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State of the USMNT: Focusing on the players

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After the first batch of the final round of 2018 World Cup qualifiers ended in two defeats for the U.S. national team, plus their final game of 2016 in the books, now seems like a good time to discuss where the USMNT is at.

[ MORE: Klinsmann to stay or go?

In a two-part series, ProSoccerTalk’s writers will discuss the players and the coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, and assess the current state of the USMNT.

[ MORE: 3 things | Player ratings

Here, we focus on the players.


What is the biggest problem area for the USMNT after these two defeats?

Joe Prince-Wright: The coaching area is obviously a concern. Anybody who has watched this team closely in the past 12 months can see there’s been a steady decline, irrespective of a few good results. However, the big concern for me is defensively. The USMNT looked so solid this summer in defense but losing Geoff Cameron through injury and then deciding not to start DeAndre Yedlin has completely ruined any of the defensive stability which was being built. There are so many issues right now but my main concern is rebuilding that solid defensive base.

Nick Mendola: It’s almost all mental. Not to say Tahiti or San Marino would be a world power simply with better relationships — the Americans still aren’t at an elite level with talent — but there’s a clear disconnect between the coach’s intentions and the players’ desires. Putting it on either side is a major mistake. We’ve all seen talent fail because of relationships, see Jose Mourinho’s final season at Chelsea. But which is easier to fix? The reason I now would accept a Klinsmann firing is that the Americans are far too talented to be outclassed and out-efforted by Costa Rica, and the points left on the table by the poor start against Mexico could come back to haunt them. My fear isn’t changing coaches, though, it’s who they line up to replace him. If someone comes in and dismisses foreign-born players, the Americans won’t be back on their feet until qualifying for 2022. Yay, Qatar.

Andy Edwards: I struggle to find a ton of fault in the players this morning. Here’s why: every one of them, to a man, are playing better for their club team than the national team. If this were a new development, I’d be happy to look past it and write it off as an uncharacteristically bad camp for a number of guys. But it’s been the case for years now. Were a number of key players extremely poor over the 180 minutes of qualifiers this round? Absolutely, but consider this: if they were poor enough against Mexico to publicly criticize after the game (John Brooks, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley), which Klinsmann did, then don’t turn around and pick them against three days later. He’s frustrated by them turning in quality performances for their club teams, then “letting him down” with the USMNT, failing to realize and/ or accept that he’s the one at fault for that.

Matt Reed: The central midfield has been so overrun in these two games, and considering the U.S. will have to face both Mexico and Costa Rica again that doesn’t bode well for them. Michael Bradly and Jermaine Jones simply don’t mesh well anymore, and I’m not sure if you can chalk that up to age but changes certainly need to be made in the heart of the midfield.

Kyle Bonn: The biggest problem areas are man-marking and link-up between defense and attack, but that’s just two of a host of things.


Which players, if any, came out of the last week with any pride intact?

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 11: Bobby Wood #7 of the United States celebrates with teammate Fabian Johnson #23 after scoring a second half goal against Mexico during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier at MAPFRE Stadium on November 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Joe: I would say Christian Pulisic, Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore. I don’t think you can put much blame on a rusty Brad Guzan either. There will be little to no pride shown by any player over the last two games. They will want to move on as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for them, these results and performances will linger until March…

Nick: Bobby Wood, Jozy Altidore, Christian Pulisic, and probably Fabian Johnson.

Andy: Christian Pulisic is already a star. On Pulisic: Imagine the shock to the system he must feel every time he departs from Borussia Dortmund, where he’s guided and deployed by the brilliant Thomas Tuchel, for USMNT camp, where he’s now under the instruction of a tactical caveman. It’ll be great to see him instantly back to his best this weekend.

Matt: Christian Pulisic and Bobby Wood each provided strong displays in the attack, but neither really had the opportunity to affect the match consistently because of the fact that Costa Rica clogged the midfield and made it difficult for the USMNT to distribute the ball up front.

Kyle: The two attackers. Bobby Wood had the best moment in an otherwise bleak international break, and Jozy Altidore put in a good defensive shift despite few chances up front. Christian Pulisic also proved his worth, although he wasn’t utilized enough or properly.


Do we expect too much from this group of U.S. players? 

