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. 

Felix makes decision; Neymar to leave PSG?

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Benfica youngster Joao Felix, 19, has reportedly decided to join Atletico Madrid.

Reports in Spain from Marca said that a deal for Felix has been agreed between Benfica and Atletico, with the Portuguese star deciding to head to La Liga instead of the Premier League with both Manchester City and Manchester United keen on signing him.

Felix has a release clause of $125 million in his Benfica contract and since the reports broke in Spain his current club have released a statement denying that a deal with Atletico has been done and that Felix’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is set to earn a huge $45 million from the transfer deal.

“In view of the set of news published in these last hours, Sport Lisboa e Benfica – Futebol, SAD clarifies that it is false that any negotiation process is currently under way regarding a possible transfer of player Joao Felix. The conditions for its negotiation are public and known, taking into account the termination clause defined in the amount of 120 million euros.

“More serious, and that deserves our most vehement repudiation and denial, is the false news that refers to negotiations that involve commissions of 30% and which, unfortunately, was echoed in Portugal by the newspaper ‘A Bola’, with intentions and goals that we do not know at all. We repeat: this information is totally false, absurd and has clearly intentional intentions for the reputation and dignity of Sport Lisboa e Benfica.”

The Portuguese international burst onto the scene in 2018-19 as he scored 20 goals from midfield to lead Benfica to the Portuguese title and a deep run in the UEFA Europa League.

With Antoine Griezmann on his way out of Atletico this summer, they will have some serious cash to spend and Benfica have been holding out for Felix’s reported release clause as clubs have tried to haggle it down by $20-25 million. There statement is strong that Felix is going nowhere, for now, but these reports suggest a move to Atletico is imminent.

Felix remains one of the top young talents in European soccer and these reports may well give the likes of City and United a friendly nudge in the right direction if they are serious about signing the free-scoring midfielder.


It appears Paris Saint-Germain are getting pretty fed up with the Neymar and a few of their other superstars.

In an interview with France Football PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was asked about the speculation regarding Neymar’s future and came up with this response.

“I want players willing to give everything to defend the honour of the jersey and to join the club project,” Al-Khelaifi said. “Those who do not want that, or do not understand, we will meet and we will talk to each other. There are of course contracts to be respected, but the priority now is total membership of our project. Nobody forced him to sign here. Nobody pushed him. He came knowingly to join a project.”

Wow. That sounds like a man at the end of his tether.

Neymar arrived from Barcelona in 2017 for a world-record fee of $262 million and Kylian Mbappe arrived from Monaco initially on loan and then for the second-largest transfer fee in history at $200 million.

The former has been linked with a move to Real Madrid throughout the summer, while Mbappe spoke about the possibility of experiencing something new after he was named the Ligue 1 player of the year.

But Neymar is front and center here. Is that harsh given his plethora of injuries for club and country in recent seasons? His conduct off the pitch suggest these stern words from Al-Khelaifi are directly squarely at him.

After he was suspended for three UEFA Champions League games for next season after verbally abusing referees on social media, he was also reprimanded for hitting a fan after PSG’s defeat in the French Cup final to Rennes. His behavior off the pitch has further been called into question after last week a woman alleged she was raped by the Brazilian superstar.

PSG’s main aim is to dominate European soccer but despite Al-Khelaifi leading the charge and their Qatari owners pouring billions into the project, they haven’t got past the last eight stage in the UCL. Even though Thomas Tuchel’s side continue to dominate French soccer with six titles in the last seven seasons, European glory is what PSG crave.

Until Neymar is fully focused on the PSG project, it is unlikely to happen.

No deal: Willian, Wan-Bissaka bids rejected

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According to Sky Sports Chelsea have reportedly rejected $44 million bids from both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona for their Brazilian winger Willian.

Willian, 29, has just 12 months left on his current contract at Chelsea but given their transfer ban and after losing Eden Hazard to Real Madrid already this summer, the west London club are not willing to lose a player they believe will be key for them next season.

With Pedro and Christian Pulisic also around in the wide midfield positions, the fact that Callum Hudson-Odoi is recovering from a long-term injury also means that Willian is needed at Stamford Bridge.

He turns 30 soon and he has been linked with a move to Barca in the past. That said, his experience and quality will be needed for this young Chelsea squad and with Hazard gone he can now step up and be the main man cutting inside and scoring goals.


Another London club have turned down a bid, as Crystal Palace have brushed aside an offer of $44 million up front plus another $19 million in add-ons from Manchester United for right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

The 21-year-old was Palace’s Player of the Season in 2018-19 and excelled in his first full season as a professional.

Man United are desperate to bolster their defense, with right back and center back key areas where they want to strengthen this summer.

Wan-Bissaka is currently away with the England U21 squad for the European Championships in Italy and Palace know it will be tough to hang on to both him and Wilfried Zaha this summer as the latter has reaffirmed his desire to challenge for trophies and play in the UEFA Champions League.

Sky Sports believe that a straight offer of $65 million would be accepted, and United will likely return to pay what Palace want for one of the most promising right backs in the Premier League.

Watch Live: 2019 Women’s World Cup – Day 11

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The first double headers of the 2019 Women’s World Cup has arrived, as Groups A and B come to a close on Monday.

Hosts France are already through to the last 16 of the tournament but they face Nigeria who are aiming to finish in second place as they have three points from their first two games, and so do Norway who face South Korea in the other Group A finale.

[ MORE: Women’s World Cup news

Germany are already through from Group B and a win against South Africa, who sit bottom of the standings, will see them top the group. The real drama will be in the game between Spain and China as both teams have three points heading into their final group game.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

[ LIVE: Watch every single 2019 Women’s World Cup game ]

Here is your full schedule for Monday, June 17 at the Women’s World Cup.


2019 Women’s World Cup schedule

Group B: China v. Spain – 12 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group B: South Africa v. Germany – 12 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Group A: Nigeria v. France – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group A: South Korea v. Norway – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

USWNT: “We have best team and second best team in world”

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Well, I’m sure this will calm down the folks who believe the USWNT are overconfident and a tad arrogant after scoring 16 goals and conceding zero in their opening two games of the 2019 Women’s World Cup…

Via Andrew Keh from the New York Times, defender Ali Krieger believes that such is the incredible depth of Jill Ellis’ U.S. women’s national team, they actually have the best team on the planet and also the second best team.

“We have the best team in the world, and the second-best team in the world,” Krieger said of the no. 1 ranked team on the planet.

Alex Morgan added that the USWNT have “two starting lineups” and the fact that Ellis made seven changes from the team which beat Thailand 13-0 and the U.S. then beat Chile 3-0 on Sunday says a lot.

All 20 of the USWNT’s outfield players have now played at the World Cup, and ahead of their Group F showdown with Sweden on Thursday for top spot it is likely the U.S. will continue to rotate its starting lineup.

In a month-long tournament, having such a large squad of talent to call on is enviable and Ellis knows it.

The USWNT toned down their goal celebrations from the 13-0 hammering of Thailand to the relatively run-of-the-mill victory against Chile, but their confidence levels haven’t dipped at all.

Just as the fresh legs will take them far in this tournament, so too will a whole squad brimming with confidence after getting valuable minutes at a World Cup.

It will be intriguing to hear what France, England and Germany think about these claims that the USWNT’s reserve squad is better than they are…