The Big Three: trio of talkers in U.S. romp over Scotland

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There will be more analysis to come; for now, let’s talk about the three major take-aways from a real eye-opener.

(See first-half notes here for more PST analysis.)

Transition game is flying high

We really should start here: Scotland is somewhere south of “just OK” at the moment, I mean, not to be rude, but … yeah.

So let’s filter all this, put a small governor on the engine as we all race to Vegas with fists full of cash to bet “United States to make the World Cup semifinal!”

Still, it really was something else to see the United States overwhelm, completely dominate a mid-level European side. This is what American sides do to CONCACAF minnows. Usually, anyway. But not European teams whose rosters are stocked with players from top-tier UEFA associations.

It wasn’t just the score that matters – it was the stylistic manner of achievement.

I’ve never seen the United States transition into attack so quickly. The American players raced aggressively, confidently into position upon gaining the ball.  It really does make for a more entertaining visual. More importantly in the bigger picture, it can be very effective, especially in breaking down those CONCACAF underdogs who sit back, parking-the-bus style.

And that’s not an easy thing to accomplish, to fashion a system around just a few shared practices over nine months. It’s surely a credit to coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who has apparently put the emphasis in all the right places.

Said Landon Donovan: “The three guys in the middle really did a great job of moving and passing quickly. It really made it easy for Jose and myself wide. When you get that much space out there, you’re going to score eventually.”

Landon Donovan, of course … but there was another eye-popping performance

Donovan will earn all the Man of the Match mentions, and rightly so. His hat trick was just the start; the program’s all-time leading scorer was a direct contributor on the other two goals, as well.

But Michael Bradley’s night deserves special mention, too. He was an absolute force in midfield, with the ball and without it.

When you hit a goal like Bradley’s, a sublime half-volley highlight-maker that curled beautifully into goal, and that’s not even the man’s most significant contribution of the night, that says so much.

But it was, indeed, his overall body of work that helped manufacture such a night of overwhelming soccer. His tackling was forceful but prudent; the tendency to collect needless cards was something he needed to prune away from his game. Saturday, Bradley managed it beautifully, seeing the passing lanes and stepping into them and directing the team on when to press collectively and when to sit back and organize.

With the ball, he was the best at moving possession quickly, creating the tick-tick-tick connections that slowly degrade a defense. Again, don’t underestimate how important that will be against teams that dig in defensively; quick transition is so often the key to getting around those sides, speeding past them before they organize defensively.

Also file under “good performances”

Fabian Johnson may just make everyone forget about Timmy Chandler after all. Again, Scotland wasn’t the toughest of tests; Brazil is a different level, a challenge now dangling just days away.

And eventually, Johnson will need to be even more assertive in the offensive end; that 4-3-3 Klinsmann deployed Saturday depends on fullbacks for width in the final third. For his starting debut, however, Johnson did plenty.

Terrence Boyd doesn’t always make the best choices near goal, a measure of his youth and inexperience. But he’ll learn. For now, there’s so much to like, so very much upside in his energy, enthusiasm and ability to find great spots.

Maurice Edu was positioned perfectly all night, embracing his duties of “screen and distribute.” We’d probably be talking about how well Jermaine Jones performed two-way duty, except that Bradley’s blue ribbon work partially obscures some of the good doings of his central midfield mate. Truly, all three men in the U.S. triangle were on top of things.

Jose Torres had his moments, creative and quick — although he did seem stronger in the first 30 minutes than in the last hour.

Premier League odds, Prince-Wright’s picks: Week 2

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EPL betting odds for the Premier League Week 2 have been released but we know the bookies don’t always get it right and there is plenty of cash to be made up there.

Here are the latest Prince-Wright’s Premier League score predictions as the Premier League 2020-21 season is here and the EPL betting odds all over the place with new signings galore, some teams having more of a preseason than others and injuries already having an impact early in the season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

The Premier League score predictions below encompass the 10 games during Week 2 of the new season, as Manchester City and Manchester United both begin their season after being given an extended break over the summer following their European exploits.

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun with these Premier League games.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.

While you can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.

DOWNLOAD NBC SPORTS PREDICTOR

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.

Check out our Premier League score predictions below, plus the betting odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.


PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS

BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Manchester United 3-1 Crystal Palace – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Arsenal 4-0 West Ham – (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Everton 2-0 West Brom – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM


DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Newcastle 2-1 Brighton – (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Leicester 2-1 Burnley – (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Wolves 2-3 Man City – (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM


“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Leeds United 2-2 Fulham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Chelsea 3-3 Liverpool – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Aston Villa 2-1 Sheffield United – (Monday, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM


ODDS – full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet

Saturday, September 19: (-195) Everton v. West Brom (+540), Tie: +320
Saturday, September 19: (-160) Leeds v. Fulham (+450), Tie: +290
Saturday, September 19: (-325) Man United v. Crystal Palace (+850), Tie: +440
Saturday, September 19: (-195) Arsenal v. West Ham (+500), Tie: +340
Sunday, September 20: (+215) Southampton v. Tottenham (+130), Tie: +235
Sunday, September 20: (+160) Newcastle v. Brighton (+185), Tie: +210
Sunday, September 20: (+220) Chelsea v. Liverpool (+110), Tie: +270
Sunday, September 20: (-165) Leicester v. Burnley (+460), Tie: +290
Monday, September 21: (+170) Aston Villa v. Sheffield United (+170), Tie: +215
Monday, September 21: (+520) Wolves v. Man City (-195), Tie: +325

Thiago to Liverpool confirmed: How big of a deal is this?

Thiago to Liverpool
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Thiago to Liverpool has finally been confirmed as the worst kept secret in the transfer world has reached its end game with a transfer deal which could rise to $36 million reached.

What does Thiago Alcantara signing for Liverpool actually mean though?

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First up, Liverpool have themselves a ‘baller with a capital B who was influential in Bayern winning the treble and sealing the UEFA Champions League trophy in the 2019-20 season.

Thiago, 29, has been instrumental at Bayern Munich and is the deep-lying playmaker Liverpool didn’t have. Speaking about his arrival at Anfield, his excitement is clear and so is one other thing: he’s a born winner.

“I think it’s an amazing feeling. I was waiting for this moment for a long time and I am very, very happy to be here,” Thiago said. “When the years are passing, you are trying to win as much as you can – and when you win, you want to win more. I think this club describes what I am as well; I want to achieve all of the goals, win as many trophies as possible. It also [has] this kind of family [feeling] that I need because we [like to] have a very close relationship with the club and I think I will feel this, I will have this feeling, with this club as well.”

Thiago is exactly the type of signing Liverpool needed to make to back up their hopes of being back-to-back Premier League champions. That sound you can hear is Pep Guardiola’s heart breaking, as the current Manchester City boss brought Thiago from Barcelona to Bayern Munich in 2013 and knows how key of a cog he can be in this well-oiled Liverpool machine.

The Spanish international is exactly the type of player the reigning Premier League champions needed to reach the next level. He gives them that Plan B they haven’t previously had. If Thiago had played for Liverpool against Atletico Madrid in the 2019-20 season, they would not have lost that game. He would have slowed things down, picked passes to rip apart Atleti’s watertight midfield and defense.

His skills are special and will complement the hard-working players Liverpool primarily have in their midfield. Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum were a formidable trio but the latter may now leave for Barcelona and both Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have struggled with injuries. Thiago gives this Liverpool midfield a new dimension and his arrival likely means Fabinho and Henderson will line up alongside him in a three-man central midfield.

He will have to settle in, though, and playing in England and for Klopp’s Liverpool is very different to what he was used to at Bayern Munich. That said, he oozes class and will be given the license to dictate the tempo of Liverpool’s play and sit in alongside Fabinho and spray passes and snap into tackles. In many ways, just like at Bayern, his role will be to allow the full backs to attack. His presence will allow Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold to bomb on just as Alphonso Davies and Joshua Kimmich did at Bayern.

Simply put, he allows Liverpool to play a different way in comparison to their full-throttle, high-press style which isn’t always possible when teams sit back and defend deep. Now they have Thiago, Liverpool can do it all. If you sit back, Thiago can thread a ball through the eye of a needle to open up defenses. If you push up, one ball over the top will see Salah and Mane set free.

