Mark Hughes

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Premier League Preview: Stoke City vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 17 of its last 23 Premier League games
  • Alvaro Morata has 3 goals and 2 assists, all with his head
  • Stoke has lost just 1 of its past 7 home games vs defending champions

Eden Hazard is back and at full strength as Chelsea travels to the Britannia to take on Stoke City Saturday (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

With Hazard back and Diego Costa finally shed to Atletico Madrid, the Blues have positioned themselves to make a run at the Premier League’s top spot. Chelsea has not lost since their Opening Day misstep against Burnley, and despite firing a blank in last weekend’s 0-0 draw with the Gunners, Chelsea is still just three points off the top spot, and will look to put pressure on the Manchester clubs.

In addition to Hazard, the Blues also get Temoue Bakayoko and Pedro back in the lineup as well, although David Luiz is suspended after his late red card last weekend.

[ LIVE: Stream Premier League games

This season has been a roller coaster ride for Stoke City, having picked up four points against Arsenal and Manchester United, but also losing to Newcastle and Everton, plus a very disappointing defeat midweek to Bristol City in the Cup. The Potters are missing a host of defenders, with Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shawcross both injured, plus Kurt Zouma ineligible to face his parent club. Kevin Wimmer is also touch and go with a hamstring injury, not expected to be available.

What they’re saying

Mark Hughes on Chelsea’s discipline issues: “Chelsea at the moment look like they are getting yellow and red cards more frequently, but that might be just an anomaly, something happening in the moment. I don’t think it is prevalent in their team. They are just strong when they need to be. It is not going to be tactic we are going to irritate them with, to step over the line, because if I’m honest I don’t think I’ll have the players to do that.”

Antonio Conte on Stoke: “The most important thing for us is to go game by game. Tomorrow it will be a really tough game. We must prepare very well this game in all the situations, tactically, physically, to be disciplined. Stoke won against Arsenal and then drew against Manchester United. It means Stoke is a really good team.”

Prediction

Stoke City has given tough teams trouble, and could again if Maxim Chupo-Moting shows up at his best again, but it’s much more likely that Chelsea will ease by in this game. The Potters have fallen off slightly this season, and while their draw against Manchester United shows they pack some punch, it won’t be enough to see off a Chelsea side buoyed by the return of Eden Hazard. Chelsea could win their opening three Premier League away matches for the first time since 2009…their third away fixture of that campaign was a 2-1 victory at Stoke, so we’ll go for the same scoreline here.

Mourinho pins blame on Hughes after handshake snub

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Here’s a post-game storyline you probably never though you’d hear: Jose Mourinho and the opposing manager — Stoke City’s Mark Hughes, a man with a length history of handshake-related strife of his own — didn’t shake hands following Saturday’s 2-2 draw at the bet365 Stadium, and the Manchester United manager appears terribly offended to have been asked about the incident.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Premier League’s big boys score big on Saturday ]

Here’s what Mourinho had to say, which as you’ll note, doesn’t go any deeper than “It’s not my fault,” which, to be fair, nothing has ever been Mourinho’s fault:

“I want to be polite with you, and I prefer to not answer the question because your question is really a bad question. It’s really a bad question because it [makes it look] like it’s my fault, my problem. Your question is not correct, sorry.”

Should “hands not shaken” henceforth be tracked as an official stat, one might forecast that Mourinho would lead the league and/or world in such a category, given his history of salutational controversy. You know what they say, Jose: if you are the common denominator, you might also be the problem.

Here’s what Hughes had to say — quotes from the BBC:

“I’m not sure why he didn’t want to shake my hand, I didn’t think there were any issues.

“There was a time he came into my technical box and I told him to get out but that was it. Maybe that was what upset him.”

STREAM: Manchester United aims to stay top at Stoke (Lineups, Link)

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Manchester United brings its perfect start to Stoke City for a match-up with one of its legendary strikers in Potters boss Mark Hughes (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

[ LIVE: Stoke City-Man Utd ]

Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will look to keep up their hot play for United, while Romelu Lukaku again leads the line.

As for Stoke, USMNT man Geoff Cameron is in a back three with Kurt Zouma and Kevin Wimmer.

LINEUPS

Stoke City: Butland; Cameron, Zouma, Wimmer; Diouf, Fletcher, Allen, Pieters; Shaqiri, Jese; Choupo-Moting. Subs: Grant, Berahino, Tymon, Martins Indi, Adam, Crouch, Ramadan.

