Premier League fixtures: Top 10 must-see games

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The start of a new Premier League season is less than two months away and with it brings some mouth-watering matchups.

As Chelsea look to defend the title, Tottenham, Manchester United, Manchester City Liverpool and Arsenal are all looking to unseat the Blues at the Premier League throne.

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A simple caveat; With so many transfers into and out of the Premier League still to take place, it’s tough to know exactly how strong certain teams will look come the end of the transfer window. But here’s our best shot at it.

Here’s a look at ten (or more) must-see matchups of the 2017-2018 Premier League season.

August 12: Chelsea vs. Burnley

Chelsea’s title defense begins at Stamford Bridge against Sean Dyche and Burnley on the first weekend of the season.

Burnley were able to survive the drop by six points while Chelsea ran away with the title, leading the Premier League for most of the season. Chelsea will be hoping to get off to another good start in the coming season.

August 19: Tottenham vs. Chelsea

With Tottenham’s new stadium being rushed into construction on the same site as White Hart Lane, the team moves temporarily to Wembley Stadium for the upcoming season. Spurs first game comes against Chelsea, which knocked Spurs out of the FA Cup that along with Spurs miserable run at Wembley for the UEFA Champions League made for terrible memories in the national stadium.

Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino can gain a measure of revenge with a win over Chelsea in the home opener.

November 4: Manchester City vs. Arsenal (and Chelsea vs. Manchester United)

Ahead of the final international break of 2017, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City host an Arsenal team in flux. Arsene Wenger is back but it remains to be seen whether Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will still be Gunners players. If so, Arsenal will attempt to reverse its poor fortunes on the road against top six opponents in the table.

In addition to that match, Chelsea hosts Jose Mourinho and Manchester United in a statement game for both sides.

November 18: Arsenal vs. Tottenham 

For the first time in 22 years, there was no St. Totteringham’s Day in North London as Tottenham finished 11 points ahead of Arsenal in the table, bumping the Gunners from the UEFA Champions League. In addition, Tottenham drew on the road and beat Arsenal at home in last year’s Premier League fixtures.

November 28: Brighton vs. Crystal Palace

On a Tuesday night on the south coast of England, a rivalry will be renewed. Promoted Brighton and Hove Albion haven’t faced rivals Crystal Palace since the Championship playoffs in 2013 but now for the first time the teams will meet in the Premier League. Expect plenty of fireworks and a game that will be entertaining for fans to watch.

December 9: Liverpool vs. Everton

The first Liverpool derby of the season is always must-watch TV, and this season should be no different. Jurgen Klopp continues to bolster Liverpool’s squad while Ronald Koeman has graduated some of the youngsters out of Everton’s academy and given them a chance to impress. Some of Liverpool’s finest will be on display for both sides in this high-stakes rivalry.

Boxing Day December 26

There’s a trio of must-see Boxing Day matches. Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United host countryman Guardiola and his Manchester City squad to the northeast of England, Pochettino faces his former club Southampton while Arsenal travels south to Crystal Palace, where the Gunners lost this past season.

February 24: Arsenal vs. Manchester City (and Manchester United vs. Chelsea)

It’s the return leg of the November matchups and in the previous 10 years, this is the spot of the season where Arsenal would have its decline and fall out of the title race. With the team potentially playing in the Europa League ahead of this, advancing in the tournament could give Arsenal a boost while another European exit would be a confidence killer.

April 7: Manchester City vs. Manchester United April 7

A Manchester derby to close out the season? Yes please. Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and co. against Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero. It’s a can’t miss event.

May 5: Chelsea vs Liverpool

If Chelsea or Liverpool win the title, this game could be crucial. It’s the second-to-last week of the season and it’s the last major test for both teams with title ambitions.

Bravo fit again, but will he start Chile’s Confed Cup group finale?

Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images
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MOSCOW (AP) Claudio Bravo is fit again and could start in goal against Australia at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said Saturday.

Bravo – who is Chile’s joint most-capped player with Alexis Sanchez – hasn’t played since April 27, when he injured his calf for Manchester City in a derby game with Manchester United.

“Claudio is fit, he’s managed to train the last couple of days just like his other teammates,” Pizzi said. “He’s ready and available to play.”

