Martin Rickett/PA via AP

Three Premier League teams (and maybe one more) we got wrong

Leave a comment

Two months and five days ago, our six writers went about trying to predict a new Premier League table, conceived in the notion of hearing your opinions.

[ MORE: Koeman in a bad, bad way ]

While there will come a time for mulligans, and perhaps a predictive reboot, I’m here this Sunday to admit my wrongs (and maybe wrongs).

Course correction is to be expected in some manner with at least three of these sides, but not to the extent expected before the PL season.

I was wrong!

— Burnley —
Current position: 7th place; My prediction: 20th; Staff average: 19th

With respect to the Clarets’ fan podcast, they would’ve been right to scream “No Nay Never” at my thought that Sean Dyche‘s men were too challenged in talent to again defy Premier League relegation. Michael Keane was gone to Everton, and Andre Gray was preparing to leave Turf Moor. The Clarets had added Jonathan Walters and Jack Cork, but had yet to sign Chris Wood.

Well, the Kiwi striker has been impressive and Dyche has rallied the troops (especially James Tarkowski in Keane’s stead, as well as Ben Mee and ). In what looks absolutely comical now, I expected the wealth of money spent by almost everyone else to doom Burnley to under 20 (!!!) points. Had you told me Tom Heaton would go down and Nick Pope, who’s been great, would take over, I might’ve bet even lower.

Clearly I underestimated the consistency of Dyche at the helm and the way he explains his system to players. I don’t expect the Clarets to maintain their top half pace, but clearly trusting me is an error when it comes to Burnley. Sean, I’m sorry. I should’ve known better. Call me.

— Everton —
Current position: 16th place; My prediction: 6th; Staff average: 7th

Another disappointing Sunday for Everton is one thing, but the Toffees’ big expenditures have largely failed to move the meter in the Europa League as well.

My expectation that down years for Liverpool and Arsenal would allow Everton join them in the Top Seven was only two-third possible. Ronald Koeman has been indecisive in his use of Wayne Rooney and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and several players like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin are not adapting to playing non-starring roles (though surely the Toffees would be fine putting the focus on Sigurdsson were he producing, and he should’ve claimed a penalty on Sunday).

How to fix it? Well, keeping Ashley Williams on the bench is a bit of a bother, so why not a back three with Keane and Phil Jagielka? I don’t know, but Davy Klaassen remains on the bench, too, and I’m not sure Everton’s players know what to expect heading into a weekend.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

— Watford —
Current position: 4th place; My prediction: 17th; Staff average: 16th

Joe Prince-Wright said Watford would finish 12th, which was outlandish considering the rest of us had the Hornets escaping relegation by one or two spaces at best. The highlight reel video of Richarlison almost had me boost the Hornets higher when predicting the table, but that would’ve been offset had I known Nathaniel Chalobah would be hurt.

But betting against Marco Silva has been a mistake so far, and the Hornets boasts a win home to Arsenal and away to Southampton plus a home draw versus Liverpool. The 6-0 home loss to Man City, sadly, is more common than we thought, and JPW’s 12th place feels correct right about now.

I was wrong?

— Crystal Palace —
Current position: 20th place; My prediction: 12th; Staff average: 15th

Roy Hodgson’s men looked a lot like Frank De Boer‘s men until Wilfried Zaha returned from injury, and that probably shouldn’t surprise us. The Eagles just suffered through the worst goalless start in Premier League history, but beat Chelsea with their first extended look of Zaha this season (Andros Townsend also looked great). I had Palace at 48 points, and that feels a bit laughable when they have three through eight matches, but I’m not so sure they won’t rebound over time.

 

Hughton: Everton draw “feels more like a defeat”

Gareth Fuller/PA via AP
Leave a comment

Chris Hughton is a very smart manager, one who knows the right buttons to push with his club.

On top of leading two clubs to Premier League promotion, Hughton has a knack for finding the cross-section of the right verdict on matches, what the fans what to hear, and what his players need to hear.

[ MORE: Recap | Koeman reacts ]

Brighton may have deserved better than a point against visiting Everton on Sunday, and Bruno’s conceded penalty overshadowed a fine performance from the Gulls.

And Hughton would’ve been right to salute his promoted side’s point against a Premier League mainstay, even if said mainstay is struggling under manager Ronald Koeman.

So what did Hughton proffer?

“I’m incredibly disappointed. At this moment, because of the timing of the goals, it feels more like a defeat rather than a draw.

“We were up against a very good Everton side, they were good with the ball and had lots of quality – but at that stage, I couldn’t see them scoring.

“We had to defend well, through periods in both halves but particularly in the second half. But as the game opened up, I thought we were the side that would capitalize and we did.”

He’s the right man for the job at the Amex Stadium, and Hughton stands a great chance of leading Brighton to safety.

Ronald Koeman’s Everton future heading one way

2 Comments

BRIGHTON — Like a bug knocking into a light bulb on the porch on a summers night time and time again, we know what the outcome will be. We are still watching.

Even though the bug will soon succumb to failure, they are the only ones who don’t realize it. That’s what it feels like watching Everton and Ronald Koeman at the moment.

And Sunday was a damning indictment on the team Everton have become under Ronald Koeman, even though Wayne Rooney scored an 88th minute penalty kick to grab a point after Anthony Knockaert‘s looked likely to give Brighton and Hove Albion a deserved victory.

“Sacked in the morning, you’re getting sacked in the morning!” sang the Brighton fans after they went 1-0 up.

Rooney’s late goal will save Koeman that embarrassment but he is the bookies favorite to be the next Premier League manager fired and if he doesn’t get positive results against Lyon in the Europa League and Arsenal in the PL next weekend, next Monday morning could mark the end.

The Toffees were totally devoid of any confidence throughout their trip to Brighton and Everton’s fans had little to cheer. They broke into full voice on no more than two occasions as their team of expensive individuals played like, well, a team of expensive individuals.

Much has been made of Koeman’s big summer of spending with $193 million spent on new talent, but the lack of planning with that spending is what will ultimately cost him his job as no replacement for Romelu Lukaku points to a toothless, sluggish attack.

Everton have now scored just seven goals in their last 13 matches in the Premier League, failing to score on seven occasions. They’ve had just 21 shots on target in eight games so far this season.

Like the bug, Koeman’s time is running out.

“My whole football life is pressure, if I don’t get pressure from outside I put pressure on myself,” Koeman told Sky Sports after the game.

Unshaven, and dare I say looking slightly disheveled, Koeman’s demeanor told the story on Sunday at Brighton.

Two hours before kick off and with the stadium empty, Koeman stood tentatively on the sidelines as a handful of his players surveyed the playing surface. His brother and assistant coach, Erwin, sat on the bench. They looked at each other with a glum expressions on their face. Koeman then turned and walked down the tunnel without looking up.

During the game he trudged back and forth to his seat on the bench from the technical area with, like his team, little vigor.

Toothless in attack once again, Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin rarely threatened with 20-year-old deadline day buy Nikola Vlasic the only bright spark in attack.

Koeman was handed the dreaded vote of confidence from chairman and majority owner Farhad Moshiri following the 1-0 defeat to Burnley at Goodison Park before the break.

Sunday’s performance did little to suggest that vote of confidence was well placed and, like the bug, Koeman’s time at Everton isn’t too far away from the ultimate failure.

Brighton 1-1 Everton: Rooney PK saves point

Gareth Fuller/PA via AP
Leave a comment
  • Knockaert scores late
  • Rooney equalizes from spot
  • Teams among six on 8 points

Another moribund display from Everton was slightly redeemed by a late Wayne Rooney penalty at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.

Brighton and Hove Albion took a deserved and late lead from Anthony Knockaert, only to draw Everton 1-1.

Both teams move to eight points, with the Gulls 13th and Everton 16th.

Mathew Ryan and Jordan Pickford both made huge saves for their sides in the draw, with Ryan stopping a pair in stoppage time.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The match found some life in the 19th minute, when Nikola Vlasic laid off for Idrissa Gana Gueye. His hard shot led to an unsuccessful corner.

It returned to sleep, however, until Everton blocked a pair of troubling attempts from Brighton in the 31st minute and then dealt with a corner kick.

Gueye had another shot from distance in the 34th, bending his effort wide of the far post.

 

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

To the second half, which held very little promise until Vlasic slipped in attempting a rip at goal in the 57th.

And hope? At the other end, Pascal Gross cued up Solly March for a left-footed shot collected by Jordan Pickford. That wasn’t the end of Pickford’s day by any stretch of the imagination, and Brighton really amped up its attack in the final 20 minutes.

Everton should have been given a penalty when Gylfi Sigurdsson was tugged back in the 80th minute.

Fiery all game, it was Knockaert who put Brighton ahead, celebrating emotionally after bagging an 82nd minute goal.

Bruno started the charge, and a moment’s hesitation from Morgan Schneiderlin inside his own 18 helped Knockaert get his shot.

But Bruno turned Everton ally with an elbow to Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the 88th minute, and Rooney converted his PK.

What could USMNT look like for November friendlies?

twitter.com/s04_en
1 Comment

Bruce Arena is out, and the United States men’s national team could look very different the next time a ball is kicked by the men in red, white, and blue.

Tab Ramos is expected to take over on an interim basis, or at least be the prime candidate, before the Yanks play November friendlies in Europe next month (President Sunil Gulati said one is confirmed, and the second should be overseas).

