Week 7: Top Premier League storylines – Chelsea’s resurgence, Liverpool pressure

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Things are starting to heat up and the standings are starting to shake out. The early-season excuses are over in the Premier League as we enter Week 7.

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With three teams still searching for their first win, reigning champs Chelsea finding some form and other giants faltering, we have a lot to look out for in the 10 games coming your way.

Here’s five things to focus in on this weekend.

Chelsea aim to end St James’ Park hoodoo under Mourinho

Believe it or not, Jose Mourinho has never led Chelsea to victory at St James’ Park. There’s something about the roar of over 51,000 Geordies which strikes fear in those wearing blue and now, more than ever, Newcastle’s players need a huge helping hand from their fans as the reigning PL champs roll into town on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra). New manager Steve McClaren is still searching for his first win as Magpies boss and admitted his side is “close to crisis” following their League Cup defeat to second-tier Sheffield Wednesday in midweek.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

Talking about crisis, Chelsea have shown signs of getting through theirs as they beat Arsenal 2-0 last weekend and hammered Walsall in the League Cup. Diego Costa‘s three-match retrospective ban for flailing his arms at Laurent Koscielny has not sat well with Mourinho, especially after Arsenal’s Gabriel had his red card rescinded following his clash with Costa. Chelsea will miss Costa on Saturday in the fiery cauldron of St James’ but it is time for Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy to step up and score the goals which will continue Chelsea’s resurgence.

Pressure mounting on Rodgers

Liverpool squeaked past fourth-tier Carlisle at Anfield in the League Cup in midweek and the Reds fielded an incredibly strong side for what should have been a cakewalk. That points to problems for Brendan Rodgers as his side look devoid of confidence in attack and have score just five times in six league outings this season. Rodgers is the bookies’ favorite to get fired first out of all 20 PL managers and if the Reds lose at home to Aston Villa on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra) expect that pressure to crank up. True, Rodgers can’t be expected to work miracles as players like Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling have left, but he has spent over $300 million on new signings over the past 18 months and, in truth, many have failed to live up to the expectations.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Talking of pressure, Tim Sherwood isn’t on a much longer leash at Aston Villa. After selling Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph this summer, Sherwood is in a similar situation to Rodgers, but with no win in five since the opening day of the season, Villa look likely to be in another relegation battle. Two teams low in confidence will clash at Anfield. Expect a nervy and close encounter.

Can City bounce back away at Spurs?

Manchester City’s lead at the top of the Premier League standings was cut to two points last week as they suffered a shock home defeat to West Ham. Manuel Pellegrini‘s men looked unstoppable until last week. Winning their first five PL games of the season without conceding a goal, they first lost to Juventus in the UEFA Champions League after a late collapse, then came the shock loss to the Hammers. Pellegrini’s men ripped open Sunderland in the League Cup this week, winning 4-1 as Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero all got on the scoresheet. The Citizens, on paper, will be wary of this trip to Spurs on Saturday (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) and if they lose to Mauricio Pochettino‘s side and Manchester United beat Sunderland, the Red Devils will replace them at the PL’s summit. Spurs, who lost to North London rivals Arsenal in the League Cup, have won two-straight in the PL but have struggled for goals this season as Harry Kane‘s drought continues.

Foxes aim to stay unbeaten as Arsenal come to town

Claudio Ranieri is fostering something special at the King Power Stadium. Leicester is the only unbeaten team left in the PL and in their last two games they’ve fought back from 2-0 goals down to grab four points from losing positions. The veteran Italian manager hasn’t changed much, as over the summer the Foxes have ridden their wide of euphoria from last season’s incredible escape from the relegation zone. With Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy ready to exploit weaknesses in Arsenal’s defense, and the home fans fired up to welcome the Gunners, this will not be an easy game for Arsene Wenger‘s side on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on USA Network and online via Live Extra). The Gunners showed grit and determination in their 2-1 League Cup win over Spurs in midweek and they will need plenty of that to get past Ranieri’s side. 

Saints, Swans ready to take next step

When you mention either Southampton or Swansea City, most people have positive thoughts. Both clubs have been promoted to the PL in recent years and have finished in the top 10 after building their squads shrewdly yet still retaining their loyalty to players from their journey up the pyramid to the top-flight. Saints and Swansea finished in seventh and eighth respectively last season and the challenge for them now is, despite selling star players once again, they must try to kick on further and finish in the top six. That will not be easy but in Ronald Koeman and Garry Monk they possess two managers both getting plenty of plaudits. Koeman is older, wiser and has worked wonders at Saints as they have offload star talent and bolstered the squad considerably. 

