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West Ham United
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Vitesse Arnhem
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 By Michael Cox

Qualifying for Europa League via fair play will soon be a relic of football

Andy Carroll and West Ham qualified for the 2015-16 UEFA Europa League through their fair play record.

Most Premier League squads have spent the past fortnight globetrotting on lucrative preseason tours while finding time to work on fitness levels. West Ham United, however, will play their fifth competitive game of the season on Thursday, in a Europa League qualifier against Romanian club Astra Giurgiu, having already seen off the mighty duo of Andorrans Lusitanos and Birkirkara of Malta.

European football is a wonderful bonus for West Ham in their final season at Upton Park, before their three-mile...

 By Michael Cox

Samir Nasri talks to ESPN FC about Man City, Manuel Pellegrini, Marseille

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has said that Raheem Sterling is capable of playing in a number of positions, and that Yaya Toure still has an important role to play in the team.
Manchester City had reason to celebrate a first ever Premier League win at Stoke's Britannia Stadium.
Samir Nasri is primed for a strong season in 2015-16 after Man City's last campaign ended without a league title.

Manchester City's Samir Nasri is highly unusual among modern footballers, for two very different reasons.

First, he's forthcoming with opinions. This is a player who, for example, who was confronted by paparazzi while on holiday in Los Angeles this summer and ended up having a discussion about the FIFA crisis, one in which he welcomed FBI intervention. Few other footballers dared utter a word about the saga.

Second, Nasri is a relentless football watcher. One of the notable things about professional...

John Stones should consider Chelsea switch to boost England prospects

The ESPN FC team analyse Jose Mourinho and Roberto Martinez's war of words in regards to recent reports linking Chelsea with John Stones.
Everton defender John Stones has been linked with a move to Chelsea this summer.
Everton defender John Stones has been linked with a move to Chelsea this summer.

Everton's John Stones has been earmarked as a long-term successor for Chelsea captain John Terry at Stamford Bridge and it was reported the Blues had a £20 million bid for the England international rejected last week.

Given his current ability and potential to improve, it's no shock Everton are not prepared to entertain offers below the £30m mark for Stones, while Gary Cahill says the youngster should consider a move to Stamford Bridge.

Of players aged 21 or under, Stones was's...

 By Michael Cox

Arturo Vidal could be Pep Guardiola's key signing at Bayern Munich

The ESPN FC crew discuss what Arturo Vidal would offer Bayern Munich's midfield should he join the German giants.

Of the many footballers changing clubs this summer, none are better than Arturo Vidal. The likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Robin van Persie and Andrea Pirlo are revered but on the way down. Perhaps only Carlos Tevez rivals Vidal as a top-quality player making a big transfer this season.

The fact three of these players are leaving Juventus summarises what a huge rebuilding job Max Allegri faces over the next month. But the real intrigue comes from Vidal's transfer to Bayern Munich.

It's unusual...

 By Michael Cox

How will Louis van Gaal organize Manchester United's ideal midfield?

The ESPN FC assess Robin van Persie's time with Manchester United following his move to Turkey.
Now that Man Utd is built in Louis van Gaal's image, how will he use all of his new signings, especially in midfield?

Louis van Gaal has been in charge of Manchester United for just 12 months, yet already he can almost name a starting XI formed of players that have been signed under his watch.

This notional starting XI doesn't yet have a centre-forward, but features Victor Valdes in goal (even if he leaves leave this summer), a four-man defence featuring Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw, a midfield trio of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera, with Angel Di Maria...

 By Michael Cox

Steven Gerrard's 'make-or-break' 2014 culminated in Liverpool departure

The Los Angeles Galaxy's Steven Gerrard speaks with ESPN FC's Taylor Twellman and addresses his disappointment in not winning the Premier League, but ultimately feels very lucky to have been there.
The Los Angeles Galaxy's Steven Gerrard speaks with ESPN FC's Taylor Twellman and addresses questions concerning David Beckham, and how he intends to adapt to Major League Soccer.
LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane talks up new teammate Steven Gerrard ahead of his MLS debut.

Ahead of each Premier League campaign, various players are supposedly set for a "make-or-break" year, according to season previews.

The player in question is usually a young footballer who has been around for a few seasons but hasn't fulfilled his initial promise, prompting questions about his long-term future. Jack Wilshere, for example, has had at least three "make-or-break" seasons in succession, which essentially summarises how the situation doesn't make sense for a player of his age. There's...