Premier League Playback: Can Chelsea stay unbeaten throughout 2014-15?



After breezing past Aston Villa on Saturday, Chelsea hardly got out of second gear. That’s happened a lot so far this season.

Okay, so they haven’t had to play too many of the top teams yet (only the 1-1 draw away at Manchester City last weekend was a big test) but the strength in-depth of Jose Mourinho’s squad is mind-boggling.

Here’s what the man himself had to say following Chelsea’s fifth win out of six to start the season as his side are still unbeaten but he expects more to come, especially from his Brazilian contingent, in the coming months.

“I think everyone that came from the Brazil national team without a proper holiday and without a proper pre-season, not one of them arrived and had enough time in the pre-season to start the season in a very strong way. All of them, they are coming step by step. Oscar is the same. Now they are getting into the intensity of the game. Players, they need holidays. They don’t have holidays. They need a proper pre-season, they don’t have a proper pre-season.”

Click to enlarge – Matic’s heat map vs. Villa. Source: Opta
Click to enlarge – Fabregas’ heat map vs. Villa. Source: Opta

All three of Chelsea’s scorers were Brazilian born on Saturday, Oscar, Willian and Diego Costa (who plays his international soccer for Spain) and with a strong midfield base protecting a back four which was hardly tested, Chelsea’s creativity was allowed to flourish.

[RELATED: Full match replays]

If you look at the heat maps on the left and right, it shows how Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas, playing in a deeper role against Villa, stuck to their task and locked down the center of the pitch, allowing Oscar, Willian and somewhat subdued Eden Hazard to push forward and supply Costa with chances to score. The deeper shade of red indicates the mean position of each player, with the balance superb as Matic sat just to the left and Fabregas to the right but slightly more advanced. Those two provide the Blues’ attackers with the perfect base to launch attacks. Villa had one shot on target and barely threatened to score in the 3-0 defeat.

Looking at Mourinho’s bench for Saturday, the strength of Chelsea’s options in their 18-man squad is remarkable. New signing Felipe Luis continues to warm the bench, German World Cup winner Andre Schurrle isn’t a regular, Loic Remy is a French international, Didier Drogba was an unused sub and John Obi Mikel came on for a cameo role. When you consider the fact that Ramires was out injured, Mohamed Salah wasn’t in the 18 and you have Petr Cech as a back up for Thibaut Courtois, this is pretty ridiculous.

In the video above, NBC’s analyst discuss whether or not Chelsea can match the famous Arsenal side of 2003-04 and go unbeaten throughout an entire Premier League season. So far, that’s not as crazy as it sounds.

[VIDEO: Premier League highlights, here]

Last season, Chelsea were undefeated against the other top four Premier League teams as they beat champions Manchester City home and away, the same with Liverpool and hammered Arsenal at home before drawing away. The only reason they didn’t win the league was because they lost to smaller teams such as Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Sunderland when nobody expected it. After the first six games this season, they seem to have solved that issue of breaking down smaller teams who just want to defend. Diego Costa’s eight goals in his first six PL games is a big reason for that but the sheer quality of attacking options Mourinho now possesses means he can switch things up and his team will not be weaker.

Can Chelsea go the whole 2014-15 season unbeaten? Ask me that question again in a month or so after they face Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool. Only then will we get a true reflection of just how good this Chelsea side is. Right now, they look like “invincible’s” in waiting.


Petulant. Irresponsible. Mindless.

Those are some of the words used to analyze Wayne Rooney’s straight red card for Manchester United on Saturday. With 30 minutes to go, Rooney decided to hack down Stewart Downing as the red mist once again descended on the Red Devils skipper. He put his team in a tough spot and they just managed to hold on to a 2-1 win against West Ham.

[RELATED: Should Rooney still captain United?]

Rooney has since apologized to his teammates for his red card, which now sees him out of action for the whole month of October and games against Everton, West Brom and Chelsea. This isn’t the first time Rooney has been involved in an incident like this, and on Saturday I wrote this column asking if Louis van Gaal regrets his decision to name him United’s captain and if the honor should go elsewhere?

[RELATED: Premier League stats]

The fact that Rooney is nearly 29, is the captain of United and English national team and has had previous experiences when it comes to losing his cool after a decision goes against him means that his actions on Saturday were inexcusable. Okay, everyone makes mistakes but to keep making the same ones time and time again, that just shows to me that Rooney hasn’t curbed his temperament issues and in turn his leadership abilities and credentials to captain United should come under scrutiny. He is a fantastic player who will likely become the all-time leading scorer for United and England but incidents like this tarnish his reputation and will hurt his team until November 2 when he can get back out on the pitch again.

Time to head back to the studio for the final word on this, as the crew discuss how Rooney’s red card will impact Manchester United in the next month while he is sat in the stands watching on.

Premier League Schedule – Week 6

Result Recap & Highlights
Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham Recap and watch here
Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa Recap and watch here
Crystal Palace 2-0 Leicester Recap and watch here
Hull City 2-4 Man City Recap and watch here
Liverpool 1-1 Everton Recap and watch here
Man United 2-1 West Ham Recap and watch here
Southampton 2-1 QPR Recap and watch here
Stoke City 1-0 Newcastle Recap and watch here
Sunderland 0-0 Swansea Recap and watch here
West Brom 4-0 Burnley Recap and watch here


Over the weekend two of the fiercest rivalries in the Premier League played out as the Merseyside and North London derbies commenced.

Have to say, I expected a little more.

Liverpool and Everton drew 1-1, as did Arsenal and Tottenham, with all four teams somewhat tentatively going about their business. True, it’s early in the season to have a derby match but think of the impetus and confidence winning on Saturday would have given those squads?

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

Liverpool totally outplayed Everton in the early game and Steven Gerrard’s stunning free kick looked to give them all three points. However, just as their luck has been going so far this season, Liverpool conceded an injury time equalizer they could do nothing about.

In the 92nd minute the ball dropped 25-yards out to Phil Jagielka and the Everton center back hit a one in a million shot which he caught perfectly as it bent away from Simon Mignolet and into the top corner after grazing the crossbar. Everton, in truth, didn’t deserve a point from this game but may look back on it as a turning point for Roberto Martinez’s men. The Toffees have still won just one game this season, but Tim Howard’s save from Mario Balotelli just after Gerrard had given Liverpool the lead was huge as they dug in for a point. Liverpool still look lackluster going forward and Daniel Sturridge can’t return from injury quick enough. The struggles of Mario Balotelli and Lazar Markovic continue but Adam Lallana’s performance was a bright spot as Brendan Rodgers’ side were unlucky not to get a win.

As for the North London derby, this was a real midfield battle and all three of Arsenal’s center mids were injured in a typically rambunctious affair at the Emirates. Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta were both forced off in the first half with muscle injuries, while Jack Wilshere hobbled around. Spurs took the lead through Nacer Chadli and looked very solid throughout, however a sliced clearance from Erik Lamela lead to a chance for Arsenal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain equalized with 15 minutes to go. A draw was a fair result in a disjointed game which never got going. Arsenal are unbeaten but have now drawn four of their opening six games, as the cutting edge in attack was once again missing as Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck failed to recreate the form which saw them rip apart Villa last week.

Work to do for all four teams, as Derby Day was as intense as ever but the games themselves failed to churn out the pulsating drama they usually provide in abundance.


Take a bow Phil Jagielka, Charlie Austin and Graziano Pelle. On Saturday in the Premier League, all three of those players scored goals which will probably be Goal of the Season contenders.

Watch the Saturday recap video below to see Austin and Pelle’s incredible acrobatic efforts, plus Jagielka’s long-range drive which broke the hearts of Liverpool fans across the world.

Incredible skill from all three players.


Second in the Premier League. Six-straight wins in all competitions and three in the last seven days against Swansea, Arsenal and Queens Park Rangers, Southampton are surprising everyone. They beat QPR 2-1 for their fourth-straight PL win on Saturday and momentum is building down at St Mary’s as they were tipped for relegation by many before the campaign.

Premier League Star Performers – Week 6

Player Reason
1. Sadio Berahino (WBA) 2 goals, England call up?
2. David Silva (Man City) Simpy stunning, tore Hull apart
3. Graziano Pelle (Saints) Incredible overhead kick, beast
4. Jason Puncheon (Palace) The Eagles’ creative hub
5. Tim Howard (Everton) 2 crucial saves, superb

How are they doing it?

More on that here, but their success is one of the stories of the season so far. New manager Ronald Koeman has come in and overseen a huge summer of transition which saw Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers all leave Saints for a total of $170 million in transfer fees. Saints received more money in transfer fees than any other club in Europe and they have spent it wisely on eight players and still made a huge $66 million net profit.

[RELATED: Premier League schedule]

Graziano Pelle, as you saw in the video above, is a phenomenal goalscorer, Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane’s creativity out wide tore Arsenal apart in the League Cup and did the same to QPR and the signing of England ‘keeper Fraser Forster has given their impressive defense (the best in the league with just four goals conceded) a formidable anchor.

Simply put, we should be surprised and salute the coaching staff, directors and players at Southampton for their best-ever start to a Premier League campaign as they have 13 points from a possible 18 and are just three points behind leaders Chelsea. Yes, the fixture list has been kind to them but with positive momentum going into their clash away at Tottenham next week and the chance to show their former manager Mauricio Pochettino (who also walked out on them this summer) what he’s missing, don’t expect the rise of the Saints to end anytime soon.

With a stronger squad than this time last year, the Saints are alive and well and are in with a shout of bettering their eighth place finish from last season. A tough patch will arrive in December and January when they face Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United multiple times, but until then fans on the South Coast are enjoying Saints’ unexpected early season dominance.


It’s been an up and down start to the season for Tim Howard but he made some great saves for Everton in their Merseyside derby draw with Liverpool. A great stop from a Lallana header in the first half got Howard on his way, then he saved from Balotelli with an instinctive starfish spread from close range which tipped the ball onto the bar at a pivotal moment of the game. Elsewhere, Brad Guzan couldn’t do much about Villa’s 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, while Jozy Altidore was an unused sub for Sunderland. Better news comes from Stoke, as U.S. international Geoff Cameron is back in full training and is expected to challenge for a spot in the 18-man squad next Saturday at Sunderland.

Safe to say that Howard was happy to see Jagielka’s howitzer hit the back of the net…

Premier League Playback comes out every Monday as PST’s Editor and Lead Writer takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

The Soccer Tournament to air across NBC platforms in summer 2023


27 games from the The Soccer Tournament (TST) will be aired across NBC Sports’ platforms in the summer of 2023 as some of the biggest clubs in the world will be represented as teams square off to try and win the $1 million grand prize.

[ LIVE: Watch The Soccer Tournament on Peacock ]

Games will be aired on Peacock and CNBC, as the inaugural 7-a-side tournament takes place in Cary, North Carolina and the likes of West Ham United, Wolves, Borussia Dortmund, Wrexham and various teams from around the world including former USMNT and USWNT players will compete.

“On June 4th, two teams will face off in our championship game for a million dollars. The second place team will get nothing. We are excited to showcase the drama of that moment and 26 additional high-stakes matches through this partnership with NBC Sports, home of the Premier League in the United States,” said TST founder and CEO Jon Mugar.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

What is The Soccer Tournament?

Here are more details on what to expect from The Soccer Tournament this summer:

“A first-of-its-kind soccer event, TST will feature 32 teams from eight different countries competing in a World Cup-like group stage. Sixteen teams will advance to the knockout stage, where they will compete in single elimination games for a $1 million grand prize.

