Season Preview: Can Wagner’s Huddersfield Town defend its way to safety?

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Premier League titles: 0 (Three top tier titles from 1923-26)

FA Cups: 1 (1922)

League Cups: 0

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Top Three after three match days and when the calendar hit 2018, Huddersfield Town’s first season in the Premier League took a dramatic downturn the rest of the way. The Terriers’ 16th place finish was just four points clear of the drop zone, and Town’s minus-30 goal differential was worse than all but one team in top flight (Stoke City).

There were bright spots for German-American manager David Wagner, though, and he’s bringing all of them back including outstanding goalkeeper Jonas Lossl. He’ll have to find more goals, though, as Town’s 28-goal season was the joint-worst in the Premier League (Swansea City). What’s worse? Eleven of those 28 goals came in three matches, and there is no real significant transfer yet to expect a major growth in output.


Huddersfield Town will finish top-half because… Consistency and familiarity from its defenders and goalkeeper, now full-time members of Town, allow the group to Burnley its way up the table. Erik Durm and Juninho Bacuna will have to be big hits

Huddersfield Town will be relegated because… The goals don’t come, and the reliance on too few difference makers in the midfield wears down its corps. Opening with Chelsea and Man City sink the Terriers after two weeks, and three Top Four contenders in its final five matches hamper their chances to finish strong.

Best possible XI:

Lossl

Hadergjonaj — Schindler — Kongolo — Jorgensen — Durm

Hogg — Mooy — Williams

Pritchard — Mounie

Transfers In: Terrence Kongolo ($22 million, Monaco), Adama Diakhaby ($11 million, Monaco), Ramadan Sobhi ($7 million, Stoke City), Florent Hadergjonaj ($6 million, Ingolstadt), Jonas Lossl ($3 million, Mainz), Ben Hamer (free, Leicester City), Juninho Bacuna ($3 million, Groningen), Erik Durm (free, Borussia Dortmund)

Transfers Out: Tom Ince ($12.5 million, Stoke City), Rob Green (free, Chelsea).

Ranking their offseason: B+

Town was fortunate to survive the drop last season by any number of metrics, and aren’t taking too many risks in addressing their holes. Kongolo and Lossl were two of their best players last season, and making loans permanent was a necessary move. Versatile Erik Durm is a World Cup winner who could prove to be an all-timer of a move. Two interesting  bets come in the form of Bacuna, Diakhaby and Sobhi, who could succeed with more consistent roles than they had in their past clubs.

Star player: Aaron Mooy — The baldheaded midfielder has risen with a rocket since signing with Manchester City a few years ago, and his four-goal, three-assist campaign saw Town go 5W-1L in matches he registered a goal or assist.

Coach’s Corner: Wagner won the UEFA Cup as a player with Schalke before scrapping his way through to promotion with Town. He’s liked by his players and adept at tactics. The questions are whether he’s added enough players to compete should no more help arrived by Thursday’s transfer deadline.

PST Predicts: Another season of ups and downs which sees Town mostly struggling to stay above the drop zone.

AT HALF: Manchester United trails, 10-man Brighton loses goal to VAR

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We’ve got goals. We’ve got red cards. We’ve got fun.

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All four Premier League 10 a.m. ET Saturday kickoffs have reached halftime. Here’s your primer to select which second half to stream live.

Watford 1-1 West Ham United

Chances and entertainment for days at Vicarage Road, where Mark Noble‘s early penalty was quickly offset by Andre Gray‘s emphatic finish of a Will Hughes through ball.

Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Southampton

Florin Andone has been sent off for the hosts after a gnarly challenge on Yan Valery, and further insult for Brighton came when VAR spotted a clear foul on Lewis Dunk‘s headed goal.

Sheffield United 0-1 Leicester City

Jamie Vardy may not tire of throwing parties, and James Maddison sure designs delightful invitations.

Manchester United 0-1 Crystal Palace

Possession doesn’t matter much if you can’t handle a 70-yard goalkeeper pass, and Victor Lindelof‘s lost header to Jeff Schlupp allowed Jordan Ayew as much time as he needed to slot past David De Gea.

United probably should be up a man after Gary Cahill chopped down Anthony Martial, but only a yellow arrived at Old Trafford.

Lampard, Abraham react to first Chelsea win, goal

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Frank Lampard was all business in being asked about his first Premier League win as Chelsea boss.

Coming on the heels of a loss and draw heading into Saturday’s 3-2 defeat of Norwich City, Lampard was ready to talk about the big picture (especially considering the Blues dealt with a pre-match injury to Pedro).

[ MORE: How did Pulisic perform? ] 

With a lot of young players and a tricky transfer ban, Lampard has to walk a fine line between the expectations of Chelsea and the reality of working with a side he hasn’t been able to improve through the transfer window. From the BBC:

“We want to compete. We know this year is difficult on different levels. We’ve had a tough start, and yep, we needed a win. It helps confidence.”

