Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Everton

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•Everton have won four of their last five Premier League away matches.

•Leicester City have failed to win any of their last five Premier League matches on the opening weekend (0-2-3), (W-L-D).  Everton have only won three of their last 11 opening-day fixtures (0-7-1).

•Everton had a winless 2014 preseason, while Leicester was unbeaten, including a 1-0 victory over the Toffees. 

•Leicester have not beaten Everton in nine attempts since a 2-0 Premier League home win in August 1998, but seven of the ensuing nine matches were drawn. 

Tomorrow, Everton will battle newly promoted Leicester City at King Power Stadium, in each team’s first Premier League fixture of the 2014-15 season. Tune into NBCSN at 9:45 a.m. ET for the start of the match’s coverage, as Everton boss Roberto Martinez looks to build off of a promising 2013-14 campaign that saw his club finish fifth place for Europa League qualification.

Leicester City, meanwhile, is the reigning titleholder in the Championship, the second-lowest English football division, after manager Nigel Pearson failed to seal a promotion for two-straight years. Although their main goal is to avoid relegation, the Foxes are striving to jump into the lower-mid table. Their offseason was a success, notably because of the club-record signing of Argentine striker Leonardo Ulloa for £8 million. Last year, Ulloa notched a 23-goal season at Brighton & Hove Albion following a £2 million transfer from Spanish side Almeria. City also acquired a slew of veterans and youngsters on free transfers: Louis Rowley, Matthew Upson, GK Ben Hamer, Marc Albrighton, and Jack Barmby.

Nonetheless, Everton’s dealings this offseason was more impressive, as the Toffees were able to finalize stays with some of their most important players. Striker Romelu Lukaku transferred from Chelsea for a club-record transfer of $29 million, while youngster Ross Barkley inked a four-year deal, and Gareth Barry signed a three-year contract on the heels of his release from Manchester City. Plus, the four-year extension of Seamus Coleman, believed to be one of the best fullbacks in the BPL, and 20-year-old John Stones, Everton looks primed to make headway in the Premier League for years to come.

Match Absences/Inclusions

Anthony Knockaert has fought past an ankle injury. Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton, though, probably won’t be risked with respective thigh and groin injuries. Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku have fitness issues, and Martinez will make the game day decision on them. Additionally, Muhamed Besic and Christian Atsu could debut.

What they’re saying

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson on Martinez and his hopes for the squad in the Premier League, via the team’s official website: “I’ve a lot of respect for Roberto Martinez. At Wigan and Swansea he was a man who goes out his job in a very defined way. He has his own values and it is very interesting that he has been recruited for what he is……I’m not sure how exactly people think we’ll do. It’s an unknown quantity. We can utilise that. We have to play the game, not the occasion. It should be a great occasion for the club.”

Roberto  Martinez on transfer window moves, per Yahoo Sport UK“In football you always have to try to use the transfer window to your advantage and see if there is anything that can help the team be prepared until the next window opens. We are always looking at that. In terms of the squad that we have, I’m delighted with what we achieved [this summer] and the continuity that we have got. That will allow us to carry on working on what we did last season. In terms of being desperate to bring someone in, the answer is no, we’re not.”

Prediction

In a perfect world, the odds favor Everton, and they should win this game conformably. It’s opening day, though, and even top-tier  side’s can struggled against weaker opponents. So, even though Everton should win by at least a goal, perhaps ending with a 2-1 scoreline, I would watch this one. It has upset potential.

West Ham sign Arnautovic from Stoke for club-record fee

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LONDON (AP) West Ham signed attacking midfielder Marko Arnautovic from Stoke for a club-record fee on Saturday.

The fee wasn’t disclosed, but British media said West Ham paid an initial 20 million pounds ($26 million) that could rise to 25 million pounds ($32.5 million) for the 28-year-old Austria international.

Arnautovic is West Ham’s third signing of the summer, after right back Pablo Zabaleta on a free transfer and goalkeeper Joe Hart on loan.

“We have brought in three players with vast Premier League experience this summer,” West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan said, “and that was one of our key targets.”

Arnautovic, who has 62 caps for his country, joined Stoke from Werder Bremen in 2013. He scored 26 goals in 145 appearances for Stoke.

MLS Snapshot: 10-man NYCFC too much for McCarty-less Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less): New York City FC spent 78 minutes at a man disadvantage, fewer than 72 hours after drawing MLS-leading Toronto FC midweek, against the second-place Chicago Fire on Saturday. It the end, this week shall go down as the back-to-back which put to bed any lingering questions regarding NYCFC’s MLS Cup-contending credentials. Four points from two games against the league’s top-two teams — Patrick Vieira’s side (37 points) now sits a single point back of Chicago, two back of Toronto. As is typically the case, David Villa’s fingerprints were all over Saturday’s win at Yankee Stadium, as the reigning MVP scored the opening goal (in typically stunning fashion) before so nearly setting up one or two more as the back-and-forth, frantic second half wore on. Frederic Brilliant scored what turned out to be the winner just three minutes later, as David Accam canceled out Villa’s opener to make it three goals scored in seven minutes.

