European Weekend: Five (Random) Matches That Matter

2 Comments

Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao, Spain, Saturday 5:00 p.m. ET

Athletic is coming off another scene-stealing performance mid-week, scoring three late goals at Schalke to take a 4-2 win out of Gelsenkirchen. Those two renew their Europa League tie Thursday in Bilbao but in between, Marcelo Bielsa takes his team to the Nou Camp looking for an elusive win over Europe’s champions. Granted, every team finds victories over Barcelona elusive, but for Bilbao – a team that has drawn Barça three times in four games – it’s different. No team, with the possible exception of Real Madrid, has played Barcelona tighter. Should they breakthrough on Saturday, Barcelona’s title defense may be dealt a final blow.

Player to watch: Javi Martinez – the midfielder-turned-central defender will be crucial to breaking up Barcelona’s attacks as well as helping Bilbao counter Barcelona’s perpetual possession advantage.

Benfica vs. Sporting Braga, Portugal, Saturday 5:15 p.m. ET

Who will win Portugal this year: Benfica or Porto? How about none of the above? Because as the two titans were preoccupied with each other (and Europe), Braga went and snatched first place. They sit one point above Porto, two above Benfica, and – having dropped points in only six of their 24 league matches this season – must be beaten on Saturday for Benfica to maintain a realistic shot of regaining the title. Were the Eagles to win, they’d snap Braga’s 13-match league winning streak.

Player to Watch: Lima – with 19 goals, the 28-year-old Brazilian has seized the lead atop Portugal’s goal-scoring charts. No other Braga player has scored more than five goals.

Juventus vs. Napoli, Italy, Sunday 2:45 p.m. ET

Serie A’s weekend finale could be seen as a preview of May’s Coppa Italia final. It could be seen as another major threat to Juve’s unbeaten run. It could also be seen as a must-win for each side. Juventus not only has their unbeaten season on the line, but sitting four points behind Milan, they can’t afford to drop points. Napoli knows the feeling. They’re only three points behind Lazio for the league’s final Champions League spot.

Player to Watch: Marek Hamsik – One day after Juve president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli admitted the Old Lady passed on the chance to sign the Slovak attacker, it bears reminding Hamsik has scored five times against Juventus.

Kaiserslautern vs. Hamburg, Germany, Saturday 9:30 a.m. ET

Amazingly, Hamburg might get relegated. Through 27 (of 34) rounds, they have 27 points, sit 16th, and if the season ended today, they’d play-off against a promotion candidate for the right to stay in the 1. Bundesliga. If they’re going to break their four-match losing streak, Saturday’s the time, as they visit last-place Kaiserslautern. A loss would be spirit-breaking.

Player to Watch: Jaroslav Drobny – looking set to win a fitness race ahead of Saturday’s match, the Czech goalkeeper will need to up his game, with Hamburg having allowed 16 goals in their last five matches.

Anderlecht vs. Kortrijk, Belgium, Sunday 12:00 p.m. ET

The second stage of Beligum’s championship started on Friday, with Club Brugge’s 2-0 home win over Genk pulling them even at the top. Now it’s up to Anderlecht to re-establish their lead, and having gone 13 unbeaten in league, don’t expect the purple and white to be tripped up easily. Kortrijk has been outscored by Anderlecht 22-2 since they returned to Beligum’s top level in 2008, losing all 10 matches.

Player to Watch: Sacha Kljestan – the U.S. international’s 29 appearances lead all Anderlecht’s outfield players, and while Guillaume Gillet’s 12 goals have deservedly garnered headlines, the former Chivas USA stalwart continues to reward Anderlecht’s dip into Major League Soccer.

Premier League midseason grades

0 Comments

We are at the midway point of the Premier League season, so now seems like a good time to dish out a grade for all 20 clubs based on their play so far.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Which teams have struggled? Who has overachieved? What have been the biggest stories so far?

[ LATEST: Premier League table in full ]

Below we dish out a grade to every club with analysis on their 2022-23 campaign so far.


The strugglers

Southampton: F
Everton: F
West Ham: D-
Chelsea: D-
Leicester City: D-

Three of these five teams (Saints, Everton and Chelsea) have fired their manager and that says it all. Southampton’s transfer policy was risky but they have a chance of getting out of the relegation zone, while Everton look in a whole world of trouble with Frank Lampard fired and discontent rising among supporters. Chelsea are in a bit of mess and keep chucking money at it, with the top four already seeming out of reach under new boss Graham Potter. As for West Ham and Leicester, well, they’ve both underachieved massively and have shown glimpses of climbing up the table during the season, but there’s just an extra spark missing for both despite their talented squads.


