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England expects: This time, Three Lions must deliver

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NICE — It has been 10 long years since England last won a knockout game at a major tournament.

On Monday evening in Nice, Roy Hodgson’s side take on plucky Iceland and England know they simply must win.

[ MORE: Iceland ready to upset English idols ]

No excuses this time. They have got to get to the semifinals, at least, to deem this tournament a success and on paper they are well capable of doing that.

Strolling around Nice on Sunday night before the game, England’s supporters crowded in huge groups outside bars singing “Don’t take me home” and hollering about how “Jamie Vardy‘s on fire, your defense is terrified!” in a reworking of the Will Grigg chant.

They aren’t ready to leave France but speaking to them, the same lingering doubts creep up in their mind. People joked and rolled their eyes about going out to Iceland.

However, some were optimistic: “Strange things happen in football. You just wonder, with us exiting the EU last week, could we go and win it this year? Who am I kidding, we will probably lose tomorrow!”

Ah, there it is. That wonderful glimmer of hope curtailed with a moment of self deprecation. England’s fans are getting very good at that.

Yet, this is the best squad of players England has had in a long time.

Yes, they struggled to score in the group stages with Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane and others misfiring. But they are creating chances and look dangerous in attack and solid in defense and Hodgson has been working with this group for four years. This is the tournament he will be judged on as his contracts expires following EURO 2016. If England lose on Monday, Hodgson will be out and a whole new era under yet another manager will begin.

[ MORE: Rooney not underestimating Iceland ]

They are on the tougher side of the bracket at EURO 2016 after finishing second in their group and if they get past Iceland they will face France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis this Sunday. Then, if they get past France, they will face either Germany, Spain or Italy in the semifinal. England, as always, will have to do things the hard way but if they beat Iceland then seeing what France have put together so far in this tournament, the Three Lions should not be afraid of what the hosts have to offer.

England is equipped with the youngest average team at EURO 2016 and they should have no fear in letting their nation down.

Since David Beckham curled in a free kick in Stuttgart to beat Ecuador 1-0 in a Round of 16 game at the 2006 World Cup, England’s tournament record in the knockout rounds isn’t pretty. They lost to Portugal, on penalty kicks, in the 2006 World Cup quarterfinals. They didn’t even reach EURO 2008. They lost 4-1 to Germany in the Round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup. Then they were knocked out by Italy on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of EURO 2012 and embarrassed at the 2014 World Cup as they didn’t make it out of the group.

We all know England’s one and only major trophy arrived during the 1966 World Cup they hosted but since then they’ve only reached two semifinals of a major tournament, losing both the 1990 World Cup semifinal and EURO 1996 semifinal to West Germany and Germany respectively… on penalty kicks. Of course.

Enough heartbreak, England. Now it is time to deliver.

No. 34 ranked Iceland, the darlings of EURO 2016, have excelled in their first-ever major tournament and aren’t ready to go home either. They will sit back, soak up the pressure and look to set pieces to find a way through. England is the heavy favorites and they know it. The pressure is mounting on Hodgson, his captain Wayne Rooney and others as the nation expects a comfortable win at the Stade de Nice.

With options in attack, Hodgson has to go for it. Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge, Kane, Rooney, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford… the list goes on. England have to attack and bury Iceland early in the game.

It won’t be easy. Just like England’s other three games in the tournament so far, it will be tight and tense as opponents know just how fluid and dangerous they are in attack. Iceland won’t chase the game but England should.

What have they got to lose at this point? After years of underachievement, nothing.

As thousands of Englishmen wake up along the Promenade des Anglais in sunny Nice on Monday morning, they hope things will change. They hope they will see an England team grasp the moment and go for glory.

“You just get the sense were due to give someone a hiding” I overhead another England fan say at a a packed bar in central Nice. Given the chances they’ve created, and missed, so far, they certainly are due a glut of goals in this tournament.

Still, there will be plenty of worried faces as they chew on their croissants or top up their tans on the pebbly beach before the game. The kick off is 9 p.m. local time and they have all day to worry and fret about the outcome.

No matter what, England’s fans will continue to follow their team around the globe but now their team needs to give them a reason for optimism.

After decades of disappointment, England must deliver in a knockout game.

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

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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

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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.