Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Leicester City

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It has been an interesting summer at the King Power Stadium, as Leicester City have a new manager after firing Nigel Pearson.

[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]

Claudio Ranieiri is the new man in charge, as Pearson was let go after a series of off the field incidents. The Foxes managed to pull off the “great escape” last season to remain in the Premier League, as they won seven of their final nine matches of the season to survive. They have spent nine years in total in the PL, and the Midlands club have won the League Cup three times in their 131-year history.

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club

Regional rivals include both Derby County and Nottingham Forest, both of whom are in English soccer’s second tier, while Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion are their nearest PL foes in the Midlands.

Best possible XI:

—– Schmeichel —–

 — Morgan — Huth — Wasilewski —

Mahrez — King — Albrighton — Schlupp

Kramaric — Vardy — Okazaki

Transfers In: Christian Fuchs (Free, Schalke), Robert Huth ($5 million, Stoke City), Shinji Okazaki ($11.5 million, Mainz)

Transfers Out: Paul Gallagher (Free, Preston North End), Anthony Knockaert (Free, Standard Liege), Chris Woo ($5 million, Leeds United)

Last season: 14th in the Premier League – It was an incredible season at the KP as the Foxes survived relegation against all the odds. Pearson’s side had some incredible wins during the campaign, as they beat Manchester United 5-3 early on to fill the fans with hope. Some tough months followed however, with speculation around Pearson’s job continuing, but he remained in charge and led Leicester to one of the greatest escapes the PL has ever seen. They won seven of their final nine games to lift themselves out of the bottom three and they ended up finishing in 14th.

source: Getty Images
Will Vardy, right, be the star of the show?

Star player: Jamie Vardy – The tireless forward just didn’t stop running all season long and he was rewarded for his fine form with an England debut. Vardy, 28, made his way up through the leagues from semi-pro soccer to the PL in lightning quick time and opposition defenses just couldn’t deal with his pace and direct style of play. If he can improve his finishing and gets the opportunity to spend more time in the box this season, Vardy should enjoy another stellar campaign.

Coaches’ Corner: Ranieri has a really tough job on his hands at the KP. Leicester’s squad was built by Pearson and he seemed to know how to get the best out of them. The Italian manager — infamously dubbed “The Tinkerman” due to his ever-changing starting lineup during his time in charge of Chelsea — has never faced a PL relegation battle during his long managerial career and it has been 11 years since he last coached in England. Is the ultra-defensive coach ready for the cut and thrust of a relegation battle in England’s top-flight? Many believe he is not, but he has kept this squad together over the offseason so a few key additions will be crucial to his and Leicester’s success.

source: AP
Is Ranieri the right man for Leicester?

PST predicts: Expect another relegation battle at the KP as the Foxes will have to adapt to a new playing philosophy and hope second-season syndrome does not kick in. Leicester proved how good they could be in attack towards the end of last season and if they can keep the tempo of their play high, they will gain plenty of points at home as the KP has become a fortress. That said, the jury is still out on whether Ranieri is the right man for the job.

Report: Everton could land Juventus’ Kean after all

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Everton could end up with one of the hottest prospects in world soccer.

Moise Kean may wind up leaving Juventus due to the club’s failure to offload fellow strikers Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.

And Kean, 19, was poised for a breakthrough to the first team, to the extent that Juve reportedly turned down a $33 million bid from Everton.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The Toffees, however, may have new life due to the Higuain/Mandzukic problem, and Sky Sports Italia reports that Kean may indeed be an option for Marco Silva‘s club.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Kean elected to leave Italy given the racial abuse he’s suffered in Serie A (Though racism is everywhere, of course).

The same report says Kean turned down a Barcelona offer because he would’ve headed on loan, while Arsenal is also said to be in the mix.

Kean scored six Serie A goals with an assist in just 13 matches for Juventus last season after scoring four times for Hellas Verona on loan.

Premier League weekend friendlies: Man Utd-Inter, PL Asia Trophy

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This weekend in Premier League preseason friendlies sees Liverpool taking on a pair of top European foes, while four PL foes trade blows in Shanghai.

