Premier League end of season grades

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The 2018-19 Premier League season is in the books, so now it is time to reveal our grade book.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Based on the expectations before, during and after the season, here’s how we feel each team fared across the gruelling, but exhilarating, nine-month season.

I’m sure you will all agree 100 percent with these grades…


Arsenal: B+
The run to the Europa League final has saved their season, and boosts their grade. Unai Emery has changed around the culture of this Arsenal team, but there’s only so much you can do in one season. They should have finished in the top four but collapsed late in the season, and their Champions League hopes now hinge on beating Chelsea in the Europa League final. The future of Mezut Ozil is uncertain, and although Arsenal have improved they are still shaky in defense.


Bournemouth: B
A really strong start saw Bournemouth pushing for European qualification but they took a nosedive in the second half of the season. Eddie Howe‘s men had a lot of injuries to deal with and that played its part, but Bournemouth have to stop slumping late in the season. David Brooks, Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser were unstoppable at times.


Brighton: D-
They just survived, but it wasn’t pretty. Like Bournemouth, they started well but tallied off quickly and they failed to win any of their last 11 games. Chris Hughton‘s side need to score more goals and they can’t rely on veteran Glenn Murray to deliver. A step backward.


Burnley: D
Sean Dyche‘s side were impacted by Europa League qualifiers and they didn’t reach the group stage. That hit them hard for most of this season as they were embroiled in a relegation scrap, but when Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood got going in the second half of the season, plus Tom Heaton excelling back in goal, they looked like the old Burnley. Dwight McNeil is a talent but Burnley will be battling against the drop again next season.


Cardiff City: C+
Simply put, they had no right to be in with a shout of survival heading into the final two weeks of the season. Neil Warnock‘s side were the favorites to go down due to their lack of spending and having a squad that wasn’t even supposed to get out of the Championship. The tragedy surrounding Emiliano Sala‘s death dealt a huge blow to Cardiff in January, but they almost stayed up. They got the most out of their ability.


Chelsea: B+
All in all, not a bad season. Third place in Maurizio Sarri‘s first season in England sounds like a great campaign on paper, but we all know it was far from that. Chelsea were so inconsistent and the future of Eden Hazard still hangs in the balance. The Blues are back in the Champions League, which was the main aim, but a FIFA transfer ban looms large and Sarri will have to work miracles to kick this squad on in the summer. Reaching the Europa League final is a bonus, while they only lost in the League Cup final on  penalty kicks.

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Crystal Palace: B-
A decent season for Palace, as they finished strongly and were very good away from home. Winning at Man City was their highlight and Roy Hodgson‘s experience saw him steer the Eagles to 12th place, as they were never really in a relegation battle this season. Keeping Wilfried Zaha will be tough this summer, but there is a nucleus of a very good squad of players at Selhurst Park as they bought wisely last summer.


Everton: B
The Toffees will not want this season to end under Marco Silva, as the Portuguese coach finally found his feet in the final months of the campaign. An eighth place finish papers over the cracks, but Lucas Digne, Kurt Zouma, Richarlison and Andre Gomes all proved to be great additions, and Everton can now seriously challenge for the top six next season if new investment arrives. They don’t have an out-and-out goalscorer, but Sigurdsson chipped in to help out with goals.


Fulham: F
A truly disastrous season for the Cottagers who were relegated in March and have had three different managers. They got rid of Slavisa Jokanovic in October, then Claudio Ranieri arrived and failed to reignite an expensively assembled squad full of individual talent. Scott Parker galvanized the players in the final weeks of the season, but it will be tough to see this Fulham team coming up next season.


Huddersfield Town: F
The same can be said for Huddersfield, as David Wagner left midseason and Jan Siewert‘s side showed some promising signs but only secured one victory under the young German coach. It was a miracle to see Huddersfield in the PL in the first place, and now Siewert has a really tough job on his hands. One of the worst seasons in PL history with just 16 points and three wins gained.


Leicester City: C
Promising signs for the Foxes who finished in ninth. Claude Puel was fired in slightly harsh fashion, but his brand of soccer didn’t suit this group of players. Brendan Rodgers is a perfect fit, as a young exciting side is led by James Maddison and wily veteran Jamie Vardy in attack, with Chilwell, Tielemans (only on loan) and Ndidi key. It will be exciting to see what Rodgers can achieve with this young group next season.


