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10 things we loved about the Premier League season

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The 2018-19 Premier League season was one of the best in recent memory, if not ever.

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With that in mind, what did we love so much about this campaign?

Here are 10 things we adored throughout this incredible season.


1. Liverpool’s multiple late shows 
Jurgen Klopp‘s side came up short in the title race, but they gave us so many memorable moments throughout the season. Late winners against Everton, Tottenham, Southampton and Newcastle kept their title dreams alive heading into the final 90 minutes of the season, with Divock Origi popping up as an unexpected hero on multiple occasions. Led by the superb Virgil Van Dijk from the back, Klopp’s attack fired once again with Salah, Mane and Firmino sublime. This Liverpool team is here to stay, and will be genuine title contenders again next season. Klopp’s hugs, fist pumps and smile have breathed new life into Anfield.


2. Man City’s quadruple dreams
How many trophies will they win? Well, they’ve won two and they could win three. Talk of City winning an unprecedented quadruple dominated the last few months of the season, but their dramatic UCL second leg clash against Spurs saw their quadruple dreams dashed. After becoming the first team to defend their title in a decade and racking up 98 points to follow their 100-point haul last season, City are one of the greatest PL teams in history. Guardiola hopes they will be rediscovered like a brilliant book or movie in 25 years time. They will. What a team with Raheem Sterling, Bernando Silva and Aymeric Laporte having stunning campaigns.


3.  European glory returned to PL
Six PL teams started off in the group stage of the Champions League and Europa League, and four still remain as Liverpool face Spurs in the UCL final and Arsenal clash with Chelsea in the Europa League. That is outstanding. It is the first time in history that all four finalists from Europe’s top two competitions have all come from the same country. After a decade of dominance from Spain and Germany, England’s elite are now on top in Europe.


4. Tottenham’s stunning new stadium
I was lucky enough to be at the first game of Spurs’ new stadium at White Hart Lane, and it is simply stunning. This is the best Premier League stadium by a country mile, and with only Everton seriously planning to move to a new home in the coming years, it could be the best for quite some time.


5. Jose Mourinho’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” rant
Again, I was lucky enough to have a front row seat for one of the wackier moments of this season. Mourinho demanding “respect, respect” after his United team were hammered 3-0 by Spurs at Old Trafford in August. The journalist sat next to me in the press conference asked a pretty innocuous question and Mourinho had to get a summer’s worth of complaints off his chest as he didn’t get the new center back or winger he wanted. Mourinho was fired a few months later, and this was the start of the meltdown. After the Spurs incident Mourinho was involved in a scrap with Chelsea’s bench then gave the Chelsea fans a three finger salute, took the vice captaincy from Paul Pogba and then goaded Juventus fans after an improbable comeback win for United. It was box office Mourinho. We miss him. Slightly. We think.


6. Man United’s amazing Solskjaer inspired run
On the back of Mourinho leaving, United legend Solskjaer was hired on a caretaker basis. The first few months were glorious, as United went on an 11-game unbeaten streak in all competitions and Solskjaer won eight of his first 11 games in all competitions. Among that run was an incredible comeback against PSG to reach the UCL last eight, but as soon as Solskjaer was handed the job on a permanent basis it all went wrong in a big way as United’s finished sixth, lost seven of their last 10 games and will play in the Europa League next season.


7. Black Cat stole the show at Goodison Park
Well, there’s always one way to get everyone laughing and smiling, and Everton’s play on the pitch was not exciting fans at this point of the season. A black cat running around the pitch and holding up the game stole the show. After this moment Everton’s season took a huge upturn. Maybe black cats aren’t bad luck after all…


8. An American superstar arrived (sort of)
Okay, so he didn’t play in the PL this season but we have our first proper American superstar in the Premier League. Christian Pulisic, 20, signed for Chelsea in January for $73 million, and was loaned back to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of this season. With Eden Hazard set to leave this summer, Pulisic could be the next genuine star playmaker at Chelsea. This is very exciting for the USMNT and American soccer.


9. Neil Warnock‘s general antics, led by an Oasis audition
Cardiff City’s boss may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he still dished up some outrageous moments. From his hand on the hip moments after Cardiff lost late on against Chelsea, to several comments post-game which got him in trouble with the FA, Warnock’s weirdest moment happened when he approached a TV camera and ended up looking like Liam Gallagher in full flow.


10. VAR rant from Charlie Austin
Let’s end on both a fun and sobering note. Firstly, Charlie Austin fuming about the lack of VAR after Southampton drew with Watford not only landed him a fine but also got everyone laughing. He truly lost the plot when it came to VAR not being in the PL this season. Don’t fear, Charlie. VAR will be around from next season and we will no doubt see plenty more debate and drama from players and managers alike about the technology.

Top Premier League storylines: Matchweek 16

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Matchweek 16 is upon us.

[ MORE: Chelsea transfer ban reduced; can sign players in January ]

Here’s what we’ll be keeping an eye on when this weekend’s fixtures kick off Saturday morning…


Manchester derby, perhaps you’ve heard of it 

Manchester City might not take home their third straight PL title, given Liverpool’s 11-point lead after 15 games, but they can still maintain their superiority in Manchester. They’re well on their way to doing so in the table, now they can get (another0 one over the Red Devils on Saturday. At what point do they take over the title of “bigger club?” Asking for a friend…


The start of something big for Chelsea?

Marco Silva is gone with Everton siting 18th in the table. Chelsea’s transfer ban has been cut in half with the Blues sitting fourth. Could this week get any worse? for Everton? Could it get any better for Chelsea?


Desperation time for Arsenal

Unai Emery was fired, which was supposedly to magically fix all of the problems at Arsenal. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right? Well, we’re two games into the Freddie Ljungberg (interim) era, and the Gunners have just one point to show for their efforts, and they had to come back from a goal down (twice) against 19th-place Norwich City to get it. Every trip to West Ham is a tricky one for Arsenal, and that’s doubly true given their current form (winless in their last nine games – all competitions).


Does Liverpool’s lead grow? Shrink? Hold steady?

From now until the end of the season, it’s Liverpool’s title to lose. No matter how you look at it, it’s theirs to either win or lose. Therefore, every time out presents a chance to grow their lead, or the risk of seeing it shrink should the drop points and one of the chasing sides to take all three. The math behind it is a bit boring, but if they don’t drop more than 10 points the rest of the season, they’ll win the title. Of course, their margin for error is likely to grow with Leicester and City eventually failing to win. Simply put, Liverpool are sitting comfortably.


Good times roll for Newcastle?

Don’t look now, but Newcastle have won three of their last five games and reached mid-table. Steve Bruce‘s side currently sits 11th after wins over West Ham, Bournemouth and Sheffield United in recent weeks. Welcomeing relegation-threatened Southampton to St. James’ Park could very well spell another three points for the Magpies.

Serie A: Leaders Inter Milan open door for Juve by drawing Roma

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MILAN (AP) Italian league leader Inter Milan was held by Roma to 0-0 on Friday, giving second-placed Juventus a chance to return to the top.

[ MORE: Chelsea transfer ban reduced; can sign players in January ]

The home draw left Inter only two points ahead of Juventus, which can regain the lead when it visits third-placed Lazio on Saturday.The result also wasn’t good for Roma, which moved from fifth to fourth place in the standings but remained nine points off the lead after 15 matches.

Inter forward Lautaro Martinez had one of the game’s best chances when he got past a defender and entered the area in the 68th minute, but his shot was blocked at the last minute. He called for a handball by the defender but the referee let play continue.

[ MORE: Brendan Rodgers signs new contract at Leicester ]

Inter was coming off five straight wins in the league, with its last setback in all competitions last month against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Its last league loss was against Juventus in October, nine matches ago.

Roma was seeking its third straight league win. It had won five of its last six matches since last month.

Inter visits Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Premier League Preview: Man City v. Man United

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  • Man City (3rd) trail Liverpool by 11 points
  • Man United (6th) eight points out of 4th
  • Last meeting: Man United 0-2 Man City

For the first time in recent memory, Manchester City and Manchester United each find themselves failing to meet expectations — by their own respective standards, at least — as they prepare to meet at the Etihad Stadium in the 179th Manchester derby on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Man City, the two-time defending Premier League champions, are looking increasingly unlikely to retain their crown for a third straight season but look a surefire bet to finish in the top-four, which is a place for which Man United would bite your hand off as they currently trail leaders Liverpool by more points (22) than they have points of their own (21).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

The struggles for United have been all about consistency as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side hasn’t won back-to-back games all season. The Red Devils haven’t won two in a row in the PL since March. On the bright side, United turned in one of their complete performances of the season on Wednesday, spoiling Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford and beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. Marcus Rashford scored both goals and Solskjaer couldn’t rave enough about his 22-year-old forward after the game. From start to finish, United were the better team and looked in majority control, which isn’t something they’ve been able to say often in 2019.

As for City, they’ve simply been “not good enough” without ever actually being “bad” this season, given Liverpool’s scintillating form (14W-1D-0L thus far). Realistically, City likely need to pick up all 69 remaining points this season, and even then they might still come up short.

Injuries/suspensions

Man City: OUT – Sergio Aguero (thigh), Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (knee)

Man United: OUT – Anthony Martial (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed); QUESTIONABLE: Paul Pogba (ankle), Nemanja Matic (groin), Diogo Dalot (groin)


Projected lineups

Man City: Ederson — Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Angeliño — Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva — Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling

Man United: De Gea — Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young — Fred, McTominay, James, Mata, Lingard — Rashford


What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola, on the derby: “It’s Man United. I respect what they’ve done for English football, European, and world football. United have huge history and their quality is always there but we must try to beat them. We play against a good team, try to follow the performances we’ve put in and try to win the game. You know my opinion on the title race.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on his derby memories: “It took many years before I played a Manchester derby myself. Of course, Man City are a better team now than when I was playing. … Confidence is a strange thing in football; you can get performances and results like Wednesday night and it boosts it so much. And I know our boys will be up for it. 24 hours less recovery time [than City] shouldn’t matter, you go on adrenaline.”


Prediction

The win over Tottenham was impressive, no doubt about it, but City remain a challenge of an entirely different class, no matter what their points total says. If the title is well and truly gone for Guardiola’s side, then retaining superiority in Manchester will have to suffice. City 3-1 United.

Premier League Preview: Everton v. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea sit 4th, with 29 points
  • Everton sit 18th, with 11 points
  • Last meeting: Everton 2-0 Chelsea

Everton’s start to the 2019-20 Premier League season has been beyond woeful (4W-2D-9L in 15 games) for any club, let alone one that had dreams of breaking into the top-six this season, resulting in manager Marco Silva losing his job on Thursday. Now, fewer than 48 hours later, the Toffees have to pick themselves back up and face a top-four side for the third straight game when Chelsea visit Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Having lost three straight PL games, including defeats to second-place Leicester City and leaders Liverpool this week alone, the next few weeks will go a long way toward seeing Everton leave the relegation zone in the rearview mirror or sink deeper and deeper into the muck of a season-long relegation battle. A piece of potentially positive news for Everton ahead of Saturday’s game: they are currently three games unbeaten against Chelsea (1W-2D-0L).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

As for the Blues, this could turn out to be a decisive week in their season. After losing to West Ham United last weekend, Frank Lampard‘s side bounced back with a win over Aston Villa on Wednesday. Then came the best news of all on Friday: Chelsea’s transfer ban has been cut in half and they will be able to sign players in January, meaning their young, thin squad can be bolstered as the look to solidify their Champions League place for next season.

With a floundering side like Everton next up on the fixtures list, the chance to move further clear of the Champions League chasing pack is perfectly ripe. Tammy Abraham (hip) returned for the game against Villa and scored the opening goal to take is season’s tally to 11 (second, behind Jamie Vardy). The 22-year-old has benefited more than anyone from what turned out to be Chelsea’s one-window transfer ban, doing more than enough to secure his place for the second half of the season, no matter what business they do in January.

Injuries/suspensions

Everton: OUT – Andre Gomes (ankle), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Fabian Delph (hamstring), Cuco Martina (knee)

Chelsea: OUT – Ruben Loftus-Cheek (achilles), Antonio Rudiger (groin)


Projected lineups

Everton: Pickford — Sidibe, Keane, Mina, Digne — Schneiderlin, Davies, Sigurdsson — Iwobi, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison

Chelsea: Kepa — James, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta — Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Mount, Pulisic — Abraham


What they’re saying

Interim Everton boss Duncan Ferguson: “I’m a coach at the moment so I don’t think that is something I am considering at this time. It is my dream to be Everton manager but I am also realistic. Who wouldn’t want to be manager of Everton? There will be many top managers who want this job.”

Frank Lampard, on the new-manager bounce: “[Marco] Silva tried everything for the club and I’m sure that he will go on to manage well elsewhere. They might have an extra energy tomorrow as they rally.”


Prediction

Chelsea have far too much balance between defense and attack to hand Everton the glaring opportunities they will need to beat a genuine top-four side. That said, there’s far too much talent in that squad to continue to get beaten every time out, and perhaps seeing someone else take the blame will lift the burden off them and allow them to perform. Everton 2-2 Chelsea.