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Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Manchester City


Pep time has arrived.

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Guardiola is deemed to be the final piece in the jigsaw for Sheikh Mansour’s grand project at Manchester City. Regarded as the best coach in the world, Guardiola has succeeded at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, winning 21 trophies over seven seasons as a manager.

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The legendary Spanish coach will lock horns with Jose Mourinho in Manchester as their mouth-watering rivalry continues. Guardiola will have to adapt to English soccer but he’s already been given big money to spend this summer and his new-look City side is starting to gel. His main aim will be to succeed in Europe but he will also be tasked with bringing another PL title to the Etihad. Basically, City has to play in a stylish way and win every single trophy out there. No pressure, Pep…

With Leroy Sane arriving and John Stones reportedly on the way, City will have a much younger feel to their team this season and Guardiola has already singled out individuals in preseason for not being fit enough as well as banning pizza and having everyone on a strict diet. He’s not messing around and his strict rules aren’t for everyone but it certainly gets results.

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City will sweep all before them and win the title at a canter because… This is Guardiola and City will spend whatever to make sure he’s a success. They may not clean up this season but over the next few years Guardiola has the chance to build a dynasty at the Etihad. He’s a tremendous coach with a superb record of making young players better.

Actually, City will just struggle to finish in top four: It could take Guardiola some time to get used to the pace and power of the PL week in, week out. This will be a new challenge for him so let’s see how quickly the players take to his methods. This may be more difficult than most people think.

Best Possible XI

—– Hart —–

— Sagna — Kompany — Stones (?) — Clichy —

—– Fernandinho — Gundogan ——

— Sane — Silva — De Bruyne —

—– Aguero —–

Transfers in: Leroy Sane ($49 million, Schalke 04), Nolito ($18.4 million, Celta Vigo), Ilkay Gundogan ($26.7  million, Borussia Dortmund), Aaron Mooy (Free, Melbourne City FC), Oleksandr Zinchenko ($2.2 million, FC Ufa)

Transfers out: Martin Demichelis, Richard Wright (Both released)

Last season: City faded badly and finished in fourth place last season, just securing a spot in the UEFA Champions League playof round ahead of Manchester United. Manuel Pellegrini announced he was leaving in January and Guardiola’s appointment was also announced to add a sense of transition over the second half of the campaign. City still won the Capital One Cup and reached the UCL semifinals for the first-time in their history (losing to eventual winners Real Madrid 1-0 on aggregate) as Pellegrini left with his head held high.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Star player: Sergio Aguero – He is the main jewel in City’s glittering crown. Aguero has scored 102 PL goals in 150 PL games for City since arriving in 2012. The Argentina is a predator and with Kevin De Bruyne, Sane and David Silva feeding him chances, there’s every chance he will break through the 30-goal mark in the PL. At 28, he’s entering his prime. Now, he just needs a season without injuries to smash records.

Coach’s corner: Guardiola is the man who will take City to the next level. At least, that’s the plan. He has never finished outside of the top two of each domestic season he has managed and he has never not made at least the semifinals of the UCL. He has an imperious record at both Barca and Bayern but this is his biggest challenge yet. And he knows it. Guardiola’s fluid passing system and insistence on winning the ball back within six seconds from the opposition means this City squad must be fitter than any other team in the PL. That could take a while so patient will be needed from City’s loyal, but expectant, fans.

SHENZHEN, CHINA - JULY 27: Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola attends a press conference for 2016 International Champions Cup match between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund at Shenzhen Stadium on July 27, 2016 in Shenzhen, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

PST predicts: If John Stones arrives and Guardiola can mold him into the defensive lynchpin he’s had at previous clubs then that will make a huge difference for City. Going forward they have an embarrassment of riches and should score goals for fun. Question marks around Hart in goal and the fitness issues plaguing captain Vincent Kompany are the biggest concern for City but if Guardiola can get the balance right then there’s no reason why City can’t win the title. They have the players and now the manager to dominate the PL.

Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

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Christian Pulisic is the best American soccer player in the world.

Of this, there is little debate.

But there is a debate to who is second, third, and well down the line, and we’ve got our last chance to really assess the full crop with Major League Soccer now out of season for a few months.

[ USMNT: Most to gain/lose from November ]

Let’s set some ground rules:

  • The ranking is meant to illustrate who would be most likely to positively affect a USMNT match, regardless of manager or teammates, right now.
  • Health doesn’t matter to our rankings if a current injury isn’t one which could drastically alter the player’s skill set moving forward.
  • Age/potential/experience doesn’t matter either, at least not much; It’s how likely you are to contribute to the team if put on the field right now. Obviously Chris Richards of Bayern Munich II is a better long-term prospect than 32-year-old Tim Ream, but most would rather have the Fulham man in a big spot right now.