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Darmian; Matic, Pogba, Herrera, Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Blind, Smalling, Carrick, Mata, Lingard, Martial.

Premier League preview: Stoke City vs. Manchester United

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  • Man United has scored 10 goals and conceded 0, both leading the PL
  • Last season Stoke City winless in 12 games vs. top 6 clubs
  • Henrikh Mkhitaryan has 5 assists in first 3 matches of season, equaling PL record

Manchester United puts the Premier League’s only remaining perfect record on the line as they travel to bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

Jose Mourinho has the Red Devils rocking through three games, clobbering West Ham, Swansea City, and Leicester City. Manchester United doesn’t face a top four finisher from last season until Liverpool in mid-October, so it behooves Mourinho to pick up as many points as possible for the inevitable gauntlet run.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

The Red Devils have few injury concerns, with Luke Shaw possibly on his way back and Marcus Rashford hoping to make the United squad after playing well for England over the international break.

On the other side, Mark Hughes got through the international break with little to no problems, with only Maxim Chupo-Moting a question mark for the game. Kevin Wimmer could make his debut for the club with Ryan Shawcross struggling with a back injury.

What they’re saying

Jose Mourinho on being over-confident from good start: “Extra confidence is very dangerous and fear is even more dangerous. I think fear we don’t have for sure, confidence we have, but we have to make sure the right level of confidence is there.”

Mark Hughes on Manchester United: “United have areas that are a little loose, positionally, and we’ll try to exploit it. The best way is to get about them and ask questions.”

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Prediction

Mark Hughes always puts up a good fight against Manchester United, but I think the Red Devils are in too good of form to fall in this fixture. This will be a good test for Jose Mourinho’s squad to see if they have what it takes to turn draws into wins. This year is different from last, but they will slip up sometime, and will concede their first goal of the season in a 1-1 draw.

Summer transfer window grades: How did each club do?

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Now that the summer transfer window is closed in the Premier League, it is time to let the dust settle and figure out, amid all the madness, who actually did the best business.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ] 

How did each Premier League club do? Was a record summer of spending enough to strengthen teams? Or did some fail to address glaring weaknesses?

[ MORE: Top 10 buys of the summer ]

Below we give all 20 PL teams a grade and sum up their summer window.


Manchester United – A
Their business was done early and properly with Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic starting off superbly and Victor Lindelof will settle in. Smart business by Jose Mourinho with his squad now looking like a much stronger unit overall. Didn’t need a new wide player in the end because his team started the season so well.


Manchester City – A-
Pep Guardiola did plenty of business early in the window and he addressed his needs superbly with Kyle Walker, Danilo, Benjamin Mendy and Ederson improving their defense. Bernardo Silva is a luxury signing and Alexis Sanchez would have been something similar but City couldn’t get it over the line. Very solid window but one more center back would have given them an A.


Everton – B+
Like Man United and Man United the Toffees did their business early. Ronald Koeman strengthened his defense with Michael Keane and Jordan Pickford and spent the Romelu Lukaku cash wisely with Gylfi Sigurdsson, Davy Klaassen and Wayne Rooney likely to score and create plenty of goals. However, failing to sign a recognized targetman could come back to haunt Koeman. Olivier Giroud or Diego Costa would have been perfect for this system.


Tottenham Hotspur – B+
Spurs had a really strong finish to the window, adding Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier and Fernando Llorente. That gives them more cover in defense and an extra option off the bench with Llorente happy to back up Harry Kane. Selling on Kyle Walker for over $65 million made sense and Mauricio Pochettino will be happy with his summer window after keeping hold of Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Kane and Danny Rose.


West Brom – B+
The Baggies had a really decent window and pulled off a big shock with silky midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak arriving on loan from Paris Saint-Germain. Jay Rodriguez, Kieran Gibbs and Gareth Barry are all solid additions who will start and Tony Pulis managed to keep hold of his skipper Jonny Evans despite interest from Man City and Arsenal.


Leicester City – B+
Decent window for the Foxes as they managed to keep hold of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy and although it seems likely they lost Danny Drinkwater to Chelsea, they added some deadline day deals in Aleksandar Dragovic and potentially Adrien Silva. Early additions of Harry Maguire, Kelchi Iheanacho and Vicente Iborra seem to have strengthened the overall squad too.