“Teams competing in the event include 7-a-side teams from notable European clubs such as Borussia Dortmund, West Ham, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wrexham, Como 1907, Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv, MLS club Charlotte FC, Liga MX’s Club Necaxa, Clint Dempsey’s Team Dempsey, and US Women, a team of former US women’s national team players organized by Heather O’Reilly and coached by Mia Hamm.

“Notable players include legendary Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas (Como 1907), NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (Nati SC), social media influencer and former MLS Academy product Noah Beck (Borussia Dortmund), among others. TST’s field will also include 23 former U.S. senior national team players on both the men’s and women’s side with nearly 1,400 matches of experience combined.”

Below is the full TST game schedule and tickets for all TST games are on sale now at

The Soccer Tournament schedule, how to watch live, start times, dates

June 1, 2023

Borussia Dortmund 2-5 Hoosiers Army (Indiana Alumni) – June 1, 9am ET

West Ham United 2-4 Far East United – June 1, 10:30am ET

US Women 0-5 Say Word FC – June 1, 12pm ET

Wrexham Red Dragons 3-2 Como 1907 – June 1, 1:30pm ET

Wolverhampton 3-4 Blade & Grass – June 1, 5pm ET


Club Necaxa 2-3 Hapoel Tel Aviv – June 1, 6:30pm ET


Wrexham Red Dragons 12-0 US Women – June 1, 8pm ET

Team Dempsey 0-3 Sneaky Fox – June 1, 9:30pm ET

June 2, 2023

Borussia Dortmund 1-7 Kingdom FC – June 2, 9am ET

West Ham United 4-3 Culture by Mo Ali FC – June 2, 10:30am ET

Wrexham Red Dragons 8-1 Say Word FC – June 2, 12pm ET

Team Dempsey vs. Zala FFF – June 2, 1:30pm ET

Quarterfinals (4 games) – June 2, 12 pm – 4:45pm ET

Como 1907 3-4 Zala FFF

Conrad and Beasley United 1-2 Sneaky Fox

June 3, 2023

Semifinals (2 games) – June 3, 7 pm and 9:30pm ET

SLC FC 1-0 Zala FFF

Newtown Pride 4-1 Sneaky Fox

June 4, 2023

TST $1M Championship Game (Live) – SLC FC vs Newtown Pride — June 4, 3pm ET CNBC – Encore to air on June 10, 2pm ET (NBC)

Manchester City vs Inter Milan: How to watch Champions League Final, odds, predictions


Manchester City is on the chase for a historic treble and standing in the way is Inter Milan, one of Europe’s precious few clubs to claim such an honor.

[ LIVE: Manchester City vs Inter Milan ]

The Premier League winners three times running have an FA Cup under their belt after beating Manchester United on June 3 and the final jewel in their treble crown awaits with a win in Istanbul on June 10.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Pep Guardiola could lead a second club to a treble after he did it with Barcelona in 2008-09, and they would give heated rivals United domestic company on the treble stage right down the road.

Guardiola says it’s now okay to talk about the treble. We agree, and we’ve laid out why the achievement is so special after the jump.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Manchester City vs Inter Milan.

How to watch Manchester City vs Inter Milan live, stream link and start time

Dates: 3pm ET June 10, 2023
Online: Live updates via
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+

What Premier League clubs have won the treble?

Manchester United won the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League in 1998-99.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils are the lone Premier League club to win it.

That’s it. For now.

How many times has the treble been won?

Nine times in history has a team won its domestic league, top domestic cup, and the European Cup.

Bayern Munich and Barcelona have each done it twice, with Bayern doing it in 2012-13 and 2019-20 and Barca pulling it off in 2008-09 and 2014-15.

Celtic was the first to win a treble, doing it in 1966-67, while Ajax was the next in 1971-72.

PSV Eindhoven then won it in 1987-88 before Man United made it happen 11 years later. Inter Milan is the only Italian team to pull it off, winning in 2009-10.


