What did we learn in the Premier League?

Leave a comment

It was a wild Saturday in the Premier League, as we had blowout wins, red cards, stunning goals and some huge shocks all rolled into six games.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Below we focus on the key stories to come out of Saturday’s PL action, and there’s only one place to start…


Jose Mourinho and Manchester United are still a mess

My word, what a comeback. Manchester United beat Newcastle 3-2 on Saturday just when it seemed like Mourinho was on the brink of being fired. Newcastle crumbled in the second half after racing into a 2-0 lead but they still had plenty of chances to score against United’s shaky defensive unit. However, with their backs against the wall, United’s players dug deep and fought for Mourinho. That was a huge question mark heading into this game with the likes of Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and others said to have fallen out with their manager. This could be the turning point and heading into the international break there will be some kind of positivity around United.

But they are still in a mess. And how much is Mourinho to blame? Reports had circulated that Mourinho would be fired regardless of the result. United had called that report as “nonsense” but the situation is still far from being sorted. Surely the only way is up from here? The subs he made and the way his senior players stood tall told us that they still want to play for Mourinho. That’s huge.

“In the second half the players gave absolutely everything. There was nothing left to give. I am 55, I am mature, I can cope with it and I can live with it. I think clearly, some of the boys, they are not coping well with it,” Mourinho said. “The way they started the game was absolutely panicking. Every ball that was in our box, I thought in some moments we could even score in our own goal. For me, it is not easy, but life is made of experiences and some are new and some are deja vu. This is new but makes me not just a better manager but a better person. I now understand things better in the industry. There is a lot of wickedness in something that should be beautiful.”

So far this season, Mourinho has created a cloud of negativity at Old Trafford with his players looking scared to play and they made a very poor Newcastle side look like world beaters early on. He called out Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford for criticism after the game which may not help him in the long run, but he continues to clash with his players. With Pogba and Nemanja Matic playing at center back in the second half, Mourinho also seemed to be sending a thinly-veiled message to Ed Woodward and the board at United: you didn’t get me the players I wanted this summer and this is your fault. Of course, the fault for United’s worst-ever start to a Premier League season lies at the door of Mourinho, his players and the hierarchy, and you get the sense that this situation can be turned around with everyone pulling in the right direction. But so much has to change. United’s players need time away from the club over the international break to take a breather. So does Mourinho. He looks like a man who needs a break from the criticism amid all of the pressure.

They still have the squad to at least finish in the top four, even if a serious title push looks far away this season. After all of their struggles so far, United are in eighth place and just four points off the top four. That’s not that bad, right? This seems like a turning point but there’s still a huge mess to sort out.


Bournemouth’s attacking quartet key to European bid

Callum Wilson, Josh King, David Brooks and Ryan Fraser ripped Watford apart on Saturday and they are the main reason Bournemouth sit in fifth place in the Premier League and dream of qualifying for Europe. After their fifth win in eight games this season, Eddie Howe said he believes his team are “capable of beating anyone” and David Brooks hailed the “on fire” attacking unit for the Cherries. With games against Southampton, Fulham, Manchester United and Newcastle coming up, you can expect to see Bournemouth hanging around the top six between now and December. The longer they stay there, the more belief they will gain and Howe’s youngsters are playing with so much confidence right now. Bournemouth can be the Burnley of this season and finishing seventh certainly isn’t out of the question. In a week where the South Coast club halted a bid to move to a new stadium and away from their 11,000 capacity home, their ambition on the pitch remains. Bournemouth are the perfect model of how to run a club, how to develop young players and how to keep faith in a young manager with a clear philosophy. The Cherries have now been in the Premier League for four seasons and this is the first time it feels like they can turn their fluid attacking play into a genuine push for a top seven finish.


Sigurdsson and two Brazilians spark Everton’s revival

Everton went to Leicester and won on Saturday and Gylfi Sigurdsson‘s late stunner was worthy of winning any game. The Icelandic playmaker has now scored four goals in his last two PL games (as well as missing a penalty kick) and his play, alongside Bernard and Richarlison, is key if Marco Silva‘s time at Goodison Park is going to be a success. Now that their defensive issues are sorting themselves out with injuries clearing up, the focus should be on their misfiring attack. With Theo Walcott, Sigurdsson, Bernard and Richarlison all starting on Saturday, Silva has a similar problem to his predecessor Ronald Koeman: without a top central striker, Everton must focus on spreading around the goals and assists between their wingers and attacking midfielders. That is harsh on Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but with the trickery of Bernard and Sigurdsson, plus the pace of Walcott and Richarlison, there’s actually a really good balance in Everton’s attacking positions. Those four should be given a run of games together for the Toffees. Silva is known for his his direct attacking play and so far Everton have meandered along under the much vaunted Portuguese coach. With back-to-back wins against Fulham and Leicester, they’ve dragged themselves into the top 10 and there is plenty of room for improvement. Silva knows that and after crashing out of the League Cup in midweek he needed this win today.

Petersen’s header leads Freiburg past 10-man Gladbach

Freiburg v. Borussia Monchengladbach recap
Photo by Ronald Wittek/Pool via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nils Petersen’s second half goal led Freiburg to a huge 1-0 win over 10-man Borussia Monchengladbach at the Schwarzwald-Stadion on Friday.

Freiburg keeps its Europa League hopes alive by moving onto 41 points, one behind sixth and seventh.

Gladbach fails in a bid to go third and remains fourth with 56 points, ahead of Bayer Leverkusen on goal differential.

A second yellow card to Plea was a double curse to Gladbach, who went down a man and now will miss a star forward against Bayern Munich.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores, stats ]

Bayer’s Ramy Bensebaini utilized a slick backheel turn to nutmeg an opponent and send in a cross that was put out for a corner kick.

