Tuesday’s Major League Soccer rumor mills erupted, spewing enough fire to burn down the rest of the factory that churns out all the rumor mills. From the resulting flotsam, a Seattle Times beat man was able to collect the particulates of a story, though with the team refused to treat it as anything other than rumor.
That didn’t stop Sounders fans from indulging their fantasies. Didier Drogba may be coming to Seattle, which means people are getting excited on the Internet.
And who can blame them. Given the certainty behind some of the talk (see the tweets linked in the Times’ story), this looks like either a very strong rumor or an incredibly huge whiff. If you’re inclined toward one camp or the other, just remember last year. Remember the rumors that had Kaká, Frank Lampard, and Diego Forlán arriving on these shores. Major League Soccer’s definitely in the midst of a good run, having landed players like Jermain Defoe, Clint Dempsey, and Michael Bradley, but as one of the most recognizable soccer players in the world, Drogba is more Kaká than Defoe.
There’s also the nature of the tweets Joshua Mayers (as good as they come on MLS beats) links in his post. One person is in media with beIN Sports, but he’s also speaking like a regular fan. It can often be confusing, but when media isn’t posting “breaking,” “can confirm,” or “this is not a joke” with their tweet, they should be allowed to speculate like normal people. Ultimately, it’s only Twitter, and although people do break stories on that platform, most of the time they’re just engaging the conversation.
The other tweet is less ambiguous, but it’s not exactly Woodward talking to Deep Throat. It is essentially saying ‘I know a guy who knows a guy who says Drogba’s going to Seattle.’ Another guy who knows a guy:
[hulu id=0–fzf6d6n-awshwfblxxa width=512]
But you know what? Sometimes a guy who knows a guy is right. So for the sake of this post (Not Gonna Lie®), I’m going to fully embrace it. I’m going to suspend disbelief, accept this as a legitimate rumor, and consider what a world with a viable Drogba-to-MLS rumor would look like.
Let’s go Full Internet on this one (insert: whimpering puppy riding an orca into Isengaard dot gif). And when you go Full Internet, you make a list:
1. We’re beyond scoffing at this stuff, especially as it concerns Seattle
We live in a post-Dempsey utopia. What 1980s were to Quaaludes and stock fraud the 2010s will be to MLS spending with The Price Is Right’s oversized checks. Any day now, Don Garber will drag himself out of country club on his face before playing giant slalom with his Lamborghini. Keep it together, Commish.
This era of relative largesse means a whole new level of player is within MLS’s reach. It’s not just glamour sites like New York that can acquire an Henry. In MLS’s Quaaludes-driven binge, spenders like Seattle, Toronto, and Portland will be able to lure the Drogba-esque talents of the world. And when New York and Miami come in? David Justice will not pay for his own soda!
This is MLS’s new world order. You remember Breaking Madden? Well, this is MLS’s latest attempt to Break Football Manager. (And just like MLS, it’s a lot more modest.)
2. Can you imagine how people will react if Seattle DOES get him?
Prediction: Not well. Seattle already is still dealing with the backlash of their quick rise to prominence, with every retread national media story about Soccer Mecca met with eye rolls from the rest of MLS’s collective fan base. We get it, they scream every time an editor assigns 1500 to the annual ‘This Is Why Seattle Rules’ piece. After five years, a lot of fans are tired it. (But please, still read my annual Seattle piece.)
Here’s the problem, for those growing tired of Seattle: It’s not going away. In fact, if you’re annoyed by the Sounders getting so much love, it’s probably going to get worse. General manager/owner Adrian Hanauer is ambitious. The team is going to go after people. And when they snare somebody like Dempsey or Drogba, the national outlets are going to cover them. It’s not just that it’s a story. It’s a story people seem to want to hear. Again and again and again …
Just imagine how much time they’ll get if they ever made an MLS Cup. Or win it? I’m telling you, come to grips with it now. The Seattle Sounder story is not going anywhere soon. So let’s all lotus position and ohhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
3. Obafemi Martins would probably be gone
Obafemi Martins was one of the highest paid players in Major League Soccer last year, and he didn’t play like it.
That’s okay. It took Tim Cahill a little while to come around, too, but Tim Cahill didn’t spend his first offseason dropping hints he wanted to move back to Europe. With a résumé detailing a vagabond’s past, Martins has yet to quell doubts in Seattle.
