Week 8: Top Premier League headlines – Arsenal vs. United, Merseyside derby

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Ahead of Week 8 in the Premier League there are so many great games to look forward to.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream PL games via Live Extra ]

From local rivalries, to the big dogs clashing and teams at the top and bottom of the standings shuffling ahead of the two-week international break, it should provide some mouth-watering matches as we enter the first week of October and the sun is still shining (for now) in England.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Here are five storylines to keep an eye on this weekend.

Title pretenders clash at the Emirates: Arsenal vs. Manchester United

Manchester United sit top of the tree as they head to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra). Louis Van Gaal‘s side dispatched Wolfsburg 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday but the Dutchman said his side were “tired” and must be more clinical. With Anthony Martial and Memphis continuining to gel but Wayne Rooney looking short in confidence, United’s toughest test of the season so far provides a good yard-stick for just how good they are.

The same can be said for Arsenal, as the Gunners are still reeling from their 3-2 midweek UCL defeat to Olympiakos. Arsene Wenger has come under plenty of criticism for playing David Opsina in goal over Petr Cech in the Champions League, especially as the former produced a howler to leave Arsenal with a very slim chance of qualifying for the last 16 as they’ve lost both of their opening UCL games and now face Bayern Munich back-to-back. All is not well at the Emirates, but if they beat United on Sunday, maybe it will breathe new life into a season which hasn’t unfolded as anybody expected. Last season United won 2-1 at the Emirates, before Arsenal grabbed a late point at Old Trafford and sealed a 2-1 win in the FA Cup quarterfinal away to United. This will be tight and tense, as two teams who aren’t seen as legit title contenders try to suggest they are ready to return to past glories and win the PL trophy. A fascinating encounter awaits.

Chelsea must rebound against stubborn Saints

Jose Mourinho wasn’t too unhappy with his side despite the midweek 2-1 defeat at FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League. Good finishing from an impressive home side was the difference, but poor defending once again cost Chelsea as Mourinho continues to harmfully tinker with his lineup, with John Terry still on the sidelines. Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic were also on the bench for the midweek match, and heading in Saturday’s clash with Southampton at Stamford Bridge (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) the Blues need a big performance after stalling again. When they beat Arsenal 2-0 at home in Week 6, everyone said “here we go, Chelsea is back in business.” But a stumbling display in a 2-2 draw away at Newcastle proved that they weren’t and now they come up against a team who they failed to beat on both occasions last season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

It will not be easy for Chelsea against a Southampton side who is working towards regaining their defensive solidity. With Ryan Bertrand returning from injury, Virgil Van Dijk settling in at center back and Ronald Koeman‘s men increasingly looking more like the team who finished in seventh last season and flirted with the top four, this will be a tough test. Last season Chelsea drew 1-1 with Saints home and away. The same result this season would mean the pressure continues to mount on Mourinho.

Sturridge ready to roll for Merseyside derby

For the first time in over six months, last week Daniel Sturridge‘s wacky goal celebration returned to Anfield. Sturridge, 26, has been out injured for most of the last 12 months and it has hit Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers hard. Pressure has been mounting on Rodgers, as he believes there is “hysteria” from the media and former players surrounding his position at Anfield If Sturridge can stay fit for the rest of this season, it is great news for Liverpool and Rodgers.

The England international has recovered from his hip and thigh problems to return and lead the line. Against Everton on Sunday (Watch live, 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) he will be the focal point of Liverpool’s attack, with Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho, Danny Ings and maybe Roberto Firmino making runs off him. The importance of Sturridge — who long with Luis Suarez delivered 52 of Liverpool’s goals as they came agonizingly close to winning the PL title in 2013-14 — is not lost on Rodgers as he’s wrapped the forward in cotton wool and rested him for the Europa League game against Sion in midweek. If Everton is to get anything from this, they must stop Sturridge, but as they proved away at West Brom last week, they have quality attacking talents of their own. Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace and Ross Barkley is regaining his best form. The Toffees sit in fifth and could go second with a win. Liverpool would leapfrog their city rivals with a derby-day win. There’s plenty on the line as these fierce rivals collide.

