Julian Finney/Getty Images

Top 5 Premier League storylines in Week 10

2 Comments

The likely suspects remain at the Premier League summit heading into Matchday 10, however, a titanic clash amongst two of the top three sides could change the complexion of matters.

An important meeting at Old Trafford kicks off the weekend’s action as Manchester United hosts a Harry Kane-less Tottenham Hotspur, while big names Leicester City and Everton face a crucial test against one another for an utterly different reason.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

PST takes a look at the top 5 storylines around the PL ahead of Week 10.

Spurs facing massive test at Old Trafford without Kane

Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

 

Anyone that names a player other than Harry Kane as the engine that runs Tottenham probably isn’t watching the club’s matches closely enough. That’s not to say Spurs isn’t loaded with talent — because they certainly are.

However, the difference for Spurs over the last several seasons has been the matches where the English striker wasn’t available for selection. Saturday’s clash against United would normally be timely considering Jose Mourinho’s men are coming off of a defeat, while Spurs comfortably handed Liverpool last weekend.

It remains to be seen though if Fernando Llorente will be a suitable replacement for Kane in a match of this magnitude.

Relegation a reality for these two “giants”

Leicester City vs. Everton — Sunday, 12 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Say what you will from an Everton perspective about the Merseyside club being amongst the big boys, but Leicester managed to win the Premier League just two seasons ago — with a very similar squad.

Both clubs are in disarray, sitting firmly in the relegation battle through nine matches, and that certainly isn’t what either team expected. Everton fired manager Ronald Koeman this week, which makes the 18th place side all the more vulnerable, however, the Foxes’ managerial situation isn’t that much better after Craig Shakespeare‘s recent sacking.

[ MORE: How will Man United-Spurs line up on Saturday? ]

Upstarts Huddersfield finding their groove?

Liverpool vs. Huddersfield Town — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC

Regardless of what transpires the rest of the 2017/18 season, Huddersfield will always have October 21. The Terriers earned a signature victory against Manchester United last weekend, and while it wasn’t the prettiest match for the newcomers, David Wagner‘s team was the first to hand the Red Devils a loss this campaign.

Liverpool enters the weekend just one point ahead of Wagner and Co., and Jurgen Klopp‘s side are in a bit of disarray. The Reds were blasted last week against Tottenham, with a 4-1 defeat the outcome at Wembley.

The Terriers have already exhibited their ability to adapt and overcome obstacles early in the campaign, including their victory over United after having had lost their previous two fixtures.

Eagles, Hammers holding on for dear life

Crystal Palace vs. West Ham United — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

Palace had a moment of brilliance against Chelsea earlier this month, but all it seems to be was that; a moment. With just two goals in nine matches, the Eagles are already facing a massive uphill climb at the bottom of the PL.

For the Hammers, their beginning to the campaign hasn’t been much better. Two wins out of nine has West Ham in 16th place and manager Slaven Bilic is on the hot seat after making several big moves this summer, including bringing in striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

[ MORE: The top 15 players at the 2017 U-17 World Cup ]

Surprise top-10 clubs meet at the Turf Moor

Burnley vs. Newcastle — Monday, 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN

This is probably the sneaky good match of the weekend because both clubs continue to fly under the radar as mid-table clubs. Burnley is coming off of a brutal beatdown by Manchester City, but Newcastle has found its form as of late, going unbeaten in its last three matches.

The biggest issue with both sides is the lack of a consistent goalscoring threat, which could hinder the clubs down the road. Chris Wood leads the Clarets with three goals thus far, while Newcastle has managed to get contributions from several players in their return to the PL.

Nonetheless, a victory for either club could potentially move one team all the way into the top four by the end of the weekend.

Pressure builds on Borussia Dortmund manager Peter Bosz

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Borussia Dortmund has fallen to fifth in the Bundesliga table thanks to a trio of consecutive losses in league play, and suddenly there is loads of pressure on manager Peter Bosz.

The Dutchman came to Westfalenstadion after upper management pushed Thomas Tuchel out over the summer, and while he won seven of his first eight league matches in charge by a total goal differential of 21-2, things have come crashing down. The black & yellow have lost three in a row Bundesliga matches and four of their last five across all competitions, with their only win in that span coming over third-tier Magdenburg.

With fans feeling helpless over the departure of the wildly successful Tuchel that came as a result of a falling out between the German and his superiors, Bosz would always be on a short leash. He inherited a flawed squad, yet one that had achieved much under his predecessor, and immediate failures would naturally be lumped on the new man.

The most recent defeat, a 2-1 falter at Stuttgart, was a microcosm of Dortmund’s recent failures. The team conceded a comically poor goal five minutes into the match, worked hard to equalize just before the halftime break, and conceded again just after returning to the pitch. They controlled much of the match, but largely failed to capitalize.

The head man summed it up pretty well. “The defeat really hurts,” Bosz proclaimed after the final whistle. “We came here to win, so we’re very disappointed. When you see the goals we conceded, it borders on the ridiculous. It hurts because we actually put in a relatively good performance in the first half. The team performed well after conceding the early goal, only the final ball was lacking. The second half wasn’t as good. We need to keep going, we won’t give up.”

So what do the Dortmund executives do? Does Bosz get the benefit of the doubt based on performances? Or does he get blamed for the sudden dropoff in results? There is plenty of pressure given the team sits not only nine points back of Borussia Dortmund in league play, but is also third in a brutal Champions League group with almost no hope of recovery, and even threatens to miss out on a drop to Europa League play if they slip behind Cypriot club Apoel Nicosia, whom they find themselves level on points with.

Even if the club sticks with the Dutchman for now, his room for error has almost completely evaporated and it’s only mid-November. The next two matches will likely tell the tale, and it’s an uphill battle. Tottenham comes to Westfalenstadion on the backs of a disappointing defeat to North London foes Arsenal, followed by the home end of the Rivierderby against a Schalke side that sits second in the Bundesliga table, three points above Bosz and Dortmund.

Antonio Conte calls Tony Pulis a “really good manager”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

West Brom, after four straight defeats, sits 17th in the Premier League table, most recently suffering a 4-0 dismantling at the hands of Chelsea.

Yet Blues boss Antonio Conte has offered his counterpart an olive branch, supporting his fellow Premier League manager at a time of panic.

With reports that Pulis could be fired this coming week – some say as early as Monday – the Baggies boss is under heaps of pressure, but Conte doesn’t believe he should be. “I must be honest, I think Tony Pulis is a really good manager,” Conte said, hoping those in charge don’t make decisions based on Sunday’s result.

“He has great experience and it’s always very difficult to play against his team. This game became easy because we started very strong, with great concentration and desire to win. We showed from the start our will to win this game. But I repeat: Last season we struggled a lot against them.”

West Brom has lost four in a row in league play, and they haven’t picked up a win since August, and as The Guardian points out, they have the lowest average possession in the Premier League and have the second-lowest shots on target thus far. They registered just two shots on target against Chelsea, and held 39% possession, which is actually slightly above their average for the season.

Sergio Ramos suffers broken nose in Atletico Madrid draw

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Real Madrid trails Barcelona by 10 points in the La Liga title race just 12 matches in, and now they will have to play catch-up without their best defender.

Club captain Sergio Ramos suffered a broken nose after being accidentally kicked in the face by teammate Lucas Hernandez during the first half of Madrid’s 0-0 draw with cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid. He received treatment and remained on the field, but he was withdrawn at halftime.

Manager Zinedine Zidane was unable to give a timetable for Ramos’s return.

Ramos said via Twitter, alongside some graphic images of his bloody nose, “I would bleed a thousand times for this badge and this shirt. Thanks for your support. I’ll be back in no time.”

Up next for Madrid is Champions League group match against Cypriot club Apoel midweek before a league game against Malaga at home. Athletic Bilbao and Borussia Dortmund are also on the horizon. A masked Sergio Ramos could be in our midst soon.

Real Madrid has not lost a league match without Ramos since March of 2015, but they drew their only game this season with Ramos suspended, a 2-2 home split with Valencia.

Moyes roasts West Ham players after loss to Watford

Getty Images
1 Comment

After his first game in charge of West Ham, David Moyes thought he had a better squad. Apparently he was mistaken.

A 2-0 loss to Watford gave Moyes a rude awakening as he looks to replace Slaven Bilic and pull the Hammers out of the relegation zone. He was not pleased with his players.

“Overall, that level of performance will not be good enough,” Moyes told reporters after the match.

He wasn’t done.

“I thought this was a big job, but there were some players with big reputations who disappointed me. There were some who I thought would show me more, and why they play for the team regularly. They need to show me, ‘If that’s your reputation, show me why you’ve got it.'”

He backtracked slightly, agreeing that the players are in a difficult position changing managers, but ultimately that excuse wasn’t enough for him. “It’s tough for the players – I could sense that – but I didn’t enjoy our performance in the end. I didn’t enjoy us giving the ball away too cheaply, too many times and I expected us to do better.”

Moyes even called out striker Andy Carroll, saying he removed the England international because he feared Carroll would pick up a second yellow card. Carroll could have been carded seven seconds into the match, leaving Marvin Zeegelaar with a bloody nose after an elbow to the face, something Carroll has been sent off for earlier this season. He was eventually given one in the 28th minute.

“I thought we defended OK,” Moyes said, “but then we gave away cheap goals by getting bundled off the ball and we didn’t really deal with it. We didn’t do well enough in all departments at different times.”

That’s about as ruthless as you’ll ever hear the mild-mannered David Moyes, and all West Ham players should beware that their places in the team are in jeopardy.