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 11: The United States stand for the playing of the National Anthem prior to the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier against Mexico at MAPFRE Stadium on November 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Joe: I expect this U.S. team to easily get out of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Easily. Right now they’ve put themselves under immense pressure and another defeat either against Honduras at home or on the road to Panama will leave them in a perilous situation. With the players they have I expect the U.S. to get out of their group at the World Cup, then anything else is a bonus. I don’t think that’s too much to asking but obviously something is going wrongs.

Nick: That depends on the expectations. I expect the USMNT to consistently qualify for the World Cup as a top three team in CONCACAF. Given the potential from a golden generation from any smaller side in the confederation, as we’ve seen with Honduras or Costa Rica in the past decade, it shouldn’t be too much to expect. However, those who expect this crop of players to consistently emerge from World Cup “groups of death” as a given, well, that’s a lot for me to digest.

Andy: Absolutely not, at least not personally. My expectations have dropped significantly from, say, 2012 to present day. In Klinsmann’s first 12 months in charge, I was hopeful he could deliver on the grand ideas he sold everyone. Once it became quite clear to me, sometime in 2013, that he couldn’t/wouldn’t be “taking the USMNT to a new level” (i.e. a World Cup semifinal, or even a return to the quarterfinals), it was about damage limitation. Between the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Gold Cup, my expectations became “please don’t embarrass the program any further.” That’s not asking too much, from the players or from Klinsmann. The players care immensely, which is quite clear to see in their giving of everything on the field.

Matt: In a way, yes. I think that we’re all used to the USMNT qualifying for the World Cup by now that we sort of take it for granted. That being said, CONCACAF isn’t the most overwhelming region to play in but it’s absolutely a difficult one. Mexico and Costa Rica look to be shoe-ins for Russia 2018, which essentially leaves 1 and a half spots available for the U.S. I do believe the USMNT will make the World Cup but this cycle has shown that nothing is a certainty and that we still have a long way to go before joining the likes of a Brazil, Germany, etc.

Kyle: No, absolutely not. This is a quality group of players overall and they need to have high expectations. Beating Mexico in Columbus clearly isn’t too much to ask, and getting points against a team they beat 4-0 just three months ago is also a normal expectation.


For you, who is the biggest name USMNT player who should not start in the next batch of World Cup qualifiers in early 2017?

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 11: Giovani Dos Santos #10 of Mexico battles for the ball against Jermaine Jones #13 and Christian Pulisic #10 of the United States in the first half during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier at MAPFRE Stadium on November 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Joe: I’m going to say Jermaine Jones’ international career is coming to an end. I’m just not sure what he adds to this team and his penchant for hacking opponents isn’t helpful. He leaves Michael Bradley often trying to face two central midfielders on his own.

Nick: Well, Jermaine Jones is suspended, so we’ll skip him. I don’t think there’s another truly big name player who won’t be starting come March, since it will be interesting to see how Bradley looks without Jones (again). Perhaps with Geoff Cameron.

Matt: Jermaine Jones. I think when you look at how productive Sacha Kljestan has been in MLS both as a distributor and defender, he has to not only be in the 23-man roster but in the starting XI as well.Take it as what you will, but Kljestan and Pulisic were really gelling in some of the previous friendlies, and I want to see how the Red Bulls man orchestrates the midfield against good competition.

Kyle: Jermaine Jones. My goodness he was awful. Fitness aside, he had zero usefulness to this team anymore.


With the USMNT clearly needing a clear out in defense, who would be your back four to start against Honduras next March?

Joe: My back four would be: Yedlin, Cameron, Brooks, Johnson. Only one of those started in defense against Costa Rica and we could see that Brooks, who was sublime in the Copa America in the summer, looked lost and nervous. Cameron provides experience to Brooks and Yedlin and you can’t underestimate how much his injury hurt the U.S. national team. Overall, the U.S. must go to a flat back four and use those four guys. If any are missing, why not try Cameron Carter-Vickers, Steve Birnbaum or Kellyn Acosta? The rest have shown they aren’t up to scratch.

Nick: Three remain the same, with DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, and Geoff Cameron. I’d really like to see Eric Lichaj or a new option at left back. Keep Fabian Johnson advanced and spare us Chandler, Michael Orozco, and the Klinsmann old guard.