Battle of the newly-promoted boys: Bournemouth vs. Watford

As you know if you watched the video above, it’s been a rough few weeks for AFC Bournemouth and their manager Eddie Howe. The Cherries, like their opponents on Saturday, Watford (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra) have adapted superbly to life in the PL but have been hit by three hammer blows. First up their two most expensive signings of the summer both went down with ACL injuries. Promising left back Tyrone Mings is out for the season, Max Gradel out for six months. Then, the biggest blow of them all arrived last weekend as striker and top goalscorer with tfive goals, Callum Wilson, crumpled in a heap against Stoke City. Wilson ruptured his ACL too, leaving Bournemouth without three key men for the next six months, at least. Howe will have to find a solution to those injury issues, but all of a sudden — unless they spend big in January — Bournemouth’s hopes of staving off relegation have taken a monumental hit.

As for Watford, they suffered defeat at home for the first time this season last week, and against Palace Quique Sanchez Flores’ team seemed to struggle with self-belief. Especially in the final third as they now scored just one goal at home all season and fired three blanks in four matches. Both Watford and Bournemouth have shown they can survive in the PL, but different issues are impacting both squads heading into a game which could provide either side with a vital three points when all is said and done at the end of the season.

Can Pardew take Palace where Pulis hoped to?

Last week I asked Crystal Palace’s manager Alan Pardew how he assessed the Eagles’ start to the season which sees them currently sitting in sixth place.

“It’s a good return, whichever way you look at it,” Pardew said. “We find ourselves on 12 points with a game at home coming up. We are going to try and exploit that because we’ve not always done that. It’s Tony [Pulis] coming as well so we know there will be extra resilience in that West Brom team. It’s a big game for us. We kick off early and it is a chance to find ourselves in a very nice position if we can win it.”

That early kick off against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) provides Palace with the chance to go second in the standings. They’d need a monster win to achieve that, but if Pardew can get one over former Palace boss Pulis, his side will more than likely be in the top four with just and a quarter of the season gone. There is, of course, history there between Pulis and Palace. The man who kept them in the PL during the 2013-14 season, then left on the eve of the 2014-15 campaign due to differences with Chairman Steve Parish, left Palace in the lurch. They rushed to appoint Neil Warnock as manager but he lasted under December when Pardew arrived to take the Eagles up to 11th. Many would argue Pulis started this resurgence as the south London club are in their third-straight PL season for the first time in their history. The big difference between Pulis and Pardew at Palace (lot of P’s flying around here) is that Pardew was backed by Parish and the board as he signed Yohan Cabaye for a club-record $20 million over the summer and has huge backing from the fans as a former Palace player. There is a little resentment for Pulis from Palace’s fans, but also appreciation for how he helped kick-start their recent resurgence. However on Saturday, Pardew, Palace and Parish would love to get one over on Pulis to show him what he’s missing out on at Selhurst Park.

 

USMNT projected starting lineup vs Saudi Arabia

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The USMNT face Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain in their final warm-up game before the 2022 World Cup kicks off in November and there are plenty of question marks around their best starting lineup.

Especially at center back and up front.

[ MORE: Player ratings | What we learned | Reaction ]

Following the shocking defeat to Japan (where a 2-0 scoreline in Japan’s favor heavily flattered the USMNT), Gregg Berhalter has plenty to think about as he juggles his roster around ahead of this final audition.

Yes, this final camp before the World Cup has seen the USMNT without six key players (Weah, Steffen, A. Robinson, Carter-Vickers, Richards and Musah) but the most concerning thing is that nobody took the opportunity given to them against Japan. Will anybody step up against Saudi Arabia and cement their spot in the roster, or even the starting lineup?

