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Top Premier League storylines — Week 15

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As the calendar readies itself to turn from November to December, the meaty portion of the Premier League season is finally upon us. The next six weeks, beginning this weekend and winding down in mid-January, will go a long, long way toward shaping the final PL table at the end of the season.

[ MORE: JPW’s PL predictions | TV, stream schedule for the weekend ]

Here are five of the biggest PL storylines to follow on Saturday and Sunday…

When Will Man City lose drop points?

The winning streak is up to 12 games now, which is one short of Chelsea’s high-water mark of last season — a good omen, surely, as the Blues went on to win the PL title with relative ease. While the results remain very impressive, it’s the manner in which Pep Guardiola‘s side cruised to a dozen straight victories: a combined score of 40-12 during the run. Up next is West Ham United, who visit the Etihad Stadium on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).


A top-four rivalry once again

As clubs like Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool (very fluidly) moved into and out of the PL’s top-four in recent years, their respective progressions came at the expense of Arsenal and Manchester United during various seasons, who face off at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Last season, it was Arsenal who stumbled to a fifth-place finish, while Man United have finished outside the top-four in three of the last four years. This weekend’s meeting between the rejuvenated sides (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com) is, at least for a day, a battle of top-four sides once again, just as it was year after year during the (earlier) days of Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson. Each side has won three in a row and risen to climbed to fourth and second in the PL table, respectively.


The new-manager boost, just in time?

Everton and West Bromwich Albion, who enter the weekend in 13th and 17th places, respectively, each announced this week a new permanent manager set to take charge of their first game this weekend. For Everton, Sam Allardyce will debut against Huddersfield Town at Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold); West Brom, now under the level-headed lead of Alan Pardew, host bottom-of-the-table Crystal Palace at the Hawthorns (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold).


Burnley in 6th… can they keep it up?

Burnley finishing in the top-four this season had to have been almost — I said, almost — as unlikely as Leicester City’s title win two seasons ago. Yet here we are over one-third of the way through the 2017-18 season, and Sean Dyche‘s side sits sixth — one point back of fifth-place Liverpool, three back of Arsenal, and one ahead of seventh-place Tottenham. As coincidence would have it, the Clarets are set for a trip to the King Power Stadium to take on Claude Puel‘s Leicester on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold). Winners of four of their last five, Burnley have conceded just two goals since taking a hammering at the hands of Man City well over a month ago.


Time for Spurs to stop the rot

Spurs are in semi-serious danger of falling away from the top-four race at an extremely point in the season. Having one just one of their last five PL games, and lost three straight away from home, Saturday’s trip to Vicarage Road, where they’ll take on eighth-place Watford (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com), is inarguably a must-win game for Mauricio Pochettino‘s side. A loss to Marco Silva‘s Hornets — who are quite the story themselves — coupled with Arsenal and Liverpool victories would see Spurs fall seven points back of Arsenal and five back of Liverpool. The busiest six-week period of the season lies directly ahead, and Pochettino is already lamenting fatigue throughout his squad. You can see how things could quickly spiral out of control and get away from Spurs.

Man City reveal squad for US tour

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Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City have announced their squad for their U.S. tour this summer.

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Pep Guardiola is without several first team stars as City had more players at the 2018 World Cup (16) this summer than any other team on the planet.

New club-record signing Riyad Mahrez will travel Stateside though, so too will Joe Hart, Claudio Bravo, Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy, with promising youngsters Patrick Roberts, Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz also included.

Former New York City FC star Jack Harrison will also be part of Man City’s traveling squad as he returns to American soil after starring in MLS over the past few years before his move to City and subsequent loan to Middlesbrough in England’s second-tier.

City have a busy schedule of games in the States as they kick things off on Friday against Borussia Dortmund in Chicago. They then travel to New York City and play Liverpool at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on July 25 before heading to Miami to play Bayern Munich on July 28 to round off their International Champions Cup action.

Take a look at the squad in full below.