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As for Monk, his swift promotion to manager at the Liberty Stadium while his modest playing career (compared to Koeman’s anyway) wasn’t even officially over has brought out the best in him. Swansea started the season impressively but have failed to score in their last two games and lost at Watford last weekend and away at second-tier Hull in the League Cup. Southampton had a slow start and crashed out of the Europa League at the final qualifying hurdle, but after smashing six past MK Dons in League Cup play and putting up a strong offensive showing against Manchester United last week in a 3-2 defeat, Koeman’s boys are starting to gather some steam. Both clubs are perfect models of how to build success from the bottom up off the pitch. On the pitch the last three meetings have ended in 1-0 wins for the away side to show how tight things are between them on the pitch. 

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

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Leicester – Burnley: Brendan Rodgers seeks to become just the 23rd manager to win 100 games in the Premier League, and becoming the fourth-fastest Brit to reach the mark, when Leicester City host Burnley at the King Power Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 2 pm ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

LEICESTER – BURNLEY BROM STREAM LIVE

Rodgers moved one step closer to his century of PL wins last weekend when the Foxes began their 2020-21 campaign with a 3-0 thrashing of newly promoted West Bromwich Albion. Burnley, on the other hand, are set for their season debut this weekend after their opening-day clash with Manchester United was rescheduled.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

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


Team news: Leicester – Burnley (INJURY REPORT)

Leicester will be missing three players Ricardo Pereira (knee), Jonny Evans (thigh), Filip Benkovic (groin) — with absolutely certainty, plus James Maddison (hip) is unlikely to feature and Wes Morgan (thigh) is expected to face a late fitness test to determine his availability.

Meanwhile, Burnley aren’t expecting to have Johann Berg Gudmundsson (knee) or Jack Cork (ankle).


What they’re saying: Leicester – Burnley

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers, on transfer target Cengiz Under: “He’s a very, very good player. There have been negotiations with the club [Roma] and we’re hopeful there. We need a different kind of attacking player to help out at the top end of the pitch. It’s clear we have pace and power, but I feel we need more football in there.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche, on the club’s desperate transfer approach: “Lastminute.com — [it] started back in the day of Charlie Austin, two days before the first game of the season. There are many different ways that clubs operate. It is very difficult, it is tricky, but it’s the reality of it. I’ve been here eight years. This is not new news. I’ve been saying this for three years at least, saying we’ve got to stretch, we’ve got to pre-plan. But you can only offer these opinions. I don’t sign the checks, I can assure you.”


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

Leicester (-165) are heavy betting favorites with Burnley (+460) widely expected to simply roll over and concede the three points up for grabs. Even the draw (+290) is though a bridge perhaps too far for the Clarets.

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: Leicester – Burnley

Leicester managed to shake off the rust and disappointment that was the end of the 2019-20 season (just two wins from nine games during “Project Restart”) and win going away last weekend. On the other hand, Burnley finished with just two losses from their final nine games, and won four of them. We’ll see if either side is in the midst of a trend, or simply a blip on the radar. Leicester 2-1 Burnley.


How to watch Leicester – Burnley stream and start time

Kickoff: 2 pm ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Newcastle – Brighton: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Newcastle v Brighton: A pair of sides that impressed on the opening weekend of the 2020-21 Premier League season — but only one of them with anything to show for it — will meet at St. James’ Park on Sunday (Watch live at 9 am ET, online via Peacock).

NEWCASTLE – BRIGHTON STREAM LIVE

Newcastle United were far and away the better side in their season-opening victory away to West Ham United last weekend, while Brighton looked the better part of Chelsea’s equals for 54 minutes but ultimately fell to a 3-1 defeat at the Amex Stadium.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Newcastle v Brighton this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Newcastle v Brighton (INJURY REPORT)

Newcastle will be without five players — Matty Longstaff (thigh), Martin Dubravka (ankle), Fabian Schar (shoulder), Paul Dummett (thigh), Dwight Gayle (knee) — leaving Steve Bruce with an increasingly thin squad.

Jose Iquierdo (knee), Florian Andone (knee) and Christian Walton (ankle) have all been ruled out for Sunday, with rising star Ben White (ankle) likely to face a late fitness test after picking up a minor injury last week.


What they’re saying

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce, on starting with a win: “I’m like everybody else, we all like to get off to a start and we couldn’t have had a better week in terms of results. The players have hit the ground running, which was always part of the reason why we went after who we went after. We’ve got a chance to get off to an outstanding start.”

Brighton manager Graham Potter, on Newcastle: “Newcastle will be strong. They were worthy winners at West Ham and they will be a tough test for us. Impressive, the business they have done. They have added to the squad and they will be really strong. Everyone knows what Andy Carroll brings to the team and physically he is very strong, and aerially he is strong. Him and [Callum] Wilson will be a strong partnership.”


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

There’s almost nothing to separate Newcastle (+160) from Brighton (+185) as the oddsmakers see Sunday’s clash a near-tossup. Even the draw (+210) isn’t far out of line with either side winning.

