Wednesday Kickoff: EPL releases fixture list; Togo and Ethiopia admit playing ineligible player; and more

OscarDannyWelbeck1ChelseaManUnited (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

In less than two months, the new English Premier League season will kick off.

The Premier League announced their fixture list on Wednesday, exciting fans with early colossal matchups between Manchester United and Chelsea and Arsenal and Tottenham all before the end of August. The first matches of the season will occur on August 17, with the final weekend coming on May 11.

Manchester United will have a difficult time early defending their title. In addition to facing Chelsea in the second week at Old Trafford, United travel a week later to face Liverpool at Anfield, which will be the first time that new manager David Moyes will return to the city he called home for 11 years. Moyes won’t make his Goodison Park return until April 19 of next year.

Other interesting matches of note include Jose Mourinho’s first match back in charge of Chelsea against Hull on the opening weekend, as well as his first matches against Tottenham (9/28), West Bromwich Albion (11/9), and Liverpool (12/28), where Mourinho will face his former assistant coaches.

Here are some more stories to get your Wednesday started:

TOGO, ETHIOPIA ADMIT FIELDING INELIGIBLE PLAYERS

In a quite stunning turn of events, the Togolese Football Federation and their Ethiopian counterparts have both admitted they used ineligible players in recent matches, after FIFA announced they had launched a probe into the matter.

Togo midfielder Alaixys Romao was reportedly suspended for his nation’s June 9 match against Cameroon, a 2-0 victory for Togo. If confirmed by FIFA and Togo are forced to forfeit the match, Cameroon would go top of the four-nation qualifying group and face Libya in September in a match for first place and a place in the next round. Togo have already been eliminated from World Cup qualification.

Ethiopia meanwhile have admitted that they too used a suspended player, Minyahil Teshome Beyene, in a 2-1 victory against Botswana on June 8. If the match is overturned, Ethiopia, Botswana, and South Africa would all still have a chance of making it to the final round of qualifying.

FIFA also announced on Tuesday that they have opened proceedings against Equatorial Guinea for having “allegedly fielded an ineligible player for a second time” in World Cup qualifying.

PSG TURN TO CAPELLO

Having missed out on luring Andre Villas-Boas away from White Hart Lane, the Paris Saint-Germain hierarchy have now turned their gaze eastward towards Fabio Capello.

The current manager of the Russian National Team is reportedly now at the top of the PSG managerial short-list to take over for Carlo Ancelotti, who looks likely to move to Real Madrid this summer whether the PSG ownership group in Qatar likes it or not. Capello famously guided AC Milan in the early 1990s to four Serie A titles and a Champions League crown, but since 2007 has been at the national stage, first managing England and now Russia.

Reports in France state that PSG is willing to pay Capello’s $4 million release clause in his contract to bring him to the club. However, it’s also been written in some reports that even if Capello joins PSG this summer, it will only be for one year, as the Qatari ownership has their hearts set on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger taking over in 2014.

BARCELONA EYE CHELSEA’S MATA

Despite being named Chelsea’s Player of the Year, midfielder Juan Manuel Mata could be on his way out of London.

The Spain international is reportedly not regarded highly by new manager Jose Mourinho, and is the talk of all the tabloids in England and Spain about where his future lies. The top destination looks to be Barcelona, who believe Mata would fit perfectly into their system.

Chelsea have put a price of nearly $47 million on the 25-year-old former Valencia star, meaning that Barcelona will likely have to sell if they want to bring in Mata. One of the players being named in a potential sale is Thiago Alcantara, who is wanted by many teams, including Manchester United.

QUICK KICKS

The FA Cup Final has been moved to the end of the season, set to take place on May 17, 2014. (REPORT)

West Ham have confirmed the signing of Andy Carroll from Liverpool. (REPORT)

Former World Cup winner Gennaro Gattuso has been named manager of relegated side Palermo. (REPORT)

Tottenham are closing in on signing Brazilian National Team midfielder Paulinho with a $23.4 million bid. (REPORT)

FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke wants president Sepp Blatter to run for a fifth term in office. (REPORT)

Brazilian club Corinthians have brushed off reports that they are going to sign Kaka this summer. (REPORT)

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What do you make of these reports? What fixtures in the Premier League schedule are you most looking forward do? Do you see Togo and Ethiopia being docked points? Do you see Capello moving to PSG?

Share your thoughts below.

