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Conte has difficulty selecting lineups with Chelsea’s wealth of talent

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It’s a good problem to have but Antonio Conte says he sometimes has difficulty selecting his starting team given Chelsea’s depth and level of talent.

[ MORE: Chelsea aims to extend PL lead on Sunday ]

The Italian manager has transformed the Blues this season, after finishing outside of the top four last season under Jose Mourinho.

[ MORE: Liverpool, Arsenal among big winners in Saturday’s action ]

Chelsea currently sits atop the Premier League on 59 points, 30 more than the team had a season ago at this very point. While Conte and his tactics have a lot to do with the squad’s success, the former Juventus boss attributes the form to the brilliance of his players.

“Sometimes you must make the decision and look at the balance of the team,” he added. “Sometimes you must make different decisions. Cesc is an important player and I always try to put him in the best condition to give us his best for the team.

“I’m very pleased with him. Don’t forget N'Golo Kante is playing in his place and a lot of people say that he is the best player in the league. Then there is Nemanja Matic, who I think is playing in an outstanding way.

“When you have two players playing so well it’s not easy. It’s the same for Willian and Pedro. For me, sometimes it’s difficult to sleep and to make the best decision. I prefer to have this type of problem.

“The most important thing is these players are totally involved in the team. Cesc is playing with us and is very important for the team and I’m pleased about this.”

Conte has found a ton of success this season with many of the same staples that were in the team a season ago. Chelsea made very few signings over the summer and no major adjustments during the January transfer window, which has made Conte’s turnaround all the more impressive.

The manager’s well-noted move to a three-back system has opened up the team’s attacking flow and presented a more stout defensive front sitting ahead of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

One player that has found great form under Conte is midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who has found the back of the net four times in all competitions for the Blues.

Conte’s relates Fabregas’ style of play to an Italian that the manager is quite familiar with from his days at Juventus and with the Italy national team.

“Cesc is a top player and is a genius at football,” he said. “I can talk in the same way about Andrea Pirlo. We are talking about a genius of football.

“Cesc doesn’t run 100 metres in 10 seconds, but I can allow him this because he’s a genius with the ball. His velocity is in his mind. With Cesc we are working on tactical aspects and to improve his position.”

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

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They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

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Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.

Report: Frank De Boer accepts Crystal Palace job

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Frank de Boer is widely expected to be named new Crystal Palace manager this week, as he has reportedly accepted the job after having been offered the position this week.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The 47-year-old Dutchman has been out of work since he was fired by Inter Milan in November. He lasted just 84 days at the San Siro, where he managed to win just five of 14 games. Inter Milan is Inter Milan, though, and that’s something worth remembering when critiquing Palace’s impending appointment of De Boer.

Palace are also widely expected to back De Boer in the transfer market this summer, in a big way. Kelechi Iheanacho is the biggest name linked with a move to Selhurst Park, as the 20-year-old Nigerian striker is reportedly unwanted by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

5th-place San Jose parts ways with Kinnear after 2.5 seasons

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Dominic Kinnear is out after two and a half seasons as head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes, despite leading the club to a hugely improved standing 17 games into the 2017 season.

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The move comes 17 hours after San Jose put to bed a three-game winless skid with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday, a result which propelled them into fifth place in the Western Conference, just two points off second place. After seventh- and ninth-place finishes in Kinnear’s first two seasons back in Northern California (he managed the club in 2004 and 2005 before the club was relocated to Houston, where he would remain for nine seasons, through the 2014 season), this year’s team seemed to be moving in a positive direction quicker than most had previously expected.

[ MORE: Accam scores a backheel (video) | Opara scores a CB bicycle ]

The club has named Chris Leitch head coach and Alex Covelo as assistant coach. Current assistant coach Steve Ralston and goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley will remain in their current roles.

“First and foremost, we would like to thank Dominic for his hard work, professionalism and contributions to this club over the years,” Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli said in a release. “He worked hard this year and was a first-class person all the way. This decision was made after a lot of thought and evaluation. We decided that we wanted to go in a different direction as we continue to build the identity of this club.”

Kinnear is the second MLS coach to be relieved of his duties this season, suffering the same fate as RSL’s Jeff Cassar, who lasted just three games before being fired in March.