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PST’s big Premier League preview roundtable

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We’ve got six anxious writers and 16 burning questions ahead of the start of this Premier League season.

Let’s get after it.


The PL season is upon us. What’s the first storyline that pops into your head?

Joe Prince-Wright: So many right away! But the main one: Christian Pulisic is about to become a genuine American superstar.

Nick Mendola: As an American, I can’t help my mind jumping to Pulisic but really it’s all about whether Man City can become the fifth club to win three-straight top flight English titles. And if it does, City will have done it in the most difficult era to do so.

Andy Edwards: What kind of backwards world are we living in that just about everyone enters the PL season with “Spurs are clearly the third-best team and should finish third with no problem” in their mind?

Kyle Bonn: Liverpool vs Man City for the title. Starts there and finishes there.

Dan Karell: Can Man City do a three-peat and win the league yet again?

Joel Soria: A Champions League winner, Aston Villa, are back in the PL and have made some ambitious signings.


How many clubs have legitimate shot of winning the Premier League?

JPW: Three. Liverpool, Man City and Tottenham.

NM: Spurs, Liverpool, and Man City.

AE: Spurs might very well be the third-best team, but it’s a distant third.

KB: Two. Spurs is still changing its makeup enough that the club won’t last the full season.

DK: In reality – two. Manchester City and Liverpool. However, if Arsenal’s defense somehow comes together and the attack is as good as expected, perhaps they could be a dark horse. Also, if Harry Kane can stay healthy for the whole season, they can certainly challenge. But as of today, it’s Man City and Liverpool which are head and shoulders above everyone.

JS: Only three: Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham.

(Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Which of the Top Six is at biggest risk for dropping out of the Top Six?

JPW: Arsenal, because of their failure to strengthen their defense.

NM: Manchester United. Granted they lost the most man games to injury last season, but the reliance on Marcus Rashford at center forward is a question, as is the midfield and the ability of Paul Pogba to produce on a week-in, week-out basis.

AE: It seems like no one is considering just how big of an impact losing Eden Hazard will be for Chelsea. They haven’t been functional, let alone good, without him at his best for years now.

KB: Arsenal. The Gunners have a do or die season financially, and didn’t do squat to improve the defense. Really worried about them.

DK: Manchester United. Harry Maguire is an important signing to shore up the defense, but they still needed upgrades and changes in other positions. Plus Paul Pogba is still there and if true that he’s unhappy, that won’t help the locker room come together.

JS: Chelsea – there will be a lot on Lampard’s plate.


Wolves, Everton, West Ham, Watford, and Leicester City will like their odds of clipping a “down” Top Six challenger. Who finishes highest, and how high?

JPW: Wolves will finish in the top six, and Leicester will finish seventh.

NM: It’s between Wolves and Everton. Since our crew is heavy on Wolves praise, I’ll choose the latter. Richarlison‘s third season in the PL met by a relentless midfield and plenty of attacking assets.

AE: This is the year West Ham get all their ducks in a row from the start of the season and mount a truly impressive season. Of course, many have said this before and rued the day.

KB: Wolves at 6 again, the other 3 right behind. Wolves have the least flaws of the 4, but they’re all strong.

DK: As of today, I think Wolves habr the best chance, with a handful of Portugal national team players and lots of fun, young talent. However, if Everton can sign Wilfried Zaha and a couple of other late signings, they can certainly move into the top six.

JS: Wolves will finish fifth or higher, while Everton can crack within the Top 7.

(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

How many goals and assists will Christian Pulisic collect for Chelsea in PL play?

JPW: 11 goals, 15 assists

NM: 7 goals and 12 assists

AE: 9 and 8.

KB: 12 goals 9 assists. Really high on CP this year.

DK: I think Pulisic can score 10 and create 10 assists. He looks very sharp early on and he’ll get plenty of playing time early in the season, if not all the way through. His speed is something that can’t be taught and he’s a stud in front of goal.

JS: Pulisic will wrap up his first season at Chelsea with 7 goals and 9 assists.


Predict your 2019-20 Premier League Best XI:

JPW: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Van Dijk, Robertson; Kante, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne; Salah, Kane, Sterling

NM: Ederson; Van Dijk, Laporte, Keane; Rodri, De Bruyne, Pogba, Bernardo Silva; Salah, Kane, Sterling

AE: Alisson; Van Dijk, Laporte, Alexander-Arnold; Keita, Kante, Torreira, De Bruyne; Sterling, Aubameyang, Son

KB: Alisson; Walker, Van Dijk, Laporte, Robertson; De Bruyne, Kante, B. Silva; Mane, Aubameyang, Sterling

DK: Alisson; Wan-Bissaka, Laporte, Van Dijk, Robertson; B. Silva, Ndombele, De Bruyne; Aguero, Kane, Aubameyang

JS: De Gea; Digne, Van Dijk, Stones, Alexander-Arnold; Jorginho, Kante, De Bruyne; Salah, Kane, Sterling


Who will win the Golden Boot?

JPW: Harry Kane

NM: Harry Kane

AE: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

KB: Harry Kane if he can stay healthy all year. If not, Sadio Mane.

DK: I think with all the attention paid to his teammates Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can be the sole Golden Boot winner this coming season.

JS: Harry Kane

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

How many managers will be fired this season, and who will be the first to go?

JPW: 5. There seems to be fewer managers being sacked these days. Steve Bruce is already on the hot seat, so he will go first.

NM: Six, and Daniel Farke.

AE: Seven, and Steve Bruce.

KB: We’ll go with 6, and the first will be Chris Wilder. Steve Bruce right behind.

DK: As many as 7. Unfortunately, I think the first to go will be either Chris Wilder of Sheffield United, or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Manchester United.

JS: 4. If West Ham finds itself struggling mid-table again, I don’t see how Manuel Pellegrini makes it past Christmas.


Who gets relegated?

JPW: Norwich City, Sheffield United, Brighton

NM: Burnley, Sheffield United, Brighton

AE: Burnley, Bournemouth and Newcastle United

KB: Sheffield United, Newcastle United, Norwich City

DK: Sheffield United, Brighton and Hove Albion, Crystal Palace

JS: Sheffield United, Brighton, Norwich.


Who will go furthest in the UEFA Champions League?

JPW: Manchester City

NM: Manchester City

AE: Man City, winners

KB: Man City. This is their year, they can’t keep disappointing forever.

DK: Liverpool. With all the experience they have, why can’t they go to the final for a third-straight season?

JS: Liverpool

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

How many trophies will Manchester City win?

JPW: Three. Including the Champions League.

NM: Three.

AE: Two – Premier League and Champions League. Going out of the FA Cup and League Cup early will get them over the line.

KB: Two

DK: At least 2. I expect them to win the League Cup again as well as the Premier League. Could they add the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League as well?

JS: Two


How many trophies will Liverpool win?

JPW: One, but they‘ll have to settle for the FA Cup or League Cup.

NM: One of the ones that isn’t the league.

AE: One, FA Cup

KB: One.

DK: One. Liverpool will defend its Champions League title.

JS: Two, including the Premier League


Please rate Man City’s chances to “threepeat,” 1 being no chance and 10 being a virtual certainty.

JPW: 8.

NM: 8.

AE: 5.4. Slight favorites over Liverpool, but only slight.

KB: 7

DK: 7. Man City upgraded its squad this summer and should be just as incredible as in the past under Pep Guardiola. It’s up to Liverpool and the rest of the Premier League to keep up with them.

JS: 7

(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Who wins the league?

JPW: Man City.

NM: Manch3ster City

AE: Man City, by two or three points.

KB: Man City.

DK: I think Manchester City holds on for an incredible third-straight Premier League title.

JS: Liverpool


Make one crazy prediction for the 2019-20 season.

JPW: Wolves will be in the top 4 mix heading into the final week of the season.

NM: Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette both have more combined goals and assists than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but Newcastle’s Joelinton has the highest total in the league (Shoulder shrug emoji).