Manchester City squad for US tour – 2018/19

Claudio Bravo
Joe Hart
Aymeric Laporte
Leroy Sane
Bernardo Silva
Benjamin Mendy
Tosin Adarabioyo
Riyad Mahrez
Patrick Roberts
Jason Denayer
Daniel Grimshaw
Oleksandr Zinchenko
Douglas Luiz
Jack Harrison
Lukas Nmecha
Phil Foden
Aro Muric
Eric Garcia
Nabil Touaizi
Brahim Diaz
Iker Pozo
Tom Dele-Bashiru
Benjamin Garre
Luke Bolton
Cameron Humphreys
Rabbi Matondo
Tyreke Wilson
Nathanael Ogbeta

Report: Liverpool in talks for Alisson

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It appears Alisson to Liverpool could be back on again.

A report from Di Marzio in Italy claims that AS Roma and Liverpool are in discussions over the transfer of Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson, with further reports from the UK stating Liverpool have offered $81 million for him.

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Their star goalkeeper, 25, was the subject of interest from Liverpool and Real Madrid before the 2018 World Cup began but Brazil’s starting goalkeeper didn’t have an outstanding tournament and Roma’s previous $100 million asking price may now have dropped.

Real may well turn their attention to Thibaut Courtois considering his recent comments that he could leave Chelsea with just a year left on his contract. As for Liverpool, their need for a new goalkeeper remains urgent following Loris Karius‘ mistakes in the UEFA Champions League final and Simon Mignolet falling out of favor.

With Karius backed by Jurgen Klopp several times over the past few months following his UCL final meltdown, Karius has continued to make mistakes in preseason games which may have accelerated Liverpool’s search for a new goalkeeper.

Although both Jack Butland and Nick Pope may well be cheaper options and have Premier League experience, Alisson is highly-regarded for his displays in Serie A and for Brazil and he is not only good with his feet but also a fine shot stopper. I mean, you have to be some goalkeeper to keep out Manchester City’s Ederson as the starter for the Brazilian national team.

Wayne Rooney loving life at DC United

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Wayne Rooney is loving the quiet life in the United States of America.

The all-time leading goalscorer for England and Manchester United made his MLS debut on Saturday, coming on for the final 33 minutes as D.C. United won 3-1 against the Vancouver Whitecaps in their own debut at their new $500 million Audi Field home.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

Rooney, 31, impressed in his brief spell on the pitch as DCU’s loyal fans celebrated a marque moment for the franchise in their new stadium and with a big-name Designated Player wearing the No. 9 jersey.

The former Manchester United and Everton man assisted Paul Arriola for D.C. United’s third goal and was involved in the build-up for their second as his clever touches and flicks impressed in his brief cameo. With 14 of their final 19 games of the season at their new home due to Audi Field opening on July 14, Rooney will be hoping to drag DCU up the Eastern Conference standings as they currently sit bottom.

Speaking to the Daily Mail around his arrival in MLS, Rooney lauded life off the pitch in the capital city as he hasn’t been recognized strolling through a mall or going to a coffee shop.

“I know I can relax a bit more. At home, you are looking over your shoulder and having to think to yourself, ‘What is going on there?’ You don’t know who is watching you and you have to be careful with what you are doing all the time,” Rooney said. “I think I can have a quiet life now and, when the children come over, I’m sure the time I get to spend with them in public will be a lot better now. It has been very easy to settle. I’ve been made to feel very comfortable. I’ve got freedom to be me, which hasn’t always been the case.”

And here is exactly why a move to MLS appeals to so many superstars who, like Rooney, have been followed everywhere for their entire career. Tales of Steven Gerrard hanging out at the beach with his kids and Thierry Henry jumping on the subway in NYC are plentiful as star players get the chance of that “freedom” Rooney talked about.

Rooney has been in the public eye for 16 years since he burst onto the scene as a teenager in the Premier League and now he’s enjoying the quiet life in the D.C. suburbs. Can you blame him?

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic loving the attention in LA and the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and David Villa also seen out and about at events in Chicago and New York City respectively, Rooney will no doubt take on a similar role to interact with the sports community in D.C.

That said, it seems like he’s enjoying popping down to the local coffee shop and hanging out at the mall right now.

PHOTOS: Man United release new kit

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Manchester United have released their new home kit for the 2018/19 season.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match ] 

Jose Mourinho’s men have already unveiled a black away kit for the new campaign but as they prepare to play the first game of their U.S. tour on Thursday, their new home jersey is now available.

[ MORE: Sanchez to miss US tour?

Take a look at the video and photos below to get a feel for the kit.