Juan Foyth

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Messi back with Argentina after three-month ban; Aguero also returns

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Lionel Messi is back in the Argentina team for friendlies against Brazil and Uruguay in November, after serving a three-month ban.

[ MORE: Liverpool fixture congestion presents serious conundrum ]

Messi and Sergio Aguero were both included in the squad announced by Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni on Thursday for matches against Brazil on Nov. 15 in Saudi Arabia and three days later against Uruguay in Israel.

Messi is available after a three-month ban imposed by South American soccer body CONMEBOL after he made accusations of corruption following the Copa America tournament in Brazil in July.

Aguero had not been called up by Scaloni since the continental tournament.

Full Argentina squad

Goalkeepers: Agustin Marchesin (Porto), Juan Mussi (Udinese), Emiliano Martinez (Arsenal), Esteban Andrada (Boca Juniors)

Defenders: Juan Foyth (Tottenham), Renzo Saravia (Porto), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), German Pezzella (Fiorentina), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Walter Kannemann (Gremio), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Nehuen Perez (Famalicao)

Midfielders: Guido Rodriguez (America de Mexico), Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Leandro Paredes (Paris Saint-Germain), Nicolas Dominguez (Velez Sarsfield), Rodrigo de Paul (Udinese), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Roberto Pereyra (Watford), Lucas Ocampos (Sevilla)

Strikers: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Nicolas Gonzalez (Stuttgart), Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan) and Paulo Dybala (Juventus)

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

Pochettino ‘didn’t enjoy’ break as Spurs look to re-focus

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Tottenham Hotspur’s difficult start to the season had a fitting international break. Harry Kane and Troy Parrott delivered fine international performances and some injured players were able to heal up, but the club also lost big signing Giovani Lo Celso for some time.

[ MORE: Messi on Neymar situation ]

Manager Mauricio Pochettino, himself admittedly unsettled in August, sees the opportunity presented by the break. The club can regain solid footing and mount its Top Four challenge.

It will have to do it without Lo Celso, and both Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth remain out. Pochettino will be waiting on Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon, Eric Dier, and Kyle Walker-Peters ahead of Palace.

It hasn’t been a laugh riot around Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. From Sky Sports:

“I didn’t enjoy too much. We were preparing lots of things, we were working. We reviewed many things and we have been planning and talking. It is a strange period. It was about re-focusing again on the competition and make a plan for the team.”

Spurs lost to Newcastle, drew Man City away and Arsenal at home. They labored to find a comeback win against Aston VIlla, but were clearly the better side.

Re-organizing means taking care of business, and Spurs will be favored in every match this month. Crystal Palace visits Saturday before a Wednesday trip to stingy Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League.

Then come trips to Leicester City (PL) and Colchester United (League Cup) before Saints come to town.

It’s all a build-up to Bayern Munich on Oct. 1.

The good news is that the club no longer has transfer uncertainty, which should help both Pochettino and want-away Christian Eriksen. He’s not going anywhere for at least four months.

“It is so important to re-focus,” Pochettino said. “This is the squad that we are going to have until January, when the rumors will appear again.The most important now is the collective. We must put aside the individual situations and be all together again.”

PL Sunday Preview: Everton hosts Wolves; Tottenham visit Arsenal

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Saturday’s action was jam-packed, but two more fixtures are left to be settled in Matchweek 4 on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool play ‘perfect’ game against Burnley | Highlights ]

Everton v. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Having lost to Aston Villa 2-0 in their last Premier League bout, Everton went into their midweek League Cup match against Lincoln City with one objective in mind: to resuscitate a dead attack. They did so, winning 4-2 with a pair of goals from attacking players such as Alex Iwobi and Richarlison. No more than ever, the Toffees, who have only scored a goal in three matches despite registering 34 shots, will hope to implement the same levels of productiveness at Goodison Park.

Wolves, however, are hungrier than ever for their first taste of three points this season. Despite having drawn the first three bouts of the season, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side proved to be too much for Torino in a two-leg series midweek, qualifying for the Europa League group stage for the first time in nearly 40 years. With the excitement that comes from a feat such as returning to European competition coupled with striker Raul Jimenez’s fine scoring form, there are zero doubts that Wolves have the upper hand on the majority of teams in the league when it comes to momentum. For now, that joy has yet to seep into Premier League play, but it could be just around the corner.

INJURIES: Everton —  OUT: Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh); QUESTIONABLE: None | Wolves  — OUT: None; QUESTIONABLE: None


Arsenal v. Tottenham — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

After what was an abysmal loss to a lowly Newcastle, Spurs march into Emirates Stadium in this season’s first North London derby with their heads down. It was not anticipated for Mauricio Pochettino and Co. to be in a conundrum this early, but that’s reality for Tottenham. Only in their first match (against Aston Villa) did the North London side register more shots on target than their competition. If one digs deeper, the offensive woes are only surface problems for the side. Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen are reportedly one foot out the door with moves lined up away from Tottenham. And if Spurs fail to find their groove on Sunday, a loss to rivals Arsenal will only make matters worse.

Arsenal come in with a fresh loss under their belts, too. A defeat at Anfield against a record-setting Liverpool, however, is a different story. In his second season at the helm, Unai Emery holds a better record after three games than during his first time around.

