Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs. Swansea City

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  • United have never lost a home league game to Swansea (W9, D2)
  • The Red Devils have never lost at home on PL opening weekend  (W8, D3)
  • Swansea have lost seven of their last eight opening day games

The new era is set to begin at Old Trafford as Saturday will mark Louis van Gaal’s first Premier League game in charge of Manchester United.

Just like last season, Swansea City are United’s opponents on the opening day (Watch Live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) but Garry Monk’s side from South Wales are huge underdog’s to grab anything at the Theater of Dreams.

Van Gaal has only signed Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera over the summer but with his revolutionary and flexible 3-5-2 formation in full force, United look to be a completely under the Dutchman. The Red Devils are coming off their worst-ever season in the PL after finishing in seventh spot last year.

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As for Swansea, Monk is in his first full season in the job after taking over following Michael Laudrup’s departure amid growing concerns regarding relegation last term. The Swans will be eager to grab a top 10 finish this year but with a raft of new players moving in and out of the Liberty Stadium, it could be a tough campaign.

That said, this could be the perfect time to play United. LVG’s side are without eighth players as Robin van Persie, Shaw, Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick are all missing. Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge are available for Swansea after injury.

What they’re saying

Van Gaal on United’s injury problems: “It is difficult to look for the solution but there are a lot of reasons. After the World Cup, all the players are coming back at different moments and it is very difficult to train. We have the travel, jet-lag and a lot of matches in 14 days. Another reason is the amount of training sessions but we are doing half of what I have done with the other clubs so I cannot assume we have done that wrong.”

35-year-old Swansea manager Monk on his first full PL season: “A lot of people will be expecting me to fail, expecting me not to do well because of all the things that have been talked about – inexperience: ‘it was the honeymoon period he got through before, now it’s the real test.’ But I know that, so there’s going to be no surprises in terms of what will be said or written. I’ve had this my whole life. There is nothing better than when someone doubts you. I thrive off that – I love it.”

Prediction

United, injuries or not, are heavy favorites to win this one. Van Gaal’s appointment has been a breath of fresh air and the Dutchman has brought in his tactics, philosophy and confidence to the club. They’ve had a great preseason but now it all begins. With a fired up Wayne Rooney as the new skipper, expect the Red Devils to get off to a flying start. Swansea should be okay this season but the will come unstuck on Saturday. 3-1 to United.

Mascherano out 6 weeks, will miss Argentina vs. Brazil

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano will be out of action for six weeks to recover from a right knee injury.

[ MORE: Luis Enrique leaves Barca with feeling of accomplishment ]

Barcelona’s season is over, but the injury will rule out Mascherano from Argentina’s friendly against Brazil on June 9.

Mascherano injured his leg early in Saturday’s final of the Copa del Rey, when Barcelona beat Alaves 3-1 to defend its title for a third straight season.

He also cut his head during the collision with an Alaves player that produced the leg injury. He returned on crutches to join the team celebration.

Argentina doesn’t play its next World Cup qualifier until it plays Uruguay on Aug. 28.

Courtois aiming at new Chelsea contract after strong season

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There’s a wide range of players that were integral in Chelsea’s Premier League-winning season in 2016/17, but one of the most underrated was arguably goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

[ MORE: PL clubs may miss on Celtic’s Dembele and more transfer news ]

The Blues shot-stopper started all but two PL matches this past campaign, and now the Belgian international is seeking an extension with the London club.

“Contract talks haven’t opened but I am happy at Chelsea,” Courtois told Sky Sports after Chelsea’s loss to Arsenal at Wembley.

“I hope they reward me with a good contract, then there will be no doubt I will sign it.”

The 25-year-old keeper has been in at Stamford Bridge since arriving from Genk in 2011, but Courtois spent three seasons in Spain on a loan spell.

Courtois likened this PL campaign to his time on loan at Atletico Madrid, stating that while his side’s achievements in the league were everything Chelsea could have hoped for that there was still more the Blues could have done.

“It’s not a good feeling now,” Courtois told Chelsea’s official website. “I had the same thing in Spain when I won the league and then lost the Champions League.

“We wanted to end on a high, now we feel sad. Winning is everything so this is hard to face but we have to try to forget it.”

Francesco Totti on bench for final Roma match

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Sunday marks Francesco Totti’s final match with Roma after a stellar 24-year career, but the striker won’t be starting at the Stadio Olimpico.

[ MORE: Reus could miss at least six months after suffering knee damage ]

The 40-year-old was named to the bench for his club’s 2016/17 Serie A finale against Cagliari, with Roma needing a victory to capture second position in Italy’s top flight.

Napoli currently sits just one point behind the Giallorossi and hold a slight two-goal edge in goal differential, which could be a decisive factor in which side finishes second.

It would be quite odd for Roma to not give Totti playing time in his final outing, after a career that featured over 300 goals across all competitions for his hometown club.

Transfer rumor roundup: PL clubs losing ground for Dembele and more

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With all the major leagues across Europe either closing or already have finished it’s the season of transfer rumors once again.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s FA Cup win vs. Chelsea ]

Here are several of the juiciest pieces from Sunday:

Three London sides could potentially miss out on Celtic star Moussa Dembele as AC Milan has emerged as a favorite to sign the top-rated Frenchman. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all expressed great interest in the promising attacker, who scored 17 goals this season for the Scottish champions.

After struggling at times this season to keep goals out, Liverpool could turn to France as a potential outlet to fix the cracks in their back line. AS Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy already has significant PL interest from Manchester United and Manchester City, but Jurgen Klopp‘s side could also put up a fight.

West Ham is looking to bolster its attack this summer, and with Pep Guardiola likely making significant changes at the Etihad Stadium, Kelechi Iheanacho could be on his way to the Hammers ahead of the 2017/18 PL season.

Manchester City higher ups are keen on having Guardiola bring back goalkeeper Joe Hart from Torino this summer. Hart spent last season on loan with the Italian club after Guardiola sent him away from England early in his managing tenure at the club.