Chinese takeover of Southampton completed

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Southampton Football Club have confirmed a new “partnership” with the Gao family of China.

Pro Soccer Talk understands that the Gao family have purchased roughly 80 percent of Saints for a fee close to $272 million, while current owner Katharina Liebherr will own the other 20 percent of the club.

Through their Lander Sports Development company Mr Jisheng Gao and his daughter, Nelly Gao, have been pursuing a deal for Saints for almost 12 months. However with complications surrounding the deal via Lander, Gao has used his personal wealth to fund the deal.

There had been reports that the Gao family had failed in their bid to buy Southampton with the Premier League requesting more details regarding the Owners and Directors test for new ownership, but with a few weeks left in the transfer window, good news has arrived for Southampton.

“Following extensive and fruitful work, we are entering into a partnership with the Gao family and I am excited about what we will achieve together,” Katharina Liebherr, who inherited the club from her father Markus in 2010, revealed. “Today is the start of a new and exciting chapter for our club. Mr Jisheng Gao and his daughter, Mrs Nelly Gao, with whom I have built a close relationship, share our values and ambitions.

“As a team, we will strive to build upon the strong foundation that is in place towards sustainable long-term success. Mr Gao, Nelly and I have full trust in Ralph Krueger and his management team. We wholeheartedly support their plans to follow the Southampton Way in the years ahead.”

It is believed significant investment will now arrive at the club with Mauricio Pellegrino tasked with pushing Saints towards a European return and challenging for the domestic cups.

West Bromwich Albion are the only other Premier League with a majority owner from China, while second-tier Aston Villa, Reading, Wolves and Birmingham City have all been bought by Chinese investors in recent years.

The Liebherr family has owned Southampton since 2009 when they were on the brink of extinction. Markus Liebherr, Katharina’s father, bought the club after advice from Swiss-Italian banker Nicola Cortese for just $20 million. Since then the Liebherr family have also invested over $80 million in the club and will now retain a 20 percent stake to oversee its stewardship with chairman Ralph Krueger to remain in charge.

In 2009 Saints were in the third-tier of English soccer on -10 points, but after back-to-back promotions they returned to the Premier League in 2012 and have now had four-straight top eight finishes in the PL as well as playing in the Europa League and being runners up for the EFL Cup in 2017.

Nine years after her father bought the club Katharina has acknowledged that outside funding is needed and that’s where the Gao family come in.

“I am honored and humbled to become a partner of Southampton Football Club alongside Katharina Liebherr, who, together with her father, has been such a great steward of the club, its growth and success,” Jisheng Gao said in a statement. “Together, we have the passion and motivation to build on Southampton’s excellent progress in recent years as we look forward to an exciting next chapter for the club.”

The first thing fans will ask about is new players arriving and the potential for captain Virgil Van Dijk to remain at the club despite his public transfer request last week. All of that will be sorted out in the near future but this deal is all about Southampton pushing on to the next level with increased finances to buy players and not needing to sell their current stars which hasn’t been the case in recent years.

Southampton have become a model Premier League club since 2012 for investing wisely in new players, promoting youngsters from their academy and selling on stars for huge profits.

This new investment will help them to try and challenge for another top six finish and solidify their spot within the top 10 of the Premier League.

USWNT vs England, Spain: Rosters for high-profile friendlies, TV, stream

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USWNT head coach Vlatko Andovoski has announced his roster for one of the most-anticipated friendlies of all-time — and that’s no exaggeration — as the United States women’s national team takes on EURO champions England in one of two Europe-based friendlies next month.

The Yanks will also play Spain in a match well-worth watching, but the England match is going to be a clash of titans as the now-powerful Lionesses put their 14-match winning streak on the line against USA’s back-to-back World Cup champions.

“These are big tests for our team in front of crowds cheering against us and after long travel, but our players absolutely love games like these,” said Andonovski in a U.S. Soccer press release. “The group we are bringing to Europe includes players who have a lot of experience against top European teams and some that don’t, so these games are even more critical for our growth as our team. Our whole squad needs to get a clear picture of what these games are like as we continue to prepare for the World Cup.”

[ MORE: Watch Premier League live | Peacock Premium details ]

The Oct. 7 match against England at Wembley Stadium is set to shatter the attendance record for a USWNT friendly and U.S. Soccer says it will be second to only the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final in terms of in-person attendance for a USWNT match.

