with which the player wishes to be registered with is within that 50km radius, or if they sign between the age of 16-18 the new club must provide them with housing, access to education and a soccer education.

USMNT prospect Sargent signs for Werder Bremen

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Josh Sargent’s star is rising fast.

The 17-year-old is the latest U.S. national team prospect to head to the Bundesliga as Werder Bremen announced Wednesday that he will sign with the club in February 2018 when he turns 18.

[ MORE: Pulisic up for 2017 Golden Boy ]

Bremen stated that Sargent had “numerous offers from other top clubs in Europe” but was “convinced by our philosophy at SV Werder and that we can now oversee his development as a player and support him along the way.” It is believed Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich were interested in signing Sargent.

Sargent scored four goals and grabbed on assist for the U.S. U-20 side which reached the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup in South Korea over the summer and he will play for the USA’s U-17 side at the World Cup in India next month.

The promising striker, who currently plays for St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri Soccer Club, had this to say about his upcoming move to Germany.

“My full concentration is first and foremost on the World Cup and the time I have left in Missouri. But I am really looking forward to next year and the new challenge in Bremen,” Sargent said. “Werder made a huge effort with me and they have always shown in the past that they give young players like myself an ideal introduction to professional football. That meant that my decision to continue my career in Bremen was not a hard one to make.”

Bremen say that Sargent will spent his first few months in Germany training with the U-23 side and will then link up with the first team ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.

With Christian Pulisic ripping it up at Borussia Dortmund and Weston McKennie getting starts for Schalke, it seems like Bundesliga teams can’t get enough of teenage American talents.

Nominees for FIFPro World XI announced

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The best 55 players on the planet have been selected by their peers.

[ MORE: Pulisic up for 2017 Golden Boy ]

World Players’ Union FIFPro, in conjunction with its partner player associations across the globe, asked over 25,000 professional players to select their FIFPro World 11 for the 2016-17 season.

Each professional player could pick one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three attackers to make up their best XI.

Real Madrid, the two-time reigning European champions, set a new record as 13 of their players were among the 55 nominees shortlisted, while 13 players from the Premier League are included with Antonio Valencia, Philippe Coutinho, Nemanja Matic, Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku all shortlisted for the first time.

David De Gea, David Luiz, Eden Hazard, N'Golo Kante, Mesut Ozil, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexis Sanchez make up the rest of the Premier League contingent.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar will be the frontrunners to make up the front three in this team, just as they did in 2015, and Messi and Ronaldo have both been in the FIFPro team in each of the last nine seasons.

Below are the 55 players who received the most votes as the FIFPro World 11 will be announced in London on Oct. 23 at the Best FIFA Football Awards where the World Player of the Year and other prestigious accolades will be dished out.


Goalkeepers
Gianluigi Buffon – Italy, Juventus
David de Gea – Spain, Manchester United
Keylor Navas – Costa Rica, Real Madrid
Manuel Neuer – Germany, FC Bayern Munich
Jan Oblak – Slovenia, Atletico Madrid

Defenders
David Alaba – Austria, FC Bayern Munich
Jordi Alba – Spain, FC Barcelona
Dani Alves – Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain
Jerome Boateng – Germany, FC Bayern Munich
Leonardo Bonucci – Italy, Juventus/AC Milan
Dani Carvajal – Spain, Real Madrid
Giorgio Chiellini – Italy, Juventus
Diego Godin – Uruguay, Atletico Madrid
Mats Hummels – Germany, FC Bayern Munich
Phillipp Lahm – Germany, FC Bayern Munich/retired
David Luiz – Brazil, Chelsea FC
Marcelo – Brazil, Real Madrid
Javier Mascherano – Argentina, FC Barcelona
Pepe – Portugal, Real Madrid/Besiktas
Gerard Pique – Spain, FC Barcelona
Sergio Ramos – Spain, Real Madrid
Thiago Silva – Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain
Samuel Umtiti – France, FC Barcelona
Antonio Valencia – Ecuador, Manchester United
Raphael Varane – France, Real Madrid

Midfielders
Thiago Alcantara – Spain, FC Bayern München
Sergio Busquets – Spain, FC Barcelona
Casemiro – Brazil, Real Madrid
Philippe Coutinho – Brazil, Liverpool FC
Eden Hazard – Belgium, Chelsea FC
Andres Iniesta – Spain, FC Barcelona
Isco – Spain, Real Madrid
N’Golo Kante – France, Chelsea FC
Toni Kroos – Germany, Real Madrid
Nemanja Matic – Serbia, Chelsea/Manchester United
Luka Modric – Croatia, Real Madrid
Mesut Ozil – Germany, Arsenal FC
Paul Pogba – France, Manchester United
Marco Verratti – Italy, Paris Saint-Germain
Arturo Vidal – Chile, FC Bayern Munich

Forwards
Gareth Bale – Wales, Real Madrid
Karim Benzema – France, Real Madrid
Edinson Cavani – Uruguay, Paris Saint-Germain
Paulo Dybala – Argentina, Juventus
Antoine Griezmann – France, Atletico Madrid
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Sweden, Manchester United
Harry Kane – England, Tottenham Hotspur
Robert Lewandowski – Poland, FC Bayern Munich
Romelu Lukaku – Belgium, Manchester United
Kylian Mbappe – France, Paris Saint-Germain
Lionel Messi – Argentina, FC Barcelona
Neymar JR – Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain
Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal, Real Madrid
Alexis Sanchez – Chile, Arsenal FC
Luis Suarez – Uruguay, FC Barcelona