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Rest of the way: Five top Premier League matches of 2018

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The first day of 2018 is in the Premier League books, though admittedly it lacked a true big name battle with apologies to Everton and Manchester United.

[ MORE: Everton-Man Utd recap | Mourinho reacts ]

With Manchester City still unbeaten and a pair of battlesat the top and bottom of the table, here’s a look at the six matches on five match days we’re most anticipating in the stretch run of the 2017-18 season.

6. *BONUS* Southampton vs. Manchester City — May 13

Enjoy both the asterisks, because there isn’t a big reason to circle Southampton’s home finale with the exception of it being the final match day of the season and — more importantly — the valid chance it may be Man City putting an unblemished season on the line about two weeks before the UEFA Champions League final. Will both dates bear heavily on Pep Guardiola‘s men?

T-4. Manchester United vs. Chelsea and Arsenal vs. Man City — Feb. 25

Quite a doubleheader here! The latter kicks off first, but is secondary to the Jose Mourinho and Nemanja Matic (and maybe Willian?) welcoming old pals Chelsea to town. As it stands, the two are duking it out for second place behind Man City, and Chelsea’s 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge saw the Blues very much in control. Can Mourinho flip that script?

The early morning match will see two teams capable of the stylish and sublime mixing it up at the Emirates Stadium, and could be even more exciting/controversial should Alexis Sanchez swap his London digs for the Etihad Stadium.

3. Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal — Feb. 10

Oh, the North London Derby has been tight for some time, and there are Top Four fortunes again on the line between the rivals. Arsenal won 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium earlier this season, its only league win over Spurs since the start of the 2014-15 season. That’s not to say Spurs have been dominant, either. Including a League Cup win for the Gunners, both sides hold a 2W-4D-2L record in the derby over the past eight meetings. A win, and Arsenal will be the first NLD member to sweep a season series since they won three matches vs. Spurs in 2013-14.

2. Chelsea vs. Liverpool — May 5

Antonio Conte has yet to get the better of Jurgen Klopp in three meetings — two draws — between the pair in their current positions. These two tempestuous personalities should still be without shouting distance of one another with mere weeks left in the season, and the potential for Top Four or higher implications seems very real.

1. Manchester City vs. Manchester United — April 7

Look, we’re just not going to do better than this provided Paul Pogba doesn’t take another needless and probably accidental red card the week leading up to the Manchester Derby. Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho weren’t able to truly match wits in the first derby of the season. Pogba and Kevin De Bruyne are probably the most awe-capable and technical midfielders in the Premier League, and both managers have the wherewithal to harass the opposing star. Is it April yet?

FC Dallas, Houston play to 1-1 after scoring early goals

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HOUSTON (AP) FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo each scored early goals in a 1-1 draw Saturday night.

Matt Hedges put Dallas (11-3-6) ahead 47 seconds into the game with his first goal of the season, converting a header off a cross from Santiago Mosquera.

Houston (7-6-6) tied it in the eight on Mauro Manotas’ 10th goal of the season. He scored on a header off Romell Quioto’s cross.

Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis stuffed Roland Lamah‘s penalty kick at the 61st minute to keep the score knotted. Ten minutes later, Lamah missed an open look and sent a short shot high that ricocheted off the top of the post.

In stoppage time, Houston’s Alberth Elis missed high and wide to the right just outside the box.

Houston is unbeaten in four games.

MLS 3 Things: Resurgent Zardes, Toronto up, New England down

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A busy Saturday in Major League Soccer sees three interesting results bolstering the story lines of the final few months of the season.

[ MORE: Unstoppable Josef | Zlatan, too ]

1) Imagine a world with the reigning champs as your reward for finishing first.

With 14 matches to play, Toronto FC has Jozy Altidore back in the fold and has pulled to within eight points of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot after a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Sebastian Giovinco looks like Sebastian Giovinco in scoring another outstanding goal, just his fifth of the season, while Jonathan Osorio also scored in the win.