[ VIDEO: Jermaine Jones’ fiery USMNT diatribe ]

Those will be the first of many friendlies, as the U.S. is not scheduled to play serious competitions until the Copa America and Gold Cup in the Summer of 2019. That’s what happens when you miss a World Cup, something that American soccer hasn’t experienced since the mid-1980s.

The U.S. could assemble a summer tournament this summer, but the twin tourneys in 2019 mean it has plenty of time to experiment seriously in search of a huge depth pool needed for a wild couple months.

That Gold Cup will be an important ask of the team’s depth, too, and it will be interesting to see how a new manager prioritizes his roster considering a title is needed to clinch a place in the 2021 Confederations Cup and avoid another CONCACAF Cup playoff.

Considering the wealth of promising domestic and overseas U-20 prospects and the fact that the United States has used more than 75 players in recent history, just about anything is possible for Ramos (or whoever takes over).

November’s call-ups are especially tricky. For one thing, they are in Europe and could be against very good competition as sides angle for form before the World Cup. Expect it to be heavily-based in overseas players and a sprinkling of MLS players who have been eliminated from the postseason.

The second legs of the MLS Conference semifinals will be held Nov. 5, one day before the international break. While we suppose Toronto FC leaders Michael Bradley or Jozy Altidore could set some sort of standard by demanding to be part of the phoenix rising from these disastrous Hex ashes, but it’s almost certain the following USMNT mainstays will have played in those Nov. 5 matches and will not be heading to Europe: Bradley, Altidore, Matt Besler, and Graham Zusi. Based on current seeding, the Americans will also be without Clint Dempsey, Dax McCarty, and Darlington Nagbe.

Bobby Wood (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

It seems likely guys like Christian Pulisic and Geoff Cameron will get a break, though there could also be “farewells” for some of the old guard (this seems more of a January thing given the MLS Playoffs).

We imagine guys like Alejandro Bedoya, Tim Ream, and Bobby Wood are going to be called in to help show guys the ropes

Hopefully, young Schalke star Weston McKennie is back from his thigh injury and fit for 90. Might U-17 and U-20 World Cup star Josh Sargent get a chance to dip his toes into an international break?

We’ll let you build you lineups from this corps, also expecting some surprises, and we’ll probably wind up going down a rabbit hole to build some of our own.

Who are we missing? Hit us up with your names, thoughts, and XIs in the comment section.


MLS-based, will miss playoffs, called up in October: Tim Howard, Alejandro Bedoya, Paul Arriola, Gyasi Zardes.

MLS-based, will miss playoffs, called up in last year: Bill Hamid, Joe Bendik, Brian Rowe, Steve Birnbaum, Jonathan Spector, Taylor Kemp, Keegan Roseberry, Chris Pontius, Kelyn Rowe, Jermaine Jones, Juan Agudelo, Dom Dwyer, CJ Sapong, Alan Gordon.

Europe- or Mexico-based, called up in October: Bobby Wood, DeAndre Yedlin, Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream, Jorge Villafana, Geoff Cameron, Christian Pulisic, Michael Orozco.

Europe- or Mexico-based, called up in last year: Ethan Horvath, William Yarbrough, Eric Lichaj, Matt Miazga, John Brooks (injured), Timothy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Joe Corona, Kenny Saief (injured), Lynden Gooch, Julian Green, Caleb Stanko, Aron Johannsson.

MLS-based, will miss playoffs, not called up in last year: Christian Ramirez, Miguel Ibarra, Lee Nguyen, Ethan Finlay, Tommy Redding, Patrick Mullins, Russell Canouse, Derrick Jones, Andrew Farrell, Kyle Fisher, Chris Tierney.

Europe- or Mexico-based, not called up in last year: Danny Williams, Terrence Boyd, Mix Diskerud, Emerson Hyndman, Perry Kitchen, Alfredo Morales, Antonee Robinson.

Top U.S. youth prospects: Weston McKennie, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Josh Sargent, Jonathan Gonzalez, Haji Wright.

Top U.S. youth prospects, could have MLS playoffs:  Justen Glad, Erik Palmer-Brown, Tyler Adams, Brooks Lennon, Jonathan Lewis, Jesse Gonzalez.


Some far-fetched potential lineups (Remember – Anything is possible):

Serious Future XI

Horvath

 Carter-Vickers – Cameron – Miazga

Yedlin – Williams – McKennie – Pulisic

Arriola – Wood – Gooch

All-Europe XI

Horvath

Yedlin – Carter-Vickers – Miazga – Villafana

Chandler – Williams – McKennie – Pulisic

Wood – Johannsson

(Mostly) Farewell Tour XI

Howard

 Lichaj – Cameron – Ream – Beasley

Arriola – Williams – Bedoya – Johnson

Wondolowski – Wood

Few to no caps XI

Horvath

Farrell – Miazga – Carter-Vickers – Tierney

Rowe – Gonzalez – Morales – McKennie – Gooch

Ramirez