Carli Lloyd discusses time at Man City, state of USWNT and more

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Carli Lloyd has undoubtedly become one of the faces of women’s soccer, not just in the United States but globally.

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The U.S. Women’s National Team star has done it all. From helping the U.S. hoist the FIFA Women’s World Cup title in 2015 to being named the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, Lloyd has seen her stardom grow over the years, and that’s what brought the 35-year-old midfielder to Manchester City this past season.

Lloyd had proven herself on the international level with the USWNT and domestically in the NWSL and WPS (prior to that), but when an opportunity came knocking to complete a loan spell in England, it simply wasn’t something she could pass up.

“I’ve always wanted to go overseas to play, but it had to be the right fit,” Lloyd told reporters on Sunday prior to the New York Derby. “The door opened up to go and play for Manchester City and all the stars aligned.

“It’s been a great organization to fight for, to work for and kind of see the evolution of all their teams.”

Lloyd played an important role for the Lady Citizens during her spell with the club, scoring three goals in 10 matches across all competitions and helping guide Man City to an FA Women’s Cup title — where she scored in the final.

The Manchester City also fell just short of Champions League glory in 2017, losing 3-2 on aggregate in the semifinals to fellow American Alex Morgan and Lyon — who went on to win the competition.

Morgan also spent time in Europe this season on loan in France, but has since returned to her Orlando Pride club in NWSL.

When asked about her transition to life in England, Lloyd jokingly stated that she “didn’t drive for about the first few weeks.”

Additionally, the USWNT star spoke about how her experiences in England will follow her for the rest of her life, including getting to know Manchester City men’s manager Pep Guardiola.

“I can look back in 10, 15 years time and say that I lived in the same apartment complex as Pep Guardiola and exchanged texts with him,” Lloyd said.

“It was fantastic playing for the women. They really pride themselves on doing all they can to make it the best women’s club in the world and they’re on their way. I’m really excited to follow them and watch them grow.

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Since her time with the Citizens ended in May, Lloyd has since returned to the U.S., where she plays for the Houston Dash of NWSL.

At this point, she says her biggest focus is to help the Dash reach the NSWL playoffs, which is something the club has failed to do in its first three seasons in the league.

The Dash are currently three points behind the Orlando Pride for the sixth and final spot in the postseason.

“I’m going to do all I can to help the club reach a playoff spot,” Lloyd said.

On the national team front, Lloyd remains one of the key figures in Jill Ellis’ side, despite this being an off year for the USWNT in the World Cup cycle.

The women’s squad has had their share of difficulties in 2017, losing matches to England, France and most recently Australia in the Tournament of Nations.

However, Lloyd recognizes that results during this calendar year don’t necessarily reflect how good the USWNT will be in the coming years and that finding players to help strengthen the squad will boost the nation’s chances of hoisting another World Cup title in 2019.

AP Photo/Eugenio Savio

“I would assess it in a couple of different ways,” Lloyd said when asked about the current state of the USWNT. “One, it’s an off year. It’s a transition year. There are some experimentations going on at the moment. Do you remember in 2014/2015 when we lost to France? Everybody just remembers us winning the World Cup in 2015.

“Me as the player, you always want to be in peak form. You always want to be playing at your best, but in order to break these barriers you need to go backwards sometimes and put the pieces back together again in order to jump up a few more levels. I think that’s where we’re at right now and trying to look for more player depth within the squad.

“We’re all trying to do what we can and as we get closer to 2018 we’ll kind of hone in on everything. It’s obviously unfortunate not being able to win all the time, but that’s not the way women’s soccer is going anymore. It’s a lot harder. At the end of the day, 2019 is the real focus.”

For the New Jersey native, 2019 could very well be her last showing for both club and country, according to the former Rutgers Scarlet Knights standout.

[ MORE: Villa, NYCFC show courage with comeback win against Red Bulls ]

Lloyd has represented the USWNT since 2005, making 242 appearances for the Stars and Stripes and scoring 97 goals in the process.

“The plan is this next cycle,” Lloyd said. “For me, age is just a number. It’s all about evolving. Every part of my career, every phase of my career has been something different. Now, I think it’s about being more sophisticated.

“Players are out to get the ball away from me. They’re out to kick me. I’m in the spotlight, so everybody thinks that I need to score a hat-trick every time I’m on the pitch. It doesn’t happen like that.

Transfer news: Griezmann to Arsenal; Alaba to Man City

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In the latest transfer news Antoine Griezmann has been linked with a move to Arsenal, while David Alaba could be the man to help Man City out defensively.

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Starting in north London, a report from the Daily Express claims that Antoine Griezmann is unhappy at Barcelona after being left on the bench for the 2-2 draw against his former team Atletico Madrid. It goes on to state that Arsenal and Inter Milan want to sign Griezmann.

Griezmann, 29, joined Barcelona last summer for $125 million but it’s fair to say the move hasn’t worked out so far. Barcelona coach Quique Setien said that Griezmann isn’t in the starting lineup because they are not balanced with him in the team so as long as Setien is around, the French star is probably going to struggle for minutes.

