Getty Images

Walker extends Man City deal; Hummels returns to Dortmund

Leave a comment

Kyle Walker has extended his contract at Manchester City until the summer of 2024.

Walker, 29, has signed a two-year contract extension to his current deal at City with the England right back a huge part of their back-to-back Premier League titles wins.

Speaking about his new deal at the Etihad Stadium, Walker was delighted to extend his time playing under Pep Guardiola.

“I’m thrilled to have signed a new deal. Playing for City has been everything I’d hoped it would be and more,” Walker said. “It was an easy decision. I want to be competing for trophies, playing at the highest level, and I feel I have improved hugely as a player during my time here. The Club’s vision – both on and off the pitch – matches mine perfectly and I’m looking forward to spending the new five years here, hopefully winning more silverware.”

Walker has had his critics for some of his defensive work, but there’s no doubt he has improved on the ball under Guardiola and he is now versatile enough to play at center back if needed too.

His power and pace down the right flank gives City an extra option in attack and he has fulfilled his wish of winning trophies following his $63 million transfer from Tottenham in the summer of 2017 with two PL titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup to his name.

Walker has seen off the challenge from Danilo to his right back slot but it is believed City Joao Cancelo will arrive from Juventus this summer to push Walker further at right back. If he does lose his slot to Cancelo he can also play at left back at a push and at center back, so that versatility will be hugely important for Guardiola moving forward.


Everyone says you should never go back, but Mats Hummels has.

The German defender, 30, has returned to Borussia Dortmund after a three-year spell at Bayern Munich, as he heads back to the club where he won back-to-back Bundesliga titles from 2010-12.

Hummels returns to Dortmund on a three-year contract for a transfer fee in the region of $35 million, as that is only $4 million less than Bayern bought him for in 2016. Since then he has won four-straight league titles with Bayern Munich, his boyhood club, but couldn’t help them get any closer to winning the UEFA Champions League title again.

Even though he hasn’t played as well as he would have liked for Bayern and Germany over the past season or so, Hummels is still a very reliable center back and is also capable of playing out of the back. Given Dortmund’s raft of young defenders he could also be key in their development and the fact he left Dortmund in the right way and was a hero in their back-to-back league titles means he will be welcomed back with open arms.

Dortmund have now added Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt and Hummels during the offseason as head coach Lucien Favre has also signed a new contract. The second-place Bundesliga team from last season have certainly got their business done early as they look to jump ahead of Bayern who just pipped them to the title in 2018-19.

Hummels’ influence on and off the pitch at the Westfalenstadion will be hugely important for Dortmund.

Season restart preview: Brighton and Hove Albion

Brighton season restart
Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images
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.

Brighton is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Seagulls when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: If there’s a team whose results don’t show the way they’ve played, it’s Brighton. Graham Potter’s Seagulls have the sixth-best possession percentage in the league, are a tidy seventh in passing, and are mid-table in tackles per game, interceptions per game, and shots per game.

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

The expected goals stats show even less reward for good work, with Brighton scoring 8.35 goals less than expected in open play and 4.38 less from corner kicks.

Despite all these good things, Brighton is two points clear of the drop zone with nine matches to play and has a terribly challenging schedule especially at the Amex Stadium.


Tactical analysis: Graham Potter has put the Seagulls in myriad formations this season, though he’s been utilizing at least four at the back since the calendar turned to 2020. He’s ready to attack but pragmatic given the club’s hopes of staving off the teams below it in the fight for PL survival.

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


Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Ryan —–

— Montoya — Webster — Dunk — Burn —

—– Propper —– Mooy —–

— Trossard — Gross — Alzate —

—– Maupay—–

Glenn Murray and Alireza Jahanbakhsh are excellent weapons to have on the bench, and Brighton’s also got a very good center back in reserve in the form of Shame Duffy and an underrated center mid in Dale Stephens who will see playing time, too. On paper, this team is too good to go down.


