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Spurs’ Wanyama expected back during festive period

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is eager to welcome midfielder Victor Wanyama back into his first-team squad during the upcoming festive period of Premier League fixtures.

[ PREVIEW: Arsenal host Liverpool in massive top-four clash ]

Wanyama, who hasn’t played since the second game of the 2017-18 season due to a knee injury which required extensive rehabilitation in order to avoid surgery, returned to full training this week. Pochettino is hopeful, yet cautious, that the Kenyan’s knee will respond well in the coming days and ultimately be ready for game action in the next 10-14 days — quotes from the Guardian:

“He came back to training with the team on Wednesday. Now we need to see how the knee reacts but it’s a very good feeling from him. It will be fantastic to have him back. He was such an important player for us last season and it’s true that we have missed a player like him this season — in a position where you have to be strong.”

Tottenham are away to Burnley on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com), home against Southampton three days later on Boxing Day, and away to Swansea City seven days later on Jan. 2.

By opting against significant investment during the summer transfer window, Spurs essentially rolled the dice in hopes of another largely injury-free season as they attempted to challenge for the PL title for a third straight season. If everyone managed to stay healthy and play 80-90 percent of games, the squad was good enough to push the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea — or so the thought was in June, July and August.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | JPW’s PL picks ]

Of course, that’s a risky proposition. Wanyama was lost for four months after just 98 minutes of PL action, Mousa Dembele‘s chronic injury issues have persisted, Danny Rose didn’t return from a knee injury of his own until November, and Toby Aldeweireld has been out since the start of Novemeber and won’t be back until February. Following Wanyama’s comeback, Aldeweireld is the only Spurs player currently unavailable for selection.

As such, Moussa Sissoko has started more than half of Spurs’ games in the PL, Eric Dier has been forced into center-back duty thus weakening an already-thin midfield unit in Wanyama’s absence, and the likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have been ridden extremely hard during the first half of the season — perhaps setting them up for second-half breakdowns of their own.

Couple all of that with the fact Spurs are playing their home games at Wembley Stadium this season, and it begins to feel like something of a miracle that they currently sit just three points back of fourth place in the league and effortlessly breezed through the “group of death” in the UEFA Champions League.

Liga MX wrap: Xolos beats Chivas as Apertura begins

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Liga MX’s Apertura season is off and running with all 18 clubs partaking in a match this weekend.

[ MORE: Marketing Pulisic with BVB ]

Club Tijuana 2-1 Chivas Guadalajara

Scoreless at the half, the weekend’s marquee match sprang to life in the final 45. Juan Martin Lucero gave TJ a 54th minute lead before Jose Van Rankin knotted it up five minutes later.

Lucero assisted Jose Rivero’s 75th minute winner, which was helped in its status when Michael Perez took a red card in the 80th.

Cruz Azul 3-0 Puebla

Elias Hernandez scored a goal and added an assist, and Milton Caraglio put one of his five shots on goal into the net. Andres Renteria also scored in the win.

Tigres 2-0 Leon

Andre-Pierre Gignac scored, and Lucas Zelarayan marked a goal and an assist in the win.

Elsewhere
Necaxa 2-1 Club America
Toluca 2-0 Morelia
Santos Laguna 2-1 Lobos BUAP
Pachuca 0-1 Monterrey
Veracruz 0-2 Pumas UNAM
Atlas 0-0 Queretaro

Report: Colorado acquires USMNT mid Acosta for Badji

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The West’s first place team is switching it up in a big way.

FC Dallas is sending Homegrown Player and USMNT midfielder Kellyn Acosta to Western foes Colorado Rapids in exchange for striker Dominique Badji, according to a report by The Dallas Morning News.

[ MORE: Pulisic rips up Liverpool ]

Acosta, 22, has 17 caps and a goal for the U.S., and is primarily a defensive midfielder. He’s also played right and left back.

He’s appeared 139 times for Dallas, scoring 13 times with nine assists, but had fallen out with head coach Oscar Pareja. He’s also struggled mightily on the field, according to WhoScored.

Badji, 25, has seven goals and three assists in 16 matches for the Rapids this season, building on an eight-goal, five-assist campaign last season.

FCD has gotten six goals out of forward Maxi Urruti, and there’s been little production from anyone else. Cristian Colman is out with an ankle injury and managed just a pair of goals in 399 minutes.

The risk of trading Acosta is mitigated by the continued speculation that he may test the waters of European soccer. Badji’s a quality player, but Colorado may’ve gotten a bargain in its push to escape the dregs of the West.

Quintero, Loons pick LAFC apart in five-star win (video)

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Minnesota United throttled LAFC on Sunday, using a Christian Ramirez brace to batter the hot expansion team 5-1 in Minnesota.

Darwin Quintero had a goal and two assists for the Loons, who took advantage of LAFC’s decision not to start dominant forward Adama Diomande and center back Walker Zimmerman.

[ MORE: Marketing Pulisic with BVB ]

Quintero ripped off seven shots, putting five on goal. He now has 10 goals and five assists since joining the Loons after scoring two and eight in 29 matches for Club America last year.

Miguel Ibarra recorded a goal and an assist, while Rasmus Schuller also scored. LAFC’s goal came courtesy Benny Feilhaber.

Minnesota’s Bobby Shuttleworth and LA’s Tyler Miller each made six saves in their goals.

LAFC fails in a bid to make up points on Western Conference first seed FC Dallas, while the Loons now can eye a playoff spot in the West.

Already-thin Liverpool center back corps loses Matip to quad injury

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Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund featured an injury to a position with very little depth.

The Reds lost Joel Matip to what Jurgen Klopp said could possibly be a “small tear” in one of his quads.

[ MORE: Marketing Pulisic with BVB ]

If Matip, 26, needs any significant time to heal up, he’ll put a major question mark into Liverpool’s opening day center back pairing.

Virgil Van Dijk, who scored against BVB on Sunday, already won’t have Dejan Lovren as a partner thanks to a post-World Cup vacation.

That leaves Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan as options next to Van Dijk.

Matches at Crystal Palace and home to Brighton and Hove Albion follow the Aug. 12 visit from West Ham.