Those are big mile markers in soccer history, but these matches are really big — as big as friendlies get — in terms of telling where the USWNT’s status as the No. 1 team in the world is under threat.

The Women’s Super League has made huge strides alongside its national team in England and the National Women’s Soccer League will be watching this with real excitement and anxiety; All but two members of the USWNT call-up list play in the NWSL. All but four of the England team play in the WSL and only one plies their trade in the NWSL (Ebony Salmon of the Houston Dash).

And these teams very well could meet up this summer, as the friendlies are the final USWNT matches prior to the Oct. 22 Women’s World Cup draw in New Zealand.


How to watch USWNT vs England

Kick off: 3pm ET, Oct. 7
TV Channel: FOX
Online: Stream via FoxSports.com

How to watch USWNT vs Spain

Kick off: 2:30pm ET, Oct. 11
TV Channel: ESPN2
Online: Stream via ESPN.com


USWNT vs England rosters

USWNT: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Alana Cook (OL Reign), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

England WNT: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Sandy MacIver (Manchester City), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lucy Parker (West Ham), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jessica Park (Everton), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Manchester United), Ebony Salmon (Houston Dash)

West Ham vs Wolves: How to watch live, stream link, TV, team news

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West Ham vs Wolves: Two sides straddling either side of the relegation zone will be desperate for a victory (or even just a goal) when they meet at London Stadium on Saturday (watch live, 12:30 pm ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com). 

STREAM LIVE WEST HAM vs WOLVES

It’s been a mostly miserable start to the 2022-23 Premier League season for both the Hammers and Wolves. West Ham have just one win on the season (1W-1D-5L) as David Moyes and Co., sit 18th heading into matchweek 8. Wolves also have just one win (1W-3D-3L) while scoring the same number of goals as West Ham (3) in seven games. Misery loves company.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of West Ham vs Wolves

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch West Ham vs Wolves live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 12:30 pm ET, Saturday
TV channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

For both sides, the goal-scoring woes are a result of not only a failure to convert scoring chances, but also their inability to create them. West Ham and Wolves both rank in the bottom five of the Premier League in expected goals with identical paltry 0.9 xG averages (per 90 minutes). No other side in the Premier League is anywhere close to underperforming their expected numbers by more than 50 percent.

Goals have come much more easily for West Ham in the Europa Conference League, where they have scored three goals in all four games thus far — six in two games against Danish side Viborg, and three apiece against Romanian runners-up FCSB and another Danish side in Silkeborg.

Wolves made the effort to be a better attacking side this season, as they spent $18 million on Sasa Kalajdzic, but the Austrian international striker tore his ACL on his debut for the club. Raul Jimenez, meanwhile, has played just 211 minutes in three Premier League appearances (none since Aug. 31) and has just one goal, in the League Cup. The Mexican international is now in a race against time to be healthy and fit for the 2022 World Cup eight weeks from now.


West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Benjamin Johnson (hamstring)

Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Raul Jimenez (groin), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Nathan Collins (suspension), Chiquinho (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Diego Costa (undisclosed)

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Arsenal vs Tottenham projected lineups, form, head-to-head, prediction

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There is so little between Arsenal and Tottenham this season that every little decision will count as they square off this Saturday (watch live, 7:30am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com) in the north London derby.

[ MORE: Preview, storylines, latest on Arsenal vs Tottenham ]

Mikel Arteta and Antonio Conte have overseen superb starts to the season for their teams, with the Gunners top of the table and they are just one point and two places above unbeaten Spurs.

After Tottenham pipped Arsenal to a top four finish late last season, this rivalry has gone to new levels and both believe they can finish in the top four this season, at the very least.

Below we take a closer look at form, head-to-head info, projected lineups and a prediction for what promises to be a classic Arsenal vs Tottenham clash in the north London derby.


Arsenal vs Tottenham recent Premier League form

Arsenal last five fixtures – WLWWW | Last match: 3-0 win at Brentford

Tottenham last five fixtures – WWDWW  | Last match: 6-2 win vs Leicester City


Who has more wins, Arsenal or Tottenham? (all competitions head-to-head)

Tottenham wins: 67

Arsenal wins: 84

Draws: 54


Projected lineups

Arsenal (4-2-3-1)

—– Ramsdale —–

— White — Saliba — Gabriel — Zinchenko —

—- Partey —- Xhaka —-

—- Saka —- Odegaard —- Martinelli —-

—– Jesus —–

If Partey is out with injury then Arteta has a big decision to make in midfield: does Lokonga come in? Or does Odegaard drop deeper with Vieira coming in to an attacking midfield role? Elsewhere, Zinchenko will likely start ahead of Tierney if both are fit, while Zinchenko could also start in holding midfield given his incredible vesatility.


Tottenham (3-4-2-1)

—– Lloris —–

—- Romero —- Dier —- Davies —-

— Emerson — Hojbjerg — Bentancur — Perisic —

—- Richarlison —- Son —-

—– Kane —–

The back three picks itself, if everyone is fit, with Llenget and Sanchez coming in and doing okay when injuries have flared up. But the big debate is what Spurs do with Kulusevski potentially out. Does Richarlison come in for him? Or does Yves Bissouma start in midfield and the formation switch to a 3-5-2 with Son supporting Kane in attack? If it’s the latter, that would give Spurs extra defensive cover in the engine room.


Arsenal vs Tottenham prediction

This is going to be a very close game with these managers, players and clubs so evenly-matched across the board. Arsenal have been in better form but are battling with some key injuries, while Spurs look more capable of grinding out results when they’re not at their best. All of that adds up to an entertaining draw. I’m going for 2-2.


Southampton vs Everton: How to watch, stream link, team news

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Southampton host Everton at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday and both Ralph Hasenhuttl and Frank Lampard are desperate for a win.

STREAM LIVE SOUTHAMPTON v EVERTON

Before the break Saints put in their worst display of the season as they lost at Aston Villa and their trademark high-pressing was non-existent. With such a young team they are likely to have ups and downs throughout this season and overall they’ve had a very solid start to the new campaign.

Everton got their first win of the season last time out as they edged past West Ham at home before the break and Lampard has made the Toffees very tough to beat. They sit on seven points (the same as Southampton) and have lost just twice so far this season. That said, scoring goals is a real issue for them as they’ve scored just five goals in their first seven games.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]  

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of a huge game as Southampton vs Everton is a clash both teams will believe they can win.


How to watch Arsenal vs Tottenham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines

Saints have so many good youngsters with Armel Bella-Kotchap, Gavin Bazunu and Romeo Lavia all catching the eye early in the season. The latter has missed the last few games through injury and Saints have lost both 1-0 at Wolves and Aston Villa. Scoring goals will be a problem for them but they look defensively solid this season and Hasenhuttl is relying on Che Adams and James Ward-Prowse to score the goals to keep them well away from the relegation scrap.

Lampard’s Everton are also tougher to break down and scoring goals is also an issue for them. After selling Richarlison in the summer and having Dominic Calvert-Lewin out injured so far, Lampard has relied on Anthony Gordon to be his main attacking weapon. The youngster has a lot of pressure on his shoulders.


In-form players to keep an eye on

Saints’ Bella-Kotchap (20) and Mohammed Salisu (23) have formed a really strong partnership at center back and both made their international debuts over the break for Germany and Ghana respectively. Saints need Ward-Prowse to get back to his best as he’s struggled to start the season and is so important to the way they play.

Alex Iwobi has been superb in a deeper central midfield role for Everton and Amadou Onana continues to show his class alongside him, while the experienced duo of Conor Coady and James Tarkwoski are forging a very solid partnership at center back with the summer signings leading by example.


Southampton team news, injuries, lineup options

Tino Livramento continues his recovery from a long-term knee injury and is getting closer to a return, while 18-year-old midfield sensation Lavia is still a few weeks away from returning. It will be intriguing to see who starts in attack with Adams as Hasenhuttl has so many attacking midfield options but nobody has staked their claim for a regular starting spot.


Everton team news, injuries, lineup options

Injury issues continue to mount up for Lampard as they lost right back Nathan Patterson over the break and that is a big blow as he’s been sensational in recent games. Jordan Pickford should be back from injury, which is a massive boost, but Ben Godfrey, Mason Holgate, Yerry Mina and Andros Townsend all remain out. Calvert-Lewin has a chance of being back for this game.