Robert Huth

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PL preview: Leicester City vs. Man City

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  • Man City unbeaten in the PL (10W-1D-0L)
  • 38 goals scored in 11 games; 16 in their last 4
  • Leicester unbeaten in last 5 games (2W-3D-0L)

It took an early-season managerial change, but Leicester City have managed to turn around another spiraling-out-of-control campaign in recent weeks, only to return from the international break as Pep Guardiola‘s irresistible Manchester City side makes its yearly visit to the King Power Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

After winning just one of their first eight Premier League games this season, Leicester made the bold decision to fire Craig Shakespeare four months into his tenure as the club’s full-time manager. In came former Southampton boss Claude Puel, who has a win and a draw in his first two games in charge (on the back of a win in Michael Appleton’s lone game as interim manager). With seven points from three games following Shakespeare’s dismissal, the Foxes sit on 13 points and are suddenly up to 12th in the PL table.

A little further up the table — say, the very top by a wide(ning) margin — you’ll find Man City, winners of 15 straight in all competitions (nine in the PL), scorers of 15 more goals than the next closest side, and runaway title favorites just past the quarter mark of the 2017-18 season. This is what Guardiola was hired to do at City, and he’s delivering a year or two ahead of schedule.

The only thing likely to stop City from running away with the title would be a series of injuries and/or health scares felling key figures — the first of which nearly occurred this week, as star striker Sergio Aguero fainted during halftime of Argentina’s friendly against Nigeria. Aguero has since returned to Manchester and been given a “perfect” bill of healthy by the club’s medical staff (see below). City’s new all-time leading goalscorer, Aguero has eight in eight PL games and leads a side currently on pace to score 131 goals this season.

What they’re saying

Claude Puel, on Guardiola and his new job: “He is a great manager, a fantastic manager. His teams keep possession and they counter attack well. They are the best team in Europe in this moment. … It is amazing. I am enjoying it because the feeling of the players is very good. They work with attention and a good focus.”

Pep Guardiola, on Aguero and other injuries: “The doctor says he’s perfect. He was conscious all the time in Argentina and he’s okay. Nothing to be worried about. … I have something in mind to replace (Nicolas) Otamendi. We have (Eliaquim) Mangala, maybe Kompany can come back. Kyle (Walker) can play there. … I don’t know if (Fabian) Delph will able to play because in four sessions this week, he trained two. Hopefully we can recover him, because he is so important.”

INJURIES: Leicester — OUT: Robert Huth (foot); QUESTIONABLE: Vicente Iborra (ankle) | Man City — OUT: Benjamin Mendy (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Raheem Sterling (back), Vincent Kompany (calf), Fabian Delph (calf)

Prediction

While Leicester have seen an uptick in results of late, their defensive record remains spotty, at best, against sides induce far less terror than Man City. The game should set up in Leicester’s favor, though: City will have 70 or so percent of possession, which means more than a few chances to hit them on the counter. There’s a 10 percent chance Leicester get something from this one, and a 90 percent chance City turn them into just another statistic.

PL Sunday preview: New bosses battle; Brighton vs. Saints

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The battle of Leicester City and Everton’s newly installed managers is the highlights of Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures, but not before PL new boys Brighton & Hove Albion host Southampton in a south-coast derby.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]

Brighton vs. Southampton — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

All three of this year’s newly promoted sides — Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town — entered the 10th weekend of the season as a top-12 side. On Sunday, it’s Brighton, who finished a close second to Newcastle in the Championship last season, who reunite an old rivalry with a fellow south-coast side, Southampton, at Falmer Stadium. Through sheer consistency, the Seagulls have established themselves as a functional top-flight side.

“What we have done over these nine games is we have been in every game,” Brighton boss Chris Hughton said this week. “Even the games against Manchester City and Arsenal, both games we have lost 2-0, but we were in the game. If there is any statement, it is that we should not be frightened of the challenges we have and I think we have got enough quality and desire in the squad to make a good account of ourselves in any games. Whether that wins you enough games, that is different. It is goals that win you games and at the moment we are doing OK.”

Saints, meanwhile, are still adjusting to life under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino, as they’ve won just one of their last four in the PL and the goals still aren’t coming. The lack of scoring is a trend that carried over from last season under Claude Puel, when Southampton scored just 41 times en route to an eighth-place finish. That lone victory came on their last outing, though, courtesy of Sofiane Boufal’s brilliant individual effort, so perhaps brighter days are indeed on the horizon.

INJURIES: Brighton — OUT: Steve Sidwell (back), Beram Kayal (fitness), Sam Baldock (fitness) | Southampton — OUT: Mario Lemina (ankle)

[ MORE: England top Spain, win U-17 World Cup ]

Leicester City vs. Everton — 12 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com

First went Craig Shakespeare on Oct. 17, followed in short order by Ronald Koeman six days later. Leicester and Everton, respectively, were second and third to fire a manager during the 2017-18 PL season (more than a month after Crystal Palace sent Frank De Boer packing), and now the two sides face off on Sunday. Former Saints boss Puel is the new man in charge at the King Power Stadium, site of Sunday’s clash, while David Unsworth hopes to impress Toffees owner Farhad Moshiri during game no. 1 of his trial run as interim manager.

After nine games played, both sides are nearer to the relegation zone than they would have imagined this season, as Leicester currently sit 15th, a point ahead of 18th-place Everton.

“It is not about me or any individual, it is about us as a team and club coming together and showing the fighting spirit and commitment we had throughout that 90 minutes,” Unsworth said this week. “Even at 2-0 we kept going and got the goal. You could see the work rate, spirit and commitment — that is what we are looking for. We can iron out issues and problems and it is a great start, something to really build and work on.”

Leicester were victorious in the fourth round of the EFL Cup, knocking of Championship side Leeds United 3-1 on Tuesday. 21-year-old Kelechi Iheanacho scored his first goal (to go with an assist) for the Foxes after arriving from Manchester City in the summer to give Puel something more to consider when he picks his first starting lineup on Sunday.

INJURIES: Leicester — OUT: Robert Huth (foot), Matty James (achilles) | Everton — OUT: Ross Barkley (hamstring), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Seamus Coleman (leg), Yannick Bolasie (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Morgan Schneiderlin (illness)

Leicester refreshes center back corps with $22M Maguire

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Perhaps the two top targets on relegated sides have now been snapped up by Premier League sides ahead of the 2017-18 season.

Jordan Pickford left Sunderland for Everton on Thursday, and Hull City defender Harry Maguire had helped to fund the Tigers promotion push by signing with Leicester City.

[ MORE: Everton adds $30m Klaassen ]

Maguire cost the Foxes nearly $22 million following a strong season at the KCOM Stadium that saw the 24-year-old center back, who can play on the right, manage three goals and three assists in 36 appearances.

Leicester needed to refresh its center back corps after Wes Morgan and Robert Huth struggled to replicate their star performances in 2016-17. This is another smart move which follows the January buy of Wilfried Ndidi, who helped save the Foxes’ season.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Lindelof arrives at Man United for medical

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Manchester United’s latest signing has arrived in Manchester. Well, Carrington, to be exact.

Defender Victor Lindelöf, ahead of his now-confirmed transfer to Manchester United, arrived at the club’s training ground to undergo his medical. Manchester United confirmed Saturday that they had agreed a deal with Benfica over the Swedish defender, reported to include a nearly $40 million transfer fee.

Lindelöf started 40 times for Benfica at centerback in the Portuguese league and UEFA Champions League combined, scoring one goal and helping earn 23 shutouts.

The 22-year-old, who has already made 12 appearances for Sweden and started for them at Euro 2016, is expected to slot into the Man United starting lineup next season, possibly alongside Eric Bailly, with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling rumored to be leaving the club.

Here’s a look at more transfer news around the Premier League:

(more…)

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • Drew 1-1 at WHL on Oct. 29
  • Last five head-to-head: 1W-3D-1L
  • Spurs lead all-time 52W-21D-34L

Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur aim to finish their season in good form, one year after finishing 1-2 in the Premier League (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

King Power Stadium saw the Foxes win the league last year, with Spurs the runners-up.

Tottenham is now locked into second place and enters the match with 80 points, 10 behind Chelsea.

Leicester’s 43 points are good enough for 11th, two points behind Southampton, West Bromwich Albion, and Bournemouth. The Foxes can still finish eighth by winning Thursday vs. Spurs, again on Sunday, and getting a little help from Saints.

The Foxes are limping to the finish line due to injuries, not form. Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Andy King, Danny Drinkwater, and Nampalys Mendy are among those who are either big question marks or ruled out for Thursday’s match.

Tottenham took a shot, too, as Danny Rose needs surgery and could miss the beginning of next season.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

What they’re saying

Leicester’s Craig Shakespeare on the injury woes: “It means other people get their opportunities. The players can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I expect us to have a real good go, to finish as high as we can.”

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino on next season’s motivation“Next season and during the summer we need to find a way to inspire them, to motivate them to push further in our performances and to find different ways to play. Then try to add more quality, maybe, if we are capable of finding this type of player that can help us for the next season to play better, to be better and try to compete better in different periods of the season.”

Prediction

Closer than you think, but Spurs will continue to pile up points by denying Leicester more than a few sniffs at goal. 2-1 Tottenham.