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Top 10 players to watch in January window

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January is here and the transfer window is open again with plenty of big moves rumored as Premier League clubs aim to kick on in the second half of the season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

With that in mind, here’s a look at 10 players you should keep an eye on during this month as they could be moving to or leaving the PL.

We will keep you updated with all the latest goings on throughout this month with analysis and reaction right here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
The 33-year-old isn’t getting much game time at Chelsea and reports suggest he is being offered to plenty of clubs, including Lyon, as Chelsea want to bring in Moussa Dembele. Giroud’s ability to hold the ball up and score goals mean plenty of PL clubs will be looking at a January move, maybe on loan, as the French international is out of contract this summer. He will be desperate for minutes in the second half of the season as he pushes to start for France at EURO 2020 this summer.


Nathan Ake (Bournemouth)
Currently out injured, Ake has been a rock for Bournemouth since he arrived on loan then permanently from Chelsea. It is said the Blues have a $50 million buyback clause and given their defensive problems this season, that would be a smart buy for Frank Lampard‘s side. The Dutch international has also been interesting Man City and Arsenal and if he doesn’t leave Bournemouth this January, he will be a man in demand this summer.


Jarrod Bowen (Hull City)
Teams in the bottom half of the table usually take a punt on a player doing really well in the Championship. Bowen, 23, fits the bill as he’s scored 17 goals for Hull City so far this season and bagged 22 last season. A real poacher in and around the box, Bowen has been linked with a move to Leicester, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Newcastle among others. He has come up through the ranks in non-league and seems capable of making the next step up.


Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)
A veteran striker with undoubted quality, both Arsenal and Man United have been linked with El Matador. So too have Atletico Madrid and Inter Miami, but Cavani, 32, playing in the Premier League would be very interesting. He is more physical than Gonzalo Higuain but injuries have hit him hard in recent months. Would he would be worth a gamble for a team pushing to get into the top four?


Moussa Dembele (Lyon)
The former Fulham and Celtic forward is a man in demand after another fine season in Ligue 1 for Lyon. Chelsea and Man United are said to be interested in signing him this month even though Lyon have said they don’t want to sell until summer, if they’re going to at all. Dembele, 23, is a clinical finisher who hovers around the box and he also has the ability to make clever runs behind opposition defenders. Would cost way over $70 million.


Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Available on a free this summer, Eriksen could well stay at Spurs and see out his contract but chairman Daniel Levy loves a good deal and if they can get a transfer fee for Eriksen now perhaps he will leave. Eriksen has been indifferent throughout this season as he’s been linked to Man United, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and other giant clubs across Europe. He has all of the ability to excel wherever he ends up and maybe it would be best for everyone if he moved on this month.


Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
Perhaps the man most coveted in this window, Zaha wanted to leave in the summer but Arsenal and Everton didn’t match Palace’s valuation. After a fine few months leading up to January he will probably go for close to $110 million and Chelsea are the frontrunners to sign him. Zaha’s pace and trickery are his main strengths and he is desperate to return to a team challenging for trophies and playing in the Champions League. At 27 years old, now seems like the perfect time for Zaha to make the step up.


Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid)
The French winger has reportedly been offered to Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and other Premier League clubs as Atletico try and move on the man they paid Monaco $66.5 million in the summer of 2018. Lemar, 24, has got regular minutes for Atletico but has only scored three times in 49 La Liga appearances. Surely, Spurs and maybe even Chelsea will see this as a cheaper, and very decent, alternative to buying someone like Sancho or Zaha.


Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham)
Crystal Palace, Southampton and others have been linked with a loan move for Spurs’ young right back who hasn’t been able to jump ahead of Serge Aurier. Walker-Peters needs game time to keep his development going and it is unlikely he will leave permanently. A no-brainer for PL clubs further down the table who want some extra help in defense.


Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)
Another January, another loan move on the cards for Batshuayi. The Belgian international has joined Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and Palace in recent windows and the likes of Palace and Aston Villa have been linked with a loan move for him this time around. Batshuayi is second-choice behind Tammy Abraham and Chelsea will not be willing to let him go if they fail to bring in Dembele, or someone else, in attack.

Burning question: What is the best formation?

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be asking some burning questions we have when it comes to the beautiful game and the first one focuses on something we all love to debate: formations.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release a burning question, as now seems like a good time to take stock of where the game is at and take a look at what we love and what we’d like to change as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Next question: What is the best formation to use?


Most coaches will tell you when asked that formations do not matter. We all know they do.

3-4-3? 4-4-2? 4-5-1? 4-3-3? 3-5-2? 4-1-4-1? 4-3-2-1? 4-2-2-2?

Which formation do you think is the best? Does a formation depend mostly on the players you have at your disposal or your preferred style of play? Most likely it is a combination of both but coaches often have a preferred formation and stick with it no matter what. Their philosophy and ideas mean everything to them.

I’m torn between 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 but I’d probably just about go for 4-3-3 because it is so well balanced. In an attacking team like Man City or Liverpool it works really well because essentially it gives you four defenders back at all times with one deeper central midfielder, two center backs and one full back sitting back.

When teams are under pressure the 4-3-3 then turns into more of a 4-5-1 formation with one central striker saying high and the two wingers tracking back and providing cover. Speaking about cover, 3-4-3 allows one center back to push forward and always have two center backs in defense, while full backs are able to push forward which is particularly important in the modern game. My main problem with 3-4-3 is that often you don’t need three center backs if teams sit back.

4-4-1-1 is solid and flexible as the player in the No. 10 position essentially becomes a striker but there just seems to be more danger from wide players when teams are set up in a 4-3-3 system because their first thought is to attack and they have the added cover of a central midfielder tucked in halfway behind them.

Simply put, I love 4-3-3. You may love something totally different, so let us know in the comments section below which formation is your favorite.

Chelsea’s Willian eager to stay in Premier League

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Chelsea and Brazil star Willian has revealed he is eager to stay in the Premier League, even if that’s not with Chelsea.

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Willian, 31, has revealed that contract talks have stopped for now during the suspension for the coronavirus pandemic, and his future is uncertain as his current deal at Chelsea expires this summer.

The likes of Tottenham and Arsenal have been linked with a move for Willian, who almost joined Spurs in 2013 but instead joined Chelsea in a last-second change of heart.

Willian told ESPN Brazil  that he wants to stay in the Premier League and he feels he is now at his peak.

“My wish is to stay in the Premier League, but I’m not ruling out playing in other leagues,” Willian said. “I’m going to play until the end of the season and then see what happens. I’m very used to life in England. I’m not thinking about going back to Corinthians at the moment. My aim is to stay in Europe. I feel that I’m at my peak at the moment. Players improve throughout their careers and I think I’m currently at my peak.”

It is not secret that Mourinho and Willian get on very well, which will intrigue Tottenham’s fans…

“I got on very well with Mourinho, learnt a lot under him and we’ve remained friends,” Willian said. “We still message each other a lot, but I don’t see him often. I haven’t managed to meet up with him since he came back to London.”

His form for Chelsea has been a little erratic this season but Frank Lampard has spoken fondly about Willian time and time again and it is quite clear Chelsea would like to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge for at least another season.

With so many young wingers around (Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount to name a few), Willian can help ease them into the first team but there’s no doubting plenty of Premier League clubs will be eager to snap him up on a free transfer this summer, or whenever the transfer window reopens.

Tottenham would seem like a particularly good fit for Willian. He would link up with Jose Mourinho, the manage who bought him to Chelsea, and his experience would be vital at Spurs as they aim to finally secure some silverware. Tottenham need to prioritize buying new defenders but if Willian is available for free, you can’t turn that deal down, even if he turned Spurs and Daniel Levy down in 2013…

Arsenal would make sense too but you’d have to say Tottenham are the frontrunners given the connection between Willian and Mourinho. Of course, he could stay at Chelsea, but with Pedro also out of contract it does feel like a changing of the guard as Lampard will put his faith totally in new signing Hakim Ziyech, Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi next season.

With $2.7 billion reserves, FIFA has ‘duty’ to aid virus-hit soccer

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FIFA says it has a “duty” to use its vast financial reserves to assist a football industry ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic wiping out games and creating unexpected economic hardship in the world’s biggest sport.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The spread of COVID-19 has impacted the wealthiest clubs, with Barcelona and Juventus players taking wage cuts; those in smaller countries, with Slovakian champion Zilina entering bankruptcy; and national football federations, with Uruguay furloughing hundreds of staff.

Having amassed reserves it last reported at $2.745 billion, FIFA has the resources to give much-needed financial help to the game at many levels. Now the organization has provided more details around the need agreed two weeks ago by FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his vice presidents to explore a “support fund” for the sport.

“FIFA is in a strong financial situation and it’s our duty to do the utmost to help them in their hour of need,” world football’s governing body said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football.”

FIFA is exploring the mechanism to provide the financial lifeline to the football industry with the six regional confederations and member associations to ensure there is an announcement “in the near future.”

“The football community around the world is experiencing, to a greater or lesser extent, serious financial problems on account of the coronavirus outbreak,” FIFA said. “This threatens to disrupt and impair the ability of FIFA’s member associations and other football organizations such as leagues and clubs to develop, finance and run football activities at all levels of the game, including professional, non-professional, youth and grassroots.

“It is foreseen that in many parts of the world a considerable number of persons involved in football including both men and women players will be left in extremely difficult economic conditions.”

FIFA already operates a “Forward” development program to redistribute its wealth to member associations. In the 2015-18 cycle, investment dedicated to the scheme was $1.079 billion, of which $832 million had been approved and committed to member associations, confederations or regions, according to the last published financial results.

Premier League TV schedule: April 4-5

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We have 16 hours of Premier League programming coming your way this weekend and here is your TV schedule for April 4-5

This Saturday and Sunday we will have eight hours of programming coming your way each morning from 6 a.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN on your TV.

With the current 2019-20 Premier League season suspended until April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have a lot of programming treats planned for you in the coming weeks and will keep up fully updated with a TV schedule posted every single week.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ]

Remember, during the season you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today, Sky Sports News, NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Below is your full Premier League TV schedule and stream links for Saturday and Sunday as we have classic matches, Goal of the Season, Behind the Badge, a focus on Liverpool v. Man City and much more coming up.


FULL TV SCHEDULE FOR NBCSN

Saturday, April 4
6-6:30 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Matt Le Tissier [STREAM]
6:30-7 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – John Barnes [STREAM]
7-7:30 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Sol Campbell [STREAM]
7:30-8 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Ryan Giggs [STREAM]
8-9 a.m. ET: PL Goals of the Season: 2001-02 [STREAM]
9-10 a.m. ET: PL Goals of the Season: 2002-03 [STREAM]
10-10:30 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Liverpool v. Tottenham, Feb. 2015 [STREAM]
10:30-11 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Chelsea v. Man United, Feb. 2012 [STREAM]
11-11:30 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Tottenham v. Chelsea, Jan.  2015 [STREAM]
11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET: Classic Match: Man United v. Arsenal, Aug., 2011 [STREAM]
12-12:30 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 1 [STREAM]
12:30-  p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 2 [STREAM]
1-1:30 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 3 [STREAM]
1:30-2 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 4 [STREAM]

Sunday, April 5
6-7 a.m. ET: PL season in review 1998-99 [STREAM]
7-8 a.m. ET: PL season in review 1999-00 [STREAM]
8-10 a.m. ET: Match of the Week, Man City v. QPR, May 2012 [STREAM]
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET: Match of the Week, Everton v. Liverpool, Nov. 2013 [STREAM]
12 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET: Match of the Week, Chelsea v. Arsenal, Oct. 2014 [STREAM]