Wayne Rooney admits to packing on too many pounds

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Take solace, Manchester United fans. There may be a reason why Wayne Rooney looked so bad in his one Premier League start. At least, there may be a reason beyond “maybe he’s just not as good anymore.” He might be out of shape.

That news comes after the Guardian published excerpts from Rooney’s upcoming book, one chronicling 10 years in the Premier League. It’s Rooney’s second book, with the 2008 release My Story chronicling the hard-earned lessong of a 22-year-old soccer protegé who’d already earned a move to Manchester United.

Busy cranking out these tomes rather than training (as if he writes them himself), it’s no wonder Wayne’s put on a few pounds. How much weight? A whole seven pounds, which doesn’t sound like a big deal considering the peak state at which most soccer players play through their seasons (at the end of which, it’s not uncommon for them to be under-weight). For Rooney, however, the scales were quite a shock:

Early July: the first day back at pre-season training. I’m like most blokes, I put on a few pounds after a holiday. Even if I don’t train for a week, I put on two or three, but when I get back to Carrington for the first day of work, I’m in for a shock. The scales in the club gym tell me I’ve put on a few more pounds than expected – seven. Seven!

As Rooney later hints, the weight shouldn’t be a problem, but if he was more out of shape than normal when he returned to Carrington, it’s no wonder he looked behind the pace when United opened their season at Goodison. Rooney concedes as much when talking about the demands on a center forward:

As a striker I need to work hard all the time. I need to be sharp, which means my fitness has to be right to play well. If it isn’t, it shows. It would probably be different if I were a full-back. I could hide a bit, make fewer runs into the opposition half and get away with it. But as a centre-forward for Manchester United, there’s no place to hide. I’ve got to work as hard as I can, otherwise the manager will haul me off the pitch or drop me for the next game.

So Rooney probably wasn’t surprised when he was benched for Fulham.

The weight revelation, headline-material though it may be, is one of the least interesting parts of the Guardian’s excerpt. More compelling (and quiet sad, considering Rooney’s age), is his current physical state.

Physically I’ve taken a bit of a battering over the years; being lumped by Transformer-sized centre-backs or having my muscles smashed by falls, shoulder barges and last-ditch tackles, day in, day out, has left me a bit bruised. When I get up in the morning after a game, I struggle to walk for the first half an hour. I ache a bit. It wasn’t like that when I was a lad. I remember sometimes when I finished training or playing with Everton and United, I’d want to play some more. But football has had a massive impact on my body because my game is based on speed, power and intensity.

All of which makes you wonder how much longer Rooney can be a top player. His rings count 26, but his miles count closer to 32. While we marvel at the collection of attackers Alex Ferguson has been able to amass (signing another one, Angelo Henriquez today), that depth looks entirely different when you consider the minutes piling on Rooney’s body. Undoubtedly, United’s staff have witness the effects.

Particularly with post-Cristiano Ronaldo United, Ferguson has had to rely on Rooney to an uncomfortable degree. Perhaps that time is over.

Manchester United vs Leeds, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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Manchester United welcomes Leeds to Old Trafford on Wednesday as a stung foe heads to Manchester days after a managerial change (watch live, 3pm ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com).

Leeds fired Jesse Marsch on Monday, and fellow American boss Chris Armas will be among the men guiding the club as it seeks a new boss and a way out of the relegation scrap.

Marsch helped Leeds bound out of the bottom three last season but the club has struggled of late and enters this Premier League midweek match in 17th only by virtue of tiebreakers.

STREAM LIVE MANCHESTER UNITED vs LEEDS

Man United, meanwhile, has won four-straight across all competitions ahead of two-straight matches against Leeds (the second, at Elland Road, is Sunday).

The Red Devils can pull level with second-place Man City on points with a win on Tuesday

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Manchester United vs Leeds.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester United vs Leeds live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Marcus Rashford had scored in six of United’s last seven Premier League matches and he’s zipped up the PL goals list as one of just six players with at least 10 goals this season.

One player Rashford is likely to pass is fellow 10-goal man Rodrigo, who will not play for Leeds. The visitors will be looking to new signings Georginio Rutter and Weston McKennie to help lead the way, while Wilfried Gnonto and Jack Harrison seem likely to keep pestering opponents with pace.


Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Antony (lower leg). OUT: Mason Greenwood (suspension), Anthony Martial (undisclosed), Scott McTominay (other), Casemiro (suspension), Christian Eriksen (ankle), Donny van de Beek (knee)

Leeds team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Sonny Perkins (ankle). OUT: Stuart Dallas (thigh), Adam Forshaw (groin), Archie Gray (ankle), Rodrigo (ankle/foot)

Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham, Brentford and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy season so far.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – February 5

Premier League schedule
NBC’s Premier League scoreboard page


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Southampton vs Wolves: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Southampton host Wolves in a huge relegation six-pointer in the Premier League and all of the pressure is on the hosts.

STREAM LIVE SOUTHAMPTON vs WOLVES

After a dreadful run of form which has seen new manager Nathan Jones lose six of his first seven Premier League games in charge, including a 3-0 drubbing at Brentford last week, Southampton sit bottom of the table. However, they are just three points from safety and badly need a win to unite their fanbase, players and coaching staff.

Wolves are looking so much better under new manager Julen Lopetegui as they hammered Liverpool 3-0 last time out to move further away from the bottom three. Lopetegui has won three of his six Premier League games in charge but they remain just two points off the relegation zone.

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Here’s everything you need for Southampton vs Wolves.


How to watch Southampton vs Wolves live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form players to watch

Saints are in freefall and if they lose this game it feels like Nathan Jones will lose his job. The Welsh coach went on a bizarre rant following their shellacking at Brentford and said he has pandered to others and hasn’t done his job properly ever since he arrived at Southampton in November. The owners are backing him, for now, but in midweek they admitted results have to improve. After spending big on deadline day to bring in forwards Paul Onuachu and Kamaldeen Sulemana, now is the time for Southampton to drag themselves off the bottom. If not, they could have a third manager of the season very soon.

Wolves were brilliant against Liverpool and have found a great system for the players they have with the 4-4-2 working wonders. Lopetegui is famed for having a solid foundation defensively but the big change has been Wolves being much better on the counter and finally finishing off chances. After bringing in Sarabia, Cunha, Lemina and Dawson in January they have added experience and quality in key areas and it seems to have given the entire club a lift.


Southampton team news, injuries, lineup options

Kyle Walker-Peters should be fully fit after a recent hamstring issue, while Alex McCarthy remains a doubt and Valentino Livramento and Juan Larios are definitely out. Onuachu and Sulemana should start, while Nathan Jones has favored a 3-5-2 formation in recent weeks so it will be intriguing to see if he persists with that despite fan unrest towards his tactics.

Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

Chiquinho, Sasa Kalajdzic and Boubacar Traore remain out, while Pedro Neto will miss this game. Mario Lemina is a doubt, while Hwang Hee-chan is out after suffering a thigh injury. Adama Traore, Daniel Podence and Joao Moutinho could come into the starting lineup given these injuries.



 

West Ham vs Chelsea: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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West Ham host Chelsea on Saturday in a massive London derby as both teams aim to kick-start their respective campaigns.

STREAM LIVE WEST HAM vs CHELSEA

The Hammers have improved in recent weeks as they beat Everton and drew at Newcastle last time out. David Moyes’ men are still hovering just above the relegation zone but it looks like they will now kick on in the second half of the season and they usually fare well against their bitter London rivals Chelsea.

As for the Blues, they have won just once in their last six Premier League games but they are becoming very tough to beat, and score against, under Graham Potter. Three shutouts in a row have them on a three-game unbeaten run and now they have all of their January additions on board, expect Chelsea to climb closer to the top four.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

Here’s everything you need for West Ham vs Chelsea.


How to watch West Ham vs Chelsea live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 7:30am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form players to watch

The Hammers are slowly getting back to their best and Nayef Aguerd has been in fine form at center back and is now fully fit after arriving in the summer. Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta and Michail Antonio have been among the goals in recent games and there is a menacing look to West Ham on the counter.

Chelsea’s new signing Enzo Fernandez made a great impact on his debut against Fulham last time out, while Badiashile has also impressed at center back, while Mudryk and Madueke are both getting up to speed on the wing. Joao Felix will finally be available again after he missed the last three games due to his red card on debut.


West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

Kurt Zouma (thigh) and Maxwel Cornet (calf) remain out, while Gianluca Scamacca is battling back from a knee injury. Alphonse Areola and Thilo Kehrer are struggling with hamstring issues. It will be intriguing to see if Moyes starts with January signing Danny Ings up top in this game or if he continues with Michail Antonio as the focal point.

Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic and Armando Broja remain out, while Wesley Fofana and Mateo Kovacic are close to being available. Denis Zakaria and Edouard Mendy are out too, but Joao Felix is back from suspension which gives Potter a very lively option up top and it would be no surprise if the Portuguese stars starts this game.