x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Chelsea consider offering Yossi Benayoun for Luka Modric

In other Premier League news, Patrick Vieira defends the controversial Mario Balotelli, his former Manchester City teammate.

Arsenal

What they say Laurent Blanc, the France coach, was not happy with Samir Nasri's performance on Wednesday in a 1-1 friendly draw with Chile. "He has the ability to do better," said Blanc of the unsettled midfielder. "I told him so, and he knows it."

Team news Despite the imminent departures of Cesc Fabregas and Nasri, there was some good news for the Gunners this week as they signed the highly rated winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He could start against Newcastle United.

Form Arsenal had the best away record in the Premier League last season.

Aston Villa

Team news Alex McLeish, the manager, insists Emile Heskey, 33, has a part to play this season. The striker was a bit-part player in the second half of the last campaign, following the arrival of Darren Bent.

What they say "When you're looking at signing a first-team goalkeeper, in my opinion, there was no one better than Shay out there," - high praise for the new Villa No 1 Shay Given from his predecessor Brad Friedel.

Team news Bent is fit for tomorrow's trip to Fulham, after recovering from a shoulder injury which kept him out of England's squad.

Blackburn Rovers

Team news Ryan Nelsen and Christopher Samba, the centre-backs, are both likely to miss tomorrow's home opener with Wolves.

Rumour mill The Leicester City defender Sol Bamba is not on the verge of a move to Ewood Park, according to the BBC, despite rumours.

Club news Blackburn will not have a corporate sponsor this season, instead wearing the Prince's Trust charity logo on their shirts. Aston Villa became the first top-flight club to give publicity to a charity three years ago when they carried the name of a local children's hospice on their shirts.

Bolton Wanderers

Club news Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, has confirmed talks aimed at bringing Manchester City's Shaun Wright-Phillips to the Reebok Stadium are continuing. However, Bolton are unable to match the winger's current wages and, so far, have been unable to find a way of bridging the gap.

Team news Lee Chung-yong, the South Korean winger, and right-back Tyrone Mears, are both out until 2012 with broken legs, while the US midfielder Stuart Holden is not expected back from his leg injury until September.

Form Bolton are unbeaten against QPR, who they face tomorrow, in five games.

Chelsea

Team news Fernando Torres could be ruled out of Chelsea's opener against Stoke City on Sunday. The forward suffered mild concussion during Spain's friendly defeat by Italy in Bari and was substituted after 14 minutes.

Rumour mill Chelsea will offer Yossi Benayoun as bait to Tottenham Hotspur in a bid to tempt Luka Modric to Stamford Bridge, according to The Daily Mail.

What they say "I'm worried about a lot of teams this season. Everyone has strengthened ... There are six or seven teams who can really push and have a chance of winning the trophy," - John Terry

Everton

What they say "I'm in depression now - trained for six weeks for Saturday's game. I know its 100% the right decision but I'm going to sulk all day!" - Everton's Phil Neville, on Twitter, on the decision to call off tomorrow's match at Tottenham due to the riots in London.

Team news The postponement of tomorrow's match against Tottenham will give Mikel Arteta more time to recover for Everton's first match of the season. The midfielder has an ankle injury but could be fit for the clash with QPR next week.

Rumour mill Joseph Yobo could be heading to Turkish side Fenerbahce according to The Sun.

Fulham

What they say "I'm delighted for everyone tonight. We thought it would be a tough game and that they [Faroe Islands] would make it difficult for us and they did," - Aaron Hughes, the on-form defender, after scoring his first international goal for Northern Ireland on Wednesday night.

Club news Fulham will receive more than 400 tickets for the Europa League clash against Dnipro in Ukraine on August 25, the club have announced.

Rumour mill Fulham have expressed an interest in signing the Real Madrid winger Pedro Leon, according to The Sun, after the 24 year old turned down a move to Getafe.

Liverpool

What they say "I am really excited to be back and really looking forward to the season. We're in a good mood at the moment and hopefully we'll start well on Saturday," - Lucas Leiva ahead of tomorrow's opener against Sunderland.

Club news Danny Wilson has said he may be forced to consider a loan move this season in a bid to boost his international career. The 19 year old made just eight appearances last term.

Rumour mill Kenny Dalglish could offload David N'Gog as Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, is prepared to up his offer for the striker to £4million, according to The Daily Mirror.

Manchester City

What they say "People forget how young Mario really is. He is a really young boy. He will make mistakes. I made a few in my career. Hopefully this year he will learn from them," - the former City midfielder Patrick Vieira on Mario Balotelli.

Club news New keeper Costel Pantilimon has had his work permit granted. It means the Romania international, 24, has now become Roberto Mancini's fourth signing of the summer, joining as backup to the first choice keeper Joe Hart.

Statistic City hope the arrival of Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid will boost their goal tally, which was the lowest of the top four clubs last season.

Manchester United

What they say ”There is no point suggesting anybody else to be manager of Manchester United, there is no one around who can fill his boots,” – Bobby Charlton, the United legend, on Sir Alex Ferguson.

Team news Javier Hernandez, who scored 20 goals in his debut season in 2010/11, will miss Sunday’s trip to West Bromwich Albion with a concussion suffered.

Form While United had the best home record in the league last season (W18, D1), they failed to win 14 of their 19 away games. One of those victories, however, was at West Brom. The also triumphed 5-0 on their previous trip to the Hawthorns.

