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UCL, Europa League third round qualifying draw

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The third qualifying round draw for the UEFA Champions League and Europa League took place on Monday, with some intriguing clashes set up for the next few weeks.

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Premier League side Burnley face Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen in their Europa League second qualifying round game this week and if the Clarets are victorious they now know they will face Turkish outfit Istanbul Basaksehir.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]  

The likes of Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gokhan Inler and Arda Turan all play for Basaksehir who finished third in the Turkish Super Lig last season, just three points behind first-place Galatasaray.

Celtic will play against AEK Athens if they get past Rosenborg in their UCL second qualifying round ties, while there is a big clash set up in the UCL third qualifying round in the League Path as Benfica play against Fenerbahce.

[ MORE: Europa League schedule

Below is a look at the draws in full for the UCL and Europa League third qualifying rounds.


UEFA Champions League (to be played August 7/8, 14)

Champions path
Celtic (SCO)/Rosenborg (NOR) v AEK Athens (GRE)
Salzburg (AUT) v Shkendija (MKD)/Sheriff (MDA)
Crvena zvezda (SRB)/Sūduva (LTU) v Legia Warszawa (POL)/Spartak Trnava (SVK)
Kukes (ALB)/Qarabag (AZE) v BATE Borisov (BLR)/HJK Helsinki (FIN)
Astana (KAZ)/Midtjylland (DEN) v Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)/Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR)
CFR Cluj (ROU)/Malmo (SWE) v Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)/Vidi (HUN)

* clubs who lose in this round qualify for the Europa League champions path playoff round

League path
Standard Liege (BEL) v Ajax (NED)/Sturm Graz (AUT)
Benfica (POR) v Fenerbahce (TUR)
Slavia Praha (CZE) v Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)
PAOK (GRE)/Basel (SUI) v Spartak Moskva (RUS)

* clubs who lose in this round qualify for the Europa League group stage


UEFA Europa League, third qualifying round (to be played August 9, 16)

Champions path
Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)/Vidi (HUN) v Zrinjski (BIH)/Valletta (MLT)
Legia Warszawa (POL)/Spartak Trnava (SVK) v F91 Dudelange (LUX)/Drita (KOS)
Sutjeska (MNE)/Alashkert (ARM) v CFR Cluj (ROU) v Malmö (SWE)
Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN) v Crusaders (NIR) v BATE Borisov (BLR)/HJK Helsinki (FIN)
Shkendija (MKD)/Sheriff (MDA) v FC Santa Coloma (AND)/Valur Reykjavík (ISL)

Cork City (IRL) v Celtic (SCO)/Rosenborg (NOR)
Spartaks Jurmala (LVA)/La Fiorita (SMR) v Crvena zvezda (SRB)/Suduva (LTU)
The New Saints (WAL)/Lincoln Red Imps (GIB) v Astana (KAZ)/Midtjylland (DEN)
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)/Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR) v APOEL (CYP)/Flora Tallinn (EST)
Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO)/Vikingur (FRO) v Kukes (ALB)/Qarabag (AZE)

Main path
Tobol Kostanay (KAZ)/Pyunik (ARM) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR)/Radnicki Nis (SRB)
Dunajska Streda (SVK)/Dinamo Minsk (BLR) v Zenit (RUS)
Ajax (NED)/Sturm Graz (AUT) v Dundalk (IRL)/AEK Larnaca (CYP)
St. Gallen (SUI)/Sarpsborg (NOR) v HNK Rijeka (CRO)
İstanbul Basaksehir (TUR) v Aberdeen (SCO)/Burnley (ENG)

Zorya Luhansk (UKR) v Braga (POR)
Hapoel Haifa (ISR)/FH Hafnarfjordur (ISL) v Atalanta (ITA)/Sarajevo (BIH)
Genk (BEL)/Fola Esch (LUX) v Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR)/Lech Poznań (POL)
Viitorul (ROU)/Vitesse (NED) v PAOK (GRE)/Basel (SUI)
Nordsjælland (DEN)/AIK (SWE) v Partizan (SRB)/Trakai (LTU)

Hibernian (SCO)/Asteras Tripolis (GRE) v Molde (NOR)/Lac (ALB)
Hajduk Split (CRO)/Slavia Sofia (BUL) v Rudar Velenje (SVN)/FCSB (ROU)
Sevilla (ESP)/Ujpest (HUN) v Zalgiris Vilnius (LTU)/Vaduz (LIE)
Sigma Olomouc (CZE) v Kairat Almaty (KAZ)/AZ Alkmaar (NED)
Balzan (MLT)/Slovan Bratislava (SVK) v Rapid Wien (AUT)

