10 things you need to know before new PL season

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Ahead of the 2019-20 Premier League season there are certain things you need to know.

That’s where we come in.

[ MORE: PL season previews ]

As well as clicking on the link above to get the low-down on all 20 teams, below are the 10 things you must know ahead of the new campaign.

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Let’s go!


ICYMI, America has a superstar in the PL…
You may have been living under a rock for the past few months. If so, fair enough. The rest of the world knows that Christian Pulisic is coming to the Premier League. The 20-year-old USMNT star was signed by Chelsea for $73 million in January and loaned back to Borussia Dortmund. The “Pennsylvanian Messi” will be asked to replace Eden Hazard long-term, but in the meantime he is impressing Chelsea legend Frank Lampard who is in his first season in charge of the Blues. Given Chelsea’s ban and Willian arriving late due to his exploits with Brazil in the Copa America this summer, Pulisic has the chance to hit the ground running with Chelsea. Along with Pedro, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi, Barkley and Mount, he will have to battle hard for a starting spot. He is without doubt ready to be the first bonafide American superstar in the PL and on the planet.


VAR is coming. Get ready.
Okay, get ready for VAR to dominate the majority of your conversations for the next 10 months. The Premier League has already said it will only use VAR for “clear and obvious errors” or “serious missed incidents” when it comes to four occasions: goals scored, direct red cards, penalty kicks being awarded and cases of mistaken identity. There will be delays and a little confusion, but messages will be relayed to fans inside the stadiums and it will be intriguing to see how the system works in the PL. After being used in major competitions and leagues across Europe and the rest of the world over the past few seasons, it is now the turn of the Premier League to embrace technology to help officials out. Let’s see if fans share this sentiment after the first few weeks of the season.


2:45 p.m. ET kick offs on Saturday are now a thing
For a handful of weeks this is a new feature for the 2019-20 campaign and the two seasons after that. Saturday evening games in the UK should see a bit of a party atmosphere take place, and like Friday night games being introduced a few years ago, it gives us another opportunity to make time in our lives to watch the PL. What more can you ask for? On a Saturday you can now get to the pub with your mates at 7:30 a.m. ET and be there until about 5 p.m. ET when the final game finishes. 10 hours of constant PL action on a Saturday is perfection. There is also the small matter of a small winter break, with one round of fixtures in February split over two weeks so clubs can have a little breather after the busy festive period.


Transfer records smashed all over the place
Harry Maguire: $97 million from Leicester City to Man United. Nicolas Pepe: $87 million from Lille to Arsenal. Rodri: $80 million from Atletico Madrid to Man City. Tanguy Ndombele: $80 million from Lyon to Tottenham. What do all those transfers have in common? They all happened this summer and they are all record deals. Maguire’s is the highest fee paid in history for a defender and Arsenal, Man City and Tottenham all broke their transfer records. Add into the mix that Sheffield United, Brighton, Leicester and Newcastle all broke their transfer records this summer too, and it’s clear to see PL clubs are spending big to stay in the top-flight.


Blades, Canaries and Villans
The new boys will all add something a little different to the PL in their own way. Aston Villa have spent big with over $160 million splashed on 12 new players, while Norwich have hardly spent anything and Sheffield United have added sensibly. Villa will entertain and a genuinely one of the biggest clubs in England, while the Blades will be led by a passionate home crowd and lean heavily on the players who have led them from the third tier. As for Norwich, they played scintillating attacking football last season but many are writing them off for instant relegation to underline their status as a yo-yo club. As always, all three new boys are favorites for the drop. Beware of the underdogs.


European glory to continue?
Liverpool are the reigning UEFA Champions League champions and Chelsea won the Europa League. Will we see the PL dominate Europe once again this season? Arsenal, Man United and Wolves will be among the favorites in the Europa League, while Man City and Liverpool will again led the way for the PL in the UCL. Spurs and Chelsea are also favored to reach at least the eight and with some of the big boys in Spain, Italy and Germany struggling a little, there’s a sense we are in the middle of English domination in Europe.


Returning stars could be rested early on
Something to keep an eye on, especially for those who play Premier League Fantasy. The likes of Liverpool and Man City have been impacted over the summer when it comes to star players coming back late from international duty. Roberto Firmino, Alisson, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have all missed a huge chunk of preseason for Liverpool, while Sergio Aguero, Ederson, Fernandinho and Riyad Mahrez have only just returned for City. Both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola will have to manage the minutes of those stars accordingly if they’re going to come good at the business end of the season. Players are not machines and their managers, thankfully, understand that. That won’t help your FPL team, but don’t be so selfish…


Marauding center backs the new norm
With Maguire and Virgil Van Dijk set to take center stage for Man United and Liverpool respectively, there’s a sense that this is the year of the marauding center backs. Given all of the money spent on attacking players, we’ve seen just how important it is to have a solid defensive unit. Man City have John Stones and Aymeric Laporte ready to play out of the back, but are they good enough defensively to lead a title challenge without legend Vincent Kompany organizing alongside them? This will be the season of the center back.


