Playback: Moving time, excuses and expectations

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EXCUSES, EXCUSES

Now is the time of the season when expectations begin to dwindle or grow depending on how the first 11 games went.

Almost a third of the way into the 2017-18 campaign, the Premier League table is taking shape.

That means it’s ready to get out your “Premier League excuses” bingo card. You will likely have heard more than one of the following this past weekend:

  • Injuries are taking their toll
  • We didn’t get what we deserved
  • Squad rotation played a part
  • Refereeing decisions cost us 
  • We were unlucky 

Like clockwork both Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger marked their bingo cards earlier than most with Mourinho blaming a plethora of injuries after Manchester United’s defeat at Chelsea.

“Of course we missed some important players, especially the quality and physicality of some of them that couldn’t be available,” Mourinho said, before adding his side “deserved more” and that this is “not about what is fair and isn’t fair.”

Wenger took a shot at the referees, league-wide, after Arsenal’s defeat at Manchester City which saw Raheem Sterling awarded a penalty kick and Gabriel Jesus‘ goal which should’ve been ruled out for offside.

“Overall once again the referee made the decision today,” Wenger fumed. “It was a soft penalty and an offside goal but we are used to it when you come here. Last year we had two offsides goals against us. The referees don’t work enough and the level drops every season. Overall it’s unacceptable what happens.”

With pressure mounting as preseason expectations dwindle for plenty of the big boys as Manchester City race clear atop the table, what else did you expect?

Mourinho, Wenger et al. are old hands at this game but the new boys were at it too.

Mauricio Pellegrino is struggling to impact Southampton’s style of play as they lost at home to Burnley and now face a ridiculously tough run of games with just 13 points on the board from their first 11 games. He and his players talked about a lack of luck and another gem which we will start to see appear is players “not gelling” as a unit.

Call me cynical, but the only managers or players we won’t be hearing excuses from is that that are overachieving. Anyone connected with Manchester City, Burnley, Brighton, Huddersfield and possibly Tottenham, will not be spewing out excuses anytime soon.

As for the rest? Well, it’s that time of year when the pressure builds and there are no easy answers to failing to live up to the preseason hype. The easiest answer of all is to roll out one of the antiquated excuses listed above.


BILIC OUT AS MOVING TIME ARRIVES

Premier League chairman and boards are known to be the most ruthless in the game, but this season has been something else.

After 11 games last season just one manager had lost his job: Francesco Guidolin at Swansea City. Only five more managerial changes arrived during the entire season, with Bob Bradley replaced by Paul Clement at Swansea, Sam Allardyce replacing Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace, Marco Silva arriving at Hull City, Aitor Karanka ousted at Middlesbrough and Claudio Ranieri replaced by Craig Shakespeare at Leicester City.

Slaven Bilic lost his job on Monday at West Ham on Monday, becoming the fourth manager to do so already this season after Frank De Boer was sacked by Crystal Palace after four games, Craig Shakespeare was given just eight games by Leicester and Ronald Koeman was out after nine games at Everton.

Yet Bilic and Koeman losing their jobs at aspirational clubs in West Ham and Everton, who both spent big this summer, shows the root of the problem: the board has no back up plan. David Moyes has arrived at the Hammers and Sam Allardyce is said to be closing in on getting the job at Goodison on a short-term basis.

Player power played its part in the sacking of all four and in Bilic’s case rumblings of a severe lack of respect from senior first team players is tough to hear. Bilic’s time was up, he admitted it himself, but he deserved better treatment from his senior pros due to his commitment to the Hammers both as a player and a manager. History will be kind to him because of that, even if the move to London Stadium and losing Dimitri Payet wasn’t.

So, why are managers being fired so quickly this season?

One can only assume that the success of the newly-promoted teams is having a huge impact on the established PL clubs who are starting to realize that Brighton & Hove Albion, Huddersfield and Newcastle all being inside the top 11 is no fluke. They’re stable, solid and mean business in the top-flight and all of a sudden the assumption that one or two of the new boys will go straight back down is incorrect.

Panic is a word oft used to describe the actions of PL chairman and decision makers. It’s apt right now.

Who’s next?

