Getty Images

A Closer Look: The opening 10 PL matches for the Big Six

Leave a comment

The release of the Premier League schedule marks the start of a new season, and with that the hopes and dreams of the millions of fans around the world.

As Premier League clubs gear up or are well into a busy summer of transfers, expectations can start to be set based on the schedule and where certain games fall.

With Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham all pushing for the Premier League title, we thought it would be good to go in depth and look at how each team will open the season, focusing on the first 10 games of the campaign.

Chelsea of course won its first three games before drawing with Swansea City and losing to Liverpool and Arsenal, which allowed manager Antonio Conte to make his famous switch to the 3-5-2 formation that paid such dividends for Chelsea down the road.

While we can’t predict a future like that, here’s our take on the opening 10 games of the season for each of the top six teams.

ARSENAL

Arsenal v Leicester City
Stoke City v Arsenal
Liverpool v Arsenal
Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth
Chelsea v Arsenal
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion
Arsenal v Brighton
Watford v Arsenal
Everton v Arsenal
Arsenal v Swansea City

Arsenal’s initial run in isn’t too bad. While it has road matches at Liverpool and at Chelsea in the opening 10 games, the only two other top-10 teams from last year Arsenal faces is Everton on the road and West Bromwich at home. With six games against bottom-ten teams, Arsenal should be able to start the season on a positive note like it has in the past.


CHELSEA

Chelsea v Burnley
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
Chelsea v Everton
Leicester City v Chelsea
Chelsea v Arsenal
Stoke City v Chelsea
Chelsea v Manchester City
Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Chelsea v Watford
AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea

After facing Burnley, Chelsea faces three of the big six in Tottenham away and Arsenal and Manchester City at home as well as a pair of other London derbies at Crystal Palace and home against Watford. Having to face Tottenham so early in the season after the clubs’ physical battles in the past could be an issue if any new members of the squad haven’t adjusted to the Premier League pace at that point.


LIVERPOOL

Watford v Liverpool
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Arsenal
Manchester City v Liverpool
Liverpool v Burnley
Leicester City v Liverpool
Newcastle United v Liverpool
Liverpool v Manchester United
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool
Liverpool v Huddersfield Town

Among the big six, Liverpool has arguably the toughest run-in to start the season. Jurgen Klopp‘s side will have to navigate both the UEFA Champions League as well as two back-to-back stretches against top six sides. Matches home against Arsenal and at Manchester City early in the season is split up by an international break while in October Liverpool will host Manchester United on the weekend, play a Champions League group stage match midweek, and then travel to Tottenham the coming weekend, a grueling gauntlet of games. Klopp may want to adopt former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez‘s rotation policy for at least that week.


MANCHESTER CITY

Brighton v Manchester City
Manchester City v Everton
AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City
Manchester City v Liverpool
Watford v Manchester City
Manchester City v Crystal Palace
Chelsea v Manchester City
Manchester City v Stoke City
Manchester City v Burnley
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City

Like Arsenal, Manchester City have an easier start to the season, facing six teams who finished in the bottom half of the table last year as well as opening up the season against Premier League debutants Brighton and Hove Albion. Manchester City face just two of the big six, at home against Liverpool and at Chelsea, although that 11th game is against Arsenal, which could determine where each team finishes depending on the result.


MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United v West Ham United
Swansea City v Manchester United
Manchester United v Leicester City
Stoke City v Manchester United
Manchester United v Everton
Southampton v Manchester United
Manchester United v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Manchester United
Huddersfield Town v Manchester United
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur

Like its crosstown rivals, Manchester United only faces two of the big six in the opening ten fixtures, at Liverpool and home against Tottenham, both well into the season. But unlike Manchester City, the schedule is balanced with games against mid-table sides such as trips to Southampton and Stoke and home games against Everton, West Ham and Leicester City. Jose Mourinho’s side will be plenty tested heading into the Tottenham match.


TOTTENHAM

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley
Everton v Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur
Huddersfield Town v Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham has a difficult start and finish to its opening ten-game stretch, with more manageable games in the middle. After visiting Newcastle for the season opener and then hosting Chelsea at Wembley Stadium, Tottenham only has a trip to Everton two weeks later before the schedule lightens up, with home games against Swansea City and Bournemouth as well as trips to West Ham and Huddersfield. But the slate ends with a home match against Liverpool followed by a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United. If the team hasn’t shown its title-winning quality by the end of this ten-game slate, it may be too late.

Rapinoe, Morgan, Ertz lift US past South Korea, 3-1

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Alex Morgan scored in a fourth straight game, Julie Ertz scored for the fourth time in five games, and the United States women beat South Korea 3-1 on Thursday night.

Megan Rapinoe added her 34th international goal and her 42nd assist.

Having assisted on Ertz’s diving header in the first half, Rapinoe scored on a penalty kick she drew in the 49th minute when pounced on a loose ball about 12 yards in front of the goal and was tripped by Ji Sohyun.

[ MORE: MLS schedule ]

Han Chaerin scored her first international goal in her South Korea debut to make it 2-1 just before the end of the first half.

U.S. forward Mallory Pugh had to leave the game late in the first half with a right hamstring injury. There was no immediate word on the severity of her injury after she was helped off the field by trainers.

Meanwhile, Carli Lloyd returned from a nine-week absence because of ankle injury, entering the game as a substitute in the 77th minute.

Midfielder Andi Sullivan started for the U.S. about 11 months after having reconstructive knee surgery. Her third minute shot narrowly missed the far post from about 18 yards. She was substituted out, as planned, at halftime.