The underachievers

Liverpool: D
Leeds: D
Wolves: D
Crystal Palace: C-
Bournemouth: C

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have massively underachieved this season and they’ve lacked energy and confidence from the very start. Can they rebound and battle for the top four? They’ve done it before but this will take one heck of a turnaround as they look lackluster in midfield and shaky in defense. Leeds and Wolves both have better squads than being in a relegation scrap but that’s what they’re in. Marsch has to make Leeds better at the back, while Julen Lopetegui has Wolves organized but needs goals. As for Crystal Palace, they’ve slightly underachieved but are doing okay in midtable under Patirck Vieira, while Bournemouth have spent most of the season (until recently) out of the relegation zone which is much better than what they expected.


The teams figuring it out

Nottingham Forest: B-
Aston Villa: B-
Tottenham: B
Manchester City: B+
Manchester United: B+

In the case of the two Manchester clubs, Erik ten Hag has got United playing with a structure and confidence and they are right in the top four battle. As for Manchester City, well, they have Erling Haaland which papers over a lot of cracks. Still, Pep Guardiola’s side are ominously sat just behind Arsenal in the title battle as they love to chase teams down. Tottenham have had a crazy season full of ups and downs but are still basically where they should be: battling for a top four finish. Aston Villa have figured it out with Unai Emery coming in and making them a solid unit which loves to counter. As for Forest, Steve Cooper has done a fine job and after making about 327 new signings last summer (the real number is slightly higher) the squad has gelled and they should stay up.


The big winners, so far…

Brentford: A
Fulham: A
Newcastle: A+
Brighton: A+
Arsenal: A+

There are some real surprise packages this season and the positions of Brighton and Fulham (sixth and seventh respectively) is a shock. Roberto De Zerbi replaced Potter and added attacking swagger to the Seagulls who are so much fun to watch, while Marco Silva has turned new boys Fulham into a very efficient team who are horrible to play against. Brentford slot between Brighton and Fulham in terms of style of play and Thomas Frank is once again working miracles with Ivan Toney leading the charge as the Bees have recorded several huge wins, beating Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool already. But the story of the season is down to two teams: Newcastle and Arsenal. The former have gone on a long unbeaten run and may not be in the title race but are in the top four hunt. What a job Eddie Howe has done and Newcastle are tough to play against and are adding key players all the time. As for Arsenal, what can we say about the Gunners? Mikel Arteta has developed an incredible squad full of talented youngsters who are all pulling in the same direction. Arsenal sit top of the table and have answered every big question asked of them so far. They 100 percent look like they can be title winners. Can they kick on in the second half of the season and finish off the job?


Jesse Marsch adds USMNT, RBNY alum Chris Armas as assistant coach

0 Comments

LEEDS, England — Leeds added another American to its coaching staff by hiring former United States midfielder Chris Armas to be an assistant to compatriot Jesse Marsch.

Armas was Marsch’s assistant at New York Red Bulls from 2015-18 before becoming head coach when Marsch moved to German team Leipzig.

The 50-year-old Armas worked under interim coach Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United last season, leaving before Erik ten Hag took over as the permanent manager.

[ MORE: Premier League midseason grades ]

“He brings a wealth of experience from across the world,” Marsch said of Armas, “and, having worked closely with him previously, I am sure he will help us to improve every day.”

Armas, who spent his playing career at the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chicago Fire and made 66 appearances for the United States, is expected to be in the dugout for Leeds’ FA Cup match at third-tier Accrington Stanley on Saturday.

Leeds has American players Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson in its team, and has been linked with a move for another U.S. international, Weston McKennie.

Premier League top scorers: Who is leading 2022 Golden Boot race?

0 Comments

For those tempted to write off Erling Haaland’s historically-hot start to life as a Premier League striker, it’s safe to say your temptation is now officially unhealthy.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ] 

There is something somewhat dull about knowing the identity of the 2022 Golden Boot winner, the lone curiosity being the final number of his final tally, we get it, but most of what Haaland is doing this season is simply marvelous and to be admired without much fear.

Haaland’s Premier League-leading 25 goals have him nine goals clear of the next closest challenger: Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

The Norwegian star piled up 20 goals in a single Premier League season faster than any player in history… by seven games (Kevin Phillips of Sunderland did it in 21). Now he’s within five goals of equalling Kevin Phillips’ record for most goals in a debut Premier League season.

And the later this season goes with him projected so far over the current record, the less chucking is accompanied by marking out the pace (especially considering Haaland was not beaten up by the World Cup, as Norway was not in the tournament). And even though Haaland is currently overperforming his expected goals total, it’s clear that projecting him for the Premier League record is rather realistic.

How many records can Haaland break?

Premier League Golden Boot
fotmob.com

Haaland may not be likely to hit 50 goals given the schedule congestion to come for Man City, but the Premier League record is very well under assault and that figure isn’t entirely absurd. He’s played in 19 of Man City’s 20 games, scoring 25 goals.