Andy: I’m not sure I agree with that premise. Just about everyone along the backline was poor at some point or another in these two games, but I think we have to ask ourselves why/how that was. Individual mistakes occurred, without a doubt, but the tactics didn’t exactly do the defense any favors. A strong defense doesn’t consists of four (or three, or five) defenders; it’s a product of quality defenders, of course, but also a midfield that protects it from the front, and a game plan that provides avenues through which to relieve pressure on the defense. The USMNT had none of those in these two games, and the defense was left hanging again and again and again. Once more, every defender Klinsmann picked to start over these two games is playing extremely well for his club team at the moment.

Matt: You have to go with what works. I’ve heard a lot of people say that the Copa America Centenario was a tournament without much meaning, but I saw a lot from that backline in the competition. For me, DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson is still your best bet.

Kyle: I don’t think they need a clear out at all, I think they need better tactical direction. They are good players who were put in positions to fail. The back four should be: Johnson, Cameron, Brooks, Yedlin. Yes, Fabian Johnson is really a midfielder, but he’s the best we got at LB at the moment. If Timmy Chandler continues to play well at his club, he should continue to get a spot in the squad, but Yedlin right now is the best option after he’s improved defensively.


The central midfield balance just isn’t right. Is that Jones and Bradley’s fault? Just one of them? Or just the formation they’re asked to play in?

Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones

Joe: Jones is the bigger issue here. As I mentioned above, Bradley spends half this time fighting fires on his own. In the past a true holding midfielder has looked better alongside Bradley and that allows him to roam forward when necessary and link up with Altidore and the other attackers. Right now, Jones is the one doing that and he had no defensive discipline. I think Bradley has been getting a rough deal.

Nick: It’s the players more than the formation, and I have a hard time choosing one over the other. As it stands, Bradley’s status as one of the most complete USMNT players ever means I’d sit Jones before bailing on Bradley.

Andy: Bradley/Jones has never worked, so of course it’s not working right now either. Sometimes, picking your 11 best players doesn’t equal the best 11-man lineup. Bradley/Jones especially doesn’t work as a midfield-two when the coach says things like “they need to get into more one-on-one duels,” which is just factually incorrect of the Mexico game. The only thing that would have managed to do is to create even more space through the heart of midfield, but I shouldn’t have to explain that to the manager of the USMNT.

Matt: I think Bradley will always do the defensive work necessary, however, his passing at times is so far off. I think the bigger issue between the two is definitely Jones. He was beaten left and right in both the Mexico and Costa Rica matches and doesn’t possess the pace to get back. There’s moments when he can create in the attack, but Jones just doesn’t look like the player he was two years ago. Given the problems the U.S. has had in the back recently, I’d even go with a deep lying midfielder in a 4-1-3-2 come March. Perhaps a Danny Williams, Perry Kitchen or even Bradley to simply sit in front of the backline and help break up attacks.

Kyle: Jones has no use. He’s slow, lumbering, clumsy, and inaccurate. I’d like to see Bradley’s on-field response to new coaching before tossing him under the bus, however. Put Bradley with Kljestan and see what happens.


Are you concerned with Michael Bradley’s recent displays?

Joe: No. As I mentioned, he has had an inept partner in midfield. If you look at the defensive work he brings there are few who can match that. He may have gone through a slight slump in form but with his experience and quality, I expect him to come out the other side and lead this team.

Nick: Very. Even on his worst days, Bradley was capable of those mind-blowing diagonal balls and touch passes. At worst his service on free kicks and corner kicks was still passable. It’s all screwy now, and simple passes are also an issue at times. It feels counterintuitive to criticize him, but displays don’t lie.

Matt: I think it’s been a steady decline for Bradley since Brazil in 2014. He’s done well for the most part in MLS but that form hasn’t carried over to the national team. He’s simply been outplayed by the Mexican and Costa Rican midfields and just looks slow in his decision-making.

Kyle: Not yet. Again, I’d like to see him respond to new coaching. He is clearly lost under Klinsmann, unsure how to proceed tactically. I’m not ready to indict him to a failed product yet.


Is it time to go with youth for Klinsmann? Should Green, Gooch, Morris, Pulisic all become starters?

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29: Christian Pulisic #11 of the United States Men's National Team controls the ball against Guatemala during the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The United States defeated Guatemala 4-0. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Joe: I would say Pulisic should be a starter and go as far as asking for both Lynden Gooch and Jordan Morris to have big roles off the bench and work their way into the starting lineup. Right now, Gooch’s energy alongside Bradley in midfield could be exactly what this team needs. Sure, they’re young, but the experienced players have shown me over the last week they can’t get past Mexico and Costa Rica isn’t there. Klinsmann is always preaching about youth development. Now it is time to back it up and play them.

Nick: Pulisic — 100 percent. The others? No. I’d like to see Green get a look and Morris/Gooch to continue to get time and spots on the bench, but Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore are both going to be factors in Russia. No reason to sit them.

Andy: We’ve still got to qualify for this thing, and we’ve only got eight games to do it. Now’s not the time to scrap everything and start over. There was a time for that: it was the end of the 2014 World Cup, but guys like Kyle Beckerman, Michael Orzoco and Chris Wondolowski, among others, kept getting called up for whatever reason. As I’ve clearly outlined in the above rants, the talent is presently there to qualify for Russia and make another round-of-16 run.

Matt: The problem with the U.S. at the moment is that they have youth in very few positions. When you talk about Green, Pulisic and Gooch there is some flexibility in terms of where they can play but typically they’re best used on the flanks. If there’s a way to get them all involved I don’t think there’s much to lose at this point but I think Pulisic is the only guarantee to start at this stage. The Morris injury was definitely a blow coming into these two matches though because he’s had a fantastic first season in MLS and I really wanted to see what he could off the bench.

Kyle: No. Pulisic is clearly ready, but the others are not. This team needs new direction, but a complete clear-out is not healthy to the squad.

NBC Sports Premier League schedule

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The new NBC Sports Premier League schedule for the 2019-20 season has been released, with time and dates for the upcoming matchweeks confirmed and here’s how you can watch it all live on TV in the USA.

[ WATCH: Premier League video ] 

With games spread out across multiple days and many in separate time slots, there are lots of changes to your regular schedule as the league returns on June 17 after being suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Games will be played in empty stadiums and at home venues.

The full TV schedule for the games this month are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com, the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold and the new Peacock streaming service from NBC.

Below is the new schedule for the Premier League on NBC Sports from June 17 to July 22 , as we will release the dates and times for the final matchweek of the 2019-20 season when they become available and how to watch them in the USA.


Premier League: How to watch, schedule in USA (all times EST)

Matchday 29

Wednesday, June 17: Aston Villa 0-0 Sheffield United
Wednesday, June 17: Man City 3-0 Arsenal

Matchday 30

Friday, June 19: Norwich 0-3 Southampton
Friday, June 19: Tottenham 1-1 Man United
Saturday, June 20: Watford 1-1 Leicester
Saturday, June 20: Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
Saturday, June 20: West Ham 0-2 Wolves
Saturday, June 20: Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace
Sunday, June 21: Newcastle 3-0 Sheffield United
Sunday, June 21: Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
Sunday, June 21: Everton 0-0 Liverpool
Monday, June 22: Man City 5-0 Burnley

Matchday 31

Tuesday, June 23: Leicester 0-0 Brighton
Tuesday, June 23: Tottenham 2-0 West Ham
Wednesday, June 24: Man United 3-0 Sheffield United
Wednesday, June 24: Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa
Wednesday, June 24: Norwich 0-1 Everton
Wednesday, June 24: Wolves 1-0 Bournemouth
Wednesday, June 24: Liverpool 4-0 Palace
Thursday, June 25: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal
Thursday, June 25: Burnley 1-0 Watford
Thursday, June 25: Chelsea 2-1 Man City

Matchday 32

Saturday, June 27: Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves
Sunday, June 28: Watford 1-3 Southampton
Monday, June 29: Crystal Palace 0-1 Burnley
Tuesday, June 30: Brighton 0-3 Man United
Wednesday, July 1: Everton 2-1 Leicester
Wednesday, July 1: Bournemouth 1-4 Newcastle
Wednesday, July 1: Arsenal 4-0 Norwich
Wednesday, July 1: West Ham 3-2 Chelsea
Thursday, July 2: Sheffield United 3-1 Tottenham
Thursday, July 2: Man City 4-0 Liverpool