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle
Away: Leicester, Norwich, Southampton, Burnley

Predicted finish: They’ll do enough to get by, though that home fixture list is simply brutal. Safe before the final weekend.

Social media wrap: All 20 Premier League clubs, many players stand against racism

Premier League social media
@Wolves
Leave a comment

The protests in the United States have inspired anti-racism statements from around the world, including all gestures from all 20 Premier League clubs and many players and managers.

There have been ongoing protests and horrible violence in the U.S. since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

Newcastle United’s American defender DeAndre Yedlin issued an emotional thread (below) as one of a great deal of players to express hopes for change and solidarity, while Schalke’s Weston McKennie explained his wearing a black armband reading “Justice For George” in the Bundesliga this weekend.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

From Ancelotti to Zaha, Antonio to Yedlin, Arsenal to Wolves, we’ve collected many of their sentiments below in what we hope serves as universal disdain for racial prejudice.

Some players like Leicester City’s Wes Morgan and even entire clubs (Arsenal) changed their online identity photos to reflect these troubled times.

All PL clubs issued messages of solidarity, many using the Black Lives Matter hashtag and making no bones about where they stand.

And we’ll start with a longtime PL club currently in the Championship, who blasted a season ticket holder’s rejection of their unifying Tweet.

Here are some other clubs and players worldwide to have noticed what’s happening in the United States.

 

Season restart preview: Bournemouth

Bournemouth season restart
Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images
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.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Bournemouth when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Tough sledding for the Cherries, who face zero of their fellow bottom-six sides (though 13th place Newcastle and 14th place Saints both visit the Vitality Stadium).

There’s been an element of bad luck to Bournemouth’s woes, with its expected goals stats showing Ryan Fraser, Joshua King, and Callum Wilson have deserved better end product and that the Cherries’ 14 goals from open play should be closer to 22. The defense has been bad and xG says it could’ve been worse, too. Injuries had hit Bournemouth’s defense corps in a big way, too. How much better will they be after the break?

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


Tactical analysis: Eddie Howe utilized a 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders for much of the early season, but has gone between a lone striker with a packed-in midfielder and a 4-3-3 when he thinks an opponent is exploitable.

Howe started a 4-4-2 against almost all of the Cherries’ remaining opponents, choosing a 5-4-1 against Wolves and Man City. There’s no guarantee he’ll continue that, especially when some matches may dictate a draw or limited goal differential damage over wins.


Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Ramsdale —–

— Smith — S. Cook — Ake — Rico —

—– Lerma —– Billing — L. Cook —

— Fraser —– C. Wilson —– King —–

Howe prefers to attack when at all possible, but the points will be at a premium against some very challenging opponents. It’s a safe bet that he’ll ask a lot from his forwards while trying to deploy his three relentless midfielders together whenever possible. The question here is whether Aaron Ramsdale returns quickly from his COVID-19 positive test, or if it’ll be Artur Boruc or someone else between the sticks.


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Spurs, Leicester City, Southampton
Away: Wolves, Manchester United, Man City, Everton

Predicted finish: The Cherries stay up, just, as King and Callum Wilson deliver the goods in front of a determined and improved midfield.

Premier League clubs will reportedly be allowed preseason friendlies

Premier League return
Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Premier League clubs will be allowed to play preseason matches ahead of the 2019-20’s restart season later this month.

There will be strict protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, and the matches will likely be officiated by club coaching staffs (We have so many Jose Mourinho as ref quips to make here, but let’s keep going anyway).

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Sky Sports says clubs will be limited to opponents within 90 minutes of their venue, and that players will have to drive themselves to the stadiums and go directly to the field in uniform.

With the League One and League Two seasons still hanging in the balance, it’s likely PL sides will be limited to each other and Championship sides. Presumably clubs will not want to meet others still on their fixture list.

We assume some players will get dressed in their vehicles outside the ground, but allow yourself some levity in these challenging times and imagine a fully kitted-up Virgil van Dijk driving the roads from Liverpool to Wigan Athletic.