Djurgarden (SWE)/Mariupol (UKR) v Ventspils (LVA)/Bordeaux (FRA)
CSKA-Sofia (BUL)/Admira Wacker Modling (AUT) v Stjarnan (ISL)/Kobenhavn (DEN)
Olympiacos (GRE) v Luzern (SUI)
Osijek (CRO)/Rangers (SCO) v Chikhura Sachkhere (GEO)/Maribor (SVN)
Gornik Zabrze (POL)/Trencin (SVK) v Feyenoord (NED)

Jagiellonia Białystok (POL)/Rio Ave (POR) v Gent (BEL)
Spartak Subotica (SRB)/Sparta Praha (CZE) v Brondby (DEN)
Ufa (RUS)/Domžale (SVN) v Budapest Honved (HUN)/Progres Niederkorn (LUX)
B36 Torshavn (FRO)/Besiktas (TUR) v LASK (AUT)/Lillestrom (NOR)
Zeljeznicar (BIH)/Apollon Limassol (CYP) v Dinamo Brest (BLR)/Atromitos (GRE)
Leipzig (GER)/Hacken (SWE) v U Craiova (ROU)

Europa League preview: Arsenal in Serbia, Everton desperate vs. Lyon

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The twelve groups of the UEFA Europa League bring forth soccer on Thursday, with a bevy of matches dotting the continent.

[ MORE: Full Europa schedule ]

Here are the top five matches to keep an eye on.

Everton vs. Lyon — 3:05 p.m. ET

If you would’ve told Ronald Koeman his Toffees would walk into this match with just one point but sit only another behind Lyon, he’d probably tell you to take a hike. But Lyon drew 1-1 at Apollon Limassol and 1-1 at home to Atalanta, opening the door for Everton to finish the day in Group E’s top two slots.

Nabil Fekir and Real Madrid loanee Mariano Diaz have seven goals each for Lyon, while ex-Premier Leaguers Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traore are also key components of the French outfit’s attack.

Red Star Belgrade vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET

Arsenal in Europa has been pretty thrilling, with 3-1 and 4-2 wins under Arsene Wenger‘s belt ahead of the first of two with the 1991 European Cup winners. It’s a nice challenge for Canadian national team backstop Milan Borjan, who should be the man to try to thwart the Gunners in Serbia.

Hoffenheim vs. Istanbul Basaksehir — 3:05 p.m. ET

The favorites to win the group are dead last in the group as they welcome the perceived group underdogs from Turkey. The Super Lig runners-up have some familiar names on the roster with Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Eljero Elia, Mevlut Erdinc, Gokhan Inler, Aurelien Chedjou, and Emre Belozoglu.

AC Milan vs. AEK Athens — 3:05 p.m. ET

Milan has been burying goals in Europa play, with five at Austria Wien and three in a home win over Rijeka. Enter Athens, which has scooped up four points in group play and will look for a win to put them ahead of the group-leading Rossoneri.

Nice vs. Lazio — 1 p.m. ET

The only group with a pair of 2-0 teams. Mario Balotelli is plenty familiar with his Roman opposition from his time in Serie A.

Leicester City player fact files: Who are the champions elect?

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Just who are Leicester City’s players who have come together to become one of the best team units in Premier League history?

Well, they’re a real mix of lower-league gems, cast offs from other clubs and lesser known foreign players who Claudio Ranieri has galvanized into being the champions elect.

[ MORE: The day they (pretty much) won the PL ] 

Their most-used starting XI (which can be recited easily by any PL fan) cost just $35 million to assemble, which is shockingly cheap compared to the likes of Manchester City whose best XI cost in excess of $500 million. They play in a 4-4-2 formation which is unusual these days but nobody can stop them.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

From relegation battlers last season, Leicester needs four wins from their final six games to guarantee the title.

“This is a small club that is showing the world what can be achieved through spirit and determination,” Ranieri said recently. “Twenty-six players. Twenty-six different brains. But one heart.”

Here’s a look at each player — remarkably, Leicester has only used 19 players in the PL this season with injuries kind to them — who has played their part so far this season, as this Leicester team will go down as one of the most memorable in sporting history if they can clinch the PL title.

