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Premier League Preview: Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, Man United in action

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures is set to be filled with jam-packed actions, as Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, andManchester United all look to climb up the table.

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Southampton vs. Chelsea — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Desperate for points, it is likely both Southampton and Chelsea will go for the jugular on Sunday at St Mary’s Stadium.

Coming off of a 2-1 win against Lille in Champions League play, Frank Lampard‘s men are in better spirits, but then again, their season has been riddled with inconsistency. The quintessential embodiment of that is N’Golo Kante, who has been riddled with injuries all season, but is expected to go on Sunday, according to Lampard.

“It’s something we’ll have to watch over the next 24, 48 hours to make sure he’s okay,” Lampard said on Friday. “All the players are on a semi-recovery program after the Lille game but it’s also the fact he hasn’t played much.”

“In terms of the injury, he’s fine and there was no fallout with that from the Lille game so it’s just about making sure he’s fit and ready, which is a call for me to make,” he added.

The home side, on the other hand, have lost two consecutive league games, and are only a point clear of the red line. The Saints, whose last league win at home dates back to last season, won’t count on Cedric Soares or Moussa Djenepo. No pressure, Ralph Hasenhüttl.

INJURIES: Southampton — OUT: Cedric Soares (calf), Moussa Djenepo (thigh)| Chelsea — OUT: Emerson (thigh), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (achilles), Antonio Rüdiger (groin), Marco Van Ginkel (knee)

 Arsenal vs. Bournemouth — 9 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Mezut Ozil is nowhere to be found, and Arsenal are on a seven-game unbeaten run. Welcome to the Unai Emery era, which writes a new chapter on Sunday as it hosts Bournemouth.

Fueled by newcomer Gabriel Martinelli‘s brace, the Gunners routed Standard Leige, 4-0, at Emirates Stadium on Thursday. It is the ideal result the North London side needed ahead of Sundays match, but it is misleading in a sense. Despite the positive results, one thing remains true of Arsenal: an unreliable backline. In seven games, the Gunners have allowed 11 goals, a total count that is only one off their goals scored through the seven-game stretch.

Bournemouth, too, have been in worse shape in the past. In September, Eddie Howe‘s side were unbeaten in league play. The Cherries, injured riddles and all, will look to use their current positive run and their previous experiences at the Emirates to their advantage on Sunday.

“What we have to do from our previous visits to the Emirates is start better,” Howe said. “We’ve conceded early goals, which have made the games even harder for us. So if we can start stronger, show a better resolve early in the game, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Alexandre Lacazette (ankle) | Bournemouth — OUT: David Brooks (ankle), Dan Gosling (hip), Chris Daniels (knee), Adam Smith (hamstring), Junior Stanislas (hamstring)

Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

If Manchester City’s loss at Norwich City in September wasn’t a wake-up call, then who knows what a wake-up call is.

Since their historical woeful night then, Pep Guardiola and company haven’t looked back, winning five consecutive games. City will be without Kevin De Bruyne once again, but as their recent run has showed, there is no lack of firepower from the defending champions. That said, the Spanish manager is aware that against Wolves, any team should be cautious.

“Yesterday they took an incredible result,” Guardiola said about Wolves’ Europa League performance midweek. “I saw the game and they were so solid as expected. At the end, they have a team to make you suffer in the Premier League.”

“They know exactly what they have to do, three or four seasons together and there is a really impressive defensive structure,” he added. “We have to be smart to take a result. ”

Wolves, the outright underdog on Sunday, are far from meeting the expectations set on them, taking up the 15th spot on the league’s table. Recently, with the helpful of more efficient attack and sturdier backline, the Wolves find themselves on a four-game unbeaten streak. Will that be enough to hold off City? Probably not.

INJURIES: Manchester City — OUT: Leroy Sane (knee), Aymeric Laporte (knee), John Stones (thigh), Kevin De Bruyne (hamstring)| Wolves — OUT: None

Newcastle United vs. Manchester United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Sunday’s visit to St. James’ Park poses as the ideal scenario for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United to send a message of intent and crawl out of the 11th spot, which has made club officials the lighting rod for criticism.

Without Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, and Anthony Martial to name a few, the Red Devils will have their work cutout in front of them in one of the league’s most intimidating atmospheres. Still, win on Sunday can serve as the turning point Solskjaer has been looking for all along.

“Of course you don’t enjoy not winning games,” he told Sky Sports. “You put your heart, life and soul into this job. If you win games you are happier, your mood changes but it doesn’t mean your performances have been better – results change mood.”

“For us to get a result [at Newcastle] is vital now,” the manager added. “I think it will change the mood.The boys can go away on their international break and freshen up their heads.”

The Norwegian’s counterpart on Sunday, Steve Bruce, too, is in charge of guiding his club out of internal turmoil. For Bruce, however, who has led Newcastle to only one win this season, the seat is much warmer, and he acknowledges that the pressure  for him to turn the results around continues to worsen.

“Mud has been thrown my way since I walked through the door, that’s not going to change,” Bruce said heading into Sunday’s match. “The only thing that can change it for me is results. I’m determined, if I possibly can, to turn it around and take the club forward. That has been my remit since I arrived.”

“I’m a resilient so and so,” he added. “You wouldn’t be human if it didn’t affect you in some sort of way but you try and get on with your job as best you can. These days you don’t get the time that you would like to get, you have to get results instantly. The flack always stops with me at the top of the tree but that’s the way the job is.”

INJURIES: Newcastle United  OUT: Matt Ritchie (ankle), Florian Lejeuene (knee) | Manchester United  OUT: Paul Pogba (ankle), Anthony Martial (thigh), Jesse Lingard (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee), Phil Jones (unknown), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (illness)

Victor Lindelof signs new five-year contract at Manchester United

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Manchester United has signed Victor Lindelof to a new five-year contract that runs through the summer of 2024, with the option for a further year, Manchester United confirmed on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Swedish international has been a rock at the back for the Red Devils since joining in the summer of 2017. He started just 17 matches in his first season with the club as Jose Mourinho integrated the then- but earning a consistent starting spot the following campaign and making 30 starts in 2018. Lindelof has started and played the full 90 minutes in each of Manchester United’s first five matches this season with two clean sheets, partnering well with new arrival Harry Maguire.

[ MORE: Premier League underrated XI ]

As reported by David McDonnell of The Mirror back in August, Lindelof’s deal is worth around $187,000 per week, about double what he was making previously. His old deal was set to expire in two seasons, leaving this extension in line with common timing for a player in his prime to sign a new contract.

“Since the day I arrived at United it has felt like home,” Lindelof said in the official announcement. “I have grown significantly both as a player and as a person in the last two years and for that I am grateful to everyone at the club for their help and support. I love playing football and my aim now is to help the team to win trophies and repay the fans for their unrivaled support.”

Lindelof arrived at Old Trafford from Benfica for $39 million, one of three big money center-backs that Manchester United has purchased in the last four years alongside Eric Bailly and Maguire. With Chris Smalling departing for Roma, Bailly going down injured, and the lack of consistent form from Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones, Lindelof has emerged as one of United’s most consistent defensive presences.

The defender’s extension comes just two days after the signing of goalkeeper David de Gea to a long-term contract of his own.

Solskjaer: Alexis will play more often than many think

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is feeling good about Manchester United’s depth, and thinks there will be plenty of contributions from it.

Case in point: The Red Devils manager believes fans will see a lot of Alexis Sanchez despite the Chilean’s absence from the lineup against Chelsea and perceived status as a desired transfer.

[ PL PREVIEW: Man City-Spurs ]

Solskjaer noted that his leaving Alexis, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, and Fred out of the 18 on Opening Day, and pointed to the former Arsenal playmaker in particular.