The son of a former World Cup winner with Brazil (Mazinho) who was born in Italy to Brazilian parents and made his name in Spain, Thiago Alcantara is a high quality player, professional and human. This signing is a big statement by Liverpool and for many, including myself, it means they are now the favorites to win the Premier League title this season ahead of Manchester City.

That is how big of a deal it is.

Transfer news: Sarr to Liverpool, Man United

Ismaila Sarr to Liverpool
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The latest transfer news sees Ismaila Sarr to Liverpool and Ismaila Sarr to Manchester United among the main reports.

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So, the two bitter rivals are set to battle for Watford and Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr. Let’s roll!

Ismaila Sarr to Liverpool or Manchester United?

According to a report from the Daily Mail, Liverpool are willing to pay $46 million for Sarr. However, a report from The Independent states that Sarr is an alternative option if Manchester United can’t sign Jadon Sancho.

Would Ismaila Sarr to Liverpool or Ismaila Sarr to Manchester United make more sense?

Starting with Liverpool, they obviously have their star three forwards in Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. After that, Sarr is an upgrade on their current back-up options of Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri, plus youngsters Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott.

Sarr is also close friends with his countryman and Liverpool star Mane, and the 22-year-old showed enough promise in his debut Premier League season (five goals, four assists in 22 PL starts) to suggest he can make the step up to playing for a top six team.

He only arrived at recently relegated Watford last summer from Rennes and is a target for plenty of the big boys. Sarr has end product to his game and scored twice in Watford’s shock 3-0 win against Liverpool.

As for Sarr to Manchester United, it is stated that “intermediaries are understood to have made initial enquiries” as they line up deals if they don’t sign top target Sancho this summer.

It is clear Sarr is to good to be playing in the second tier in England this season and after he adapted to life in the Premier League the Senegalese winger was always a threat.

Let’s see who wins this battle as Sarr would significantly upgrade the secondary options for both Liverpool and Manchester United.

Gonzalo Higuain to Inter Miami confirmed

Gonzalo Higuain to Inter Miami
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Gonzalo Higuain to Inter Miami is official.

The Argentine superstar is finally coming to MLS. After years of speculation about Higuain, 32, joining an MLS club, his move from Juventus to Inter Miami has been confirmed and he will be a Designated Player for the Floridian franchise.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Higuain has been handed the No. 9 jersey by the MLS side who are in their inaugural season, and David Beckham’s franchise finally have someone to finish off the chances they’ve been creating.

Now that Gonzalo Higuain to Inter Miami is official, here’s what the prolific center forward had to say.

“First of all, I want to thank Inter Miami for the effort it has made to sign me. I think it will be a beautiful experience in my life. It’s what I was looking for – a new experience, a new league and a beautiful city. I’m really happy to be here and that it’s official,” Higuain said. “My goal is to try to transmit all the experience I acquired in Europe and to help the team grow.”

“I feel good, I feel whole as a player. I’m motivated to try a new league and help the team grow. Individually, my goal is to demonstrate that I can contribute and continue playing great futbol here, and I hope I can achieve that because I have all the tools necessary to succeed. Inter Miami is a team in construction but there is already a good base to reach important goals.”

After adding Blaise Matuidi on a TAM deal last month, Inter Miami are making moves. Big time. They have yet to suffer a blowout defeat in their first season in MLS but they sit bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and have won just twice so far.

Scoring goals has been a problem for Diego Alonso’s side who have scored nine goals in their first 11 games of the 2020 season.

Scoring goals has never been a problem for Higuain. Well, except in the 2014 World Cup final…

Higuain is about as pure of a goalscorer as you can get and has proven that during a sensational 15-year career in Europe. He drifts into the perfect positions and has that knack of keeping his cool when it matters most. He scored 121 goals and added 56 assists in 264 appearances for Real Madrid before scoring 91 goals in 146 games for Napoli and 66 in 148 appearances for Juventus. Wedged in-between all of that were loan spells at Chelsea and AC Milan where he had limited success.

Still, Higuain to MLS is a big deal and defenders across the league will be wary of his clinical finishing. If the success his brother, Gonzalo, has had in MLS is anything to go by, this will be a lot of fun and will involve a lot of goals. Just what Inter Miami needed.