Quick Six: Top stories from the Premier League weekend

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2. Arsenal slips, but Everton the real story from Sunday in North London

Sunday’s result may have provided reason to worry in North London, but let’s look at this another way. One season after finishing fourth, it’s too much to expect perfection from the Gunners. It’s also too much to expect them to replicate last year’s Red Devils and run away with the title. They are going to have bad games, and if they are going to occasionally stumble against some of the good-but-not-great sides in the Premier League, today’s minor setback could have been worse.

[MORE: Arsenal 1-1 Everton: Late breakthroughs cancel as Deulofeu denies Arsenal all 3 points (Video)]

[MORE: Arsenal could be own worst enemy as title challenge sees tension rise]

Everton played well, had the better of the game through the first half, yet still gave up the opening goal. Keeping Mathieu Flamini on the bench to open the game, Arsène Wenger probably got it wrong. Yet his team held out until he could make an early second half triple substitution, a move that eventually generated a lead. If Wojciech Szczesny does a better job on Gerard Deulofeu’s 84th minute shot, Arsenal’s “meh” day still ends in victory. Even if they couldn’t protect Mesut Özil’s opener, Arsenal still increased their lead atop the table.

source: Getty Images
Roberto Martínez has exceeded early expectations at Everton, his “transition period” seeing the Toffees drop just one of their first 15 league games. (Source: Getty Images.)

The bigger story here is Everton, a team that took four points from a week where they visited Old Trafford and The Emirates. Those are points Roberto Martínez wouldn’t have expected when he initially looked over his new team’s fixtures, and though the Toffees have yet to show they have enough punch to avoid adding to their league-leading seven draws, you can see why they also have a league-low one loss. There’s a resilience to this team that you wouldn’t have expected this early in the Martínez era, something that allowed them to scrounge three points at Old Trafford before coming back for one in North London.

The scariest part about Everton may not be their early success under Martínez. For their Premier League opposition, the Toffees’ future may be even more worrisome. While at Wigan Athletic, Martínez always saw his teams improve as the season went on, their tendency to linger at the bottom of the table before a late charge casting Martínez as a kind of relegation battle master (before Wigan finally went down).

After their undefeated week, the Toffees are only one point out of a Champions League spot, and while clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Manchester United are likely to improve, so is Everton. This may be more than a mere strong start.


3. Goals keep coming for Liverpool

Luis Suárez’s name may have only been on the scoresheet once, but he deserves some kind of recognition on Guy Demel and Joey O’Brien’s own goals. Maybe “own goals forced” could be a category? Regardless, his attacking accounted for three of Liverpool’s four goals against West Ham, and while other defenders may have found a way to keep those own goals out, Suárez’s persistence played a part in both.

[MORE: Liverpool 4-1 West Ham: Own Goal stars in Liverpool win (video)]

The performance capped a nine-goal week for Liverpool, now second on goal difference after stumbles from Chelsea and Manchester City. With 17 goals in their last five games, the Reds are also second in the league in scoring, a reassuring rise considering the fears that were summoned by Daniel Sturridge’s injury.

But within that success you can see some of the flat-track bully criticism that’s been linked with Brendan Rodgers’ style. In their last six games, Liverpool is 3-0-1 with a 14 goals and a +9 difference against Fulham, Hull, Norwich, and West Ham. In games against Arsenal and Everton in that same span, the club’s 0-1-1 with three goals and a -2.

It’s no surprise teams play worse against better competition, but Liverpool’s divide is bigger than most, so while our jaws are slacken by a nine-goal week, this may be part of Rodgers’ approach. Where other teams might play out a 2-0 result, Liverpool’s posting 5-1, 4-1 wins.


4. Stoke break through; Chelsea’s “trouble” in perspective

José Mourinho’s right to worry about his Blues. Their annual late-fall swoon is here, a problem set to exasperate a bipolarity they’ve shown throughout the season. While Mourinho unlikely to suffer the same fate as André Villas-Boas or Roberto Di Matteo (as well as Luiz Feliipe Scolari and Mourinho before them), he’s being forced to deal with the same ailments. Despite all the changes it go through each summer, something about this Chelsea team leaves it vulnerable at this time of year, a weakness that was evident in Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Stoke.

