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Premier League preview: Stoke City vs. Manchester City

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  • Xherdan Shaqiri could miss out for Stoke
  • Stoke has not kept a clean sheet in 11 PL matches
  • Sergio Aguero is the top scorer in the PL for 2016

Sergio Aguero looks to follow-up his midweek hat-trick with a visit to the Britannia, Saturday at 8:00am E.T. live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

The Argentinian missed two early penalties in their Champions League playoff in Romania, but bounced back to score a hat-trick in the eventual 5-0 win over Seaua Bucharest. Aguero also scored in City’s 2-1 opening day win over Sunderland, and is in fine form.

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Raheem Sterling looks revitalized under new manager Pep Guardiola as well, with City’s attack off to a flying start. One man whose future is still wildly uncertain is goalkeeper Joe Hart, who will likely see the bench yet again with Guardiola favoring Willy Caballero. Hart’s future at City is shaky at best, with Claudio Bravo likely on his way in and the manager Friday saying that the England #1 could leave City if he wishes.

On the other side, Stoke managed a solid 1-1 draw on the road at pesky Middlesbrough in their opening game, but could be without midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri who picked up a calf injury in training and could miss out. His absence would be a major blow, with the Swiss international having scored a delicious free-kick to pull level with Boro last weekend.


What they’re saying

Guardiola on implementing his new system: “It’s not time to change a lot because I don’t want to confuse my players but I have to say I am impressed the most that they are so intelligent. The way we played in Bucharest was a high, high level. We did it so quickly. That’s because of the intelligence and quality of the players.”

Hughes on benching of Joe Hart: “From the outside, it seems the decision was made a long time ago and I’m sure they had discussions on all aspects of their team moving forward. [A goalkeeper’s distribution] is an important factor, but you have to keep the ball out of the back of the net as well and that’s quite important when you’re talking about the goalkeeping position.”

Prediction

Five of the last seven meetings between these two clubs have ended in a draw, but with City playing so well to start the season and the potential miss of Shaqiri, the most likely outcome is a visiting win. Stoke’s quiet transfer window has been disappointing, and they lack quality in certain areas to match Pep Guardiola’s energy and perseverance. A fun 3-1 scoreline is what we forsee here.

Charlton wins promotion to Championship in stoppage time

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Charlton Athletic struck a wildly late blow to clinch the final place in the 2019-20 Football League Championship, defeating Sunderland 2-1 in Sunday’s promotion playoff at Wembley Stadium.

A stoppage time free kick in a cagey affair led to a scrum in the box, with Patrick Bauer sliding to strike a shot off a Sunderland defender and into the goal.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

The goal came at the 3:55 mark of four minutes stoppage time, and was the 26-year-old defender’s first goal of the season.

Ben Purrington had leveled the score line for Charlton after Sunderland went ahead via an early own goal. The Addicks were relegated from the Championship after the 2015-16 season, while Sunderland went down last year.

It had to feel extra special to manager Lee Bowyer, who played with Sunderland local rivals Newcastle United from 2003-06.

Pique: Copa-losing Barca still “really hurting” from UCL exit

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Barcelona was the favorite to win La Liga, the UEFA Champions League, and the Copa del Rey for the majority of the season, but only claimed one.

Liverpool’s amazing comeback to beat Barca in the second leg of the UCL semifinals met Saturday’s loss to Valencia in the Copa del Rey Final to give Barca a league title alone.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Even with that La Liga advantage being decisive — Barca carried the table by 11 points over Atletico Madrid and finished 19 ahead of Real Madrid — there’s a very dour mood and promised change for the Camp Nou set.

And Gerard Pique says it all traces back to the loss against Liverpool. From The Liverpool Echo:

“I believe that if we had gotten through at Liverpool, we would have won the treble. We would have come here [to the Copa del Rey final] with a different mood, and I’m convinced we would have won the Champions League final, but that is football. We are really, really hurting.”

There are hints of a massive clear-out at Barcelona, with Lionel Messi and Pique two of the only safe bets to stay. When will Barca get over it?

Brazilian team tangles in locker room futmesa (video)

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It was defense versus attack in the Brazil dressing room.

Neymar and Gabriel Jesus squared off with international teammates Filipe Luis and Ederson in a game of futmesa/table soccer this week.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Neymar and Filipe Luis are used to be on different sides of the field from their time in La Liga, while Jesus and Ederson are teammates at Manchester City.

Brazil is hosting this summer’s Copa America and is the favorite to win its first tournament since 2007, when it claimed its fourth in five tries.

It’s really impressive stuff for us normal to subpar athletes, even if standard for those with such deft talent.

Quite a winner from Man City’s young striker.

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

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Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.

From Goal.com:

“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).