Getty Images

Top Premier League storylines – Week 36

Leave a comment

For the last time as Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger will lead his side into Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.

It could be one of the last tactical battles between Jose Mourinho and Wenger, who is leaving Arsenal at the end of the season, with his future still up in the air. Those two have had plenty of history, with the battles playing out on the pitch and through the media.

Arsenal vs. Man United at the Theater of Dreams
Manchester United vs. Arsenal —  11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN

Manchester United has seemed to only play well in the big matches, and it has another one coming up this weekend.

Mourinho’s side picked up a huge momentum-gaining win last Saturday against Tottenham and have had a whole week to prepare, while Arsenal are coming off a deflating 1-1 draw against ten-men Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. It will come down to whether Paul Pogba can dominate the midfield, and keep the ball away from Arsenal’s attackers.

Liverpool takes on relegation-threatened Stoke City
Liverpool vs. Stoke City —  7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN

Coming off a hair-raising 5-goal performance in the UEFA Champions League, all eyes will be on Anfield to see if Jurgen Klopp rests any of his stars from his Liverpool side when it takes on Stoke City. Liverpool seems set for the Champions League next year, but are only three points above fourth-place Tottenham and Spurs have a game in hand.

Stoke City meanwhile sit deep in the relegation zone, and really need to win at least two games if not their final three to ensure safety.

Swansea hosts Chelsea in must-win game
Swansea City vs. Chelsea —  12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC

The Swans sit just four points above the relegation zone with just three games for them left, and they’re up against the wall, trying to survive.

Chelsea could be a difficult foil. Antonio Conte‘s side appears to be coming into good form, with Olivier Giroud impressing up top, and Swansea’s record against Chelsea isn’t particularly impressive. But with both teams gunning for the win, it should create quite the exciting matchup on broadcast television.

U.S. Open Cup: Goals a-plenty as Atlanta, Minnesota advance

Frank de Boer justin Meram Atlanta United
@ATLUTD
Leave a comment

The first two quarterfinal berths in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup were earned Tuesday with 3-2 away wins.

Columbus Crew 2-3 Atlanta United

A pair of goals from Brandon Vazquez helped Atlanta United overcome both the Columbus Crew and a 48-minute weather delay.

Miles Robinson also scored for Atlanta, while David Accam bagged a goal for the hosts.

A 71st minute Brad Guzan own goal set up a nervy final 20 minutes for the Five Stripes, but they navigated the obstacles and emerged into the quarterfinals

Atlanta will play the winner of FC Cincinnati and Saint Louis FC.

Houston Dynamo 2-3 Minnesota United

The Houston Dynamo thought they were cruising to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, and instead just waltzed right out of the tournament.

Up 2-0 at home and at halftime, the Dynamo conceded three times in the final 24 minutes to bow out of the USOC.

The victor, who deserves full marks, is Minnesota United. Darwin Quintero struck twice and Mason Toye scored in the 89th minute as the Loons advanced to play the winner of New Mexico United and FC Dallas. No Texas Derby in the cup this year.

Berhalter names first USMNT Starting XI for Gold Cup

Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
1 Comment

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Michael Bradley all start as the United States men’s national team will look a bit more like its best for Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener against Guyana.

The 10 p.m. ET kickoff in Minnesota will see the Yanks without injured Tyler Adams, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, and Sebastian Lletget, but Jozy Altidore has been relegated to the bench — perhaps not fully fit — behind Gyasi Zardes.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores, stats, lineups ]

The back line will see Nick Lima, Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, and Tim Ream, while Bradley, McKennie work atop them.

Paul Arriola and Tyler Boyd will be out wide, with Christian Pulisic central underneath Zardes.

The substitutes are Sean Johnson, Tyler Miller, Omar Gonzalez, Wil Trapp, Jordan Morris, Reggie Cannon, Cristian Roldan, Daniel Lovitz, Jozy Altidore, Jonathan Lewis, Matt Miazga, Djordje Mihailovic.

[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]

Chinese club reportedly offers $15M contract to Newcastle’s Benitez

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It would be peak Newcastle United of recent seasons to lose their coach to a squabble over the sort of players the manager wants to sign.

Rafa Benitez‘s contract expires at the end of this month, and he makes decent money at St. James’ Park, but his $6 million pales in comparison the money being offered by a Chinese Super League club.

[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]

Benitez wants to stay at Newcastle, but his concerns aren’t about his wages as much as being allowed to build a contender under stingy owner Mike Ashley. With the team possibly getting a takeover, Benitez is not guaranteed the chance to improve his roster. Not to mention Newcastle operates under club-wide restrictions.

Sky Sports says, “the former Liverpool, Chelsea and Valencia boss wants to be given the green light to sign players over the age of 26, which has been against club policy in previous years.”

Sky Sports reports that Benitez is mulling a $15 million offer from Dalian Yifang, the CSL team currently sitting in 11th place under former South Korea national team manager Kang-hee Choi.

Dalian Yifang currently employs transfer rumor mainstay Yannick Carrasco, as well as Marek Hamsik and young Ghanaian striker Emmanuel Boateng.

If Newcastle allows Benitez to leave and the takeover is not completed, it would be the most embarrassing thing for the club since Joe Kinnear couldn’t pronounce half of his players’ names. That’s saying something.

Gold Cup LIVE – USMNT meets Guyana after Panama, T&T tangle

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
Leave a comment

Gregg Berhalter’s shaky USMNT welcomes several of its star players into the fold when it kicks off its 2019 Gold Cup campaign against Guyana on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores ]

The match comes 2.5 hours after one between the two sides which conspired to keep the Yanks out of the 2018 World Cup.

While the USMNT played the biggest role in that monumental failure, Trinidad and Tobago is the team that beat the Yanks in Couva on the same night that Panama scored a ghost goal to push the U.S. into fifth in the Hex.

Guyana has lost to Haiti, Bermuda, and French Guiana in the last eight months, and it would be stunning if the U.S. didn’t post a generous amount of goals on the scoreboard even after miserable efforts against Jamaica’s B team and Venezuela.

Panama and T&T, on the other hand, should be a beauty, with Los Canaleros getting a bit older in the tooth and the Soca Warriors maturing a bit as a side.

Panama and T&T kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the USMNT expected to kickoff with Guyana a little after 10 p.m.