Newcastle United

Statistics Newcastle have conceded 12 goals in their last four home games against tomorrow’s opponents Arsenal. They drew last season’s encounter 4-4 after coming back from four goals down at half time.

Rumour mill Local press reported that the Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner is a target for Newcastle. As a target man, he would fill the void left by Andy Carroll, who joined Liverpool in January.

What they say “Within the squad at the minute there’s one place available for a striker, and that search is ongoing until such time as we get the right player,” –Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager.

Norwich City

What they say “I don’t know how hard it is going to be or how easy it is going to be. I haven’t got a clue, but I am just going to go in there and give it my all,” – Steve Morison, the Norwich striker who used to work as a paper shredder, on making his Premier League debut.

Statistic Norwich are returning to the Premier League after a six-year absence.

Team news The midfielder Andrew Crofts (ankle) and will be assessed ahead of the trip to Wigan tomorrow, as will the full-back Russell Martin (calf). Striker James Vaughan, signed from Everton, and centre-back Elliott Ward will definitely miss the start of the season.

Queens Park Rangers

Club news QPR have confirmed the signing of the Brazilian defender Bruno Perone, subject to international clearance. The 24 year old, who can also play in midfield, has signed a one-year deal with the Premier League newcomers. Sao Paulo-born Perone has been on trial with the west London side for the last month, featuring in several pre-season matches.

Statistics QPR’s last Premier League season was the 1995/96 campaign.

Keyword ”Last year was a very illuminating time for me watching Blackpool play. I know they got relegated but they epitomised playing without fear,” – Neil Warnock, the manager.

Stoke City

Team news Stoke’s defence has been boosted by the arrivals of former England centre backs Matthew Upson and Jonathan Woodgate on free transfers. Either could play against Chelsea on Sunday, though Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth are the first choices.

Rumour mill Joey Barton, the controversial midfielder released by Newcastle United, has emerged as a target for Stoke, says to The Daily Mirror.

Statistics Stoke turned the Britannia stadium into something of a fortress last season. They only lost five of 19 games there, holding Chelsea and Manchester City to draws and beating Arsenal.

Sunderland

What they say “It’s like starting all over again, I feel as if I am starting all over again with what we have done in the summer,” – Steve Bruce, the manager, after making 10 new signings.

Team news John O’Shea, one of the new signings, will miss tomorrow’s opener at Liverpool with a slight hamstring strain. Lee Cattermole is also doubtful for the game.

Rumour mill Bruce’s summer spending might not be over, if the Northern Echo is to be believed. Tottenham’s Niko Kranjcar, who is out of favour at White Hart Lane, is said to be a target. The sticking point is that Sunderland want him on loan, Spurs want to sell.

Swansea City

Rumour mill David Trezeguet, the French forward who won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, is a free transfer target for Swansea, says The Daily Mail.

Club news Swansea finalised the £1.5m signing of the Dutch goalkeeper Michel Vorm from Utrecht on Wednesday. The 27 year old, capped five times by Holland, could make his Swansea debut against Manchester City on Monday.

Statistics Swansea last faced City in the old Second Division back in 1983/84. They lost both matches that season, including a 2-1 loss at Maine Road, City’s former ground. They have only beaten City once away.

Tottenham Hotspur

Rumour mill The Times have linked Tottenham with a move for Hulk, the Porto striker, though a £88m buyout clause may put them off.

Form Tottenham have failed to win six of their last eight home games. They have missed the chance to start the season with a home victory – after their match with Everton was called off. Their next match is away to Manchester United.

What they say “I don’t know why this story keeps coming out that I want to stay in London. I’ve never said that. I’m quite happy to go anywhere. For me, it’s just about playing regular football,” – Robbie Keane, wants to leave Spurs.

West Brom

What they say “We are not Manchester City or Liverpool. People talk about spending £50 million (Dh300m) as if it is nothing at all. We talk about net spends of £2-3m if we’re lucky,” – Roy Hodgson, the manager.

Club news West Brom defender Gabriel Tamas has been banned from the Romania team for life after hey went out drinking with Adrian Mutu, the Cesena forward, before Wednesday’s friendly against San Marino. Romania coach Victor Piturca says the pair defied orders by going out and drinking on Monday night.

Wigan Athletic

Club news After bringing in the goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi and the midfielder David Jones this summer, Roberto Martinez is close to tying up a deal for the French striker Nouha Dicko. The 19-year-old is a free agent after Strasbourg were forced to release all their players.

What they say “We knew he was going to have that impact going back to Manchester United,” – Martinez on Tom Cleverley, the midfielder who spent 2010/11 on loan at Wigan.

Statistic Wigan have only ever drawn one of the 19 Premier League games they have played in August.

Wolves

Team news Kevin Doyle, the striker, is winning his battle to be fit for the Premier League opener with Blackburn at Ewood Park. Doyle withdrew from the Republic of Ireland squad to face Croatia on Wednesday with a knee problem. But Mick McCarthy, the manager, said: “There’s every possible chance Doyle will play.”

What they say ”I hit double figures in the league last season and that’s usually the aim I start with. If I can hit double figures I’m happy and any more then that’s a bonus. My aim is to pick up from where I left off” – the striker Steven Fletcher.