Freiburg keeper Alexander Schwolow made a tight-angle save on Alassane Plea just after the quarter-hour mark.

Gladbach saw a chance chalked off after two dangerous bids resulted in an offside deflection into the goal.

Florian Neuhaus came close to scoring again when Lars Stindl headed the penultimate move of a fine team play into the six, but he popped it over the frame.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 30 preview and predictions ]

Gladbach’s second half again settled into the Freiburg final third, but it was a home sub that paid dividends at the other end.

Petersen improved his club record for goals when he nodded Vincenzo Grifo’s free kick home in the 59th.

Stindl wasn’t too far from equalizing with a 17-yard shot at the hour mark, but Plea’s second yellow card damaged Gladbach’s hopes of a comeback.

LA Galaxy release Katai after wife’s social media mocks protestors

Aleksandar Katai released
Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The LA Galaxy have “parted ways” with Aleksandar Katai after the Serbian winger’s wife posted racist and violent comments regarding protestors.

On Tuesday, Tea Katai posted a comment to “kill the s—-” with an accompanying video of a New York PD police vehicle ramming into a barricade help up by protestors and another photo of looters with sneakers she captioned, “Black Nikes Matter.”

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 30 preview and predictions ]

Aleksandar Katai issued an apology on Instagram saying that the views would not “be tolerated in my family” and condemned white supremacy while posting that “Black Lives Matter.”

That wouldn’t be enough for the Galaxy, who announced they would meet with Katai on Thursday. Their consideration may have been affected by protests outside their stadium.

According to the LA Times’ Kevin Baxter:

On Thursday four men stood before a statue of David Beckham outside the team’s stadium holding a bedsheet-sized banner that read “No Racists in Our Club” with Katai’s uniform No. 7 encircled with a red line through it.

Katai, 29, was in his first season with the Galaxy after spending 66 matches with the Chicago Fire, scoring 19 goals with 12 assists. Prior to that, he spent time with Red Star Belgrade and Vojvodina. He is nine times capped by Serbia including thrice in 2019.

Newcastle United season restart preview

Leave a comment

With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Newcastle United is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Here is a closer look at all things Magpies when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: The Magpies won’t be qualifying for Europe and also are extremely unlikely to be relegated, but is there some danger of the latter? It seems more likely that Newcastle’s season will be more headline watching to see if its controversial takeover is approved and serious pitch-analyzing to see if Joelinton can rediscover what he did well in the Bundesliga last season. Steve Bruce’s men are also in the FA Cup quarterfinals but have Man City coming to St. James’ Park, but the veteran manager getting a result against Pep Guardiola twice in one season seems a tall ask.

[ MORE: Ranking every Newcastle player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: The Magpies have done their best work replicating the system Rafa Benitez implemented last season, but Bruce has shown some real nous in getting four of six points from a flat back four in the final two matches before the pause (That said, the Burnley draw was abysmal).

It’s easy to imagine Bruce using four at the back for the first two matches of the restart, home outings against Blades and Villa, though the Magpies’ 2-0 defeat of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane saw the side effective in a 3-4-3. How it goes from there could dictate Bruce’s plans, though expect more 5-man back lines with Man City, Liverpool, and Spurs yet to come.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Newcastle’s chances ]


Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Dubravka —–

— Manquillo — Lascelles — Fernandez — Rose —

—– Shelvey —– S. Longstaff —–

— Ritchie— Almiron — Saint-Maximin—

—– Joelinton —–

There are plenty of things that could and should change here. Loan signings Valentino Lazaro and Nabil Bentaleb have good chances to start and Isaac Hayden’s been more consistently than sophomore-slumping Sean Longstaff. The club also will want to court Matty Longstaff into a new deal and Geordie hero Andy Carroll is healthy and works well in place of or next to Joelinton, who can move to the wing. Fabian Schar and Ciaran Clark are starting caliber backs looking for homes since Steve Bruce moved away from a back five, and Paul Dummett is a healthy and adequate CB, too.


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Sheffield United (6/21), Aston Villa (6/24), West Ham, Spurs, Liverpool
Away: Bournemouth (7/1), Man City, Watford, Brighton and Hove Albion

Predicted finish: We’ll know plenty within three days of the season’s restart, as Blades and Villa visit St. James’ Park and the Magpies could sit top half in no time. Eight points clear of the drop zone is not entirely safe with eight matches left, though, so there’s some potential for danger if they lose those winnable matches at an empty SJP. That said, there are too many ways to cross the 40-point mark and so many teams behind them. They sit 13th, and they’ll finish within a place or two of that.

LIVE, Bundesliga: Freiburg hosts top four hopefuls Gladbach

Freiburg v. Borussia Monchengladbach live
Photo by Christian Verheyen/Borussia Moenchengladbach via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alassane Plea and Marcus Thuram bring red-hot form and top four hopes to Freiburg when Borussia Monchengladbach visits the Schwarzwald-Stadion on Friday for a 2:30 p.m. ET kickoff.

Gladbach is ahead of fifth-place Bayer Leverkusen on goal differential and four points back of second-place Borussia Dortmund.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores, stats ]

Freiburg is winless in four and staring down a tough run of fixtures while their Europa League hopes have taken a massive hit.

There were six goals between the sides in late November when Gladbach took all the points in a 4-2 win.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 30 preview and predictions ]

Below is the schedule for the Bundesliga game early on Friday and how you can watch live on TV in the USA and online and follow along via the link above.

Bundesliga how to watch

  • TV Channels: FS2
  • Stream LiveVia Fox Soccer
  • USMNT players to watch: Fabian Johnson, Gladbach (not on bench)
  • Kick off time: 2:30 p.m. ET — Freiburg v. Gladbach