Getty Images

Community Shield: Chelsea, Arsenal kick off new season at Wembley

Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) When Chelsea faces Arsenal in the Community Shield on Sunday, the winner may be which team can best put a turbulent offseason behind them.

The traditional season curtain raiser at Wembley Stadium features league champion Chelsea against FA Cup winner Arsenal.

[ MORE: Conte prepared for “most difficult season of my career” ]

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been trying to keep hold of Alexis Sanchez as the Gunners attempt to return to the Champions League after missing out on qualification for the first time in 20 years. Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is desperate to increase the size of his “small squad” as the Blues prepare to defend its Premier League title.

“The strength of professional people is to not be diverted by noises that are not their problem,” Wenger said Thursday.

There’s a lot of noise.

[ MORE: 2017-18 Premier League season preview hub

Sanchez was Arsenal’s leading scorer with 30 goals last season, including the opener in its FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea at Wembley in May. He appears to have decided his future lies away from north London but Wenger disagrees.

“He is focused. My decision is clear, he will stay and he will respect that and that’s as simple as that,” Wenger said of the Chile forward.

Despite signing France striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon in July for a club record $68 million, Arsenal has chosen to keep Sanchez for the final year of his contract. That risks the possibility of losing the 28-year-old star on a free transfer at the end of the season.

[ SEASON PREVIEWS: Chelsea | Arsenal ]

Conte won the title in his first season at Stamford Bridge with a squad lacking depth, but wants multiple new faces to cope with the additional strain of Champions League football.

“Now, for us, it’s very important to try to improve our squad’s numerical aspect, because we have a small squad and I think only one player is not enough to improve our team,” Conte said on Friday.

Chelsea has signed striker Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid, midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco and defender Antonio Rudiger from Roma during the offseason, but those arrivals have been offset by the departures of Nemanja Matic and John Terry. Also, Diego Costa is no longer wanted by Conte.

[ MORE: Friday’s transfer rumor roundup | Thursday | Wednesday ]

 

There have been reports of unrest between Conte and the Chelsea hierarchy over transfer policy, which were further fueled in July when the former Italy manager received a salary increase but did not extend his contract, which expires in 2019.

“The most important thing is the club knows my opinion and they’re trying to do the best for our team, our squad,” Conte said. “Now we have to wait, we must have patience.”

Past Community Shield matches have often lacked genuine competitiveness, but the shared summer of discontent and a fierce London rivalry should guarantee entertainment on Sunday.

“I think friendly games have ended for us,” Conte said. “This is an official game, this is the first trophy in the season.”

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

Twitter/@NYCFC
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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

Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

Twitter/@fanly_nycfc
Leave a comment

Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET