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Premier League Preview: Man City vs. Leicester City

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  • Leicester won 4-2 on Dec. 10
  • Foxes unbeaten in three vs. MCFC
  • Man City leads all-time 53W-29D-29L

Manchester City aims for its first win over Leicester City since March 2015 when it welcomes the Foxes to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The fourth-place hosts open the day with a three-point lead on Arsenal and a four-point lead on Manchester United in the race for a Top Four spot, and can pass Liverpool with a win.

Leicester City has been surging since the arrival of manager Craig Shakespeare, and can finish as high as eighth in the league with a strong finish. A win coupled with a West Brom loss to Chelsea on Friday would place the Foxes in the eight spot.

What they’re saying

Pablo Zabaleta on the end to this season (and his time?) at City: “A big club is made by people. That’s why my love for this club is amazing, it’s too much, and it will be forever. I have spent nine years here so when you are that long at one club you have that feeling. Also, with respect to the other teams that I have played for, my best moments as a player have been in a Manchester City shirt.”

Leicester back Yohan Benalouane on meeting Man City“Guardiola teams have a lot of shape and quality. In this moment, we have to focus on the Leicester team. If you want to make something good, you have to not think about the other team. We are thinking about the shape of Leicester and trying to make something good for ourselves.”

Prediction

For two seasons, Leicester has been a hair in Man City’s dessert. Even with Friday’s venue being the Etihad Stadium, this very well could continue, but Man City’s use of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus together is a big test for Benalouane and Co. Man City, 2-0.

Vote of confidence? Woodward says Mourinho, players “fully united”

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If you thought a Manchester derby defeat would be the final nail in the coffin for Jose Mourinho’s tenure at Manchester United, think again.

[ MORE: Fulham hire Claudio Ranieri after firing Slavisa Jokanovic ]

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward put to bed any speculation that Mourinho would be fired during the current international break — as many had speculated might be the case — despite the club’s poor start to the Premier League season. The Red Devils sit eighth in the table, a dozen points back of leaders Manchester City after as many games played.

Not only is Mourinho going nowhere this week, Woodward insists everyone at the club remains “fully united” and pulling in the same direction — quotes from the Mirror:

“On the pitch we remain well-positioned in the Champions League, and although we’ve had a mixed start to our domestic campaign, the squad and the manager are fully united in their determination to regain our momentum in the Premier League.”

Woodward would hardly come out and say, “We’re far from pleased with the performances of Mourinho and the players, if things don’t turn around he’s gone in [X-number of] games,” but the fact he’s been forced to speak about the topic indicates Mourinho’s place at the club is hardly secure or guaranteed.

Chelsea facing possible two-year transfer ban

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Chelsea face a two-year transfer ban, allegedly recommended by FIFA’s integrity and compliance unit, over their signing of foreign under-18 players.

[ MORE: Fulham hire Claudio Ranieri after firing Slavisa Jokanovic ]

According to documents from Football Leaks, French website Mediapart claims 19 of the club’s signings — 14 of which were under the age of 18 — have been looked at in a three year-long investigation. Former striker Bertrand Traore is the most well-known of the players, and allegedly the most egregious of the transfers, in question.

It is alleged that Chelsea misled FIFA over the date Traore signed his first professional contract with the club and when he was registered with the English Football Association. The Burkinabe forward made 25 appearances — at under-16, under-18 and first-team levels — for Chelsea despite allegedly not being registered with the FA.

His initial contract is also alleged to have been a four-and-a-half-year deal, when the limit for players under the age of 18 is capped at three years.

[ MORE: Chelsea expected to let Gary Cahill leave on loan in January ]

FIFA transfer rules stipulate that players can only be transferred to another country if the player’s parents move to the country in which the new club is located for non-footballing reasons.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid each endured transfer bans for similar misdeeds with under-18 signings in recent years.

Scudamore gets $6 million as he leaves Premier League

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LONDON (AP) Premier League clubs have agreed to give departing chairman Richard Scudamore $6 million over three years despite a public backlash.

The Football Supporters’ Federation had urged clubs not to give Scudamore the money after news of the planned payment leaked. But the league says “the payments are in recognition of the outstanding work Richard has carried out over the last 19 years.”

In a statement after a meeting of the 20 clubs on Thursday, the league said Scudamore will “remain available in an advisory capacity,” and justified the payments as being a “vital” part of “a comprehensive set of non-compete clauses.”

Premier League clubs vote VAR into use for 2019-20 season

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It’s been inevitable for quite some time, but now it’s official: video review will be used in the Premier League when the 2019-20 season kicks off next August.

[ MORE: Fulham hire Claudio Ranieri after firing Slavisa Jokanovic ]

20 of 20 current PL clubs voted on Thursday to confirm the use of the modern technology beginning next season.

The Bundesliga and Serie A began using the video assistant referee (VAR) at the start of the 2017-18 season, and have continued (successful) operation of the system in 2018-19. Major League Soccer introduced the protocol two-thirds of the way through its 2017 season, to far greater degrees of varying success. La Liga is set to begin use of VAR next season as well.

[ MORE: England vs. USMNT preview ]

VAR was first used in the English game last season, when select FA Cup fixtures were used as test runs, while the same is being done in the EFL Cup this season.