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Premier League 2017-18 preview – Manchester United

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Last season was a total enigma for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. The club, with plenty of squad deficiencies, finished sixth in the Premier League, out of a Champions League spot.

And yet, somehow, Mourinho came out of the previous campaign with three trophies. One of those, the Community Shield, is often cast aside, but even with the other two – the League Cup and the Europa League, a trophy that had eluded Manchester United until last season – Mourinho took a far from stellar Manchester United squad and managed to craft a successful season.

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Now, thanks to specifically targeted summer investment, the squad looks far superior to last year’s, and that has led to higher expectations. The prized possession of the summer is $100 million man Romelu Lukaku, who will take over for Zlatan Ibrahimovic at striker. The aging Wayne Rooney has gone after much fanfare, and instead of replacing the playmaker of days past, Mourinho strengthened the league’s second-best defense even further.

Best, worst case scenarios – Manchester United is suddenly a fearsome club again, at least on paper. The sixth-placed finish last year can be chalked up to not just a squad sporting numerous holes, but also some terrible statistical luck that plagued both Manchester sides all year, and led the Red Devils to miss the top four despite a fantastic unbeaten run. Now, with smart investment, this team is ready to roll, with the Premier League title in its sights.

Worst-case scenario might be just as wild. Jose Mourinho is known for taking clubs to new heights in season two followed by a spectacular implosion in season three. What happens if they skip step two and head right for step three? Romelu Lukaku gets hurt, Mourinho’s whining reaches unforseen levels of annoying, and the team fails to outrun the avalanche as it buries them in Premier League obscurity. We don’t foresee this happening, but it’s a definite possibility, which means there’s some alternative universe out there that will be privy to Mourinho’s blinding season-two Manchester United mushroom cloud.


Best possible XI is…

De Gea

Valencia — Bailly — Lindelof — Shaw

Matic — Herrera

Mata — Pogba — Rashford

Lukaku

Harsh on a very good midfielder in Carrick, plus quality attackers in Ashley Young and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but this squad is deep and those guys will all get plenty of action. Expect Anthony Martial to rotate in up front and Marouane Fellaini to serve as the prototypical Mourinho closer. If you have a lineup you believe to be better, add it in the comments below.


[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

Transfers In: Romelu Lukaku (Everton, $100 million), Nemanja Matic ($53 million), Victor Lindelof ($41.4 million).

Transfers Out: Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad, $10 million), Wayne Rooney (Everton, Free), Sam Johnstone (Aston Villa, Loan), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Unattached, Free).

Last season:

— 6th in Premier League
— Won the Europa League
— Won the Community Shield
— FA Cup 6th Round (lost to Chelsea)
— Won the League Cup

Star player: Romelu Lukaku — While Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba were the heart and soul of the squad last season, Lukaku enters the fray as the outright superstar in the locker room. He’s as much of a pure goalscorer as they come, and he will be weighed on heavily to solve the finishing woes that plagued Manchester United all last season. After finally landing as the main man on a premier club, Lukaku now must deliver what is expected of him, and he has the talent around him to take the Premier League by storm.

Coaches’ Corner: Jose Mourinho — In his second season at Manchester United, now is the time that Mourinho will make his presence known. Last season was all about transitioning to this coming campaign. Much like Pep Guardiola, the slack of the first season in charge has run out, and he must bring Manchester United back to its former days of glory, or find himself without a job. It’s that simple.

PST predicts: This is a very, very deep squad that will be able to successfully navigate multiple competitions and fixture congestion, barring an injury crisis like they had mid-last season. The central defense is five-deep and should be able to cover for any injuries that arise, especially in Mourinho’s defense-first tactics. The midfield has plenty of cover. The only thin area is Lukaku, and he will be expected to carry the load. This is a title-challenging team on paper, and Mourinho’s the man to deliver it. It would be hard to envision them finishing outside the top four, and if they do, it would be a massive disappointment.

Wagner on Huddersfield Town’s 2-0 start: “This is unbelievable”

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Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner is glowing with the knowledge that his newly-promoted side is 2-0 in the Premier League.

Sunday’s win over Newcastle United was closer than an opening weekend win at Crystal Palace, with Aaron Mooy’s 18-yard beauty a moment the record crowd at The John Smith’s Stadium will remember for a very long time.

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Wagner, the one-time USMNT midfielder, pumped his fist for the home fans in a post-match salute, then waxed poetic about Mooy and the club.

From the BBC:

“It was top-class quality for the goal, Premier League quality and that is why Mooy is playing in this league. The atmosphere was incredible today, the support was Premier League quality. First Premier League game at home, a win and clean sheet.”

“We are Huddersfield Town, nobody should forget this. We got promoted at Wembley but we have started the season with two wins and six points. This is unbelievable. Everybody has invested so much and I am happy for them.”

The mark of a decent club is outperforming expectations and picking up wins regardless of luck. Town probably wasn’t three goals better than Palace, and it failed to outchance a lifeless Newcastle United team but remains unbeaten to start life in the Premier League.

And these six points could stand up as a difference in whether Town are fighting a relegation battle or planning for next season before this one’s through.

Borussia Dortmund boy wonder the next big thing?

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Remember the name: Youssoufa Moukoko.

The 12-year-old has scored eight goals in three games for Borussia Dortmund’s U-17 side to start the season and scored four goals against Viktoria Cologne in a 6-1 win on Saturday.

Originally from Cameroon, Moukoko joined Dortmund from St Pauli in 2016 and starred for BVB’s U-15 team last season, scoring 33 goals.

Take a look at the video below to see Moukoko in all his glory.

Maybe we have a new star youngster to talk about with Karamoko Dembele stealing the show for the past 12 months.

Huddersfield Town 1-0 Newcastle United: Mooy magic tops Magpies

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  • Town starts PL life 2-0
  • Newcastle 0-2
  • Mooy scores on lone attempt

In a game with very few chances, Aaron Mooy made his count as Huddersfield Town topped Newcastle United 1-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday.

A match between two promoted sides looked very much like a second-tier affair aside from Mooy’s moment of brilliance just after halftime.

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A boisterous stadium greeted the teams, and Town’s support was at full throat only to see Newcastle get the first chance when Dwight Gayle played Ayoze Perez into the 18 and saw the Spaniard’s shot blocked.

Town’s Elias Kachunga cut Chancel Mbemba with a high challenge, but it failed to see a card unlike two similar sending offs in the league on Saturday.

A series of sloppy plays by Newcastle allowed Aaron Mooy to test Rob Elliot, but he didn’t get enough on his low attempt to best the diving keeper.

Town remained the better money for an opener, and Tom Ince laced a hard shot at Elliot off a Christian Atsu turnover well into Newcastle’s end.

Matt Richie nearly opened the scoring against the run of play in the 16th minute when he thumped a far post effort that Jonas Lossl pushed wide for a corner.

The Magpies settled into the match, though, and had the better of the play for the final 15-20 minutes of the first half.

A terrible giveaway from Mikel Merino allowed Town a prime chance to take the lead, but Chancel Mbemba made a terrific sliding tackle inside his 18 and the Magpies handled a pair of corners.

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Town took the lead in the 50th minute through Mooy, who worked a perfect 1-2 with Kachunga to curl home inside the far post from the paint of the 18-yard box.

That spurred Rafa Benitez to insert new signing Joselu for Gayle.

Quality chances remained at a premium when Merino played a long diagonal ball into the box for Javier Manquillo, but Lossl collected the pass back into the fray.

Atsu and Joselu traded passes before Lossl tipped Joselu’s low shot out for a corner. Ciaran Clark headed the ensuing corner to Perez who, alone in front of goal, blazed over the bar.

Joselu flicked another header into Lossl’s arms in the 84th minute.

Stream Live: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea

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A rivalry which has escalated in recent years rears its ferocious head when Tottenham hosts Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

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Spurs boast a steely midfield with Victor Wanyama, Mousa Dembele, and Eric Dier behind the skillful Christian Eriksen.

As for Chelsea, Alvaro Morata moves into the starting lineup following a strong substitute’s performance in last week’s loss to Burnley.

LINEUPS

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Dele, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Walker-Peters, Wimmer, Winks, Sissoko, Son, Janssen.

Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Alonso, Luiz, Rudiger, Kante, Bakayoko, Moses, Willian, Morata. Subs: Caballero, Musonda, Kenedy, Pedro, Batshuayi, Tomori, Scott.