Below is our projected lineup, plus analysis on what Berhalter should do for the final 90 minutes he has with the team before they kick off their World Cup campaign against Wales on Nov. 21 in Qatar.


USMNT projected starting lineup vs Saudi Arabia (4-3-3)

—– Horvath —–

— Scally — Zimmerman — Palmer-Brown — Dest —

—- Adams —- McKennie —-

—- Reyna —-

— Aaronson — Pepi — Pulisic —


What should Berhalter do?

It’s clear that Gregg Berhalter will make plenty of changes as eight players (six outfield, two goalkeepers) didn’t have any minutes against Japan last time out. That said, he needs key players on this team to find some rhythm playing together less than two months before the World Cup kicks off. This starting lineup should be a mixture between giving players a final chance to impress and letting star players alongside each other as they look to build momentum ahead of the World Cup.

Goalkeepers

Matt Turner proved he’s the undisputed No. 1 as he excelled against Japan (perhaps the only player to leave that game with any credit) and although Zack Steffen is better with the ball at his feet, Turner appears to have the upper-hand. That leaves Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson to battle it out for the final goalkeeping spot on the roster. Expect them both to get a chance in this game.

Defenders

In defense, Erik Palmer-Brown and Mark McKenzie should both get plenty of minutes to make their final claim for a spot on the roster but it may be a surprise to see them line up together. Perhaps they will have 45 minutes each alongside Zimmerman (a guaranteed starter at CB) to see who fares better as a duo?

At full back Joe Scally should get a run out at right back, while Sergino Dest will likely show off his versatility and play left back. The likes of Dest, and others, need the game time given they’re on the fringes of their starting lineup for their club teams. We now what DeAndre Yedlin can do and he is a leader on this team who is going to Qatar no matter what.

Midfielders

In midfield, I’d start Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie together again. They looked awful against Japan which was very surprising. This duo have to get some kind of partnership going and 60 minutes together here could see things click back into place for them. We know what Luca de la Torre and Kellyn Acosta offer, while Johnny Cardoso and Malik Tillman could both get another, longer, chance to push for a spot on the roster.

Forwards

Gio Reyna playing in a central role as a No. 10 should be something Berhalter prioritizes, while Christian Pulisic is fit and will start (according to Berhalter) so he should start on the left and Brenden Aaronson should start on the right. Getting Aaronson, Reyna and Pulisic used to playing together and interchanging is something that has to be done.

Up top, Berhalter has confirmed that Ricardo Pepi will get his chance to start and his physicality and speed should combine very well with the trio underneath him. Expect Josh Sargent to get a good chunk of minutes too, while Jesus Ferreira is the other option up top but maybe we could see Pulisic or Reyna playing up there as a false nine at some point of the game?

Ranking the 2022 World Cup kits

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With the 2022 World Cup fast approaching, plenty of World Cup kits are starting to be released and there are some intriguing looks.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA  

From Mexico’s snazzy away number to Germany going for a solid new look for their home kit and Puma rolling out a very specific and similar look for their national teams, just like they did for their club teams on their away kits, there is a lot to unpack here.

When November rolls around and the World Cup kicks off, which one of these jerseys will you be wearing with pride? And which one will you be wearing because it looks really cool?

Below is our rankings of the World Cup kits which have been released.


Ranking the 2022 World Cup kits

1. Mexico

This is a lovely away kit and will become a classic. Expect these beauties to fly off the shelves and be a jersey that neutrals love just as much as El Tri fans. The home kit is very decent too.


2. Portugal

Absolutely sensational work. The home kit is unique enough but still sticks to Portugal’s bold colors, while the away kit is a classic too.


3. Poland

Oh, wow. This is absolutely beautiful. The away shirt is majestic and the home shirt is classic but with some intriguing detail on the sleeves. Nicely done.


4. Japan

Well, this is another classic. Japan’s home kit is inspired by anime and the design is bold and recognizable. The away kit is fantastic too, especially the long-sleeved version.