Liverpool: A+
Well, they didn’t win the title, but along with Man City they deserved to. Liverpool set a record for their highest points tally with 97, which is the third-highest in PL history. Jurgen Klopp‘s men were imperious and lost just once in the PL (at Man City) and have reached the UCL final for the second-straight season, so their long wait for trophy could be over if they beat Tottenham. Yes, Liverpool came so close to ending their 29-year wait for a league title, but draws against West Ham and Leicester around the turn of the year cost them dear.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Manchester City: A+
Back-to-back champions, Manchester City won their last 14 games of the season to secure the title. It was incredible to see Pep Guardiola‘s men rip the PL apart for the second-straight season and rally from being seven points behind Liverpool in January. They are nailed on to be the first team in English history to win a domestic treble, and lost narrowly to Spurs in the UCL quarters to miss out on a chance to win the quadruple. This is a historic City team that will be talked about for decades to come. From Aguero to Sterling to Bernardo Silva to Aymeric Laporte, there were so many heroes for City. Guardiola has created a monstrous winning machine.


Manchester United: D
Awful season for United. They finished in sixth and their final day defeat at home to already-relegated Cardiff City summed things up. Jose Mourinho left after his early season meltdown and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived on a caretaker basis. A long unbeaten run for Ole papered over the cracks, but after he was given the job on a permanent basis the players regressed to their previous form and they were awful in the final weeks of the campaign. Paul Pogba and others have a lot to answer for. United are a long, long way from being title contenders, and finishing in the top four next season would be a huge success. Solskjaer has to be ruthless and lead a huge rebuild of this playing squad, but it is easier said than done.


Newcastle United: B-
The future of Rafael Benitez remains up in the air, but the Magpies finished 13th and had an amazing finish to the season. Newcastle now have a squad of players good enough to survive in the PL and the likes of Rondon, Almiron and Perez up front has finally solved their problem with a lack of goals. Newcastle need investment to kick on to the next level, but unless Mike Ashley sells the club, nothing will change.


Southampton: D
An absolutely shocking start to the season under Mark Hughes saw him sacked in December and Ralph Hasenhuttl appointed. That turned out to be an inspired hire, as the Austrian led Saints to safety with a few weeks of the season to go. Still, a lot of work for them to do as Nathan Redmond can’t do it all on his own. Saints need to cut plenty of deadwood this summer and integrate talented youngsters with a couple of top quality players throughout the spin of their side. Will their new Chinese majority owners, and new bosses behind the scenes, back Hasenhuttl?


Tottenham Hotspur: B+
After everything that has happened to Spurs this season, Mauricio Pochettino has proved once again he is a brilliant manager. From staying at Wembley eight months longer than expected to reaching the Champions League final without Harry Kane and several injured players, this has been an amazing season. With the new stadium up and running and Spurs in the top four once again, they have keep up with their rivals despite all of the odds.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images )

Watford: A-
Javi Gracia‘s side have reached the FA Cup final and finished 11th after flirting with European qualification for most of the season. After they reached the FA Cup final, they have lost their focus but this is still a fine season for the Hornets. Gerard Deulofeu has led the way and they have a squad full of powerful, reliable players. More to come from Watford next season.


West Ham United: C+
A strong finish to the season saw the Hammers finish in 10th, which is about what we expected. Manuel Pellegrini‘s side had a lot of injuries and a poor start to deal with, but his expensive signings added quality with Fabianski, Diop and Anderson key arrivals, plus Rice emerged as a genuine superstar. Exciting future for West Ham, who should push for Europe next season.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: A
What a season for Wolves. They reached the FA Cup semifinal and finished in seventh with 57 points, which is the third-best season for a newly promoted team in PL history. Nuno Espirito Santo has some great players to work with thanks to the Jorge Mendes link, but he’s made the most of it and kept the philosophy of this squad together. Jota and Jimenez have been superb up top, with Doherty and Moutinho crucial. If Man City win the FA Cup, Wolves will be in Europe. Amazing.