The ongoing situation at Chelsea (long-time Technical Director Michael Emenalo left abruptly on Monday) could cause Antonio Conte‘s future to be plunged into further doubt, while Tony Pulis is under pressure at West Brom after just two wins in their last 20 PL games and Clement is under pressure at Swansea following five defeats in their last six outings.

We could very well see half the managers who started the Premier League season replaced by the end of the campaign.

With huge financial gains for being a PL club, the stakes are high and the directors are panicking, perhaps unlike ever before. That’s quite a feat.


MANCHESTER CITY UNSTOPPABLE?

They’ve made the best start in Premier League history after 11 games and right now Pep Guardiola‘s men look unstoppable.

Winning 10 of their opening 11 games, which have included victories against Chelsea, Liverpool and now Arsenal, Man City already have an eight-point lead atop the table and a record goal differential of +31.

The way they toyed with Arsenal was unfair, at times, on Sunday. Their fluid passing, total domination in the final third and ability to have midfielders continually arriving in the box saw Arsenal pinned back. Like everybody else who has faced City this season, they couldn’t cope.

City have scored 52 goals this season after 17 games in all competitions, which is a record for any PL club, and this is exactly why Guardiola arrived at Man City.

We’ve seen this before from City, not on this scale, but a fast start to the season where they looked impenetrable has faltered right around this period in seasons gone by.

The difference this season is they’ve already qualified for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, meaning they can rest key players between now and the busy festive period. The difference is the sheer squad depth they have despite injuries to Benjamin Mendy and Vincent Kompany.

The fact that Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus were rolled out late on against Arsenal, with Yaya Toure, Danilo and Claudio Bravo unused subs, says it all.

Guardiola has, of course, been backed significantly in the transfer market but he’s not only spending cash like it’s going out of fashion, he’s improving every single player City has.

Look at Kevin De Bruyne and his weekly bouts of magic from central midfield. John Stones‘ growing composure in central defense. Raheem Sterling finally adding an end product to his game. Sergio Aguero’s rejuvenation. The examples go on and on.

Man City face Leicester, Huddersfield, West Ham and Southampton in their next four games in the Premier League. They are expected to win all four and by the time the first Manchester derby of the season arrives at Old Trafford on Dec. 9, United’s fans are surely already shuddering when thinking about just how many points City will be ahead of United, and the rest of the Premier League, by that point.

At this rate it is very plausible that City can go the entire season unbeaten and become one of the greatest teams we’ve ever seen.

Spending over $200 million each summer will help you do that but Guardiola has now had over 12 months in England and he’s experience has added that X-factor which was missing for the middle part of last season.


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

Tottenham vs Manchester City, live! Score, updates, live stream link, highlights

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Manchester City can gut the gap to Premier League leaders Arsenal to just two points with a win over Tottenham in north London on Sunday (watch live, 11:30 am ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com). 

STREAM LIVE TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY

Arsenal (50 points) were handed just their second defeat of the season on Saturday, beaten 1-0 away to Everton as Sean Dyche made his debut as Toffees manager. Now level on games played for just over 24 hours, Manchester City (45 points) are once again within striking distance, but Tottenham (36 points – 5th place) have given them fits in recent seasons, when few others could.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Tottenham vs Manchester City

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Tottenham vs Manchester City live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Tottenham vs Manchester City live score, updates

Tottenham vs Man City halftime score: 1-0 (Kane, 15′)

12:20pm ET: HALFTIME STATS! It’s still 1-0 to Spurs on Kane’s record-making goal. Here’s how the match looks, via FotMob:

Tottenham vs Manchester City live
fotmob.com

12:17pm ET: Crossbar smashed! Riyad Mahrez nearly has it 1-1 at the break. We’re almost done with two minutes stoppage time.

12:13pm ET: Close! Grealish has been a live wire and whips in a shot that cannot find the frame. City cannot find Erling Haaland and the xG battle is even at 0.37 even if City has 68 percent of the ball and a 6-2 edge in shots. Still 1-0 Spurs, who have a corner and cannot get through City because Kane and Eric Dier have a few chances to snap a loose ball home.

12:05pm ET: It’s slowed down a bit, so let’s take a moment to shout out reaction from the other two Premier League players who can say they’ve scored 200 goals in the competition.

Here’s more on Harry Kane’s Tottenham record and new berth in Premier League history.

