Southampton FC

Southampton’s famed academy plans to help USA

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BALTIMORE – It wasn’t long ago that Southampton FC was playing in the third division of English football, still recovering from financial issues that saw the club enter administration.

Five years later and Saints were in Baltimore promoting a long-term partnership with Under Armour as the club looks ahead to another campaign in the Premier League, while also spreading their message of excellence in youth development overseas.

[ MORE: Saints’ kit launch at UA’s HQ ]

In each of the least seven seasons Southampton has finished in a higher league position than the previous year. Last season they recorded their highest-ever finish in the PL (sixth) and the remarkable growth continues with their first-ever appearance in the Europa League group stage assured for the upcoming season.

Mo Gimpel has seen the growth of the club first hand, starting his career as a physio for Saints’ youth teams nearly 20 years ago.

Now Southampton’s Director of Sports Medicine & Science Performance, Gimpel is working with a first-team that is preparing to play European football at St. Mary’s Stadium.

[ MORE: Southampton’s plan to grow in USA ]

Throughout the ups and downs, one thing has remained constant at Southampton: the commitment to their academy.

The Saints Academy has grown to be one of the best in the world, producing the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Bale and fellow academy graduate Adam Lallana embrace after a Champions League clash.

While in Baltimore, ProSoccerTalk spoke with Gimpel to see what makes Saints Academy so successful, and how the club’s growth into a global brand is helping their youth program grow as well.

When asked about the academy, the first thing Gimpel mentioned was their educational program. When competing to sign youth players with other clubs in the area, Gimpel believes Southampton’s commitment to education makes them a more attractive draw.

“If you’re failing in your education, and you’re not putting in your weight in education, and we’ve been promising your mom and dad, saying ‘Give us your boy and we’ll give him a good education and there’s a possibility he’ll become a professional footballer,’ if he’s not pulling his weight in education then he doesn’t train. It’s education first because we recognize that you need good people to then put in good work.”

“Even if you don’t make it as a football player, you’ll have a better education than you would get at home. We create gentlemen, not just football players.”

Players start coming into the academy as young as seven-years-old, with some players moving away from home at the age of 12.

As soon as those kids come to Southampton’s Staplewood Training Ground, they undergo an advanced series of benchmark testing to give the coaches an outlook on their potential.

“When any player comes in, from Under-9’s to the first-team, they get benchmarked. They do psychometric tests, they do physical tests. We do growth and maturation so we know this Under-14: how tall is he going to be? What’s his physiology? Is he a better midfield player or is he a better right back?

For a goalkeeper, how tall is he ultimately going to be? If he’s going to be shorter than 6-foot-3-inches, he’s probably not going to be a Premier League keeper. It throws up a moral dilemma, do we keep him or don’t we keep him? But maybe at 12-years-old, he can be a really good outfield player. So we do a whole range of benchmarks, the same with the first team.”

All of this information is filtered through a high-tech software Gimpel called “The Black Box.”

The Black Box is vital to Southampton’s success, collecting data from players at all levels for coaches to analyze.

“We have a program in the schools that every boy in our local region, in the Hampshire area, we know him. Pretty much every boy in England who plays at a fair level, we know. The Black Box pulls in information about everyone. With that knowledge, we have coaches out in the community feeding that into the Black Box system, and then we have a development program that pulls in all the best players to bring them into the club and join the academy.”

“We can compare if our Under-13 left-back is showing the same playing style as our first-team left-back. So it’s now taking talent ID to another level where it’s looking at the technical side as well.”

“We can look at a potential target and see how they play the game compared to how we want them to play the game. If we play a style of football where the left-back is bombing on, there’s no point in buying a left-back who doesn’t do that.”

Other top football clubs such as Juventus and Ajax have come to Staplewood to learn about the Black Box system, with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and MLB’s Kansas City Royals also working with Southampton to use the technology in American sports as well.

Arsenal v Newcastle United - Premier League

With such great success, Gimpel credits the Black Box with potentially saving the careers of two “late bloomers,” Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

“At 15 or 16-years-old, the other guys were physically just knocking Gareth Bale all over the place. Technically he was a good player, that was never in doubt, but the question was, ‘Was he going to be tall enough and strong enough?’ So with our screening process, we said he’s probably going to be around 6-foot-1. There was a vote: do we sign him don’t we sign him? We’re going on this crazy equation, and we signed him, thankfully. 