Before you watch Seba’s goal, picture you’ve won the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Now picture TFC as your semifinal reward.

2) New England is well and truly slumping

Brad Friedel‘s Revs are slipping after losing a third-straight league match, and New England has gained a solitary point since the calendar turned to July following a 2-0 loss at Red Bull Arena.

Fourth through ninth in the East are separated by nine points, and New England is very much in that mix now. Friedel is certainly at the most trying time of his tenure.

Second half goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips and Daniel Royer did the trick for RBNY, who have claimed 15 of the last 18 points available to them (The lone blemish is the Hudson River Derby).

The Red Bulls are now 8-1-1 at home this season, while New England is 1-4-4 away from Foxboro.

3) Gyasi Zardes’ return to form is surprising and wonderful

Columbus has its second win since May 19, and will be feeling much better about itself following a 3-2 comeback win over Orlando City which included a pair of equalizers.

One of those came in the 88th minute, as Gyasi Zardes completed his brace by converting a penalty won by new arrival Patrick Mullins.

The Crew won late via a rare Wil Trapp goal — the USMNT midfielder has just two in 161 matches — but let’s focus on Zardes.

Zardes’ 13th goal of the season continues an amazing turnaround under striker whisperer Gregg Berhalter. It’s Zardes’ second double-digit season, and his first since 2014. He is firmly in frame for another USMNT look, this time as a center forward, but first there’s plenty to like about the big man.

Surging Galaxy ride Ibrahimovic magic to 3-1 win (video)

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a man on fire, and the LA Galaxy are rounding into form.

The Galaxy overcame an early deficit in Chester to clobber the Philadelphia Union 3-1 on Saturday behind a goal and an assist from their world-class striker.

[ MORE: Neymar on diving ]

Romain Alessandrini had two assists, while Michael Ciani and Ola Kamara also scored for LA. CJ Sapong scored for Philly, assisted by Borek Dockal.

Unbeaten-in-seven LA moves into fourth in the West with the win, while Philadelphia remains three points back of sixth in the East.

Ibrahimovic has now scored in six of his last seven matches, and has 12 goals and two assists in 21 matches overall.

Let’s start with the assist, which we must’ve seen two dozen times when the big Swede was with Paris Saint-Germain.

Ibrahimovic takes a difficult pass out of the air with absurd touch, then waits for the right time to send an impeccable through ball into the path of Kamara.

As for the goal, you almost feel for Mark McKenzie.

The Union’s Homegrown defender has to choose between Alessandrini darting into his box and allowing Ibrahimovic a lick of space.

He gives it, understandably, then rushes to close down Ibrahimovic.

It wasn’t fast enough. Boom.

Americans on both sides, Weah scores as PSG fall to Bayern (video)

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Two hopes of the USMNT’s future — one more immediate than the other — squared off in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.

Paris Saint-Germain teenager Timothy Weah, 18, went 90 minutes and scored his side’s only goal in the 3-1 loss in Austria.

[ MORE: Neymar on diving ]

On the other side of the field was 62nd minute substitute Chris Richards, far less known to the American supporter.

Richards is on loan from FC Dallas, where he’s a Homegrown Player. The 18-year-old center back is going to play for Bayern’s U-19 side following a successful trial in April.

Both Bayern and PSG were without key pieces, as Weah went up against a decent Bayern back line of Juan Bernat, Javi Martinez, Josip Stanisic, and Rafinha.

Arjen Robben, Sandro Wagner, and Franck Ribery were the biggest names in Bayern’s XI, while David Alaba, Kingsley Coman, and Serge Gnabry came off the bench.

For PSG, Gianluigi Buffon started as did Adrien Rabiot.

Weah’s goal is below, and here’s what he had to say about it:

“It’s an amazing feeling and getting a well-done job. Me scoring goals, I was really happy to get my first goal for PSG and first goal in this competition. We’re going to Singapore with our head on our shoulders. We’re going to be really humble and keep playing.”