On the other end of the spectrum is Tammy Abraham, who has no qualms whatsoever with his first Chelsea goal in the Premier League.

“I didn’t even know how to celebrate so I just ran over to the management and the staff. It always gives confidence to me and the young boys when the coach believes in you.”

Sheffield United is next, a real chance for the Blues to round into form even if the Blades have been plucky early in their Premier League return.

Watch Live: Four Premier League games at 10am ET

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Four Premier League games kick off at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, as Matchweek 3 is in full swing.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Man United host Crystal Palace, Southampton head to Brighton, Watford and West Ham do battle and Leicester travel to Sheffield United.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for all four games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Man United v. Crystal Palace – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Brighton v. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Sheffield United v. Leicester – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Watford v. West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Pulisic watch: How did USMNT star perform for Chelsea at Norwich?

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Saturday was a big day for USMNT star Christian Pulisic in the Premier League, as he played a pivotal role in Frank Lampard securing his first win as Chelsea’s boss with the Blues beating Norwich City 3-2.

Pulisic, 20, grabbed an assist and a hockey assist in the first 17 minutes as the Chelsea winger caused Norwich all kinds of problems as he drifted off the right flank time and time again.

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The Pennsylvania native needed a big display with Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi both fit and fighting for his spot out wide on the left but with Pedro out injured in the warm up, Pulisic played really well on the right and went 84 minutes.

Here’s a look at how Pulisic performed against Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday.


1st minute: Pulisic lines up on the right wing after Pedro is injured in the warm up and Ross Barkley replaces him in the lineup.

3rd minute: Launches himself into three tackles in quick succession, winning the final with a perfect sliding lunge.

4th minute: Controls a long pass across the pitch, runs at Norwich’s defense and plays in the overlapping Cesar Azpilicueta. His cross is volleyed home by Tammy Abraham to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead.

6th minute: Norwich attack down Pulisic’s side and get behind Azpilicueta, as Pukki crosses for Cantwell to make it 1-1.

11th minute: Pulisic pops up centrally but Norwich win the ball box just before he bursts into the box.

13th minute: Slides into a tackle and is getting through a lot of defensive works with Buendia drifting inside from Norwich’s left.

14th minute: Links up well with Mateo Kovacic on multiple occasions with clever passing and flicks. He is starting to drift inside a lot more.

17th minute: Pulisic pops up centrally, again, and slots in a perfect pass to Mount who slots home to put Chelsea 2-1 up. Pulisic grabs his first Premier League assist.

23rd minute: After making a surging run down the right, moments later he slips as he tries to wriggle free from a defender in the box.

29th minute: Pulisic gets on the ball and plays in Jorginho in the box. All the Italian midfielder has to do is slot home, but he makes a mess of it.

33rd minute: After Norwich’s Teemu Pukki made it 2-2, the home side have the momentum. Pulisic launches into a fine tackle on Lewis and is dropping deeper and deeper to help his team defend.

36th minute: Azpilicueta whips a cross into the box and Pulisic jumps high but the ball is just flicked away from him.

38th minute: His cross to the back post misses everyone and drifts out of play.

39th minute: Falls down in the box under pressure as he tries to control a looping pass.

44th minute: After a lovely darting run inside, Barkley picks him out and he twists and turns in the box. Eventually gets a shot off which is blocked.

45th minute + 2: Pulisic again wriggles free centrally and sets up Barkley who smashes way over the bar.

47th minute: Races free into the box and slams a shot into the side-netting with Abraham waiting for the pass. Should have done better with the finish. Didn’t look confident at all when taking the shot on.

55th minute: Tammy Abraham flicks the ball around the corner to Pulisic but Lewis wrestles him off the ball. Moments later Pulisic is tackled by Lewis.

61st minute: Cuts inside from the right and plays the ball to Mount who sets up Emerson who fires an effort right at Krul.

66th minute: Wins a foul just outside of his own box as his fantastic battle with Lewis continues.

71st minute: Loses a tackle on the edge of the box as Norwich push for an equalizer after Abraham put Chelsea 3-2 up. Godfrey hits the crossbar from a corner soon after.

75th minute: Tracked back as Buendia controlled a flashed in a dangerous cross. Good defensive work.

79th minute: Again, fine work down the right and a ball cut back to the edge of the box is dummied by Mount and Barkley’s shot is blocked.

80th minute: Pulisic is found by Kovacic in the box and his cross to Giroud is scrambled clear by Norwich.

84th minute: Subbed out and replaced by Willian. Gets a pat on the back from Frank Lampard and a warm ovation from the Chelsea fans.