Monday, August 3, 2015

Games to Watch: Premier League opening weekend, MLS, NWSL

Swansea City at Manchester United

Games to Watch: Premier League opening weekend, MLS, NWSL

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Swansea City at Manchester United

7:45 a.m. Saturday (NBCSN, mun2) 

The Premier League season kicks off in spectacular fashion, as new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal takes charge of his first official game. United put together some impressive performances in an undefeated preseason, beating Real Madrid, AS Roma, Liverpool and Valencia. Now the real work begins for Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and the Red Devils, against a Swans squad led by Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony. 

Crystal Palace at Arsenal 

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12:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC, mun2) 

After breaking a nine-year trophy drought by winning last season’s FA Cup, Arsenal are aiming even higher this year. The Gunners brought in Chilean World Cup star Alexis Sánchez to bolster a glittering attack led by Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey. If Per Mertesacker and new signing Mathieu Debuchy can keep the defense tight, Arsenal will be a serious threat to win the Premier League. 

Seattle Sounders at Real Salt Lake 

2:30 p.m. Saturday (NBCSN) 

The top two teams in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference clash in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains. It’s a series that has grown into a real rivalry in recent years. This game has the potential to be another classic. Seattle has an irresistible force in striker Clint Dempsey. Salt Lake has an immovable object in MLS’ best goalkeeper, Nick Rimando. Something will have to give. 

Southampton at Liverpool

8:30 a.m. Sunday (NBCSN) 

The Premier League schedule is generated by a computer, but there’s something karmic about these teams meeting on opening weekend. Liverpool signed three of Southampton’s stars this summer: striker Rickie Lambert, midfielder Adam Lallana and defender Dejan Lovren. The Saints don’t have the money to spend big, but they’ve made smart deals for goalkeeper Fraser Forster and striker Graziano Pellè. 

Seattle Reign at Portland Thorns 

5:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN3.com) 

The great rivalry between two of America’s most soccer-crazed cities has taken root in the National Women’s Soccer League. Providence Park will play host to the latest matchup, which will feature some big U.S. national team stars. Seattle, led by Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo, has locked down first place. Portland, led by Alex Morgan, is fighting for the last playoff spot. 

Chelsea at Burnley

3:00 p.m. Monday (NBCSN, mun2) 

Newly-promoted Burnley gets a rude welcome back to England’s top flight. The Clarets, which have the Premier League’s smallest payroll, face a Chelsea squad that spent $137 million on summer transfers. José Mourinho will hope that the arrivals of Cesc Fàbregas, Diego Costa and Filipe Luis - plus the return of club legend Didier Drogba - will lift the Blues to their first Premier League title since 2010.

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