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19 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: EPL releases fixture list; Togo and Ethiopia admit playing ineligible player; and more

  1. NC Jeff says:

    Two (and maybe 3) teams, all from the same federation, knowingly fielded ineligible players??? In a normal world, a respected individual from another federation would lead an investigation into how widespread it is, and how the thought-process got to be what it became. However, this is FIFA and not a normal world, so let’s see what happens … maybe at least we’ll get to see Bafana Bafana again after all.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      The results are so digitalized and internet-ized you’d almost have to be crazy to do this in the modern era. Even if it’s Montserrat playing Bhutan in a friendly the lineup may very well show up on the FIFA site.

      I’d be interested if this is literally fielding someone under their name or whether teams are running out known players under false identification. In either case this should be something they go after the federations for. I realize African teams may not have ESPN listing for them who is in card trouble, broadcasting who just got suspended a game, and the like, but even if the card slipped you by during the game surely they get a game report. You can’t have this nonsense where people play games that don’t end up counting so they need to come down hard.

  2. The Imperative Voice says:

    The EPL fixture list release is always amusing to me because people eagerly await it like it isn’t the ritual announcement that everyone will play everyone else twice. MLS fixture interest makes more sense because you might very well play a non-conference opponent once, at their place, this year. Plus if you’re watching them on TV and not from Old Trafford itself what do you care if City is the opener, a random game, Boxing Day, etc.

  3. The Imperative Voice says:

    Is that Mourinho’s way of saying he thinks Mata is soft?

    • biff says:

      Or could it be that Mourinho does not want any Spanish national team players at Chelsea. He is not the most popular guy in Spain right now, especially in Barcelona and Madrid

      • Nate Dollars says:

        well, it’s kind of an imposition, but dc united will take any spanish players he doesn’t want. : )

  4. Joe says:

    Eric Lichaj signs a two year deal with Nottingham Forest.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I hope it solves his regular PT issue, although it may be too low a league for Klinsi to notice, although he may be too annoyed to care and just be focused on getting his career straight. Hopefully it works out well.

      Counterpoint: Robbie Findley, ahem. Remember that former Forest man? Xactly. So we’ll see.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        counter-counterpoint: robbie findley’s not that good. : p lichaj’s already done well at that level, so hopefully he’ll round back into form.

        and regarding klinsmann’s attention, i agree. if he didn’t call him up when he was playing well in the epl, and didn’t call him up when all we had at fullback were parkhurst and, um, paco torres, i can’t see lichaj really planning his career around the usmnt.

      • joe says:

        I am not sure Robbie Findley’s lack of success at Nottingham Forest is anything close to an accurate predictor of Eric Lichaj’s performance with Forest. Lichaj appeared 23 times for an EPL side that wasn’t totally bereft of talent. Findley came from the MLS and clearly was in over his head in the Championship.

        IMO, with this move Lichaj is giving himself an outside chance to be a late add to the WC roster if there are injuries and such. Beyond that, assuming JK leaves his post after Brazil, Lichaj (as an established player at a club at the top of the Championship or in the EPL) is an enticing call-up for a new coach.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Even though fullback isn’t necessarily the strongest/deepest spot for the USMNT, I can’t see this guy challenging anytime soon.

    • sue from the zoo says:

      Curious, what is a contract with Nottingham Forest worth for Lichaj? Any idea?

  5. SanFran415 says:

    Mourihno’s hatred of Spanish players is reaching peak levels.

  6. Air Jordanz says:

    Barcelona’s team building strategy:

    1.) Messi, Xavi, Iniesta
    2.) Buy all of Valencia’s star players
    3.) Profit

    • Sly says:

      How they let Soldado stay there till 28 is amazing to me. I saw him play live recently. I hate Spain and he made me swoon. Movement like he was seeing the game from above the pitch with a 360 view and every shot dangerous. you saw experienced defenders get nervous when the ball was played his way.

      If Suarez leaves he will will be irreplaceable to liverpool considering he plays 5 positions for liverpool. But getting a plaer like him will not happen again considering our financials. Soldado could work in our system and score 30 goals, just less assists and wont drop into midfield as well. Think more (good) torres/fowler hybrid.

  7. bryan says:

    would suck if Kaka signed in Brasil and not MLS. from a selfish standpoint.

  8. Looks like Chelsea’s early fixture list will give them an advantage over their main competitors. Tough challenge for Moyes to face Chelsea on his home debut!