After a whirlwind of transfer activity in the Premier League, the teams that made big deals hoped for an immediate turn around after making those signings. Instead Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal all lost their first games since their signings, and Manchester City won again, of course. To be fair to Olivier Giroud and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they did not play in the games (Arsenal played Tuesday and Aubameyang wasn’t technically a gunner until Wednesday). But their new teams fell flat on their faces against lower table opposition, and Man United were outclassed by Tottenham with Alexis Sanchez making his debut. The league is basically out of reach at this point, but all the teams fighting for Champions League spots will hope their new signings can hit the ground running quickly.
Jack Harrison started in England but didn’t make it with a Premier League team, so he headed off to college in the U.S., and after a breakout couple of years with New York City FC, Harrison is heading back across the pond. Harrison was sold by NYCFC to their parent club Manchester City. Despite his good years at NYCFC, he won’t be cracking Pep Guardiola’s line up this season, as he will be sent on loan to Middlesborough. This comes after Stoke City bid for Jack Harrison earlier in the transfer window. Despite losing out on one of its rising stars, Andrew Wiebe of MLSsoccer.com says this move is a good one for MLS, and for all parties involved really.
This summer will be the first one ever to be in Russia, and while all World Cups are enjoyable in their own way, there are some concerns heading in. Russia has a bad problem with racism during soccer games, and this is something black players and fans will probably have to contend with if they go to the World Cup. Russia also has some repressive laws aimed at gay people. There is always the specter of corruption in Russia, which was well documented during the last major event there, the Sochi Olympics. If that all wasn’t bad enough, now Russian officials are saying that swarms of locusts might attack the soccer fields that will be used in the World Cup. Volgograd is an area that is under particular concern. If you are going to the World Cup, I guess bring an extra fly swatter, or maybe an umbrella.
Free kick goals can be things of real beauty in the game. The way some balls are hit, the spin on them, or the movement which fools the goalie as the ball sails in the net. Or you can opt for deception, as Kevin de Bruyne did this past weekend, when the whole wall jumped he kept the ball on the ground, and had it roll under the wall and into the net. Cristiano Ronaldo has probably been the premier free kick taker of this generation, but there are many other good ones out there. FourFourTwo, along with Stats.com, put together a list of the best free kick takers in European soccer. Who were you surprised to see on the list, or not on the list?
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