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Premier League 2017-18 preview – Swansea City

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Paul Clement did just about everything he could with the roster he had in 2016/17 to help Swansea stave off relegation from the Premier League, and now in his first full season at the Liberty Stadium, the manager will have a bit more of a stamp on his squad.

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Despite the ongoing talks of Gylfi Sigurdsson‘s exit from the club, the Swans head into the new PL season with several new faces, including Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham, who could prove to be of great assistance in the attacking third.

Best, worst case scenarios – Realistically, the Swans are a mid-table side if all things go according to plan for Paul Clement and Co. That being said, the Swans manager did a solid job last season after the club faced adversity and helped the team stave off relegation, which for awhile looked inevitable.

Much of the club’s success will hinge on the status of Gylfi Sigurdsson, who continues to have strong interest from Everton. If the Icelandic international is poached from Swansea it could prove to be a massive gap leaving the squad scrambling in the midfield, so this is certainly a story that must be kept an eye on closely.


Best possible XI is…

Fabianski

Naughton — Fernandez — Mawson — Olsson

Fer — Mesa — Carroll

Ayew — Llorente — Abraham

The additions of Tammy Abraham and Roque Mesa could present strong signings for the Swans moving up the pitch, but the biggest questions remain for the team at the back. The club conceded 70 goals in the PL last season, the second-most of any squad in England’s top flight. Paul Clement will need to get things sorted out defensively if they hope to outlast the bottom three once again.


[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

Transfers In: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea, Loan), Edwin Mulder (Heerenveen, Free), Kees de Boer (Ajax, Youth), Roque Mesa (Las Palmas, $14 million), Cian Harries (Coventry City, Undisclosed), Arnór Guðjohnsen (Breiðablik UBK, Youth), Mark Walsh (Finn Harps, Youth), Jayden Reid (Manchester United, Youth)

Transfers Out: Bafetimbi Gomis ($2.7 million, Galatasaray), Borja Baston (loan, Malaga), Jordi Amat (loan, Real Betis), Jack Cork ($13 million, Burnley), Gerhard Tremmel (Released), Marvin Emnes (Released), Owain Jones (Released).

Last season:

— 15th in Premier League
— FA Cup 3rd Round (Lost to Hull City)
— League Cup 3rd Round (Lost to Manchester City)
Fernando Llorente finished top goalscorer (15)

Star player: Gylfi Sigurdsson — Since arriving at the Liberty Stadium, Sigurdsson has been everything the Swans could want and more as a driving force in the team’s attack. The Icelandic has hit double-digit goals scored in all competitions the past two seasons, which is something he hadn’t previously done since his time at Reading. Everyone knows losing this man would be a massive blow to Swansea’s hopes of remaining in the PL next season, so the supporters and squad alike will surely be holding their breath.

Coaches’ Corner: Paul Clement — The 45-year-old enters his first full season managing in the Premier League, and luckily for Clement he’ll be in a slightly less difficult position than he was thrust into a season ago. While the club wasn’t very active in the transfer window, the addition of Tammy Abraham on loan from Chelsea could be a solid lift to the club’s attack. Clement proved his mental fortitude after coming in to replace Bob Bradley and a struggling Swans side last season, and thus far, he’s been everything the club could want.

PST predicts: As mentioned earlier, this is a Swans team that didn’t add a ton of players during the transfer window, which isn’t completely unexpected for the club. However, this is still a side that can manage to finish similarly to what it did a season ago (15th) if all things go properly. The team has shown it’s capable of playing good possession soccer, but much of that success could be hinged on Gylfi Sigurdsson availability. Ultimately, Swansea will probably last another season in the PL. It may not be the prettiest sight, but Paul Clement showed in 2016/17 that he can rally his troops even when the going gets tough.

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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