Top 25 USMNT players – November 2019

*not currently a part of USMNT squad due to injury
**not currently a part of USMNT squad due to coach’s decision

  1. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea*
  2. Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig*
  3. John Brooks, Wolfsburg
  4. Weston McKennie, Schalke
  5. Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf
  6. Sergino Dest, Ajax
  7. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
  8. Matt Miazga, Reading (on loan from Chelsea)**
  9. Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
  10. Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (on loan from Man City)*
  11. DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
  12. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC*
  13. Tim Ream, Fulham
  14. Timothy Weah, Lille*
  15. Julian Green, Greuther Furth**
  16. Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
  17. Ike Opara, Minnesota United**
  18. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC*
  19. Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach**
  20. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (on loan from Spurs)**
  21. Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
  22. Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy
  23. Miles Robinson, Atlanta United*
  24. Paul Arriola, DC United
  25. Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Next up, established: Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Bill Hamid (DC United).

Next up, youth: Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona U19), Alex Mendez (Ajax U19), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund U19), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg U19), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Donovan Pines (DC United), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

Leaked image shows big fines that face Chelsea rule breakers

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Frank Lampard‘s ready to go into his players’ wallets if they disobey his laws.

A posted list of fines for Chelsea players, signed by the manager, has been confirmed and we would completely understand if the Blues were on time all the time.

[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]

A player is fined about $640 per minute he’s late to a meeting, and if he misses a practice, well, wow: The fine is nearly $26,000.

If a phone rings during a meeting, that’s gonna be $1,300.

And if any fine isn’t paid within two weeks, it doubles! Seems like Christian Pulisic and his teammates will have a lot of alarms set on their phones.

From The Telegraph:

Lampard has also banned agents from the training ground, unless on official business, and players must inform the club if they intend to travel abroad, even on scheduled days off.

The average Chelsea salary last season was approximately $6.6 million, meaning players make on average $127,000 per week.

The full list of fines is below.

Kompany: Liverpool’s Premier League title ghosts should ‘be to City’s advantage’

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Vincent Kompany says history could help Manchester City climb back into the Premier League title race even after his former team dropped nine points back of first place Liverpool.

[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]

Now at Anderlecht, the center back also said history might’ve played a role in City’s 3-1 setback at Anfield. In a rare bit of explicit honesty, the often interesting Kompany said that players do deal with demons of a club’s past.

“We always struggle at Anfield,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “I said that on Super Sunday, you’re fighting 25 years of not winning at Anfield and that’s difficult, it’s two games in one game: You’re playing a great team and you’re fighting history.”

“Flip it around and the same will happen for Liverpool. They will fight the history of not winning the league for 30 years. That should be to City’s advantage I still think.”

Do you buy that? Most of the buzz around the Premier League is that this Liverpool is a different team than even the dominant one of last season, and City has suffered big injury problems. The Reds players almost went out of their way last year to say they weren’t worried about blowing their table lead last season (which was bigger, later in the season).

Kompany also said that he believes City doesn’t need to add a center back in January, which is bonkers unless he’s coming back, but the Belgian has proven time and again that he’s one of the better minds in the game.

The guy did title  his MBA dissertation, “How professional football clubs in the Premier League can benefit from home game advantage and achieve game-changing levels of improvement” after all. Then again, I’m not sure any of our dissertations on the same topic would’ve been approved had we done that.

Liverpool’s Salah to miss Egypt’s first two AFCON qualifiers

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Good news for Liverpool, not so much for Egypt.

Mohamed Salah will not suit up for the Pharoahs this month as Egypt begins qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

[ MORE: Will Zlatan rejoin LA? ]

Salah has been dealing with ankle problems since a rough tackle from Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury, and it’s acting up following a tackle from Fernandinho in the Reds’ 3-1 defeat of Man City on Sunday.

Egypt needs Salah, but it’s no surprise he’s erring on the side of caution given the tumultuous relationship between the superstar and his country (and Liverpool’s status as a contender in five (!!) tournaments).

Salah, 27, has 41 goals in 67 caps. The next five leading active Egyptian scorers have a combined 31 goals in their careers over 284 caps. The youngest of those is Aston Villa’s Trezeguet (25), followed by Besiktas’ Mohamed Elneny (27).

Egypt are heavy favorites to finish in one of the top two spots and qualify for AFCON 2020, even with the injury. The 49th ranked Pharoahs (FIFA ranking) are in a group with Kenya (108), Togo (124) and Comoros (142).

Egypt hosts Kenya on Thursday to kick off qualification, and visits Comoros on Monday.