“Gareth was a late developer, so understanding growth of kids is absolutely fundamental. I would throw it out there that we are definitely leading the Premier League, I would suggest we are probably some of the world leaders, in the growth and maturation of young athletes.”

“At 16-years-old, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was playing a year down because he couldn’t cope with the 16’s, but we knew he was a late developer. We knew just give him time, let him grow, and he will fly. He hit his growth phase at 17, and in six months he went from being on the bench for the 17’s to playing in the first-team, and Arsenal snatched him up for 12-million pounds.” 

“So what we are doing now, we are going around the country and looking for all the late developing players who are cut from Premier League teams. And we say, ‘Listen, come join us.’ They are the gold dust.”

All of the preliminary testing and Black Box data collected for youth players is also used the first-team, part of an approach that Gimpel helped create at the Academy through his time with the club. Despite the high turnover between players and managers in the Premier League, Saints do not alter their academy’s structure, keeping a consistent approach throughout the program.

“The biggest thing I’ve done is a bottom-up approach. All the great processes in the academy you put into the first-team, and when a new manger comes in, he does not change that process. A lot of clubs the new manager comes in, he changes so much, and then he’s gone in a years time. There’s no continuity.”

Every six weeks, each Southampton player comes in for a meeting with coaches to review their progress and set goals for improvement. These meetings are held for every player in Saints’ system, from a local 13-year-old to club captain Jose Fonte.

By handling the youth players similar to Premier League professionals, Saints hope to produce a first-team made up of 50-percent of academy graduates with the duo pictured below — James Ward-Prowse, left, and Matt Targett — the latest to come off the conveyor-belt.

Southampton v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League

Southampton led the Premier League last season in minutes played by academy products, a testament to the success of the program.

Now a top-level side competing for a spot in the Champions League, Saints are hoping to spread their academy’s values and principals outside of England.

“Our goal internationally is to be the preferred choice, the number-one brand for coaching education and player development. And to that end, we are teaming up with Under Armour looking to go into clubs in the U.S. and say ‘We will help your club develop coaches and develop your processes to make your players better,’ and the U.S. federation is very pleased about these things.”

“The biggest U.S. problem is that parents and kids want to win every Saturday, and if they’re not winning, they just move to another club. That does not breed development. Kids have to learn how to lose, they have to learn about dealing with tough times. It’s not always about winning, it’s about development.” 

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

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West Brom – Chelsea: The Blues are in desperate need of a strong rebound when they visit The Hawthorns on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 pm ET, on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WEST BROM – CHELSEA STREAM LIVE

The Baggies, on the other hand, are simply hoping to collect their first point of the season after suffering a 3-0 defeat to Leicester City on the opening day of the 2020-21 season and following that up with a 5-2 beatdown at the hands of Everton last weekend.

As far as favorable matchups go, facing the 20th-place side a week after losing to defending champions Liverpool is quite timely for Chelsea.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

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


Team news: West Brom – Chelsea (INJURY REPORT)

West Brom – QUESTIONABLE: Ahmed Hegazi (thigh), Kamil Grosicki (back), Hal Robson-Kanu (leg) | OUT: Kieran Gibbs (suspension), Conor Gallagher (loan rules), Kenneth Zohore (calf)

Chelsea – QUESTIONABLE: Christian Pulisic (hamstring), Cesar Azpilicueta (thigh) | OUT: Hakim Ziyech (knee), Andrea Christensen (suspension)


What they’re saying: West Brom – Chelsea

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic, on struggling to sign players: “We don’t have a huge budget, that is why we are trying to be creative and lucky. That’s not easy but we are trying. … We have to do it to maintain a good chance.”

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, on Thiago Silva: “It is exciting for us because he has had just over a week training with us. It was a perfect 60 minutes for him tonight. He will show the qualities he has. Of course, he will get fitter and better. He also gave us something for me on the night in the dressing room and on the pitch of a leader with authority in terms of his demands on others. He can’t speak the language but at the minute that’s not even a problem because his presence and the way he commands people around him is already showing that to me in training and in our game tonight.”


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

West Brom (+750) represent one of the biggest underdogs — or, opportunities, depending on how you look at it — of the still-young PL season. There’s not much to be won by betting on Chelsea (-280). Even the draw (+400) is pretty far out there.

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: West Brom – Chelsea

Barring some unforeseen circumstances — for example, a 12th-minute red card — it’s virtually impossible to see West Brom getting anything from this game. They’ve been incredibly poor defensively through two games, and they’re yet to face a side with anything close to the firepower which the Blues possess. West Brom 1-3 Chelsea.


How to watch West Brom – Chelsea stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:30 pm ET Saturday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Premier League injuries, 2020-21

Premier League injuries
Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images
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Premier League injuries: With the 2020-21 Premier League season set to kick off this weekend, it’s time to take a look at the players who might be unavailable for the opening weekend.

[ MORE: How to watch PLTV on Peacock ]

Prior to every matchweek of the 2020-21 season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Note: Any player listed for COVID-19 reasons — whether a positive test or additional precautions — will always be deemed “questionable” until they make their return to action.

Arsenal injuries

QUESTIONABLE: David Luiz (neck), Kieran Tierney (groin) | OUT: Gabriel Martinelli (knee), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh), Pablo Mari (ankle), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (calf), Calum Chambers (knee)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Bjorn Engels (thigh), Tom Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), Ahmed Elmohamady (thigh)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

OUT: Yves Bissouma (suspension), Jose Izquierdo (knee), Florian Andone (knee), Christian Walton (ankle)

Burnley injuries

QUESTIONABLE: James Tarkowski (ankle), Ashley Barnes (undisclosed), Robbie Brady (ribs), Jay Rodriguez (foot) | OUT: Ben Mee (thigh), Johann Berg Gudmundsson (knee), Jack Cork (ankle)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Christian Pulisic (hamstring), Cesar Azpilicueta (thigh) | OUT: Hakim Ziyech (knee), Andrea Christensen (suspension)

Crystal Palace injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Jairo Riedewald (undisclosed), Christian Benteke (ankle) | OUT: James Tomkins (thigh), Nathan Ferguson (knee), Patrick van Aanholt (shoulder), Gary Cahill (thigh), Connor Wickham (undisclosed), Scott Dann (undisclosed)

Everton injuries

OUT: Mason Holgate (ankle), Cenk Tosun (knee), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (calf), Jarrad Branthwaite (ankle), Jonas Lossi (back)

Fulham injuries

None

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Gaetano Berardi (knee), Adam Forshaw (groin), Pablo Hernandez (groin)

Leicester City injuries

OUT: Ricardo Pereira (knee), Jonny Evans (thigh), Filip Benkovic (groin), Wilfred Ndidi (groin)

Liverpool injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Jordan Henderson (thigh), Joe Gomez (knee) | OUT: Joel Matip (undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee),

Manchester City injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Ilkay Gundogan (COVID-19) | OUT: Bernardo Silva (thigh), Sergio Aguero (knee), Joao Cancelo (foot), Oleksandr Zinchenko (undisclosed)

Manchester United injuries

OUT: Axel Tuanzebe (ankle), Phil Jones (knee), Sergio Romero (undisclosed)

Newcastle United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Allan Saint-Maximin (ankle), Jamal Lewis (eye) | OUT: Matty Longstaff (thigh), Martin Dubravka (ankle), Fabian Schar (shoulder), Paul Dummett (thigh), Dwight Gayle (knee)

Sheffield United injuries

OUT: John Egan (suspension), Lys Mousset (ankle), Simon Moore (finger)

Southampton injuries

OUT: Nathan Redmond (foot)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Sergio Reguilon (ankle) | OUT: Gareth Bale (knee), Japhet Tanganga (thigh)

West Bromwich Albion injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Ahmed Hegazi (thigh), Kamil Grosicki (back), Hal Robson-Kanu (leg) | OUT: Kieran Gibbs (suspension), Conor Gallagher (loan rules), Kenneth Zohore (calf)

West Ham United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Issa Diop (COVID-19), Josh Cullen (COVID-19), Mark Noble (toe), Sebastien Haller (thigh)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Fernando Marcal (undisclosed) | OUT: Jonny (knee)

UEL roundup: AC Milan, Celtic, Rangers reach last round of qualifying

Europa League results
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Europa League results: AC Milan, Celtic and Rangers were all victorious in the third round of UEFA Europa League qualifying on Thursday, advancing to the playoff round — the final round — on Oct. 1.

