Five things we learned in the Premier League today

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Today proved telling in the Premier League.

Manchester United looked to have broken through against a stubborn Fulham side, only to see it all slip away again at the end.

Meanwhile, one frustrating moment undid Everton at White Hart Lane, but both sides impressed as they search for an outside shot at the top four.

So what did we learn from today’s action? Plenty.

Manchester United gave their critics even more fodder, Tim Sherwood continues to prove his doubters wrong, and Fulham grabbed Premier League safety by the shoestring, but they still have plenty to do as they attempt the Mt. Everest-like climb out of the basement.

1) Manchester United is simply not good enough for the Champions League.

To put it simply, there are too many great teams in the Premier League this season, and Manchester United isn’t one of them. Aging players like Nemanja Vidic and Darren Fletcher wouldn’t start for Arsenal, Chelsea, or Manchester City, let alone captain them.

Fletcher was to blame on Fulham’s first goal, with his horrible tracking of Steve Sidwell, despite looking back at the midfielder three times before his run.  Look at the previous Fulham results to the other top sides: Arsenal won collectively 5-1 over their two fixtures with Fulham.  Liverpool beat them 4-0. Manchester City put up four on this defense. Hell, even Hull City packed it on with six.

This Manchester United side is good, but not great, and the Champions League is for great teams. For the first time in Premier League history, Manchester United will not make the top 4. They’re currently nine points back, and it appears their challenge for Europe’s top competition may be too far out of reach.

2) Fulham are still in deep doo-doo, but they’re not done yet

Fulham showed a ton of heart today at Old Trafford, remaining composed even four minutes deep into extra time.  It’s the first time anyone’s really been able to say that all season. Things still look incredibly bleak for Rene Meulensteen’s bunch who sit four points from safety, but it’s not over just yet.

Being harsh on them today, they probably needed three points to ward off many of the worrywarts, and even Meulensteen may rue the two points dropped today come May. But the performance showed that this team still has heart, and still has fight – something that’s been impossible to say this year before today.

The visitors made EIGHTY-FOUR clearances today at Old Trafford and the Premier League’s most porous defense showed their new look may be a vast improvement.  Add Kostas Mitroglou on the other end in an attack that already boasts the classy addition of Lewis Holtby, and they could possibly make a run.

But first, they have to deal with Liverpool and Chelsea in the next three weeks. Yikes.

3) Tim Sherwood is the real deal

What Tim Sherwood has done at Tottenham Hotspur cannot be understated.  A relative unknown to anyone outside White Hart Lane at the time of his appointment, he has taken a mentally broken side and revitalized them.

There’s a big difference between the temporary boost a team often sees at the time of a managerial switch and what Sherwood is accomplishing at Spurs.  Andre Villas Boas benefited greatly from Daniel Levy’s brilliant summer transfer window, but the Portugese manager never could quite make things fit with the vast quantity of new players.

Sherwood, in under two months, has managed to do what Villas Boas could not.  He’s revitalized Emmanuel Adebayor, slotted Roberto Soldado into a more fitting role (which, with his form this year, has sometimes been on the bench), and has found the key to unlocking Christian Eriksen’s Premier League success.

While Adebayor’s revival will undoubtedly get the headlines, and deservedly so, flying under the radar is Sherwood’s ability to find the proper use of Eriksen.  A lost child in a supermarket under Villas Boas, he’s been freed of his touchline shackles and allowed to roam the pitch more freely under Sherwood and the results have been bright.

Expect more victories under Sherwood, and while it would seem the top four may elude them once again if Liverpool continue on this torrid run, but the future is bright.

4) Everton are a quality side, but…

Today Everton produced enough to challenge a Tottenham Hotspur side, and Roberto Martinez’s tactics relied on pressure and hard work to earn the ball and create chances.

source: Getty Images
Steven Naismith was no Romelu Lukaku up front today for Everton as they fell 1-0 to Tottenham despite playing well enough to earn a point.

Unfortunately, they were undone by one key miss: Romelu Lukaku.  Without a true striker, especially their loanee who’s been stellar up front this year, Everton were forced to start Steven Naismith at the top of their attack, and they paid the price.  Naismith was wasteful, and often undid much of his own hard work with a lack of finishing.

