Premier League Playback: Hope for the new boys

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NEW BOYS IMPRESS

This has flown under the radar so far this season but you know what, the new boys, they’re good.

After a perfect weekend for the newly-promoted teams Newcastle United sit in seventh place, Huddersfield in 11th and Brighton in 12th in the table.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Combined they have 37 points so far this season, which is the highest points tally between three newly-promoted teams after nine game for 12 years and only twice have the three new boys fared better at this point of a season. The best-ever points tally after nine games came in the PL’s debut campaign in 1992-93 when Blackburn, Middlesbrough and Ipswich tallied 44 points.

Yet despite big wins for Brighton at West Ham, Newcastle edging Crystal Palace and Huddersfield’s incredible triumph against Manchester United, there is a word of warning: in PL history there have only been two occasions when all three promoted teams have survived in their first season.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

That was in 2001-02 when Fulham, Blackburn and Bolton survived the drop and in 2011-12 when QPR, Norwich and Swansea stayed up.

Although Newcastle, Huddersfield and Brighton know tough times are still ahead, their fine starts have given them a platform to build from and when you look at the stats from this summer it may suggest that the new boys are figuring out how to stay in the PL. In short, spend big.

Looking at the money spent on summer transfers, Huddersfield, Newcastle and Brighton spent more than seven PL teams. Huddersfield spent $52 million on new signings, Newcastle $48 million and Brighton $45 million.

It is worth the investment and they have learned the harsh lessons from other clubs who came up and spent little in the last few seasons and were relegated at the first attempt. See: Middlesbrough and Hull last season.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

A lot more goes into creating a team capable of survival other than spending, but these three clubs have shown that spending more and upgrading your squad is key to staying in the Premier League.

So far, so good.


THREE GONE: WHO IS NEXT?

Ronald Koeman‘s Everton exit made it three Premier League managers who have lost their job before the end of October and there are at least three others under pressure.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Koeman’s 16-month spell at the Toffees promised plenty after a seventh-placed finish last season and a huge summer spending spree of over $190 million, but the Dutchman’s main downfall was failing to bring in a new striker to replace Romelu Lukaku and the 25 goals he delivered last season.

With Craig Shakespeare out at Leicester and Frank De Boer gone at Crystal Palace, there is now a plethora of managers feeling the heat.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Slaven Bilic seems one bad defeat away from being fired at West Ham. Mark Hughes is under a little pressure at Stoke after a poor start. And even Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte are feeling more pressure after sloppy starts to the new seasons for Liverpool and Chelsea respectively.

It seems like PL chairmen are being more ruthless than ever this season and many managers will be sitting uncomfortably in their dugout seat in the months to come.


BEHIND-THE-SCENES AT SOUTHAMPTON

We had the pleasure of being behind-the-scenes at Southampton on Saturday as Sofiane Boufal‘s incredible goal handed Saints a late win against West Brom 1-0 at St Mary’s.

[ MORE: Matchday experience at Southampton ]

From the pub to the stadium, to being on the pitch for walkouts and in the tunnel at the end of the game, we have you covered for the full matchday experience.

The video above gives you a taster of what to expect, while below is a clip of us speaking with Boufal after his amazing solo goal.

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

Transfer news: Werner to Chelsea; Sanchez to Inter

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In the latest transfer news Timo Werner is reportedly being chased by Chelsea, while Alexis Sanchez could be staying at Inter Milan instead of returning to Man United.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

First up, a juicy report from Bild says that Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is trying to convince his Germany teammate and close friend Timo Werner to join hm at Stamford Bridge.

Werner, 24, has dazzled at RB Leipzig this season (31 goals in 40 games in all competitions) and is widely expected to leave with Liverpool, Man United and many others clubs across Europe chasing his signature. Per the report, Chelsea have Rudiger working hard to convince his friend and former Stuttgart teammate that west London is the place for him.

The release clause on Werner’s current contract is said to be $60 million and Chelsea are one of the few clubs who have a healthy transfer budget as they had a transfer ban for a whole year and Frank Lampard has just spent $44 million on one new signing so far, bringing in Hakim Ziyech who will not arrive until later this summer.

Werner is exactly what Chelsea need. They have created so many golden goalscoring opportunities and although Tammy Abraham was putting them away at the start of the season, his form and fitness was a concern in the last few months before the suspension.

Olivier Giroud is their only other forward option and Werner would be perfect to finish off the chances this attack-minded Chelsea team create. Even better for him, he would actually play at Chelsea which may not be the case at Liverpool and Man United given their stacked attacking lineups.

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Heading to Manchester, it appears Alexis Sanchez may not be going back to his parent club next season.

Sanchez, 31, is on loan at Inter Milan for the 2019-20 season and the Daily Express claim that he could stay at Inter rather than heading back to Old Trafford despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer previously saying he was open to the idea. Per the report, Man United are keen to loan Sanchez out to Inter once again on a similar arrangement and the Serie A side are willing to see how Sanchez does when the season restarts in a few weeks. With Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and others around at Man United, he may struggle for minutes at Man United.

Would another loan be a good move for Inter?

Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have been their main strikers this season under Antonio Conte, with Sanchez out injured for large chunks of the campaign and then doing okay when he did play. However, with Martinez chased by Barcelona, if they do sell the Argentine forward for over $115 million, having Sanchez around on loan would soften the blow.

The main problem with Sanchez is that over the last three years he has picked up consistent injury problems. If he can shake those issues off, we all know he is capable of scoring goals and creating havoc. Given this recent track record though, that’s a big if, as he’s scored just one goal and added three assists in 15 outings for Inter this season.

Premier League confirm zero positive COVID-19 test results

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Following the latest batch of tests on players and club staff the Premier League have revealed that zero out of 1130 COVID-19 tests taken on Thursday and Friday have come back positive.

Zero.

The fourth round of testing is the first time that no positive tests have come back, as a total of 3,882 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out with 12 positive results.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, as full contact training is now up and running and a restart date of June 17 has been set.

Here is the statement from the Premier League in full:


The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 28 May and Friday 29 May, 1130 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, zero have tested positive.

The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.

Previous test results

Round 1: 17-18 May – 748 tested, with six testing positive from three clubs.
Round 2: 19-22 May – 996 tested, with two testing positive from two clubs.
Round 3: 25-26 May – 1,008 tested, with four testing positive from two clubs.


This is more good news for the Premier League as the UK government gave the green light for elite sport in the UK to return from June 1 in empty stadiums, as the top-flight of English soccer continues to clear each hurdle in its way to finishing the final 92 games of the 2019-20 season.

With just over two weeks to go until the action returns, Premier League clubs will have to keep these test results low for the restart to take place.

Bayern Munich batter Fortuna, go 10 points clear at the top (video)

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Bayern Munich are waltzing their way to an eight-straight Bundesliga title as they battered Fortuna Dusseldorf 5-0 on Saturday at the Allianz Arena to record an eight-straight win in the German top-flight.

[ MORE: Schalke lose again; Saturday recap ]

An own goal, two from Robert Lewandowsk and a goal each from Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies did the damage to Fortuna as Bayern Munich are now just three wins away from securing the title, as they have five games left in the season.

Hansi Flick has now won 22 of his 25 games in charge of Bayern Munich after he took charge in November with the German giants struggling under Niko Kovac. Now, they are rampant and are one of the favorites to win the UEFA Champions League.

The Bavarian giants dominated early on as USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales made an important clearance but Mathias Jorgensen was so lucky a few moments later.

[ MORE: Bundesliga schedule, stats

A ball into the box found Benjamin Pavard and his scuffed effort was going wide before it hit Jorgensen and went into his own goal.

Bayern then doubled their lead as Thomas Muller’s shot was pushed wide and from the resulting corner Pavard nodded home to make it 2-0.

Lewandowski made it 3-0 before the break as he has now scored against all of the current Bundesliga clubs and had previously gone without a goal in five outings against Fortuna.

Kimmich’s surging round saw the loose ball find Muller and his pass to Lewandowski was perfect as he swept home to an empty net.

Lewandowski was at it again just a few minutes after the break as he finished off a slick Bayern move as the Bavarian giants put their foot on the accelerator.

Alphonso Davies made it 5-0 as he bulldozed his way through the Fortuna defense and slotted home, while Muller and Pavard went close to adding a sixth and Fortuna had the odd chance on the break.

In the end, the victory was as routine as possible for Bayern Munich who have more than one hand on the Bundesliga title.

USMNT’s Weston McKennie honors George Floyd with armband

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Schalke and USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie has released a statement after he wore a personalized armband with the message ‘Justice for George’ on it to honor George Floyd.

McKennie, an American international who has played in the Bundesliga for the last four seasons at Schalke, was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He wore the armband in Schalke’s defeat at home to Werder Bremen on Saturday.

Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN on Monday there have been widespread protests across the USA. A video showed former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, putting his knee on George Floyd’s neck for more than 8 1/2 minutes. Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with murder, authorities confirmed.

Weston McKennie released the following statement after wearing the armband at the weekend to honor George Floyd:

“To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on to long feels good!!! We have to stand up for what we believe in and I believe that it is time that we are heard! #justiceforgeorgefloyd #saynotoracism

Here is a photo of McKennie wearing the armband which he put on before the game kicked off and wore on his left arm.