PL grades: Ranking each team at halfway

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The halfway point has arrived and it is time to dish out the grades for the 2017-18 Premier League so far.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Below we rate how well each team has performed so far with 19 games on the board and 19 to go.


Manchester City: A+
Pep Guardioa’s men have a 13-point lead atop the PL table, the largest margin at this point of the season in history. They’re on a record-breaking 17-game winning run and have scored 60 goals in 19 games. Do I need to say any more? A near perfect season so far with 18 wins from 19 games and zero defeats, plus they’re the favorites to win the UCL. A plethora of attacking talents are orchestrated by the sublime duo of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.


Burnley: A-
Sean Dyche has overachieved massively at Burnley, especially after selling two key players in the summer in Andre Gray and Michael Keane. The Clarets have wobbled of late but still sit in seventh place after a record-breaking start to the season. Simply stunning as Burnley fight for European qualification.


Huddersfield Town: A-
22 points from their first 19 PL games is a fine return and David Wagner‘s side started the season well, had a bit of a dip, but have recovered well in recent weeks. The Terriers will easily secure their top-flight status at this rate and their fans have added an incredible atmosphere to the league in their debut season in the PL.


Liverpool: B+
Same old problems for Liverpool at the back but going forward they have been sensational with only Man City scoring more goals than them in the PL. Mohamed Salah has been the star of the show but they have so many fine attacking talents. In the top four and the last 16 of the UCL, which equals a real success so far.


Chelsea: B-
A decent season so far for the Blues who are nestled in the chasing pack behind City and sit in third in the table. Antonio Conte‘s reigning champs have already said goodbye to their title with Man City running away with things but a second-place finish, plus success in domestic cups and Europe will still be a great season.


Tottenham: B
Harry Kane keeps scoring goals and the England international has scored 36 in the PL in the calendar year to equal Alan Shearer’s record. Dele Alli has struggled but Spurs have adapted to life at Wembley well after early struggles and were the best team in the group stages of the Champions League. Mauricio Pochettino will be happy enough, but not elated.


Arsenal: B
The Gunners are hanging in there when it comes to the top four, plus their ‘B team’ are flying in the League Cup and Europa League. Some fine attacking displays have been ruined by poor defensive mistakes. Lacazette, Ozil and Sanchez can rip anyone apart and Wenger is showing more tactically flexibility, at times.


Manchester United: B
Yes, they are second in the PL and in the UCL last 16, but the cracks are starting to show for Jose Mourinho. Being knocked out of the League Cup by second-tier Bristol City and letting in goals due to defensive errors have irked the Portuguese coach. Is a second half of the season slump coming up for United? It sure seems like it as plenty of expensive signings fail to live up to the hype.


Leicester City: B
A tale of two halves for the Foxes. Just one win in their first eight games of the season cost Craig Shakespeare his job but Claude Puel has come in and reinvigorated Mahrez and Vardy and Leicester are back to their best. They will fight for a European spot and have some talented youngsters breaking through.


Watford: B
Marco Silva got off to a flying start at Watford with the Hornets in the top four early on but four-straight defeats in December has seen them slip into midtable. Yet another second half of the season slump coming up? Richarlison has been their main man in attack.


Brighton: B
It has been tough at times for the Seagulls to score goals but defensively they are solid and Chris Hughton has them in 12th place with 21 points so far. Bang on track to survive in their first-ever PL season. So far, so good.


Everton: C
What a bizarre season so far for the Toffees. Ronald Koeman was sacked after a truly shocking start saw them at the wrong end of the table but now the squad he assembled expensively is thriving under Sam Allardyce with no defeats in their last six games. Europe beckons once again and a reborn Wayne Rooney is leading the charge.


Crystal Palace: C
After four games Frank De Boer was fired and Roy Hodgson has, slowly, turned things around at Palace after they lost their opening seven games of the season. The Eagles are unbeaten in eight games and Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend are their best hope of staying up. Positive vibes as Palace head into 2018.


Newcastle United: C
The Magpies picked up a big win before Christmas but that somewhat papers over the cracks. Rafael Benitez’s side have been struggling along and the squad badly needs reinforcements in January. A cloud is hanging over the club with Mike Ashley delaying his sale and that means new signings in January could be few and far between. Newcastle’s battling squad just keeping their heads above water.


West Ham: D
Another club who have seen an upturn in results due to their manager being fired. Slaven Bilic‘s time was up at West Ham and David Moyes‘ appointment has surprisingly seen a big upsurge in performance. But with the individual quality they have, still a very poor season so far for the Hammers.