The forward finished without a shot technically, but he botched a few chances, and in the end finished with 10 of his 16 completed passes headed backwards.

Martinez has proved a fantastic hire in replace of David Moyes, and the addition of Lacina Traore will surely help Everton make it through however long Lukaku is out with little damage, but a loss today to a team so close in the table hurts dearly.

Long story short: Everton will be fine, and are easily a top-7 side, but any more wasteful performances and it doesn’t matter who their manager is or how great his plans are fit to beating the opponent.

5) This miserable season at Manchester United still is mostly not David Moyes’ fault

Looking at everything going wrong at Manchester United, little of it has anything to do with David Moyes.  He ultimately may be the sacrificial lamb in a year that is wholly unacceptable by United’s standards, but peering around the squad, Sir Alex Ferguson and the rest of the United front office handed Moyes a group of players doomed to fail.

Nemanja Vidic is aging. So is Patrice Evra. Robin van Persie’s age hasn’t affected his output, but it has affected his ability to stay match fit.  Ashley Young has never fit in at Manchester United despite their refusal to replace him. Shinji Kagawa may not actually be the right style for the Premier League.  And Wayne Rooney can only carry so much on his back.

While his insistence to play Adnan Januzaj on the wing can certainly be criticized (and rightly so), his tactics against Fulham today or mostly throughout the season cannot.  Manchester United pumped a total of 82 crosses into Fulham’s box, and while it took a while to click, it eventually worked, and noting Fulham’s lack of outside defending in recent months, the plan makes perfect sense.  What did United in was a pair of terrible mistakes at the back, something that cannot be fixed by the manager.

Moyes did incredibly well to bring in Juan Mata, and the Spaniard has arguably been the best player at Old Trafford since his arrival, including setting up United’s breakthrough today.  Bringing in Marouane Fellaini was ultimately a failure, but hindsight is 20/20, and at the time they desperately need a physical midfielder (they still do).

If I was a Manchester United fan, I’d be pointing equal fingers at whoever handed Moyes this aging, fragile defensive unit that has let them down time and again this season.

Honorable mention: Dan Burn is the real deal

Whether or not Fulham stay up this season (chances are they still won’t) the 6-foot-5 21-year-old has opened plenty of eyes. He was a force in preventing Manchester United from landing 64 of their 82 crosses.  He made 22 clearances against the Red Devils – a staggering number – including 15 with his head.

What seemed like a desperate move in recalling Burn from his season-long loan spell at Birmingham has turned into a master-class decision by Meulensteen.  The move likely cost Fulham a bit of cash to cancel his loan, and upset a great deal of Birmingham City brass.

However, with Brede Hangeland aging and slow to react, Burn has emerged as not just Fulham’s best defender, but possibly a solid option for a top team in the future.  He’s reminding many Fulham fans of the Hangeland of old, something that many at Craven Cottage could get very used to.

Croatia vs Brazil, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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World Cup-savvy Croatia stands in the way of stylish Brazil’s pursuit of a sixth World Cup crown, and the pair promise a complex match-up on Friday in Al Rayyan.

Match 58 of the 2022 World Cup kicks off the quarterfinals as Neymar leads Tite’s star-studded CONMEBOL powers into a match against the 2018 runners-up.

STREAM LIVE CROATIA v BRAZIL

Croatia got past Japan in penalties and will now dream of the two wins that could set it back in the final where France could again be waiting for a juicy rematch.

Croatia needed penalties to get past Japan in the Round of 16, while Brazil pasted South Korea 4-1.  Croatia has never beaten Brazil in four meetings, losing at the 2006 and 2014 World Cups.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Croatia vs Brazil.


How to watch Croatia vs Brazil live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Friday, December 9
Stadium: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic was fantastic in penalties versus Japan to get here, but Luka Modric continues to do the things that get Croatia out of trouble and puts the opponents into heaps of it. Josko Gvardiola has arguably been the defender of the tournament, and the 20-year-old looks to test his mettle again against the Selecao.

