Mourinho reunion motivates Matic

Midfielder Nemanja Matic says the chance to work with Jose Mourinho once again was a major factor in him opting to leave Chelsea to join Manchester United.

The 28-year-old Serbia midfielder has joined the Red Devils on a three-year contract, with a fee in the region of £40million reportedly involved to complete the deal.

Matic initially joined Chelsea in the summer of 2009 from FC Kosice, but found first-team opportunities limited at Stamford Bridge and moved on to Benfica 18 months later.

However, his form for the Lisbon Eagles was impressive enough to persuade the Blues to buy him back in January 2014 and he soon became a fixture in the Chelsea midfield, helping them to Premier League successes in both 2014/15 and 2016/17.

Mourinho was in charge for the first of those title victories and Matic is relishing linking up with the Portuguese again at Old Trafford.

He told the official United website: "I am delighted to have joined Manchester United. To work with Jose Mourinho once again was an opportunity I couldn't turn down.

"I have enjoyed my time at Chelsea and would like to thank the club and the fans for their support. I cannot wait to meet my new team-mates and to start training with them.

"This is a very exciting time for the club and I am looking forward to playing my part in creating more history for this great club."

Matic is the third major signing made by the Red Devils so far this summer, with striker Romelu Lukaku having been recruited from Everton and centre-back Victor Lindelof having arrived from Benfica.

They will be charged with helping United improve on a sixth-place finish in the Premier League last season – a campaign which saw the men from Manchester win both the EFL Cup and the Europa League.

United are 10/3 to win the Premier League title this season, while they are 1/3 to secure a top-four finish and are 16/1 to triumph in the Champions League.

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Conte’s Chelsea 8/5 For Silverware This Season

Heading into any season as defending Premier League champions is never easy but Chelsea could find things especially difficult this campaign. Antonio Conte’s men were a class above their rivals last season, eventually finishing clear of Tottenham Hotspur in the title race. But now, England’s elite clubs will be looking to knock the Blues off their perch…

At the time of writing, Conte’s men are priced at 7/2 to retain the crown in 2017/18 and plenty of punters will be backing the Blues despite a mixed pre-season. The Blues fell short against both Bayern Munich and Inter Milan but Chelsea backers will be encouraged by their 3-0 victory over arch rivals Arsenal.

Chelsea face Arsenal in the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium this weekend and that result might tell us more about Conte’s side ahead of the new campaign. Reading too much into any pre-season result would be foolish to say the least but the Community Shield isn’t your regular pre-season encounter…

As of July 31st, the Blues are as short as 3/4 to miss out on silverware this term – and many will be expecting Chelsea to struggle after the highs of last season. Diego Costa looks set to leave Stamford Bridge, as does Nemanja Matic, and Conte will be keen to sign at least two more big names before the end of the transfer window.

Conte’s men struggled for form before switching to a 3-5-2 system last season and England’s top clubs might have figured their strategy and style out. Former Blues boss Jose Mourinho has adopted a three-at-the-back approach on Manchester United’s pre-season tour whilst Tottenham Hotspur could follow suit now that Kyle Walker has left White Hart Lane.

If the Blues go hammer and tongue on all fronts, a trophy could be on the cards and the 8/5 available for one piece of major silverware represents solid value. Last season, Chelsea won the title and reached the FA Cup final and Conte will be desperate to add another accolade to the glittering trophy cabinet at Stamford Bridge.

Can Chelsea win the Champions League this season? Probably not. The Blues are looking a little stretched and Conte may harness all of his focus on Chelsea’s domestic efforts. Playing midweek fixtures could hinder their progress at the business end of the campaign…

The 7/1 available for Conte’s men to snag two or more major trophies will appeal to some bettors and it is easy to see why. The Blues were by far and away the strongest and most consistent team in England last season and Chelsea would have secured a double had it not been for an immense Arsenal performance in the FA Cup final.

Chelsea fan dreaming of a treble or, dare we say it, quadruple? Conte’s side are valued at 50/1 to win three major honours this campaign and 500/1 to win four. If summer signing Alvaro Morata hits the ground running and scores 50 goals this season, who knows – the Blues could be set for a very successful year of lifting trophies.

Realistically, that isn’t going to happen. Morata will help Chelsea in attacking areas but his impact alone isn’t enough. Diego Costa’s situation at Stamford Bridge looks bleak and the Blues must sign another striker to keep pace at the top of England’s top flight. With one or two attacking signings, Chelsea WILL be right in the mix once again.