11:52am ET: YELLOW CARD, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR. Man City right back at it, but Spurs take the ball back and Kane wins a free kick just inside the circle. City takes the ball back and Jack Grealish and Rico Lewis are bringing electricity to the center of the park. Lewis is chopped down by Rodrigo Betancur, who sees a yellow card for his petulance.

11:47am ET: GOOOOOAAAAALLLL! TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR! And it’s history for Harry Kane! It had still been a lot of City, but a bad giveaway deep in its own end allows Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to lay the ball off for Kane inside the 18. From this angle and range, the new all-time Tottenham Hotspur goal scorer is not going to miss and Spurs lead at home with his 267th goal in the shirt. It’s also his 200th Premier League goal. What a moment! Tottenham 1-0 Man City, 15′.

11:36am ET: It’s been a good start for Man City, with a couple of corner kicks. City, however, looks like it will be dealing with an 18 that resembles cartons of milk on the shelf at the grocery store. City currently opening the door to find a compact Spurs unit all over the pitch, with several shots blocked inside the 18.

11:15am ET: Good morning! Nick Mendola here with you ahead of a game Antonio Conte would love to get and Pep Guardiola will be planning to capture. Some odd comments from Guardiola before the game about Kevin De Bruyne being out of the Starting XI for tactical reasons, while Phil Foden misses out through injury/illness. Exciting under-the-radar Maximo Perrone has a spot in the 18, too, and some are suspecting him as a long-term Rodri clone. As for Spurs, Conte does get Richarlison on the bench, which also holds room for new signings Pedro Porro and Arnaut Danjuma. Depth options and two tactical wizards on the touch line should make this a complete game… unless Erling Haaland makes it a fait accompli before it has a chance to become a chess match. (NM)


Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lucas Moura (calf)

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: John Stones (thigh), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE), Phil Foden (foot)


Key storylines & star players

When these sides met just two weeks ago, Tottenham found themselves 2-0 up at halftime and threatening to cause the Man City upset yet again, effectively handing rivals Arsenal a three-point boost in the title race. Then the second half kicked off, and the two-time defending champions poured in four games, including three in the first 18 minutes. Another fantastic half wasted by Tottenham, though it was typically a poor start followed by a frantic finish of their own. Harry Kane will pass Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time top scorer when he scores his next goal, taking his total in all competitions to 267. If Kane scores that goal in a Premier League fixture, the record goal will also be his 200th in the league.

Erling Haaland (25 goals) is the only player with more PL goals than Kane (16) this season, and though his numbers are certainly eye-popping, his arrival has clearly unsettled Pep Guardiola’s tactical system to some degree. A season ago, Manchester City conceded just 26 goals in 38 games (0.68 per game). This season, 20 goals in 20 games, up nearly a half-goal per game.

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Harry Kane record goal: New Tottenham record; Joins Rooney, Shearer

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Harry Kane and Tottenham Hotspur are names that go hand-in-hand for a generation of Premier League viewers, so how fitting that the English center forward has now scored more goals in a Spurs shirt than anyone in history?

Very.

Kane, 29, fired Tottenham in front of Manchester City on Sunday at home, giving Spurs a 1-0 lead against the run of play and earning him his 267th goal in the club’s shirt.

STREAM LIVE TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY

The goal, also his 200th in the Premier League. Only two other players have done that: Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208).

Kane doesn’t turn 30 until the summer. If his ankle cooperates and he stays in Enland, well, sorry Alan.

England star Kane has now passed the legendary, late Jimmy Greaves for most Tottenham goals but needs another 21 to break Greaves’ record for league goals in a Tottenham shirt. Greaves scored 357 goals for Spurs, Chelsea, and West Ham in the pre-Premier League era.

Nottingham Forest beats Leeds to continue surge

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Nottingham Forest won yet again as they beat Leeds United 1-0 to move into midtable and keep their great recent form going. 

FULL MATCH REPLAY

Steve Cooper’s side have won three of their last five Premier League games and are unbeaten in that stretch. Brennan Johnson continue his fine form too as the youngster sent home a beautiful volley in the first half and Forest defended well to keep Leeds at bay with new signing Keylor Navas in fine form in goal.

As for Jesse Marsch and Leeds, they huffed and puffed and wasted big chances in the first half as they’ve now won just two of their last 17 Premier League games and are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference as they haven’t won any of their last seven Premier League games.

