Howard rushed off his line to great effect in the first half to thwart Arsenal's offense.

Top five storylines heading into Week 2 of the Premier League

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Ahead of Week 2 in the Premier League, there are some intriguing matches heading your way.

The full TV schedule for the weekend can be found here, while below we break down the top five storylines from the upcoming PL matches.

[WATCH: Premier League highlights]

After an exhilarating start to the campaign, plenty of conclusions have already been made on teams after just 90 minutes of action, whether they like it or not.

Let’s have a gander at the top talking points this weekend…

Top four challengers collide at Goodison

Arsenal and Everton were battling tooth and nail for fourth place at the end of the 2013-14 Premier League, Arsenal prevailed and Everton tailed off. Over the offseason both teams have spent big and are battling to be in the top four once again. Arsenal splashed $60 million on Alexis Sanchez, Everton $50 million on Romelu Lukaku and this game will be a feisty affair at a fired up Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live on NBC, 12:30 p.m. ET and online via Live Extra). After traveling to Istanbul in midweek for a Champions League play-off and grinding out a 0-0 draw against Besiktas, Arsenal’s players will be feeling the pressure at Everton. Arsene Wenger’s men are expected to challenge for the title but struggled to an opening day win over Crystal Palace. This could be the perfect time for Roberto Martinez’s Toffees to put down an early marker for why they deserve to be top four contenders this season. With U.S. national team ‘keeper Tim Howard in net for Everton, just 48 hours after announcing his sabbatical from international play until Sept. 2015, American fans will be hoping he can pull off yet another inspired display.

[WATCH: PL live online via Live Extra]

Runners up vs. the Champions, Manchester City vs. Liverpool

Last season the two most entertaining teams finished first and second, I think we can all agree on that. Over the summer, Liverpool lost Luis Suarez and have replaced him with a plethora of young exciting talent (with Mario Balotelli on the way too), while City have added a few bodies here and there. Manuel Pellegrini’s men won the title by scoring 102 goals last season, Liverpool scored 101 and finished second. Surely, this match at the Etihad on Monday (Watch live 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) will have plenty of goals in it? Liverpool’s defense looks much stingier, but if City score early it will force the Reds to attack. This match promises to be a thing of beauty.

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Liverpool and Man City serve up a treat on Monday.

London derby between QPR, Spurs, Redknapp returns to White Hart Lane

Spurs beat West Ham 1-0 last weekend in a tight, tense London derby to open the campaign. Expect this match to be no different as Mauricio Pochettino manages his first game in charge of Tottenham at White Hart Lane vs. QPR on Sunday (Watch live on NBCSN, 8:30 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra). Spurs will work hard, press high and try to get at QPR but Redknapp will be eager to get one over his old club. Redknapp led Spurs from the relegation zone to the Champions League during his time in charge and is still a popular figure at the Lane. QPR played well against Hull City on the opening day in a fluid 3-5-2 formation and the R’s were punished for a missed PK and one piece of sloppy defending from a set piece. Tottenham played in Cyprus on Thursday and secured a comeback 2-1 win in their Europa League play-off. Their players may be tired from the traveling, so can Spurs win their second successive London derby to kick off the season or will QPR grab a shock victory?

Just how good are Chelsea?

After a good opening 45 minutes to the season against Burnley, you could be mistaken for thinking Chelsea have already won the Premier League title according to social media. Everybody was waxing lyrical about Jose Mourinho’s new-look side as Cesc Fabregas brought his silky skills to midfield and Diego Costa looks like the real deal up top. The truth is, they beat newly-promoted Burnley 3-1. They host another newly promoted side, Leicester City, at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN, 10 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) and will be expected to pound the Foxes. Yes, Chelsea’s squad looks to have been assembled superbly by the ‘Special One’ but we shouldn’t talk up their title credentials until they face Manchester City, Liverpool and the other title contenders. That said, a big win at home over Leicester will probably get people doing just that.

