Bob Bradley admits Swansea’s next two games pivotal

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Bob Bradley‘s time at Swansea City has reached a critical moment.

[ MORE: Pardew fired by Palace

Bradley, 58, has won two of his 10 games in charge of the Swans and with three games in a week against fellow relegation candidates, the New Jersey native knows the next few games could decide how his time at Swansea goes.

On Boxing Day the Swans host West Ham United and then welcome Bournemouth to the Liberty Stadium on Dec. 28. A trip to Crystal Palace on Jan. 3 then follows and by the end of that spell if the Swans have six points or more, it will be a good festive period for the American coach with his side currently in the relegation zone and three points from safety.

Ahead of their game against West Ham (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) Bradley was asked if the next two games were pivotal in deciding his future at the struggling Swans.

“Maybe. I never know how that works and I don’t spend much time thinking about it. I said before that I knew it was a challenge. That’s football,” Bradley said. “I’ve been here for 10 games. I think we’ve had moments along the way when we thought we were close to taking a big step forward, [but] we’ve left some points on the table in those 10 games. Every week I say the same thing – that’s out of my control.”

With the January transfer window just around the corner, Bradley also spoke about American owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien and how they’ve discussed spending plenty to try and get themselves out of this mess.

There’s no doubting Bradley needs defensive reinforcements if he’s going to keep Swansea up.

The Swans have the worst defense in the league, conceding 36 times this season and 18 times in Bradley’s six away games in charge. If he can bring in two quality central defenders then it would make a huge difference.

Remember one thing when Bradley is asked if these next two games are defining for his future: he is working with a group of players who were under-performing when he arrived and a squad which wasn’t strong enough after the departures of Ashley Williams and Andre Ayew in the summer.

Bradley should be given at least two transfer windows to turn things around and build his team with his identity. All of us, including Bradley, know that the Premier League is ruthless and unforgiving. That’s why just 10 games and two months into his reign at the Liberty Stadium he is already talking about two pivotal games.

If Swansea gets four points from home games against West Ham and Bournemouth it would be huge for Bradley. It will allow some pressure to dissipate and he can bring in the players he needs as early as he can in the transfer window. That’s why, more than likely, he knows the next two games are massive for his future in the Premier League.

Premier League weekend friendlies: Man Utd-Inter, PL Asia Trophy

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This weekend in Premier League preseason friendlies sees Liverpool taking on a pair of top European foes, while four PL foes trade blows in Shanghai.

Man City and Wolves move on from significant defeats of Newcastle and West Ham, who in turn will face each other on Saturday.

You can watch Saturday’s Premier League Asia Trophy matches between Wolves and Man City, and Newcastle versus West Ham here on NBC Sports Live.

Meanwhile, Manchester United will tangle with Romelu Lukaku-chasing Inter Milan on Saturday (and, no, the Belgian striker won’t be in uniform).

There’s also a sneaky good match-up of Watford and Bayer Leverkusen in Austria on Saturday, while Sunday’s light docket has Spurs facing Matthijs de Ligt and Juventus in Singapore.

Friday
Borussia Dortmund v. Liverpool (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Saturday
Girona v. Bournemouth
Arsenal
v. Fiorentina (Charlotte)
Fulham v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Cheltenham Town v. Leicester City
Crewe Alexandra v. Burnley
Port Vale v. Burnley
Bromley v. Crystal Palace
Man City 
v. Wolves (Shanghai)
Inter Milan v. Manchester United (Singapore)
Newcastle United v. West Ham (Shanghai)
Northampton Town v. Sheffield United
Preston North End v. Southampton
Watford 
v. Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)

Sunday
Shrewsbury Town v. Aston Villa
Liverpool 
v. Sevilla (Boston)
Juventus v. Spurs (Singapore)

PL friendly wrap: Pukki leads Norwich past Schalke

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London sides went 0-2, while three other Premier League sides won ahead of Friday night’s friendly between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in Indiana.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The wins included defeats of Schalke and Monaco, while Brighton and Hove Albion topped lower league Crawley Town.

Schalke 1-2 Norwich City

Teemu Pukki had a goal and an assist, giving hope that the Championship goal collector can bring his game to the Premier League.

Pukki’s 13th minute goal was assisted by Man City loanee Patrick Roberts, and the Finn later assisted Moritz Leitner‘s winner.

Rabbi Matondo scored Schalke’s only goal, and American midfielder Weston McKennie was neither with the starters nor the bench.

Everton 1-0 Monaco

Seamus Coleman scored and Maarten Stekelenburg stopped a penalty as the Toffees handled their Ligue 1 opposition in Switzerland.

Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 ChelseaRECAP

Leandro Damaio scored the lone goal as Chelsea had plenty of chances to win in Christian Pulisic‘s debut. The American came off the bench for the final 25 minutes in Japan.

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Crystal Palace

Albert Adomah scored the lone goal in a win for the Championship side.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 Crawley Town

New signing Taylor Richards‘ late penalty kick was enough for the Seagulls to get a result at home. The Man City midfielder arrived on Thursday.

Liverpool v. Borussia Dortmund (Notre Dame, Indiana) — 8 p.m. ET

Algeria wins Africa Cup of Nations

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In the words of a Missouri-born rapper, you only get one shot. In Algeria’s case in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, that was true and it was all the Desert Foxes needed to claim their first AFCON title since 1990 with a 1-0 defeat of Senegal on Friday at Cairo International Stadium in Cairo.

Baghdad Bounedjah’s wildly-deflected second minute shot was enough to give Algeria its second AFCON crown.

Senegal out shot Algeria 11-1 on the day, but Sadio Mane and Co. couldn’t find their way over the goal line.

One-time Man City and Southampton player Djamel Belmadi has now managed an AFCON winner and a Gulf Cup of Nations champion (Qatar, 2014).

[ MORE: Ballon d’Or w/o Messi, Ronaldo? ]

Bounedjah’s wild rip after a cut-in from the left bounded into the air and looped into the far corner. Senegal goalkeeper Amigo Gomis made it look more odd with his befuddlement (Scramble, my guy!).

Referee Neant Alioum’s ruling of a penalty to Senegal after Ismaila Sarr’s rip hit the arm of Adlene Guedioura was overturned when review showed the Algeria midfielder’s arm was at his side.

We mean, was this going to be the goal that won Africa’s most important tournament? Yep.

Ajax seals El Tri’s young star Alvarez for $17M

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Ajax has developed a ton of youngsters, and now has a pair of CONCACAF starlets in the fold for 2019-20.

A day after selling Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus for a reported $84 million, the Dutch side has delivered on reports that it wanted Edson Alvarez.

That puts the 21-year-old Mexican defender/defensive midfielder in the Eredivisie side with 18-year-old Dutch-American defender Sergino Dest.

While Dest has yet to break into the full USMNT, playing in the U-20 World Cup this summer, Alvarez already has 28 caps and five goals for El Tri.

He’ll bring a relative wealth of experience from Club America, and Ajax could use him to help offset the sale of Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona. While Alvarez has played a lot of center back in Liga MX, he’s been used at defensive midfielder by Tata Martino with the national team.

The reported fee is $17 million, according to Goal.