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MLS Preview: Conference clashes set up intriguing Week 8

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With the New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders still struggling to find their way in the new MLS season, both sides will look for some stability in their respective conferences.

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That’s right, Week 8 is about conference matchups, except for Columbus-Houston. With no Friday night game on the docket, let’s take a look at what the weekend has to offer.

Philadelphia Union vs. New York City FC — Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

The Union have been one of the more surprising teams in MLS through seven weeks. Unfortunately for NYCFC, there haven’t been many surprises in terms of improvements from a season ago. Despite David Villa’s offensive firepower, New York City continues to struggle in front of goal, with very little to no support for the Spaniard. Since their opening match against the Fire, which saw them score four goals, NYCFC has tallied just five goals in as many matches since.

Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC — Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

Already atop the Eastern Conference, the Impact can now add Didier Drogba into the mix. The ex-Chelsea forward scored just minutes after being substituted on for Montreal last weekend against the Fire, giving the team another dimension. Add him in with Ignacio Piatti, already with four goals on the year, and you have a very dangerous tandem. Toronto is still figuring things out, on the other hand. In a competitive East, TFC sits fourth on the table, but is still searching for assistance up front. Sebastian Giovinco’s four goals and two assists lead the team, however, the Atomic Ant appears to be their only option when getting forward.

D.C. United vs. New England Revolution — Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET

Neither team has started the season the way that they would have liked to. Both D.C. and New England have one win each though the opening month-plus of the season. Goals have been hard to come by for both teams, so maybe facing one another will be the key to breaking out.

Columbus Crew vs. Houston Dynamo — Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

As a team that played for the MLS Cup in 2015, expectations for the Crew were much higher than what they have met so far. Five points in six games isn’t good enough for an attack that boasts the likes of Kei Kemara and Ethan Finlay. For the Dynamo, scoring goals hasn’t been the issue. Keeping them out has been though. Houston has scored 13 goals in 2016, while allowing the same number, which will always be a recipe for failure.

Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders — Saturday, 9 p.m. ET

The new-look Rapids continue to impress this season under Pablo Mastroeni, sitting third in the Western Conference. While Mastroeni’s side doesn’t score a lot of goals, their defense is among the best in MLS, making it very difficult for opposition to break through. The Sounders have begun to string together a nice run of results, unbeaten in three straight games, although the team is still lacking substance in the midfield. Marco Pappa’s arrival in Colorado has given the Rapids a huge lift, while also breaking the back of Seattle.

LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake — Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET

In a battle of two of the West’s best teams, RSL looks to remain unbeaten against the Galaxy. Real Salt Lake is the only team that has yet to lose this season, and head coach Jeff Cassar has a lot to do with that. The squad has brought back many key players from previous seasons, while adding a few pieces here and there to solidify their weaknesses. The Galaxy will be missing Nigel de Jong as par of his suspension, but Gyasi Zardes and crew should be game to take on RSL. The Galaxy are tied for first in goals allowed with Toronto and the Rapids, conceding five goals.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. FC Dallas — Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET

This match is a tale of two very different sides. Dallas is undoubtedly among the hottest teams in MLS through almost two months of play, holding 17 points and topping the West. The side’s attack features countless players that can break a game open at any moment, including Michael Barrios and Max Urruti. The Whitecaps are led by Pedro Morales offensively, but it has been their defense that has raised questions so far, giving away 11 goals in seven games. Vancouver has gone three straight matches without scoring a goal, so they’ll be hoping to end that trend at BC Place.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Sporting Kansas City — Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET

This could very well be game of the week based off of what the two sides have shown through seven weeks. Both teams have more than capable attacks, as well as quality defenses. Chris Wondolowski leads the charge for the Earthquakes, having netted six goal in seven games. With each side coming off of a loss, two straight in the case of Sporting KC, look for them to get after one another early and often. Dom Dwyer can add to his goal total of four on Sunday, especially with the team’s service from the wings.

New York Red Bulls vs. Orlando City SC — Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET

The question isn’t what has gone wrong for the Red Bulls thus far in 2016, but instead what has gone right? Other than their four-goal outburst against the Dynamo, New York has scored just one additional goal. Bradley Wright-Phillips and the Red Bulls attack have struggled mightily in front of net, despite having numerous opportunities to get on the scoreboard this season. Orlando City is having no such difficulty when it comes to finding goals, with Cyle Larin picking right up where he left off in his rookie year. The second-year forward has three goals thus far, while Kaka has added an additional two.

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Liverpool – Arsenal: How to watch, start time, odds, predicted lineup

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Liverpool – Arsenal: Two heavyweights clash at Anfield on Monday (Watch live at 3pm ET online via Peacock) as both team have a perfect record with two wins from two so far.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Reigning champions Liverpool have perhaps been more impressive as they’ve beaten upstarts Leeds United and then Chelsea, while Arsenal eased past Fulham but struggled past West Ham.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

When it comes to Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta, their playing philosophy as managers could not be more different as Arsenal beat Liverpool on penalties at Wembley to win the Community Shield last month.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of a massive early-season clash as Arsenal look to put down a marker.


Team news: Liverpool – Arsenal (INJURY REPORT)

Liverpool will be hoping center back Joe Gomez will be fit after he missed the win at Chelsea last weekend, while this game will come too soon for fellow defender Joel Matip. Judging by the early reports, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson should also be fit to start.

Arsenal could have Kieran Tierney back fit for this game, which would be a big boost. Pablo Mari, Calum Chamberls, Gabriel Martinelli and Shkodran Mustafi all remain out injured.


Predicted lineup

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Thiago, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Arsenal (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Understandably Liverpool are the heavy favorites (-210) given their long unbeaten home record at Anfield. That said Arsenal (+520) do seem a high price after they beat Liverpool during ‘Project Restart’ and also in the Community Shield final. The draw at +360 is intriguing and the value perhaps lies there.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Liverpool – Arsenal prediction

Arsenal have a lot more grit under Arteta and they ware capable of bending but not breaking. This is a huge test for them, though, and Gabriel against the fluid front three of Salah, Firmino and Mane will be his biggest test yet. Arsenal have the attackers to make the most of any more slack defending from Liverpool but I expect Klopp’s side to have just too much in midfield and attack. Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal.


How to watch Liverpool – Arsenal stream and start time

Kickoff: 3pm ET Monday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Fulham – Aston Villa: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

Fulham - Aston Villa
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Fulham – Aston Villa: How early is too early to call a game “must-win” in the Premier League? Perhaps we will find out on Monday (Watch live at 12:45 pm ET, online via Peacock), when bottom-of-the-table Fulham host Aston Villa at Craven Cottage.

FULHAM – ASTON VILLA STREAM LIVE

Scott Parker’s side has had a torrid start to life back in the PL — not at all dissimilar to the way their last stint ended — and find themselves with zero points and seven goals conceded after their first two games. Losing 3-0 to Arsenal on the opening day of the season wasn’t altogether surprising, but following that defeat with four more goals conceded to Leeds United last weekend will undoubtedly have done a number on the Cottagers’ confidence.

Villa, on the other hand, have played just once and secured a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United earlier this week. A win on Monday would see Dean Smith’s side start the season with back-to-back PL victories for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Fulham – Aston Villa this Monday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Fulham – Aston Villa (INJURY REPORT)

Fulham – No injuries or suspensions

Aston Villa – OUT: Bjorn Engels (thigh), Tom Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), Ahmed Elmohamady (thigh)


What they’re saying: Fulham – Aston Villa

Scott Parker, on a “must-win” game: “I don’t see it as drastic as a must-win. We want to win. I know it’s either high or low in a drastic world, but we need to stay level and take realism of where we are in the campaign and where we are as a team. We will try everything we can to take some points and be up to the challenge. I don’t think we’re the only team at this present moment in time who have let in some goals in the first two games. It’s not ideal, of course not. Villa at home on Monday is a game we’re going to try to get three points.”

Dean Smith, on needing another signing: “We’re always looking in the market, we’re probably one short in the squad at the moment so we’ll keep looking at that. I think there’s seven days left until the window shuts internationally, another seven days domestically. Our sporting director at the moment has got his finger on the pulse, hopefully we might get one more in and maybe a couple more out.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

This one is just about a coin flip with Fulham (+185) ever so slight underdogs to Villa (+150). In a game that could go either way like this one, the draw (+225) might just be the safe middle ground.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: Fulham – Aston Villa

There’s not much to separate these two sides right now, and there likely won’t be much ground between them come the season’s final table. There should be a few goals, but that’ll be more down to poor defending than excellent attacking quality from either side. Fulham 2-2 Villa.