South Korea began the game in a defensive posture and the U.S. maintained a decisive edge in possession, forcing Kang Gaae to make several sprawling saves before breaking though on Ertz goal in the 24th minute

Ertz dove in front of two defenders to redirect Rapinoe’s hard, low corner kick between the legs of Kang as the goal keeper tried to respond at the near post.

Morgan scored in the 40th minute, using her right foot to settle Kelley O’Hara’s bouncing pass from the end line, then pivoting and whipping her left foot through the ball from point-blank range. The goal was the 28-year-old Morgan’s 78th for the national squad.

Han scored against the run of play with a hard shot from about 25 yards that sailed beyond U.S. goal keeper Alyssa Naher’s reach before dipping under the cross bar.

Lloyd’s introduction drew an enthusiastic response from nearly 10,000 spectators in the Superdome. The two-time FIFA World Player of the Year missed a pair of U.S. exhibition wins over New Zealand last month because of an Aug. 13 ankle sprain in a National Women’s Soccer League match.

Forward Tobin Heath, who has an ankle injury, and defender Taylor Smith, who has an injured shoulder, were not in the lineup and are not expected to play in a second friendly scheduled between South Korea and the U.S. on Sunday in Cary, North Carolina.

Both women were hurt in the NWSL championship match.

UEFA charge Roma after racist chanting witnessed

Getty Images
Leave a comment

AS Roma and its fans could face severe penalties after alleged racist chants were hurled in the direction of Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger.

It appears via broadcast footage from Chelsea’s 3-3 UEFA Champions League draw with Roma at Stamford Bridge this week that after shepherding a ball out of play, Rudiger was subjected to monkey noises and other racist abuse from the away end where the AS Roma fans were congregated.

[ LIVE: Stream every Premier League game ]

In the past, UEFA has ordered either partial or full closures of stadiums and announced fines to the clubs, though it doesn’t seem to have stamped out the problem of racist chanting in Europe.

Hopefully, UEFA will investigate this fully and ban the individuals who allegedly committed the chants.

Rudiger signed for Chelsea this past summer for a reported $44.8 million.

FIFA says deal close to resolve transfer system complaint

Harold Cunningham/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ZURICH (AP) A complaint to the European Commission challenging soccer’s transfer market is set to be withdrawn by the global group of players’ unions, according to FIFA.

A formal complaint that the trading system is “anti-competitive, unjustified and illegal” was filed in Brussels two years ago by FIFPro.

[ MORE: Dusan Tadic tells the story of how he arrived at Southampton ]

After a meeting Thursday of the FIFA stakeholders committee, soccer’s world governing body said a tentative agreement relating to unpaid player wages and transfer fees reached with FIFPro, European clubs and a global leagues’ group can help end the dispute next year.

“It was an issue that was stewing for a long, long, long time,” FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani told reporters after chairing the meeting. “Because of our impetus they came to an agreement.”

FIFPro, which has campaigned to let players terminate contracts after going unpaid for several weeks, cautiously welcomed its “constructive talks with FIFA.”

“(It’s) premature to discuss what might happen next regarding our legal complaint against the transfer system, or any prospective deal until we are satisfied with the proposals put forth,” the Netherlands-based union said.

FIFA has been open to reviewing a transfer system which has seemed weighted in favor of wealthy clubs and was widely criticized in the European summer trading window. Salary caps, limits on squad sizes and restricting loan deals have been suggested.

Representing 65,000 players, FIFPro had suggested its September 2015 filing threatened the biggest upheaval in transfer rules since the Bosman case in 1995.

Then, a European Court of Justice ruling gave players more freedom to move within the European Union and drove up salaries by letting clubs sign out-of-contract players without paying a transfer fee.

The tentative accord FIFA announced Thursday seeks to amend complex transfer regulations and better protect players and clubs from unpaid salaries and transfer fees.

Another shared goal is enforcing cases more efficiently with a clearer path to applying sanctions. Players can wait many months – and even years – pursuing claims for unpaid wages in FIFA judicial bodies.

FIFA’s ruling council must approve the accord next week at a meeting in India. A new draft of transfer regulations could then be put to the Council next March in Zurich, clearing FIFPro to drop its complaint case.

[ MORE: Northern Ireland boss O’Neill banned over DUI plea ]

Delegates at FIFA headquarters Thursday included English Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore and two-time Champions League winner Edwin van der Sar, now CEO at Ajax.

The session also discussed changing rules that govern players’ eligibility for national teams and switching allegiance, FIFA said.

However, talking points such as club salary caps, allowing an extra Copa America tournament in 2020 on the international match calendar, and issues around the 2022 World Cup in Qatar were not raised.

Report: USMNT interim manager to be named this weekend

Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images
2 Comments

What’s next for the U.S. Men’s National Team?

[ MORE: Landon Donovan considering running for U.S. Soccer presidency ]

The first of many dominos may fall this weekend, according to ESPN FC.

The report states that the USMNT is likely to name its interim manager “some time this weekend,” however, U.S. Under-20 manager Tab Ramos likely won’t be the one named.

Ramos is reportedly seeking a full-time position as the USMNT boss, and the interim tag could be a turn off for the 51-year-old former national team midfielder.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati had stated following former U.S. manager Bruce Arena’s departure that he expected to make a decision in “seven to 10 days.” A decision this weekend would stick with Gulati’s original intentions.

The Americans will reconvene next month when they take on Portugal on Nov. 14 in an international friendly in Leiria.

[ MORE: PST speaks with Atlanta United’s Julian Gressel ]

The match was originally scheduled to be played in Faro, but due to recent devastation in the are the fixture will be played in Leiria and all proceeds will go to the victims of wildfire damage. Portugal will also play a friendly four days prior to taking on the U.S. against Saudi Arabia at the same stadium.