Champions League Final odds (Betting odds provided by our partner, BetMGM )

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

Man City (-250) vs Inter Milan (+625) | Draw over 120 mins (+380)

Over 2.5 goals (-160). Under 2.5 goals (+110)

Champions League Final predictions

Joe Prince-Wright: Man City 2-1 Inter Milan
Andy Edwards: Man City 3-1 Inter Milan
Nick Mendola: Man City 2-0 Inter Milan

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options


Inter Milan team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Joaquin Correa. OUT: Dalbert.

Manchester City beat Man United in FA Cup, one win from treble


Manchester City won its seventh FA Cup and moved with a Champions League win of the very rare treble with a 2-1 win over Manchester United on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.

Ilkay Gundogan scored a goal after just 13 seconds — an FA Cup Final record — and volleyed home off a corner kick in the second half after a Bruno Fernandes penalty had drawn United level before halftime.

[ MORE: Pep Guardiola reaction – Okay to talk treble now ]

The Manchester derby nature of this FA Cup Final, the first final match-up between the heated rivals in tournament history, will make City’s win even sweeter, and the cherry on top is that United was unable to stop City’s quest to match its 1998-99 team.

That’s the only time in English history we’ve seen a treble that included the European Cup. Man City meets Inter Milan next week in the Champions League Final. A win means the treble.

Erik ten Hag is denied a domestic cup double in his first season as United boss. The FA Cup has been played since 1871, and Man United’s 12 tournament wins trail only Arsenal’s 12. United last won in 2016.

Treble-chasing Man City didn’t need its best, shows rivals distance to climb

This could’ve been a clean sheet win for City on another day, who had to deal with a 1-1 deadlock because of a legal but unsavory handball call against Jack Grealish that sent Bruno Fernandes to the spot.

Yes, United will point to the fact that it had to rebound from Ilkay Gundogan’s super quick opener, but City’s train barely left the station in this game and it was still a comfortable-enough win.

City let United hang around but there was always a feeling of inevitability: A moment of class was coming from one of the best teams ever assembled in world football.

Erling Haaland didn’t score and City misfired on a number of opportunities that it generally puts home. Is that a bad sign for next week’s Champions League Final?

That remains to be seen and debated, but there’s no question that City showed United how much more there is to be done to catch up to the champs. Why? Because City’s B-game was more than enough to collect another trophy.

Manchester City vs Manchester United player ratings: Stars of the Show

Ilkay Gundogan

Kevin De Bruyne

Bruno Fernandes

Kyle Walker

Manchester City vs Manchester United player ratings

Manchester City vs Manchester United as it happened

First half

THE FASTEST GOOOOOAAAALLL IN FA CUP FINAL HISTORY! It’s Man City taking the lead as a long ball is headed down by Erling Haaland and Ilkay Gundogan’s first touch is a stunning strike from outside the box. Man City, 1-0!

That’s certainly put the game on its head, and City has another chance go very close before United can get their hands anywhere near the game.

City’s had three of the match’s four shot attempts and about 67 percent of the ball at the quarter-hour mark but United’s press is keeping things interesting and there’s been a little drama in the United third.

Fine margins… could’ve been 2-0! Erling Haaland is an absolute full stretch to poke a Bernardo Silva pass toward goal, but he can barely get to it and De Gea corrals the ball with ease. 17′

CLOSE! Kevin De Bruyne drills a left-footed shot that spins just wide of the post as City is starting to collect near-misses. That’s both asserting control but keeping the Red Devils in the match. 29′

VAR CHECK. Could there be a penalty for Man United? Aaron Wan-Bissaka heads a cross off Jack Grealish’s arm, and the video review is putting Man United on the spot! PENALTY…

GOAL! Bruno Fernandes bests Stefan Ortega with a stuttering run-up, rolling the ball the other way to make it 1-1.

Looks like this one’s going to the break at 1-1, and Erik ten Hag has to be thrilled about that. Neutrals will be happy, too, as we’ve got a tense derby finale in the balance. City’s taken six of the 10 shots in this one and had 60 percent of the ball but United’s got the xG lead 1.00-0.61.

