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Premier League preseason roundup: Wins for Liverpool, Palace, Swansea

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10 Premier League teams were in action on Saturday as many completed their preseason schedules ahead of the new season kicking off on Aug. 12.

[ MORE: Every PL season preview ] 

There were marquee wins for Liverpool and Crystal Palace, while plenty of other PL sides tasted narrow defeats as they get their house in order ahead of the long, hard season ahead.

Below is a brief recap on every game which took place on Saturday involving PL teams.


Barcelona 0-4 Liverpool

Sadio Mane tore Barca apart as Liverpool’s high-pressing game stunned the Spanish giants. Mane scored in the first half after good link-up play between Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino, and his cross at the start of the second half led to Javier Mascherano knocking into his own net. Divock Origi added a third after another Barca giveaway and Marko Grujic headed home a sublime fourth in front of early 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool has one more preseason game, playing Mainz 05 on Sunday in Germany.

Crystal Palace 3-1 Valencia

Connor Wickham scored twice and Mile Jedinak added a penalty kick as Palace made it seven wins from eight preseason games. Wickham struck twice in the first half, while Jedinak made it 3-0 before La Liga outfit Valencia pulled a goal back through Jaume Domenech late on.

Swansea City 1-0 Stade Rennais

Francesco Guidolin‘s side completed their preseason schedule with five wins from six as they beat Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais at the Liberty Stadium. Sub Jay Fulton scored the only goal of the game as new signing Fernando Llorente made his debut for the Swans.

Everton 0-1 Espanyol

The Toffees lost 1-0 to La Liga outfit Espanyol in their final preseason friendly. New signing Idrissa Gueye gave away a PK just four minutes into his debut and Leonardo Baptistao slammed home the PK. Everton had a PK of their own in the first half but Ross Barkley‘s effort was saved. A plus point for Everton was skipper Phil Jagielka returning from injury a week before the new season.

Hamburg 1-0 Stoke City

Mark Hughes fielded a strong Stoke side in his final preseason game before the new season, with only Marko Arnautovic not featuring as he recovers from a slight knock. The only goal of the game in Germany arrived early in the second half as Michael Gregoritsch reacted quickest for Hamburger SV. New Egyptian signing Ramadan Sobhi started wih Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan Krkic in the three attacking midfield positions behind Mame Diouf. USMNT star Geoff Cameron started at right back for Stoke and got a solid 70 minutes of action under his belt, while Bobby Wood also appeared for Hamburg after his transfer to the Bundesliga side this summer.

Hull City 1-2 Torino

Managerless Hull City lost to Serie A outfit Torino in Austria in their final preseason fixture. Caretaker boss Mike Phelan could be in charge for their opening game back in the PL next weekend against Leicester but there’s certainly plenty of work to do for the newly-promoted Tigers. Belotti opened the scoring for Torino but Abel Hernandez equalized for Hull who are short on players with no new signings this summer. Bovo supplied a stunning winner late on to hand Torino the victory.

Real Mallorca 1-0 West Brom 

The Baggies lost their final preseason game away to Spanish second division side Real Mallorca. The only goal of the game came from Brandon as Tony Pulis‘ men went through their paces ahead of their opener against Crystal Palace next weekend.

Watford 2-2 Lorient

Walter Mazzarri‘s side completed their preseason with a draw against Ligue 1 side Lorient. Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo but scored for the Hornets but they were cancelled out by Toure  and Philippoteaux for the French side. Watford gets its new PL campaign underway against Southampton next Saturday.

Angers 0-1 Bournemouth

Marc Pugh‘s fine strike after two minutes saw Bourenmouth beat Ligue 1 side Angers in France to round off their seven-game preseason unbeaten. The Cherries face Manchester United next Sunday in their opening PL game of the season.

Middlesbourgh 0-0 Real Sociedad

PL new boys drew against the La Liga outfit as Aitor Karanka‘s side gave home debuts to five new players at the Riverside Stadium. USMNT’s Brad Guzan did not feature,

Burning question: What is the best formation?

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be asking some burning questions we have when it comes to the beautiful game and the first one focuses on something we all love to debate: formations.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release a burning question, as now seems like a good time to take stock of where the game is at and take a look at what we love and what we’d like to change as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Next question: What is the best formation to use?


Most coaches will tell you when asked that formations do not matter. We all know they do.

3-4-3? 4-4-2? 4-5-1? 4-3-3? 3-5-2? 4-1-4-1? 4-3-2-1? 4-2-2-2?

Which formation do you think is the best? Does a formation depend mostly on the players you have at your disposal or your preferred style of play? Most likely it is a combination of both but coaches often have a preferred formation and stick with it no matter what. Their philosophy and ideas mean everything to them.

I’m torn between 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 but I’d probably just about go for 4-3-3 because it is so well balanced. In an attacking team like Man City or Liverpool it works really well because essentially it gives you four defenders back at all times with one deeper central midfielder, two center backs and one full back sitting back.

When teams are under pressure the 4-3-3 then turns into more of a 4-5-1 formation with one central striker saying high and the two wingers tracking back and providing cover. Speaking about cover, 3-4-3 allows one center back to push forward and always have two center backs in defense, while full backs are able to push forward which is particularly important in the modern game. My main problem with 3-4-3 is that often you don’t need three center backs if teams sit back.

4-4-1-1 is solid and flexible as the player in the No. 10 position essentially becomes a striker but there just seems to be more danger from wide players when teams are set up in a 4-3-3 system because their first thought is to attack and they have the added cover of a central midfielder tucked in halfway behind them.

Simply put, I love 4-3-3. You may love something totally different, so let us know in the comments section below which formation is your favorite.

Chelsea’s Willian eager to stay in Premier League

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Chelsea and Brazil star Willian has revealed he is eager to stay in the Premier League, even if that’s not with Chelsea.

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Willian, 31, has revealed that contract talks have stopped for now during the suspension for the coronavirus pandemic, and his future is uncertain as his current deal at Chelsea expires this summer.

The likes of Tottenham and Arsenal have been linked with a move for Willian, who almost joined Spurs in 2013 but instead joined Chelsea in a last-second change of heart.

Willian told ESPN Brazil  that he wants to stay in the Premier League and he feels he is now at his peak.

“My wish is to stay in the Premier League, but I’m not ruling out playing in other leagues,” Willian said. “I’m going to play until the end of the season and then see what happens. I’m very used to life in England. I’m not thinking about going back to Corinthians at the moment. My aim is to stay in Europe. I feel that I’m at my peak at the moment. Players improve throughout their careers and I think I’m currently at my peak.”

It is not secret that Mourinho and Willian get on very well, which will intrigue Tottenham’s fans…

“I got on very well with Mourinho, learnt a lot under him and we’ve remained friends,” Willian said. “We still message each other a lot, but I don’t see him often. I haven’t managed to meet up with him since he came back to London.”

His form for Chelsea has been a little erratic this season but Frank Lampard has spoken fondly about Willian time and time again and it is quite clear Chelsea would like to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge for at least another season.

With so many young wingers around (Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount to name a few), Willian can help ease them into the first team but there’s no doubting plenty of Premier League clubs will be eager to snap him up on a free transfer this summer, or whenever the transfer window reopens.

Tottenham would seem like a particularly good fit for Willian. He would link up with Jose Mourinho, the manage who bought him to Chelsea, and his experience would be vital at Spurs as they aim to finally secure some silverware. Tottenham need to prioritize buying new defenders but if Willian is available for free, you can’t turn that deal down, even if he turned Spurs and Daniel Levy down in 2013…

Arsenal would make sense too but you’d have to say Tottenham are the frontrunners given the connection between Willian and Mourinho. Of course, he could stay at Chelsea, but with Pedro also out of contract it does feel like a changing of the guard as Lampard will put his faith totally in new signing Hakim Ziyech, Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi next season.