Leicester – Burnley: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Leicester – Burnley: Brendan Rodgers seeks to become just the 23rd manager to win 100 games in the Premier League, and becoming the fourth-fastest Brit to reach the mark, when Leicester City host Burnley at the King Power Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 2 pm ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

LEICESTER – BURNLEY BROM STREAM LIVE

Rodgers moved one step closer to his century of PL wins last weekend when the Foxes began their 2020-21 campaign with a 3-0 thrashing of newly promoted West Bromwich Albion. Burnley, on the other hand, are set for their season debut this weekend after their opening-day clash with Manchester United was rescheduled.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Leicester – Burnley this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Leicester – Burnley (INJURY REPORT)

Leicester will be missing three players Ricardo Pereira (knee), Jonny Evans (thigh), Filip Benkovic (groin) — with absolutely certainty, plus James Maddison (hip) is unlikely to feature and Wes Morgan (thigh) is expected to face a late fitness test to determine his availability.

Meanwhile, Burnley aren’t expecting to have Johann Berg Gudmundsson (knee) or Jack Cork (ankle).


What they’re saying: Leicester – Burnley

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers, on transfer target Cengiz Under: “He’s a very, very good player. There have been negotiations with the club [Roma] and we’re hopeful there. We need a different kind of attacking player to help out at the top end of the pitch. It’s clear we have pace and power, but I feel we need more football in there.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche, on the club’s desperate transfer approach: “Lastminute.com — [it] started back in the day of Charlie Austin, two days before the first game of the season. There are many different ways that clubs operate. It is very difficult, it is tricky, but it’s the reality of it. I’ve been here eight years. This is not new news. I’ve been saying this for three years at least, saying we’ve got to stretch, we’ve got to pre-plan. But you can only offer these opinions. I don’t sign the checks, I can assure you.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Leicester (-165) are heavy betting favorites with Burnley (+460) widely expected to simply roll over and concede the three points up for grabs. Even the draw (+290) is though a bridge perhaps too far for the Clarets.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: Leicester – Burnley

Leicester managed to shake off the rust and disappointment that was the end of the 2019-20 season (just two wins from nine games during “Project Restart”) and win going away last weekend. On the other hand, Burnley finished with just two losses from their final nine games, and won four of them. We’ll see if either side is in the midst of a trend, or simply a blip on the radar. Leicester 2-1 Burnley.


How to watch Leicester – Burnley stream and start time

Kickoff: 2 pm ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Newcastle – Brighton: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Newcastle v Brighton: A pair of sides that impressed on the opening weekend of the 2020-21 Premier League season — but only one of them with anything to show for it — will meet at St. James’ Park on Sunday (Watch live at 9 am ET, online via Peacock).

NEWCASTLE – BRIGHTON STREAM LIVE

Newcastle United were far and away the better side in their season-opening victory away to West Ham United last weekend, while Brighton looked the better part of Chelsea’s equals for 54 minutes but ultimately fell to a 3-1 defeat at the Amex Stadium.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Newcastle v Brighton this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Newcastle v Brighton (INJURY REPORT)

Newcastle will be without five players — Matty Longstaff (thigh), Martin Dubravka (ankle), Fabian Schar (shoulder), Paul Dummett (thigh), Dwight Gayle (knee) — leaving Steve Bruce with an increasingly thin squad.

Jose Iquierdo (knee), Florian Andone (knee) and Christian Walton (ankle) have all been ruled out for Sunday, with rising star Ben White (ankle) likely to face a late fitness test after picking up a minor injury last week.


What they’re saying

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce, on starting with a win: “I’m like everybody else, we all like to get off to a start and we couldn’t have had a better week in terms of results. The players have hit the ground running, which was always part of the reason why we went after who we went after. We’ve got a chance to get off to an outstanding start.”

Brighton manager Graham Potter, on Newcastle: “Newcastle will be strong. They were worthy winners at West Ham and they will be a tough test for us. Impressive, the business they have done. They have added to the squad and they will be really strong. Everyone knows what Andy Carroll brings to the team and physically he is very strong, and aerially he is strong. Him and [Callum] Wilson will be a strong partnership.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

There’s almost nothing to separate Newcastle (+160) from Brighton (+185) as the oddsmakers see Sunday’s clash a near-tossup. Even the draw (+210) isn’t far out of line with either side winning.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction

At the risk of placing too much importance upon a game in week no. 2, this one has the feel of an important litmus test for Newcastle. West Ham have been chaotic for quite some time now, but Brighton, despite finishing 15th last season, have appeared far more stable and trending upward under Potter. They’re likely a mid-table side this season, and Newcastle could be, too. In the end, it ends Newcastle 1-1 Brighton.


