Chris Wood

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PST ranks 10 best Premier League summer signings

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With the new year right around the corner, it’s time to reflect on the first half of the Premier League season.

Manchester City’s dominance at the top of the table might finally be tested as the club faces several key injuries, while the relegation battle sees eight teams separated by a mere five points at the halfway point.

[ MORE: Leon Goretzka expected to join Bayern on free transfer ]

Below, PST takes a look at the 10 best PL signings from the summer transfer through the midway point in England’s season.

10. Richarlison (Watford)

The Hornets have had difficulty finding goals on a regular basis, but the Brazilian has provided Watford with a strong outlet up front. The 20-year-old striker has a lot of room to improve, and that is a good sign for Watford.

9. Chris Wood (Burnley)

The Clarets still need more production out of the forward position, but Wood has been a steady figure in the Burnley attack with his five goals in all competitions. The ex-Leeds man has done well, but he’ll have to continue to score if Burnley want to remain in contention for top four.

8. Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)

After a hot start, Lukaku has cooled off a bit, but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the shelf the Belgian’s presence has been ever-important for Jose Mourinho’s side. He’s on pace to score over 30 goals in all comps, which would be a career-high, so it’s safe to say the money was well-spent by United.

7. Nemanja Matic (Manchester United)

The loss for Chelsea has proven to be Man United’s gain. The holding midfielder has provided cover brilliantly for a Red Devils backline that has suffered a great deal of injuries defensively. Matic is the model of consistency and has helped provide another line of defense for a side that has only conceded 16 goals all season.

6. Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town)

The Aussie midfielder has controlled the center of the park for the newcomers, and been rewarded with four goals to boot.

5. Pascal Gross (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Similar to Mooy, the former Ingolstadt midfielder has helped ease the transition into PL life for Brighton. Gross is a dynamic talent, who has also tallied four goals this season to go along with his creative presence for the Seagulls.

4. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal)

The Frenchman has adapted quite well to life in the PL, despite Arsenal’s ups and downs this season. In a summer where many top attacking players were added to PL rosters, Lacazette has been very impressive.

3. Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Pep Guardiola made several important signings ahead of this season, but the one area where the Cityzens looked vulnerable last year has since been plugged. Walker has been strong defensively, and given the club another dimension getting forward in the attack.

2. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)

He’s a bit different from Diego Costa, but the Spaniard really knows how to put the ball in the back of the net. He’s built a tremendous relationship with Cezar Azpilicueta, and it seems like every header ends up in the goal. Morata has been every bit the player Chelsea had hoped for.

1. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

The Egyptian would probably win Player of the Year if the season ended right now, and for the price Liverpool paid they’d take Salah’s performances for the next five years with no questions asked. He has the most-deadly left foot in all of England, and arguably is only second in the world to Lionel Messi. Don’t be surprised if he cracks the 30-goal mark in 2017/18.

Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs. Burnley

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  • Man United has the Premier League’s best Boxing Day win percentage at 83%
  • Only Man City and Chelsea have conceded fewer away goals than Burnley
  • Burnley has not won at Old Trafford in league play since 1962

Jose Mourinho is not happy. Not happy at all. In fact, the Manchester United manager is so edgy that even the slightest misstep can set him off. It did this morning.

[ MORE: Top Premier League Storylines – Boxing Day ]

The Portuguese boss man abruptly ended his press conference when asked an odd but fair question about Paul Pogba‘s qualities as a leader and whether Mourinho sees him as a long-term challenger for the captain’s armband.

It’s easy to understand why Mourinho is so testy of late. His side has conceded a pair of late goals in critical moments over the past two matches, calling Manchester United’s performance against Leicester City “childish,” referring to both their ability to increase the lead in front of net and their defending at the death. Now, they return home to the friendly confines of Old Trafford hoping to use the home crowd to push the squad the full 90 minutes as they host Burnley on Tuesday (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Meanwhile, Burnley has its own wounds to lick. The big picture view sees the Clarets in 7th position, a spot any supporter would take in a heartbeat heading into the Boxing Day test, but the 3-0 defeat to Spurs last time out exposed them as top four pretenders and will give Sean Dyche reason to brood over his team’s usually stout defensive abilities.

Team News

Manchester United:  Out – Eric Bailly (ankle), Antonio Valencia (hamstring), Marouane Fellaini (knee), Michael Carrick (heart). Questionable – Matteo Darmian (unspecified), Chris Smalling (unspecified)

Burnley: Out – James Tarkowski (suspension). QuestionableStephen Ward (knee), Chris Wood (knee).

What they’re saying

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on loaded upcoming fixture list“We’ve got some big teams coming, big challenges, but wherever you are in the league you’ve got to play them. They [Manchester United] were superb last season, [goalkeeper] Tom [Heaton] was saving all sorts. We know the run of games we’ve got – no problem with it, that’s life in the Premier League”

Jose Mourinho on loss to Leicester City: “Some players have childish decisions and time helps them to have maturity and to decide better. But some other players stay with childish decision until the end of their career. It’s a big frustration because they are easy goals to score and to kill the game. On top of that in the last couple of minutes, we allow the opposition to throw a few balls to the box and we couldn’t defend the last cross so I think we were punished by our mistakes.”

Prediction

While Manchester United have struggled in recent past, coming back home should provide the club a boost. Burnley has looked great at times this season and Sean Dyche should be praised for squeezing all he can out of this lineup, but the Clarets have not fared well against the best teams in the league this season, a trend that will likely continue. Mourinho and United should win this one in customary 1-0 fashion as United scores soon after halftime and closes up shop late, especially as Burnley continue to sorely miss James Tarkowski.

Burnley 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur: Kane joins Shearer in style

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  • Kane scores 13th, 14th, 15th of season
  • Sets PL record for goals in a year
  • Pope shines for Burnley

Harry Kane has joined Alan Shearer as the only players to score 36 goals in a Premier League season as Spurs clobbered Burnley 3-0 on Saturday at Turf Moor.

Kane has one more chance to take sole possession of the record, on Boxing Day at home to Southampton.

The win boosts Spurs fifth, a point back of Liverpool, while Burnley drops 7th with its 32 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Let off the hook for a dirty tackle last week, Dele Alli was back at it with a yellow-card earning lunge on Charlie Taylor inside of three minutes.

Dele then won a penalty, finding contact from Kevin Long and sending Kane to the spot. 1-0.

He nearly had a second in the 17th minute when he darted in front of Nick Pope but couldn’t cut his shot back hard enough to get inside the near post.

Dele played a perfectly weighted ball for Moussa Sissoko who, 1v1 with Pope, stuttered before finding a pair of shots saved by the keeper.

A Serge Aurier giveaway led to a Burnley break, but Hugo Lloris corralled a cross that was just inches away from a sliding Chris Wood.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Spurs had control in the second half, and Eriksen couldn’t get enough power when Heung-Min Son slipped him through in the 49th minute.

As Spurs continued to whiff on chances to make it 2-0, the match felt more and more like the 1-1 draw at Wembley earlier this season.

But Kane ran onto a long ball and poked beyond Pope to insure the lead in the 69th minute.

He rolled another inside the far post 10 minutes later to make it 3-0.

Burnley made a late charge with a Sam Vokes disallowed goal and a penalty shout or two, but the match was oh-so-comfortably in Spurs’ corner.

Watch Live: Burnley vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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Burnley and Spurs meet Saturday at Turf Moor, and a winner would hit Christmas in the Top Five of the Premier League (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Burnley snatched an unlikely point in the reverse fixture at Wembley Stadium through substitute Chris Wood.

Wood starts up top for Burnley, while Harry Kane is the feature man for Spurs.

LINEUPS

Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Long, Mee, Taylor, Arfield, Cork, Hendrick, Defour, Gudmundsson, Wood. Subs: Lindegaard, Wells, Walters, Westwood, Barnes, Vokes, Lowton.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (C), Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Sissoko, Eriksen, Dele, Son, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Rose, Foyth, Dembele, Lamela, Llorente.

Brighton 0-0 Burnley: Seagulls continue barren spell

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  • Seagulls without a win in seven
  • Murray misses first half PK
  • Wood denied twice in second half

Brighton and Hove Albion drew 0-0 with Burnley at the Amex Stadium on Saturday with Chris Hughton‘s side now without a win in seven games and they’ve scored just once in their last six Premier League encounters.

Glenn Murray blazed over a first half penalty kick to add to Brighton’s woes, while Burnley were denied by Mat Ryan in the second half as the spoils were shared.

With the point Burnley move on to 32 points, while Brighton have 18 and are just three points above the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Brighton did most of the pressing early on with Murray causing plenty of problems and Burnley could hardly get out of their own half.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson had a shot which flew just wide but that was as close as the Clarets came.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Before the break Anthony Knockaert‘s shot hit the post and then Lewis Dunk‘s header was cleared off the line by Phil Bardsley, before a massive moment arrived.

James Tarkowski bundled over Murray in the box but the Brighton forward blasted the penalty kick over the bar as the Seagulls wasted a glorious opportunity.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Chris Wood forced Mat Ryan into a save early in the second half but the chances kept coming for Brighton.

Knockaert squirmed an effort just wide of the far post for Brighton and then Wood had the ball in the net after Scott Arfield was twice denied but he was in an offside position.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ryan denied Wood again late on as he closed down the onrushing Burnley forward brilliantly, and both teams had to settle for a point on the South Coast.