How to watch Fulham – Aston Villa stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:45 pm ET Monday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Serie A: Lozano scores twice for Napoli; 10-man Juve drop points to Roma

Cristiano Ronaldo - Juventus
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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Serie A, where Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to save a point for Juventus and Hirving Lozano also scored twice in Napoli’s 6-0 victory…

[ MORE: Suarez plays just 20 minutes, scores two goals in Atleti debut (video) ]

Roma 2-2 Juventus

Juventus overturned a pair of deficits to salvage a point from their trip to Rome, but Andrea Pirlo might just feel his side should have taken more from the game if not for Adrien Rabiot’s red card in the 62nd minute.

Jordan Veretout fired Roma ahead from the penalty spot in the 31st minute, but Cristiano Ronaldo matched him with a spot kick of his own in the 44th. Veretout made it 2-1 less than a minute into the second half, with thanks to an assist from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Rabiot got his second yellow card of the game 15 minutes later, but it didn’t stop Ronalado from scoring his second equalizer in the 69th minute.

Regardless of the country, league or club, we’re seeing some of Europe’s greatest powerhouses struggle through uncharacteristically slow starts to the 2020-21 season. The safe assumption is that the cream will inevitably rise to the top after working out the early kinks, but it might just open the door for an unlikely title challenger or two as well.

[ MORE: Saturday in Serie A: Inter win 7-goal thriller in 89th minute ]

Napoli 6-0 Genoa

Napoli went top of the table (after two games) by way of Sunday’s beatdown of Genoa.

Mexican superstar Hirving Lozano opened the scoring in the 10th minute and added his second goal on the game in the 65th. In between his two tallies, Piota Zielinski (46th) and Dries Mertens (57th) also scored.

Eljif Elmas (69th) and Matteo Politano (72nd) each scored not much later to complete the scoring and the rout.

Crotone 0-2 AC Milan

Franck Kessie converted from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time and Brahim Diaz added an insurance goal five minutes into the second half to give AC Milan their second 2-0 victory in a row to start the season. All appears to be going too well for the Rossoneri right now.

Other Serie A results

Spezia 1-4 Sassuolo
Hellas Verona 1-0 Udinese

Transfer news: Arsenal’s latest Aouar bid; mystery Fati bid for $175 million

Ansu Fati transfer
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Today’s Premier League transfer news includes Arsenal’s latest bid for Houssem Aouar, Barcelona rejected an astronomical bid for 17-year-old Ansu Fati, and Antonio Rudiger moving across London to West Ham for the season…

[ MORE: Transfer news: Rice in, Jorginho out at Chelsea; Skriniar to Spurs ]

Arsenal increase bid for Aouar, but is it enough?

Arsenal are reportedly prepared to increase their bid for Aouar, but only to $57 million, which remains $12 million short of Lyon’s valuation for the 22-year-old midfielder. The Gunners’ latest offer is said to include more than $11 million in add-ons, but Lyon are likely to reject that bid as well as they seek the full amount paid in full.

Barcelona reject mystery $175-million Ansu Fati transfer bid

First things first, let’s start the plainly obvious: $175 million is a lot of money for any player, let alone a 17-year-old who still has so much development left to come. Even Fati, who has been nothing short of a revelation thus far, can still fall short of expectations. With Lionel Messi seemingly headed for the exit door (for free) next summer, how exactly do Barca plan to rebuild their first-team squad? Sure, they’d enjoy themselves a great deal if a La Masia product like Fati is the focal point of their rebirth, but they still desperately need to put a competent team around him. Automatically rejecting a (reported) bid of $175 million seems a bit crazy, but so is everything else at Barcelona these days. According to some reports, Man United are said to be the club which made the mega-bid for Fati.

[ MORE: Suarez plays just 20 minutes, scores two goals in Atleti debut (video) ]

Rudiger to West Ham on loan

Antonio Rudiger might be a first-choice option at center back for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, and he might not be as well. West Ham are taking the approach that the 27-year-old German won’t be getting the first-team action he requires, thus they wish to work out a loan deal for the 2020-21 season.

Torreira in limbo at Arsenal

Lucas Torreira’s time at Arsenal is (logically speaking) finished, but the Gunners are reportedly having a hard time finding a landing spot for the 24-year-old Uruguayan midfielder. Torino were interested for a time, but they no longer see Torreira as a viable option. Atletico Madrid are interested in a loan deal, but Arsenal don’t want to do that. Perhaps Torreria, plus cash, might tempt the La Liga side to finally part ways with Thomas Partey.