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PL Sunday preview: Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Wolves all open season

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There will be no shortage of headlines Sunday as Chelsea travel to Old Trafford to commence their era under Frank Lampard and American superstar Christian Pulisic. The mouth-watering bout will be only one of three matchups, however.

A new-look Arsenal – without Mezut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac – will start to write its own story, with Steve Bruce‘s Newcastle as the first chapter’s antagonist. Meanwhile, Leicester City will look to take advantage of a well-traveled Wolverhampton Wanderers, who have been busy qualifying for Europa League ahead of the Premier League’s start.

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Arsenal v. Newcastle — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With a slew of new signings – including record signing Nicolas Pepe – and an instructional, yet painful year behind them, Unai Emery‘ second time around is expected to offer bigger and better things for Arsenal. A trip to St. James Park is first on the menu for the Gunners. Injuries and fitness setbacks in mind, Arsenal will look to hit the ground running with their undeniable high-power attack, while fielding a once familiar foe in the backline – David Luiz.

Newcastle, on the other hand, will start from zero under Steve Bruce. There isn’t a healthy amount of optimism behind the Magpies, but new seasons always call for a new set of hopes. At home, Newcastle biggest wish will be to smash paradigms from the get-go.

Wolves v. Leicester City — 9:00 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Wolves are taking advantage of their head start: the Europa League. Thus far, in two rounds of qualification play, Wolves have outscored opponents 10-1, something that will surely benefit Nuno Espírito Santo’s side when they travel to King Power Stadium. Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves all look in midseason form already, too. There’s no better scenario for the West Midlands’ side to prove their legitimacy than a season-opening victory against the Foxes.

But the same goes for Leicester, who will look to make a statement against one of the two sides that edged them to that same European position. The Foxes will certainly miss Harry McGuire, but Brendan Rogers’ men have enough pieces to make up for the lost quality.

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

There’s arguably no better way to wrap up the first weekend of a new campaign: Chelsea v. Manchester United at the Theatre of Dreams.

On Chelsea’s end, the storylines fit the expectations. Club legend Frank Lampard kickstarts his coaching era with the Blues, while American sensation Christian Pulisic makes his Premier League debut – following a $73 million move from Borussia Dortmund to London last January. No Eden Hazard this time around for this new-era Chelsea, who will look to challenge the likes of Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham for the league title in the months to come.

Having added the likes of Maguire – the most expensive defender in history – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Daniel James, the Red Devils are hoping for a better season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who they finished sixth with last year. With Romelu Lukaku long gone in Italy at Inter Milan and no immediate replacement coming inline, all eyes are on 21-year-old Marcus Rashford. Will he and his teammates show up against Chelsea? Or will Lampard – this time as a coach – walkaway from Old Trafford with a grin on his face?

The stage is set..

Solskjaer: ‘We always believed’ we could win

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Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday went pretty close to plan. Almost too close.

The Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted his team to score early and have a chance to win it late, and that’s exactly what happened. It allowed his side an incredible European night, overcoming the odds to defeat PSG and advance in the UEFA Champions League.

[WATCH: Man United completes incredible comeback over PSG]

“We always believe, that’s the thing,” Solskjaer said after the match. “We set out the plan. It wasn’t about having the ball and outplaying them. If you give this team too much space and time, with Mbappe, we saw a few times in the first half when we missed our defensive shape and they were through us straight away.

“The plan was to get the first goal and be in the game with five or 10 minutes to go and we were. The belief in the boys was just what we hoped for. Of course, there was a great start. We set out a plan to get the first goal. We didn’t expect it after two minutes, but that made it more open for us. We wanted many goals in the game.”

Lukaku’s second-minute goal did indeed open up the game and although Juan Bernat tied the score at 1-1 with a goal at the far post, it always seemed like the game had more goals in it. Lukaku’s second goal and some last-minute defending in the second half from Manchester United kept the Red Devils in the game, and allowed them to take advantage of a VAR decision.

It’s the second European stunner in as many days, after Ajax routed Real Madrid, 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Solskjaer said that after watching Ajax’s win, it gave the team even more resolve and belief.

