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Premier League season review: Story of the Coaches

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All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2015-16 Premier League season.

From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.

MORE: All 2015-16 PL season reviews ]

Let’s take a look at the bench bosses for all 20 teams as the Premier League saw successes and failures in the dugouts.

Arsenal Arsene Wenger

The Gunner finished in the Premier League’s second place with a somewhat-dramatic leapfrogging of North London rivals Spurs on the final day of the season. However, refusing to spend big for striker depth beyond Olivier Giroud could be the main reason his club didn’t win that elusive PL title. Grade: B-

Aston Villa Tim Sherwood; Remi Garde; Eric Black

Sherwood deserves credit for saving the day last year, but little he did in his early season failures at Villa make him a promising managing target; Garde couldn’t rescue a sinking ship left bereft of top level talent beyond Idrissa Gueye and Jordan Ayew; Black was a caretaker with little to gain. Grades: Sherwood (F), Garde (D), Black (N/A).

Bournemouth Eddie Howe

One of the Premier League’s brightest prospects, Howe was locked up by astute chairman Jeff Mostyn and will be tasked with further stocking the cupboard in 2016-17. Grade: A.

Chelsea — Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink.

The players quit on their championship manager, but Mourinho did plenty to send them on their way. From the drama with trainer Eva Carneiro to a stream of losses, the Special One was anything but. Hiddink stepped in and steadied the ship, but did not provide any miracles. Grades: Mourinho (D), Hiddink (B)

Crystal PalaceAlan Pardew

Pardew is in an FA Cup final, yes, but he proved that he’s incapable of arresting a long losing streak with the second straight club. Tipped as an English national team manager earlier in the season, that talk looks laughable now. Grade: C-

Everton — Roberto Martinez

Perhaps the most disappointing team this side of Chelsea, Everton’s players and Martinez took a long ride down the table before settling in 11th. Joel Robles provided little in place of longtime goalkeeper Tim Howard, John Stones and the defense backslid hard, and Romelu Lukaku was feast or famine. Grade: C-

Leicester City Claudio Ranieri

He did well, real well. Grade: A

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 07:  Captain Wes Morgan and manager Claudio Ranieri of Leicester City lift the Premier League Trophy after the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at The King Power Stadium on May 7, 2016 in Leicester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Liverpool — Brendan Rodgers; Jurgen Klopp

Rodgers’ leash was always going to be short after dropping from second in the league to sixth last season, and a slow start doomed him. Klopp promises much, but cannot be judged until we see what players he chooses to fit his Anfield plan. He also astutely saw the Europa League as a better path to the Champions League, and is 90 minutes away from pulling it off. Grades: Rodgers (C), Klopp (A-).

Manchester City — Manuel Pellegrini

Tasked with a near impossible feat of dealing with his squad as a dead man walking, Pellegrini kept his club in the Top Four while racing to a first UEFA Champions League semifinal berth and the League Cup title. This…charming… man. Grade: A

Manchester United —  Louis Van Gaal

For all the gripes about style of play, LVG’s could end up level on points with Man City while claiming the FA Cup. That said, United fans always have high expectations and Van Gaal has now failed to properly use both Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay. His work with young players like Marcus Rashford and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, however, has been strong. Grade: B

Newcastle United — Steve McClaren; Rafa Benitez

McClaren was fired from Derby County after a late season collapse and never looked comfortable in the chair at Newcastle. His replacement needed maybe one or two more weeks to get the job done, but didn’t. Grades: McClaren (F), Benitez (B)

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 30:  Rafael Benitez (R) manager of Newcastle United congratulates Andros Townsend (L) after their 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Crystal Palace at St James' Park on April 30, 2016 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Norwich City — Alex Neil

A very hard one to judge, no? Neil did a lot with a little, only to see his Canaries back into the second tier. While the grade may seem harsh, Bournemouth and Watford both stayed up at the first time of asking and Norwich couldn’t pull it off. Grade: C-.

Southampton — Ronald Koeman

Saints had to make an inspired hire when Mauricio Pochettino left for Spurs, and made a near perfect choice. Grade: A-

Stoke City — Mark Hughes

An injury to steady Geoff Cameron hurt the Stoke boss, but the Potters failed to seize a real chance at European qualification under his watch. Grade: B

Sunderland — Dick Advocaat; Sam Allardyce

Winless in eight matches, Advocaat walked away from the gig. Allardyce struggled for a while before working a solid January window to bring in the talent needed to survive. While Slaven Bilic proved that Allardyce isn’t going to win you laurels, he’s more than capable of keeping you afloat. Grades: Advocaat (D-), Allardyce (B-).

[ MORE: Best transfer buys of the 2015-16 PL season ]

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 07:  Sam Allardyce, manager of Sunderland gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Chelsea at the Stadium of Light on May 7, 2016 in Sunderland, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Swansea City — Garry Monk; Francesco Guidolin

Monk seemed a bit hard done-by and will land on his feet, but Guidolin was the right man to massage Swans’ egos for a rise up the table and out of the drop zone. Grades: Monk (C-), Guidolin (B+).

Tottenham Hotspur — Mauricio Pochettino

Final day failures aside, Pochettino did well in navigating the Europa League and Premier League campaigns. The test of his elite acumen comes next season. Grade: B+

Watford — Quique Sanchez Flores

Should be given credit for keeping the Hornets in the top flight despite falling apart a bit during a brutal run of schedule. Grade: B

West Bromwich Albion — Tony Pulis

The man’s style of play could put an insomniac to sleep, and his low table expectations won’t endear him to, well, anyone, but Pulis kept the Baggies in the top flight and that means we can’t fail him. Grade: C-

West Ham United — Slaven Bilic

The Irons might be a seventh place side, but the way the man conducted his club through a tricky and emotional final season at the Boleyn Ground was exceptional. Grade: A

Championship playoff final: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Fulham - Brentford
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Fulham – Brentford: Which West London Derby combatant will lay claim to a place in the Premier League at the end of Tuesday’s Football League Championship promotion playoff final at Wembley Stadium?

We can hardly wait to find out, as the 20th berth in the 2020-21 Premier League season and 22nd spot in the Championship will be decided after the richest game on earth.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europe ]

Kickoff is at 2:45 pm ET Tuesday at Wembley Stadium.


Key players

Fulham leading scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 26 goals were the joint-most in the Championship and more than three times as many as Tom Cairney, second amongst the Cottagers. He’s healthy for the first time after missing the semis with a hamstring injury.

Brentford’s Ollie Watkins scored the same amount of goals as Mitrovic, tying for the league lead, and he’s joined by Said Benrahma’s 17 goals (fifth in the league) and Bryan Mbeumo (eighth). The latter have combined for 16 assists, too. The Bees can sting.

Their seasons

Brentford won a even-straight league games to surge into the mix for automatic promotion but lost their last two, meeting Fulham on 81 points.

As for the Cottagers, Fulham finished the season on a seven-match unbeaten run which included five wins

Their playoffs

Brentford overcame a 1-0 first-leg deficit to oust Swansea City in the semifinal, while Fulham’s first leg win was enough to outlast Cardiff City’s strong second leg in their semi.

Odds and ends

Brentford beat Fulham twice, 1-0 at Griffin Park and 2-0 at Craven Cottage.

The Bees are favored to win the match at +108 odds, while Fulham carries +265 odds of a win.

Prediction

Mitrovic’s availability is huge for a Fulham side hoping to break down the league’s second-stingiest defense. Brentford feels like it’s the superior side but Fulham has been here and Cairney even scored the goal to beat Aston Villa in the 2017-18 playoff final. That experience is an X-factor, but we’ll still call Brentford 2-1 winners.

How to watch Fulham – Brentford

Kickoff: 2:45 pm ET Tuesday
Stream: ESPN+

How will Premier League clubs fare in Europe this month?

