Three things learned: Man United v. Chelsea

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An intense battle to finish in the top four of the Premier League saw Manchester United and Chelsea grind out a draw at Old Trafford, with Chelsea the happier of the two teams with a point.

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Juan Mata put United ahead but Marcos Alonso equalized after a mistake from David De Gea, as the top four battle remains intense with two games to go.

Here’s what we learned from a tense battle which summed up the tight race for UEFA Champions League qualification.


ANOTHER DE GEA HOWLER COSTS UNITED

By his own very high standards, David de Gea is having a horrible few weeks. High-profile mistakes against Barcelona, Man City and now Chelsea have seen the man who is so often United’s savior cost them dear.

De Gea, 28, is in the midst of plenty of speculation regarding his future as his contract situation rumbles on, and it would be a little too easy to point to that being the main reason for this poor run of form. It is a reason, but this poor form has arrived sporadically dating back to the end of last season as it surfaced during the 2018 World Cup.

The Spanish goalkeeper has been named United’s Player of the Season in five of the last six seasons for a reason. He is their rock in defense and among all of their problems, his stunning form was the one constant United could rely on. Not anymore. And that’s probably why United won’t finish in the top four this season, the main aim for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after he took over in December. At a crucial time of the season, United’s most reliable star has endured a nightmare spell and has probably cost them being among Europe’s elite next season. Whether he will be at United next season or not remains to be seen, but this is far from vintage DDG.


NOBODY WANTS TO WIN THIS TOP FOUR RACE

Tottenham and Arsenal lost in disappointing fashion this weekend, and neither United or Chelsea could make the most of their slip ups in the top four race. It’s almost like these teams don’t want to play in the UEFA Champions League next season…

The lackluster second half displays from United and Chelsea summed up this top four race. Teams are running out of steam and are inconsistent and whoever does finish in fourth will have limped over the line.

What their ineptitude does is set up the top four race for a thrilling finish to the campaign. With two games to go Tottenham in third are five points ahead of Man United in sixth, with just three points between Chelsea in fourth and United.

With Spurs in the UEFA Champions League semifinal against Ajax and both Arsenal and Chelsea in the semifinals of the Europa League, Man United could have the edge with their remaining games easier, on paper, than their top four rivals. But this draw for Chelsea puts them in a very good position.

Here are the games the four teams fighting for third and fourth have remaining:

  • Tottenham – Bournemouth (A), Everton (H)
  • Chelsea – Watford (H), Leicester (A)
  • Arsenal – Brighton (H), Burnley (A)
  • Man United – Huddersfield (H), Cardiff (A)

CHELSEA’S ATTACK STUTTERS, BUT SARRI COULD BE A SUCCESS

Gonzalo Higuain just couldn’t stay onside for most of the game on Sunday, let alone score a goal. We all know the Argentine striker loves to play on the shoulder of the last defender, but he yet again failed to offer that much in attack and Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard couldn’t get going underneath him.

It looks like Chelsea are now favorites ahead of Arsenal and United finish in the top four, and coupled with their run to the League Cup final and Europa League semifinal, Maurizio Sarri‘s men aren’t doing too badly at all. If he stays, which is looking more likely, Sarri can turn things around at Stamford Bridge after a rough few months.

But the Italian coach knows his attack may well look very different next season with Eden Hazard likely to leave, Christian Pulisic coming in and the futures of Higuain, Olivier Giroud and Callum Hudson-Odoi still up in the air. Unless Hazard scores, Chelsea struggle to score and that is the main problem for Sarri to sort out this summer. For all of their intricate play in midfield and solid defensive outings (at least in recent weeks), Sarri must find a way to reignite Chelsea’s attack if they’re going to be genuine title contenders next season. They are the lowest scorers in the top six and still have a Diego Costa size hole in their attack.

Tottenham – Everton stream: How to watch, odds, team news, prediction

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Tottenham – Everton is an intriguing clash on Monday (start time, 3pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) between teams who are separated by just one point and one place in the table but have been heading in very different directions since new managers arrived midseason.

TOTTENHAM – EVERTON STREAM LIVE

Spurs lost last time out at Sheffield United in very controversial fashion as Jose Mourinho now has a very tough task to guide them back to the Premier League ahead of the final six games of the season.

Carlo Ancelotti has Everton surging as they have lost just three of his 14 Premier League games in charge and those defeats came at Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Tottenham – Everton is a game both teams will go all out to win in their pursuit of European action and this should be a beauty.


Team news

Tottenham may have Dele Alli available, as he suffered a slight hamstring injury after coming on as a sub in their defeat at Sheffield United. Aside from that Japhet Tanganga will return to training next week.

Everton should have Richarlison back fit as the Brazilian suffered a knock in their win against Leicester City.

What they’re saying

Jose Mourinho on Carlo Ancelotti: “I think everyone in football admires Carlo as a coach and as a person. If you don’t know him as a person, at least you know him as a coach. It’s not because I like him so much as a person that I’m going to say the obvious, which is: he’s one of the top managers in the world of the last two decades and of course now. I think it’s a privilege for the Premier League to have Carlo back, it’s a privilege for Everton to have Carlo as manager, or head coach, whatever way you want to call him.”

Carlo Ancelotti on teenager attacker Anthony Gordon: “He is doing really well and is ready to play for Everton, no doubt. He improved in the past six months and how he is playing [in training and games] gives me a lot of confidence and trust in him. He is a player with personality. You can find a lot of players with quality, but you have to show strong personality. In football, you need players with personality and character. Players who are not afraid to make decisions. Anthony is one of these. He is ready to be with us and part of what we are doing.”

Odds and ends (full matchweek odds)

Tottenham (+107) are the slight favorites but this should be a very tight game as Everton (+265) have been in really good form and look solid defensively. The value here is in a win for Everton or a tie (+250) in north London.

Prediction

Tottenham basically have to win all of their remaining games to have a chance of finishing fifth and a potential Champions League spot. Mourinho’s side won’t really want to be in the Europa League next season so if they don’t win here, what do they do? Everton would be delighted to be in the Europa League and I could see the Toffees edging this, especially if Richarlison is fit. I’m going for Tottenham 1-2 Everton.

American coach Marsch named Austrian Bundesliga Coach of the Year

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American coach Jesse Marsch saw his incredible season grow with a predictable but wonderful honor.

Marsch is the Austrian Bundesliga Coach of the Year after leading Red Bull Salzburg to a domestic double despite myriad challenges.

Obviously all coaches had to manage their teams during the coronavirus pandemic, but Marsch also had to contend with sales of stars Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund), Takumi Minamino (Liverpool), and Marin Pongracic (Wolfsburg) to big clubs in top European leagues.

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The Salzburg release brands Marsch as someone with “his American charm and sheer endless positivity” and includes this quote from Marsch:

“Winning Coach of the Year for me is a reward for the entire team, which I think is deserved. The trophy is for the whole coaching staff, as we have worked so well together. Losing players in winter brought us even closer together.

Aided by LASK Linz loses its table lead when it was docked six points for unauthorized team training during the pandemic, Marsch’s Salzburg left no questions in winning the league with four matches left (The club went 1W-1D-2L in the final matches).

Marsch spent last season assisting Ralf Rangnick and RB Leipzig to a third-place finish in the Bundesliga. Prior to that he was MLS Coach of the Year with the New York Red Bulls. As a player, he won three MLS Cups and four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups while also earning two USMNT caps.

It will be interesting to see if Marsch sticks around another year in Austria. His name has risen in renown like a rocket and he had been linked with Borussia Dortmund, and there are no guarantees he can continue to impress with Salzburg in the Champions League and Europa League.

Salzburg was a stepping stone for its last Coach of the Year, and Marco Rose enjoyed success at Borussia Monchengladbach this season. With league Player of the Year winner Dominik Szoboszlai expected to fetch a big fee and join Naby Keita, Sadio Mane, Konrad Laimer, and the aforementioned transfers in challenging a coach to rebuild his squad, perhaps Marsch will go sooner rather than later.

We wouldn’t put anything past him, though. At one point before he’s done, Marsch will be an exciting USMNT coach if he wants the job.

Premier League confirm zero positive COVID-19 test results

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Following the latest batch of tests on players and club staff the Premier League have revealed that there were zero positive COVID-19 results out of 1,973 tests from Monday 29 June to Sunday 5 July.

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With the twelfth round of testing now completed in the Premier League, a total of 16,280 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out with 18 positive results.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, as games are now up and running after a restart date of June 17 has been set.

Here is the statement from the Premier League in full on the latest result:


The Premier League can today confirm that between Monday 29 June and Sunday 5 July, 1,973 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, zero have tested positive.

The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.

Previous test results

Round 1: 17-18 May – 748 tested, with six testing positive from three clubs.
Round 2: 19-22 May – 996 tested, with two testing positive from two clubs.
Round 3: 25-26 May – 1,008 tested, with four testing positive from two clubs.
Round 4: 28-29 May – 1,130 tested, with zero testing positive.
Round 5: 1-2 June – 1,197 tested, with one testing positive.
Round 6: 4-5 June – 1,195 tested, with zero testing positive.
Round 7: 8-9 June – 1,213 tested, with one testing positive.
Round 8: 11-12 June – 1,200 tested, with two testing positive from two clubs.
Round 9: 15-16 June – 1,541 tested, with one testing positive.
Round 10: 17-21 June – 1,829 tested, with one testing positive.
Round 11: 22-28 June – 2,250 tested, with zero testing positive.
Round 12: 29 June – July 5 – 1,973 tested, with zero testing positive.

Premier League odds: Matchweek 34

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Check out the EPL betting odds for the games in Matchweek 34, as the Premier League return continues with games coming thick and fast.

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Take a look below at the odds for the Premier League games in midweek, as the action has resumed following the suspension on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Click on the link above to watch all of the games live via our platforms here at NBC Sports, while below are the individual EPL betting odds for each game via DraftKings.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League predictions ]

Also, click play on the video above to watch my predictions for the games and where you should focus your attention this weekend as the Premier League action continues to come right at us.


Matchweek 33

Tuesday, July 7: (+650) Crystal Palace v. Chelsea (-220), Tie: +335
Tuesday, July 7: (-152) Watford v. Norwich (+440), Tie: +285
Tuesday, July 7: (+125) Arsenal v. Leicester (+220), Tie: +245
Wednesday, July 8: (-835) Man City v. Newcastle (+2000), Tie: +245
Wednesday, July 8: (+310) Sheffield United v. Wolves (+107), Tie: +210
Wednesday, July 8: (+104) West Ham v. Burnley (+285), Tie: +235
Wednesday, July 8: (+510) Brighton v. Liverpool (-182), Tie: +320
Thursday, July 9: (+100) Everton v. Southampton (+270), Tie: +255
Thursday, July 9: (+425) Bournemouth v. Tottenham (-157), Tie: +310
Thursday, July 9: (+900) Aston Villa v. Man United (-315), Tie: +420