Note: The “That’s sooo Leicester” section is a quick snippet which tells the story of how some of these guys have made the most of second chances or are just generally a little quirky.

Let’s look at this crew…


GOALKEEPER

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 14: Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester City celebrates victory after the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at The King Power Stadium on March 14, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Name: Kasper Schmeichel
Age: 29
Previous club: Leeds United
Cost: $2 million
PL appearances in 2015-16: 32
That’s soooo Leicester: His father, Peter, won the PL multiple times with Man United. He is a Danish international, but sounds like he’s from Manchester. It’s awesome. 


DEFENDERS

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Danny Simpson of Leicester City in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion at The King Power Stadium on March 1, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Name: Danny Simpson
Age: 29
Previous club:
Cost: $3.5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 24
That’s soooo Leicester: Handed a second chance and is currently serving 300 hours of community service after being found guilty of assault. He was working two nights a week at a bingo hall…

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Wes Morgan of Leicester City celebrates with team mates as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Southampton at The King Power Stadium on April 3, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Name: Wes Morgan
Age: 32
Previous club: Nottingham Forest
Cost: $1.5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 32
That’s soooo Leicester: Played in both the Copa America and Gold Cup for Jamaica last summer back-to-back. He hasn’t had a break since the summer of 2014. Machine.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Robert Huth of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Name: Robert Huth
Age: 31
Previous club: Stoke City
Cost: $5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 31
That’s soooo Leicester: Cast aside by Stoke after losing his starting spot and some questionable social media use. Loaned out to bottom club Leicester last season and helped keep them up, then signed a permanent deal.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Christian Fuchs of Leicester City is chased by Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Southampton at The King Power Stadium on April 3, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Name: Christian Fuchs
Age: 30
Previous club: Schalke 04
Cost: Free
Appearances in 2015-16: 26
That’s soooo Leicester: Eccentric Austrian international plans to be an NFL kicker after he retires from soccer. Seriously.


MIDFIELDERS

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Danny Drinkwater of Leicester City battles with Steven Naismith of Norwich City during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Norwich City at The King Power Stadium on February 27, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Name: Danny Drinkwater
Age: 26
Previous club: Manchester United
Cost: $1 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 30
That’s soooo Leicester: At Man United as a youngster, Drinkwater was on loan at Barnsley when Leicester brought him. Made his England debut this season.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Junior Stanislas of Bournemouth and Ngolo Kante of Leicester City compete for the bacompete for the ballduring the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Bournemouth at The King Power Stadium on January 2, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Name: N’Golo Kante
Age: 25
Previous club: Caen
Cost: $8.5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 31
That’s soooo Leicester: Playing in the French fourth division a few years ago, Kante made his debut for France in the spring and scored. The heartbeat of the team.

Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City FC

Name: Riyad Mahrez
Age: 25
Previous club: Le Havre
Cost: $1 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 31
That’s soooo Leicester: Another gem plucked from the lower leagues in France, Mahrez was deemed to skinny to play when growing up in Paris. Now he’s likely to be the PL’s Player of the Year.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Marc Albrighton and Leicester City players celebrate their 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Leicester City at Selhurst Park on March 19, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Name: Marc Albrighton
Age: 26
Previous club: Aston Villa
Cost: Free
Appearances in 2015-16: 32
That’s soooo Leicester: Released by his boyhood club Aston Villa after spending his entire career there, Albrighton has shown them what they’re missing.


STRIKERS

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 14: Shinji Okazaki of Leicester City scores their first goal with an overhead kick as Steven Taylor of Newcastle United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at The King Power Stadium on March 14, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Name: Shinji Okazaki
Age: 29
Previous club: Mainz 05
Cost: $11 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 30
That’s soooo Leicester: He has fallen in love with fish and chips since moving to England from Germany last summer.

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy celebrates after scoring against Manchester United, his eleventh consecutive goal in the Premier League, during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Manchester United at the King Power Stadium, Leicester, England, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Vardy becomes the first man to score in 11 consecutive English Premier League soccer matches after finding the back of the net against Manchester United today.(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Name: Jamie Vardy
Age: 29
Previous club: Fleetwood Town
Cost: $2 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 32
That’s soooo Leicester: Where do we start? Playing in England’s eighth-tier a few years ago, Vardy almost gave up a year after signing at Leicester from non-league Fleetwood Town. Has had plenty of off-field issues but is now an England international, leading scorer for Leicester and the talisman of this team. He scored in 11-straight games this season to set a new PL record and they’re making a movie about his rise.


