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Premier League preview: Watford vs. Man United

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  • Three teams, including Watford, remain perfect
  • Watford: 3rd place, 12/12 points
  • Man United: 10th place, 6/12 points

One of three remaining Premier League sides with a 100-percent win record looks to make it five wins in five games when Watford host Manchester United on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com).

Last time out, it was Javi Gracia‘s Hornets who shocked previously unblemished Tottenham Hotspur with a comeback victory at Vicarage Road to join Liverpool and Chelsea among the ranks of early-season perfection. Gracia was justly named PL Manager of the Month for August. It’s been a full team effort for Watford as six different players have contributed at least one goal, but Roberto Pereyra has led the way and proven himself the star of the side with three goals in four games. After arriving from Juventus in the summer of 2016, the Argentine failed to impress during his first two seasons in the PL, but Gracia has gotten the most out of the 27-year-old thus far and will again rely heavily upon Pereyra against what could very well be a defensive-minded Man United side on Saturday.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 5 ]

As for United, it’s been a stressful start to the season for Jose Mourinho and Co. Following back-to-back losses to Brighton & Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur, the Red Devils bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Burnley before the international break. Mourinho has come under plenty of scrutiny, but he remains defiant that no one can do the job better than he can, and a handful of his players have spoken out publicly in support of the manager (see below). Luke Shaw is expected to be available for selection after suffering a concussion while playing for England, but the same can’t be said for Marcus Rashford who will be suspended for the next three games after head-butting Phil Bardsley in the game against Burnley.

What they’re saying

Gracia, on keeping the good times rolling: “When you start something you always think you will be good but you do not know if you will be able to achieve four wins in a row. But we are in a good moment — we are enjoying it. We know in the future the competition will put us in our place. … We know it will be a very demanding game. But playing at Vicarage Road we feel strong and think we are able to beat all the other teams, knowing at the same time if we don’t give 100% we can lose.”

Romelu Lukaku, on Mourinho putting his real self on display: “Sometimes footballers, we get soft a little bit. If I listen to players from back in the day and now, a manager cannot say what he wants to a player because you feel attacked. … My relationship with him is cool. He makes me laugh, he makes the players laugh, he’s a real family guy. He fights for his players, but he’s real. When you’re not happy, you don’t need to fake your emotions. … You should respect that he wants to keep his own personality and not shy away from confrontation. Here, he really wants us to improve.”

Prediction

Watford made the most of their set-piece chances against Tottenham, and United have already conceded twice on set pieces this year. It’ll be a much tighter affair than the sum of transfer fees might suggest, and Watford have enough to make it a 1-1 draw.

VIDEO: Bernardo Silva doesn’t applaud Liverpool in ‘guard of honor’

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Bernardo Silva didn’t applaud Liverpool in the ‘guard of honor’ Man City gave them and couldn’t get off the pitch quick enough.

Silva and his teammates lined up on the pitch before the game at the Etihad on Thursday and welcomed the newly-crowned champions by flanking them on both sides.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Every other Man City player gave Liverpool a round of applause, which will be expected from each team Liverpool face in the rest of the Premier League season as they won the title with seven games to go.

Bernardo Silva was not having it, though, as he sipped on a drink, look disinterested and started walking to the benches before most of the Liverpool team had got past the end of the line.

Check out the video clips below of Silva showing perhaps why Man City went on to batter Liverpool 4-0 in the game as he looked angry and most of the Man City players looked far from pleased that they had to applaud Liverpool onto the pitch.

These rivals are a lot closer than the current 20-point gap in the table suggests and given the flashpoints which arrived throughout the game, Man City will be coming back even stronger next season to challenge Liverpool for their title.

Report: USMNT’s McKennie linked with Everton, Newcastle

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Weston McKennie has been linked with a move to Premier League sides Everton and Newcastle United.

The USMNT midfielder, 21, has been the main man in Schalke’s midfield over the past few seasons but he is reportedly available for $28 million this summer and several Premier League teams are interested in McKennie.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

According to a report from Bild, both Everton and Newcastle want to sign Weston McKennie from Schalke this summer.

McKennie has been one of the only Schalke players who can come out of the end of the season with his head held high. David Wagner’s side ended the season on an incredible 16-game winless run and scored just five times after the restart. McKennie scored two of them.

The versatile midfielder can also play at full back and per other reports, Hertha Berlin are also interested in signing him. Schalke’s sporting director Jochen Schneider pointed to the fact that McKennie has a contract until 2024 which he signed last summer but he wouldn’t rule out a move.

Schalke are said to be in a dire financial situation and are trimming their wage bill and squad accordingly this summer.

McKennie has previously said he wants to make the move to the Premier League and both Everton and Newcastle would seem like very good landing spots for him. In fact, along with Crystal Palace and West Ham, those were the two teams I previously selected as being the best place for him to land if he did indeed get his wish for a move to England.

“For me, the next target is England. It has always been my dream to play in the Premier League. I want to join a club that is fighting for a place in Europe: the Champions League or the Europa League. For now, I am happy in Schalke because I can play,” McKennie said.

That’s the key here. McKennie will want to play and at Everton and Newcastle he would have a battle to get into the team initially but he would surely be a regular contributor considering what we’ve seen from him in the Bundesliga over the last few seasons. Both Everton and Newcastle need a destructive holding midfielder and McKennie fits the bill.

The $28 million price tag seems a little high in the current market, so that could be a stumbling block, but there’s a deal to be done here. Schalke need to trim their wage bill, McKennie wants to move to the Premier League and Premier League clubs wants to sign him.

Premier League standings

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The Premier League is back a three month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. Below you will find a reminder of the Premier League standings as we get back to business.

[ MORE: Latest PL TV schedule ]

With 92 games remaining in the 2019-20 Premier League season, there is plenty to play for up and down the league and the standings are extremely tight.

Liverpool have wrapped up the Premier League in stunning fashion over Man City, with the reigning champions and current second-place side eager to focus on cup competitions.

Three of the top four should stay there unless Leicester City’s form dips considerably, but the race for fourth and fifth should be fierce. We may know whether fifth is a Champions League place after scheduled June 8-10 meetings to hear Man City’s appeal over its European ban.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

With between nine and 10 matches left for everyone and eighth potentially being a Europa League spot, all the teams between fourth and 11th still have European hopes in the balance. That would change should Norwich City or Newcastle win the FA Cup, so call it 13 clubs.

The action is going to come fast and often, with the league putting together a staggered schedule of kickoff times that will make matches even more of an all-weekend affair.

Below are the Premier League standings in full, as we will updated them throughout the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

PREMIER LEAGUE STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Liverpool 32 28 2 2 70 25 45 16-0-0 12-2-2 86
 Manchester City 32 21 3 8 81 33 48 12-2-2 9-1-6 66
 Leicester City 32 16 7 9 60 31 29 9-4-3 7-3-6 55
 Chelsea 32 16 6 10 57 44 13 8-3-5 8-3-5 54
 Manchester United 32 14 10 8 51 31 20 9-5-2 5-5-6 52
 Wolves 32 13 13 6 45 34 11 6-7-3 7-6-3 52
 Sheffield United 32 12 11 9 33 32 1 8-3-5 4-8-4 47
 Arsenal 32 11 13 8 47 41 6 8-5-3 3-8-5 46
 Tottenham Hotspur 32 12 9 11 51 44 7 9-3-4 3-6-7 45
 Burnley 32 13 6 13 36 45 -9 8-2-6 5-4-7 45
 Everton 32 12 8 12 40 47 -7 8-5-3 4-3-9 44
 Crystal Palace 32 11 9 12 28 37 -9 6-4-6 5-5-6 42
 Newcastle United 32 11 9 12 33 43 -10 6-7-3 5-2-9 42
 Southampton 32 12 4 16 41 55 -14 4-2-10 8-2-6 40
 Brighton & Hove Albion 32 7 12 13 34 44 -10 5-6-5 2-6-8 33
 West Ham United 32 8 6 18 38 56 -18 5-3-8 3-3-10 30
 Watford 32 6 10 16 29 49 -20 4-6-6 2-4-10 28

 Aston Villa 32 7 6 19 36 60 -24 5-3-8 2-3-11 27
 Bournemouth 32 7 6 19 30 54 -24 4-5-7 3-1-12 27
 Norwich City 32 5 6 21 25 60 -35 4-3-9 1-3-12 21

Chelsea – Watford preview: How to watch, stream info, prediction, odds

Chelsea - Watford preview
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Chelsea – Watford preview: Chelsea looks to rebound from a surprise loss to a relegation candidate when it hosts another scrapper on Saturday at Stamford Bridge (start time, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

The Blues failed to take hold of third place after falling 3-2 at West Ham earlier this week, and will now face an ornery and underachieving Hornets side.

STREAM CHELSEA-WATFORD LIVE ONLINE

Watford’s 28 points are enough to be outside the drop zone, but just. Aston Villa and Bournemouth have 27 points each and also face top-four chasing sides this weekend.


Team news

Andre Gray, Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah are available for Watford after being scratched from the Hornets last start for a reported quarantine infraction.

What they’re saying

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard on the loss to West Ham: “Not the story of our season, but we have had many of these moments. Chance to go third but you have to do every part of the game to get them. The players in those moments have to show an extra mentality to get through a game like this. I have seen us play great games, but then I have seen opportunities to jump teams or close points, but we haven’t taken them. It shows the work we have to do.”

Troy Deeney on Watford’s struggles near the bottom three: “We’ve had chats. Everyone was frustrated so we’ve tried to park it as quickly as we can in regard to moving onto the next one, but there’s certainly been a lot of things said. It’s important we are able to do that as it doesn’t help anybody if people are not speaking up and saying what’s on their minds, so we had to get to a point where we understood everyone wants to win, no-one’s playing bad on purpose, but if you don’t get to the required standards you’re going to get called out and that’s ultimately what’s happened.”

Odds and ends

The odds reflect the task at hand for Watford at +750. A Chelsea win is -235.

Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham scored in a 2-1 Chelsea win at Vicarage Road earlier this season.

Prediction

The Blues bounce back, though not without warts in another 2-1 win.