Man City start EPL title defense at West Ham

Striker Erling Haaland is set to make his Premier League debut for Manchester City at West Ham. City will be without defender Aymeric Laporte for the start of their league title defence. Laporte has undergone knee surgery and could be out for a month. West Ham’s new signings aren’t ready to make their debut. Striker Gianluca Scamacca is not yet fit enough and defender Nayef Aguerd is out with a knee injury. Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has been coy about whether Cristiano Ronaldo will appear in Brighton’s welcome. Ronaldo has publicly said he wants to leave, but ten Hag has also insisted on keeping him. Ten Hag said: “Cristiano works very hard and hard.” Leicester, home to Brentford, were the only club in the league not to sign anyone this summer, nor will they replace two key injuries in last week’s friendly win over Sevilla. Harvey Barnes will be out for a few weeks with a knee problem. Captain Kasper Schmeichel will not be replaced either. Danny Ward and Daniel Iversen will compete for the goalie position. Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans is the new captain.

GERMANY

Promoted Schalke travel to Cologne for their first Bundesliga game after their season in the second division. Schalke have a new manager in Frank Kramer after top club Michael Büskens brought him back to the Premier League with seven wins from his eight games in charge. Whether Kramer enjoys a similar success rate after an off-season of signings and departures at the cash-strapped club remains to be seen. Money is no problem for Leipzig, who travel to Stuttgart for the start of the game. Leipzig, which finished fourth last season, last week signed German defender David Raum for 26 million euros ($26.5 million) from Hoffenheim.

FRANCE

Marseille, Rennes and Nice are among the top 3 contenders. Marseille host Reims, Rennes play Lorient, and Nice visit promoted Toulouse. Igor Tudor has big shoes to fill after replacing Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli, who left Marseille this summer over a disagreement with the club’s recruitment strategy. Marseille have relied heavily on Dimitri Payet to create and score goals, so the arrival of Colombia striker Luis Suarez from Granada could ease Payet’s burden. In hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, Rennes have signed Welsh international Joe Rodon on loan from Tottenham and Belgium defender Arthur Theate from Bologna for €20m to compensate for the departure of the Moroccan centre-back. Nayef Aguerd at West Ham. Nice replaced manager Christophe Galtier with a familiar face, Lucien Favre, who led the club to a third-place finish in 2017. Nice’s recruitment policy has been ambitious with the signing of Welsh international Aaron Ramsey from Juventus and Romanian winger Rares Ilie from Rapid Bucharest to help Andy Delort and Amine Gouiri up front. In defence, Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has replaced Walter Benitez, who has joined from PSV Eindhoven, while Empoli’s promising centre-back Mattia Viti will be an alternative to an aging Dante.

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