[ MORE: Clint Dempsey goes for USMNT goals record, back home ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Kappelhof slides through Herrera, no penalty given — Maybe VAR will be good?

12′ — Herrera sees yellow again, and he’s gone — Herrera’s first yellow was questionable, but there’s no doubt about the second, just four minutes later.

47′ — Villa smashes on the full volley for 1-0 — This is approximately the 197th time I’ve written the phrase, “David Villa, take a bow,” since Spain’s all-time leading scorer came to MLS.

50′ — Brilliant heads home in traffic for 2-0 — It takes guts to put your head into a sea of flying feet the Brilliant does here. Fortunately, his face is intact and the Frenchman was duly rewarded.

54′ — Accam hits and prays, makes it 2-1 — Don’t think; just hit it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Villa (47′), Brilliant (50′), Accam (54′)

Pele’s son’s in jail on drug trafficking charges in Brazil

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SAO PAULO (AP) A son of Brazilian soccer legend Pele has returned to jail to serve a sentence of more than 12 years on drug trafficking and money laundering charges.

A Brazilian court Friday ordered Edson Cholbi do Nascimento returned to jail after turning down his appeal.

He is a former goalkeeper with Pele’s old club Santos and was first arrested in 2005, though he remained free pending the outcome of his appeals.

In 2014 a court convicted him to 33 years in prison. That sentence was later reduced to 12 years, 10 months.

In late February he turned himself in to complete his sentence and in early March a court ordered his release and allowed him to remain free while fighting the sentence.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

Texas-born Dempsey at home 1 goal from record, 1 win from Final

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Clint Dempsey is back in his home state of Texas, one goal away from a national scoring record for the United States team that is one win from playing in another CONCACAF Gold Cup final.

The Americans play a semifinal game Saturday night against Costa Rica in a stadium synonymous with American football – the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, the Cotton Bowl and where the first College Football Playoff championship game was played three seasons ago.

That is only about 180 miles from Dempsey’s hometown of Nacogdoches.

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“It’s always great to be home and play in front of family and friends, especially for a big game,” Dempsey said Friday. “I have a lot of great memories of playing in Dallas as a kid, and I’m proud to represent Nacogdoches. Being from there made me who I am today.”

Dempsey, one goal from matching Landon Donovan’s American record of 57 national team goals, wasn’t part of soccer’s only Gold Cup games at the $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium.

In a 2013 semifinal game there when the Americans were on the way to their fifth Gold Cup championship, they beat Honduras 3-1. Donovan scored twice in that game – his 55th and 56th goals for the national team – and assisted on the other goal. About two months later, Donovan scored his final goal in a World Cup qualifier win over Mexico.

Within a week after Costa Rica beat the U.S. team 4-0 in World Cup qualifying last November, Jurgen Klinsmann was out as the U.S. coach and Bruce Arena was rehired to the position he had been fired from a decade earlier.

[ WATCH: Coutinho’s super goal vs. Leicester ]

Costa Rica coach Oscar Ramirez said Friday that Arena has seemingly had a positive impact on the U.S. team.

“They look more relaxed in terms of what they’re doing on the field,” Ramirez said through an interpreter.

This U.S. roster for the Gold Cup knockout rounds also is much different than the one that played in Costa Rica eight months ago – not just the change at coach. Only five players from that game that are set for this semifinal game – Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and Graham Zusi.

“That’s in the past,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t think about that game. … This is just another game. It’s another opportunity for us to see what we’re made out of.”

Altidore, Dempsey, Bradley, Darlington Nagbe, and goalkeeper Tim Howard were all added to the lineup before a 2-0 win over El Salvador in the quarterfinal on Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

Dempsey set up Eric Lichaj‘s goal in extra time before halftime to make it 2-0 against El Salvador. Dempsey also fed Gyasi Zardes for a breakaway, though that apparent goal didn’t count after he was ruled offside.

That game was Dempsey’s 135th appearance for the national team, trailing only Cobi Jones (164) and Landon Donovan (157) on the U.S. list.

[ MORE: Why PSG’s Alexis-Neymar pursuit makes (relative) sense ]

Dempsey isn’t the only player with Texas ties with the U.S. team. Three players from FC Dallas, the MLS team that plays its home games about 40 miles away from the big stadium in Frisco, are on the roster: Kellyn Acosta, Matt Hedges and Jesse Gonzalez.

Acosta, the homegrown midfielder who turns 22 next week, was recently named to the MLS All-Star team. He was born in nearby Plano, Texas, and signed by FC Dallas five years ago.

“It’s definitely a proud moment, to get to represent my community, play before my friends and family,” Acosta said. “To be back in my hometown, I’m definitely excited about it.”

Notes: Costa Rica is trying to get to its first Gold Cup final since 2002, when it lost 2-0 to the Americans. “Obviously, we want to look for that reward, that happiness, and go after that,” Ramirez said. “We have a difficult team in front of us.” … The United States’ nine goals are the most in this Gold Cup, while Costa Rica has allowed only one in its four games.