Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Swansea

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They were a completely different team during the second half of the 2015/16 season, but can Swansea City duplicate its strong efforts in Francesco Guidolin‘s first full year?

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The Italian will have his work cut out for him with many of the Premier League’s top sides spending big dollars on well-known commodities. Swansea don’t have the luxury of spending big, which could very well hamper their chances of succeeding, but Guidolin has been in similar positions before in Italy and still found results.

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With a good assortment of defensive options and Polish keeper Lukasz Fabianski in net, the Swans should put out a strong lineup from a tactical perspective. The biggest questions will be where the production comes from up top.

Modou Barrow didn’t do much on loan the past two seasons, but appears to be getting more of a run out this season, while Andre Ayew will have a lot expected of him as he prepares to build off of a strong second season at the Liberty Stadium.

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Swans will challenge for top half placement: Andre Ayew was a strong addition last season, and the team has the pieces to put together a dangerous attack. Gylfi Sigurdsson is coming off of a fantastic summer with Iceland at EURO 2016, while steady options like Jefferson Montero and Wayne Routledge can give the Swans a boost in the midfield.

Most likely it’ll be a mid-table finish: Despite bringing back many of the same starters from a season ago, Van der Hoorn is one of the few additions that will contribute regularly for the Swans, and the team still lacks talent up front. Bafetimbi Gomis‘ loan move to France puts the side at a disadvantage, leaving major concerns up front as to where the goals will come from.


Best Possible XI

—– Fabianski —–

— Van der Hoorn — Taylor — Williams — Naughton —

— Fer — Sigurdsson —– Montero

 — Routledge — Ayew —

—– Barrow —–


Transfers inLeroy Fer ($6 million, QPR), Mike Van der Hoorn (Undisclosed, Ajax), Mark Birighitti (Free, Newcastle Jets), Tyler Reid (Undisclosed, Manchester United), George Byers (Free, Watford)

Transfers out:

Eder ($4 million, Lille), Alberto Paloschi ($7 million, Atalanta), Bafetimbi Gomis (Loan, Marseille), Kenji Gorre (Loan, Northampton), Kyle Bartley (Loan, Leeds), Raheem Hanley (Free, Northampton), Liam Shephard (Loan, Yeovil), Oliver Davies (Loan, Kilmarnock), Matt Grimes (Loan, Leeds)

Last season: A 12th place finish that largely went unrecognized by many wasn’t what Swansea wanted in 2015/16, but their overall performance was admirable. Wins against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United at home were among the most notable efforts from the Swans, while the club also secured victories against Arsenal and West Ham on the road.

Star player: Andre Ayew — With 12 goals and four assists during the 2015/16 season, Ayew proved his worth to the Swans, and supporters will be holding their breath that the Ghanaian can duplicate his efforts again this season. While he isn’t always the most exciting player to watch, Ayew always puts in a solid shift and does the little things going both ways. Swansea will likely go as far as the 26-year-old takes them.

SWANSEA, WALES - SEPTEMBER 19: Andre Ayew of Swansea City and James McCarthy of Everton compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Everton at the Liberty Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Swansea, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Coach’s corner: After taking over during the second half of the season for the Swans in 2016, Francesco Guidolin provided a noticeable spark to his players.

Taking results in 11 of their 16 matches, Guidolin and his side were a significantly different team over the second portion of the PL campaign, giving supporters and the club confidence going into the future.

While Guidolin has previously worked extensively in Italy’s Serie A, the former Hellas Verona midfielder is looking to do something a bit risky in the Premier League; spend as little as possible and grind out results.

SWANSEA, WALES - FEBRUARY 13:  Francesco Guidolin, Manager of Swansea City looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Southampton at Liberty Stadium on February 13, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

PST predicts: As much as it would be nice to see Swansea make a jump into the next tier of the Premier League, the club’s offseason moves keep them as a very limited squad. While players like Ayew, Montero, and even Modou Barrow will perform well against lower half opponents, it will be hard to get consistent production out of them when it comes to facing the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United on a regular basis. A mid-table finish will likely be in this team’s future for the second straight season.

USWNT star Sam Mewis signs for Man City

Sam Mewis
Man City
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Sam Mewis to Manchester City is a huge move both for the USWNT star and the WSL club.

Mewis, 27, was a star for the USWNT as they won the 2019 Women’s World Cup and the central midfielder has left the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL to sign for the FA Women’s Super League side in England.

Speaking about her move to Man City, a club among one of the most ambitious in the women’s game, Mewis is delighted to start a new adventure after three seasons with NC Courage.

“I’m so happy to have everything sorted. The opportunity came along at a really great time – as soon as I heard about the chance of coming to play for Manchester City, I was immediately interested,” Mewis said. “The club is one of the best in the world and I’ve heard such good things about the women’s side as a whole and the incredible facilities. I’ve followed the men’s team too for a long time. This is a really cool, unique and amazing opportunity in my career and I’m so excited to come and see Manchester as a city, be a part of this incredible Club and hopefully help the team achieve their goals.”