Multiply that ratio by 38 games and he’ll bag 47.5. Multiply his personal return by 37 games and he’s in for 48.6.

Mohamed Salah holds the 38-game season record with his 32 goals scored for Liverpool during the 2017-18 season, while Newcastle’s Andy Cole and Blackburn’s Alan Shearer bagged 34 during 42-game seasons in the 20th century’s final decade.

Haaland also could topple the record for goal involvements (goals plus assists) in a single season, including beating the 42-game record. Alan Shearer put up 47 over 42, while Thierry Henry holds the 38-game record with 44.

Other records that Haaland could legitimately tie or topple:

  • 30 goals in a first Premier League season (Kevin Phillips, Sunderland, 1999-2000)
  • Goals in 24 different Premier League matches (Salah, Liverpool, 2017-18)
  • Most goals in a Premier League match (Five tied with five)
  • 11-straight Premier League games with a goal (Jamie Vardy, Leicester, 2014-15)

Read on to see the latest Premier League goal totals for the 2022-23 season, as Haaland looks to claim a Golden Boot in his first PL season.

Premier League 2022-23 Golden Boot race

    1. Erling Haaland, Man City — 25
    2. Harry Kane, Tottenham — 16
    3. Ivan Toney, Brentford — 13
    4. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham — 11
    5. Rodrigo, Leeds United — 10
    6. Miguel Almiron, Newcastle — 9
    7. Marcus Rashford, Manchester United — 8
    8. Martin Odegaard, Arsenal — 8
    9. Roberto Firmino, Liverpool — 7
    10. Phil Foden, Man City — 7
    11. James Maddison, Leicester City — 7
    12. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool — 7
    13. Leandro Trossard — Brighton/Arsenal — 7
    14. Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal — 7
    15. Harvey Barnes, Leicester City — 7
    16. Bukayo Saka, Arsenal — 7
    17. Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace — 6
    18. Pascal Gross, Brighton — 6
    19. Danny Ings, Aston Villa/West Ham — 6
    20. Callum Wilson, Newcastle — 6
    21. Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal — 5
    22. Daniel Podence, Wolves — 5
    23. Darwin Nunez, Liverpool — 5
    24. Alexis Mac Allister, Brighton — 5
    25. James Ward-Prowse, Southampton — 5
    26. Kai Havertz, Chelsea — 5

Premier League transfers: Complete list of January transfers

0 Comments

The January transfer window is again seeing big-name imports into the Premier League, although there are a few young bucks coming through the door.

Chelsea’s signed Benoit Badiashile and Andrey Santos, Newcastle’s formally welcomed Garang Kuol, and Liverpool’s reinforced its forward ranks with Cody Gakpo joining the Anfield set.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Liverpool | Chelsea | Tottenham | Man City | Man United | Arsenal ]

There’s plenty of discussion about Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur making additions to deepen their squads’ top-four pushes, but nothing complete yet for either big name side.

The same is true for title-fighters Arsenal and Manchester City, though their top-end footing is a lot more stable.


Bournemouth

In
Dango Ouattara (Lorient)

Out
Ferdinand Okoh (Dorchester) Loan
James Hill (Hearts) Loan
Will Dennis (Slough) Loan


Arsenal

In
Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
Jakub Kiwior (Spezia Calcio)

Out
Brooke Norton-Cuffy (Coventry) Loan
Miguel Azeez (Wigan) Loan
Arthur Okonkwo (Sturm Graz) Loan
Ovie Ejeheri (SJK Seinajoki) Loan
Harry Clarke (Ipswich Town)


Aston Villa

In
Aaron Ramsey (loan recall)
Tyreik Wright (loan recall)
Alex Moreno (Real Betis)
Jhon Duran (Chicago Fire)

Out
Cameron Archer (Middlesbrough) Loan
Tyreik Wright (Plymouth Argyle)
Frederic Guilbert (RC Strasbourg)
Indiana Vassilev (St. Louis City SC)
Danny Ings (West Ham)
Jan Bednarek (loan recall)
Morgan Sanson (Strasbourg) Loan


Brentford

In
Byron Wilson (Coventry)
Conor McManus (Bray Wanderers)
Fin Stevens (loan recall)
Mads Bech (loan recall)
Beaux Booth (Dorking)
Kevin Schade (Freiburg) Loan
Paris Maghoma (loan recall)
Romeo Beckham (Inter Miami) Loan
Nathan Young-Coombes (loan recall)

Out
Myles Peart-Harris (Forest Green Rovers) Loan extension
Aaron Pressley (Accrington) Loan
Lachlan Brook (Crewe) Loan extension
Edon Pruti (Hartlepool)
Mads Bech (Groningen) Loan
Ellery Balcombe (Bristol Rovers) Loan
Tariqe Fosu (Rotherham) Loan
Paris Maghoma (MK Dons) Loan
Charlie Goode (Blackpool) Loan


