Fabinho faces Liverpool fitness battle ahead of West Ham opener

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Liverpool‘s Fabinho faces a late fitness test before manager Jurgen Klopp decides whether he can make his debut at home to West Ham on Sunday.

The Brazilian had a scan on a muscle injury on Thursday but although that came back clear the midfielder was sent home from training after feeling unwell.

Joe Gomez is expected to be fit after missing Tuesday’s friendly against Torino but fellow defenders Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip are unlikely to be ready while World Cup finalist Dejan Lovren will not be considered having only returned from extended leave at the weekend.

Provisional squad: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Milner, Keita, Salah, Firmino, Mane, Karius, Clyne, Phillips, Moreno, Henderson, Lallana, Fabinho, Grujic, Sturridge, Shaqiri, Solanke.

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World Cup effect, Manchester City's reign and other talking points for new Premier League season

Jim van Wijk 10/08/2018
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The new Premier League campaign kicks off again with Manchester City aiming to retain their dominance, while promoted clubs Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham will all be out to hold their own.

Here, we look at some key talking points ahead of the opening round of top-flight fixtures.

World Cup hangover

Football may not have come home this summer, but just how quickly the likes of England captain Harry Kane and the rest of the Premier League’s World Cup stars can focus on club matters again remains to be seen. Burnout will be a worry, certainly over the winter months, and after lifting the greatest prize of them all in Moscow on July 15, an opening-day trip to Newcastle might not provide much inspiration for Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

City slickers

Pep Guardiola’s men swept everyone aside last season on the way to amassing 100 points in their record-breaking Premier League campaign. While City might not hit such heights again this season, the bar has been set and it is up to their title rivals to offer a sustained challenge. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho will hope his squad – despite claiming to not have made enough signings during the transfer window – can raise their game and look to quieten down the noisy neighbours.

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Will the Reds cash in?

Jurgen Klopp is not concerned with critics who suggest he is looking to buy Liverpool’s way to the title, but with more than £170million spent in the summer – including a short-lived world record fee for a goalkeeper of £65m to bring Brazilian Alisson Becker to Anfield from Roma – the pressure is now firmly on the German’s team to deliver. While Europe will again offer Liverpool an outlet to entertain, getting themselves back into the Premier League shake-up is the priority, both in the stands and the boardroom.

In Unai we trust

After 22 years with Arsene Wenger at the helm, Arsenal enter into a new chapter this season with head coach Unai Emery. The Gunners have improved the defence with some positive summer transfer business. However, the fixture list has not been kind, with the visit of champions City on Sunday followed by a trip to Chelsea. No points from Emery’s opening two games is a distinct possibility – and one which would give the divided fanbase something new to rant about.

New kids on the block

Battling to get out of the Championship was hard enough, but Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham will all have to raise their game to yet another level when taking on the elite. All have bolstered their squads, and should expect to again in January, but whatever the next 38 games bring, you can bet the fans cannot wait for kick-off.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Premier League Stock Exchange Ranking: Manchester City lead way with Cardiff City bottom

Alex Rea 10/08/2018
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Welcome to the inaugural Sport360 Premier League Stock Exchange – or 360SE for short.

Now, this is not a market which will command your life quite in the way the real thing does, but we’ve decided to add a little twist to the usual rankings you’ll see elsewhere.

Using club reputation and squad worth, we’ve assigned an initial ‘stock’ value to each of the 20 Premier League sides and once the 38-game slog kicks off, it will shift into a rolling, performance-based rankings system.

After each gameweek, we’ll focus only on output and results to assign a new value – higher or lower – to assess the best and the rest.

For example, if Manchester City beat Cardiff City, that’s an expected result so the Citizens’ stock will rise from, say, 500 to 502 while the newly promoted sides would remain at 200.

Conversely, if the defending champions lost, then their value would fall to 480 while Cardiff’s is boosted to 225.

Bear in mind, this is subjective rather than pure science but it will be interesting to see how the table will look come May 2019.

Below is how the 360SE looks before heading into the first clash of the season as Manchester United host Leicester City at Old Trafford on Friday night.

09 08 360SE

09 08 360SE2

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