OFF THE BENCH

Name: Leonardo Ulloa
Age: 29
Previous club: Brighton & Hove Albion
Cost: $15 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 24
That’s soooo Leicester: Stood with away fans of Brighton, his old club, when they played Tottenham in a cup game.

Name: Andy King
Age: 27
Previous club: Leicester
Appearances in 2015-16: 21
That’s soooo Leicester: Has spent his entire career at Leicester after leaving Chelsea’s youth setup as a kid.

Name: Demarai Gray
Age: 19
Previous club: Birmingham City
Cost: $5.5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 7
That’s soooo Leicester: Fist club was Cadbury Athletic in Birmingham. That’s right, it’s where the British chocolatier is based. Signed in January.

Name: Nathan Dyer
Age: 28
Previous club: Swansea City
Cost: Currently on loan
Appearances in 2015-16: 12
That’s soooo Leicester: Was caught on camera, along with Bradley Wright-Phillips, stealing a barmaids handbag when playing for Southampton. Was subsequently sold to Swansea.

Name: Daniel Amarety
Age: 21
Previous club: Copenhagen
Cost: $10 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 3
That’s soooo Leicester: Described by Claudio Ranieri as Leicester’s “joker in the pack” because he can play in every position. Signed in January.

Name: Marcin Wasilweski
Age: 35
Previous club: Anderlechet
Cost: Free
Appearances in 2015-16: 2
That’s soooo Leicester: Turned up at Leicester in 2013 as a trialist when they were in the Championship.

Name: Gokhan Inler
Age: 31
Previous club: Napoli
Cost: $5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 5
That’s soooo Leicester: Hasn’t featured much during his debut season in England but does spare with Olympic boxer Patrizio Oliva to keep himself fit.

Name: Jeff Schlupp
Age: 23
Previous club: Leicester
Appearances in 2015-16: 19
That’s soooo Leicester: Like King, the Ghanaian international has spent his entire career at Leicester.

January Transfer Deadline needs for every Premier League club

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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With the transfer deadline coming to a close on Monday, Premier League teams have precious few days left to find fixes for what ails them (or strengthen their depth).

Leicester City – The Foxes could use more depth, but they already have players like Gokhan Inler on the bench. A striker as insurance for Jamie Vardy would be a welcome addition.

Manchester City – Depth at the back can help City deal with the congested schedule of a late season run through European and English competitions. When will Vincent Kompany return?

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup ]

Arsenal – The mistake people make when saying Olivier Giroud is under-appreciated is not realizing Arsene Wenger can carry multiple out-and-out strikers. Another point man up top sure would help the title push.

Tottenham Hotspur – At the risk of sounding like a broken record across so many of these team needs, Spurs could use another striker to pair with Harry Kane. A center back to help out in the absence of Jan Vertonghen would be a boon, too.

Manchester United – There’s a lot of quality on United, and it’d be a good look for Louis Van Gaal to fiddle with his tactics. In terms of additions, though, why not take a look at a veteran attacker, or even a low-cost option like Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes.

West Ham United – Rhodes makes sense here, too, but Slaven Bilic has been linked with a loan for Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike. Cover at the back could also be welcomed at the Boleyn Ground. Sam Byram looks the part to help that in a big way, though.

Liverpool – Still could use options to help their center back depth in the wake of injury and continued European play, and competition for Alberto Moreno isn’t a bad idea, either.. Should also allow their new-ish players more time to adapt to England, as Roberto Firmino will continue to improve.

[ MORE: Liverpool reportedly tables bid for Schalke’s Matip ]

Southampton – Honestly would do well to get rid of the malcontents Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama, but only if they can find suitable replacements in the interim. Also like the idea of Matty Phillips joining his ex-QPR teammate Charlie Austin at St. Mary’s.

Stoke City – An out-and-out striker to capitalize on what’s created by Bojan Krkic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic.

Watford – An experienced striker to back up Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney.

Crystal Palace – They picked up Emmanuel Adebayor to help their strike force, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a more, um, stable solution in mind for Alan Pardew‘s currently stumbling Eagles.

Everton – A right back to spell Seamus Coleman, and perhaps a long-term answer at goalkeeper if Tim Howard is really set to skip town for Colorado.