Matchday 33

Saturday, July 4: Norwich City 0-1 Brighton
Saturday, July 4: Leicester 3-0 Crystal Palace
Saturday, July 4: Man United 5-2 Bournemouth
Saturday, July 4: Wolves 0-2 Arsenal
Saturday, July 4: Chelsea 3-0 Watford
Sunday, July 5: Burnley 1-1 Sheffield United
Sunday, July 5: Newcastle United 2-2 West Ham
Sunday, July 5: Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa
Sunday, July 5: Southampton 1-0 Man City
Monday, July 6: Tottenham 1-0 Everton

Matchday 34

Tuesday, July 7: Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea
Tuesday, July 7: Watford 2-1 Norwich City
Tuesday, July 7: Arsenal 1-1 Leicester City
Wednesday, July 8: Man City 5-0 Newcastle
Wednesday, July 8: Sheffield United 1-0 Wolves
Wednesday, July 8: West Ham 0-1 Burnley
Wednesday, July 8: Brighton 1-3 Liverpool
Thursday, July 9: Bournemouth 0-0 Tottenham
Thursday, July 9: Everton 1-1 Southampton
Thursday, July 9: Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United

Matchday 35

Saturday, July 11: Norwich City 0-4 West Ham
Saturday, July 11: Watford 2-1 Newcastle United
Saturday, July 11: Liverpool 1-1 Burnley
Saturday, July 11: Sheffield United 3-0 Chelsea
Saturday, July 11: Brighton 0-5 Manchester City
Sunday, July 12: Wolves 3-0 Everton
Sunday, July 12: Aston Villa 2-1 Crystal Palace
Sunday, July 12: Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
Sunday, July 12: Bournemouth 4-1 Leicester City
Monday, July 13: Man United v. Southampton, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Matchday 36

Tuesday, July 14: Chelsea v. Norwich, 3:15 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Burnley v. Wolves, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Man City v. Bournemouth, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Newcastle v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Arsenal v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Everton v. Aston Villa, 1 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Leicester v Sheffield United, 1 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Crystal Palace v. Man United, 3:15 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Southampton v. Brighton, 3:15 p.m. ET
Friday, July 17: West Ham v. Watford, 3 p.m. ET

Matchday 37

Saturday, July 18: Norwich City v. Burnley, 12:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, July 19: Bournemouth v. Southampton, 9 a.m. ET
Sunday, July 19: Tottenham v. Leicester, 11 a.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Brighton v. Newcastle, 1 p.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Sheffield United v. Everton, 1 p.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Wolves v. Crystal Palace, 3:15 p.m. ET
Tuesday, July 21: Watford v. Man City, 1 p.m. ET
Tuesday, July 21: Aston Villa v. Arsenal, 3:15 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 22: Man United v. West Ham, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 22: Liverpool v. Chelsea, 3:15 p.m. ET

Premier League standings

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The Premier League is back a three month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. Below you will find a reminder of the Premier League standings as we get back to business.

[ MORE: Latest PL TV schedule ]

With three matchweeks remaining in the 2019-20 Premier League season, there is plenty to play for up and down the league and the standings are extremely tight.

Liverpool have wrapped up the Premier League in stunning fashion over Man City, with the reigning champions and current second-place side eager to focus on cup competitions.

Three of the top four should stay there unless Leicester City’s form dips considerably, but the race for fourth and fifth should be fierce. We may know whether fifth is a Champions League place after scheduled June 8-10 meetings to hear Man City’s appeal over its European ban.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

With between nine and 10 matches left for everyone and eighth potentially being a Europa League spot, all the teams between fourth and 11th still have European hopes in the balance. That would change should Norwich City or Newcastle win the FA Cup, so call it 13 clubs.

The action is going to come fast and often, with the league putting together a staggered schedule of kickoff times that will make matches even more of an all-weekend affair.

