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All eyes on new managers in Liga MX

Liga MX
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Horncastle: Parma have been failed

Serie A
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Stoke must not underestimate Hull

Stoke City
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English football title defences aren't easy, as Man City are learning again

Sir Alex Ferguson was a master motivator who always kept his players' competitive fires burning, sometimes with some slightly devious tactics.

The big question, perhaps, was why this type of vigour hadn't been seen in Manchester City earlier. Last Saturday, the defending champions seemed so energised by Chelsea's 1-1 slip to Burnley that they immediately tore into Newcastle United, dismissing them 5-0. Afterwards, Vincent Kompany made some proclamations, but they weren't necessarily all that persuasive, despite what had just happened.

"Our team has been proving our determination in recent years," the City captain said. "That's one...

 By Kevin Palmer

Liverpool and Manchester City can declare Premier League intentions

Jordan Henderson makes a special appearance in the latest HWTLU to announce his name change. Also, the very angry Alan Tikitally continues his reign of Scottish terror.

Premier League Spotlight previews the weekend's top-flight fixtures, highlighting the key points to keep an eye on as the action unfolds.

Weekend fixtures

Saturday
West Ham vs. Crystal Palace
Burnley vs. Swansea City
Manchester United vs. Sunderland
Newcastle vs. Aston Villa
Stoke City vs. Hull City
West Brom vs. Southampton

Sunday
Liverpool vs. Manchester City
Arsenal vs. Everton

Battle of the Weekend: Liverpool vs. Manchester City

The fixture that was promoted -- incorrectly as it transpired -- as a title decider when these two sides met at Anfield last April carries almost as much significance this time around. A resurgent Liverpool are presented with the chance to conclusively confirm they are ready to mix it up with the Premier...

 By Simon Kuper

Louis van Gaal still searching for his Manchester United identity

The ESPN FC crew discuss Simon Mignolet's latest performance and Louis van Gaal's job security at Old Trafford.

I first became aware of a chap named Louis van Gaal about 35 years ago. I was growing up in the Netherlands, and he was a minor but intriguing character in Dutch soccer. This gangling flatfaced man was playmaker for a club called Sparta Rotterdam, where he tried to control games from the center-circle, because unfortunately he couldn't run. Van Gaal moved (it was said then) as if he'd swallowed an umbrella. You also saw him sometimes on TV as the opinionated union rep for Dutch soccer players.

The...

ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Premier League fantasy - the Wayne Rooney conundrum

ESPN FC's Stuart Holden believes that Louis Van Gaal's downfall has been not finding a consistent lineup.

Wayne Rooney has been causing problems for plenty of fantasy managers all season. Where is he going to play? Is he going to shoot, let alone score?

He had three goals and two assists by the end of September which while not spectacular was enough to keep interest up. Fast forward to late-December and his league tally stood at eight goals and four assists -- again, not commensurate with his price tag but a regular contribution nonetheless.

But Rooney has played in midfield for the last few months,...

 By Elko Born

PSV's Cocu has turned the tables on De Boer's Ajax

Phillip Cocu's PSV can all but clinch the Eredivisie with a victory this weekend over Frank de Boer's Ajax.
Phillip Cocu's PSV can all but clinch the Eredivisie with a victory this weekend over Frank de Boer's Ajax.

In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven seem to be sailing steadily towards their first league title in seven years. Just one more victory, against Ajax (who are currently in second place) on Sunday, should do it.

The stage for Sunday's meeting was set last year, when PSV's newly appointed manager Phillip Cocu not only saw Ajax win the Eredivisie but was also placed behind Feyenoord and FC Twente, who finished second and third, respectively. It was not a very good start for a manager who was touted...