He has scored eight goals and added four assists this season and things just haven’t clicked up top with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. The report claims that Arsenal remain interested in Griezmann and with Barcelona being linked with a move for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, could a swap deal plus cash be on the cards?

Of course, Aubameyang is slightly older and has just one year left on his current contract at Barcelona but maybe Griezmann could head to Arsenal on a loan deal a la Philippe Coutinho to Bayern Munich?

Not the craziest idea, right? Arsenal have Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette who could both move on this summer and they can use them as bargaining chips to try and sign Griezmann and possibly Thomas Partey from Atletico. Inter Milan have a striker Barcelona want, Lautaro Martinez, so maybe a swap deal could be sorted out on their end too?

With the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic hitting everyone, but particular soccer, hard, finding ways to swap players and not spend cash could be the theme of the next few seasons. If that is the case, Aubameyang to Barcelona for Griezmann makes sense. Now, do the finances line up and would Griezmann want to leave Spain for north London? Arsenal don’t want to lose Aubameyang but if they gain Griezmann, that would help to soften the blow.

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Switching our focus to Manchester, it is believed Man City are keen on signing Bayern Munich and Austria defender David Alaba, according to the Guardian.

Alaba, 28, has one more year left on his Bayern contract and Pep Guardiola knows him well from his time in charge of the Bavarian giants.

The versatile defender can play at center back and left back, plus also in midfield, and Man City will need plenty of rebuilding in the coming years. With David Silva leaving this summer, plus Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero coming towards the end of their careers, this Man City side will look very different in 12-18 months’ time.

With Leroy Sane heading to Bayern Munich, there have been plenty deals discussed between the two clubs and Alaba would be perfect for Man City. He is calm on the ball, defensively solid and he could play in multiple positions for Guardiola.

Alaba is set to be offered a new deal at Bayern as Man City and Inter Milan both want to sign him. Man City’s main issue has been a lack of defensive depth and if Alaba arrives, that will go a long way to plugging multiple gaps.

Sheffield United – Tottenham stream: How to watch, start time, odds

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Sheffield United – Tottenham Hotspur: There are European hopes dripping from Wednesday’s meeting of Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur at Bramall Lane (Watch live at 1pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

Blades’ European hopes have taken a big hit since the Premier League’s return from the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve lost two-straight league outings and have just one win from five.

STREAM SHEFFIELD UNITED – TOTTENHAM LIVE ONLINE

Spurs have taken four of six points in just two matches since the end of the break and need a win to retake seventh place from Arsenal.

Team news

Japhet Tanganga and Juan Foyth remain out for Tottenham, who is otherwise as healthy as its been since the calendar turned to 2020. Jose Mourinho has made one change as Dele Alli is dropped and Steven Bergwijn comes in.

Jack O’Connell is getting closer to a return for the Blades but Chris Wilder says they “won’t make a high risk decision on him.” John Lundstram is out injured and is replaced by Sande Berge, while John Fleck is also out injured with Ben Osborn coming in for his first Premier League start.

 

What they’re saying

Chris Wilder on the evolution of big January buy Sander Berge: “Sander is going to be a really good player for us. He’s 21 [sic], we paid decent money for him. £20m is not an unbelievable number. It is for Sheffield United, I understand that. So Sander comes with that pressure. But he’s a grounded boy and he’ll eventually play as a sitting midfield player. He’s a proper midfield player, he’s a really good kid and he always will get mine and the boys’ full backing.”

Mourinho on the struggles of big signing Tanguy Ndombele“Football is full of players who have made difficult starts and then ended well. When Luka Modric arrived at Real Madrid after six months he was labeled the worst signing in their history by the fans and the press. A few months later he was a champion, then a few months later he was European champion and then a few months later he was voted the best player in the world. So when the talent is there many things can happen with adaptation and if the talent is there anything good can happen.”

Odds and ends

The bookies aren’t so sure about this one, with DraftKings having hosts Sheffield United +225 and Tottenham +130.

Heung-min Son and George Baldock traded goals in a 1-1 November draw in North London.

Sheffield United – Tottenham Prediction

Spurs have the benefit of rest and potency up top. It’ll be a grimy one — Chris Wilder deems it so — but Tottenham gets the points 2-1.

Wolves – Arsenal preview: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

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Wolves – Arsenal should be an absolute belter on Saturday (start time, 12:30pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as both teams are in the hunt for Champions League qualification.

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Nuno Espirito Santo and Wolves continue to upset the odds as they are the only Premier League team to win all three of their games since the restart and are now three points off third-place and have momentum in the race for Champions League.

As for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta, they’ve bounced back after a rough start to the restart and Mikel Arteta now has plenty of options and his team look hungry.

Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore will lead Wolves’ charge, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to be the talisman for Arsenal.

Stream Wolves – Arsenal by clicking on the link above and here is everything you need to know ahead of the clash.


Team news

Wolves aren’t being impacted by injuries and they are fit and hungry with Santo resting Traore for moments during their first three games of the restart.

Arsenal are still without Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Callum Chambers, Pablo Mari and Gabriel Martinelli but Lucas Torreira is back fit and available. Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nkeitah were all rested for the win against Norwich.