Alexis hurt his hamstring at Copa America but is getting back up to speed. From Sky Sports:

“Alexis is such a professional. He comes in working every single day, really hard. He wants to be part of this. These stories that he’s been put in the reserves – of course he hasn’t. He’s part of our squad and he’s a very good player. He’s a few weeks behind the rest but he’s very close to being part of it.

“We don’t have the biggest forward line so Alexis might end up playing a lot more games than you expect. We expect him to come good at this club. He’s quality.”

Solskjaer would love Alexis to turn things around, especially since Jesse Lingard also struggled last season and Juan Mata isn’t getting any younger (Andreas Pereira, while well-regarded, didn’t light the Premier League on fire last season, either).

Alexis has five goals and nine assists in 45 appearances for United since arriving in a swap deal with Arsenal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Last season saw him manage just one goal and three assists in 877 PL minutes.

Weekend Premier League friendlies: Arsenal visits Barcelona, Man United takes on AC Milan

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The final weekend without Premier League football is here!

Teams face their final tests before the new campaign begins next weekend, and there are some fun preseason matchups to look forward to. Every team has a match of some kind over the next three days with the season on the horizon.

First off, the Community Shield takes place on Sunday between Premier League winners Manchester City and second-place finishers Liverpool. The Reds have an opportunity to start the season with some silverware and exact some sliver of revenge for the near-miss last season.

Manchester United will head to Wales to meet Italian side AC Milan. The Red Devils have reportedly completed a deal for Harry Maguire, and while the England international won’t be in tow, the squad will be boosted. In addition, there could be even heavier competition for the center-back positions, so all eyes could be on the likes of Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, and the rest of the defensive line in the unit’s final chance to prove their worth.

Chelsea visits German side Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday with Christian Pulisic looking for another glittering performance after his two-goal showing against RB Salzburg. On Sunday, Arsenal takes on Messi-less Barcelona at the Camp Nou with Nicolas Pepe possibly in contention for his Gunners debut, while Spurs host Inter Milan with the hopes of staying healthy before the start of the Premier League season.

Friday

Bournemouth v. Lazio
Brighton & Hove Albion v. Valencia
Leicester City v. Atalanta

Saturday

Bournemouth v. Lyon
RB Leipzig v. Aston Villa
Burnley 
v. Parma
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Chelsea
Crystal Palace 
v. Hertha Berlin
Werder Bremen v. Everton
Manchester United 
v. AC Milan (Cardiff, Wales)
Newcastle United v. St. Etienne
Norwich City v. Toulouse
Stade de Reims v. Sheffield United
Southampton 
v. Koln
Watford v. Real Sociedad
West Ham United v. Athletic Bilbao

Sunday

Liverpool v. Manchester City (Wembley Stadium – Community Shield)

Barcelona v. Arsenal
Tottenham Hotspur v. Inter Milan

Report: Maguire to Manchester United complete for world-record fee

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According to a report by The Telegraph’s John Percy and Sam Wallace, Manchester United has finally completed a deal for Leicester City defender Harry Maguire, making him the most expensive defender in the world.

The deal is for a reported $103 million plus add-ons, surpassing the $91 million Liverpool paid for Virgil Van Dijk a year and a half ago. The BBC has corroborated the report, along with the Press Association, although both claim the Maguire deal is for $97 million, slightly undershooting The Telegraph’s financial figure. ESPN is also reporting a completed deal, although a number was not given.

Maguire was left out of the Leicester City squad for tonight’s pre-season match against Serie A side Atalanta due to the transfer speculation, and now there is likely just a medical for the 26-year-old to officially complete the transfer.

This transfer saga has taken twists and turns this summer, with multiple reports of agreed fees often followed by other reports that the two sides were “miles apart.” Still, it always seemed likely that Manchester United would find a way to make it happen, and the Red Devils will add to the crowded defensive ranks.

At Old Trafford, Maguire will compete with Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, and Axel Tuanzebe for time at center-back. Eric Bailly is also in the mix, although the Ivorian has struggled with injuries and is expected to miss the first few months after knee surgery.

Maguire would become the third signing of the summer for Manchester United, following Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.