“It’s the Champions League,” Solskjaer said. “That’s what it does. We saw last night, Real Madrid v Ajax. That was our team talk. It was probably their team talk as well. Last year, it was Real Madrid v Juventus, that was close, the year before Paris against Barcelona. We always know that it’s possible and with this club, this is what we do. That’s just Man United.”

Man United completes incredible comeback over PSG to advance (video)

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  • Lukaku, Bernat trade goals early
  • Lukaku scores second in 30th minute
  • Rashford scores late penalty kick after controversial VAR decision

Just when all hope seemed lost, the video assistant referee gods smiled down on Manchester United.

Marcus Rashford‘s second half stoppage time penalty kick helped Manchester United advance to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals past Paris Saint-Germain on away goals. Manchester United won 3-1 on the night with two first half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Rashford’s memorable goal.

[VIDEO: Rashford wins it for Man United with late penalty kick]

Few people gave Man United a chance to advance heading into Wednesday’s match at the Parc des Princes. Yet like manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in his playing days for Sir Alex Ferguson, the team had a “it ain’t over till it’s over” attitude.

That clearly showed when Lukaku quickly pounced on a poor back pass and scored in just the second minute of the match. Even though Juan Bernat put PSG level on the night and restored the two-goal advantage, Man United continued to attack. Rashford should be credited with a ceremonial assist for Lukaku’s second, cannoning a shot that PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon couldn’t control. That allowed Lukaku to sneak in and poach a second goal.

Although Man United needed only one more goal to advance, PSG picked up its focus and really locked down in the second half. In addition, Kylian Mbappe was a menace for Man United’s defense and it’s a surprise PSG didn’t score a second. Former Manchester United midfielder Angel Di Maria looked to have scored on a beautiful chip before it was called back for offside.

It took a late prayer, maybe literally, from Diogo Dalit on a strike that hit the arm of PSG’s Presnel Kimpembe in the box. Referee Damir Skomina went to review the incident and determined it was a handball, to the shock of the PSG squad and home fans.

Rashford stepped up to the spot and confidently smashed a strike home to give Man United the improbable win.

This game will go down in Manchester United lore as one of those magical European nights, when the Red Devils beat the odds to win. It’s goinf to be a fun night for the Man United fans in Paris and it boosts Solskjaer’s resume even more.

Lukaku, Bernat score in Man United v. PSG’s opening minutes (video)

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Neither Manchester United nor Paris Saint-Germain’s defenses seemed focused and ready to go in the early part of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League matchup.

In just the second minute, Man United’s Romelu Lukaku latched on to a poor pass from Thilo Kehrer that was intended for Thiago Silva. Lukaku jumped the pass and zoomed in on goal, rounding PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and scored on a tight angle to give Man United the early lead.

Yet PSG reclaimed their two-goal advantage in the 12th minute, when it appeared Eric Bailley completely missed that Juan Bernat was directly behind him. The Spaniard ran right past Bailly and slotted home for an easy goal to make it 1-1.

Cavani officially ruled out of first leg v. Man United

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Manchester United’s hopes of taking hold of their UEFA Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain became a little stronger on Monday afternoon.

PSG manager Thomas Tuchel confirmed at a pre-match press conference ahead of his side’s match in Manchester that Edinson Cavani will miss the first leg with a hip injury. That leaves Tuchel and PSG without two key attachers, as Cavani joins Neymar on the sidelines.

[READ: UEFA Champions League Last 16 Predictions]

Taking Cavani’s place up top will be the French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe, who of course is still a star and will cause a lot of problems for Manchester United’s defense. Mbappe has 18 goals in 17 Ligue 1 matches, as well as three Champions League finishes. However, just one of Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar is better than having to handle all three.

Cavani has 22 goals in all competitions this season, including a pair in the Champions League and 17 in 16 matches in Ligue 1, making this a big blow to Tuchel’s hopes on the road.

Manchester United enters the match with wins in 10 of its last 11 matches, which has vaulted the Red Devils back into the top four of the Premier League. With players getting fit and the team in great form, suddenly Man United is the in-form team and the one that seems more likely to win this tie than when the draw was announced.