Manchester United’s injury woes continue

Heading into Sunday’s match against Sunderland, (Watch live on NBCSN, 11 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) Louis van Gaal is still struggling to piece together his Red Devils outfit. United had nine players injured last week and they still have seven missing for their trip to the Stadium of Light. New signings Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera are both out, as are Rafael, Johnny Evans, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini. Star striker Robin van Persie is back to give his new manager a lift, but speaking ahead of the game, van Gaal admitted he’d never suffered an injury epidemic quite like this one. Sunderland snatched a point on the road at West Brom on the opening day and Gus Poyet’s side will be looking to snatch more than that when United come to town on Sunday. With LVG still settling into English soccer, he and his side won’t get a friendly welcome from the Black Cats on Sunday.

Leicester City inks Ben Chilwell to new contract, warding off Liverpool interest

Chilwell
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Liverpool wanted to get younger at the back, but they’ll have to look elsewhere.

Despite reportedly heavy interest from Anfield, 19-year-old defender Ben Chilwell has signed a new five-year deal with Leicester City, tying him down through the summer of 2021.

The Leicester City defense desperately needs Chilwell’s youth as it ages yet another year following their run to the Premier League title. Robert Huth is 31 years old, Wes Morgan – also on a new deal this summer – is 32, and backup Marcin Wasilewski is 36. On the left edge, where Chilwell is most proficient, first-choice left-back Christian Fuchs is 30, while Jeffrey Schlupp provides the only other true bit of youth at 23. On the right, Danny Simpson is 29 and Richie De Laet is 27.

The youngster was reportedly a high-priority target for Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, lodging a number of bids with the news that Brad Smith would move to Bournemouth. According to reports in England, the Reds made one last effort to bid for Chilwell prior to his extension, but it did not bear fruit.

“Ever since I arrived in Leicester, Ben has been a young player that has shown a lot of promise,” Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri told the club’s official website. “He has all the attributes you would want in a defender and shows a lot of maturity for a player of just 19. He has come back for pre-season in very good condition and is already showing that he is ready to push for a place in the team.”

Chilwell, a Leicester City academy product, has yet to make a Premier League appearance, but has featured for the England youth teams at multiple levels.

Report: Manchester United’s $132 million Pogba deal close to completion

ROME, ITALY - MAY 21:  Paul Pogba of Juventus FC celebrates with the trophy after winning the TIM Cup final match against AC Milan at Stadio Olimpico on May 21, 2016 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
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The finishing touches are being put on the biggest transfer in history.

A report from ESPN FC claims that Paul Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, is locked in talks with Juventus to finalize an offer of $132 million from Manchester United.

[ MORE: Fabregas off in fiery friendly

Pogba, 23, has been chased by United all summer and it finally appears that Jose Mourinho has his man.

The report goes on to state that Pogba could have a medical in Miami on Friday (where he is currently on vacation) as United aim to tie up the deal by the weekend.

This week it had been reported that a major snag in the deal had arrived due to Raiola demanding over $22 million for brokering the deal. However it seems as though any talk of an impasse has now passed and United are now close to sealing the huge deal for the French international midfielder.

Pogba left United for a $1.2 million compensation fee in 2012 after he failed to break into Sir Alex Ferguson‘s team. Now, just four years later, he will return to Old Trafford with four Serie A titles in his trophy cabinet plus he was named as the best young player at the 2014 World Cup.

Real Madrid and Barcelona were previously linked with Pogba but United’s riches, despite the Red Devils not being in the UEFA Champions League next season, seem to have prevailed.

Mourinho said in his first press conference as United’s manager that he wanted four key players to arrive as part of his rebuild.

He got Eric Bailly. He got Zlatan Ibrahimovich. He got Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Now it looks like the fourth, and most important, player will arrive.

Ranking the Olympic teams at Rio 2016

United States' Carli Lloyd (10) scores a goal on a penalty kick against Costa Rica during the first half of a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament soccer match Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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There are just six days to go until the Olympic soccer tournament kicks off in Brazil.