With $2.7 billion reserves, FIFA has ‘duty’ to aid virus-hit soccer

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FIFA says it has a “duty” to use its vast financial reserves to assist a football industry ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic wiping out games and creating unexpected economic hardship in the world’s biggest sport.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The spread of COVID-19 has impacted the wealthiest clubs, with Barcelona and Juventus players taking wage cuts; those in smaller countries, with Slovakian champion Zilina entering bankruptcy; and national football federations, with Uruguay furloughing hundreds of staff.

Having amassed reserves it last reported at $2.745 billion, FIFA has the resources to give much-needed financial help to the game at many levels. Now the organization has provided more details around the need agreed two weeks ago by FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his vice presidents to explore a “support fund” for the sport.

“FIFA is in a strong financial situation and it’s our duty to do the utmost to help them in their hour of need,” world football’s governing body said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football.”

FIFA is exploring the mechanism to provide the financial lifeline to the football industry with the six regional confederations and member associations to ensure there is an announcement “in the near future.”

“The football community around the world is experiencing, to a greater or lesser extent, serious financial problems on account of the coronavirus outbreak,” FIFA said. “This threatens to disrupt and impair the ability of FIFA’s member associations and other football organizations such as leagues and clubs to develop, finance and run football activities at all levels of the game, including professional, non-professional, youth and grassroots.

“It is foreseen that in many parts of the world a considerable number of persons involved in football including both men and women players will be left in extremely difficult economic conditions.”

FIFA already operates a “Forward” development program to redistribute its wealth to member associations. In the 2015-18 cycle, investment dedicated to the scheme was $1.079 billion, of which $832 million had been approved and committed to member associations, confederations or regions, according to the last published financial results.

Premier League TV schedule: April 4-5

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We have 16 hours of Premier League programming coming your way this weekend and here is your TV schedule for April 4-5

This Saturday and Sunday we will have eight hours of programming coming your way each morning from 6 a.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN on your TV.

With the current 2019-20 Premier League season suspended until April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have a lot of programming treats planned for you in the coming weeks and will keep up fully updated with a TV schedule posted every single week.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ]

Remember, during the season you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today, Sky Sports News, NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Below is your full Premier League TV schedule and stream links for Saturday and Sunday as we have classic matches, Goal of the Season, Behind the Badge, a focus on Liverpool v. Man City and much more coming up.


FULL TV SCHEDULE FOR NBCSN

Saturday, April 4
6-6:30 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Matt Le Tissier [STREAM]
6:30-7 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – John Barnes [STREAM]
7-7:30 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Sol Campbell [STREAM]
7:30-8 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Ryan Giggs [STREAM]
8-9 a.m. ET: PL Goals of the Season: 2001-02 [STREAM]
9-10 a.m. ET: PL Goals of the Season: 2002-03 [STREAM]
10-10:30 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Liverpool v. Tottenham, Feb. 2015 [STREAM]
10:30-11 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Chelsea v. Man United, Feb. 2012 [STREAM]
11-11:30 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Tottenham v. Chelsea, Jan.  2015 [STREAM]
11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET: Classic Match: Man United v. Arsenal, Aug., 2011 [STREAM]
12-12:30 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 1 [STREAM]
12:30-  p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 2 [STREAM]
1-1:30 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 3 [STREAM]
1:30-2 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 4 [STREAM]

Sunday, April 5
6-7 a.m. ET: PL season in review 1998-99 [STREAM]
7-8 a.m. ET: PL season in review 1999-00 [STREAM]
8-10 a.m. ET: Match of the Week, Man City v. QPR, May 2012 [STREAM]
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET: Match of the Week, Everton v. Liverpool, Nov. 2013 [STREAM]
12 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET: Match of the Week, Chelsea v. Arsenal, Oct. 2014 [STREAM]