Premier League Preview: West Bromwich Albion vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea hasn’t lost since Dec. 17
  • West Brom 2W-1D-1L in last four against Chelsea
  • Baggies winless since New Year’s Day home win over Newcastle

Yes, Chelsea is red-hot and West Brom is still searching for their first win under new boss Pepe Mel, but there’s one thing many are forgetting: Mel has won a match against Jose Mourinho before (Watch West Brom and Chelsea live today on NBCSN at 3pm ET or online via NBC Sports Live Extra).

So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

“It’s possible for us to win,” Mel maintained. “The last season Mourinho was manager of Real Madrid and Pepe Mel was manager of Betis. Mel win.

“Was it the best win of my career? No, it was [only] a La Liga match. It was a more important match for Jose than for me because when they lost this match Real Madrid lost La Liga.”

Mel pulled a Mourinho, so to speak, in those pre-match quotes, reminding Chelsea’s boss how the win wasn’t such a big deal for Betis but that it essentially made Real Madrid’s chances of catching Barcelona that year disappear into thin air.

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Once you get past the cute stories, there may be something more, though. Over the past three seasons, the Baggies have more than held their own against the Blues. West Brom has won both matches versus Chelsea at the Hawthorns, and drew Chelsea earlier this season at Stamford Bridge.

Those plot lines aside, Chelsea’s on fine form. The Blues haven’t lost since Dec. 17, a League Cup loss to Sunderland, and are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League matches. Furthermore, the club is taking care of business in its own end; Chelsea is on a run of four-consecutive clean sheets across all competitions.

What they’re saying

Chelsea defender David Luiz on zeroes: “It’s always important to keep a clean sheet because it enables us to give a platform to the more attacking players to hurt the opposition,’ he tells the official Chelsea website. That’s our job and it makes me very happy when we are able to do that, but it’s not just about the defenders, it’s down to the whole team. It’s because everybody, the strikers and midfielders, along with the back four, are working hard for the team.”

More Mel on Chelsea’s star power: “(Eden) Hazard for me is now in the top five in the world. He is a very, very good player. What’s important for us is the whole of Chelsea because if it’s not Hazard, it’s Oscar, it’s Willian – very good players.”

Prediction

While the “Any Given Matchday” rule applies each week, it’s difficult to consider this weekend’s results as harbinger’s of good for West Brom. The Baggies suffered a 3-1 loss at Crystal Palace and Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Newcastle featured an absolutely scintillating display from hat trick hero Hazard. Lately, West Brom has been conceding goals while Chelsea has been potting them. Here’s a 4-1 win for the Blues.

Mourinho reveals details on Dele Alli’s future

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Dele Alli future: Jose Mourinho believes that Dele Alli will be a Tottenham player when the transfer window shuts on Oct. 5.

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Alli, 24, was subbed off at half time of Spurs’ opening weekend defeat to Everton and didn’t feature in the 5-2 win at Southampton on Sunday.

With Dele Alli reported to be wanted by both Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in recent days, the arrival of Gareth Bale and potentially another forward player could push the England playmaker further down the pecking order.

“I believe [he will]. I can even say that I’m convinced that he will be,” Mourinho told our partners in the UK at Sky Sports when ask about the Dele Alli future reports.

Ahead of Spurs’ UEFA Europa League third round qualifier on Thursday at Macedonian club Shkendija, Mourinho revealed that Alli will be in the squad for that game.

“We all know since Dele arrived from MK Dons he had ups and downs, he had fabulous periods and he also had other periods where he disappeared from top-level performances. And with me it’s no different than before. He’s had moments where he was so good, but he also had moments where he was not so good,” Mourinho said.

“I think this lack of consistency, it’s normal that when you are in great form you play because you deserve it and your production is big for the team, but when you are not in a good moment you don’t play – and it’s as simple as that. The players have to prove on the pitch with their performances; they have to prove how good they are in that specific moment.”

Mourinho added that “performance are important” and Dele Alli is the same as every other player. So, essentially, Mourinho wants him to step it up. During the Nextflix documentary ‘All or Nothing’ Mourinho called Dele Alli lazy.

That led to many believing that Dele Alli was surplus to requirements at Spurs and although he has also been left out of the most recent England squad, Mourinho clearly believes in his quality. For now, it is best if he stays at Tottenham but it would not be a shock if he leaves in January after a few months as a bit-part player.

Dele Alli is a mercurial talent and Mauricio Pochettino did his best to fit him into a system and style of play while also allowing him to express himself. Is Mourinho going to do the latter? Probably not. And therein lies the problem.

Even if he stays at Spurs for now, expect ‘Dele Alli future’ to be a term you see trending on Twitter during upcoming transfer windows.

