Branislav Ivanovic goal sees Chelsea break through at West Brom – Watch Live

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A West Bromwich Albion team that allowed nine goals in four games under Pepe Mel had held Chelsea without a decent chance through 45 minutes, extra time of today’s first half arriving at The Hawthorns with the two teams tied, 0-0. With the Blues having surged to the top of the Premier League, many would have expected more from the visitors, whose dominance of the ball (67 percent) couldn’t produce a shot on target during normal time.

Two minutes of extra time, however, gave the Blues an opportunity to claim a halftime lead. Moments before the halftime whistle, a corner from the right was flicked on toward Ben Foster’s far post. There, having lost his man, was Branislav Ivanovic, who pushed the opener home just in time for the teams to leave the field.

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It was the only decent chance of the half. Though West Brom’s strike partnership of Saido Berahino and Thievy Bifouma looked threatening, they never saw enough of the ball to make Petr Cech sweat. At the other end, Chelsea seemed to play the whole half between 18 and 30 yards of goal, though almost every time they ventured forward, a stalwart Albion defense rebuffed them. By the middle of the period, Chelsea had started speculating with long shots.

A late corner converted, Chelsea can now settle into a more comfortable approach. Instead of pursuing goals, the Blues can wait to exploit holes in their opponents’ pursuit. Forty-five minutes away from increasing their lead at the top, Chelsea are putting in a typical Jose Mourinho performance.

Man City – Leicester: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Man City – Leicester: Pep Guardiola will have just 13 first-team players at his disposal when Manchester City hosts Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 am ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

MAN CITY – LEICESTER STREAM LIVE

With a combination of injuries and confirmed cases of COVID-19 currently ravaging an already-thin squad, City have no choice but to tread water and simply stay afloat in the coming days and weeks as they attempt to reclaim the Premier League title from Liverpool. It’s a difficult position to be in, no doubt about it, and Leicester should present a tricky challenge for Guardiola and Co., without the likes of Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan, among others.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Man City and Leicester spent much of the 2019-20 season second and third — and third and second — in the PL table, each looking up at Liverpool miles and miles ahead, before winding up second and fifth, respectively. City won each of the two meetings last season — 3-1 at home in December, and 1-0 away in February.

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Man City – Leicester this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Man City – Leicester (INJURY REPORT)

Man City – QUESTIONABLE: Ilkay Gundogan (COVID-19), Aymeric Laporte (COVID-19) | OUT: Bernardo Silva (thigh), Gabriel Jesus (undisclosed), Sergio Aguero (knee), Joao Cancelo (foot), Oleksandr Zinchenko (undisclosed)

Leicester – QUESTIONABLE: Demarai Gray (illness) | OUT: Cengiz Under (transfer clearance), Ricardo Pereira (knee), Jonny Evans (thigh), Filip Benkovic (groin), Wilfred Ndidi (groin)


What they’re saying: Man City – Leicester

Pep Guardiola, on Man City’s injury issues: “With the situation we have right now, we need players from the academy. We have just 13 players fit. With the problems we have up front, he will stay with us. We will use him. We cannot forget, like with Phil, he is only 17 years-old. He has a lot of things to improve. We cannot anticipate the progress of every young player. We’ve had Phil, Eric, Liam and we have Cole Palmer, who will be an exceptional player. We congratulate the academy. I am the last step, but before there are a lot of people in the club working for this and it is a big success for them.”

Brendan Rodgers, on how to improve Leicester: “Firstly, we have a number of young players who can improve. Last season, we showed lots of real potential in the squad. I always felt that two things would help us to improve and continue to develop this process. One of those was time. That means time to work with the players who are here, making them better year on year, particularly the young players. They will have gained from the experiences of last season — good and bad. Time will improve James Maddison. Time will improve Harvey Barnes. Consistency will make us better as well. That will come with the introduction of quality.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Perhaps a bit surprisingly given their ongoing injury issues, City (-350) are heavy betting favorites with Leicester checking in as massive underdogs at +850. The draw (+480) might just make for the perfect speculative wager this weekend.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: Man City – Leicester

City struggled to put away Bournemouth in the League Cup on Thursday, and will have largely the same group of players available on Sunday. Facing Leicester will be a significant increase in quality of opposition. Leicester might just get something out of this one and do Liverpool an early-season favor in the process. Man City 1-1 Leicester.


How to watch Man City – Leicester stream and start time

Kickoff: 11:30 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Could Brighton and Hove Albion be the Premier League season’s surprise?

Brighton and Hove Albion
Photo by ALEX PANTLING/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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If you were to scroll through our match recaps of Brighton and Hove Albon during the 2019-20 Premier League season, it feels like a safe bet that many would say something along the lines of “Graham Potter’s Seagulls deserved better.”

At least that’s how it felt to me, and watching Brighton’s first three outings of the 2020-21 campaign has me digging deep ahead of a two-test week for the Seagulls against Manchester United in the PL (Watch live at 7:30 am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and the League Cup.

[ PREVIEW: Brighton – Man Utd ]

Even with those matches ahead (like hours ahead in the first case), I’m puffing my chest just a bit at pegging the Seagulls to surprise and finish 10th.

The PL season-opening loss to Chelsea was a throwback to last season and the decisive win over Newcastle far from a surprise (When the Seagulls go up 2-0 with that set of defenders, well, good luck). Their depth provided a 2-0 League Cup win at Preston North End is a feather in the cap of depth as well. So is the fact that Potter was comfortable loaning Shane Duffy to Celtic and selling Dale Stephens to Burnley.

Brighton went 9W-14D-15L last season, Potter’s first with the Amex Stadium set, and their 41 points were seven fewer than expected goals would’ve projected due to their performances.

That was a good start to determining whether the Seagulls’ look of unluck went beyond the eyeball test. We reached out the numbers people at Liam Tharme from Albion Analytics to talk through the rest.

“The chance wastefulness was all across the board (last season),” Tharme told ProSoccerTalk. “Glenn Murray, Aaron Connolly, and Neal Maupay all underperformed their xG.”

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk Unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Part of that could be down to adjustment. Connolly burst onto the scene at 19 by scoring a brace against Tottenham but was, in fact, 19. Maupay scored 10 times but was adjusting to his first season in the Premier League. Murray might have been 36 but was coming off consecutive double-digit goal campaigns in the PL and a one-goal season is a stunner.

Murray left for Watford and the Championship, where he’s traditionally feasted, but Connolly and Maupay have added a year’s experience to their electric skill sets.

More on that 2019-20 season, whether you deem it unlucky, wasteful, or both.

While there were outings that saw the Seagulls get the rub of the xG green, more often than not it was the other way around.

Look how many came in Dec. 8 – March 7 window that saw Brighton collect only 14 of 45 points via a 2W-8D-5L run.

Notable 2019-20 Brighton reality v xG results

  • Aug. 17 — 1-1 draw with West Ham (2.4-1.0 xG)
  • Sept. 14 — 1-1 draw with Burnley (1.69 – .34 xG)
  • Dec. 16 — 1-1 draw with Palace (2.48 – .48 xG)
  • Dec. 26 — 2-1 loss to Spurs (1.09 – 1.03 xG)
  • Jan. 21 — 3-1 loss to Bournemouth (1.97-1.92 xG)
  • Feb. 1 — 3-3 draw with West Ham (2.03-1.31 xG)
  • Jun. 23 — 0-0 draw with Leicester (1.1 – .51 xG)
  • July 8 — 3-1 loss to Liverpool (2.32 – 2.62 xG)

The team has bought Joel Veltman from Ajax and fended off all suitors of Ben White, who earned a great reputation on loan at Leeds.

The midfield has looked tremendous this season aside from Yves Bissouma’s ridiculous cleat to the face of Jamal Lewis that earned the Seagull a red card. Steven Alzate looks the part after getting acclimated to the PL last season and addnbg Adam Lallana is a good thing.

“Bissouma has really matured as a ball player,” Tharme said. “Under (Chris) Hughton he was more of a transition player, starting counter attacks through dribbles. He can now operate closer to goal, and played the most passes of any Brighton player vs Newcastle. And the same for Alzate, he’s so positionally versatile (RB/CM) that he can play 360 degrees.”

Small sample size alert, but Albion Analytics notes Brighton is second this season for average duration of goal-scoring attacks (55.6 seconds) and fourth for the average number of passes in goalscoring attacks (16.5).

So consider these bigger picture stats below, too, as I admit that my prediction of 10th on the table is perhaps a bit lofty but also quite achievable.

 

Lampard: Pulisic back over ‘next week or two,’ explains caution

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The latest batch of Christian Pulisic news is good: Chelsea boss Frank Lampard says the USMNT star is back training but still days away from being in contention to play in a match.

Pulisic, 22, is yet to play for the Blues this season after suffering an injury in this summer’s FA Cup Final.

[ MORE: West Brom-Chelsea preview ]

Like new addition Hakim Ziyech, Pulisic is getting closer but not quite ready. He hopes to see both players in match action within “the next week or two.”