Nottingham Forest are now on 24 points, six points above the relegation zone, while Leeds remain on 18 points.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Gritty Forest see off disjointed Leeds

Nottingham Forest did not play well but they did what they had to do as defensively they are so solid, they have a clear plan and they are doing the basics so well. With Brennan Johnson in this kind of form, plus other threats on the break, Forest are looking set to stay in the Premier League quite comfortably. Jesse Marsch and Leeds look very disjointed as they continue to integrate new signings and get players back to full fitness. They looked like a team struggling for confidence and with no win in their last seven the pressure is mounting on Marsch. It seems like they just need one lucky break to get going again and regain their early season form. However, the Leeds fans aren’t happy and a bad week with their two games against in-form Man United could see the owners forced into a change.


Stars of the show

Keylor Navas: After arriving from PSG on loan in a major coup, the veteran Costa Rican goalkeeper stood tall in the first half and injured Dean Henderson may struggle to regain his starting spot.

Morgan Gibbs-White: Gave Forest an outlet and never stopped running. His close control took the pressure off his team when they needed it most.

Nottingham Forest vs Leeds
Graphic via FotMob.com

What’s next?

Nottingham Forest head to Fulham on Saturday, Feb. 11. Leeds have two huge rivalry games against Manchester United, first up at Old Trafford on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and then at home on Sunday, Feb. 12.


How to watch Nottingham Forest vs Leeds live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

We are deep into the four minutes of stoppage time.

Substitute Sam Surridge goes close to making it 2-0. Just off target.

The clock is ticking for Leeds. Just 15 minutes to go. Still 1-0 to Nottingham Forest.

Not a lot going on. Forest happy to sit back, while Leeds have made plenty of subs but they haven’t been able to carve out any big opportunities so far in the second half.

Weston McKennie is on for his Leeds United and Premier League debut. This feels like a game where he can have a big impact and dare I say grab a debut goal from a set piece situation? He’s very good at timing his runs into the box. Summerville is on too as Roca and Sinisterra depart.

Second half is underway! Nottingham Forest still lead 1-0. Colback and Aurier are on for Mangala and Danilo.

Navas with another fine stop to deny Wilfried Gnonto this time. Forest are making some sloppy mistakes at the back but Leeds aren’t punishing them.

Luke Ayling denied by Keylor Navas after Patrick Bamford missed his kick after a good ball back to him.

What a chance. It should be 1-1. Luis Sinisterra smashes over from close range after a ball over the top finds Gnonto and he tees up Sinisterra but he gets it all wrong. Oh dear.

Forest are sitting back after taking the lead. Leeds are struggling to build anything as they search for an equalizer.

What a start for Forest! Brennan Johnson with a lovely strike and the City Ground is bouncing. Bit of controversy on the Forest goal as Johnson was offside when the ball was initially played towards him when he won the free kick he ended up scoring from. Leeds will feel more than a little aggrieved with that.

KICK OFF: We are underway at the City Ground and Leeds have started brightly with Gnonto looking sharp down the wing.


Key storylines & star players

Though some fans have started to turn on Jesse Marsch, the American manager has seemingly been fully backed by the club’s hierarchy, not through their words but through their actions. Chris Armas was hired as Marsch’s assistant head coach, and then Weston McKennie was signed ahead of deadline day, affording Marsch the opportunity (and money) to further shape the club into his own. When Leeds kick off on Sunday, the only thing separating them from the relegation zone will be five goals in the goal difference column.

After winning just one of their first 12 games back in the Premier League for the first time since 1999, Steve Cooper’s side has gelled and picked up wins over Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Leicester since late October. The key to their success? Just five goals conceded in their last six games, with three of the five coming in a single game against Manchester United. Winning with clean sheets, picking up score-draws, after conceding 33 goals in 15 games to start the season.


Nottingham Forest team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Morgan Gibbs-White (ankle), Taiwo Awoniyi (groin), Dean Henderson (thigh), Cheikhou Kouyate (thigh), Giulian Biancone (knee), Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh), Ryan Yates (illness)

Leeds team news, injuries, lineup

OUT: Stuart Dallas (thigh), Crysencio Summerville (ankle), Adam Forshaw (groin), Archie Gray (ankle), Robin Koch (suspension)

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Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham, Brentford and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy season so far.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – February 4



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