Transfer news: Tagliafico to Man United; Milik, Skriniar to Tottenham

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In the latest transfer news Milan Skriniar to Tottenham and Arkadiusz Milik to Tottenham, plus Nicolas Tagliafico to Manchester United, have all been mentioned.

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Here’s a look at the latest transfer news in the Premier League.


Tagliafico to Manchester United the new frontrunner for a left back option?

Nicolas Tagliafico to Manchester United is gathering steam as the Argentine left back has been linked with Chelsea, Arsenal, Leicester and just about every top 10 team in the Premier League over the summer. The Sun claim that Tagliafico is lined up as a $29.3 million target for the Red Devils, but only if they can’t sign Alex Telles from FC Porto.

Tagliafico, 28, has been a big part of Ajax’s recent success but along with Dusan Tadic and Andre Onana he is one of the few players who have moved on from the team which reached the UEFA Champions League semifinal in 2018-19.

With Brazilian left back Alex Telles wanted by Manchester United and a deal for the attacking full back said to be progressing, but Porto being stubborn with the transfer fee, is Tagliafico a good fit? He is a more defensive left back than Telles and it is tough to see him being an upgrade on Luke Shaw or Brandon Williams.

Skriniar to Tottenham talks reported; Milik could arrive too

Milan Skriniar to Tottenham is moving to the next stage as multiple reports claim that Spurs have opened talks with Inter Milan about signing the Slovakian international center back. Skriniar, 25, has been a top target for Spurs this summer and after they moved to strengthen their midfield and attack with Gareth Bale, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon, adding a new center back appears to be one of the final pieces of the jigsaw.

The Inter Milan center back featured heavily for Antonio Conte’s side who lost in the UEFA Europa League final and pushed hard to close the gap to Juventus as they finished second in Serie A. However, Skriniar only featured once since the restart for Inter and they could point to his future being elsewhere. Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez are Tottenham’s current back options and all three have struggled at different stages in recent months, while Japhet Tanganga is still young and Juan Foyth is expected to leave this summer.

Arkadiusz Milik to Tottenham has also arrived as a possibility, as a report from Italian outlet Calciomercato claims that Spurs will meet with Napoli’s representatives as a move to Roma fell through for the Polish international striker. Per the report, Milik will be available on an initial loan deal and with an obligation to buy for a total cost of $28.6 million.

Milik, 26, has battled back from some serious injuries in recents seasons and is a mobile yet clinical forward. With Bale, Harry Kane, Heung-min Son, Dele Alli, Erik Lamela and Steven Bergwijn around, do Spurs need another striker?

Milik would be more in the role of Kane and would perhaps be signed to play in the Europa League and give Kane a rest. Whatever happens, Mourinho is making moves and Tottenham look to have momentum in the transfer market after signing Bale on a season-long loan.

De Bruyne nominated for UEFA player of the year

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UEFA player of year nominees are as follows: De Bruyne, Kevin. Lewandowski, Robert. Neuer, Manuel.

Which of those three superstars will win the award?

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Considering Bayern Munich won a historic treble and surged to the UEFA Champions League title, it will likely be Lewandowski or Neuer, but Kevin de Bruyne has been consistently fantastic for Manchester City over the past 12-18 months.

This award is handed out by European soccer’s governing body and is based on players’ performances in UEFA club competitions and their own domestic leagues. The winner will be announced on Oct. 1 during the Champions League group stage draw ceremony, along with a host of other awards such as coach of the year and positional award winners.

De Bruyne equalled the record for the most assist in Premier League history with 20 and had 15 goals and 22 assists across all competitions. De Bruyne drove Man City to the quarterfinals of the Champions League but couldn’t do it all on his own as Man City’s defense collapsed in the UCL quarters against Lyon.

Lewandowski scored an incredible 55 goals in 47 games, including 15 in the Champions League to lead the way, while Neuer only missed one game all season for Bayern and kept six clean sheets, including in the final, as Bayern won the Champions League.


UEFA player of year, Top 10

Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
Manuel Neuer (Bayern)
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern)

4 Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 53 votes
= Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain) 53 votes
6 Thomas Muller (Bayern) 41 votes
7 Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) 39 votes
8 Thiago Alcantara (Bayern) 27 votes
9 Joshua Kimmich (Bayern) 26 votes
10 Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) 25 votes


How does UEFA voting work?

The shortlist of three players was selected by a jury comprising the 80 coaches of the clubs that participated in the group stages of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League (32) and UEFA Europa League (48), along with 55 journalists selected by the European Sports Media (ESM) group, one from each of UEFA’s member associations.

Jury members chose their top three players, with the first receiving five points, the second three and the third one. Coaches were not allowed to vote for players from their own team.


Which players were snubbed?

Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, Memphis Depay, Josip Ilicic, Mario Pasalic, Timo Werner, Dayot Upamecano

Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

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The European season is back in full flow, Major League Soccer is hitting its stretch run, and we have USMNT calendar news.

Yet it’s the transfer market that’s inspired us to revisit our periodic ranking of the top 25 players in the USMNT player pool.

Sergino Dest looks destined for either Barcelona or Bayern Munich, while Weston McKennie is off to Juventus and is currently learning midfield next to Adrien Rabiot, behind Aaron Ramsey, over Arthur, and under the watchful eye of Andrea Pirlo.

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If you’re the swooning type, here’s where you swoon.

It’s been 10 months and 10 days since our first rankings hit ProSoccerTalk and there’s been a pandemic pause, restart of one season, and beginning of another since our second.

Where is the player pool now? As a reminder, here are some ground rules:

  • The ranking is meant to illustrate who would be most likely to positively affect a USMNT match, regardless of manager or teammates, right now.
  • Health doesn’t matter to our rankings if a current injury isn’t one that could drastically alter the player’s skill set moving forward.
  • Age/potential/experience doesn’t matter either, at least not much; It’s how likely you are to contribute to the team if put on the field right now. Obviously Konrad de la Fuente is a better long-term prospect than 30-year-old Jozy Altidore, but most would rather have the Toronto FC man in a big spot right now.

Obviously there’s been plenty of movement.

Top 25 USMNT players – September 2020 

1. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (1)

2. Tyler Adams, RB Leizpig (4) — Just out here scoring UCL tie-deciding goals

3. Weston McKennie, Juventus (2) — Oh, hi there. This is cool.

4. John Brooks, Wolfsburg (3)

5. Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund (13) — This is 17 years old? Come on.

6. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders (8)

7. Sergino Dest, Ajax (5) — Barcelona or Bayern Munich?

8. Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (18) — Midfield?

9. Zack Steffen, Manchester City (9) — First Man City start probably comes Thursday.

10. Antonee Robinson, Fulham (10) — Come on, Scott Parker. Put him in there.

11. Timothy Weah, Lille (14) — Working back to fitness and form. Came off the bench in first three Ligue 1 games.

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12. Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (21) — Looking good in second full season with the Turkish giants

13. Julian Green, Greuther Furth (12)

14. Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy (25)

15. Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (7)

16. Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew (NR) — If you’re yelling at this, I get it, but you’re not watching MLS. He’s been wonderful.

17. Matt Miazga, Chelsea (17) — Rumors of a Trabzonspor loan are interesting.

18. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Spurs (20) — Crushed it at Luton Town. Is Bournemouth next?

19. Darlington Nagbe, Columbus Crew (NR)

20. Reggie Cannon, Boavista (NR)

21. Brendan Aaronson, Philadelphia Union (NR) — Credit to Gregg Berhalter, who saw it before any of us.

22. Matt Turner, New England (NR) — Incredible season alert.

23. Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls (NR)

24. Tim Ream, Fulham (13)

25. Henry Wingo, Molde (NR) — Unsure where the Norwegian league rates in relation to MLS, but Wingo’s moved from non-regular with Seattle to starting right back on a team knocking on the door of the UEFA Champions League group stage. Plus I had like nine names I liked for spots 23, 24, and 25.

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Notes

  • Columbus’ resurgence this season has seen Zardes and Nagbe shine. It’s difficult not to place them higher than we initially planned.
  • Judging the center back pool has become fraught. Chelsea’s Matt Miazga and Tottenham’s Cameron Carter-Vickers are on a loan recycling program and have done well but we haven’t really seen them outside of the Championship. MLS regulars Walker Zimmerman, Miles Robinson, and Aaron Long are good on inconsistent teams. After John Brooks, who knows?
  • Dropping out are DeAndre Yedlin, Jozy Altidore, Cristian Roldan, Ike Opara, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Miles Robinson, Paul Arriola, and Jackson Yueill.
  • Small sample size, but if you’re the top rated player on Besiktas then you’re Tyler Boyd and you’re getting a higher spot than we anticipated when we started the post.

Last five out: Chris Richards, Bayern Munich; Duane Holmes, Derby County; DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United; Timothy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt; Frankie Amaya, FC Cincinnati.

Keep an eye on: Ulysses Llanez, Heerenveen (loan from Wolfsburg); Cole Bassett, Colorado Rapids; Julian Araujo, LA Galaxy; Chris Mueller, Orlando City; Konrad de la Fuente, Barcelona; Indiana Vassilev, Burton Albion (loan from Aston Villa); Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas; Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders; Walker Zimmerman, Nashville SC.