Liverpool – B
Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both key additions in the window and sealing the deal for Naby Keita was a big one for next summer. However, not adding a top-class center back (the Virgil Van Dijk pursuit was doomed from the start) was a big letdown and there is still an issue with the goalkeeping department. Some issues not addressed but Philippe Coutinho seems all but certain to stick around, so that’s a positive.


Huddersfield Town – B
David Wagner added more new players than any other team and Huddersfield have looked the part early on. Steve Mounie is a powerful forward with an eye for goal, grabbing Aaron Mooy on a permanent deal was superb business and goalkeeper Jonas Lossl has settled in well. Unlike the other promoted teams Huddersfield did their business early and were rewarded.


Swansea City – B
They held out and got a huge sum of $57.6 million for Gylfi Sigurdsson which they then spent wisely on re-signing Wilfried Bony and adding Renato Sanches on loan in a stunning deal from Bayern Munich. They did lose Fernando Llorente too, but Tammy Abraham seems like a steal on loan and the Swans will be hopeful their young squad can surprise opponents. Decent window all things considered.


Burnley – B
They lost Michael Keane and Andre Gray but did recoup over $60 million for the duo and spent it wisely with Chris Wood, Jack Cork and Jonathan Walters coming in. Plenty of experience added by Sean Dyche and the Clarets will once again be tough to break down. Solid window.


Watford – B
Marco Silva added some decent signings from Udinese around deadline day and brought in Andre Gray and Richarlison to strengthen their attack. Nathaniel Chalobah and Will Hughes will add energy in midfield and overall an inventive window, once again, from the Hornets.


Stoke City – B
The Potters did some really good business late in the window which saved them. Jese and Choupo-Moting look lively up top and Kurt Zouma, Kevin Wimmer and Bruno Martins Indi will improve them defensively. Darren Flecther is another solid buy but another striker would have been ideal for Mark Hughes.


Southampton – B-
They kept hold of Virgil van Dijk which was the main aim and added Mario Lemina in midfield and center backs Jan Bednarek and Wesley Hoedt. Saints really could have done with freshening up their attack but it didn’t seem like they were close to key forward additions.


Chelsea – B-
A really weird window for Chelsea who kept seeing players turn them down. From Romleu Lukaku to Oxlade-Chamberlain and Llorente to Ross Barkley, Antonio Conte couldn’t get deals over the line and Chelsea’s squad isn’t looking as strong as it did at the end of last season. Selling Nemanja Matic to Manchester United was a bad decision and the situation surrounding Diego Costa’s future was handed poorly. Alvaro Morata will be a star and both Bakayoko and Rudiger are also good additions, but not a great window at all for the Blues.


Bournemouth – C+
Adding experience was the main aim and Bournemouth did that early with Asmir Begovic and Jermain Defoe coming in. Nathan Ake should be a solid buy too but Eddie Howe‘s attack is looking a little lackluster after the opening weeks of the season.


West Ham United – D
It looked like decent business on paper but three of their four buys in the window look like they could be ill-advised. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will score goals for fun but Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart look low on confidence and Marko Arnautovic already has a red card and some poor displays against his name. Not a great window for the Hammers.


Crystal Palace – D-
Yes, they may well add Mamadou Sakho, but apart from that it has been a disastrous start to life in the Premier League for Frank De Boer. With three defeats he needed to add another two defenders and another striker to help ease the load on Christian Benteke. Palace have some big squad issues with a new playing style not suiting many of their players.


Brighton – F
Numbers have arrived but real quality hasn’t for the Seagulls. It is early days but you have to think more firepower was necessary for them to have any chance of staving off relegation. Davy Propper could be a good buy and so too could Jose Izquierdo but apart from that an underwhelming window. If they manage to add Vincent Janssen it would improve their grade, but not by much.


Arsenal – F
My goodness. What happened? From still having Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil around, to losing out on Thomas Lemar on the final day and selling Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsene Wenger has a nightmare. They added Alexandre Lacazette but did they really need another striker? Yet another window has come and gone without Wenger addressing the glaring problems in central midfield and defense. They way this situation has been handled from the top of the club is shambolic.


Newcastle United – F
Rafael Benitez and his owner Mike Ashley have been airing their dirty laundry in the media and Benitez has not got the deals he wanted. Joselu could score some goals but overall it was a really poor window for Newcastle, a team who should be challenging for a top four finish considering their stadium and fanbase. This window suggests they will be battling relegation.