Stoke City: D
Mark Hughes has kept onto his job for now and Stoke have shown in glimpses what they are capable of. They have the worst defensive record in the PL, which is very unlike them, but the Potters will be hoping to kick on in the second half of the season. Must do better.


Southampton: D-
Perhaps the most under-performing team in the PL based on their talent, Mauricio Pellegrino‘s job will be under severe pressure very soon. If it wasn’t for Charlie Austin‘s goals recently then Saints would be in real trouble. They’re just three points above the relegation zone which is a huge shock given the squad of players they have. Underachieving.


Bournemouth: D-
Another club who have plenty of talent but aren’t delivering, Bournemouth’s decision to bring in added experience isn’t really working. Asmir Begovic and Jermain Defoe haven’t delivered so far and Eddie Howe‘s side are set for a real relegation scrap.


West Brom: F
A woeful season for the Baggies who won their opening two games of the campaign but haven’t won since. That’s a club record 17-game winless run. Tony Pulis was fired and Alan Pardew hired but there’s been no change for West Brom. They’re embroiled in a relegation battle.


Swansea City: F
Firing Paul Clement just before Christmas was a mind-boggling move and the Swans are in freefall. Bottom of the PL table with 13 points after selling Llorente and Sigurdsson in the summer, the South Wales side looked doomed. After being successful in relegation battles in recent seasons, it appears their luck is finally running out.

Europa League: How to watch Tottenham-Maccabi Haifa, schedule, start time, odds

Tottenham - Maccabi Haifa
Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho’s insane September in three competitions continues with a Thursday’s Tottenham-Maccabi Haifa fixture in the Europa League, the final playoff match coming exactly three weeks before the first matchday of the group stahe.

The visitors head into North London on a five-match unbeaten run and if they manage a show-stopping upset it will likely star an American.

California native Josh Cohen, 28, has started all five of those matches between the sticks for Maccabi Haifa. The ex-USL and UC San Diego goalkeeper has been with the club since leaving the Sacramento Republic in 2019.

[ MORE: Europa League scoreboard ]

Ukraine-born Australian striker Nikita Rukavytsya is the key man for Maccabi Haifa’s attack, boasting seven goals and three assists in five appearances this season.

Spurs should have a pretty strong group despite their fixture weariness as Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and Matt Doherty started on the bench for Tuesday’s League Cup fourth-round win over Chelsea.

 

 

In other action, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers certainly would’ve loved to have drawn any number of opponents rather than Turkish powers Galatasaray.

Rangers - Galatasaray
Rangers boss Gerrard (left) was teammates with Galatasaray striker Ryan Babel while at Liverpool  (Photo by Peter Byrne – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

While there’s been good humor online regarding Gerrard managing while former teammate Ryan Babel hits the pitch for Gala, the Turkish side arrives in Glasgow in a foul mood.

Here’s manager Faith Terim, who is upset that his side drew derby rivals Fenerbahce 0-0 at home.

“I will turn all my attention to Rangers now,” Terim said, via the Daily Record. “The Europa League is very important to us in many ways and of course, we will play our strongest team. At the moment, we are playing every three or four days and that can be a factor. But we just have to deal with it. It always hurts when you don’t win a derby game and we have a chance to put it right this week in Glasgow.”

Rangers are favorites in the match, which shows how far Gerrard has brought Scotland’s second-best side in points-per-game. Watch out for Babel, who’s scored six times in 25 matches for Gala after his 2018-19 star turn in Fulham’s relegation season.

Which brings us to Celtic, who is a point behind their eternal rivals but has a match-in-hand.

Neil Lennon’s men have disappointed in Europe this season and are heavy favorites going into Sarajevo, as they were when needed almost every minute to get past Riga 1-0 in Latvia last week after being bounced from the Champions League by Ferencvaros.

Elsewhere, AC Milan won’t have Zlatan Ibrahimovic when it visits Portugal’s Rio Ave.