5. France

The home and away kits are both lovely and the colors just work together. Well done.


6. Argentina

The home kit is classic. You can’t really mess up the blue and white stripes. Again, another lovely away kit. The purple is perfect and this just looks slick and silky. Much like Lionel Messi’s footwork.


7. Wales

These are beautiful. The right color red on the home shirt and just enough going on without overdoing it. The away shirt is also bold and the collar is lovely. Well done.


8. Brazil

Home kit looks like a classic and the away shirt is pretty decent too, but some people may not like the funky print on the shoulders.


9. England

The blue panels on the home kit are a bit meh but the away kit is a retro beauty.


10. Croatia

They kind of ruined a classic with the home kit. It’s still cool but only having the checkered design on part of the home shirt is weird. The away kit is majestic.


11. Saudi Arabia

Pretty nice designs here. They could have gone with the plain white for the home and plain green for the away, but the snazzy designs work. Especially for the away kit.


12. Netherlands

The home shirt looks kind of velvety? Not the usual bright orange, which will upset some. The blue away kit is sleek and the real winner here.


13. Senegal

This is the best of the Puma jerseys, as Senegal’s away kit is very distinctive and the green is lovely. This big panel on the middle of the kit is something we will get used to seeing a lot of during the World Cup.


14. Ghana

Again, another Puma away kit but this Ghana shirt has plenty of personality.


15. Germany

This is fine. Expect a bit better from Die Mannschaft and it feels like they should have an all white jersey for their home kit.


16. Qatar

The hosts have a simple, clean look. The away shirt has a nice golden pattern on it. Not bad.


17. USA

The home shirt has not been received well by fans, and some players, for being too boring. But the away shirt is pretty nice.


18. Morocco

A bit plain, but like the collar and sleeve trims and the circular pattern around the middle is very cool.


19. Spain

Eh, this could have been so much better. Spain’s home kit looks bland and the away kit is just too much with that pattern.


20. Australia

Not quite sure what to make of this. The same velvety style as the Netherlands home shirt on Australia’s home shirt. Just doesn’t work. The away kit is also just very bland.


21. Belgium

These home kits are just a little too plain and the flame pattern on the shoulder isn’t great and looks like a shirt I’d wear to my midweek bowling league. A missed opportunity. The same applies for the away kit. Belgium’s golden generation won’t look golden this World Cup.


22. Uruguay

Again, another Puma away kit which looks very similar. Uruguay’s iconic sky blue could have been used a lot better on this away shirt.


23. Serbia

Lovely gold in the design and makes the white away kit pop a little.


24. Switzerland

Just very bland. Not a lot going on and the panel in the middle is just a bit of an eyesore.

World Cup 2022 rankings: Who are the favorites?

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With less than two months to go until it all kicks off, it is time to update and release the latest 2022 World Cup rankings.

[ MORE: USMNT react to Japan defeat ]

There are a few clear favorites to win the trophy in Qatar but some of the giants have been handed tougher group stage draws than others which will obviously impact their chances of lifting the famous trophy.

Given that some of the favorites have also been struggling in recent Nations League games and friendlies with plenty of heavy defeats and strange results, there remains no real frontrunner to win the tournament. That is great news for neutrals.

[ MORE: Full schedule for World Cup ]

Keep an eye out on a few underdogs too, as there are some real opportunities which have opened up depending on what side of the bracket you’re on.

We will updates these rankings before and during the tournament in Qatar, which takes place from November 21 to December 18, 2022.

[ MORE: Betting odds for 2022 World Cup ]

Let us know what you think of the rankings below.


Schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
Group stage game kick off times: 5am, 8am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
Location: Qatar
TV channel in EnglishFox
TV channel in Spanish: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock


World Cup Rankings – September 26, 2022

32. Tunisia – Down 1
31. Qatar – Down 4
30. Australia – Up 2
29. Ghana – Even
28. Cameroon – Down 3


27. Saudi Arabia – Up 1
26. Costa Rica – Up 4
25. Wales – Down 5
24. Iran – Even
23. Ecuador – Down 5


22. Morocco – Even
21. Canada – Up 2
20. USA – Down 4
19. Japan – Up 7
18. Poland – Up 3


17. Mexico – Up 2
16. South Korea – Down 1
15. Uruguay – Down 5
14. Serbia – Up 3
13. Senegal – Down 1


12. Switzerland – Up 1
11. Croatia – Up 3
10. Denmark – Up 1
9. England – Down 3
8. Germany – Down 3
7. Spain – Even


6. Netherlands – Up 3
5. Portugal – Up 3
4. France – Even
3. Belgium – Down 1
2. Argentina – Up 1
1. Brazil – Even


UEFA Nations League: Schedule, how to watch, stream, TV, standings

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UEFA Nations League champions France will not go back-to-back, and Portugal is behind Spain in its bid to return to the throne room, highlighting the odds that a new Nations League winner will be crowned at the end of third edition of the tournament.

England and Wales are also coming to terms with the concept of relegation to UEFA Nations League B after underwhelming campaigns. Hungary look set to reach the semifinal round, which is a huge surprise as they faced Germany, England and Italy in A3.

France lost to Denmark and just remained in League A as Austria were relegated, with Croatia pipping the Danes to a place in the semifinal round.

[ MORE: European Nations League hub — Scores, stats ]

Group A4 is the opposite sort of fight, Belgium and the Netherlands have both played very well but the Dutch triumphed down the stretch (thanks to a 1-0 win as Virgil van Dijk scored the lone goal in Amsterdam) to advance to the semifinal round.

UEFA Nations Leagues B, C, and D also have drama built into the final days as Ukraine and Scotland are jockeying for promotion in B1; Russia’s punishment has left B2 promotion open to Israel, Iceland, and Albania. B4 sees Erling Haaland, Martin Odegaard, and Norway fighting to join League A for the next cycle.

There’s also drama as Kazakhstan and Georgia currently lead their League C groups, with Latvia and Estonia in League D’s best spots.


UEFA Nations League live: How to watch, stream links

When: June 1, 2022 – March 26, 2024
How to watch: Fox Sports Live, Fubo TV


UEFA Nations League A, Group 1

Croatia– 4-1-1, 13 pts [ADVANCED]
Denmark — 4-0-2, 12 pts
France — 1-2-3, 5 pts
Austria — 1-1-4, 4 pts [RELEGATED]

Next fixtures

Thursday
France 2-0 Austria
Croatia 2-1 Denmark

Sunday
Denmark 2-0 France
Austria 1-3 Croatia

UEFA Nations League A, Group 2

Portugal — 3-1-1, 10 pts
Spain — 2-2-0, 8 pts
Switzerland — 2-0-3, 6 pts
Czech Republic — 1-1-3, 4 pts

Next fixtures

Saturday
Czech Republic 0-4 Portugal
Spain 1-2 Switzerland

Tuesday
Portugal vs Spain
Switzerland vs Czech Republic

UEFA Nations League A, Group 3

Hungary — 3-1-1, 10 pts
Italy — 2-2-1, 8 pts
Germany — 1-3-1, 6 pts
England — 0-2-3, 2 pts [RELEGATED]

Next fixtures

Friday
Italy 1-0 England
Germany 0-1 Hungary

Monday
England vs Germany
Hungary vs Italy

UEFA Nations League A, Group 4

Netherlands — 5-1-0, 16 pts [ADVANCED]
Belgium — 3-1-2, 10 pts
Poland — 2-1-3, 7 pts
Wales — 0-1-5, 1 pt [RELEGATED]

Next fixtures

Thursday
Poland 0-2 Netherlands
Belgium 2-1 Wales

Sunday
Netherlands 1-0 Belgium
Wales 0-1 Poland