Pick a Brazil player who’s failed to impress and you’ve achieved a mighty feat. Neymar’s been fantastic when healthy while Richarlison is in serious pursuit of the Golden Boot. Alisson Becker flexed his muscles once or twice versus South Korea and figures to be busier as the competition continues to heat up in Qatar. Richarlison, Vini Jr, Raphinha and Neymar all start against Croatia. Wowza.


Croatia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 12
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Zlatko Dalic
Key players: Luka Modric, Andrej Kramaric, Mateo Kovacic, Josko Gvardiol

Brazil quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 1
World Cup titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
World Cup appearances: 22
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (1st place)
Coach: Tite
Key players: Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Alisson Becker

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Netherlands vs Argentina: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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The Netherlands gets a third chance to beat Lionel Messi in the World Cup when the Dutch meet Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinals at Lusail Iconic Stadium on Friday.

Match 57 of the World Cup will be the second of the quarterfinal round and Messi can build on his three goals and assist in Qatar, though the underlying story has been how difficult it’s been to break down the Argentine defense.

STREAM NETHERLANDS vs ARGENTINA LIVE

The CONMEBOL side beat Australia 2-1 In the Round of 16 and now gets a Dutch side that outclassed the USA 3-1 last time out.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Netherlands vs Argentina.


How to watch Netherlands vs Argentina live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Friday, December 9
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Louis van Gaal is looking for arguably the only major trophy to escape his reach with the World Cup, and Virgil van Dijk isn’t too far behind his manager. Jurrien Timber’s joined VVD in a very good back three, Cody Gakpo had been the breakout player of the tournament in all likelihood before Goncalo Ramos captured the world’s attention with his hat trick for Portugal on Tuesday.

Enzo Fernandez has been shining along with Messi, while Nicolas Otamendi has turned back the proverbial clock at center back in a tour de force for the CONMEBOL powers.


Netherlands quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 8
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 10
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group G)
Coach: Louis van Gaal
Key players: Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay, Frenkie de Jong

Argentina quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Angel de Maria, Lautaro Martinez

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England vs France lineups: Projected XI, key battles, tactical focus

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England and France square off in a huge World Cup quarterfinal in Qatar as the Three Lions and Les Bleus both have realistic chances of winning it all.

But only one will advance.

[ MORE: England vs France previews, how to watch info, storylines ]

Who will Gareth Southgate line up? Will he switch to a back three to combat the obvious threat of Kylian Mbappe? Or will he stick with the 4-3-3 which has worked so well for most of this tournament?

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

As for Didier Deschamps, his reigning World Cup champs are clicking through the gears in attack and he has some big choices to make in midfield and defense. Will the long-time France boss get the big calls correct? He usually does.

Below is a look at the England vs France lineups, with analysis on the key tactical battles and decisions for Southgate and Deschamps.

[ LIVE: Watch World Cup en Espanol en Peacock ]


England lineup projection (3-4-3)

—– Pickford —–

— Walker — Stones — Maguire —

—- Trippier —- Rice —- Bellingham —- Shaw —-

—– Saka —– Kane —- Foden —–

The big dilemma for Gareth Southgate is clear: back three or a back four? The former could give him more protection for the pace and threat of Kylian Mbappe, with Kieran Trippier at wing-back trying to pin him back and if that doesn’t work, Kyle Walker’s pace as a right-sided center back seems to be the perfection solution to nullify France’s main man. Also, Declan Rice can double up if Mbappe cuts inside. England have played most of the last few years in a 3-4-3, so why not go back to it for this very specific situation? In attack Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden will surely support Harry Kane, while Jordan Henderson is probably the main to miss out in midfield with the excellent Jude Bellingham, just 19 years old, continuing in his role as a true No. 8.