How to watch Newcastle v Brighton stream and start time

Kickoff: 9 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Europa League qualifying – playoff round draw results

Europa League draw
Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images
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Europa League draw results: Tottenham Hotspur will be rather pleased with their draw for the final round of UEFA Europa League qualifying — should they advance to reach it, of course — as they plod toward the group stage.

[ MORE: Is Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham a good idea? ]

After surviving their brush with disaster and embarrassment on Thursday, Jose Mourinho’s men will next be away to Macedonian side Shkendija in the third round of qualifying next Thursday. Should they come on top there, Tottenham will then host either Russian side Rostov or Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa the first week of October. The winner of that single-leg showdown will qualify for the group stage.

Elsewhere, Serie A giant AC Milan, who face Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt next week, were handed a slightly tougher draw: away to Turkish giant Besiktas or Portuguese side Rio Ave.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Diogo Jota to Liverpool; Yedlin to Besiktas ]

Scottish rivals Celtic and Rangers are also still alive in their quests to reach the group stage and learned their potential future opponents in the Europa League draw. Celtic, the nine-time reigning champions of Scotland, will face Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina) or Buducnost (Montenegro) if they get past Riga (Latvia) first. Rangers will see Galatasaray or Hajduk Split (Croatia) if they advance past Dutch side Willem II next weekn.

Notable Europa League playoff round matchups

Shkendija/ Tottenham Hotspur v Rostov/Maccabi Haifa
Besiktas/Rio Ave v AC Milan/Bodo/Glimt
Sarajevo/Buducnost Podgorica v Riga/Celtic
Willem II/Rangers v Galatasaray/Hajduk Split
Rosenborg/Alanyaspor v Mura/PSV Eindhoven
St. Gallen/AEK Athens v Wolfsburg/ Desna Chernihiv
Sporting CP/ Aberdeen v LASK/ Dunajska Streda

Everton – West Brom: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Everton – West Brom: The Toffees and Baggies are set to kick off weekend no. 2 of the 2020-21 Premier League season on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 am ET, online via Peacock).

EVERTON – WEST BROM STREAM LIVE

Everton were one of the PL’s most impressive sides last weekend, as they began their campaign with a 1-0 victory away to Tottenham Hotspur. Most impressively, though, was the instant impact of three newcomers — James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure — who slotted into the team and played important parts in collecting three points on their debuts.

As for West Bromwich Albion, returning to life in the PL brought something of a rude awakening in the form of a 3-0 home defeat to Leicester City. After two seasons in the EFL Championship, West Brom undeniably have their work cut out for them if they’re to stay up this season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Everton – West Brom this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Everton – West Brom (INJURY REPORT)

Everton will be without four players — Mason Holgate (ankle), Cenk Tosun (knee), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (calf), Fabian Delph (calf) — none of whom were available for selection to the 18-man squad a week ago.

West Brom will be missing Danish forward Kenneth Zohore (calf), who also missed out on the opening weekend.


What they’re saying

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, on his squad’s depth: “They are experienced players, all three of them in different ways, James, Allan have international experience. Doucoure has played really well in the Premier League. They have brought more confidence to their teammates. We have a more competitive squad. It is difficult to do the lineup, difficult to make the bench and the most difficult part is to tell the player to stay home and watch the game on TV. But if we want to be a more competitive team we have to have competition in the squad.”

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic, on wanting more signings: “We would love to do it. It is important we bring a different type of striker to what we have into the club. We are trying to get it done but it’s not easy, but it is instrumental for us. Then the next phase is to improve the team from last season. We got Button the goalkeeper, we got Kipre from Wigan – two good additions to our squad. We’ve got [Branislav] Ivanovic, and now [Conor] Gallagher, and we’re hoping and trying to get a couple more. It’s not a secret — we have good numbers of strikers, but we’re looking to add a bit more quality.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Everton (-190) are, predictably, heavy favorites for this one, with West Brom checking in at +525. The draw is currently sitting +320, if you’re a firm believer that West Brom stand a chance.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction

It’s a mighty tough schedule to start the season for West Brom, as they go from last season’s fifth-place finishers to a side with similar aspirations this season. For as long as James and Co., stay healthy and fit, Everton look set to be a handful and a half for bottom-half sides like West Brom. They will have to wait another week for their first points — and their first goal. Everton 2-0 West Brom.


How to watch Everton – West Brom stream and start time

Kickoff: 7:30 am ET Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock