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Saturday friendly preview: Top Premier League teams all in ICC action

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Saturday serves up a jam-packed slate of friendlies as the Premier League opener is less than two short weeks away. Here’s a quick overview of what to watch for as the teams take the field in preparation for the start of the league season.

Arsenal vs Paris Saint-Germain

Unai Emery continues his run-up to his first official match in charge of Arsenal, and the regulars are seeing plenty of the field. In their last International Champions match, a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid precluded a hideous penalty shootout where three of four Gunners to take failed to find the back of the net. Still, the performance was promising as the Gunners held 61% possession and put six shots on target.

Now, Emery takes on his former club as they face off against Thomas Tuchel and PSG. There is a defensive setup to be earned, with Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, and Calum Chambers all battling along with new signing Sokratis for two central defensive spots. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will hope to see their names on the scoresheet as the preseason moves on, held off it in the ICC opener.

Manchester United vs. Liverpool

They say preseason performances mean nothing, but don’t tell that to Jose Mourinho. Manchester United’s preseason has been criticized heavily, with lackluster performances and sluggish buildup have fans worried for the upcoming campaign. One bright spot has been Alexis Sanchez who has looked far more comfortable in a Red Devils shirt than he did following his move last winter.

Another positive has been Ander Herrera, who is excelling in a Jose Mourinho setup. The midfielder has proven solid cover to the defensive back line while also providing dangerous distribution up front.

Meanwhile, Mo Salah did nothing to quiet the excitement for his second season in Liverpool red, scoring just over a minute after coming on as a second half substitute in Liverpool’s comeback ICC win over Manchester City. Virgil Van Dijk also looks every bit the record signing he was, and the Reds look primed for another exciting season. This could be a fun one at the Big House.

Chelsea vs Inter

The Blues have begun their preseason tour of the globe, but they are devoid of significant talent with World Cup performers yet to join the squad. They met Perth Glory in Australia, now face Inter in France, and then head to Dublin to play Arsenal in a true trip around the globe.

Maurizio Sarri has plenty of work to do, but a positive has been new signing Jorginho, who came over from Napoli alongside his boss. Cesc Fabregas also looked sharp against Perth Glory, but Kurt Zouma is injured and remains in London.

Bayern Munich vs Manchester City

Man City makes its third and final appearance in the ICC after a pair of losses to Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund. Like Chelsea, the City preseason squad is ravaged by World Cup participants, left with a youthful group of backups. New signing Riyad Mahrez was on hand to start and play 74 minutes in the loss to Liverpool, Leroy Sane came on in the second half to score a goal, and former Chicago Fire and NYCFC striker Jack Harrison showed well. Otherwise, there is little of note in the City squad besides a chance for Bernardo Silva, Patrick Roberts, and Phil Foden to get some minutes in a bid to impress and earn first-team minutes this season.

Barcelona vs Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs heads to the Rose Bowl to take on Barcelona in ICC action. The La Liga giants receive their first preseason action, and in the squad is new signing Malcom.

For Mauricio Pochettino, he has a somewhat strong squad in the United States, but they are devoid of just the English stars that reached the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup and still giving fringe players plenty of chances to impress. Christian Eriksen is in tow despite his appearance in Russia this summer, and American defender Cameron Carter-Vickers is seeing significant time at the back. Midfielder Lucas Moura is hoping to give Pochettino something to think about, scoring a brace in the 4-1 win over Roma last time out and looking to compete with Eriksen and Dele Alli for midfield playing time. Serge Aurier is also receiving important minutes as he returns from a serious knee injury and hopes to compete with World Cup hero Kieran Trippier.

Leicester City vs. Udinese

The only Premier League team in action Saturday outside of the ICC, Leicester City meets Italian side Udinese in Austria’s Worthersee Stadion. The players are dealing with serious heat and humidity in central Europe, and they all have to play sidekicks to Austrian international Christian Fuchs who has drawn significant attention on their preseason tour. Still, the squad is strong, with World Cup participants such as Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfried Ndidi now with the team and participating in full training, set to see time in the match.

Tottenham 5-4 Leicester City: Wild win for Spurs

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  • Kane scores twice, has 30 for season
  • Vardy scores twice, 20 for season 
  • Spurs finish third in PL table; Leicester ninth

Tottenham Hotspur won a nine-goal thriller at Wembley on Sunday, as Mauricio Pochettino‘s men secured a place in the Premier League’s top four for the third-straight season.