Second half

GOAL! City on the front foot again, with no changes to start the second half, and a 51st-minute corner free kick sees Ilkay Gundogan etching his name further in Man City lore when he waits out De Bruyne’s lofted free kick and grounds the ball inside the near post. Man City, 2-1.

SAVE! David De Gea reacts to make an in-tight leg save on De Bruyne.

OFFSIDE GOAL: Gundogan is point blank to tap in a loose ball but is offside. It would’ve been a hat trick.

CLOSE! At the other end, United sub Alejandro Garnacho drags a shot just wide of the far post. Those fine margins remain part of this one!

It’s desperation time for Manchester United, who only had seven minutes and stoppage to get in the way of City’s second jewel in its treble crown.

Gundogan’s close to his hat trick again but this time Luke Shaw intervenes to force a corner kick.

WOAH! Very close to a stoppage-time equalizer as Scott McTominay makes chaos in Stefan Ortega’s box, leading to a corner kick. Cleared by Kyle Walker for the moment. Less than two minutes left now…

Ilkay Gundogan goal video: 13 seconds in!

Bruno Fernandes goal video: Penalty makes it 1-1

Ilkay Gundogan goal video: Patient, precise, pretty

How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, FA Cup Final stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
Where: Wembley Stadium, London
Online: Stream via ESPN+
Updates: Stats, commentary on

FA Cup Final odds (Betting odds provided by our partner, BetMGM )

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

Man City (-200) vs Manchester United (+525) | Draw over 120 mins (+375)

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: None.

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lisandro Martinez, Marcel Sabitzer, Donny van de Beek, Anthony Martial, Antony.

Premier League ins and outs: Summer signings, exits for all 20 clubs


Some Premier League mainstays have left their clubs and may even depart the league this summer, whether their choice or the desire of their teams.

Ashley Young, Lucas Moura, and Joao Moutinho are among the players who will not return to their clubs, and all this before June is more than a few days gone.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Arsenal | Liverpool | Chelsea | Tottenham | Man City | Man United ]

Meanwhile, some new names are arriving in the Premier League, with Brentford purchasing a new keeper and Brighton raiding Watford for a star attacking talent.

As the summer goes on, this page will be consistently updated with the comings and goings around all 17 returning Premier League clubs and promoted sides Burnley, Sheffield United, and Luton Town.

See all signings, after the jump.

AFC Bournemouth

Hamed Traore (Sassuolo)

Jefferson Lerma (Released)
Jack Stacey (Norwich City)
Junior Stanislas (Released)



Aston Villa

Ashley Young (Released)


Mark Flekken (Freiburg)
Ethan Brierley (Rochdale)

Pontus Jansson (Malmo)
Saman Ghoddos (Released)
Tariqe Fosu (Released)
Joel Valencia (Released)

Brighton & Hove Albion

Joao Pedro (Watford)


Jordan Beyer (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Ashley Barnes (Norwich City)


Dujon Sterling (Rangers)

Crystal Palace

James McArthur (Released)
Luka Milivojevic (Released)


Niels Nkounkou (Saint-Etienne)




Roberto Firmino (Released)
Naby Keita (Released)
James Milner (Released)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Released)

Luton Town


Manchester City


Manchester United

Ethan Galbraith
Phil Jones (Released)

Newcastle United


Nottingham Forest

Jack Colback (Released)
Will Swan (Mansfield Town)
Jordan Smith (Released)
Andre Ayew (Released)
Cafu (Released)
Jack Colback (Released)
Jesse Lingard (Released)
Jordan Smith (Released)
Lyle Taylor (Released)

Sheffield United


Tottenham Hotspur

Lucas Moura (Released)

West Ham United

Arthur Masuaku (Besiktas)

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Jeong Sang-bin (Minnesota United)
Diego Costa (Released)
Joao Moutinho (Released)
Michael Agboola (Released)
Lee Harkin (Released)
Jack Hodnett (Released)
Luke Matheson (Released)
Taylor Perry (Released)
Jack Scott (Released)