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PL preseason roundup: Arsenal’s injury crisis starts early; Costa scores for Chelsea

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A roundup of Sunday’s preseason action involving Premier League sides…

[ MORE: Every Premier League season preview ]

Arsenal 3-2 Manchester City

The 2016-17 Premier League season is yet to even kick off, and Arsenal already have a budding injury crisis on their hands. Gabriel Paulista was stretchered off during second-half stoppage time of the Gunners’ 3-2 victory over Manchester City in Gothenburg, Sweden. Per Mertesacker underwent knee surgery last month and could miss the rest of 2016, which means Arsene Wenger will have to either rush Laurent Koscielny back from his post-EURO 2016 break, or start 20-year-old Rob Holding at center back in next Sunday’s season opener against Liverpool (11 a.m. ET, Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck will also be unavailable next weekend, while Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey are both expected to be available after logging 78 and 62 minutes in Sunday’s game, respectively.

Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott and Chuba Akpom did the scoring for Arsenal on Sunday. Sergio Aguero and Kelechi Iheanacho bagged the goals for Man City, who kick off their season next Saturday, at home against Sunderland (12:30 p.m. ET, Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Werder Bremen 2-4 Chelsea

Diego Costa might stay at Chelsea, or he might not. We may have to wait all the way until the transfer deadline for a definitive answer, but in the meantime, Costa is back in action with his (for now) Chelsea teammates, and scoring goals. The Brazilian-turned-Spanish striker made it 3-1 just before halftime of Sunday’s friendly against Bundesliga side Werder Bremen. Eden Hazard and Oscar each scored inside 10 minutes before Claudio Pizarro halved the lead from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute.

Lennart Thy made it 3-2 not long after the hour mark, and Pedro restored the two-goal lead in the 90th minute. Antonio Conte will make his Premier League debut when Chelsea welcome West Ham United to Stamford Bridge next Monday (3 p.m. ET, Watch live on USA and online via NBCSports.com).

VELDEN, AUSTRIA - JULY 20: Bertrand Traore (C) of Chelsea celebrate scoring a goal with the Diego Costa (R) near goalkeeper Alexander Kofler (L) of WAC RZ Pellets during the international friendly match between WAC RZ Pellets and Chelsea F.C. at Worthersee Stadion on July 20, 2016 in Velden, Austria. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
(Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

West Ham United 2-3 Juventus

Speaking of West Ham, the Hammers fell to Juventus, the five-time defending Serie A champions, in their first game inside their new home ground, the Olympic Stadium, on Sunday. Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic made it 2-0 after 21 minutes. Andy Carroll bagged a brace either side of halftime to level the score, but Simone Zaza (whose EURO 2016 penalty kick still hasn’t landed) hit the winner in the 85th minute.

Mainz 4-0 Liverpool

Liverpool, who also played on Saturday, were rolled by Jurgen Klopp‘s “other” former club, Mainz. The majority of expected starters featured in Saturday’s demolition of Barcelona, thus did not see action 24 hours later.

Elsewhere in preseason action

Southampton 1-0 Athletic Bilbao

Josef Martinez scores 2 more in win, including sensational solo work

AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Josef Martinez scored his 25th and 26th goals of the MLS season, and if he challenges his MLS record of 31, he may also stare down soccer royalty.

The Venezuelan striker scored two more on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati in Ohio to give him goals in 15-straight league contests.

He now has 76 goals in 80 MLS games, which is good.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

On the season, he’s six goals shy of matching the Major League Soccer record he set with last season’s 31 regular season goals.

According to MLSSoccer.com, he’s six games shy of tying Lionel Messi’s world record for consecutive league matches with a goal.

Even that’s a little tricky: Messi scored in 21-straight games in which he was eligible for selection, but 19-straight before missing two matches for injury. In that remarkable run of 21, he also had a run of six-straight braces.

It’s not really worth it to attempt to compare the two streaks: If Martinez gets to 21 (or even 19), it’s amazing stuff and worth celebrating on a worldwide level. Everyone has a bad game every now and again, but Martinez still finds the score sheet in ’em.

Look at the magician’s tricks he used for this one, including a back heel first touch and two freeze-frame cut moves. That’s not even mentioning the finish.

USWNT announces final matches of World Cup-winning year

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CHICAGO (AP) The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team will wrap up 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the U.S. will face Sweden in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7 and Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The team is wrapping up its World Cup victory tour next month with matches against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

Coach Jill Ellis is stepping down following the match in Chicago after leading the team to a pair of consecutive World Cup titles.

The United States is 15-1-2 this year and currently riding a 14-game winning streak.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Mane to get big raise, Liverpool contract through 2025

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Liverpool’s Senegalese sensation looks set to stay at Anfield deep into his 30s.

Sadio Mane is in talks with the Reds hierarchy over a new deal that will run through 2024-25, and pay him more than $15 million per season.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Mane, 27, currently has a deal through 2023, but surely wouldn’t mind a raise. And Liverpool will be happy to tie him down on Merseyside a bit longer.

He’s scored six times in seven matches this season, also grabbing an assist. That’s on a better pace than his 26 goals and five assists over 50 appearances in 2018/19.

Mane has 70 Premier League goals at the moment. Do you tip him to eclipse 100 while still at Anfield? 125?

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

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The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in Portugal to meet Braga, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow