Premier League Playback: Analyzing all 20 teams a third of the way in

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With a third of the season in the books and an international break here, it is time to take stock of the 2015-16 Premier League season so far and see how each of the 20 teams are performing.

[ MORE: PL Playback archive ]

In alphabetical order, here’s a brief look at each side based on what we’ve seen in the opening 12 games of the season.

Let’s get to it…


ARSENAL

Position/points: 2nd/26
Best win: 3-0 over Manchester United. Blew them away.
Star of the show: Mesut Ozil is finally delivering consistently. He’s the hub of Arsenal’s offense.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Losing the season opener to West Ham at home.
Manager: Arsene Wenger has built a strong squad but injuries are piling up. Let’s see how they cope.
Reason for optimism: The Gunners are unbeaten in six and look stronger at the back with Cech.
Marks out of 10: 8


ASTON VILLA

Position/points: 20th/5
Best win: Only one so far. Bournemouth away on opening day.
Star of the show: This is tough. Idrissa Gana has been the best of a bad bunch.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: The whole season, really, but defeat at Leicester after being 2-0 up was pretty bad.
Manager: Remi Garde drew with Man City in his first game in charge after replacing Sherwood. Huge task.
Reason for optimism: Garde can shore up the defense which will improve chances of survival.
Marks out of 10: 2 (and that’s generous)


BOURNEMOUTH

Position/points: 18th/8
Best win: The 4-3 win at West Ham showcased all that is good about their free-flowing style.
Star of the show: Matt Ritchie has adapted to the PL like a fish to the water. Rascal haircut too.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Either of the 5-1 defeats to Man City and Spurs in back-to-back weeks.
Manager: Eddie Howe has signed a new deal and his team are playing well but have been ravaged by injuries.
Reason for optimism: If Callum Wilson can return, plus new signings in January, then the Cherries can stay up.
Marks out of 10: 6


CHELSEA

Position/points: 16th/11
Best win: Only a few to choose from. Arsenal at home, 2-0.
Star of the show: Willian has scored 5 free kicks. Everyone else is struggling.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Lose three-straight PL games and 7 of their first 12. Reigning champs in ruins.
Manager: Jose Mourinho under pressure for off the pitch and on the pitch woes. Blues sticking with him. For now.
Reason for optimism: Things can only get better because, let’s face it, it is as worse as it will ever be right now.
Marks out of 10: 1


CRYSTAL PALACE

Position/points: 8th/19
Best win: Victory at Chelsea, 2-1. Closely followed by winning at Liverpool. They love an away day.
Star of the show: Tempted to say Cabaye but Yannick Bolasie‘s pace is frightening. Scoring more too.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: They lost 3-1 at home to West Ham on a day to forget.
Manager: Alan Pardew continues to overachieve. Magnificent season, so far.
Reason for optimism: A top six finish is achievable and with strikers to come back from injury, watch out.
Marks out of 10: 8


EVERTON

Position/points: 9th/17
Best win: Beating Chelsea 3-1 as Steven Naismith scored a hat trick.
Star of the show: Romelu Lukaku has found his scoring boots again, while Ross Barkley‘s looking good.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: They simply didn’t turn up at home to Man United, lost 3-0.
Manager: Roberto Martinez has got some stick but the Toffees look more solid this season.
Reason for optimism: If Lukaku and Barkley can link up, they have an outside chance of top six.
Marks out of 10: 6


LEICESTER CITY

Position/points: 3rd/25
Best win: So many comeback wins to choose from. The opening day 4-2 win vs. Sunderland set the tone.
Star of the show: Jamie Vardy, closely followed by Riyad Mahrez. They have been sublime.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: The Foxes succumbed to Arsenal’s fluidity and were battered 5-2. It happens.
Manager: Claudio Ranieri was a weird appointment but it’s looking like an incredible one. Foxes are flying.
Reason for optimism: They are one point off the top. Amazing. When they get to 40 points, anything’s a bonus.
Marks out of 10: 10 (11 if possible)


LIVERPOOL

Position/points: 10th/17
Best win: Beating Chelsea 3-1 away from home. Patient display to end a string of draws.
Star of the show: Philippe Coutinho has once again been the main man going forward.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Losing 2-1 at home to Palace. Welcome to the PL, Jurgen.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp arrived after Rodgers was fired and he’s said all the right things. Time to deliver.
Reason for optimism: Klopp’s methods will begin to work over time. Mixed signs so far.
Marks out of 10: 5


MANCHESTER CITY

Position/points: 1st/26
Best win: 3-0 vs. Chelsea as they started off with five wins on the spin.
Star of the show: Kevin De Bruyne has already become a key part of the jigsaw. Pure class.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: A bad day at the office away at Spurs saw them lose 4-1. Move on.
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini has assembled an incredible squad. He’s been given time and it’s working.
Reason for optimism: KDB and Raheem Sterling will gel better. Aguero and Silva will be back from injury.
Marks out of 10: 7


MANCHESTER UNITED

Position/points: 4th/24
Best win: 3-1 win at home to Liverpool as Louis Van Gaal‘s side rose to the occasion.
Star of the show: Anthony Martial is worth every penny. 19 going on 29. Takes it all in his stride.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Hammered at Arsenal as they let in three goals in the opening 20 mins.
Manager: Van Gaal has spent lots of cash on attackers but they’re not delivering. Defense looking good.
Reason for optimism: If Wayne Rooney and the attackers get back on form, watch out.
Marks out of 10: 6


NEWCASTLE UNITED

Position/points: 17th/10
Best win: 6-2 at home to Norwich City in a bonkers game.
Star of the show: Georginio Wijnaldum has been sublime. Runs from midfield, goals, drive. All-rounder.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Collapsing at Man City and losing the Tyne-Wear derby… again.
Manager: Steve McClaren is slowly building momentum after a rough start. Still, tough times ahead.
Reason for optimism: They have looked better defensively in recent weeks. Mitrovic and Wijnaldum.
Marks out of 10: 4


NORWICH CITY

Position/points: 15th/12
Best win: Grinding out a 1-0 win over Swansea wasn’t glamorous but it was much needed.
Star of the show: Nathan Redmond has stepped up his game out on the wing.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Losing 6-2 at Newcastle was a body blow even if they were a little unlucky.
Manager: Alex Neil is adapting to life in the PL. His side have shored up at the back but goals an issue.
Reason for optimism: If the Canaries can get Howson, Redmond and Co. scoring they will do just fine.
Marks out of 10: 5


SOUTHAMPTON

Position/points: 7th/20
Best win: Beating Chelsea 3-1 away from home was a statement of how the team is gelling.
Star of the show: Sadio Mane has been sensational in attack with his pace causing problems.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Losing 3-0 at home to Everton in home opener.
Manager: Ronald Koeman has built a new side once again and he’s done a fine job.
Reason for optimism: With new faces arriving, things are clicking into place nicely. Top six attainable.
Marks out of 10: 7


STOKE CITY

Position/points: 12th/16
Best win: Beating Chelsea 1-0 at home showed perfect mixture of grit and style. Progression.
Star of the show: Jack Butland has been phenomenal in goal. Hard to believe he’s 22.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Lost 1-0 at home to West Brom after going down to nine-men.
Manager: Mark Hughes has added magnificent talents and now they’re gelling.
Reason for optimism: Bojan, Marko Arnautovic, Ibrahim Afellay and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Marks out of 10: 6


SUNDERLAND

Position/points: 19th/6
Best win: Only one so far, they derby win over Newcastle.
Star of the show: This is hard. Probably Costel Pantilimon in goal.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Most of the season but especially the 6-2 collapse at Everton.
Manager: Sam Allardyce has taken on a huge challenge after Advocaat walked out.
Reason for optimism: Aside from Everton, looking more solid. Where will goals come from?
Marks out of 10: 2


SWANSEA

Position/points: 14th/13
Best win: Beating Manchester United 2-1 at home seems like a while ago now.
Star of the show: Jefferson Montero has stepped his game up out wide.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Losing at Watford was the start of this dreadful run.
Manager: Tipped for England boss after a great start, Garry Monk is now fighting for his job.
Reason for optimism: No wins in eight has people worried but the Swans should come good.
Marks out of 10: 5


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Position/points: 5th/21
Best win: 4-1 demolition of Man City had it all.
Star of the show: Eric Dier in holding midfield has been key to their defensive solidity.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: 2-0 up at home to Stoke but blowing it, drawing 2-2.
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino has cut the deadwood and this is his team. Solid and bold.
Reason for optimism: Spurs look so good at the back. If Kane continues his good form, top four is on.
Marks out of 10: 9


WATFORD

Position/points: 11th/16
Best win: 2-0 at home to West Ham. Complete domination for the Hornets.
Star of the show: Odion Ighalo has scored plenty of goals and is a real handful.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Not too many, but losing at home to Palace showed a lack of belief.
Manager: Quique Sanchez Flores has been very conservative but it’s getting results.
Reason for optimism: Deeney and Ighalo are scoring and if they stay fit, they’ll stay up.
Marks out of 10: 8


WEST BROMWICH ALBION

Position/points: 13th/14
Best win: All four wins have been 1-0. Winning at Villa will have been sweet for the fans.
Star of the show: Salomon Rondon has started to score and is superb in the air.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: 1-0 up against Leicester, they lost 3-2. 
Manager: Tony Pulis does exactly what he’s always done: grind out wins. Not pretty but it works.
Reason for optimism: Hmm. Probably won’t be a relegation battle this year but no top 10 finish.
Marks out of 10: 6


WEST HAM UNITED

Position/points: 6th/21
Best win: Any of the wins at Arsenal, Liverpool or Man City. Oh and the home win vs. Chelsea.
Star of the show: Dmitri Payet has been different class as the chief creator.
“Oh no they didn’t” moment: Totally didn’t turn up in the recent 2-0 loss at Watford.
Manager: Slaven Bilic has had a great start to life at Upton Park. Some huge wins.
Reason for optimism: So many options in attack and pace away from home bodes well.
Marks out of 10: 9


 

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

Italy women’s team awarded for ’emancipating’ female game

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ROME (AP) The Italy women’s national soccer team was awarded the Foreign Press Association’s Invictus award Monday for promoting and “emancipating” the female game in the country with its run to the World Cup quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Head coach Milena Bertolini and forward Barbara Bonansea were given the award during a ceremony at the Rome-based association.