AE: Mike Ashley will still own Newcastle at the end of the season. Wait, did you say crazy?

KB: Newcastle’s top scorer will be a defender

DK: By outscoring everyone, 4-3, in every game, Arsenal finishes in second place in the Premier League.

JS: Aston Villa qualifies for Europa League, one way or another.


Bonus: Who gets promoted from the Championship?

JPW: Leeds United, Derby County, Cardiff City

NM: Fulham, Stoke City, Leeds United

AE: Middlesbrough, Bristol City, West Brom

KB: Leeds United, Stoke City, Swansea City

DK: Derby County. Leeds United. Reading.

JS: Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County.

Marcelo Bielsa of Leeds United (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Nantes pays tribute to the late Sala with special jersey

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NANTES, France (AP) French club Nantes will pay tribute to late Argentine player Emiliano Sala by wearing a special blue and white shirt during Sunday’s league game gainst Bordeaux.

Nantes, which traditionally plays in yellow and green, said Tuesday that the commemorative outfit is available for sale. All profits from the sales will be allocated to Sala’s training clubs in Argentina.

“Because he dreamed of wearing Argentina’s shirt, Nantes players will leave their usual yellow and green jersey for a white and blue tunic,” Nantes said in a statement.

Sala was killed a year ago when the single-engine aircraft carrying him from Nantes to his new club in Cardiff crashed near the Channel Island of Guernsey on Jan. 21. Hours earlier, FIFA had received an online document from the Welsh soccer federation to complete transferring the player’s registration from France.

Sala’s body was recovered from the wreckage two weeks later.

Nantes said a picture of Sala will also be displayed in the center circle at Stade de La Beaujoire and a minute’s applause will be held in his memory.

Since Sala’s death, Nantes and Cardiff have been involved in a dispute over transfer fee payments. Last year, Cardiff filed a court appeal seeking to overturn a FIFA order it must pay Nantes a 6 million euro ($6.7 million) first payment for Sala. FIFA ruled in favor of Nantes and warned Cardiff it faces a transfer ban of three trading windows if it refuses to pay when the case is settled.

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

Bentaleb joins Newcastle; Blades sign Robinson; Campana to Wolves

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Three Premier League clubs made signings on Tuesday as Nabil Bentaleb has joined Newcastle United, Leonardo Campana has arrived at Wolves and Jack Robinson has signed for Sheffield United.

Bentaleb, 25, has initially joined Newcastle from Schalke on loan with an option to make the deal a permanent one at the end of the season.

The former Tottenham midfielder will add extra quality to the engine room as Steve Bruce‘s side continue to sit pretty in midtable despite a laundry list of injuries to deal with.

“I’m very happy to come back to the Premier League, especially with a club such as Newcastle,” Bentaleb said. “The project really interested me. I wanted absolutely to come back to the Premier League. The coach had some trust in me and the club also – I saw that straight away – and I think it’s the perfect move for me.”

Bentaleb has so much promise and showed that as a youngster for Spurs and for Algeria at the 2014 World Cup and he was a regular at Schalke over the past few seasons before falling out of favor during the 2019-20 campaign as he is yet to make an appearance due to suffering a torn meniscus in September.

Wolves have been trying to complete the deal for Campana for some time but everything is now sealed for the Ecuador international to arrive in the Premier League.

Campana, 19, has been a star for Ecuador at youth international level and he’s signed a three-and-a-half year deal with Wolves to become the understudy to Raul Jimenez. He rose to prominence at the South American U20 Championships last summer as the top goalscorer at the tournament as Ecuador won the title. He has already graduated to the full national team and he is ready to get going in England.

“I am excited about the work the team has achieved this season. I know they support each other, their relationship with the manager is a good one and I know all the players get along really well. That motivated me to come here and to be part of this big family,” Campana said.

As for Robinson, 26, he arrives on a two-and-a-half year contract from Forest for an undisclosed deal as Blades boss Chris Wilder revealed he tried to sign the left-sided center back when he previously played for QPR.