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Bilic cool over further signings

West Ham head coach Slaven Bilic says he does not expect to make any more major signings this summer, but will move if something 'extraordinary happens'.

The Hammers have drafted in former Manchester City duo Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta, as well as ex-Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez and Stoke City forward Marko Arnautovic to bolster their squad, with a number of players allowed to leave the club.

I don't expect any more 'exciting' signings.

Slaven Bilic

And Bilic has no other big targets in mind, but hopes that the Irons would be prepared to make a move if the opportunity to snap up another high-quality recruit comes about.

He told the club's official website: "I don't expect any more 'exciting' signings, because you don't want to be overbooked in certain positions.

"You have to respect your players and those who are number two, because you don't want them to be number three in their position. You only need them in case you have many, many injuries, but of course you can't think like that.

"If something extraordinary happens, and it can happen, because we've done really well without spending crazy money.

"I presume if something extraordinary happens in the market, then hopefully we're still going to be able to do it, if necessary."

West Ham finished in 11th place in the Premier League last season, while they lost 5-0 to Manchester City in the third round of the FA Cup and were beaten 4-1 by Manchester United in the fifth round of the EFL Cup.

They can be backed at 11/8 to secure a finish in the top half of the English top-flight this season, while they are 33/1 to lift the FA Cup and 25/1 to triumph in the EFL Cup.

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Silva seeks more fresh faces

Watford head coach Marco Silva has indicated that he hopes to sign up to six new players before the transfer window closes.

Five players, including Tom Cleverley who was on loan at Vicarage Road last season, have joined Watford since Silva succeeded Walter Mazzarri as Hornets boss in June.

However, former Hull City boss Silva has made it clear that Valon Behrami and Steven Berghuis are close to leaving the club, and is keen to add to his options as soon as possible.

Watford could only draw 0-0 with Championship side Aston Villa in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, and Silva knows which areas he needs to strengthen before the first game of the Premier League campaign against Liverpool on 12th August.

He said: "We need strong moves in the market. As soon as possible is good for me, because we've got less than two weeks before the Premier League starts.

"I expect we will make the number of moves I have said before [five or six] in the market.

"I don't want to talk about specific positions that we need. When I talk about five or six, it's easy to understand what positions we need, but first of all I have to analyse the quality we have in our squad because we have a lot of quality."

Watford, 7/4 to be relegated this season, are available at 15/2 to draw 1-1 with Liverpool and at 11/8 to pick up over 38 points in 2017/18.

Bruce upbeat despite Grealish blow

Steve Bruce is content with the strength of his Aston Villa squad even though Jack Grealish could miss the first three months of the campaign.

The 21-year-old has had to have a kidney operation after sustaining a nasty injury on Saturday in the pre-season match against Watford when he collided with Tom Cleverley.

Grealish's father posted a message from his son which read: "Absolutely devastated… got a nasty elbow to the stomach in Saturday's game which caused a bleed in my kidney.

"Had a mini op early on Sunday morning and will now be out for at least two to three months."

Grealish scored five goals in 33 appearances for Villa last season as they finished in mid-table in the Championship after suffering relegation from the Premier League in 2015/16.

Bruce is optimistic about Villa's chances of enjoying a much better time of it this term though and is looking forward to Friday's opening game of the season against one of his former clubs – Hull City.

He said: "I like our balance. The lads we have brought in will certainly improve us with our experience.

"We look far better, far stronger and better equipped in terms of the experience we've got.

"[Glenn] Whelan, [Ahmed] Elmohamady and [John] Terry bring great experience and know-how.

"I do feel you need that to play for this club and they will handle it because they have played in the Premier League before many times.

"I'm very confident they will perform under pressure – like you have to playing for this club."

Villa, 15/8 to be promoted this season, are available at 1/1 to triumph against Hull on Saturday and 8/1 to beat the Tigers 2-1.

Mourinho rules out Fellaini sale

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says Galatasaray have absolutely no chance of signing Belgium international Marouane Fellaini.

Reports over the weekend suggested the Turkish side were set to capture the former Everton midfielder but Mourinho, who is keen to land Chelsea's Nemanja Matic, has no intention of letting Fellaini – who is in the last year of his contract – leave Old Trafford.

"It's easier for Galatasaray to get me than to get Maroaune," Mourinho said after United's 3-0 friendly victory over Valerenga. "Forget it. He's too important to me."