France lineup projection  (4-2-1-3)

—– Lloris —–

— Kounde — Konate — Varane — T. Hernandez —

—- Rabiot —- Tchouameni —- 

—– Griezmannn —–

—- Dembele —- Giroud —- Mbappe —-

The back four and midfield has looked okay throughout this tournament and Deschamps has some excellent options if he wants to mix things up. Two from Ibrahima Konate, Raphael Varane and Dayot Upamecano will start but it seems like Upamecano and Varane will get the nod. Kounde has looked a bit clunky at right back and if he’s up against the slippery Foden, that could be a bad match-up for France. Maybe Benjamin Pavard will start? In midfield Adrien Rabiot and Aurelien Tchouameni are their first-choice pairing and have done well without the injured Kante and Pogba. But central midfield is definitely France’s weak spot. Griezmann has rolled back the years as a No. 10, while Dembele, Giroud and Mbappe will cause England’s defense plenty of problems as that attacking quartet can hurt you just about every way imaginable.


When and where is the 2026 World Cup?

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The 2022 World Cup officially begins on Sunday, November 20, and runs through Sunday, December 18 in Qatar featuring 64 matches contested by 32 nations in 8 stadiums over the course of 29 days.

This year marks the very first time that the World Cup is taking place in the Middle East. Qatar, which is the smallest nation to ever host the event, has average high temperatures in June and July of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why FIFA made the decision to host the 22nd edition of the World Cup in the Fall. As always, this year’s World Cup marks four years until the next edition of the tournament, which will make history with three different nations hosting matches.  See below for location information for both the 2022 and 2026 World Cups.

RELATED: World Cup 2022 odds: Favorites, underdogs, group stage winners

2022 World Cup Venues:

The 2022 World Cup will take place in the following venues:

  • Al Bayt Stadium – 22 miles from central Doha
  • Lusail Stadium – 12 miles from central Doha
  • Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium – 12 miles from central Doha
  • Al Janoub Stadium – 14 miles from central Doha
  • Al Thumama Stadium – 8 miles from central Doha
  • Education City Stadium – 8 miles from central Doha
  • Khalifa International Stadium – 3 miles from central Doha
  • Stadium 974 – 6 miles from central Doha

Where will the 2026 World Cup take place?

The 2026 World Cup will take place in three North American countries: the United States, Mexico, and Canada. This will be the first time that the tournament is hosted by three different nations and it will be the very first time that the event will be contested in Canada. There will be a total of 16 venues used as host cities for the 2026 World Cup. The U.S. will have 11, Canada will have 2, and Mexico will have 3.

Additionally, the 2026 World Cup will debut an expanded format featuring 48 teams–as opposed to 32–split into 16 groups of 3.

RELATED: 2026 World Cup venues selected: Which cities will host in USA, Canada, Mexico?

2026 World Cup host cities

USA (11)

Atlanta – Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Boston – Gillette Stadium
Dallas – AT&T Stadium
Houston – NRG Stadium
Kansas City – Arrowhead Stadium
Los Angeles – SoFi Stadium
Miami – Hard Rock Stadium
New York/New Jersey – MetLife Stadium
Philadelphia – Lincoln Financial Field
San Francisco – Levi’s Stadium
Seattle – Lumen Field

Canada (2)

Toronto – BMO Field
Vancouver – BC Place

Mexico (3)

Guadalajara – Estadio Akron
Mexico City – Estadio Azteca
Monterrey – Estadio BBVA

When is the 2026 World Cup?

The 2026 World Cup is scheduled to take place from June 8 through July 3.


2022 World Cup U.S. Group Stage Schedule:

  • U.S. vs. Wales – Monday, November 21 at 2 PM ET
  • U.S. vs. England – Friday, November 25 at 2 PM ET
  • U.S. vs Iran – Tuesday, November 29 at 2 PM ET

2022 World Cup Mexico Group Stage Schedule:

  • Mexico vs. Poland – Tuesday, November 22 at 11 AM ET
  • Mexico vs Argentina – Saturday, November 26 at 2 PM ET
  • Mexico  vs Saudi Arabia – Wednesday, November 30 at 2 PM ET

RELATED: World Cup 2022 schedule – groups, calendar, match schedule, brackets, dates


How to watch the 2022 World Cup:

*All times are listed as ET

  • When: November 20, 2022 – December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5 am, 8 am, 11 am, and 2 pm
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channel in English: Fox
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock

 Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup!

RELATED: World Cup 2022 Group B: England, USA, Iran, Wales schedule, fixtures, rankings