Below are the Premier League standings in full, as we will updated them throughout the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

PREMIER LEAGUE STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Liverpool 35 30 3 2 76 27 49 17-1-0 13-2-2 93
 Manchester City 35 23 3 9 91 34 57 13-2-2 10-1-7 72
 Chelsea 35 18 6 11 63 49 14 9-3-5 9-3-6 60
 Leicester City 35 17 8 10 65 36 29 10-4-3 7-4-7 59
 Manchester United 34 16 10 8 59 33 26 10-5-2 6-5-6 58
 Wolves 35 14 13 8 48 37 11 7-7-4 7-6-4 55
 Sheffield United 35 14 12 9 38 33 5 10-3-5 4-9-4 54
 Tottenham Hotspur 35 14 10 11 54 45 9 11-3-4 3-7-7 52
 Arsenal 35 12 14 9 51 44 7 8-6-3 4-8-6 50
 Burnley 35 14 8 13 39 47 -8 8-3-6 6-5-7 50
 Everton 35 12 9 14 41 52 -11 8-6-3 4-3-11 45
 Southampton 34 13 5 16 43 56 -13 5-2-10 8-3-6 44
 Newcastle United 35 11 10 14 36 52 -16 6-8-3 5-2-11 43
 Crystal Palace 35 11 9 15 30 45 -15 6-4-7 5-5-8 42
 Brighton & Hove Albion 35 8 12 15 36 52 -16 5-6-7 3-6-8 36
 West Ham United 35 9 7 19 44 59 -15 5-3-9 4-4-10 34
 Watford 35 8 10 17 33 54 -21 6-6-6 2-4-11 34

 Bournemouth 35 8 7 20 36 60 -24 5-6-7 3-1-13 31
 Aston Villa 35 8 6 21 38 65 -27 6-3-9 2-3-12 30
 Norwich City 35 5 6 24 26 67 -41 4-3-11 1-3-13 21

Leicester ‘too soft, lacked courage’ after stunning collapse at Bournemouth

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Leicester ‘lacked courage’ according to reaction from their manager and captain as an inquest was held in the aftermath of their stunning collapse at Bournemouth on Sunday.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

The Foxes led 1-0 at half time but a few minutes of madness saw them make huge errors, have Caglar Soyuncu sent off and concede four goals as they lost 4-1 at relegation-threatened Bournemouth and are now in real danger of not qualifying for the Champions League.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game in an interview, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers shared his reaction lambasted his side for their unbelievable collapse at Bournemouth

“We lacked courage in the second half, to take the ball,” Rodgers said. “We had good opportunities and decent control in the first half. They changed their shape a little bit. For the first 15 minutes you’ve got to grind it out. They’ve got nothing to lose and have to come after the game. You’ve got to grind it out in football sometimes. You can always play fantastic football. That first 15 minutes we did that but we weren’t making quick enough angles, weren’t taking responsibility on the ball. We concede the penalty, which is then, okay, we get to 1-1. But we still have to show a greater mentality in the game. It is something that surprised me, to be honest. In all the time I’ve been here I mentioned in the week about the strength of mentality in this team. But second half we were too soft in too many ways. That was the big disappointment. To end up losing 4-1, it was a big surprise, especially after the first half.”

Leicester captain and goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel, made a huge error for the first goal as he smashed the ball against Wilfred Ndidi from a goal kick and that set off the entire collapse.

“It is obviously not good enough from us. It is a good wake up call for us and hopefully it’s there in time,” Schmeichel said. “We’re accountable. I’m very, very sorry to our fans for that second half particularly. It starts with me on that goal kick because it changes the game.”

Schmeichel then went on to say that the collapse shouldn’t happen and questioned the focus and work ethic of his teammates.

“This is football. These things can happen. They shouldn’t but they can do. We are going to have to reflect on that and make a positive out of it. We are going to have to work a hell of a lot harder than we did second half if we want to achieve anything this season. It is an eye-opener. It doesn’t matter who you are playing against in the Premier League, if you don’t run, track your runners, if you don’t win your tackles or have the courage to have the ball, like we didn’t have second half, then anyone can beat you.”

With Sheffield United, Tottenham and Chelsea left to play, Leicester finish the season by playing three teams around them in the table.

Rodgers admits he has learned a lot about his team from this defeat and it is a big opportunity missed in their hunt for the Champions League.

“I think it is a great learning game for me and looking at the team because I think everyone is classifying us being up there and we have shown great talent to be up there but we still have much to do. In terms of being up there consistently and showing again that you need to see the likes of that through,” Rodgers said. “It was a big opportunity. The door was wide open to jump up into third place. To have that level of performance in the second half, it shows we have a lot of work to do.”

Bournemouth stun self-destructing Leicester

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Bournemouth stunned Leicester City to secure a remarkable 4-1 comeback win as Brendan Rodgers’ side led at half time but hit the self-destruct button in the second half.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

Jamie Vardy gave Leicester the lead but a few minutes of madness cost Leicester dear. Kasper Schmeichel gave away a penalty kick which Junior Stanislas scored to make it 1-1 and 60 seconds later Bournemouth went 2-1 up as Dominic Solanke slotted home as Schmeichel should have done better. Stanislas deflected effort made it 3-1 and then Solanke made it 4-1 as Bournemouth ran riot and Leicester totally unravelled.

The win moves Bournemouth on to 31 points, three points from safety with three games to go, while Leicester sit in fourth on 59 points.


Three things we learned, Bournemouth – Leicester

1. Bournemouth up for the fight: This was the first time in two years Bournemouth came from behind to win a Premier League game and boy did they time it to perfection. Howe’s young side made the most of awful errors from Leicester and you could see them grow in confidence throughout the second half. This is a huge result for Bournemouth in their relegation scrap as they now face Man City, Southampton and Everton in their final three games of the Premier League season. Two wins from those three games should keep them up as they battle with Watford, West Ham and Aston Villa to try and stay up. At half time they looked relegated. At full time they looked anything but.

2. Leicester implode to leave Champions League dream in tatters: Brendan Rodgers watched on in disbelief as his side collapsed in the second half to leave their Champions League dream. Three minutes of madness saw a mistake from Schmeichel led to a penalty kick, then Soyuncu got himself sent off for lashing out as the Foxes just lost the plot. This has been coming. They haven’t played well for months and both Man United and Chelsea look better set to finish third and fourth. If Leicester don’t qualify for the Champions League it will be one of the biggest collapses in PL history. After 24 games of the season, they were 14 points ahead of Man United. Tomorrow they could fall two points behind Man United. Leicester face Sheffield United, Tottenham and Man United in their final three games and the way they are playing, and now without the suspended Soyuncu, they could easily lose all three.

3. Bournemouth have belief: Sure, they were given this win by Leicester but Bournemouth grabbed the opportunity with both hands. This is a massive boost in their relegation battle. They have to get at least six points from their last three games but that is doable. West Ham and Watford square off on Friday and ahead of their big South Coast derby against Southampton on Sunday, there is huge belief Bournemouth can drag themselves out of trouble.

Man of the Match


Early on Bournemouth whipped in some good crosses but Callum Wilson just couldn’t connect in the box as the hosts started well.

Ayoze Perez and Kelechi Iheanacho went close as Leicester woke up and a mistake from Dan Gosling then allowed Leicester to open the scoring.

Iheanacho’s effort was flicked off the line but Vardy was waiting to pounce and tap home his 23rd goal of the season, as the ultimate fox in the box put the Foxes 1-0 up.

Danjuma with a terrible ball back and set up Vardy as Nathan Ake deflected his shot over the bar. Ake injured himself with that block as Steve Cook replaced him, while at the other end Kasper Schmeichel kept out David Brooks’ fine effort.

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In the second half Bournemouth put pressure on Leicester and Cook clipped a low ball to the back post which just evaded Wilson.

Out of nothing, Kasper Schmeichel smashed the ball against Wilfred Ndidi from a goal kick and the ball bounced to Wilson who was brought down by Ndidi and a penalty kick was awarded. Stanislas slotted home to make it 1-1 and moments later Bournemouth were ahead.

Solanke was played in and his low shot squirmed under Schemeichel and just over the line, as Bournemouth’s players went wild and in the aftermath it got even better as Caglar Soyuncu was sent off after a mad moment which saw him kick Callum Wilson while he was on the floor in the net.

Late on Bournemouth went 3-1 up as Stanislas’ shot deflected off two Leicester defenders and in, then it got even better as Solanke poked home his second and Bournemouth’s fourth to complete a truly remarkable comeback.

Sub Sam Surridge could have scored twice as he hit the bar and headed over as Leicester totally gave up.