How to watch Tottenham – Maccabi Haifa + Europa League playoff round streams, start times

When: Thursday
Online: Bleacher Report Live


Thursday’s Europa League playoff round ties

All times ET

Thursday
CFR Cluk v KuPS — 11:30 am ET
Malmo v Granada — 1 pm ET
Charleroi v Lech Poznan — 1 pm ET
Rosenborg v PSV Eindhoven — 1 pm ET
Dinamo Zagreb v Flora — 1 pm ET
Ararat-Armenia v Red Star Belgrade — 1 pm ET
Liberec v APOEL Nicosia — 1 pm ET
Hapo’el Beer-Sheva v Viktoria Plzen — 1:30 pm ET
Sarajevo v Celtic — 2pm ET
Standard Liege v Fehervar — 2pm ET
Dinamo Brest v Ludogorets Razgrad — 2pm ET
Copenhagen v Rijeka — 2pm ET
Legia Warsaw v Qarabag — 2pm ET
Dundalk v KI — 2:30 pm ET
Young Boys v Tirana — 2:30 pm ET
Basel v CSKA Sofia — 2:30 pm ET
AEK Athens v Wolfsburg — 2:45 pm ET
Rangers v Galatasaray — 2:45 pm ET
Rio Ave v AC Milan — 3 pm ET
Tottenham Hotspur v Maccabi Haifa — 3 pm ET
Sporting Lisbon v LASK — 3 pm ET


Select Europa League odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Sarajevo (+800) v Celtic (-358) | Draw (+400)
AEK Athens (+235) v Wolfsburg (-103) | Draw (+235)
Rangers (+108) v Galatasaray (+220) | Draw (+225)
Rio Ave (+300) v AC Milan (-125) | Draw (+240)
Tottenham Hotspur (-667) v Maccabi Haifa (+1200) | Draw (+550)
Sporting Lisbon (+115) v LASK (+215) | Draw (+215)

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.

Newcastle – Burnley: How to watch, stream link, start time, odds, prediction

Newcastle - Burnley
Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images
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Newcastle – Burnley: Two injury-hit sides on two-match winless runs try to get their seasons pointed in a better direction when Newcastle United hosts Burnley at St. James’ Park on Saturday (Watch live at 3 pm ET online via Peacock Premium).

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Burnley has lost 1-0 to Southampton and 4-2 to Leicester City so far this season, while Newcastle beat West Ham before losing to Brighton and drawing Tottenham.

Sean Dyche will hope his undermanned and well-drilled side can get a big win against Steve Bruce’s Newcastle, who have either looked remarkably good or bad this season. Newcastle – Burnley is the final match on Saturday’s Premier League docket.


Team news for Newcastle – Burnley (INJURY REPORT)

Newcastle’s DeAndre Yedlin and Emil Krafth have picked up minor injuries and are questionable for Saturday, while Martin Dubravka, Matt Ritchie, and Matty Longstaff remain out.

Burnley got Ashley Barnes and James Tarkowski back in midweek League Cup action but saw another injury as Matthew Lowton is being assessed and could join a list with Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Robbie Brady, Jack Cork, Ben Mee, and Jay Rodriguez.


What they’re saying

Steve Bruce on laboring to beat Newport County in the League Cup: “I agree, fully, that we didn’t play well enough. All of a sudden, now, it’s questioning tactics. I just find the whole thing disappointing. I understand we didn’t play well. You know, we don’t go out there and not want to play well. Unfortunately, we haven’t, and for large parts of the game we didn’t tonight, but we stuck at it, and, towards the end, the last 35-40 minutes I thought we, and rightly so, dominated possession, and just had to take one of the chances we created.”

Sean Dyche on transfer and injury problems at Burnley: “When you’ve had seven key injuries, that’s a lot in any club’s world, but it certainly is in ours. The way the club works financially I can only carry so many players. If we try and carry competitive players in every position, quite obviously you’re looking at 20 outfield players. … I certainly don’t want to be bringing in players for the sake of it, if we can get one or two that’s bound to be helpful, just that competitive element for the squad. Whether we can or not is yet to be seen.”


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

The host Magpies have slightly better odds for a win at +145, while a draw (+215) and Burnley win (+205) are nearly identical.

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


Newcastle – Burnley prediction

Burnley took four of six points from the Magpies last season as Chris Wood scored the lone goal in 180 minutes of football. Injuries to both sides indicate we might see the Clarets and Magpies make amends for the 2019-20 paucity of goals. Newcastle 2-1 at home.


How to watch Newcastle – Burnley stream and start time

Kickoff: 3 pm ET Saturday
Online: Peacock Premium

League Cup: How to watch, start times, odds, predictions

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The League Cup’s fourth round features two interesting tactical duels in that the tournament gives us rematches of a pair of Premier League matches from the weekend, right down to the locations.

Brighton will hope Manchester United’s Wednesday trip to the Amex Stadium isn’t as lucky as the Red Devils’ 3-2 triumph over the Seagulls, while Arsenal heads back to Anfield on Thursday with designs on a measure of revenge for Monday’s 3-1 loss in league play.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

While Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United are built a bit deeper — easy, Red Devils fans — due to squad necessity for European competition, Graham Potter’s Seagulls don’t have it as simple as chopping and changing (though Brighton has looked plenty good with its depth so far in this tournament.

How will the tactician plot his overthrow of United? And will Mikel Arteta do anything different with Arsenal to help thwart the high line Liverpool used to limit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Monday (if the Gabonese star even plays)?

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 things from Liverpool-Arsenal ]

Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho saw Spurs on beat Chelsea on penalties on Tuesday.

Three lower league remain and will be playing their fourth League Cup matches of the month compared to the PL’s three outings. Those who win this week will have a lot longer to wait for the quarterfinals, which won’t be held until December.


League Cup fourth round results, kickoff times, and odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Tottenham 1-1 (5-4 pens) Chelsea
Burnley 0-3 Manchester City 
Brighton 0-3 Manchester United
Everton 4-1 West Ham United
Newport County 1-1 (4-5 pens) Newcastle United
Brentford (+135) v Fulham (+185) | Draw (+225)— 12:30 pm ET Thursday
Aston Villa (-150) v Stoke City (+360) | Draw (+275)— 2 pm ET Thursday
Liverpool (-105) v Arsenal (+230) | Draw (+270)— 2:45 pm ET Thursday

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


League Cup fourth round predictions

Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Chelsea
Newport County 1-3 Newcastle United
Burnley 0-3 Manchester City
Brighton 2-1 Manchester United
Everton 2-2 (EFC wins in penalties) West Ham United
Brentford 1-1 (Brentford wins in penalties) Fulham
Aston Villa 2-0 Stoke City
Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal


How to watch League Cup fourth round streams and start time

Kickoff: Tuesday through Thursday
Online: Select games on ESPN+
Updates: Follow League Cup scores via NBCSports.com

Champions League groups drawn for Premier League sides, USMNT stars

Champions League draw
Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
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The UEFA Champions League draw was held Thursday, with Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United learning their foes for the group stage.

[ MORE: Champions League playoff round recaps ]

Manchester United found itself drawn into a brutal Group H led by Paris Saint-Germain and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have plenty to prove in matching wits and talents.

Juventus and Barcelona were drawn together, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will duel again under the eyes of new managers Andrea Pirlo and Ronald Koeman.

Real Madrid has a tricky Group C with Marseille, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Inter Milan.


Premier League teams

PL champions Liverpool dodged the Pot 2 challenge but will meet sides who want to entertain in a younger Ajax and Italian wizards Atalanta. Midtjylland completes the group.

Pep Guardiola’s quest to finally reach a UCL final with Man City was greeted by Porto out of Pot 1 as well as Olympiakos and Marseille.

Manchester United’s path has big roadblocks in Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzip, two top teams with top managers. It was a group of death before being completed by Demba Ba’s Istanbul Basaksehir.

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard will match wits Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui and also square off with group stage debutants Krasnodar and French side Stade Rennes.

Americans Abroad

As for American connections, Christian Pulisic is with Chelsea and Zack Steffen at Man City but there are plenty more USMNT connections in play.

Red Bull Salzburg coach Jesse Marsch has his hands full with Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid in addition to Lokomotiv Moscow.

Marsch’s former New York Red Bulls charge Tyler Adams is with RB Leipzig, who drew PSG, Manchester United, and Istanbul Basaksehir

Giovanni Reyna and Borussia Dortmund avoided a tough Pot 1 pull by getting Zenit Saint-Petersburg but took Lazio out of Pot 3. The final team in Group F is Club Brugge, currently the home of American goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.

Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie sees his seeded team lead Group G against the newest member of Barcelona in fellow USMNT star Sergino Dest. Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros are also in the group.

NYCFC youngster Joe Scally will join Borussia Monchengladbach after the MLS season. The Foals will meet

Weston McKennie Juventus
TURIN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 20: Weston Mckennie  (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)

2020-21 UEFA Champions League group stage

Group A

Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid
Red Bull Salzburg
Lokomotiv Moscow

Group B

Real Madrid
Shakhtar Donetsk
Inter Milan
Borussia Monchengladbach

Group C

Porto
Manchester City
Olympiakos
Marseille

Group D

Liverpool
Ajax
Atalanta
Midtjylland

Group E

Sevilla
Chelsea
Krasnodar
Stade Rennes

Group F

Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Borussia Dortmund
Lazio
Club Brugge

Group G

Juventus
Barcelona
Dynamo Kiev
Ferencvaros

Group H

Paris Saint-Germain
Manchester United
RB Leipzig
Istanbul Basaksehir