With soccer dominated by men in Italy and few opportunities for girls, Bertolini recounted how she had to dress up as a boy to play as a kid.

“Now things are changing, thanks to the Italian federation’s school programs,” Bertolini said.

Bertolini and Bonansea lamented that female players are still not considered professionals and therefore are not permitted to earn more than $33,500 per year by Italian law.

“It’s not about the money, it’s a question of rights,” said Bonansea, who also plays for Italian champion Juventus.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

While Italy’s men’s team is a four-time World Cup champion, the women had not played in a World Cup for two decades and entered as a prohibitive underdog during its opening match against Australia in France in June. But the Azzurre came back from a goal down for a 2-1 win courtesy of Bonansea’s two scores , with her second coming in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

“That goal shaped our World Cup, both in terms of results and in terms of promoting women’s soccer in Italy,” Bertolini said. “The strong emotions on the field were transmitted to everyone who was watching. I still get goosebumps now just thinking about that goal.”

The Azzurre went on to win their group then beat China in the first knockout round before losing to eventual finalist the Netherlands.

In a country of 60 million people, a total of more than 20 million spectators watched Italy’s five matches on RAI state TV, setting audience records for women’s soccer game after game.

The Invictus award is dedicated to “promoting the positive effects of sports in terms of integration and emancipation by the vulnerable sections of society.”

UCL preview: Spurs desperate for a win; Man City host Atalanta

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By the end of the week, we’ll be at the halfway point of the UEFA Champions League group stage, and while some Premier League clubs (Manchester City and Liverpool) are currently in rather strong positions, a couple others (Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea) have some serious work to do to rescue their respective campaigns.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Tottenham’s start to the group stage has gone about as poorly as it could have done, considering the positions in which they’ve found themselves early in games. Going from 2-0 up to a 2-2 draw away to Olympiacos was bad enough, but going from 1-0 up to a 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich was the real demoralizer.

Now, last year’s UCL runners-up find themselves third in the group with just one point. However, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is set for a back-to-back home-and-away with (presumed) doormat Red Star Belgrade, beginning Tuesday when the Serbian side visits the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Spurs will continue to be without goalkeeper Hugo Lloris following his dislocated elbow, while midfielders Christian Eriksen and Giovani Lo Celso are back in full training and expected to be available for selection. Tanguay Ndombele was only involved as a second-half sub during Spurs’ draw with last-place Watford over the weekend, so he is likely to return to the starting lineup.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

Man City, meanwhile, are coming off a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace and feeling a renewed sense of PL title contention after Liverpool dropped their first points of the season. While a domestic three-peat is undoubtedly high on the list of priorities for Pep Guardiola‘s side, it’s probably safe to assume that breaking though in the UCL is the main objective for 2019-20. Since Guardiola took over at the Etihad Stadium, City have reached the quarterfinals twice and the round of 16 once. Under the direction of Manuel Pellegrini, City reached the semifinals the season before Guardiola’s arrival.

Outside of long-term knees injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane, City have a clean bill of health.

Tuesday’s full UEFA Champions League schedule

Atletico Madrid v. Bayer Leverkusen — 12:55 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Dinamo Zagreb — 12:55 p.m. ET

Tottenham Hotspur v. Red Star Belgrade — 3 p.m. ET
Manchester City v. Atalanta — 3 p.m. ET
Galatasaray v. Real Madrid — 3 p.m. ET
Juventus v. Lokomotive Moscow — 3 p.m. ET
Brugge v. Paris Saint-Germain — 3 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Bayern Munich

The 2 Robbies podcast: Man United 1-1 Liverpool; Struggles in North London

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe review the key results from Matchweek 9 in the Premier League focusing on Manchester United and Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford (0:50). The chaps also discuss Manchester City’s win at Crystal Palace (16:50), Arsenal’s defeat at Sheffield United (23:25), Tottenham’s draw at home to Watford (35:25) and debate who currently is the 3rd best team in the Premier League (42:05). Finally, the guys name their under-appreciated performances of the weekend (50:50).

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

FA Cup qualifier to be replayed after team walks off for racist abuse

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LONDON (AP) The FA Cup qualifying match between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town that was abandoned following racist abuse will be replayed next week.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

The Football Association said Monday that the match will be replayed from the start on Oct. 29 at Haringey’s home ground.

Saturday’s game saw the players walk off in the 64th minute, shortly after Yeovil had gone 1-0 up via a penalty. Haringey officials said after the game that its Cameroonian goalkeeper Valery Pajetat and defender Coby Rowe had both been targeted by racial abuse by visiting fans.

London police said they had arrested two men, age 23 and 26, on Monday on suspicion of racially aggravated common assault in connection with the incident.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

The FA said: “Following the incident in the original tie and the two arrests already made, the FA’s investigation is ongoing. We are continuing to work with the relevant authorities on our investigation into the matter.”

The winner of the game will advance to the first round of the FA Cup.