Jamie Vardy scored twice, as did Harry Kane and Erik Lamela as Leicester threw away a 3-1 lead.

Tottenham finish the season on 77 points, while Leicester have 47 points but Claude Puel’s future is uncertain.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The game got off to a rapid start as Vardy flicked home a header at the near post from Mahrez’s perfect free kick. An 19th PL goal of the season from Vardy gave Leicester the lead.

At the other end moments later Vardy’s international teammate, Kane, equalized as he made the most of a mistake from Simpson. Kane raced clear and slotted home to make it 1-1 as he tried to win the PL Golden Boot for the third-straight season.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Toby Alderweireld then had a decent effort on target which was saved and then Leicester retook the lead. Vardy controlled in the box and an onrushing Mahrez slammed home to make it 2-1.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

At the start of the second half Leicester went 3-1 up via a stunner from Iheanacho from outside the box but soon the game turned on its head.

Lamela tapped home to make it 3-2, then a shot was deflected off Christian Fuchs and in to make it 3-3 four minutes later. Harry Maguire then had a shot which he scuffed just wide as the crazy game was end-to-end.

Lamela scored another to make it 4-3 as Spurs scored three times in the space of 11 minutes to turn the game on its head.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Vardy then made it 4-4 as Mahrez timed his pass perfectly and Vardy smashed home his 20th goal of the PL season in style.

Yet there was one more twist in the tale as Kane cut inside and curled home perfectly into the far corner to make it 5-4 as Spurs won a nine-goal thriller to see out their time at Wembley.

Manchester City 5-1 Leicester City: Aguero, KDB on fire

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  • Sterling scores very early
  • Vardy nabs 13th PL goal
  • Aguero scores four
  • De Bruyne assists three

Sergio Aguero put an exclamation point on a thrilling night with a glorious fourth goal as Manchester City scored in the first three minutes of each half to beat Leicester City 5-1 on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium.

Kevin De Bruyne pulled the strings for goals by Raheem Sterling and two of Sergio Aguero’s four.

Man City’s point total means it could lose every remaining league match and finish no lower than sixth. City has 72 points and a 16-point lead on Man Utd, who plays Sunday.

Jamie Vardy scored for Leicester, making him the first player in league history to score against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur in the same season.

The Foxes remains eighth with 35 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sterling proved his confidence was fine despite a brutal late miss against Burnley, meeting Kevin De Bruyne’s cross for a third minute goal inside the six-yard box.

A Christian Fuchs stop on Sergio Aguero brought a counter attack for Leicester, and Vardy moved past an Ilkay Gundogan slide tackle to shoot past a continually backing off Aymeric Laporte and behind Ederson. 1-1, 25′.

Sterling dove to win a dangerous free kickoff Wilfred Ndidi in the 36th minute, but a leaping Nicolas Otamendi could not meet De Bruyne’s long range pass.

The goal scorer fooled Kasper Schmeichel on a dribble inside the six, but a sliding Aleksandar Dragovic meant Sterling won a corner kick, not a brace.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

It took less than three minutes of the second half for De Bruyne to work more magic, putting together a brilliant team goal for Aguero with Oleksandar Zinchenko and Sterling.

De Bruyne slipped Aguero through for another within 10 minutes, continuing his almost certain PL Player of the Year campaign.

Schmeichel would later give the ball to Aguero inside the 18 to complete another hat trick for one of the PL’s all-time greats.

And Aguero made it four for him and five for his side when he took a feed from Phil Foden and lashed a beauty off the underside of the bar.

Leicester 2-2 Man United: Foxes rob Red Devils late

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  • Mahrez-to-Vardy flashbacks to 2015-16
  • Mata brings United level before HT
  • Mata’s free kick makes it 2-1
  • Maguire steals a point in 94′

Manchester United fell a goal behind early, came back to within seconds beat Leicester City courtesy of two goals scored by Juan Mata, but were punished for not putting the game beyond reach and ultimately dropped two points on Saturday at the King Power Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The result sees Jose Mourinho’s second-place side fall to 13 points off the pace of runaway league leaders Manchester City, who won in convincing fashion (again) on Saturday.

The game’s opening goal, scored by the Foxes in the 27th minutes, was as on-brand as any goal in PL history. Demarai Gray sent Riyad Mahrez through into acres of open field with a long diagonal ball over the top. Mahrez ran onto it, raced to the top of the 18-yard box, held up play very briefly and slotted the perfect through ball for Jamie Vardy to slide past David De Gea first-time.