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

At the risk of placing too much importance upon a game in week no. 2, this one has the feel of an important litmus test for Newcastle. West Ham have been chaotic for quite some time now, but Brighton, despite finishing 15th last season, have appeared far more stable and trending upward under Potter. They’re likely a mid-table side this season, and Newcastle could be, too. In the end, it ends Newcastle 1-1 Brighton.


How to watch Newcastle v Brighton stream and start time

Kickoff: 9 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Europa League qualifying – playoff round draw results

Europa League draw
Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images
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Europa League draw results: Tottenham Hotspur will be rather pleased with their draw for the final round of UEFA Europa League qualifying — should they advance to reach it, of course — as they plod toward the group stage.

[ MORE: Is Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham a good idea? ]

After surviving their brush with disaster and embarrassment on Thursday, Jose Mourinho’s men will next be away to Macedonian side Shkendija in the third round of qualifying next Thursday. Should they come on top there, Tottenham will then host either Russian side Rostov or Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa the first week of October. The winner of that single-leg showdown will qualify for the group stage.

Elsewhere, Serie A giant AC Milan, who face Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt next week, were handed a slightly tougher draw: away to Turkish giant Besiktas or Portuguese side Rio Ave.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Diogo Jota to Liverpool; Yedlin to Besiktas ]

Scottish rivals Celtic and Rangers are also still alive in their quests to reach the group stage and learned their potential future opponents in the Europa League draw. Celtic, the nine-time reigning champions of Scotland, will face Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina) or Buducnost (Montenegro) if they get past Riga (Latvia) first. Rangers will see Galatasaray or Hajduk Split (Croatia) if they advance past Dutch side Willem II next weekn.

Notable Europa League playoff round matchups

Shkendija/ Tottenham Hotspur v Rostov/Maccabi Haifa
Besiktas/Rio Ave v AC Milan/Bodo/Glimt
Sarajevo/Buducnost Podgorica v Riga/Celtic
Willem II/Rangers v Galatasaray/Hajduk Split
Rosenborg/Alanyaspor v Mura/PSV Eindhoven
St. Gallen/AEK Athens v Wolfsburg/ Desna Chernihiv
Sporting CP/ Aberdeen v LASK/ Dunajska Streda

Everton – West Brom: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Everton – West Brom: The Toffees and Baggies are set to kick off weekend no. 2 of the 2020-21 Premier League season on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 am ET, online via Peacock).

EVERTON – WEST BROM STREAM LIVE

Everton were one of the PL’s most impressive sides last weekend, as they began their campaign with a 1-0 victory away to Tottenham Hotspur. Most impressively, though, was the instant impact of three newcomers — James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure — who slotted into the team and played important parts in collecting three points on their debuts.

As for West Bromwich Albion, returning to life in the PL brought something of a rude awakening in the form of a 3-0 home defeat to Leicester City. After two seasons in the EFL Championship, West Brom undeniably have their work cut out for them if they’re to stay up this season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Everton – West Brom this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Everton – West Brom (INJURY REPORT)

Everton will be without four players — Mason Holgate (ankle), Cenk Tosun (knee), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (calf), Fabian Delph (calf) — none of whom were available for selection to the 18-man squad a week ago.

West Brom will be missing Danish forward Kenneth Zohore (calf), who also missed out on the opening weekend.


What they’re saying

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, on his squad’s depth: “They are experienced players, all three of them in different ways, James, Allan have international experience. Doucoure has played really well in the Premier League. They have brought more confidence to their teammates. We have a more competitive squad. It is difficult to do the lineup, difficult to make the bench and the most difficult part is to tell the player to stay home and watch the game on TV. But if we want to be a more competitive team we have to have competition in the squad.”

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic, on wanting more signings: “We would love to do it. It is important we bring a different type of striker to what we have into the club. We are trying to get it done but it’s not easy, but it is instrumental for us. Then the next phase is to improve the team from last season. We got Button the goalkeeper, we got Kipre from Wigan – two good additions to our squad. We’ve got [Branislav] Ivanovic, and now [Conor] Gallagher, and we’re hoping and trying to get a couple more. It’s not a secret — we have good numbers of strikers, but we’re looking to add a bit more quality.”


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

Everton (-190) are, predictably, heavy favorites for this one, with West Brom checking in at +525. The draw is currently sitting +320, if you’re a firm believer that West Brom stand a chance.

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

It’s a mighty tough schedule to start the season for West Brom, as they go from last season’s fifth-place finishers to a side with similar aspirations this season. For as long as James and Co., stay healthy and fit, Everton look set to be a handful and a half for bottom-half sides like West Brom. They will have to wait another week for their first points — and their first goal. Everton 2-0 West Brom.


How to watch Everton – West Brom stream and start time

Kickoff: 7:30 am ET Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock