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Premier League Preview: Leicester City v. Tottenham

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  • Leicester City has won 25 points since Brendan Rodgers‘ first match in charge in March (W7 D4 L4). Only Liverpool (43), Man City (37) and Chelsea (27) have picked up more in that period
  • Tottenham Hotspur has won four of their last five Premier League matches against Leicester City, including the last three in a row. Spurs have never won four consecutive top-flight matches against the Foxes. 
  • Jamie Vardy has scored in his last three Premier League matches against Spurs, netting four goals during this run. Meanwhile, Harry Kane has scored 13 goals in 12 matches against Leicester City. 

Matchweek 7 of the 2019-20 Premier League season continues on Saturday morning with a terrific matchup between Leicester City and Tottenham. (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com)

Leicester City lost its first game of the season last week at Man United, with manager Brendan Rodgers criticized post game for setting his side up too defensively when they were almost the favorite coming into the match. Tottenham meanwhile has recovered from a shaky start, won last week, 4-0 over Crystal Palace and is unbeaten in three matches in all competitions.

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Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy both have great goal records against the opponents clubs, which makes this game a must-watch for those who are hoping for a bonanza of goals. With both teams tied on eight points and right in the mix for a top four position, there’s plenty on the line for Saturday’s game at the King Power Stadium.

Injuries/suspensions

Leicester City: OUT – Matthew James (Achilles)

Tottenham: OUT – Giovani Lo Celso (hip), Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE – Juan Foyth (ankle)


Projected lineups

Leicester City: Schmeichel – Pereira, Evans, Söyüncü, Chilwell – Tielemens, Ndidi, Maddison – Perez, Vardy, Gray

Tottenham: Lloris – Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose – Eriksen, Ndombele, Alli – Son, Kane, Lamela


What they’re saying

Brendan Rodgers, on facing Tottenham after a trip to Greece: “It can help (us), but you have to make it happen, that’s important. Hopefully it happens to us here in future, that we have midweek games in Europe, and then Premier League games. It’s not easy, with all the travelling and the games, but they will bring a very, very top team. They have robust players, a good squad, where they can interchange and swap players, but we’ve had a great week’s training. We’ll finish our preparation off tomorrow and we’ll be ready.”

Mauricio Pochettino, on facing Leicester City: “They are a very good team. After winning the Premier League, they have rebuilt the team. Today’s it’s a different squad, new mentality, new manager and a great manager like Brendan. That is why it’s going to be tough.

“At the moment it’s so early to talk about which teams are going to be (in the top four). But of course, the Leicester squad is so good with a great manager, for sure they will be in a good position at the end of the season. But at the moment it’s so early to talk about being a contender for top four or top six.”


Prediction

This is one that you could really see going either way. Leicester City seems to be very strong under Brendan Rodgers and may even battle for the top six this season, while Tottenham’s attack seems on point right now. Defensively however, it’s been another story. We think both sides will share the spoils in a back and forth tactical battle.

Leicester City 2-2 Tottenham

Ranking the Ballon d’Or finalists

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The Ballon d’Or finalists for 2019 were announced by France Football on Monday, and there has been plenty of discussion not only about players included in the shortlist or those that missed out, but who deserves to win the highest award in the game.

So, who does?

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With seven players from Liverpool, five from Man City and the usual suspects in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi all nominated, some stars left out include Harry Kane, Neymar and N’Golo Kante to name a few.

Below we rank the finalists, 30-1, in terms of who we think are the best players.

Feel free to do the same in the comments section below.


30. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
29. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
28. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)
27. Marquinhos (PSG)
26. Donny van de Beek (Ajax)
25. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham)
24. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
23. Riyad Mahrez (Man City)
22. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
21. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
20. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona)
19. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
18. Sergio Aguero (Man City)
17. Dusan Tadic (Ajax)
16. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
15. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
14. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
13. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
12. Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)
11. Bernardo Silva (Man City)
10. Alisson (Liverpool)
9. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
8. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)
7. Frenkie De Jong (Barcelona)
6. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
5. Raheem Sterling (Man City)
4. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
1. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool)

Xhaka slams “bulls***” criticism of Arsenal

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Arsenal have been targets for a lot of criticism recently.

Granit Xhaka is usually at the center of it.

The Gunners captain came out all guns blazing after they lost 1-0 at Sheffield United on Monday, as he addressed Patrice Evra‘s comments that Arsenal are “babies” and always will be due to their mentality.

“We have to stop about mental [strength] bulls*** like this. For me, it is the same whether you play home or away – you have to win and show big character and a good game and not to always find the same excuse,” Xhaka said. “A lot of people they speak too much. It is not the first time he has spoken something about us. I have a lot of respect for him as he was a great player but you have to be careful what you say. But it is not only him – a lot of people speak a lot of bulls*** about us. It’s always the same.

“For me it is strange as they were in the same situation as us, they were players as well. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is not always good but every week they speak bulls*** like this every week. I tell you the honest truth, I’m not interested in what people say and speak. We have to speak in our group to improve things and work hard and not listen to these people.”

Xhaka and Arsenal have only lost twice this season, 3-1 at Liverpool and 1-0 at Sheffield United.

But aside from being fifth in the table and two points outside the top four, pressure is being placed on Unai Emery and his squad as they’ve narrowly beaten Bournemouth, Burnley, Newcastle and Aston Villa so far. Their performances aren’t instilling confidence in anyone that they can seriously push for a top four finish this season.

Has much changed under Emery in the past 15 months? Nope. This is pretty much the same Arsenal team making the same old mistakes and looking vulnerable away from home. Nothing new here. Sure, some new players have arrived, but David Luiz, Pepe and Sokratis have all been hit and miss so far and it has been left to Matteo Guendouzi and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to try and rescue the Gunners each and every week.

Emery was supposed to change their style of play, develop them into a stronger team defensively and improve their chances of challenging for trophies once again.

None of that has happened, and it doesn’t look closer to happening. That is why the critics are circling around the Gunners. Monday was the perfect opportunity to prove their mentality had changed and they are a stronger, more balanced team under Emery. They aren’t and something drastic will have to change for them if Emery is going to win over the fans, and pundits, once again.

Ronaldo not ready for retirement: ‘Age is just a number’

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Cristiano Ronaldo reassured Juventus supporters and his legions of fans worldwide that at 34 he’s not ready for retirement yet.

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“Age is just a number. It does not mean that at 34, 35, 36 you are at the end of your career,” Ronaldo said at a news conference ahead of Juventus’ Champions League match against Lokomotiv Moscow on Tuesday. “I can show that with my performances, how I play, the way I play, the way I still feel good, sharp, thinking about the game, more mature. This makes the difference.”

In the second season of a four-year deal at Juventus, Ronaldo had sparked concern among his fans when he said in an interview published a few weeks ago that he was starting to enjoy seeing himself “outside of football, so who knows what will happen in the next year or two?”

Ronaldo recently scored his 700th goal as a professional while on international duty with Portugal and has been nominated for a record sixth Ballon d’Or award – which would break his tie of five with Lionel Messi.

But Ronaldo said he’s more interested in winning a treble with Juventus.

“We want to win Serie A, we want to win the Cup, the Champions League,” he said. “Juventus should think big. … We are going to try to win all the trophies, we know it will be difficult, especially the league and the Champions League, but I think it is possible. Everything is possible.

“In terms of individual, I have nothing to say as this is individual. It is not the most important thing,” Ronaldo added. “The most important is the collective awards. If you win the collective awards you have more chance to win the individual awards. … The Golden Ball is for me in second place.”

While retirement may not be on Ronaldo’s mind yet, family time is a big part of his life now.

“To win games, to score goals, to enjoy myself, to arrive home and see my kids happy and say, `Congratulations daddy for scoring a goal.’ That makes me happy,” he said. “This is my motivation to come to train, for the games, to entertain people and the fans with my passion.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf

Carragher apologizes to Evra over Suarez t-shirts

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Jamie Carragher has apologized to Patrice Evra after Liverpool wore t-shirts in support of Luis Suarez in 2011.

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The day after Suarez was banned for eight games by the English Football Association, who found him guilty of racially abusing Evra, Liverpool’s players put on t-shirts with Suarez on the front and back during their warm up in a Premier League game against Wigan Athletic.

Carragher and Evra were both analysts for our partners at Sky Sports in the UK on Monday Night Football for the clash between Sheffield United and Arsenal, and discussed the current problems with racism in the game.

“There is no doubt we made a massive mistake; that was obvious,” Carragher said.

Liverpool’s former vice-captain asked Evra how he felt regarding the situation with Suarez, and the former Man United, Juventus and Monaco left back revealed his disgust at the way the situation was handled.

“When I saw it I was like, this is ridiculous. This is unbelievable,” Evra said. You put your own club in danger when you do those things. You always have to support your player because he is from your team but this was after the ban. If it was before and we were waiting for the sanction, I would understand. What message do you send to the world? Supporting someone being banned because he used some racist words.”

Click play on the video above for the full discussion between Carragher and Evra.