Champions League news
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Nearly five months is a long time to wait between rounds of a tournament, let alone legs.

Welcome to the 2019-20 UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues, where the competition continues this week after a long, pandemic-inspired delay.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europa ]

Who is best set up, aligned, prepared, and built for success?

There are certainly different questions to all parts of that question. Let’s dive into it.


Chelsea

Status: Down 3-0 to Bayern Munich after first leg at home
Next match: 3 pm ET Saturday at Allianz Arena

It’s not happening. We don’t like sounding definitive, especially with Christian Pulisic involved, but Bayern Munich conceding four times in a 3-goal loss at home seems bonkers even after a couple of weeks without game action.

The Blues are capable of scoring against anyone, yes, but this would be a bigger turnaround than even Liverpool versus Barcelona.

Longest of long shots.


Wolves

Status: Level 1-1 with Olympiacos after first leg away
Next match: 3 pm ET Thursday at the Molineux

Should Wolves get past Greek powers Olympiacos, they’ll face either Sevilla or Roma in a real scrap to meet the semifinals.

Wolves feel capable of beating anyone in the field, but this path is far from easy. Still, both Wolves and Manchester United can feel grateful to be in the top half of the bracket, with Inter Milan, Wolfsburg, and Shakhtar Donetsk in a dangerous bottom half.

On a round-to-round basis you wouldn’t vote against Wolves. Over a month, though, they feel less likely than the Manchester sides.


[ MORE: Big moves for Arsenal? ]

 

Wolves news
PIRAEUS, GREECE – MARCH 12: Mady Camara of Olympiacos FC is challenged by Joao Moutinho of Wolverhampton Wanderers (Photo by UEFA – Handout/UEFA via Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Manchester City

Status: Leads 2-1 over Real Madrid after first leg away
Next match: 3 pm ET Friday at the Etihad Stadium

We know Pep Guardiola and his array of weapons are capable of beating anyone in the world, and Sergio Ramos’ suspension from the first leg is wonderful for City. Ramos is having one of those “Ballon d’Or if defenders could win it” seasons.

Having two away goals from the Bernabeu is even better. The bottom half of the UCL bracket, however, is a gauntlet and nothing like the top half. City would love to see Lyon hold off Juventus, but a win over either brings either Napoli, Barcelona, Bayern or — miraculously — Chelsea in the semifinals.

It’s a huge ask but this is a huge team.


Manchester United

Status: Leads 5-0 over LASK Linz after first leg away
Next match: 3 pm ET Wednesday at Old Trafford

United would have to self-destruct in order to miss out on the Europa League quarterfinals, where they’ll be favored whether they meet either Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen. The semifinals will be even tougher, as Olympiacos, Wolves, Sevilla, or Roma.

The question here is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has shown some tactical acumen but also failed the Red Devils in the FA Cup semi against Chelsea. United really should be able to out-perform anyone left, even Inter Milan, but will Solskjaer outduel Antonio Conte or even Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui?

Predictions, odds for Champions League, Europa League knockouts

Champions League odds
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The UEFA Champions League and Europa League resume this week and I’m going to reveal my predictions for this next round as well as the latest odds for Europe’s top two continental tournaments.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

With Manchester City and Chelsea still in the Champions League and Manchester United and Wolves among the favorites to win the Europa League, there is a lot on the line for Premier League clubs in the coming weeks.

Just because the Premier League season is over, that doesn’t mean the action is over. Far from it.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

In the next few days the Europa League and Champions League Round of 16 second legs will take place before mini tournaments begin.

Man City lead Real Madrid 2-1 from their first leg in Spain, while Chelsea trail Bayern 3-0 as they head to Germany for the return game. Man United are all but in the quarterfinals, while Wolves are favored to make the Europa quarters too.

Lisbon, Portugal will host the Champions League games from the quarterfinal stage onwards, while the Europa League games will be hosted around Germany.

Below is a look at my predictions, the odds for the games this week and how to watch all of the fixtures in the USA.


JPW’s Champions League predictions

Round of 16 (August 7-8)
Friday, August 7: Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid (2-1)
Friday, August 7: Juventus 2-1 Lyon (0-1)
Saturday, August 8: Barcelona 3-1 Napoli (1-1)
Saturday, August 8: Bayern Munich 2-1 Chelsea (3-0)

JPW’s Europa League predictions

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
Copenhagen 1-2 Istanbul Basaksehir
Wolves 2-0 Olympiakos
Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Rangers
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3 Wolfsburg
Basel 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Manchester United 3-1 LASK
Inter Milan 3-0 Getafe
Sevilla 1-3 Roma


Champions League betting odds

Round of 16 (August 7-8)
(-139) Manchester City v. Real Madrid (+320). Tie: +340
(-230) Juventus v. Lyon (+650). Tie: +340
(-150) Barcelona v. Napoli (+400). Tie: +300
(-250) Bayern Munich v. Chelsea (+650). Tie: +410

Quarterfinals (August 12-13)
(+200) Atalanta v. Paris Saint-Germain (+120). Tie: +285
(+225) RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid (+133). Tie: 220

Outright winner
Manchester City (+350)
Bayern Munich (+365)
Paris Saint-Germain (+450)
Atletico Madrid (+700)
Atalanta (+950)
Barcelona (+1100)
RB Leipzig (+1500)
Juventus (+1700)


Europa League betting odds

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
(+155) Copenhagen v. Istanbul Basaksehir (+180). Tie: +235
(-134) Wolves v. Olympiakos (+390). Tie: +260
(-162) Bayer Leverkusen v. Rangers (+410). Tie: +310
(+135) Shakhtar Donetsk v. Wolfsburg (+185). Tie: +265
(+155) Basel v. Eintracht Frankfurt (+155). Tie: +275
(-455) Manchester United v. LASK (+1200). Tie: +550
(-143) Inter Milan v. Getafe (+385). Tie: +285
(+110) Sevilla v. Roma (+270). Tie: +230

Outright winner
Manchester United (+160)
Inter Milan (+500)
Bayer Leverkusen (+700)
Wolves (+800)
Sevilla (+900)


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Round of 16 at home venues; Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: Here at NBCSports.com

Reports: Arsenal offers huge deal to Aubameyang, chases Partey, Coutinho

Arsenal transfer news
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Thinking about the resurgence of several big name Premier League sides makes the 2020-21 season tantalizing idea. Could Arsenal become a title fighter?

Manchester City, statistically-speaking, was already the most productive team in the league and Liverpool’s team an absolute monster of intensity that seemed to will good fortune on their rare bad days.

Manchester United was second only to City in Project Restart while Chelsea produced as many chances as any team now named City and now has better finishers. Tottenham improved as well — health can be a tactic in that it helps as much as any manager.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europa ]

What about Arsenal, though?

The Gunners now have a shiny trophy for Mikel Arteta’s resume after the former midfielder led the club to a record 14th FA Cup.

Arsenal is said to be offering Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a contract that pays nearly $327,000 per week in a bid to convince the superstar that another year of the Europa League is fine.

A report from Football.London says that Arteta believes Aubameyang and a trio of other moves could help him replicate the 4-3-3 often implemented by former club Man City.

The report says that Arsenal is ready to recruit Willian, Thomas Partey, and Philippe Coutinho to supplement what’s already at the Emirates.

Arsenal is in a tricky situation because of how much promising young talent there is, but Arteta will have learned a thing or too from how Pep Guardiola convinced Phil Foden to buy into a longer development. And winning cures plenty.

Who would fit in the 4-3-3? Arsenal has a tremendous 1-2 punch in goal between Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez, and piles of questions at the back. William Saliba finally arrives from Saint-Etienne and Pablo Mari will return, too, while Arteta used Shkrodan Mustafi, David Luiz, Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers, and Cedric Soares this season.

The middle part becomes a lot easier with Partey joining Granit Xhaka and Co.