Man City and Wolves move on from significant defeats of Newcastle and West Ham, who in turn will face each other on Saturday.

You can watch Saturday’s Premier League Asia Trophy matches between Wolves and Man City, and Newcastle versus West Ham here on NBC Sports Live.

Meanwhile, Manchester United will tangle with Romelu Lukaku-chasing Inter Milan on Saturday (and, no, the Belgian striker won’t be in uniform).

There’s also a sneaky good match-up of Watford and Bayer Leverkusen in Austria on Saturday, while Sunday’s light docket has Spurs facing Matthijs de Ligt and Juventus in Singapore.

Friday
Borussia Dortmund v. Liverpool (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Saturday
Girona v. Bournemouth
Arsenal
v. Fiorentina (Charlotte)
Fulham v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Cheltenham Town v. Leicester City
Crewe Alexandra v. Burnley
Port Vale v. Burnley
Bromley v. Crystal Palace
Man City 
v. Wolves (Shanghai)
Inter Milan v. Manchester United (Singapore)
Newcastle United v. West Ham (Shanghai)
Northampton Town v. Sheffield United
Preston North End v. Southampton
Watford 
v. Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)

Sunday
Shrewsbury Town v. Aston Villa
Liverpool 
v. Sevilla (Boston)
Juventus v. Spurs (Singapore)

PL friendly wrap: Pukki leads Norwich past Schalke

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London sides went 0-2, while three other Premier League sides won ahead of Friday night’s friendly between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in Indiana.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The wins included defeats of Schalke and Monaco, while Brighton and Hove Albion topped lower league Crawley Town.

Schalke 1-2 Norwich City

Teemu Pukki had a goal and an assist, giving hope that the Championship goal collector can bring his game to the Premier League.

Pukki’s 13th minute goal was assisted by Man City loanee Patrick Roberts, and the Finn later assisted Moritz Leitner‘s winner.

Rabbi Matondo scored Schalke’s only goal, and American midfielder Weston McKennie was neither with the starters nor the bench.

Everton 1-0 Monaco

Seamus Coleman scored and Maarten Stekelenburg stopped a penalty as the Toffees handled their Ligue 1 opposition in Switzerland.

Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 ChelseaRECAP

Leandro Damaio scored the lone goal as Chelsea had plenty of chances to win in Christian Pulisic‘s debut. The American came off the bench for the final 25 minutes in Japan.

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Crystal Palace

Albert Adomah scored the lone goal in a win for the Championship side.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 Crawley Town

New signing Taylor Richards‘ late penalty kick was enough for the Seagulls to get a result at home. The Man City midfielder arrived on Thursday.

Liverpool v. Borussia Dortmund (Notre Dame, Indiana) — 8 p.m. ET

Algeria wins Africa Cup of Nations

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In the words of a Missouri-born rapper, you only get one shot. In Algeria’s case in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, that was true and it was all the Desert Foxes needed to claim their first AFCON title since 1990 with a 1-0 defeat of Senegal on Friday at Cairo International Stadium in Cairo.

Baghdad Bounedjah’s wildly-deflected second minute shot was enough to give Algeria its second AFCON crown.

Senegal out shot Algeria 11-1 on the day, but Sadio Mane and Co. couldn’t find their way over the goal line.

One-time Man City and Southampton player Djamel Belmadi has now managed an AFCON winner and a Gulf Cup of Nations champion (Qatar, 2014).

[ MORE: Ballon d’Or w/o Messi, Ronaldo? ]

Bounedjah’s wild rip after a cut-in from the left bounded into the air and looped into the far corner. Senegal goalkeeper Amigo Gomis made it look more odd with his befuddlement (Scramble, my guy!).

Referee Neant Alioum’s ruling of a penalty to Senegal after Ismaila Sarr’s rip hit the arm of Adlene Guedioura was overturned when review showed the Algeria midfielder’s arm was at his side.

We mean, was this going to be the goal that won Africa’s most important tournament? Yep.