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Premier League preview: Chelsea v. Huddersfield

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  • Sarri defeated Huddersfield in his Chelsea debut this season
  • Chelsea have not lost 3 straight PL matches since Nov 2015
  • Huddersfield have lost all 7 vs current top six this season by 19-2 score

A pair of squads in dire situations at opposite ends of the table meet as Chelsea hosts Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

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Chelsea is in danger of falling out of the top four, caught by Arsenal in the league table on points and goal differential. The Blues were obliterated by Bournemouth last time out and have won just one of their past four Premier League matches. In addition to the poor league form, new striker Gonzalo Higuain is already struggling for fitness and could miss out with a back problem, leaving manager Maurizio Sarri with yet another dilemma up front.

That’s the only injury concern for Chelsea, however, and Sarri is tasked with turning around a group that had instant success under the new Blues boss, only losing for the first time this season in late November. The recent turn of fortunes, however, has fans worried they could miss out on Champions League qualification for a second consecutive year, with Arsenal level and Manchester United just two points back.

Huddersfield is struggling on a different level, bottom of the league with a whopping six-point gap between the Terriers and any other club. Philip Billing is reportedly healthy after missing two matches with a knee problem, while 21-year-old Karlan Grant is in contention for his debut after signing from Charlton Athletic.

This place is a familiar location for the Terriers, having earned a valuable draw last season that ensured Premier League survival. Now, having lost 10 of their last 11 Premier League matches and without a win since November, the situation is far more concerning this time around.

With Manchester City coming up next weekend, this game could represent a classic trap game for Chelsea, looking ahead to the vulnerable defending champions with a chance to turn the season around and secure Sarri’s managerial status.

What they’re saying

Sarri on coaching turnover in the PL: “There are three teams above the others. In one, the coach arrived five years ago [Pochettino], in one four years ago [Klopp] and in the other three years ago [Guardiola]. The situation is clear – English football is in the hands of these teams because they had a plan and they were really passionate. We need to work to change the mentality and to go on. The situation for me is very, very clear.”

Huddersfield manager Jan Siewert on playing Chelsea in bad form: “There is never a good time [to play Chelsea] – this is just the task we are given. For me it was the possibility to observe Chelsea [in midweek], so I know the situation and I know they have difficulties.”

Video preview

Prediction

Chelsea is in a bad way, but Huddersfield is far worse. They seem to be the odds-on favorite to go down, and Chelsea does not seem like the team that will bow to the woeful Terriers. The Blues win 2-0 and move on comfortably to face Manchester City.

FOLLOW LIVE, Gold Cup: USMNT closes out group v. Panama

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It’s a fully-changed starting XI for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it closes out the group stage against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga start together in the backline, Jozy Altidore returns to the starting lineup up top, and Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis feature on the wings alongside Altidore. Ten of the 11 players now ply their trade in MLS, including the Gonzalez, who recently moved to Toronto FC.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT takes on Panama in Kansas City]

Hit the link above to follow along for the next two hours, and check back on PST for a full recap and in-depth analysis after the final whistle.

Must-See Goal: Wayne Rooney v. Orlando City

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. Wayne Rooney just scored the most amazing goal in Audi Field’s young history.

In the 10th minute of D.C. United’s match against Orlando City SC on Wednesday evening, Rooney noticed Orlando’s Brian Rowe straying way off his line. And so, with an audacious but accurate attempt, Rooney let fly from 65 yards and SCORED. Just check this goal out below.

[FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT v. Panama]

Rooney took advantage of a crazy bounce and with his literal first touch, unleashed a thunderbolt that Rowe couldn’t catch up to. It automatically becomes one of the top contenders for the MLS Goal of the Year, and should make it on every top ten countdown this evening and tomorrow.

Benfica: Atletico Madrid make $143 million bid for Felix

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The legend of Joao Felix appears to have reached full market value potential.

The 19-year-old Portuguese striker is coming off a breakout year for Benfica, and now the Portuguese giants have received an impressive $143 million offer from Atletico Madrid for Felix. The club confirmed the offer in a statement on its website, stating it was analyzing the deal. Felix has a $136.5 million release clause in his contract, but it appears the additional $7 million is in processing costs.

[READ: Kroos wants to retire at Real Madrid]

Felix was outstanding at Benfica last year, scoring 15 goals with seven assists in 26 league games and three goals and one assist in five Europa League game. Felix has already made his international debut for Portugal.

If confirmed, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive transfer in world history, and the second-most expensive transfer for a teenager behind Kylian Mbappe.

AFCON: Nigeria 1st team through to round of 16 at African Cup, joined by host Egypt

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CAIRO (AP) Former champion Nigeria became the first team to reach the last 16 at the African Cup of Nations after defender Kenneth Omeruo‘s second-half goal delivered a 1-0 win over Guinea on Wednesday.

The Nigerians were unimpressive in the first half in Alexandria but lifted their game in the second. Alex Iwobi‘s rasping shot was pushed away by Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone and Ahmed Musa almost set up Odion Ighalo on a counterattack.

The former Chelsea defender Omeruo did what the forwards had not been able to do when he beat Kone with a glancing header at the near post off Moses Simon’s corner in the 73rd minute.

Nigeria, which won the title in 2013, has two wins from two games in Group B. It beat Burundi 1-0 in its first match and now needs a draw from its last fixture against Madagascar to finish top and stay in Alexandria for the last 16.

There was more good news for Nigeria when Samuel Kalu came on as a substitute near the end. The midfield player collapsed at a training session the day before the first game, suffering from dehydration, and was hospitalized.

Coach Gernot Rohr rested captain John Obi Mikel against Guinea.

Elsewhere, Egypt also confirmed a place in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ahmad Elmohamady and Mohamed Salah each scored in the first half to lead the Pharoahs to victory, the hosts second-straight win in the competition.

In the other match of the day, Uganda tied Zimbabwe, 1-1.