Brighton & Hove Albion

In
Facundo Buonanotte (Rosario Central)
Jamie Mullins (Bohemians)

Out
Aaron Connolly (Hull) Loan
Reda Khadra (Birmingham)
Ed Turns (Leyton Orient) Loan
James Beadle (Crewe Alexandra) Loan
Leandro Trossard (Arsenal)


Chelsea

In
David Datro Fofana (Molde)
Benoit Badiashile (Monaco)
Andrey Santos (Vasco da Gama)
Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid) Loan
Mykhailo Mudryk (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Noni Madueke (PSV Eindhoven)

Chelsea transfer news
Benoit Badiashile (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Crystal Palace

Out
Killian Phillips (Shrewsbury) Loan
Jack Butland (Man Utd) Loan
John-Kymani Gordon (Carlise) Loan
Malcolm Ebiowei (Hull) Loan


Everton

In
Ellis Simms (loan recall)
Nathan Broadhead (loan recall)
Niels Nkounkou (loan recall)

Out
Salomon Rondon (released)
Nathan Broadhead (Ipswich)
Tom Cannon (Preston) Loan
Niels Nkounkou (Saint-Etienne) Loan
Sebastian Quirk (Accrington Stanley)


Fulham

In
Anthony Knockaert (loan recall)

Out
Idris Odutayo (Maidenhead) Loan extension
Anthony Knockaert (Huddersfield) Loan
Ibane Bowat (Den Bosch) Loan


Leeds United

In
Max Wober (RB Salzburg)
Georginio Rutter (Hoffenheim)

Out
Mateusz Klich (MLS pending)
Alfie McCalmont (Carlisle) Loan
Leo Hjelde (Rotherham) Loan
Max Dean (MK Dons)


Leicester City

In
George Hirst (loan recall)
Victor Kristiansen (Copenhagen)

Out
George Hirst (Ipswich) Loan
Ben Nelson (Doncaster) Loan
Jakub Stolarczyk (Hartlepool) Loan


Liverpool

In
Cody Gakpo (PSV)
Billy Koumetio (Austria Vienna) Loan recall
Max Woltman (loan recall)
Jakub Ojrzynski (loan recall)
James Balagizi (loan recall)
Fidel O’Rourke (loan recall)
Rhys Williams (loan recall)

Out
Jake Cain (Swindon Town)
Jarell Quansah (Bristol Rovers) Loan

Liverpool transfer news
Cody Gakpo photo vis twitter.com/LFC

Manchester City

In
Liam Delap (loan recall)
Maximo Perrone (Velez Sarsfield)

Out
Josh Wilson-Esbrand (Coventry) Loan
Liam Delap (Preston) Loan
Kayky (Bahia) Loan


Manchester United

In
Jack Butland (Crystal Palace) Loan
Wout Weghorst (Burnley) Loan

Out
Martin Dubravka (loan recall)
Shola Shoretire Loan (Bolton Wanderers)


Newcastle United

In
Amadou Diallo (free) 
Garang Kuol (Central Coast Mariners)
Martin Dubravka (loan recall)

Out
Garang Kuol (Hearts) loan
Chris Wood (Nott’m Forest) Loan


Nottingham Forest

In
Gustavo Scarpa (Palmeiras)
Danilo (Palmeiras)
Alex Mighten (loan recall)
Chris Wood (Newcastle United) Loan

Out
Loic Bade (loan recall)
Dale Taylor (Burton Albion) Loan
Aaron Donnelly (Port Vale) Loan


Southampton

In
Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb)
Carlos Alcaraz (Racing Club)
Jan Bednarek (loan recall)

Out
Dynel Simeu (Morecambe) Loan
Dan Nlundulu (Bolton) Loan
Nico Lawrence (Torquay) Loan


West Ham United

In
Luizao (Sao Paulo)
Armstrong Okoflex (loan recall)
Danny Ings (Aston Villa)

Out
Thierry Nevers (Bradford) Loan
Craig Dawson (Wolves)
Pierre Ekwah (Sunderland)


Wolverhampton Wanderers

In
Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid) Loan
Joe Young (loan recall)
Louie Moulden (loan recall)
Theo Corbeanu (loan recall)
Christian Marques (loan recall)
Lewis Richards (loan recall)
Mario Lemina (Nice)
Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain)
Craig Dawson (West Ham)

Out
Leo Bonatini (released)
Joe Young (Telford) Loan
Goncalo Guedes (Benfica) Loan
Theo Corbeanu (Arminia Bielefeld) Loan
Leonardo Campana (Inter Miami)
Connor Ronan (Colorado Rapids)

Premier League transfers
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Matheus Cunha  (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)