If Drogba’s coming in, Martins will almost certainly be gone. Dempsey and Osvaldo Alonso occupy the team’s other two Designated Player spots, and one of those contacts is unmovable. If Drogba is coming in, expect Seattle would almost have to allow Martins to kind another home.
Drogba wasn’t exactly a pillar of health during his last days with Chelsea. Since then, at stops in China and Turkey, his workload has decreased, but during last year’s African Cup of Nations, we saw what happened when the Ivorian was faced with a series of important games. His time had to be closely monitored, and he didn’t have an effective tournament (scoring once as Les Elephants were eliminated in the quarterfinals).
Drogba turns 36 in March, and while he still has the quality to succeed when playing, he doesn’t have the ability to avoid being worn down. Playing on CenturyLink’s turf would only compound that, as will the demanding nature of MLS’s fall schedule.
Perhaps Sigi Schmid and his staff would manage Drogba as effectively as Roberto Di Matteo did in Chelsea’s 2012 run to the Champions League title. Then again, Drogba was two years younger.
5. And if there’s one team that should avoid another mid-season shakeup, it’s Seattle
Slotting in a striker mid-year isn’t as traumatic as bringing in a new midfield focal point, but if you’re Seattle, why would you even entertaining the idea of repeating 2013? Granted, a talent like Drogba’s can justify a lot of risk, but less than one year after the Dempsey shakeup was seen as a major factor in Seattle’s 2013 fade, they might bring in another big personality? Somebody who provides a defining presence on the field and off?
Special talents require special consideration. But still.
6. Didier Drogba is going to HATE Major League Soccer officials.
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.
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.
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 eight 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.
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 20 of Man City’s 21 games, scoring 25 goals.
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.
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.
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.
Remember: you can watch all 380 Premier League games across NBC, USA Network, NBCSports.com and Peacock. We’ve got you covered.
Will Manchester City win yet another Premier League title? Can Chelsea and Liverpool push them all the way? How will Manchester United’s new-look side fare? What about Tottenham and Arsenal? How will the new boys get on? Who will be the surprise package?
Those questions will be answered from August 2022 to May 2023, with the full list of Premier League fixtures.
While below are the answers to all of the questions you have around the Premier League fixtures and everything else you need to know for the upcoming season, with full details on the Premier League TV schedule across the NBC family of channels and more.
The Premier League fixtures for the 2022-23 season were announced on Thursday June 16, 2022 at 4am ET. Below is the full schedule, as you can watch all 380 games across our NBC platforms.
The Premier League fixture computer decides who plays who and when, as teams located close to one another are usually playing at home on opposite weekends to help with policing, crowd control and transport congestion in those areas.
When will the Premier League take a break for the 2022 World Cup?
When will the 2022-23 Premier League season finish?
The final day of the season will be on Sunday, May 28, 2023.
Which teams will compete in the 2022-23 Premier League?
These are the 20 teams which will compete in the Premier League for the upcoming season:
Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brentford, Brighton and Hove Albion, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers
9am: Leeds v Man Utd – USA Network – WATCH LIVE
11:30am: Man City v Aston Villa – USA Network – WATCH LIVE
Monday 13 February
3pm: Liverpool v Everton – USA Network – WATCH LIVE
Wednesday 15 February
2:30pm: Arsenal vs Manchester City (rearranged)
Saturday 18 February
7:30am: Aston Villa v Arsenal
Brentford v Crystal Palace
Brighton v Fulham
Chelsea v Southampton
Everton v Leeds
Nottingham Forest v Man City
Wolves v AFC Bournemouth
12:30pm: Newcastle v Liverpool
Sunday 19 February
9am: Man Utd v Leicester
11:30am: Spurs v West Ham
Friday 24 February
3pm: Fulham v Wolves
Saturday 25 February
7:30am: Newcastle v Brighton
Everton v Aston Villa
Leeds v Southampton
Leicester v Arsenal
West Ham v Nottingham Forest
12:30pm: AFC Bournemouth v Man City *subject to EFL Cup Final
2:45pm: Crystal Palace v Liverpool ^If Liverpool are not in EFL fifth round and if AFC Bournemouth or Man City progress to EFL Cup final, this match will move to 17:30 and remain on Sky Sports
Sunday 26 February
8:30am: Man Utd v Brentford* Due to UEFA Europa League playoff round
8:30am: Spurs v Chelsea
Saturday 4 March
Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Brentford v Fulham
Brighton v West Ham
Chelsea v Leeds
Liverpool v Man Utd
Man City v Newcastle
Nottingham Forest v Everton
Southampton v Leicester
Wolves v Spurs
Saturday 11 March
AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool
Crystal Palace v Man City
Everton v Brentford
Fulham v Arsenal
Leeds v Brighton
Leicester v Chelsea
Man Utd v Southampton
Newcastle v Wolves
Spurs v Nottingham Forest
West Ham v Aston Villa
Saturday 18 March
Arsenal v Crystal Palace
Aston Villa v AFC Bournemouth
Brentford v Leicester
Brighton v Man Utd
Chelsea v Everton
Liverpool v Fulham
Man City v West Ham
Nottingham Forest v Newcastle
Southampton v Spurs
Wolves v Leeds
Saturday 1 April
AFC Bournemouth v Fulham
Arsenal v Leeds
Brighton v Brentford
Chelsea v Aston Villa
Crystal Palace v Leicester
Everton v Spurs
Man City v Liverpool
Newcastle v Man Utd
Nottingham Forest v Wolves
West Ham v Southampton
Saturday 8 April
Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest
Brentford v Newcastle
Fulham v West Ham
Leeds v Crystal Palace
Leicester v AFC Bournemouth
Liverpool v Arsenal
Man Utd v Everton
Southampton v Man City
Spurs v Brighton
Wolves v Chelsea
Saturday 15 April
Aston Villa v Newcastle
Chelsea v Brighton
Everton v Fulham
Leeds v Liverpool
Man City v Leicester
Nottingham Forest v Man Utd
Southampton v Crystal Palace
Spurs v AFC Bournemouth
West Ham v Arsenal
Wolves v Brentford
Saturday 22 April
AFC Bournemouth v West Ham
Arsenal v Southampton
Brentford v Aston Villa
Brighton v Man City
Crystal Palace v Everton
Fulham v Leeds
Leicester v Wolves
Liverpool v Nottingham Forest
Man Utd v Chelsea
Newcastle v Spurs
Tuesday 25 April
19:45 Everton v Newcastle
19:45 Leeds v Leicester
19:45 Nottingham Forest v Brighton
19:45 Spurs v Man Utd
19:45 West Ham v Liverpool
19:45 Wolves v Crystal Palace
20:00 Aston Villa v Fulham
Wednesday 26 April
19:45 Chelsea v Brentford
19:45 Southampton v AFC Bournemouth
20:00 Man City v Arsenal
Saturday 29 April
AFC Bournemouth v Leeds
Arsenal v Chelsea
Brentford v Nottingham Forest
Brighton v Wolves
Crystal Palace v West Ham
Fulham v Man City
Leicester v Everton
Liverpool v Spurs
Man Utd v Aston Villa
Newcastle v Southampton
Saturday 6 May
AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea
Brighton v Everton
Fulham v Leicester
Liverpool v Brentford
Man City v Leeds
Newcastle v Arsenal
Nottingham Forest v Southampton
Spurs v Crystal Palace
West Ham v Man Utd
Wolves v Aston Villa
Saturday 13 May
Arsenal v Brighton
Aston Villa v Spurs
Brentford v West Ham
Chelsea v Nottingham Forest
Crystal Palace v AFC Bournemouth
Everton v Man City
Leeds v Newcastle
Leicester v Liverpool
Man Utd v Wolves
Southampton v Fulham
Saturday 20 May
AFC Bournemouth v Man Utd
Brighton v Southampton
Fulham v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Man City v Chelsea
Newcastle v Leicester
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal
Spurs v Brentford
West Ham v Leeds
Wolves v Everton
Sunday 28 May
16:00 Arsenal v Wolves
16:00 Aston Villa v Brighton
16:00 Brentford v Man City
16:00 Chelsea v Newcastle
16:00 Crystal Palace v Nottingham Forest
16:00 Everton v AFC Bournemouth
16:00 Leeds v Spurs
16:00 Leicester v West Ham
16:00 Man Utd v Fulham
16:00 Southampton v Liverpool