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Putin, Infantino say Russia on track for World Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) Stadium construction for the 2018 World Cup is on time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday, contradicting recent reports of delays and cost increases.

Russia has been working to avoid a repeat of the problems that complicated preparations for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Of the 12 stadiums for the tournament in Russia, nine have significant construction work remaining.

“Preparation for the World Cup is in full swing,” Putin said. “All of the developers promise and are confident that they will comply with the commitments to finish facilities on time.”

[ MORE: Top 25 players at Copa America Centenario ]

Earlier Wednesday, St. Petersburg lawmakers increased the budget for the World Cup stadium in that city by 4.3 billion rubles ($64 million), a 12 percent increase.

The stadium was originally supposed to open in 2008 but saw repeated delays, design changes and cost increases. It is slated for completion later this year.

Last month, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said work on the stadium in Samara had stopped because of a dispute with a construction firm. The Samara region’s sports minister denied any stoppage in an interview last week with The Associated Press.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Wednesday that Russia was on track for the tournament despite its economic difficulties. The Russian economy shrank 3.7 percent last year under pressure from sanctions and low oil prices and is projected by the IMF to contract 1.5 percent this year.

“We’ve received all the guarantees that the work will be delivered as promised,” Infantino said, adding that the World Cup will “boost the economy.”

Putin and Infantino were speaking at a ceremony at an open-air theater in Moscow to mark the start of recruitment of the 15,000 volunteers who will work at the World Cup and 5,000 for next year’s Confederations Cup.

[ MORE: PST’s Euro 2016 coverage ]

Also, Infantino denied that repeated doping scandals had tarnished the host nation’s reputation.

“It does not affect the country’s reputation and certainly not the quality of preparations for the World Cup,” Infantino said. “From what I can see everything is done with respect by Russia to move ahead in the right way.

“As far as FIFA is concerned, we have our doping programs, they are very strict and very firm and they apply whatever.”

Seven American players to watch in final weeks of transfer window

De La Fuente to Girona
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There have been a number of USMNT players and U.S.-eligible players to make moves this transfer window, headlined by Weston McKennie’s move to Juventus and Antonee Robinson heading to Fulham.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

There’s also a report that Reggie Cannon’s move from FC Dallas to Portugal’s Boavista could be a prelude to Ligue 1 football. Cannon could join USMNT forward Timothy Weah at Lille.

Longtime USMNT men Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams are still looking for homes as free agents, but we’re only listing potential transfer targets currently with clubs. We’ve also neglected players who may well be seeking moves if we could not find any linked destinations (like Club Brugge goalkeeper Ethan Horvath).

Sergino Dest, Ajax

Let’s start with the one we’ve followed the closest in recent weeks.

This one is still not announced, but the 19-year-old’s courtship by Ronald Koeman at Barcelona and Hansi Flick at Bayern Munich has reportedly tilted toward the latter with an announcement possibly coming as early as Monday.

The latest report is that Bayern feels “betrayed” that Ajax agreed with the Bavarians but eventually pointed Dest in the direction of Ronald Koeman and Barca.

Dest was named Ajax Young Talent of the Year last season and a member of the 2020 Golden Boy shortlist.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tottenham Hotspur

The powerful 22-year-old is a good passer out of the back but has not been able to earn first team time in North London.

Carter-Vickers has taken five loans in the Championship and had his best stint yet in helping Luton Town make a great escape. Bournemouth has been linked with Carter-Vickers this month.

Matt Miazga, Chelsea

The 25-year-old move from New York Red Bulls to Stamford Bridge in 2016 and almost immediately played the only two Premier League matches of his career.

He’s since been loaned to Vitesse Arnhem twice, Nantes, and Reading twice. There have been rumors of a loan to a fourth nation with Turkey’s Trabzonspor.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United

Now third choice at right back — Steve Bruce used the 27-year-old at left back in the League Cup last week — Yedlin’s future is said to be troubled by his big Premier League wages.

A move to MLS would see him as a Designated Player at right back, a rarity, while The Athletic’s Chris Waugh says Besiktas has interest but the rub is that it could require the Champions League outfit to sell another American…

Tyler Boyd, Besiktas

The only reason the newly-minted USMNT man would be sold is if the Turkish side needs his international slot to acquire reinforcements at another position.

The 25-year-old winger has started all five of Besiktas’ matches this season between domestic play, Europa League, and the Champions League. He’s scored once, bringing his total with the Turkish side to four goals in 33 outings.

Where would he go? Doubtful he wants to go anywhere, but Rizespor has been mentioned. Besiktas’ other foreigners include two Canadians in Cyle Larin and Atiba Hutchinson.

Konrad De La Fuente, Barcelona

If Dest goes to Barca he could just miss 19-year-old De La Fuente, though he won’t be difficult to locate.

De La Fuente has been linked with a loan to Catalan neighbors Girona, who play in Spain’s second tier and have been a notable spot for Man City loanees in recent years (Douglas Luiz, Pablo Maffeo).

But a report says Koeman wants to keep the teen, who is well-wanted, and if he does go it would be to a top-flight side.

Brenden Aaronson, Philadelphia Union

A report from clued-in MLSSoccer.com says the USMNT midfielder is set to join Jesse Marsch at Red Bull Salzburg pending a medical.

The 19-year-old would stay with the Union for the rest of the 2020 season. He’s also been linked with Celtic.

Liverpool – Arsenal: How to watch, updates, odds

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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.

Heading to half time Liverpool lead 2-1 as Alexandre Lacazette’s opener was canceled out by Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson.

STREAM LIVE LIVERPOOL – ARSENAL

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.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

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


Team news (INJURY REPORT)

Liverpool have center back Joe Gomez back fit after he missed the win at Chelsea last weekend, while this game will come too soon for fellow defender Joel Matip and captain Jordan Henderson is also not fit to feature. Thiago Alcantara is not in the squad due to an minor injury, while new signing Diogo Jota is on the bench.

Arsenal have Kieran Tierney back fit for this game, which is a big boost. Gabriel, Bukayo Saka, Dani Ceballos and Sead Kolasinac all drop to the bench as Tierney, Mohamed Elneny, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and David Luiz start. Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers, Gabriel Martinelli and Shkodran Mustafi all remain out injured.


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

Aston Villa hammer sloppy Fulham

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Fulham – Aston Villa was ridiculously one-sided as Villa won 3-0 and barely got out of second gear at Craven Cottage.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Early goals from Jack Grealish and Connor Hourihane set Villa on their way and Tyrone Mings sealed the win early in the second half.

Fulham were woeful defensively from start to finish as they’ve now lost all three of their games back in the Premier League and have conceded 10 goals in the process. Villa have won both of their opening games without conceding.


3 things we learned: Fulham – Aston Villa

1. Fulham’s defense all over the place: Denis Odoi, Tim Ream and Michael Hector were the center backs in a three-man central defense and Fulham were all over the place. Players were all pointing at one another and nobody seemed to know what was going on. Scott Parker was distraught on the sidelines as Fulham are making the exact same defensive mistakes which saw them relegated in 2018-19. Their transfer policy has been different this time around but the way Fulham are playing is eerily similar. Obviously, they cannot keep conceding three goals a game.

2. Grealish dazzles as Watkins gives Villa new dimension: What more can we say about Grealish? After signing a new long-term contract at Villa he seems to be playing with the weight of expectation on his shoulders, just like he did at the end of last season. With Ollie Watkins (who deserved a goal and went close on multiple occasions) stretching the Fulham back line, that allowed Grealish, John McGinn and others plenty of space to operate it. They made the most of it.

3. Mitrovic will get chances: Even though Fulham looked awful at the back, they whipped in some great crosses from the flanks and Mitrovic, as always, was a handful. At some point Fulham will be better going for it in games and winning 3-2 and 4-3. They have more of a chance of staying in the Premier League if they attack compared to trying to sit back deeper and being more defensive.

Man of the Match: Jack Grealish – Scored early, involved in the second and always a threat. Odoi will be having many a nightmare about Grealish.


Aston Villa got off to the best possible start as a lovely ball over the top from John McGinn found Grealish and he dinked the ball past Areola and in.

Fulham’s defense was totally caught out as Parker seethed in his technical area and soon he was even angrier. Watkins played in Grealish down the left and he played it to McGinn who tapped the ball to Hourihane to slot home and make it 2-0.

The hosts got the ball wide on plenty of occasions and whipped crosses in for Mitrovic but Villa dealt with that threat easily and always looked dangerous when going forward. Watkins wasted a few good chances.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

At the start of the second half Villa went 3-0 up as Mings timed his run to perfection to prod home a free kick as Fulham’s defending was once again all over the place.

McGinn was denied by Areola as Villa were cutting through Fulham like a knife through hot butter time and time again.

It looked like Fulham were handed a path back into the game as Emiliano Martinez dropped a cross and Decordova Reid tapped home but VAR was used as Mitrovic pushed Ezri Konsa as the ball came in.

Grealish missed a good chance as Villa continued to create openings with Mings also going close and Joe Bryan clipped the crossbar at the other end as Martinez pulled off a good save.

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

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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

Scott Parker makes three changes as Tom Cairney, Tim Ream and Bobby Decordova-Reid start.

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

Villa are unchanged from the team which beat Sheffield United last time out.


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.

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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