Quick Six: Red Devils regress, Sunderland routs rivals, and the other headlines from the Premier League’s 24th round

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1. No “BIG THREE” Solution For Manchester United

When former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson claimed Charlie Adam’s corner kicks were worth £10 million, he was doing more than driving up the price of the then-Blackpool midfielder. Weighing in on the Liverpool target, Ferguson was also implicitly commenting on the limits of the Scottish international’s game. After all, how much time do we spend talking about Andrea Pirlo’s set piece delivery given everything else he can do. Pirlo, Adams is not.

On Saturday, however, Manchester United’s much-criticized midfield made the 28-year-old Stoke City distributor look like a world-class talent. With scores in the 38th and 52nd minutes, Adam’s brace book gave the Potters a historic win over Manchester United. It was the first time Stoke had beaten the Red Devils since joining the Premier League in 2008.

With all due respect to the Potters (who were fully worth their three points on Saturday), the big story here continues to be David Moyes, who showed no sign of adaptability by tossing Juan Mata wide right in a 4-4-2. For a team that has suffered because of a lack of final third creativity, it was a terrible choice, one that sets up the club’s record transfer buy as a potential waste of money. Rather than adapt to the new talent he’s bought, the first-year boss is forcing that talent into an underachieving approach.

We talked about that potential problem on Tuesday. Now, having seen how Moyes plans to use Mata when Van Persie and Wayne Rooney are available, United fans have another cause of concern. If their club ever acquires the talent to address the holes Ferguson left behind, do they have the right manager to make it work? Everything we’ve seen in 2013-14 says “No.”

2. Derby dominance fuels Sunderland’s continued climb

Given how Sunderland has been playing, 14th place actually understates their quality. Remember all that early season talk about whether they were too far gone? Now nobody thinks the Black Cats will end up in the Championship., the club having climbed out of the hole Gus Poyet inherited from Paolo Di Canio.

Instead, the story coming out of Saturday’s Tyne-Wear Derby is the Cats’ continued dominance for their northeast rival. With goals from Fabio Borini, Adam Johnson, and Jack Colback, Sunderland recorded their third straight win over the Magpies, a streak that’s transcended last season’s relegation worries, this season’s traumatic start, and generally sitting lower than Newcastle in the Premier League table since the Magpies’ promotion. After Saturday’s romp, Sunderland’s unbeaten in five against the fiercest rivals.

That was the perspective after Saturday’s win – one of dominance. The larger context casts Saturday’s win as the high point in the league’s most remarkable turnaround. This team wasn’t merely off to a poor start. They bad; like, people talking about how few points they’ll get bad.

Now? They’re one of the bottom half’s safest bets for survival. Credit of Johnson. Credit to Borini. But most of all, credit to Gus Poyet. His first Premier League job is turning into a dramatic success, at least early on.

3. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s two delivers three for Arsenal

Can we discuss this like mature adults  – people who know Manchester City plays tomorrow? That’s the deal. If not, we can’t talk about Arsenal moving into first after Sunday’s win over Crystal Palace. Call it a pet peeve, but if we’re going to treat them like the Premier League’s top team before the round’s over, I’m going to eject now.

Nobody’s going to do that? (Looks around the internet.) Well, I’ll be. This is amazing. Is the discourse finally evolving? Have we really stopped overreacting to “first place” on Saturday when the team’s likely to slide by Monday?

Probably not. With so much anticipation of tomorrow’s top-of-the-table tussle, people are speeding through Sunday’s two results to start the hype of Monday’s battle. It’s a special occasion. Thanks to tomorrow’s big game, we’re being spared all the unreasonable “woo hoo” that normally accompanies a team going top.

Arsenal does deserve a few woo hoos, though. We’ve seen how much trouble teams have had breaking down Tony Pulis’s Crystal Palace. We saw it in the first half on Sunday. Yet in the second, thanks in large part to the long-awaited return on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Gunners were able to make it reasonably comfortable for themselves. Outshooting the Eagles 6-2 (shots on target) while controlling 73 percent of the ball, Arsenal went on to a 2-0 victory.

They may not end the round in first, but consider what Arsenal’s already accomplished. Nobody’s talking about whether they can stick around. The debate as to whether they’re real title contenders faded long ago. With solid (if unspectacular) performances like these, Arsène Wenger’s team has silenced the doubters, and while that doesn’t mean a consensus of experts sees the Gunners claiming the title, it does mean lingering concerns about Arsenal’s quality aren’t lingering any more.

4. Liverpool, Tottenham slips see Everton reclaim lost ground

Aston Villa left Everton empty handed, yet both teams had reason to be content after Saturday’s match at Goodison Park. The Villans continued a good run of form that began a week ago at Anfield, and while they’ve only claimed four points over the span, that haul has kept Paul Lambert’s team five points above the drop. The club seems to have stabilized in 10th place, heights it hasn’t enjoyed since the departure of Martin O’Neill.

For Everton, responding with two late goals showed the type of resilience they’ll need to stay in the race for fourth. Coming off a demoralizing loss to Liverpool, the Toffees needed to get back into the win column, particularly given the opposition – a mid-table team visiting Goodison Park. That they were able to do so without the injured Romelu Lukaku gives them hope they’ll be able to survive the big Belgian’s absence.

It was part of a near-perfect round for the Toffees, who saw the effects of their mid-week loss nearly wiped off the books by Liverpool and Tottenham’s results. Thanks to Kolo Touré, Liverpool gifted West Brom a second half equalizer in the Reds’ 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns. On Saturday, Tottenham were unable to claim full points from Hull, also held to a 1-1 result in their visit to the KC Stadium.

On the week, Everton only lost on one to Liverpool – not a terrible result considering they had to go to Anfield. They also jumped a spot in the standings thanks to Tottenham’s one-point week.

The Merseyside Derby make have been an embarrassing setback, but five days later, that effects of that setback have almost dried up.

5. Shake up no solution for Fulham

Fulham made four changes for yesterday’s match against Southampton. They were still terrible. Though they kept up with the Saints for most of the match, they lost 3-0 at home. Clint Dempsey, Pajtim Kasami, and Alexander Kacaniklic may have been dropped from the starting XI, but they didn’t take Fulham’s terrible defense with them.

And that’s the problem. Fulham may have undergone a complete makeover last week, welcoming Lewis Holtby, William Kvist, and Kostas Mitroglou (who didn’t play this weekend), but they’ve done little to address a defense that’s allowed 15 goals in its last six games. Even with all their changes, René Meulensteen somehow justified starting Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell in the middle – a relegation-worthy midfield that can’t grit and gut their way out of the bottom three (West Ham found this out with Parker three years ago).

Whether Parker and Sidwell keep playing or not, something bigger has to change at Fulham. The team’s in a free fall that’s landed them at the bottom of the table, and although they’ve already let one manager go, desperate times call for desperate measures. This team has only gotten worse since Martin Jol left, and with four straight multi-goal losses in the Premier League, it might be team to see if Alan Curbishley’s ready to return to the sidelines. Maybe he can organize a defense.

6. Relegation picture as murky as ever

Sunderland’s climb from 20th to 14th has been fueled not only by their amazing turnaround but by the traffic jam that continues to clog the table’s bottom half. From Stoke in 11th to Cardiff in 19th, only four points separate the nine teams currently in the middle of the relegation battle. One good, Black Cats-esque run could see any of them join Aston Villa above the muck. Fall on hard times, and a team starts to look like Fulham.

Stoke did the most for themselves this weekend. Not only did they move four clear of 18th but they claimed points their relegation rivals are unlikely to duplicate. Manchester United may be struggling, but they’re still capable of claiming three against most of the bottom half. Against Stoke, however, they left empty handed.

West Ham and Cariff also scored big wins, with the Hammers’ 2-0 victory over Swansea giving manager Sam Allardyce another reprieve. They may still but in the bottom three, but with Andy Carroll setting up two goals, there’s hope the return of their only real striker can carry them out of the drop. Provided stops collecting stupid red cards.

Man City get date for UEFA ban verdict

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Manchester City will get the verdict on Monday in its appeal against a two-year ban from UEFA competitions.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Friday set the date to publish the ruling from its panel of three judges.

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The urgent verdict from a hearing held on June 8-10 by video link will likely have few details of the judges’ reasons and evidence heard. A full written verdict typically takes months to prepare.

UEFA punished Man City in February for “serious breaches” of rules monitoring club finances and failing to cooperate with investigators.

The allegations included that City, owned by Abu Dhabi’s royal family, misled UEFA over several years to meet financial integrity rules required to enter the Champions League.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

UEFA-appointed experts opened their investigation after leaked club emails and documents were published by German magazine Der Spiegel in November 2018. They were obtained by a hacker from Portugal.

UEFA had previously signed off on City’s submitted accounts since 2014. That year, UEFA fined City 20 million euros ($22.6 million) of its Champions League prize money in a first wave of assessments of European clubs’ finances.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Premier League odds, Prince-Wright’s picks: Matchweek 35

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EPL betting odds for the Premier League have been released but we know the bookies don’t always get it right.

Here are the latest Prince-Wright’s Premier League score predictions as the Premier League return has the EPL betting odds all over the place.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule

The Premier League score predictions below encompass the 10 games of Matchweek 35. Here we go.

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.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

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.


PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS

BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Brighton 1-3 Man City – (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Man United 4-2 Southampton – (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Liverpool 3-1 Burnley – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM


DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Wolves 1-1 Everton – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Sheffield United 1-2 Chelsea – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM

Tottenham 1-2 Arsenal – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Norwich 1-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]


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

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

Watford 2-1 Newcastle – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, Gold/Peacock) – [STREAM]

Aston Villa 2-1 Crystal Palace – (Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]


EPL ODDS – Via DraftKings

Saturday, July 11: (-124) Watford v. Newcastle (+360), Tie: +255
Saturday, July 11: (+275) Norwich v. West Ham (-104), Tie: +265
Saturday, July 11: (-400) Liverpool v. Burnley (+1050), Tie: +525
Saturday, July 11: (+500) Sheffield United v. Chelsea (-167), Tie: +290
Saturday, July 11: (+900) Brighton v. Man City (-345), Tie: +475
Sunday, July 12: (+102) Wolves v. Everton (+310), Tie: +225
Sunday, July 12: (+130) Aston Villa v. Crystal Palace (+220), Tie: +230
Sunday, July 12: (+160) Tottenham v. Arsenal (+170), Tie: +240
Sunday, July 12: (+410) Bournemouth v. Leicester (-148), Tie: +285
Monday, July 13: (-375) Man United v. Southampton (+1050), Tie: +480

Top four, relegation battle: What’s the situation?

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The top four and relegation battle is absolutely bonkers as we head into the final four matchweeks of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

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So many teams are involved in the Champions League battle, the Europa League push and the relegation scrap.

With four games to go for each team in the Premier League, there are some massive games set up for the final weeks of the season.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Let’s take a look at the situation up and down the table.


Top four, Europa League race

Man City pretty much have second place wrapped up but with a decision on their appeal on a two-year ban from UEFA expected imminently, we will soon find out if they will be in the Champions League next season, or if fifth place in the Premier League will become a Champions League spot.

Focusing on third and fourth, Chelsea are in the driving seat but Man United are just two points behind in fifth and Leicester are sandwiched in-between them in fourth. The Foxes have looked disjoined since the restart, and for many months, while Man United are surging and have all the momentum in the top four. If fifth place does become a Champions League spot, Wolves, Sheffield United, Arsenal and Tottenham seem like outside bets to finish above one of Man United, Leicester and Chelsea to finish fifth. At this point, I think Man United will finish third, Chelsea fourth and Leicester fifth. It will all come down to Leicester v. Man United on the final day of the season.

When it comes to the Europa League, if Man City are banned from Europe then eighth place could be a Europa League spot along with sixth and seventh. That is because Man City have already won the League Cup and the four FA Cup semifinalists (Arsenal, Man City, Man United and Chelsea) are likely to qualify for Europe through their league position. Everton and Southampton are unlikely to reach eighth place, but could, and wouldn’t it be something if Burnley could keep their run going? They face Liverpool, Wolves, Norwich and Brighton.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Liverpool 34 30 2 2 75 26 49 17-0-0 13-2-2 92
 Manchester City 34 22 3 9 86 34 52 13-2-2 9-1-7 69
 Chelsea 34 18 6 10 63 46 17 9-3-5 9-3-5 60
 Leicester City 34 17 8 9 64 32 32 10-4-3 7-4-6 59
 Manchester United 34 16 10 8 59 33 26 10-5-2 6-5-6 58
 Wolves 34 13 13 8 45 37 8 6-7-4 7-6-4 52
 Sheffield United 34 13 12 9 35 33 2 9-3-5 4-9-4 51
 Arsenal 34 12 14 8 50 42 8 8-6-3 4-8-5 50
 Tottenham Hotspur 34 13 10 11 52 44 8 10-3-4 3-7-7 49
 Burnley 34 14 7 13 38 46 -8 8-3-6 6-4-7 49
 Everton 34 12 9 13 41 49 -8 8-6-3 4-3-10 45
 Southampton 34 13 5 16 43 56 -13 5-2-10 8-3-6 44

Relegation battle

So, things are becoming a little clearer at the bottom as the bottom three have yet to win since the restart and both West Ham and Watford have picked up big wins in recent weeks. Brighton are almost safe from relegation after an impressive start to the restart, while Norwich are all but down after five defeats on the trot since the action resumed.

Now it’s all about Bournemouth or Aston Villa and if they can somehow string together two or three wins in their final four games of the season. Both teams have tough remaining schedules with Bournemouth facing Leicester, Man City, Southampton and Everton. Aston Villa face Crystal Palace, Everton, Arsenal and West Ham and Villa will hope they still have a chance of staying up ahead of that last game at West Ham.

 Brighton & Hove Albion 34 8 12 14 36 47 -11 5-6-6 3-6-8 36
 West Ham United 34 8 7 19 40 59 -19 5-3-9 3-4-10 31
 Watford 34 7 10 17 31 53 -22 5-6-6 2-4-11 31

 Bournemouth 34 7 7 20 32 59 -27 4-6-7 3-1-13 28
 Aston Villa 34 7 6 21 36 65 -29 5-3-9 2-3-12 27
 Norwich City 34 5 6 23 26 63 -37 4-3-10 1-3-13 21

Pulisic explains his superb form during ‘Project Restart’

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In an interview with Sky Sports, Christian Pulisic has explained the reason behind his superb form during ‘Project Restart’ as the USMNT winger has been one of the best players in the Premier League since action returned in June.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – Analysis ]

Pulisic, 21, has scored three goals, won two penalty kicks and has consistently been Man of the Match for Chelsea as Frank Lampard’s side push for a top four finish and the FA Cup.

Speaking to our partners in the UK Sky Sports, Pulisic was asked what he did during the Premier League’s suspension to bring out his best form. Turns out his trip back home to Hershey, Pennsylvania was very, very helpful.

“I had that first game on my mind. I was really hungry the whole time to get back and get back on the field. I was training hard and I’m really happy now to be able to make an impact,” Pulisic said. “I was able to get some work in back in the States, as well, and be able to continue to work on my game but also rehabbing and making sure I was 100 per cent fit and ready to go. So during a really tough time for a lot of people, that was the one positive thing that I could do for myself.”

The full interview is definitely worth your time as it is chocked full of stats, graphics and more from Pulisic about his stunning form since the Premier League returned.

Asked once again about the comparisons between himself and Chelsea legend Eden Hazard, Pulisic brushed them aside and stated he will not change the way he plays.

“I’m really happy I can do that as of recent and my style is always going to continue to be that very attacking-minded and creative kind of player. I’m happy I can help the team any way I can,” Pulisic added. “I want to be a part of this team. Every day in training I work hard because I want to start and I want to be on the field and I want to create goals and I want to score goals. That’s where I want to be. I want to continue to make a big impact every week and every game.”

Alongside Bruno Fernandes from Manchester United, Pulisic has been the main man in the Premier League throughout June and July.

USMNT fans everywhere are salivating as they watch the Pennsylvanian Messi rip it up for Chelsea on a weekly basis. Long may that continue.