Mewis follows in the footsteps of USWNT legend Carli Lloyd who played for Man City in recent seasons, while Canadian star Janine Beckie is also in City’s squad and England captain Steph Houghton is also the captain at City. The new WSL season in England kicks off on Sept. 5-6 and Man City are among the favorites to win it all in England and will also compete in the UEFA Champions League in 2020-21.

Man City battle with Chelsea each season to be crowned the WSL champions and the arrival of Mewis will give them a big boost towards becoming the dominant force in the women’s game in England. She is an unsung hero for the USWNT and has been instrumental in the NC Courage dominating the NWSL in recent seasons with back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019.

It will be intriguing to see if more USWNT players follow Sam Mewis to Manchester City, and other WSL clubs in England, in the coming months.

Report: Blaise Matuidi to sign for Inter Miami

Blaise Matuidi
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A report has stated that Blaise Matuidi will sign for Inter Miami from Juventus.

According to our partners at Sky Sport in Italy, the World Cup winner, 33, has signed a contract with Inter Miami, as the clubs have agreed the transfer and the medicals are now scheduled in order to complete the move.

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The French central midfielder has been linked with a move to Manchester United and plenty of other Premier League clubs in recent seasons, as he has been a consistent performer for Juventus as he won three-straight Serie A titles since joining from Paris Saint-Germain in 2017.

Blaise Matuidi would be a major coup for David Beckham’s Inter Miami and although they have been linked with several big-name forwards to help solve their lack of goals — Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Willian to name a few — this is a very smart pick-up.

Beckham knows Matuidi well from their time playing at PSG together and he’s a talented central midfielder who simply makes every player around him better.

We’ve seen that at PSG and more recently at Juventus and Matuidi isn’t the most glamorous player around but was a key cog in France winning the 2018 World Cup.

This is one of those deals which makes sense for everyone concerned.

Matuidi’s injury record has been very good and he’s the perfect type of player to help Inter Miami boss Diego Alonso instil a winning a mentality in his squad.

Inter Miami are serious about being a successful MLS team and their debut season has obviously been tough so far for many reasons as they’ve lost their opening five games and scored just three times.

This move is a smart one and there will no doubt be many more signings of the caliber of Matuidi arriving in the coming months and years. Miami do have one DP spot open so you’d expect Matuidi to take that position alongside Rodolfo Pizzaro and Matias Pellegrini.

Report: USMNT’s Robinson to sign for Sheffield United

Antonee Robinson
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Antonee Robinson looks to be heading to the Premier League, as the USMNT left back is closing in on a move to Sheffield United who have reportedly had a bid accepted.

Robinson, 23, has been sensational for Wigan Athletic in the second tier this season but due to Wigan going into administration, their 12-point penalty saw them relegated to the third-tier on the final day of the 2019-20 Championship season.

The Everton academy product, who joined Wigan permanently in the summer of 2019 after a successful loan spell, almost joined AC Milan in January but a medical uncovered a heart issue which required surgery and the deal fell through.

Robinson has recovered superbly from that setback and several Premier League clubs including West Brom, Newcastle, West Ham and Sheffield United were battling to sign him for $2.6 million.

Our partners in the UK at Sky Sports have more information on Robinson’s potential move to Sheffield United, as it appears he will join the Blades this week.

“Sheffield United have had a bid of around £2m accepted by Wigan for Antonee Robinson. The former Everton defender is expected to agree terms with the Yorkshire club and complete a deal this week.”

This would be a very, very good move for Robinson and this is the perfect Chris Wilder move.

He is an attacking left back who gets up and down the pitch well and in Sheffield United’s 3-4-3 formation he will be a very useful asset. Robinson will battle with long-term Blades left wing-back Enda Stevens for minutes but when he does play he will be encouraged to get forward and support attacks and link-up with those famous overlapping center backs.

Robinson will also be asked to improve his defensive capabilities and although he’s been a regular in the Championship, the step up to the Premier League and learning Sheffield United’s unique system will take a little time.

Sheffield United have a habit of picking up gems in the second and third tiers of the game and turning them into gems. USMNT fans will be hoping Robinson’s move to the Premier League sees him progress to the next level as he is the clear frontrunner to be the USA’s starting left back for many years to come.

WATCH: Fort Lauderdale striker scores screamer from half

Fort Lauderdale screamer
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Every goalkeeper could use a reminder to be wary of adventuring too far from his box, and USL League One provides us our latest lesson for backstops.

Ricky Lopez-Espin scored a terrific insurance goal for Fort Lauderdale CF on Saturday night, a marker which would stand as the difference in 2-1 defeat of Georgian outfit South Tormenta FC.

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The win pulls FLCF, first called Inter Miami II, off the bottom of the League One table early in this restarted season.

It was quite a hit, a turnover near midfield allowing Lopez-Espin the chance to spy the keeper off his line and rip a rocket out of reach.

Miami-born Lopez-Espin played college soccer at Creighton and was a Real Salt Lake draft pick. The 24-year-old played twice for RSL and later suited up for Real Monarchs and Lansing Ignite.