[MORE: Stoke City 3-2 Chelsea: Assaidi’s screamer hands Potters massive win (video)]

[MORE: Jose Mourinho: “We’re in trouble” after Chelsea’s defeat to Stoke]

As porous the defending has been (allowing six goals to Stoke and Sunderland this week), Chelsea is still in third place. They’re only five points out of first, and although games like Saturday’s at the Brittania have been too common, the Blues are still capable of performances like last weekend’s versus Southampton (or the match before against West Ham). Chelsea has problems, but they’re not Manchester United problems.

As for Stoke, Saturday’s result was the best of the Mark Hughes era, not only in terms of the result and the opposition but also the goal output. Coming into the day with 12 goals in 14 games, the Potters had only scored multiple goals three times this season. While this weekend’s goals weren’t exactly the prodcut of great buildup or execution, strikes by Stephen Ireland and Oussama Assaidi show there is some talent in the squad. If they can add a productive striker in the winter window, Hughes may be able to ease Stoke away from relegation worries.


5. Have Manchester City’s road woes returned?

It’s already being asked in the wake of City’s 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s on Saturday, but instead of spending all our time worrying about the Citizens, let’s give some love to Southampton. Losers of three straight going into the match, the Saints found a way to keep the league’s best attack to one goal, and while their own score was a kind of shot-in-the-dark from Dani Osvaldo, that’s why you pay the big bucks for a talent like his. Over the course of the second half, Southampton proved they deserved to share points with one of the league’s hottest teams.

[MORE: Southampton 1-1 Manchester City: Osvaldo’s wonder-goal pegs back Citizens (video)]

So why are people harping on City’s road form? It’s natural, given City is now 2-4-2 away from The Etihad, but it also ignores the fact that Saints are a good team (something everybody was more than willing to dwell on a month ago). This is a result that should satisfy any team in the league, so while it’s easy to fall back on City’s home-road narrative, it may be better to note: This week, the Sky Blues took four points from matches at West Brom and Southampton. Which is perfectly fine.

6. New coaches + new results = New relegation outlook

Since Tony Pulis was hired as manager at Crystal Palace, the Eagles have gone from one win to four, the formerly bottom-dwelling club 2-1-0 with their new boss on the sidelines (they won one with him in the stands). While few are going to fear the Eagles’ new talons, goals by Cameron Jerome and Maraoune Chamakh remind us that they have players who can pull them by other struggling sides, should those teams fail to improve. Saturday’s 2-0 win over visiting Cardiff was a perfect example.

[MORE: Crystal Palace 2-0 Cardiff City: Two on the trot for Palace (video)]

Now 19th with only one loss in five, Crystal Palace is just two points from 15th place, a status that highlights the collection of clubs struggling to pull themselves free of relegation doubts. Sunderland has sunk five points back at the bottom, West Ham is under-performing in 17th, while Cardiff and West Brom persist within reach of the drop. Even though Norwich, Hull, and Stoke are four points clear, nobody would be surprised to see them pulled back into a relegation battle, should a team like Crystal Palace suddenly find a way to win.

Fulham is another candidate to climb, now that they’ve replaced Martin Jol. With their 2-0 win Sunday, the Cottagers snared their first win of the Rene Meulensteen era, though we may want to wait another week before proclaiming Fulham a threat. The up-and-down nature of Aston Villa means there’s only much we can conclude from Sunday’s performance.

[MORE: Fulham 2-0 Aston Villa: Berbatov leads Whites to first win in eight (Video)]

The result, however, means Fulham were back in the win column for the first time since Oct. 21. Whether they’ve completely turned around or not, they’re making progress. How many other teams can say the same?

USMNT projected starting lineup vs Saudi Arabia

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The USMNT face Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain in their final warm-up game before the 2022 World Cup kicks off in November and there are plenty of question marks around their best starting lineup.

Especially at center back and up front.

[ MORE: Player ratings | What we learned | Reaction ]

Following the shocking defeat to Japan (where a 2-0 scoreline in Japan’s favor heavily flattered the USMNT), Gregg Berhalter has plenty to think about as he juggles his roster around ahead of this final audition.

Yes, this final camp before the World Cup has seen the USMNT without six key players (Weah, Steffen, A. Robinson, Carter-Vickers, Richards and Musah) but the most concerning thing is that nobody took the opportunity given to them against Japan. Will anybody step up against Saudi Arabia and cement their spot in the roster, or even the starting lineup?

Below is our projected lineup, plus analysis on what Berhalter should do for the final 90 minutes he has with the team before they kick off their World Cup campaign against Wales on Nov. 21 in Qatar.


USMNT projected starting lineup vs Saudi Arabia (4-3-3)

—– Horvath —–

— Scally — Zimmerman — Palmer-Brown — Dest —

—- Adams —- McKennie —-

—- Reyna —-

— Aaronson — Pepi — Pulisic —


What should Berhalter do?

It’s clear that Gregg Berhalter will make plenty of changes as eight players (six outfield, two goalkeepers) didn’t have any minutes against Japan last time out. That said, he needs key players on this team to find some rhythm playing together less than two months before the World Cup kicks off. This starting lineup should be a mixture between giving players a final chance to impress and letting star players alongside each other as they look to build momentum ahead of the World Cup.

Goalkeepers

Matt Turner proved he’s the undisputed No. 1 as he excelled against Japan (perhaps the only player to leave that game with any credit) and although Zack Steffen is better with the ball at his feet, Turner appears to have the upper-hand. That leaves Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson to battle it out for the final goalkeeping spot on the roster. Expect them both to get a chance in this game.

Defenders

In defense, Erik Palmer-Brown and Mark McKenzie should both get plenty of minutes to make their final claim for a spot on the roster but it may be a surprise to see them line up together. Perhaps they will have 45 minutes each alongside Zimmerman (a guaranteed starter at CB) to see who fares better as a duo?

At full back Joe Scally should get a run out at right back, while Sergino Dest will likely show off his versatility and play left back. The likes of Dest, and others, need the game time given they’re on the fringes of their starting lineup for their club teams. We now what DeAndre Yedlin can do and he is a leader on this team who is going to Qatar no matter what.

Midfielders

In midfield, I’d start Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie together again. They looked awful against Japan which was very surprising. This duo have to get some kind of partnership going and 60 minutes together here could see things click back into place for them. We know what Luca de la Torre and Kellyn Acosta offer, while Johnny Cardoso and Malik Tillman could both get another, longer, chance to push for a spot on the roster.

Forwards

Gio Reyna playing in a central role as a No. 10 should be something Berhalter prioritizes, while Christian Pulisic is fit and will start (according to Berhalter) so he should start on the left and Brenden Aaronson should start on the right. Getting Aaronson, Reyna and Pulisic used to playing together and interchanging is something that has to be done.

Up top, Berhalter has confirmed that Ricardo Pepi will get his chance to start and his physicality and speed should combine very well with the trio underneath him. Expect Josh Sargent to get a good chunk of minutes too, while Jesus Ferreira is the other option up top but maybe we could see Pulisic or Reyna playing up there as a false nine at some point of the game?

Ranking the 2022 World Cup kits

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With the 2022 World Cup fast approaching, plenty of World Cup kits are starting to be released and there are some intriguing looks.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA  

From Mexico’s snazzy away number to Germany going for a solid new look for their home kit and Puma rolling out a very specific and similar look for their national teams, just like they did for their club teams on their away kits, there is a lot to unpack here.

When November rolls around and the World Cup kicks off, which one of these jerseys will you be wearing with pride? And which one will you be wearing because it looks really cool?

Below is our rankings of the World Cup kits which have been released.


Ranking the 2022 World Cup kits

1. Mexico

This is a lovely away kit and will become a classic. Expect these beauties to fly off the shelves and be a jersey that neutrals love just as much as El Tri fans. The home kit is very decent too.


2. Portugal

Absolutely sensational work. The home kit is unique enough but still sticks to Portugal’s bold colors, while the away kit is a classic too.


3. Poland

Oh, wow. This is absolutely beautiful. The away shirt is majestic and the home shirt is classic but with some intriguing detail on the sleeves. Nicely done.


4. Japan

Well, this is another classic. Japan’s home kit is inspired by anime and the design is bold and recognizable. The away kit is fantastic too, especially the long-sleeved version.


5. France

The home and away kits are both lovely and the colors just work together. Well done.


6. Argentina

The home kit is classic. You can’t really mess up the blue and white stripes. Again, another lovely away kit. The purple is perfect and this just looks slick and silky. Much like Lionel Messi’s footwork.


7. Wales

These are beautiful. The right color red on the home shirt and just enough going on without overdoing it. The away shirt is also bold and the collar is lovely. Well done.


8. Brazil

Home kit looks like a classic and the away shirt is pretty decent too, but some people may not like the funky print on the shoulders.


9. England

The blue panels on the home kit are a bit meh but the away kit is a retro beauty.


10. Croatia

They kind of ruined a classic with the home kit. It’s still cool but only having the checkered design on part of the home shirt is weird. The away kit is majestic.


11. Saudi Arabia

Pretty nice designs here. They could have gone with the plain white for the home and plain green for the away, but the snazzy designs work. Especially for the away kit.


12. Netherlands

The home shirt looks kind of velvety? Not the usual bright orange, which will upset some. The blue away kit is sleek and the real winner here.


13. Senegal

This is the best of the Puma jerseys, as Senegal’s away kit is very distinctive and the green is lovely. This big panel on the middle of the kit is something we will get used to seeing a lot of during the World Cup.


14. Ghana

Again, another Puma away kit but this Ghana shirt has plenty of personality.


15. Germany

This is fine. Expect a bit better from Die Mannschaft and it feels like they should have an all white jersey for their home kit.


16. Qatar

The hosts have a simple, clean look. The away shirt has a nice golden pattern on it. Not bad.


17. USA

The home shirt has not been received well by fans, and some players, for being too boring. But the away shirt is pretty nice.


18. Morocco

A bit plain, but like the collar and sleeve trims and the circular pattern around the middle is very cool.


19. Spain

Eh, this could have been so much better. Spain’s home kit looks bland and the away kit is just too much with that pattern.


20. Australia

Not quite sure what to make of this. The same velvety style as the Netherlands home shirt on Australia’s home shirt. Just doesn’t work. The away kit is also just very bland.


21. Belgium

These home kits are just a little too plain and the flame pattern on the shoulder isn’t great and looks like a shirt I’d wear to my midweek bowling league. A missed opportunity. The same applies for the away kit. Belgium’s golden generation won’t look golden this World Cup.


22. Uruguay

Again, another Puma away kit which looks very similar. Uruguay’s iconic sky blue could have been used a lot better on this away shirt.


23. Serbia

Lovely gold in the design and makes the white away kit pop a little.


24. Switzerland

Just very bland. Not a lot going on and the panel in the middle is just a bit of an eyesore.

World Cup 2022 rankings: Who are the favorites?

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With less than two months to go until it all kicks off, it is time to update and release the latest 2022 World Cup rankings.

[ MORE: USMNT react to Japan defeat ]

There are a few clear favorites to win the trophy in Qatar but some of the giants have been handed tougher group stage draws than others which will obviously impact their chances of lifting the famous trophy.

Given that some of the favorites have also been struggling in recent Nations League games and friendlies with plenty of heavy defeats and strange results, there remains no real frontrunner to win the tournament. That is great news for neutrals.

[ MORE: Full schedule for World Cup ]

Keep an eye out on a few underdogs too, as there are some real opportunities which have opened up depending on what side of the bracket you’re on.

We will updates these rankings before and during the tournament in Qatar, which takes place from November 21 to December 18, 2022.

[ MORE: Betting odds for 2022 World Cup ]

Let us know what you think of the rankings below.


Schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
Group stage game kick off times: 5am, 8am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
Location: Qatar
TV channel in EnglishFox
TV channel in Spanish: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock


World Cup Rankings – September 26, 2022

32. Tunisia – Down 1
31. Qatar – Down 4
30. Australia – Up 2
29. Ghana – Even
28. Cameroon – Down 3


27. Saudi Arabia – Up 1
26. Costa Rica – Up 4
25. Wales – Down 5
24. Iran – Even
23. Ecuador – Down 5


22. Morocco – Even
21. Canada – Up 2
20. USA – Down 4
19. Japan – Up 7
18. Poland – Up 3


17. Mexico – Up 2
16. South Korea – Down 1
15. Uruguay – Down 5
14. Serbia – Up 3
13. Senegal – Down 1


12. Switzerland – Up 1
11. Croatia – Up 3
10. Denmark – Up 1
9. England – Down 3
8. Germany – Down 3
7. Spain – Even


6. Netherlands – Up 3
5. Portugal – Up 3
4. France – Even
3. Belgium – Down 1
2. Argentina – Up 1
1. Brazil – Even


UEFA Nations League: Schedule, how to watch, stream, TV, standings

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UEFA Nations League champions France will not go back-to-back, and Portugal is behind Spain in its bid to return to the throne room, highlighting the odds that a new Nations League winner will be crowned at the end of third edition of the tournament.

England and Wales are also coming to terms with the concept of relegation to UEFA Nations League B after underwhelming campaigns. Hungary look set to reach the semifinal round, which is a huge surprise as they faced Germany, England and Italy in A3.

France lost to Denmark and just remained in League A as Austria were relegated, with Croatia pipping the Danes to a place in the semifinal round.

[ MORE: European Nations League hub — Scores, stats ]

Group A4 is the opposite sort of fight, Belgium and the Netherlands have both played very well but the Dutch triumphed down the stretch (thanks to a 1-0 win as Virgil van Dijk scored the lone goal in Amsterdam) to advance to the semifinal round.

UEFA Nations Leagues B, C, and D also have drama built into the final days as Ukraine and Scotland are jockeying for promotion in B1; Russia’s punishment has left B2 promotion open to Israel, Iceland, and Albania. B4 sees Erling Haaland, Martin Odegaard, and Norway fighting to join League A for the next cycle.

There’s also drama as Kazakhstan and Georgia currently lead their League C groups, with Latvia and Estonia in League D’s best spots.


UEFA Nations League live: How to watch, stream links

When: June 1, 2022 – March 26, 2024
How to watch: Fox Sports Live, Fubo TV


UEFA Nations League A, Group 1

Croatia– 4-1-1, 13 pts [ADVANCED]
Denmark — 4-0-2, 12 pts
France — 1-2-3, 5 pts
Austria — 1-1-4, 4 pts [RELEGATED]

Next fixtures

Thursday
France 2-0 Austria
Croatia 2-1 Denmark

Sunday
Denmark 2-0 France
Austria 1-3 Croatia

UEFA Nations League A, Group 2

Portugal — 3-1-1, 10 pts
Spain — 2-2-0, 8 pts
Switzerland — 2-0-3, 6 pts
Czech Republic — 1-1-3, 4 pts

Next fixtures

Saturday
Czech Republic 0-4 Portugal
Spain 1-2 Switzerland

Tuesday
Portugal vs Spain
Switzerland vs Czech Republic

UEFA Nations League A, Group 3

Italy — 3-2-1, 11 pts
Hungary — 3-1-2, 10 pts
Germany — 1-4-1, 7 pts
England — 0-3-3, 3 pts [RELEGATED]

Next fixtures

Friday
Italy 1-0 England
Germany 0-1 Hungary

Monday
England 3-3 Germany
Hungary 0-2 Italy

UEFA Nations League A, Group 4

Netherlands — 5-1-0, 16 pts [ADVANCED]
Belgium — 3-1-2, 10 pts
Poland — 2-1-3, 7 pts
Wales — 0-1-5, 1 pt [RELEGATED]

Next fixtures

Thursday
Poland 0-2 Netherlands
Belgium 2-1 Wales

Sunday
Netherlands 1-0 Belgium
Wales 0-1 Poland