Premier League roundup: Drama, goals galore on wild opening day

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Five games took place on the opening day of the Premier League season, and they came with plenty of goals and drama.

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Leicester City hammered Sunderland, Manchester United crept past Tottenham, Bournemouth were downed by Villa on their PL debut, while Everton drew with Watford and Palace beat Norwich. But the best game of the day came at the end as Chelsea drew 2-2 with Swansea in an absolute cracker at Stamford Bridge. It had it all.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule | standings ]

All in all, and I think you will agree with this, it was great to have the PL back.

Below you will find videos, recaps, reaction and more from all five games.

Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur RECAP

Louis van Gaal’s five new signings all played a part as the Red Devils beat Spurs 1-0 on the opening day of the season. The only goal of the game came against the run of play as Spurs’ bright start was interrupted when Kyle Walker tried to challenge Wayne Rooney but instead toe-poked the ball into his own net for the first goal of the 2015-16 season. Spurs had a great chance early on when Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen carved open United’s defense but the latter lobbed his effort over. Eriksen tested United’s new goalkeeper Sergio Romero late on, but he was up to the challenge as a tight game went United’s way.

Chelsea 2-2 Swansea City – RECAP

Jose Mourinho’s men got their title defense off to an inauspicious start against Swansea at Stamford Bridge. Oscar’s free kick gave Chelsea an early lead, but Andre Ayew scored on his debut to make it 1-1. Willian’s deflected effort but the Blues ahead before the break and in the second half the moment of the match arrived as Thibaut Courtois flicked Bafetimbi Gomis and referee Michael Oliver awarded Swansea a penalty kick and showed Chelsea’s goalkeeper a red card. Gomis scored the resulting spot kick and despite some heavy pressure from the Swans, Chelsea held on for a point.

Leicester City 4-2 SunderlandRECAP

What a start for Claudio Ranieri in charge of the Foxes as his side raced into a 3-0 lead at half time. Jamie Vardy’s header got things going early on, then Riyad Mahrez scored twice before half time to stun Sunderland. The Black Cats improved in the second half, with Jermain Defoe pulling one back, but Marc Albrighton scored another to make it 4-1. Steven Fletcher pulled another one back for Sunderland, but it ended 4-2 at the King Power Stadium with Leicester momentarily top of the league.

Everton 2-2 WatfordRECAP

Newly promoted Waford got a point away at Goodison Park on the opening day and the Hornets were a few minutes away from grabbing a win. Mexico international Miguel Layun put the 1-0 up in the first half, but Ross Barkley equalized in stunning fashion to make it 1-1. Late on Odion Ighalo put Watford 2-1 up, but Arouna Kone scored just two minutes later as the Toffees fought back to grab a point.

Bournemouth 0-1 Aston VillaRECAP

Second half substitute Rudy Gestede powered home a header just 13 minutes into his debut to hand Villa an opening day win for the third-straight PL season. Tim Sherwood handed six players their debuts and after struggling in the first half, Villa improved in the second but Bournemouth and Eddie Howe will feel hard done by to lose in the sun down on the South Coast. Marc Pugh and Dan Gosling went close in the first half, while Matt Ritchie had some chances late on to snag an equalizer, but Bournemouth’s first-ever game in the PL ended in defeat.

Norwich City 1-3 Crystal Palace – RECAP

The Eagles bagged an impressive win away from home as goals either side of half time from Wilfried Zaha and Damien Delaney put them 2-0 up. Substitute Nathan Redmond pulled one back for Norwich with a long-range goal, then Cameron Jerome had a goal disallowed and the Canaries thought they should have had a penalty when Sebastian Bassong went down. Late on Palace debutant Yohan Cabaye wrapped up the win, as Alan Pardew’s side started off this season exactly the way they finished last year.

Wolfsburg’s Mbabu out of Europa League after virus positive

Mbabu
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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) Wolfsburg defender Kevin Mbabu will miss his team’s Europa League last-16 game against Shakhtar Donetsk after he tested positive for the coronavirus last month, the club said Monday.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europa ]

Wolfsburg coach Oliver Glasner said the Switzerland defender would “definitely” not travel with the team to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to play Shakhtar on Wednesday. He has not been training with the team, Glasner added.

Wolfsburg said July 25 that Mbabu had tested positive and was in isolation at home. He was not displaying symptoms, the club said at the time.

The right back played 20 games for Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga this season, including 90 minutes in all nine games after the league resumed in May amid the pandemic.

The Europa League restarts Wednesday after a break of nearly five months. The second legs of last-16 matchups will be played at the original venues.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Two fixtures where the first leg wasn’t played before the season was suspended – Inter Milan against Getafe and Roma against Sevilla – will be played as single-leg contests in Germany.

From the quarterfinals onward all games will be played in a tournament format in Germany.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Transfer news: Thiago to Liverpool; Gabriel to Man United

Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool
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In transfer news there’s an update on Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool, while Gabriel to Manchester United seems to be moving to the next stage.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Starting in Liverpool, talk of Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool has been gathering steam over the last few weeks and a new report states that Jurgen Klopp’s men are now the favorites to sign him.

Bayern Munich expect the 29-year-old Spanish international to leave this summer and according to Mundo Deportivo Liverpool have jumped ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and are ‘very likely’ to sign the former Barcelona star.