[ MORE: Son to the rescue as Spurs advance in UEL qualifying (video) ]

AC Milan 3-2 Bodo/Glimt

Hakan Calhanoglu scored twice — once in each half, including the game-winning goal in the 50th minute — as Milan did just enough to knock out Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt.

Lorenzo Colombo got the other goal for Stefano Pioli’s side, with Bodo/Glimt tallies bookending the Italians’ three.

Riga 0-1 Celtic

Celtic’s progression into the playoff round was far more dramatic, and uncertain. Neil Lennon’s side found itself level at 0-0 as they entered the 90th minute. Exra-time, and maybe even penalties, seemed likely.

Mohamed Elyounoussi had other ideas. It wasn’t the most visually pleasing goal scored on Thursday, but Elyounoussi’s bouncing, first-time finish had just enough on it to evade the goalkeeper and hit the back of the net.

Willem II 0-4 Rangers

As for the other side of Glasgow, Rangers cruised past Dutch side Willem II and were just about through to the next round before halftime. James Tavernier converted from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute, followed three minutes later by a goal from Ryan Kent.

Filip Helander made it 3-0 in the 55th, and Connor Goldson finished the rout in the 71st. Steven Gerrard’s team was one of the most impressive sides on the day, and looked ready for a season-long battle for the Scottish Premiership title. Having played one more game than their local rivals, Rangers currently lead Celtic by a single point.

Notable Europa League results

Shkendija 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (FULL RECAP)
Mura 1-5 PSV Eindhoven
Wolfsburg 2-0 Desna Chernihiv
Sporting CP 1-0 Aberdeen

Notable Europa League playoff matchups

Tottenham Hotspur v Maccabi Haifa
Rio Ave v AC Milan
Sarajevo v Celtic
Rangers v Galatasaray
Rosenborg v PSV Eindhoven
AEK Athens v Wolfsburg
Sporting CP v LASK

League Cup: Liverpool win 7-2; Man City survive and advance

League Cup - Liverpool
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A roundup of League Cup third round results on Thursday, as Liverpool and Man City booked their places among the final 16 teams…

[ MORE: Edouard Mendy to Chelsea: What does it mean for Kepa, Blues’ defense? ]

Lincoln City 2-7 Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp fielded a team of most of his seldom used players, and had virtually no issues getting past League One side Lincoln. Xherdan Shaqiri opened the scoring in the ninth minute, and he did so in truly fantastic free-kick fashion.

Takumi Minamino scored twice — once either side of halftime — beginning with his first-time, curled beauty in the 18th minute to make it 2-0. The Japanese international appears to have stockpiled plenty of confidence to force his way into the Reds’ star-studded first team with greater regularity.

From there, Liverpool were off to the races. Curtis Jones bagged a brace in the 32nd and 36th minutes, followed the second from Minamino to make it 5-0 after 46 minutes. Lincoln hit back right on the hour mark, but Marko Grujic restored the five-goal lead just five minutes later.

The Imps clawed back another goal just a minute later, but an 89th-minute tally from Divock Origi ensured the Reds would triumph by the five-goal margin.

Up next for Liverpool is a heavyweight fourth-round showdown, at home against Arsenal.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Reyna to Liverpool; Jorginho to Arsenal ]

Man City 2-1 Bournemouth

Pep Guardiola’s men were far from full stretch, and far from their best, en route to a 2-1 victory over recently relegated Bournemouth. With as many as six first-team regulars given the rare night off, City found themselves level at 1-1 with the final 15 minutes approaching. U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper Zack Steffen was one of the backups to feature.

Fortunately for City, Phil Foden has stepped forward in recent outings and asserted himself a star of the present — no longer of the future — and reaffirmed his ascent with a well-place winner in the 75th minute.

It was one of the youngsters, 17-year-old Liam Delap, who opened the scoring in the 18th minute, when he hammered a left-footed strike into the upper-90 of the far post. Foden provided the diagonal through ball for Delap and picked up the assist on the play. The lead lasted barely four minutes, though, before Sam Surridge had drawn the Cherries back to level terms.

Up next in the League Cup, City will visit Burnley in the fourth round.

Bristol City 0-3 Aston Villa

A pair of new signings — Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore — bagged goals, alongside the opener from Anwar El Ghazi, for Dean Smith’s Villa, to make it a comfortable 3-0 victory over Championship side Bristol City.

Villa will host Championship side Stoke City in the next round.