Pizzi brushed off concerns about a lack of match fitness, saying that “quite obviously we take into account that factor” but players like Bravo are “are of such good quality that it isn’t that important they haven’t played in the last couple of months.”

Stand-in Johnny Herrera played in Chile’s 2-0 group stage win over Cameroon and Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Germany.

Gary Medel was substituted with a minor injury while playing in defense for Chile against Germany. Teammate Francisco Silva said Saturday that Medel had complained of “a very small muscle contraction issue” but was now fit.

Pizzi said he will aim to tire out Australia with Chile’s trademark all-action style, even though his team struggled for energy in the latter stages against Germany.

“This energy drop we had in the second half didn’t damage us too much because the opposing team couldn’t maintain a high pace because of the demands we’d imposed on them,” Pizzi said of the Germany game.

“We’re going to try to get (the Australians) tired as well and use this to beat our opponent, and we hope this is going to translate into goals.”

USMNT’s Wood extends Hamburg contract through 2021

Photo credit: Hamburg / Twitter: @HSV
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HAMBURG, Germany (AP) American forward Bobby Wood extended his contract with Bundesliga side Hamburger SV on Saturday to 2021.

Wood, who joined Hamburg from second-tier Union Berlin, scored five goals and set up two more in 28 Bundesliga games. He had 17 goals in 31 second-division games for Union the season before.

“Not only his goals count for us, but his readiness to run and challenge,” Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt said. “Bobby is a key player for our offense and a real team player.”

Wood has eight goals in 32 appearances for the United States.

MLS Snapshot: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win 2-0

Photo credit: NYCFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): The only thing standing in the way of New York City FC avenging their infamous 7-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls with a lopsided demolition job of their own, on Saturday, was an otherworldly goalkeeping performance from Luis Robles. It was the Red Bulls shot-stopper, with his four saves on the afternoon (three of them coming in spectacular fashion), who kept Jesse Marsch’s side within touching distance for more than an hour. Jack Harrison was denied early on by Robles, but got the better of him not long later for the game’s opening goal. Heroics from Robles kept the score at 1-0 for another 32 minutes, before Ben Sweat’s (accidental?) header made it 2-0 in the 65th minute. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, managed their first shot on target in the 80th minute. That’s three wins in a row for NYCFC, who go seven points clear of their Hudson River rivals and keep Toronto FC in sight at the top of the league table, five points ahead.

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Three moments that mattered

18′ — Robles goes full-stretch to deny Harrison — David Villa’s vision and Rodney Wallace‘s hold-play created the chance for Harrison, but Luis Robles’ acrobatics denied the 20-year-old Englishman in spectacular fashion.

33′ — Harrison not to be denied this time — Sweat delivered the ball to Harrison near the top of the box, and the second-year man did everything right with what’s a really, really difficult chance to take — facing away from goal, first-time, ball traveling across the goalkeeper, upper-90 to the far post.

65′ — Sweat loops a header past Robles for 2-0 — Sweat probably didn’t mean it, but the ball hit the back of the net, and that’s all that matters. Not a bad time to score your first MLS goal, either.

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Man of the match: Luis Robles

Goalscorers: Harrison (33′), Sweat (65′)

Watford signs Will Hughes from Derby County

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Watford has completed the capture of 22-year-old central midfielder Will Hughes, a fantastic transfer for one of England’s younger talents.

Hughes, despite his young age, racked up 189 appearances for Derby County (despite missing significant time in 2015 for an ACL tear) and now gets his first shot at the Premier League, and with it potentially a chance to push his way into the England fold. Hughes has been a staple for the England youth system, making 22 appearances for the country’s U-21 side but is yet to feature for the senior team.

The fee for the transfer was undisclosed but reports have tabbed the amount at around $10 million.

Hughes came close to making the Premier League with Derby County on multiple occasions, reaching the Championship playoffs in both 2014 and 2016. Now, he’ll battle the likes of Valon Behrami, Tom Cleverley, Etienne Capoue, Abdoulaye Doucoure for a spot in Watford’s midfield.

The club release confirmed that Hughes has not yet completed his medical, and will do so when he returns to the U.K. from competing in the U-21 European Championships in Poland.