Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Newcastle United

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Newcastle United barely survived in the Premier League last season, as the Magpies needed a win in the final match of the season to stave off relegation. Manager Alan Pardew left halfway through the season for Crystal Palace, and his replacement John Carver was sacked after barely keeping Newcastle in the top flight.

Owner Mike Ashley is one of the most talked about figures in the Premier League, and it’s not rare to see fans holding protests at St. James’ Park calling for the billionaire to sell the club. This season, new manager Steve McClaren will have to deal with both Ashley and restless supporters as a new era begins at Newcastle.

[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]

The Magpies’ rivalry with Sunderland is one of the fiercest in the Premier League, with the first Tyne-Wear derby being played way back in 1888. However, Newcastle has struggled massively in the derby as of late, losing both matches last season to make it five straight losses to the Black Cats.

Best possible XI:

— Krul —

— Janmaat — Williamson — Coloccini — Dummett —

— Sissoko — Colback —

— Cabella — Wijnaldum — Perez —

— Cisse —

 

Transfers in: Georginio Wijnaldum ($23 million, PSV Eindhoven) Aleksander Mitrovic ($20 million, Anderlecht)

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club

Transfers out: Sammy Ameobi (season-long loan, Cardiff City), Ryan Taylor (free, Hull City), Jonas Gutierrez (released)

Wijnaldum was Steve McClaren’s first signing in charge at Newcastle.

Last season: Fifteenth place in the Premier League — Alan Pardew left for Crystal Palace midway through the season, and John Carver took over as Newcastle’s season imploded. A run of eight consecutive defeats led to the Magpies being in danger of relegation heading into the final match of last season, but they defeated West Ham to stay in the Premier League.

Star player: Georginio Wijnaldum — Often criticized as being a tight spender, owner Mike Ashley paid $23 million for Wijnaldum this summer, and he will be carrying a big workload for the Magpies. After being named Dutch Footballer of the Year last season and leading PSV to the Eredivisie title as club captain, Steve McClaren will need Wijnaldum to make a quick transition to the Premier League to help lead Newcastle back up the table.

Steve McClaren is tasked with turning around the Magpies after a disappointing 2014-15 campaign.

Coaches’ Corner: Steve McClaren is entering his first campaign in charge at St. James’ Park after managing Derby County in the Championship for the past two seasons. McClaren has top-flight experience on his resume, leading Middlesbrough in the Premier League from 2001-06 before being named manager of England. Newcastle wanted to bring in McClaren midway through last season when Alan Pardew left, but ended up staying in-house with the hiring of John Carver, which ended in disaster.

PST predicts: Things can’t go much worse than they did last season, and the signings of Wijnaldum and Mitrovic will add some much needed offense to Steve McClaren’s side. Newcastle shouldn’t be fighting off relegation on Championship Sunday this year, but are still a middle of the pack team that should finish outside the top-ten.

Italy women’s team awarded for ’emancipating’ female game

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ROME (AP) The Italy women’s national soccer team was awarded the Foreign Press Association’s Invictus award Monday for promoting and “emancipating” the female game in the country with its run to the World Cup quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Head coach Milena Bertolini and forward Barbara Bonansea were given the award during a ceremony at the Rome-based association.

With soccer dominated by men in Italy and few opportunities for girls, Bertolini recounted how she had to dress up as a boy to play as a kid.

“Now things are changing, thanks to the Italian federation’s school programs,” Bertolini said.

Bertolini and Bonansea lamented that female players are still not considered professionals and therefore are not permitted to earn more than $33,500 per year by Italian law.

“It’s not about the money, it’s a question of rights,” said Bonansea, who also plays for Italian champion Juventus.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

While Italy’s men’s team is a four-time World Cup champion, the women had not played in a World Cup for two decades and entered as a prohibitive underdog during its opening match against Australia in France in June. But the Azzurre came back from a goal down for a 2-1 win courtesy of Bonansea’s two scores , with her second coming in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

“That goal shaped our World Cup, both in terms of results and in terms of promoting women’s soccer in Italy,” Bertolini said. “The strong emotions on the field were transmitted to everyone who was watching. I still get goosebumps now just thinking about that goal.”