Thus, Vardy’s 50th PL goal adds to his sublime scoring record against the league’s top-six sides.

Leicester’s lead wouldn’t quite survive until halftime, though, as Juan Mata drew the Red Devils level in the 40th minute. He needed a bit of good fortune — and perhaps the slightest of deflections — to squeeze his left-footed effort between two Leicester defenders and tuck it just inside Kasper Schmeichel‘s left-hand post, and he got it.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

The second half’s opening 10 minutes began in frantic fashion, as each side failed to convert a golden opportunity on opposite ends of the field within 30 seconds of one another.

Christian Fuchs had a nearly open-net chance before Victor Lindelof scrambled across the face of goal to get in the way and make the block. United immediately raced down the other end of the field, where Romelu Lukaku picked out Anthony Martial with a perfectly-placed ball toward the penalty spot, but the Frenchman blazed his shot over the crossbar, and both sides came up empty.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

United wouldn’t wait long for another scoring chance, though the degree of difficulty would be far greater than Martial’s miss moments earlier. Mata delicately lifted his free kick over the leaping wall from the edge of the box. Schmeichel didn’t react until three-quarters of the way through the ball’s flight, at which point he had no chance of making the save.

Lukaku turned playmaker once again int he 72nd minute, when he slotted another through ball into a dangerous area, this time for Jesse Lingard. The hard part had been done already — Lingard rounded Schmeichel with ease — but the post denied what appeared a surefire goal to hand United a two-goal lead.

Daniel Amartey earned himself a pair of yellow cards just 17 minutes apart after coming on just before the hour mark, reducing Leicester to 10 men. Marcus Rashford let another open-net chance get away from United, as he stumbled over his own feet and hit the ground after rounding Schmeichel himself, and United were made to pay for not putting the game to bed.

Marc Albrighton lofted a hopeful ball into a dangerous spot inside the six-yard box, and Harry Maguire slid in at the back post to poke it past De Gea in the 94th minute, with what appeared to be fewer than 20 seconds of stoppage time remaining.

Southampton 1-4 Leicester: Foxes thrash sorry Saints

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  • Okazaki scores twice
  • King, Mahrez grab a goal each
  • Four wins on the spin for Leicester

Leicester City beat Southampton 4-1 at St Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday with former Saints boss Claude Puel seeing his side put on a show during his first return to Southampton.

The Foxes were 3-0 up at half time and it could’ve been more with Riyad Mahrez scoring a fine goal, then Shinji Okazaki and Andy King tapping home before the break.

Saints pulled one back through Maya Yoshida early in the second half as the hosts threatened an unlikely comeback but another devastating counter from Leicester saw Okazaki finish Southampton off.

With the win Leicester are in eighth place and five points off the top four with just one defeat in 12 games, while Saints have 18 points and are just four points above the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Saints started the game well as Maya Yoshida went close from two corners but Leicester always looked lively on the break and Jamie Vardy almost found Shinji Okazaki early on.

The home side didn’t heed that warning and Mahrez made it 1-0 to Leicester with a fine finish as he ran towards the box after two Saints players slipped up trying to tackle him, then struck low into the far corner from 25 yards out. Another beauty for the Mahrez collection.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Leicester took control of the game after going ahead with Okazaki’s deflected shot heading towards the top corner but Fraser Forster tipped wide.

Moments later the Japanese international through he had made it 2-0 but his shot was cleared off the line by Mario Lemina. Vardy was then brilliantly denied by Forster but soon after it was 2-0 as Christian Fuchs volleyed towards goal and Okazaki cleaned up in front of the net.

And it got worse for Saints as the Foxes flooded forward and from a set piece center back Harry Maguire whipped in a great cross for King to make it 3-0. Charlie Austin had a shot on target which Kasper Schmeichel beat away but that was as good as it got for Saints. A stunning first half for Leicester.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Saints were stunned and Manolo Gabbiadini came on at half time to try and salvage some pride.

They at least scored. A corner from the right found Yoshida and his header towards goal missed Tadic on the line and went in. 3-1. It should have been 3-2 soon after but somehow Schmeichel denied Austin from close range after a fine cross from Ryan Bertrand.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Any hope of a remarkable Saints comeback was extinguished with 20 minutes to go as a poor cross-field ball from Cedric found Mahrez who played the ball to Vardy and his cross was swept home by Okazaki for his second and Leicester’s fourth goal of the game. Game over.