Chelsea – Gamers. While Chelsea has sold Ramires and added Alexandre Pato and maybe USMNT back Matt Miazga, Guus Hiddink could use the sort of players who would sell the farm to a win a ball. That’s not a position, per se, but undeniably a need.

[ MORE: Chelsea confirms sale of Ramires to Chinese Super League club ]

West Bromwich Albion – The Baggies need offensive flair and attacking, but Saido Berahino is rooted to the bench and, given Tony Pulis‘ defense-first managing style, maybe this is about the tactics, not the technicians.

Swansea City – Like everyone else, Swansea could use depth at striker. Also could use someone to fill the Jonjo Shelvey role since the Englishman has been sold to Newcastle.

Bournemouth – Really, the Cherries need better health for their team altogether. Otherwise, they may have enough to stand pat.

Norwich City – A stalwart defender or two. Think of the 6-2 loss to Newcastle and the 5-4 loss to Liverpool; Make a stop, boys.

Newcastle United – Aleksandar Mitrovic‘s track record says he’ll start finishing his chances eventually, but that can’t be enough for Steve McClaren. Newcastle needs to add a striker, and could use depth at the back as well.

Sunderland – A metronome would be nice, though Sunderland still lacks consistent scoring beyond Jermain Defoe.

Aston Villa – Quality everywhere. Not being harsh, but Remi Garde will do far better once he’s flipped some of Tim Sherwood‘s mistakes.

Three things we learned from Leicester vs. Man City

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Leicester City dug-in and battled out a scoreless draw against Manchester City on Tuesday, as the Foxes enter 2016 second on the Premier League table.

A favorite to get relegated when the season began, Leicester’s run has been one of the most amazing stories in Premier League history.

[ MORE: Premier League standings ]

On the other hand, Manchester City sit third on the table but will be disappointed with their play as of late, as it is title or bust for Manuel Pellegrini‘s men.

Here are three things we learned at the King Power Stadium.

LEICESTER EYEING TOP FOUR FINISH

Claudio Ranieri has been coy on his ambitions with Leicester City, consistently saying 40 points and Premier League survival was the goal. Now with 39 points at the midway point of the season, the Foxes have proven a top four finish is in their reach.

Ranieri decided to switch up his usual formation against Manchester City, opting to give Gokhan Inler his first start in more than three months. By putting the seasoned veteran in the middle of the pitch, Ranieri showed respect to City’s attack and understood a draw would be a good result, leaving Jamie Vardy as a lone striker. With the match still scoreless an hour in, Ranieri took off Inler and put on a striker in Leonardo Ulloa, going back to his preferred 4-4-2 formation as the Foxes pushed on for a win.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Manchester United vs. Chelsea ]

If Ranieri wanted to, he could have gone for the win from the start, but he instead played for a result to stay tight towards the top of the table. Tonight’s performance showed Leicester can put in gritty performances against the best in the league.

MANCHESTER CITY’S POOR AWAY FORM MUST BE FIXED

Manchester City’s last win away from home came back on September 12 at Crystal Palace, and that match saw a stoppage time winner give City all three points. After Tuesday’s scoreless draw at Leicester, the Citizens’ record away from home is 3-3-3, tied for the worst away record of teams in the top half of the table.

City have scored just one goal in their last five away matches, and have only scored a total of eight goals on the road all season. The only teams to score fewer away goals than City are Newcastle, Swansea, and West Brom. If Manuel Pellegrini wants to win the Premier League title this year, which is the only option in the eyes of the City board and supporters, their away form must improve tenfold in the second half of the season.

AGUERO’S HEALTH KEY TO MAN CITY

Sergio Aguero is one of the elite strikers in Europe, and is the reigning Golden Boot winner in the Premier League. However, he has struggled throughout his career to stay fit, as he has missed nearly half of City’s matches this season.

[ MORE: Everton’s Steven Naismith set to join Norwich City in $12 million move ]

The Argentinian only managed 60 minutes against Leicester in just his second match back from a heel injury. It was clear Aguero is still trying to find his feet, as he was nowhere near top form on Tuesday. When Aguero is healthy, he causes all sorts of problems for an opposing defense. Not only is he a top goalscorer, but he also occupies the attention of the back-line, creating more space for the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, and David Silva. With the recent struggles scoring away from home, a healthy Sergio Aguero could be a quick fix to those problems.