Meanwhile, Mourinho says the 28-year-old Matic is keen to move to Old Trafford, adding: "I'm waiting for news.

"I know that he wants it very, very much and when a player wants it very, very much, the chance is bigger.

"We have a chance. In football, until it's official, I saw many things happen… I refuse to say more than I'm telling you now."

Mourinho brought Matic to Stamford Bridge in January 2014 for a second spell and he scored once in 35 Premier League appearances for Chelsea last season.

United are 10/3 to win the 2017/18 Premier League title and 11/2 to beat West Ham United 2-0 on the opening weekend of the season.

Milligan returns to Victory

Australia international Mark Milligan has returned for a second spell with Melbourne Victory.

The 31-year-old is back with Kevin Muscat's side after two years playing for Baniyas SC in the UAE Arabian Gulf League.

His last appearance for Victory came when he won the Joe Marston Medal as man of the match in their 3-0 Grand Final win over Sydney FC in 2015.

Milligan, who has played 59 times for the Socceroos, has signed a one-year marquee contract with Victory and Muscat believes the utility man will be a valuable addition as they bid for their first time since Milligan's departure.

"Mark is a player who loves our club and to be able to secure him for next season is a massive shot in the arm," said the coach.

"He's still a pivotal member of the Socceroos set-up and will be an invaluable addition to our squad as we prepare for a busy campaign that also includes AFC Champions League commitments."

Milligan said the move couldn't have worked out any better for him and he's delighted to return to the club he initially joined on loan from JEF United Cheba in 2012.

"When the opportunity to come back to Australia presented, Melbourne Victory was the only choice," he added.

Victory are 4/1 to win the A-League Grand Final, with Melbourne City 13/2 and Sydney FC 9/4.

Meanwhile, Perth Glory have signed former Liverpool Academy player Jake Brimmer.

Brimmer was released last month by Liverpool after three years at Anfield. The 19-year-old, who was born in Melbourne, has represented Australia at both U17 and U20 level.

Glory head of football Jacob Burns said Brimmer was one of the brightest young Australian prospects.

He said: "He's an intelligent midfielder with a great passing range and technical ability who has the potential to be a massive asset to the club."

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Three Premier League Arrivals And What To Expect

New Premier League signings arrive with a bizarre cocktail of hype, expectation and pressure. Sometimes more of one than the other, but each element contributes to the other to an extent.

With that comes predictions, and guidelines for what we should expect to see. Some will exceed, some will fall drastically short, but there are three players in particular worth checking out before the season gets started, bet on their successes or failures:

Bernardo Silva

The first of the Premier League’s show-stopping signings this window feels like a distant memory. Bernardo Silva was a coup for Manchester City and joins a glorious gathering of attacking talent that is primed to take the league by storm under Pep Guardiola.

Silva was part of that Monaco team that played with such freedom and stormed to the Ligue 1 title last season. He was a star there, but faces plenty of competition from more experienced, more established players at the Etihad Stadium.

Currently at 17/20 to create over 6.5 league goals next season (he notched nine assists last season), the Portugal international faces a battle to even become a consistent starter as Guardiola’s rotation has no player guaranteed to start. The same price on the under has to be the better bet in this one at the moment, such is the uncertainty over Guardiola’s selection.

Does City’s attack make the title certainties? If so, 9/5 is a cracking price!  

Mohamed Salah

Liverpool’s attacking football was a joy to behold last season. Defensively they were catastrophic, but adding Mohamed Salah to that attacking unit will have Premier League defenders wondering how they can avoid a trip to Anfield.

Salah has scored 29 league goals in the last two Serie A seasons and gives another dimension to an attack that had become reliant on the movement of Sadio Mane to engineer a breakthrough. The Egyptian is a vastly improved player from the version we witnessed at Chelsea and there is no reason he won’t be a success in his second shot at English football.

If he’s given the minutes the current 17/20 to score over 8.5 league goals will look a bargain. How Jurgen Klopp fits Mane and Salah into the same team will be the key to this market.

It’s 12/1 for it finally to be their year

Davy Klaassen

Amidst the rush of Everton signings this summer, it’s easy to forget that Ronald Koeman brought in the midfield general and captain of Europa League runners-up, Ajax. Davy Klaassen is still only 24 years old, even though it feels like he’s been linked with a move to the Premier League since 2002.

With Tom Davies, Wayne Rooney, Idrissa Gueye, Morgan Schneiderlin and James McCarthy contesting for midfield roles, Klaassen will have his work cut out to make himself a regular in the league under Koeman.