What they’re saying

Raul Jimenez on his partnership with Adama Traore: “Every striker wants a teammate with his conditions. He can cross from anywhere, you know he’s going to be at the final line and he’s going to cross, so you have to be there at the right time to score. We train on it in the week. We talk to each other before the games, or in the training sessions, so we know where we’re going to be, his crossing and where I have to move. It’s not a coincidence, it’s something we train and work for.”

Mikel Arteta on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: “A player that is able to score as many goals as he’s done in that short space of time tells you everything about the importance that he has for us. We need players that can make the difference at any moment in the game every three days, in different competitions, and that’s a big test for him. He’s done that at different clubs, he’s willing to stay with him, he’s really happy where he is and can see what we’re trying to do. Hopefully he can evolve as well in some parts of his game that in my opinion he can improve. We are pushing him every day towards that.”

Odds and ends

Wolves are the clear favorites for this game via DraftKings (+125) but Arsenal are dangerous and could be good value at +235 for the win. +225 for the draw seems like a very good bet too, as both teams are well matched with similar attacking units but Wolves have the edge when it comes to defensive players.

Prediction

This will be a tight, tense clash and the star attackers for both teams will be key. If Jimenez and Traore are firing on all cylinders then you have to fancy Wolves, if Aubameyang and Saka are on form for Arsenal, they could edge it. With both teams hopeful of Champions League qualification, the stakes are high and I think this will be a draw. Let’s say 1-1.

Champions League, Relegation picture: What’s going on?

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The Champions League and relegation picture is pretty wild right now in the Premier League.

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With six matchweeks remaining, there is so much to play for across the entire league. From Champions League to Europa League and a crowded and tight relegation battle, there are so many permutations.

Given the tough remaining schedules for some teams and easier slate of games for others, surely that will come into things. Pressure does strange things to teams at this point of a season though.

[ MORE: Remaining Premier League fixtures ]

Let’s take a look at the Champions League and relegation picture a little closer.


Champions League race

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Liverpool 31 28 2 1 70 21 49 16-0-0 12-2-1 86
 Manchester City 31 20 3 8 77 33 44 11-2-2 9-1-6 63
 Leicester City 32 16 7 9 60 31 29 9-4-3 7-3-6 55
 Chelsea 32 16 6 10 57 44 13 8-3-5 8-3-5 54
 Manchester United 32 14 10 8 51 31 20 9-5-2 5-5-6 52
 Wolves 32 13 13 6 45 34 11 6-7-3 7-6-3 52
 Arsenal 32 11 13 8 47 41 6 8-5-3 3-8-5 46
 Tottenham Hotspur 31 12 9 10 50 41 9 9-3-4 3-6-6 45
 Burnley 32 13 6 13 36 45 -9 8-2-6 5-4-7 45
 Sheffield United 31 11 11 9 30 31 -1 7-3-5 4-8-4 44
 Everton 32 12 8 12 40 47 -7 8-5-3 4-3-9 44
 Crystal Palace 32 11 9 12 28 37 -9 6-4-6 5-5-6 42
 Newcastle United 32 11 9 12 33 43 -10 6-7-3 5-2-9 42
 Southampton 32 12 4 16 41 55 -14 4-2-10 8-2-6 40

So, yeah, this is getting bonkers. With Leicester City and Chelsea both losing this week, Wolves and Man United are just three points off third place and this is going to be extremely interesting. Man United have a very easy remaining schedule and they have momentum, while Sheffield United have some tough games remaining. With fifth-place potentially a Champions League spot due to Man City’s European ban (which they have appealed) that means Arsenal, Tottenham, Sheffield United and even Burnley are in the hunt too. When it comes to Europa League, Everton, Palace, Newcastle and Southampton still have a chance as eighth place could be a qualifying berth due to the FA Cup winners likely to finish in the top six. Simply put, the entire league aside from the bottom six are in the hunt for European action. Lots to play for.


Relegation battle

 Brighton & Hove Albion 32 7 12 13 34 44 -10 5-6-5 2-6-8 33
 West Ham United 32 8 6 18 38 56 -18 5-3-8 3-3-10 30
 Watford 32 6 10 16 29 49 -20 4-6-6 2-4-10 28

 Aston Villa 32 7 6 19 36 60 -24 5-3-8 2-3-11 27
 Bournemouth 32 7 6 19 30 54 -24 4-5-7 3-1-12 27
 Norwich City 32 5 6 21 25 60 -35 4-3-9 1-3-12 21

Things are just as interesting at the bottom of the table. Somehow Norwich are still in with a chance of survival despite losing all three of their games since the restart. They have to start winning soon though. Bournemouth and Aston Villa have some ridiculously tough games to finish with and look like they will go down but West Ham and Brighton have tough schedules too, with the latter playing Liverpool and Man City back-to-back next week so they could get sucked back into things. It looks like being three from the bottom five to go down and both West Ham and Watford have showed they have enough grit to grind out points. Can Villa and Bournemouth do the same? Will Norwich win four or five of their last six to save themselves? Things get crazy in the final weeks at the bottom and this is shaping up to be one of the best relegation battles in Premier League history as goal difference is so tight between all of the teams.