The Azzurre went on to win their group then beat China in the first knockout round before losing to eventual finalist the Netherlands.

In a country of 60 million people, a total of more than 20 million spectators watched Italy’s five matches on RAI state TV, setting audience records for women’s soccer game after game.

The Invictus award is dedicated to “promoting the positive effects of sports in terms of integration and emancipation by the vulnerable sections of society.”

UCL preview: Spurs desperate for a win; Man City host Atalanta

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By the end of the week, we’ll be at the halfway point of the UEFA Champions League group stage, and while some Premier League clubs (Manchester City and Liverpool) are currently in rather strong positions, a couple others (Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea) have some serious work to do to rescue their respective campaigns.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Tottenham’s start to the group stage has gone about as poorly as it could have done, considering the positions in which they’ve found themselves early in games. Going from 2-0 up to a 2-2 draw away to Olympiacos was bad enough, but going from 1-0 up to a 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich was the real demoralizer.

Now, last year’s UCL runners-up find themselves third in the group with just one point. However, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is set for a back-to-back home-and-away with (presumed) doormat Red Star Belgrade, beginning Tuesday when the Serbian side visits the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Spurs will continue to be without goalkeeper Hugo Lloris following his dislocated elbow, while midfielders Christian Eriksen and Giovani Lo Celso are back in full training and expected to be available for selection. Tanguay Ndombele was only involved as a second-half sub during Spurs’ draw with last-place Watford over the weekend, so he is likely to return to the starting lineup.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

Man City, meanwhile, are coming off a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace and feeling a renewed sense of PL title contention after Liverpool dropped their first points of the season. While a domestic three-peat is undoubtedly high on the list of priorities for Pep Guardiola‘s side, it’s probably safe to assume that breaking though in the UCL is the main objective for 2019-20. Since Guardiola took over at the Etihad Stadium, City have reached the quarterfinals twice and the round of 16 once. Under the direction of Manuel Pellegrini, City reached the semifinals the season before Guardiola’s arrival.

Outside of long-term knees injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane, City have a clean bill of health.

Tuesday’s full UEFA Champions League schedule

Atletico Madrid v. Bayer Leverkusen — 12:55 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Dinamo Zagreb — 12:55 p.m. ET

Tottenham Hotspur v. Red Star Belgrade — 3 p.m. ET
Manchester City v. Atalanta — 3 p.m. ET
Galatasaray v. Real Madrid — 3 p.m. ET
Juventus v. Lokomotive Moscow — 3 p.m. ET
Brugge v. Paris Saint-Germain — 3 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Bayern Munich

The 2 Robbies podcast: Man United 1-1 Liverpool; Struggles in North London

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe review the key results from Matchweek 9 in the Premier League focusing on Manchester United and Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford (0:50). The chaps also discuss Manchester City’s win at Crystal Palace (16:50), Arsenal’s defeat at Sheffield United (23:25), Tottenham’s draw at home to Watford (35:25) and debate who currently is the 3rd best team in the Premier League (42:05). Finally, the guys name their under-appreciated performances of the weekend (50:50).

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

FA Cup qualifier to be replayed after team walks off for racist abuse

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LONDON (AP) The FA Cup qualifying match between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town that was abandoned following racist abuse will be replayed next week.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

The Football Association said Monday that the match will be replayed from the start on Oct. 29 at Haringey’s home ground.

Saturday’s game saw the players walk off in the 64th minute, shortly after Yeovil had gone 1-0 up via a penalty. Haringey officials said after the game that its Cameroonian goalkeeper Valery Pajetat and defender Coby Rowe had both been targeted by racial abuse by visiting fans.

London police said they had arrested two men, age 23 and 26, on Monday on suspicion of racially aggravated common assault in connection with the incident.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

The FA said: “Following the incident in the original tie and the two arrests already made, the FA’s investigation is ongoing. We are continuing to work with the relevant authorities on our investigation into the matter.”

The winner of the game will advance to the first round of the FA Cup.