We’ve already ranked the top 20 players in the men’s and women’s soccer tournaments at Rio 2016 and now it is time to look each team.

[ STREAM: Watch Olympic soccer here ]

With host nation Brazil the clear favorites in the men’s competition, the U.S. women’s national team is also head and shoulders above the rest as they aim to pick up a fourth-straight Gold medal.

Below you can find the “power rankings” if you will, of the teams competing this summer for a place atop podium.


Men’s

  1. Brazil
  2. Germany
  3. Mexico
  4. Argentina
  5. Nigeria
  6. Portugal
  7. Sweden
  8. Japan
  9. Korea Republic
  10. Denmark
  11. Colombia
  12. Algeria
  13. Iraq
  14. Honduras
  15. South Africa
  16. Fiji

Women’s

  1. USA
  2. Germany
  3. France
  4. Brazil
  5. Sweden
  6. Australia
  7. Japan
  8. China
  9. Canada
  10. Colombia
  11. South Africa
  12. Zimbabwe

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mustafi to Arsenal, Guzan to Boro, Tello to Saints

LILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 12:  Shkodran Mustafi of Germany runs with the ball during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Germany and Ukraine at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 12, 2016 in Lille, France.  (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
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Arsenal are said to have inquired about Valencia’s German international defender Shkodran Mustafi, 24.

After losing Per Mertesacker until 2017 with a serious knee injury, Arsene Wenger has already spoken about looking for an experienced option at center back.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news

However, it appears he may be looking for a more long-term approach with Mustafi set to cost around $26 million according to report in the Independent. That say that Spanish outlet Cadena Cope believe the German defender is up for sale.

With Laurent Koscielny on an extended break after appearing in the EURO 2016 final for France and Gabriel missing Arsenal’s tour of the USA with tonsillitis, Wenger will use young center backs Calum Chambers and Rob Holding against the MLS All-Stars on Thursday in San Jose, Calif. or maybe even Francis Coquelin as an emergency center back with Mathieu Debuchy and Nacho Monreal either side of him.

Mustafi started and scored against Ukraine in Germany’s 2-0 win in their EURO 2016 opener but only appeared again at the Euros as a second half sub in their semifinal defeat to France.


U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Guzan is set to seal a move to Middlesbrough, according to the Guardian.

Per the report Guzan will leave Villa on a free transfer and will sign a two-year contract for Aitor Karanka’s side. Skyy Sports is also reporting that Guzan will have a medical on Teeside in the next 24 hours.

[ MORE: Fabregas sent off in fiery friendly ]

Guzan, 31, played for the U.S. at the Copa America Centenario this summer but given Aston Villa’s relegation to the Championship the Illinois native wants to stay in the Premier League.

If the move to ‘Boro does go through then he will be battling with Victor Valdes and Dimitrios Konstantopoulos for the starting spot.

Guzan has become the first-choice goalkeeper for Jurgen Klinsmann since the 2014 World Cup when Tim Howard decided to take a sabbatical. Last season he endured a nightmare campaign as they were relegated from the Premier League for the first-time in history.

Here’s hoping Guzan gets a chance to shine at the Riverside but with Valdes also signing on, it’s difficult to know who will be the first choice.


Southampton are chasing two Spanish players, according to the Sun.

Barcelona’s Christian Tello, 24, has spent the last two seasons on loan at Fiorentina and FC Porto but is now looking for a permanent home and Southampton will be hoping to add to their attack after losing Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane this summer.

Tello could leave Barca for $13 million and although he’s scored 20 goals in 86 games for his hometown team, he has failed to break through and finally wants to become a regular elsewhere.

Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Austin are both back fit and among the goals during preseason but with their history of injuries perhaps Claude Puel will be looking to sign one more striker as Saints prepare for both the Premier League and the Europa League.

The report also states that midfield reinforcement is being looked at with Malaga’s Recio, 25, linked with a $7 million move to St Mary’s. Saints seem pretty set in that area of the pitch with Jordy Clasie, Oriol Romeu and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.