The Chelsea boss was asked whether the club is being more careful with Pulisic given his series of muscle injuries that have short-circuited several star turns at Stamford Bridge.

From Chelsea’s site:

“There is always a concern about player fitness when their history shows there has been injuries and you try to find the right way and right balance to get the best out of Christian, which we saw in big periods last year. You make sure you don’t over-cook him and leave him susceptible to injury, and particularly with a player of his explosive pace and balance that is a fine line.

“We are working on that and Christian is very open to that. He wants to play, he is so hungry and he is very nearly fit now but it is certainly something we will have to manage this season. We have all seen the talent and it is something I want to get right. I am not saying it is a fundamental, chronic issue, it is not, but we want as many minutes of the great Christian we saw last season on the pitch.”

Makes sense.

In other Pulisic news, the American is being hailed for reaching out to a young Libyan who saved a man from drowning.

Mohammed Al-Arabi is described as one of the leaders of a Chelsea fan club in Libya. He heard someone in distress on a beach in Libya and rescued them from the water but was lost at sea for 20 minutes.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Al-Arabi ended up in a coma for 24 hours but has emerged with his health.

Pulisic sent a video to Al-Arabi describing the Libyan as “brave” and a “hero or a legend.”

Al-Arabi was stunned, via the BBC:

“What Pulisic did is surprising and I didn’t think that my actions would get such attention from the club that I have supported since I was a child,” he told BBC Sport Africa. “I love Chelsea very much and I try to go to their matches whenever circumstances allow me to travel. I’m not lying when I say Chelsea are the best thing for me in life: my friends tease me that I exaggerate my support, but this has made me love this club even more and more.”

“Pulisic’s words have not only raised my spirits but also urged me to do more to help others. Life is simple, and when you see a star encouraging a simple person it is a great incentive for many people to do help in such situations. I have to thank everyone who saved my life and the life of the other person, whose name I do not know, and everyone who supported me in this difficult experience.”

Nice nod from Pulisic, but even better from Al-Arabi. To a long and fruitful life!

Suarez unveiled by Atletico Madrid; Messi takes swipe at Barcelona

Luis Suarez Atletico Madrid
https://twitter.com/atletienglish
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The iconic partnership of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at Barcelona is a thing of the past and the greatest player in the world is clearly unhappy to see it.

Meanwhile, the Uruguayan pairing of Suarez and manager Diego Simeone is just beginning (and we think Joao Felix may have something to say here, too).

Atletico Madrid announced the signing of ex-Liverpool star Suarez on Friday, injecting power into its attack in a bid to overtake Real Madrid and Barca and reclaim La Liga superiority.

Suarez will turn 34 in January. The two sides meet Nov. 22 in Madrid and May 9 at the Camp Nou.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk Unfiltered, Week 2 ]

He scored 20 or more goals in each of his six seasons at Barcelona, including a career-high 58 (with 40 league goals) in 2015-16. He bagged 21 goals and 11 assists despite being limited to under 2700 minutes last season due to injuries.

Could Suarez’s arrival have a bonus outcome and strengthen the resolve of countryman Jose María Gimenez to stay in Madrid? The aforementioned trio is part of a history of Uruguayan success at Atleti, as Diego Godin, Diego Forlan, and Fernando Correa have all delivered the goods.

Messi and Suarez enjoyed a terrific chemistry on- and off-the-field with Barcelona (Who can forget the photo of the pair calmly watching their kids play soccer, which is turned into a meme used by every soccer coach in the world to decry more volatile soccer parents and guardians).

The Argentine used Instagram to salute his CONMEBOL and now La Liga rival. He’s not happy. Here are some selections from his post, translated by Sky Sports.

“You deserved a fitting farewell for the person that you are: One of the best players in the club’s history, having achieved incredible things both individually and collectively. You didn’t deserve to be pushed out the way they did, but the truth is nothing surprises me anymore.”

“I was gradually accepting it, but when I got into the dressing room today, how hard it’s going to be to no longer have you around in the day-to-day on and off the pitch really dawned on me. We’re going to miss you so much. …. I wish you all the best for your new challenge. Sending love to you and your family. See you soon, mate.”

Messi tried to leave Barcelona earlier this summer but La Liga backed the club’s reading of his contract and the player was unwilling to expose his club to a court battle.

It’s going to be an interesting journey through Messi’s presumed final year at his beloved Barcelona. Will the club’s presidential elections and/or transfer actions do enough to keep him a one-club man beyond the summer of 2021?

MADRID, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 01: Messi and Suarez after a Barcelona goal against Atletico Madrid in 2017 (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

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