“It’s a big confidence boost coming somewhere you know you’re wanted,” Robinson said. “The gaffer has done an unbelievable job over the last 3 years and I’m really excited to play under him. It’s a privilege to sign here, excited to be back in the Premier League I’m ready to show the fans why the gaffer has signed me.” 

Robinson, a Liverpool academy product who made his debut for them as a 16-year-old, will be one of Wilder’s three center backs and is keen to perform the overlapping role in Sheffield United’s quirky but hugely effective system.

Both of the signings are fairly prudent ones but bolster squads which need it after fine starts to the season as both Wilder and Bruce need extra players as they aim to push for at least a top 10 finish in the Premier League.

Mourinho denies bust-up with Rose

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Jose Mourinho has denied he has had a training ground bust-up with left back Danny Rose.

Reports had circulated that Rose and Mourinho were involved in a heated argument in training on Monday after the England left back was unhappy to be left out of the squad for the 0-0 draw at Watford on Saturday.

Mourinho had said that Rose was out injured with a back problem but the left back has since denied he wasn’t fit to play against the Hornets.

Speaking to the media ahead of Spurs’ home game against Norwich on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com), Mourinho wasn’t having any of it.

“I don’t know what you mean by tension in the air, I don’t have a problem with him,” Mourinho said. “On the Thursday before Watford late evening I got a call from my medical staff saying that Danny was calling them with a problem in his back and he wouldn’t train the next day. Friday it was a bit of a surprise to see him training, but even so I decided to play with (Japhet) Tanganga and have Ryan (Sessegnon) on the bench. That is the situation.”

Mourinho added that Rose’s display against Liverpool was “not phenomenal” and reading between the lines, he was dropped.

If there wasn’t an incident or at least some anger between Rose and Mourinho, why would reports of this nature surface?

With youngster Japhet Tanganga starting at left back for Tottenham, and doing a very good job as Mourinho praised him afterwards, it is understandable that Rose would have his nose put out of joint a little.

The England international has less than 18 months left on his current contract at Spurs and has already spoken publicly about his plans to run down that deal as chairman Daniel Levy hasn’t offered him a new deal.

It will be intriguing to see how this plays out as Tanganga now seems to be Spurs’ first choice left back and Rose will have to be happy with playing a bit-part role between now and the end of the season.

His experience and quality is undoubted but with Spurs’ defensive unit all over the place this season, Mourinho is well within his rights to mix things up with formations and personnel as he tries to make Tottenham tough to beat.

Solskjaer: United have made “strides forward”

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Ole Gunnaer Solskjaer believes his Manchester United side have taken “strides forward” following their 2-0 defeat at bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

United were outplayed for the vats majority of the game and were lucky to be only 1-0 down heading into the 90th minute but the grit and determination they showed impressed Solskjaer who lauded his young team.

Without the injured star duo of Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba for the daunting trip to the Premier League leaders, United’s manager was in a positive mood ahead of their clash against Burnley on Wednesday (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

“We lost to Liverpool. A team that you all say are fantastic and we’ve been in the game until the last kick of the ball. For me, that’s strides forward,” Solskjaer said. “Of course we’re disappointed about losing the game. We don’t want to be behind them in the league. But there are signs there that we’re on the right track, definitely.”

Is Solskjaer’s positivity misplaced?

Some would argue that United were lucky that Liverpool’s finishing was lackluster and that is true but the Red Devils hung in there and should have equalized in the second half but Anthony Martial blazed over.

They were missing at least four or five players in key areas for the trip to United as Rashford, Pogba and Scott McTominay were out injured and they badly need another attacking midfielder (ahem, Bruno Fernandes) to help with their play in the final third.

Solskjaer is right, there were positives for United. Fred played extremely well in midfield and both Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka stood tall defensively out wide. But the main takeaway from their trip to Liverpool was that United were delighted to not lose by three or four goals. The gulf in class between the two teams was clear for all to see and although United are trying to sort out their disjointed and confused squad by signing young, talented players, they are so far off Liverpool it is scary.