Whether used from a deeper position or closer to the main forward, though, Klaassen is a goal threat – as proven by his 14 in the Eredivisie last term – and has a knack for the final pass.

Currently at 17/20 to provide over 4.5 league assists this season, Klaassen is a good price if he can retain a steady starting place. The Dutch international has surpassed that number in each of the last three seasons.

Could Klaassen make the difference for the Toffees? They’re at 10/1 to make the top 4

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All Smiles as the Big Hungary Race Delights!

Ferrari would undoubtedly go into the month-long break with smiles on their faces after Sebastian Vettel won and extended his championship lead. However, regardless of the result, F1 fans and the live betting faithful who bet online on the race were the real winners of the day following an eventful Hungarian Grand Prix.

Indeed, most online gambling fans already expected the result of the race considering that pole positions are important in a track like Hungaroring that doesn’t exactly promote overtaking. Nonetheless, that didn’t lessen the intensity of the race that featured quite a drama right from the start.

Vettel won the race after taking the pole position in qualifying. He finished almost a second ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, but he didn’t win it comfortably as he suffered a steering wheel malfunction from the get-go that bothered him throughout.

Fortunately, the German driver held his ground despite a stifling contest from his teammate who pressured Ferrari to let him overtake Vettel for a chance to win and avoid any Mercedes threat.

Meanwhile, Vettel’s main title rival, Lewis Hamilton, finished fourth after handing the last podium place to his Mercedes partner Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton started fourth from the grid and even dropped to fifth after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen overtook him on Lap 2, but he was able to retake his lead in the latter stages and asked his Finn teammate to switch with him to try and take on the Ferrari’s – promising that he will return the position to Bottas if he fails.

The Brit star eventually wasn’t able to challenge Ferrari as they were left behind by more than 12 seconds; and true to his word, he let Bottas through in the final lap despite Verstappen closing in and trying to overtake.

On the other hand, Red Bull have another horror night after Verstappen rammed his teammate Daniel Ricciardo on the first lap and forced him to retire. The 19-year-old ran wide at the first corner and locked up his tyres before sliding into the Australian, earning the Dutch teenager a 10-second penalty which proved to be costly as he ended up fifth.

The other Top 10 finishers were left behind by more than a lap by the leading drivers. However, McLaren—who had lots of troubles in the past with their Honda engine—would still be satisfied with their performance after both of their drivers, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, finished well and got some championship points.

It was Ferrari’s first one-two victory in Budapest in 13 years as they cut Mercedes’ lead in the Constructor standings to just 39 points. For Vettel, he again increased his lead in the driver standings, now to 14 points.

For Hamilton, missing the podium can be costly as he lost an extra three points with what he did. Though, in terms of sportsmanship, he certainly won a lot of points for that.

Formula One racing will take a midseason break and will return in late August for the Belgian Grand Prix.

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Pochettino admits Spurs lag behind

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that they have ground to make up before the new Premier League season gets underway.

Pochettino was talking after Spurs fell to defeat in Nashville, losing 3-0 to Manchester City. That follows on from another loss, 3-2 to Roma and, though the competitive action is yet to get underway, the Argentinian admits there is work to do in the next few weeks.

City, along with Manchester neighbours United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have all been busy in the transfer market ahead of the big kick off and Spurs are the only top flight club not to sign anyone so far this summer.

Pochettino admits that may need to change in the coming days, saying: "Of course, Man City have more senior players than us and they invest more money than us, you  can see that we have a lot of young players on the bench.

"It's true the squads are completely different but we are building the squad. Maybe today they have a little bit of an advantage, they are ahead of us because they have signed and kept the players that they want.

"We are a little bit behind but working hard to sign some players who can help us and bring some energy, and make us more competitive."

The Manchester City defeat marks an end to Tottenham's pre-season tour of the USA. They now return to the UK and, in their temporary home of Wembley Stadium, play Juventus next weekend in their final pre-season fixture.

Spurs, 9/1 to win the Premier League and 8/11 to finish in the top four, are then on their travels in the first game of the new league season, playing away at newly promoted Newcastle on 13th August.

While Spurs have not yet signed anyone, they have let some players leave the club, notably Kyle Walker who joined Manchester City.

Spurs have been linked with several players so far this summer, including Everton's Ross Barkley who is thought likely to leave Goodison Park before the end of the transfer window.

Spurs are 3/4 to start the new season with a win, Newcastle are priced at 7/2 with the draw 11/4.

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