Bayern want $35 million for Thiago who has one year left on his current contract.

The deep-lying playmaker is a totally different central midfielder to what Liverpool currently have as Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum are all hard-working more defensive minded players. And then there’s Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who provide a bit more attacking intent with forward runs from central midfield.

Thiago Alcantara would help Liverpool control games better when opponents sit back and don’t allow them space to operate in-behind. He is a silky pass-master who is wanted by PSG, Liverpool, Manchester United and others, but it appears he will be heading to Anfield to give Liverpool a totally new dimension to their play. If this happens, it will make an already strong Liverpool side stronger.

Gabriel to Manchester United
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Switching to Manchester, a report in France states that Gabriel Magalhaes could be heading to Manchester United.

The Brazilian defender, 22, has been a star for Lille over the past few seasons but has been linked with Arsenal, Chelsea, Napoli, Everton and Man United consistently in recent months.

A report from French outlet RMC states that Man United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has met with Gabriel’s agents about his availability.

Lille want $35 million for Gabriel and although the report says that Man United haven’t made an offer directly to the Ligue 1 club, it is believed talks are ongoing.

Man United are said to be in the market for a winger, center back and central midfielder this summer and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to be given cash to spend after securing Champions League qualification for next season.

It is believed Solskjaer wants a left-footed center back, which Gabriel is, as Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire are often too similar at center back. Those two have developed a decent enough partnership but it appears that Solskjaer wants to replace Lindelof and adding Gabriel will also give him an option to switch to a 3-4-3 system which he likes to do to match up against  more attack-minded opponents.

Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are very much on the outside looking in at Man United in terms of their other center back options.

With Jadon Sancho reportedly on his way to Old Trafford, Solskjaer needs to bolster his center back and holding midfield options and then he is good to go for next season.

Gabriel is a young, talented center back and seems ready to make the next step and this is a good price for a player who can develop over the next few seasons.

How long of a break will Premier League clubs get?

Premier League break
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How long of a break will Premier League clubs get? That is the big question during the significantly shortened offseason between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 season.

In short: not long.

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When Premier League clubs all agreed that the 2020-21 season would kick off on September 12, there was an understanding that clubs in European action will be handed extra time off and could start the season late.

Manchester City and Chelsea are in Champions League action and if they reach the quarterfinal stage (Man City are looking a lot more likely to do that than Chelsea) it is expected they will start next season one week late and if they reach the semifinals and final they will start two weeks late.

The same rule is in place for Manchester United and Wolves who are in Europa League and are both in Round of 16 action this week.

If Chelsea lose to Bayern Munich on Saturday, their season will be over and they will have a 35-day break before the 2020-21 season. That is longer than the 30-day limit but Frank Lampard wants longer.

As for the other 16 Premier League teams for the 2020-21 season, the clubs who finished on the final day of the  2019-20 Premier League season on July 26 will have had 47 days off until the new season begins.

So, there you have it.

A staggered start to the 2020-21 season seems likely as the domestic campaign begins in a few weeks with the Community Shield final at Wembley between Liverpool and Arsenal on Aug. 29.

Premier League teams will have shorter, more intense preseason campaigns and are unlikely to travel for friendly games, so it will be interesting to see how much rest players actually get over the summer and if teams who get a 2-3 week longer break benefit compared to those clubs in European action.

Christian Pulisic issues injury update

Pulisic injury news
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‘Pulisic injury news’ is probably trending worldwide at this point, and Chelsea and USMNT star Christian Pulisic has an injury update after he damaged his right hamstring in the FA Cup final against Arsenal on Saturday.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Pulisic, 21, scored a superb goal early on and was arguably the man of the match even though he pulled up abruptly in the 46th minute when sprinting free (once again) of the Arsenal attack and then hitting a shot wide.

After being helped off the pitch while clearly in pain, Pulisic was seen hanging around the tunnel area after the FA Cup final and was at least walking on his own.

Posting a message on Instagram following the final, here’s what Pulisic had to say:

“Gave it everything we had. Wasn’t our day. Thank you guys for your support I’ll be back in no time,” Pulisic said.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The fact Pulisic went off injured early in the second half of the FA Cup final severely hampered Chelsea and gave Arsenal the impetus to go on and win the final at Wembley. He has become that important to Chelsea.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard previously confirmed that Pulisic would not be fit enough to play at Bayern Munich on Saturday in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg (Chelsea trail 3-0 from the first leg) and would have a scan to assess the damage.

Pulisic’s 2019-20 season is now done and both Chelsea and USMNT fans will be waiting with bated breath for the next injury update as hamstring injuries can be a nasty thing and reoccur easily.

The USMNT star had a few of them at Borussia Dortmund and given his incredible pace it is clear he will be more susceptible to hamstring and upper leg injuries.

Previously Lampard revealed that Pulisic had been working hard with Chelsea’s strength and conditioning coaches in recent months to build up his strength in order to adapt to the Premier League. We’ve certainly seen the results of that work in recent week as he took the Premier League by storm during the restart.

This latest update from Pulisic seems to be very good news as many had feared a lengthy injury layoff for the USMNT star but it seems like he may be ready for the start of the 2020-21 season for Chelsea.