Conveniently, against Tottenham, in what is the fiercest match of a young season for Arsenal, Emery hopes to rely on Mesut Ozil for the first time this season.

“We need him,” Emery said ahead of Sunday’s North London Derby. “And [ we need] him first to be consistent in training, to be available in each match. For example last week he wasn’t ready to play 100% in Liverpool. This week he is getting better with each training [session] and I think physically he is now better. He is closer to helping us. We need him because he is a different player in our team. He can help us with his quality.”

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Hector Bellerin (knee), Rob Holding (knee), Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin), Kieran Tierney (groin); QUESTIONABLE: None | Tottenham  — OUT: Tanguy Ndombele (thigh), Kyle Walker-Peters (hamstring), Juan Foyth (ankle), Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Eric Dier (hip)

PL Sunday preview: Man City visit Bournemouth; Spurs host Newcastle

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After six Premier League fixtures on Saturday, and one on Friday, three more remain in Matchweek 3. Roll on, Sunday…

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Bournemouth v. Man City — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Manchester City’s directive for the 2019-20 season is clear, and comes from 31 miles west of Manchester: if you’re not perfect — or very, very close to it — Liverpool will win the title. After dropping a pair of points at home to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, Man City find themselves in the chaser’s position, though it’s far from foreign to them after trailing the Reds by 10 points at one point last season. A trip to Bournemouth appears to be just what the doctor ordered: since the Cherries returned to the PL four seasons ago, City have trounced the south-coast side, winning all eight contests by a combined score of 25-3.

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is trying to see his side’s dismal record in a slightly more positive light.

“I think we know historically that if we perform our very best, we’ve got a chance of beating anybody. I think that’s been the story of our Premier League journey. We’ve had to play very well to get anything from the top teams. Every time we’ve played against them, and I’ve said this before, we’ve come from the pitch learning more about ourselves. And what we have to do to grow and become better.”

INJURIES: Bournemouth —  OUT: Lewis Cook (knee), Simon Francis (knee), Junior Stanislas (hamstring), Dan Gosling (hip), Lloyd Kelly (ankle); QUESTIONABLE: Arnaut Danjuma (foot) | Man City  — OUT: John Stones (thigh), Benjamin Mendy (fitness), Leroy Sane (knee)


Tottenham v. Newcastle — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Tottenham are set to put their undefeated start to the still-young season on the line when Newcastle United visit Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. A week after taking last weekend’s unlikely point, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side continues to get a little deeper and stronger with each passing day, with the exception of one fresh injury concern. Deadline-day arrival Giovani Lo Celso is yet to start for his new club, but the Argentine made his debut as a second-half substitute last weekend. Fast-forward a week and Lo Celso could be in line for that first start with fellow summer signing Tanguy Ndombele a doubt with what the club is calling a minor thigh injury. Son Heung-min, a double-digit goalscorer in three straight PL seasons, is also due back in the team after serving the final two games of his three-game suspension dating back to last season. So long as Harry Kane‘s ankle ligaments remain structurally sound, Pochettino has a real embarrassment of riches at his disposal (by Spurs’ standards), including the likes of Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen, both of whom started the first two games on the bench.

As for Newcastle, life under new manager Steve Bruce is off to a far worse start than Pochettino’s sixth season at Spurs. Not only are the Magpies without a point from their first two games, but they were roundly played off the park by newly promoted Norwich City in a 3-1 defeat last weekend. There’s also the small matter of the supporters’ discontent over owner Mike Ashley’s operation of the club, chief among their concerns being his failure to retain Rafa Benitez. Miguel Almiron and Joelinton, Newcastle’s headlining attacking duo, are yet to find one another on the same page and have managed just one shot on target between them through two games. Newcastle’s six shots on target rank second-to-bottom in the PL.

INJURIES: Spurs —  OUT: Dele Alli (hamstring), Juan Foyth (ankle), Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Tanguy Ndombele (thigh) | Newcastle  — OUT: DeAndre Yedlin (groin), Florian Lejeune (knee), Andy Carroll (fitness), Dwight Gayle (calf), Jack Colback (groin)


Wolves v. Burnley — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSports.com

At this point, you’re probably wondering which is the only side with fewer shots on target than Newcastle. This might come as a shock to some, but it’s Wolverhampton Wanderers, last season’s seventh-place finishers and Europa League qualifiers. The night-and-day difference between the two sides being Wolves’ ability to still grind out results when they’re far from their very best. It’s true that Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side has scored just one goal through two games, but it’s also true that they’ve conceded just once as well, and they have two points to show for their efforts against the likes of Manchester United and Leicester City. After picking up a 3-2 victory away to Torino in Europa League action on Thursday, Espirito Santo is likely to once more rotate a handful of starters and make use of his rather deep, and expensive, squad.

After spending much of last season near, or inside, the relegation zone, Sean Dyche‘s Burnley has looked one of the most improved sides in the PL. They followed up an opening-day dismantling of Southampton with a hard-fought 2-1 defeat away to Arsenal last weekend. Ashley Barnes is in fine form with three of the Clarets’ four goals scored this season.

INJURIES: Wolves —  QUESTIONABLE: Matt Doherty (illness) | Burnley  — OUT: Steven Defour (calf), Danny Drinkwater (fitness)