New managers, first full seasons
Chelsea legend Frank Lampard is arriving to take charge of the Blues. Graham Potter is the new man in charge at Brighton. Steve Bruce has replaced Rafael Benitez at Newcastle after the Spaniard left. Brendan Rodgers be Leicester’s coach for a full season (he hopes), while Ralph Hasenhuttl is in his first full season as Saints boss. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also overseeing his first full campaign at Man United. Fresh starts and slates wiped clean are the order of the day.


#PLonNBC on location in England
Don’t forget, we are kicking the season off in the best possible way with our entire crew in England for opening weekend. From Liverpool v. Norwich to Tottenham v. Aston Villa and Manchester United v. Chelsea, our entire broadcast team will be on-site to celebrate the return of the Premier League? Pumped. Yep. Us too.

The 2 Robbies podcast: Breaking down Matchweek 2

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe recap the key events from Matchweek two of the Premier League focusing on the thrilling 2-2 draw between Manchester City and Tottenham including yet another dramatic decision by VAR hurting City (0:30).

The Robbies also discuss Manchester United’s draw at Wolves (8:30), Liverpool’s win at Southampton (16:15), Frank Lampard‘s home debut as Chelsea manager ending in a 1-1 draw with Leicester (20:05) and Arsenal’s win against Burnley (27:05). Plus, the chaps touch on the rest of the results and share their underappreciated performances of the week (29:35).

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Why Christian Pulisic chose Chelsea over Man United

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Christian Pulisic had plenty of offers on the table when it was clear he was going to leave Borussia Dortmund last fall, but one of them was immediately crossed out for one reason and one reason only.

Jose Mourinho.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch

Pulisic’s former coach at Brackley Town, Robin Walker, spoke to The Telegraph about how the USMNT player came to sign for Chelsea over United and how his father didn’t want him to sign for Man United. Pulisic spent a year playing for Brackley Town when his parents moved to England as his mother was on a teaching exchange program.

“He wouldn’t go to Manchester United because of Jose Mourinho,” Walker said. “His father couldn’t stand Mourinho, because he didn’t promote young players. It was at that point I asked: ‘What about London? That’s where it’s at.’ I was trying to sell the city. His agent agreed, saying: ‘When you make these decisions, it’s all about investment and property.’ I was delighted that he did sign [for Chelsea].”

Walker is a Chelsea fan and was ecstatic that Pulisic, 20, signed for the Blues, and although many people believed heading to Chelsea wasn’t the best move for the USMNT star, it looks like it could be a shrewd decision.

Mourinho obviously left Man United last December, but by then the wheels were already in motion for Pulisic to sign for Chelsea and with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer only a caretaker boss of the Red Devils at that point, he wasn’t going to get $73 million to spend on a January signing.

It is true that Mourinho has been known to stall the careers of several stars, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku to name a few, but it is also true that Chelsea has stockpiled that kind of talent and struggled to develop these mercurial talents.

Since Pulisic signed for Chelsea in January and was then loaned back to Dortmund for the rest of the 2018-19 season, Maurizio Sarri has departed and Frank Lampard arrived with a transfer ban also coming in. That means Pulisic will get more minutes due to new players not being bought and Lampard is also keen on promoting youngsters.

That said, there is one part of this story which may sit a little uneasy with USMNT fans. Pulisic’s agent reportedly saying that ‘when you make these decisions, it’s all about investment and property.’

Shouldn’t it be about being the best place for Pulisic to develop as a player?

The American winger has shown flashes of brilliance in his first few months as a Chelsea player and it will be intriguing to see how often he plays now that Willian is back fully fit, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi are also pushing their way back to full fitness.

Man United players slam “disgusting, pathetic” racist abuse of Pogba

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Manchester United star Paul Pogba was racially abused on social media after having his penalty kick saved in the 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday.

United have issued a statement slamming the racist abuse, as Harry Maguire called it “disgusting” and led calls for Twitter and Instagram to take strong stances against those making racist comments on social media.

“Everyone at Manchester United is disgusted by the racial abuse aimed at Paul Pogba last night and we utterly condemn it. The individuals who expressed these views do not represent the values of our great club and it is encouraging to see the vast majority of our fans condemn this on social media also.

“Manchester United has zero tolerance of any form of racism or discrimination and a long-standing commitment to campaigning against it through our #AllRedAllEqual initiative. We will work to identify the few involved in these incidents and take the strongest course of action available to us. We also encourage social media companies to take action in these cases.”

This racist abuse of Pogba follows Chelsea youngster Tammy Abraham also being targeted after his penalty kick was saved in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool last Wednesday, and comes after Chelsea banned one fan for life after the racist abuse of Man City’s Raheem Sterling during a game at Stamford Bridge last season.

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri diagnosed with pneumonia

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus says coach Maurizio Sarri has been diagnosed with pneumonia.

The 60-year-old Sarri was unable to take training with the Italian champion on Monday because he has been struggling with the flu for the past week.

The club said he underwent further tests which confirmed he has pneumonia, for which specific therapy was prescribed.

Sarri left Chelsea in the offseason to take charge of Juventus. His first Serie A game in charge is at Parma on Saturday.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports