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Ten potential breakout stars for the 2014-15 Premier League season

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Good luck defining the term “breakout star” in a way that makes everybody happy. Only slightly less difficult: Coming up with a list that satisfies all those definitions. When you’re talking about potential, it’s all hypothetical.

So notice the little trick (read: cop-out) in the headline? This isn’t the 10 players who could breakout. It’s just 10 players, a nod to the 15-20 names left on the scratch pad.

Ultimately, we’re trying to find players who will make a leap in 2014-15. These are players who will play decisive roles – talents who were either elsewhere or struggling last season.

Players like Diego Costa, who we all know are going to be good? There’s no breakout there. That under-the-radar signing from Mexico, or the guy who earned more playing time this summer? They’re what this list is about.

And we start with somebody who captured headlines today:

(Players listed in alphabetical order.)

Christian Atsu, Everton (above, on loan from Chelsea) – The Ghanaian international failed to meet expectations on loan at Vitesse last season, scoring only five times in 28 games in a league that hands out goals like second grade Valentine’s cards. Under Roberto Martínez’s tutelage, Atsu should be able to harness the talent that convinced Chelsea to buy him from Porto.

Ryan Bertrand, Southampton (on loan from Chelsea) – Under Roberto Di Matteo, Bertrand worked his way into the England set up, competing with Chelsea’s then-first choice Ashley Cole in the process. Now, the 25-year-old is set to get some much need reps, with Ronald Koeman giving him the opportunity to put up some impressive numbers.

Remy Cabella, Newcastle – No team is making better use of France than Newcastle, who dipped back into Ligue 1 in search of a replacement for Yohan Cabaye. The 24-year-old Cabella is a different type of player but capable of having a similar impact. Though he won’t replicate his 14-goal season, Cabella should make Newcastle less dependent on goals from its forwards.

source: Getty ImagesFraser Forster, Southampton (right) – For some people, the England international is too established for a breakout. For others, four years in the Scottish Premier League doesn’t mean much. Back in England for the first time in since, Forster has a chance to prove his Champions League highlights can translate into saves on the south coast.

Danny Ings, Burnley – Ings’ Championship breakout was one of the keys to Burnley’s surprise success. With talk of an England callup accompanying the 22-year-old’s first year in the top flight, the Clarets’ leading goal scorer could breakout on multiple new levels.

Erik Lamela, Tottenham Hotspur – One of the biggest disappointments of Spurs’ post-Bale splurge, Lamela became a forgotten man around White Hart Lane. After an impressive preseason, the former Roma standout looks set to make his first impact in the Premier League. He may be the most talented player in Spurs’ squad.

Eliaquim Mangala, Manchester City – One of the most sought after young defenders in Europe, Mangala is making the jump from Portugal’s Liga to the top of the Premier League. Though City has cover should that transition slow, Mangala’s talent and physicality could make him a significant boost to the Citizens’ title hopes.

Jefferson Montero, Swansea City – The Ecuadorian will take some time to adjust to the Premier League, but once gets a feeling for which spaces he can exploit, Montero will be one of England’s best one-on-one players. Garry Monk just needs to figure out how to harness that talent.

John Stones, Everton – Fresh off a new five-year deal, Stones is ready to claim a permanent spot in the middle of Everton’s defense. Only 20 years old, the England international is expected to establish himself in the Three Lions’ setup this cycle. This year gives the Barnsley product a chance to take that next step.

Connor Wickham, Sunderland – Two years of frustration after leaving Ipswich Town ended dramatically at the end of last season, with a goal-scoring run from the Black Cats’ 21-year-old proving crucial to the club’s Premier League survival. If Gus Poyet can continue nurturing the England U-level talent, double-digit goals is not out of the question – something that could up the price for a player whose in the last year of his deal.

Swansea City 3-1 Liverpool: Young Reds bested as Swansea officially earns safety

SWANSEA, WALES - MAY 01:  Andre Ayew (L) of Swansea City celebrates scoring the opening goal with Gylfi Sigurdsson during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at The Liberty Stadium on May 1, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
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After defeat on Thursday in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal, the Reds looked to get back on track in league play at the Liberty Stadium, as Jurgen Klopp rotated the squad to Liverpool’s youngest ever. Instead, it was the home side celebrating as a young Reds lineup was second best in a 3-1 defeat to Swansea City.

Already more than likely to stay up, Swansea mathematically clinched Premier League safety with the three points, moving above West Brom and Bournemouth into 13th with 43 points.

The two teams began lively but produced little in the opening 10 minutes. The visitors got the first chance on 12 minutes, as Gylfi Sigurdsson had a sliding effort thanks to a wonderful touch from Andre Ayew at the top of the box, but it was saved by Danny Ward.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Liverpool defense looked clunky while Swansea maintained control, but it did its job, just keeping the hosts out as the rain came pouring down. Swansea had a break in the 20th minute, but Ayew’s shot was just blocked Dejan Lovren. However, the resulting corner provided a deserved breakthrough, as Ayew lost Daniel Sturridge and skied above Lovren to head home.

Jordan Ibe forced the first save of Lukasz Fabianski on 24 minutes, but it was back down the other end as Jack Cork nearly made it 2-0 but Danny Ward made a fantastic snap save to keep the low, powerful shot out.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

The pressure continued from the hosts as Leon Britton managed to lock down the midfield and give Liverpool hardly a sniff. Just before the half-hour mark, it was Jordi Amat‘s turn to rise above Lovren on a free-kick, but he put the header just over. Moments later there was another break for Swansea, with Jefferson Montero forcing another fine save by Ward. But on 33 minutes, Ward could do nothing about an absolutely wonderful curler from Jack Cork on 33 minutes which made it 2-0.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Klopp looked to change things up, bringing on Christian Benteke at Lucas at halftime, and the changes worked. The Reds seemed to hold the ball much better after the break, and it paid dividends off a corner as Benteke worked himself away from Sigurdsson in the box and headed home.

It would be short-lived. Just three minutes later, with advantage placed after a foul in midfield, Montero weaved his way to the end line on the left and crossed to Ayew at the top of the box. With Sheyi Ojo and a host of other Reds unable to clear the ball effectively, Ayew poked it home past a frozen Danny Ward for a 3-1 Swansea lead.

Things only got worse for Liverpool, as Brad Smith received a second yellow card in the 76th minute after a very high boot in a 50/50 challenge with Swansea substitute Kyle Naughton.

With Swansea officially safe, Liverpool remains stuck in 7th, in danger of falling out of a European place sitting just a point above Southampton. Liverpool can still win a place in the Champions League next season by winning the Europa League, but should they fail to do that, a top 7 finish is the only way to return to European competition.

Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel says he’ll be a Leicester City fan at Old Trafford

(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between images (L-R) 1251624 and 186224564 of Father (L) and Son (R). 
**LEFT IMAGE*** 11 Aug 1996: Peter Schmeichel of Manchester United celebrates during the FA Charity Shield between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Wembley Stadium in London. Manchester went on to defeat Newcastle by 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill/Allsport UK 
***RIGHT IMAGE*** LEICESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester City celebrates a Leicester goal during the Capital One Cup fourth round match between Leicester City and Fulham at the King Power Stadium on October 29, 2013 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Legendary Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel will be on hand at Old Trafford on Sunday, hoping to witness a title clinched at his old ground.

That title he’ll be rooting for isn’t for Manchester United.

With Schmeichel’s son Kasper leading the way for Leicester City this season in goal as the Foxes chase a historic result, Peter is all-in for his protégée, even at the expense of his old club.

“I live and die by the results of Man Utd, but today I want the other team to win,” Peter told BT Sport. “Blood is thicker than water.”

While Peter said his son has spent many days on the Old Trafford pitch, this will be the first time Kasper has played at his father’s old stomping grounds, having missed out on this fixture last season due to a broken foot.

Kasper said he yearned to have an influence on the game while watching his father play, and now the roles are reversed. “He’s experiencing now what I went through then,” Kasper said before the match. “The helplessness of not being able to have any influence whatsoever on the outcome of a game. It’s quite funny to hear how he’s felt during games.”

Watch Live: Manchester United vs. Leicester City (Lineups & Live Stream)

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Wes Morgan of Leicester City and Anthony Martial of Manchester United compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester United at The King Power Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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The fairytale is nearly complete. Leicester City would clinch the Premier League title with a win at Old Trafford against Manchester United, live on NBCSN at 9:00 a.m. ET or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Jamie Vardy is still suspended for the Foxes, but he would be on hand for the celebration should they seal the deal. His replacement remains Leonardo Ulloa, who suffered a back injury after scoring a brace against Swansea last weekend, but recovers in time to start at Old Trafford.

WATCH LIVE: Manchester United vs. Leicester City live online at NBC Sports Live Extra

The side for the Foxes is unchanged from that win over Swansea, as Claudio Raneiri looks to win his first-ever league title in his managerial career.

For the hosts, the Red Devils make just one change from their win over Everton in the FA Cup semifinals last time out, with Antonio Valencia coming in for 18-year-old Tim Fosu-Mensah, who drops to the bench. Matteo Darmian is out of the lineup for the second straight match, scoring their last time out in league play against Crystal Palace but finding himself replaced on the left by Marcus Rojo.

While the story is well-documented for the visitors, this game is also a must-win for Manchester United, who need three points to stay within striking distance of the top four. Failure to garner any points would leave them in sixth, five points adrift of the top four. A win, meanwhile, jumps West Ham and brings them back within one of Manchester City.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Carrick, Fellaini, Lingard, Rooney, Martial, Rashford.
Subs: 
Romero, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah, Herrera, Mata, Schneiderlin, Memphis.

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Mahrez, Kanté, Drinkwater, Schlupp, Okazaki, Ulloa.
Subs: 
King, Albrighton, Amartey, Gray, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Schwarzer.

With Barcelona in La Liga title fight, goalkeeper Claudio Bravo injured

BILBAO, SPAIN - AUGUST 14:  Claudio Bravo of FC Barcelona looks on  during the warm up prior to the Spanish Super Cup first leg match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club at San Mames Stadium on August 14, 2015 in Bilbao, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Barcelona’s regular league goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was injured in the 2-0 win over Real Betis on Saturday, substituted with 12 minutes to go. The club confirmed the injury on Sunday, detailing a calf injury for the Chilean, with his status for the stretch run uncertain.

Bravo, who was replaced by Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Betis match, has played nearly every match for Barcelona in La Liga this season, owning full 90’s in every match save four in late September due to injury. Ter Stegen has received the bulk of the work in cup competitions.

With two matches to go in league play, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are even on points atop the La Liga table, with Real Madrid a single point behind. Barcelona holds the tiebreaker on Atletico via head-to-head record, with a pair of wins over Diego Simeone’s squad.

It’s unclear if Bravo will miss any time, or even the rest of the season, with Barcelona claiming, “The extent of the injury will determine how long he will be out for.”

Barcelona finish out the season home against Espanyol and at Granada. They also have the Copa del Rey final to compete in against Sevilla on May 22, but the expected starter for that is ter Stegen either way.