Arsenal-Liverpool headlines English Premier League weekend television schedule live at 8 a.m. Sunday on NBCSN

Also recommended: Aston Villa-Manchester United live at 7 a.m. Saturday on NBCSN and Real Madrid-San Lorenzo in the final of the FIFA World Club Cup at 11:30 a.m. on Fox Sports 2.

For your interactive guide to all the EPL games, click here.

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LA Galaxy Notebook: Galaxy to open Major League Soccer season March 6 against Mike Magee and Chicago Fire

LA Galaxy II top scorer Chandler Hoffman was selected by the Houston Dynamo Thursday afternoon in the MLS Re-Entry Draft.

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Last-minute gift ideas for the soccer fan: FC Santa Claus gear

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FC Santa Claus — a real club based in the capital of Lapland — has its jerseys and other gear sold this year through WorldSoccerShop.com for the first time ever.

Here’s more on the club from the website’s press release:

FC Santa Claus is located in Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, has a population of 65,000, and is said to be the home of Santa Claus.

Rovaniemi is just six miles south of the Arctic Circle with an annual average temperature of 33F degrees; snow covers the ground 175 days a year, which means soccer cannot be played between the months October and April.

But, the midnight sun can be seen from June 6 to July 7, which means soccer could be played for 768 hours straight in the daylight; the lowest temperature ever recorded in Rovaniemi was minus 54F degrees; the mercury in thermometers freezes at temperatures below minus 40F degrees.

The team gained promotion to the Finnish second division in September. Each July, FC Santa Claus organizes a midnight sun tournament for youth teams called the Santa Claus Cup. In February 2015, they will play in the open snow tournament, the Santa Claus World Cup.

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Weekly Soccer Column: Unreal Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo seek global soccer supremecy

It was only a couple of years ago that this soccer columnist and plenty of others around the world were raving about Lionel Messi and Barcelona. Incredibly, it seems rivals Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid could even eclipse those achievements. For more, read this week’s 100 Percent Soccer column.

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Former UCLA striker Chandler Hoffman among four LA Galaxy players available Friday in Re-Entry Draft

GalaxyStriker Chandler Hoffman, who played for USL Pro team LA Galaxy II last season, was one of four Galaxy players available in Friday’s Re-Entry Draft for out of contract players.

The other three: little-used defender James Riley, acquired in March from D.C. United; former UCLA goalkeeper Brian Perk; and Rafael Garcia of Canoga Park.

Other notables in the draft: former Galaxy striker Edson Buddle and MLS veteran Dwayne DeRosario.

Here’s more from MLS on the eligible players:

The Re-Entry process will consist of players at least 23 years of age with a minimum of three years of MLS experience whose options were not exercised. In addition, players out of contract who have not received a Bona Fide Offer and who are at least 25 years of age with a minimum of four years of MLS experience, and/or players at least 30-years-old with a minimum of eight years of MLS experience are included.

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Concussion issues prompt LA Galaxy forward Rob Friend to retire

The Canadian made 10 appearances for the Galaxy after signing with the club last January.

Rob Friend played the bulk of his career in Europe.

From the Galaxy press release:

Friend, 33, was originally drafted by the Chicago Fire in 2003 MLS SuperDraft but instead signed with Moss FK in the Norwegian professional division. Friend scored 16 goals for Moss FK before transferring to Molde FK in Norway, where he went on to score 14 more goals from 2004-2006.

After a year in the Netherlands playing for SC Heerenveen, Friend signed with Borussia Monchengladbach for 2007 season, where he led the team in goals with 18 as his side finished first in Bundesliga 2 and was promoted to the first division. The forward spent two more years with Borussia, scoring 28 total goals during his time with the club. Friend remained in Germany until 2014, where he had stints with Hertha BSC, Eintracht Frankfurt and TSV 1860 Munchen.

Friend signed with the Galaxy this January ahead of the 2014 MLS Regular Season. He recorded the game-tying assist in the Galaxy’s 2-2 draw on the road in Vancouver on a goal from Robbie Keane in the 77th minute.

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Could MLS MVP Robbie Keane leave the LA Galaxy?

That’s what the veteran Irishman hinted at Monday night during the Galaxy’s MLS Cup celebration in Hermosa Beach, even if coach Bruce Arena downplayed Robbie Keane’s comments.

Still, speculation is already swirling about a possible overseas destination and EPL club QPR are reportedly already mulling a short-term loan move for Keane during the MLS offseason.

Hey, maybe it’s a ploy for an improved contract. Keane makes $4.5 million a year.

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Midweek Kicks: U.S. Men’s National Team to play Panama Feb. 8 in Carson and more

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  • U.S. Soccer announced a schedule of seven USMNT games in the first half of 2015 including the Feb. 8 contest in Southern California and a home game against Mexico April 15 at a venue to be determined. Tickets for USA-Panama go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday. More details are here.
  • The Univision Deportes telecast of MLS Cup Sunday was watched by 678,000 viewers making it the channel’s top-rated finale to an MLS season ever. The Galaxy-New England game beat six live EPL games on NBCSN last week. When combined with the audience watching on UniMas, a combined 923,000 Spanish-language soccer fans watched the game. Another 964,000 viewers watched on ESPN, making it the third most watched MLS Cup final on the channel.
  • The Chicago Fire today signed Illinois native and former Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens, who had played for the last year in Norway.
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