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Premier League Preview: Stoke City vs. Manchester City

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  • Man City beat Stoke 7-2 on Oct. 14
  • Aguero misses out
  • Man City leads all-time 50W-25D-37L

Manchester City can eclipse the 80-point mark and extend its Premier League table lead back to 18 with a win at relegation-threatened Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Man City has is unbeaten in four matches with Stoke, outscoring the Potters 15-3 in three wins.

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The latest of those was a 7-2 at the Etihad Stadium, with Gabriel Jesus scoring twice, plus goals from Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, David SilvaFernandinho and Bernardo Silva.

Jesus figures to feature again, as Sergio Aguero announced he’s set for a couple weeks on the sidelines after picking up a knee injury in training.

Stoke is a point back of safety but carries the worst goal differential in the league, but has improved its defensive record in recent weeks. Paul Lambert‘s men have three clean sheets and just one loss — albeit with one win — in their last six.

What they’re saying

Kostas Stafylidis of Stoke on facing the leaders“We have to fight, fight, fight for… 90 minutes, 98 minutes, or I don’t know how many. Of course it’s going to be hard, they are the best team in England, one of the best in Europe, but in the Premier League you never know.”

Man City’s Guardiola on building the team“The club is good because now it is easy to say it is going well but it happened the same last season. That means a lot to me. In the bad moments I saw how the club reacted and supported me and when I wanted to talk about plans for the future they were there. There were no doubts about that. We had doubts because we didn’t win but not doubts about what we had to do.”

Prediction

Stoke’s aforementioned and improved defensive record hasn’t come against a run of world beaters, and Man City should be too much. Gabriel Jesus is unleashed with a pair of goals in a 2-0 win.

Nothing to separate Portland and 10-man LAFC

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There was entertainment value in Los Angeles FC’s potential playoff preview with the Portland Timbers on Sunday in the City of Angels, but all that arrived was a scoreless draw.

[ MORE: Atlanta 1-1 Seattle ]

Both Giovani Savarese’s Timbers and Bob Bradley‘s nickname-free expansion club remain in the West’s Top Four. PLAFC remains unbeaten at home during their maiden voyage through Major League Soccer.

Adama Diomande came close for the hosts, who finished with 10-men when Lee Nguyen went studs-up on Sebastian Blanco‘s thigh for a pretty easy red card (though it took some time for Silviu Petrescu to produce the red).

VIDEO: France stars projected onto Arc de Triomphe

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If France’s players had any doubt about the level of import their World Cup title had back home, it was erased when their photos were projected onto one of the most celebrated monuments in the world.

The photos of Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and company made their way onto the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, hours after France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup Final.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The Arc de Triomphe honors those who died in the French Revolution and early 19th century wars, and sits above France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

How humbling must it be for those players to grace such a heavy monument (both in weight and substance).

Dalic: In one day, Croatia went from lucky to unlucky

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Ante Cacic’s Croatia was on pace to miss out on the World Cup.

Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia rallied the troops to second place in their qualifying group, a playoff defeat of Greece, and a run to the World Cup Final.

Pretty decent stuff.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

And surely the 51-year-old will reflect on that, probably even this evening, but he’s more focused on a letdown after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to highly-favored France.

Key to the match was a penalty awarded to France when a partially-obscured Mario Mandzukic handled a ball inside the 18, leading to Antoine Griezmann’s pivotal goal.

The PK was awarded via VAR, and France went up 2-1 en route to a three-goal lead. From the AFP:

“I never comment on referees but in a World Cup final you do not give such a penalty,” said Dalic.

“It in no way diminishes France’s win. We were a bit unlucky. Maybe in the first six games we were favored by luck and today we weren’t.

“I have to congratulate my players. Maybe today we played our best game at these championships. Against such a strong side as France you must not make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we must also be proud of what we’ve done.”

Croatia had two-thirds of the ball and doubled France’s shot attempts, and Dalic isn’t the least bit controversial in wondering whether the match is much different if that penalty goes unawarded by referee Nestor Pitana.

Atlanta comes back to draw 10-man Seattle (video)

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A scrappy if not downright venomous affair between the lowly Seattle Sounders and high-flying Atlanta United ended in a 1-1 draw in Georgia on Sunday.

The Sounders went ahead through a Nicolas Lodeiro penalty kick, awarded via VAR a la this morning’s World Cup Final, but Atlanta leveled the score with a highlight which show every bit of the game story.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

Just check Josef Martinez’s barking at Stefan Frei, who made an uncharacteristic error on the play, after his 19th goal of the season (Nice cross, Julian Gressel).

Martinez needs nine more goals to break the MLS single season record, and he has 13 games to score them.

Jordan McCrary was sent off for Seattle in the 63rd minute for a second yellow, but Seattle navigated the final half hour or so to scoop up an unlikely point.

Atlanta still sits first with its earned point but opens the door for New York City FC to reach the top of the table when it plays its match-in-hand, while Seattle is now 11 points back of the West’s final playoff spot.