Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

PST’s big Premier League preview roundtable

3 Comments

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)

La Liga Roundup: Messi, Barcelona stunned by inspired Granada (video)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Granada’s shocking 2-0 win over Barcelona and subsequent rise to the top of the table headlines Saturday’s La Liga action.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Granada 2-0 Barcelona

Not even Lionel Messi, who made his season debut on Saturday, was able to save Barcelona against a red-hot Granada.

Granada, who are off to their best start in their 88 years of existence, had a perfect night in front of their supporters, convincingly getting past a Barcelona that dominated possession, but lacked the offensive ingenuity needed to score.

Barcelona’s defense wasn’t noteworthily robust, either.

Two minutes in, the newly promoted side scored through a headed goal from Ramon Azeez, following a defensive turnover from Junior Firpo.

Unable to record a shot on target in the first half and looking to wakeup a dormant attack, Barcelona brought on wonderkid Ansu Fati and Lionel Messi at halftime. Despite the duo connecting on several occasion and generating a shot on target, it wasn’t enough to get past Rui Silva.

In the 66th minute, following video review, substitute Alvaro Badillo converted from the spot, handing Granada their third win of the season.

Atop of La Liga, Granada set their sights on Real Valladolid, while Barcelona, who are off to their worst league start in 25 years, host Villarreal at Camp Nou.

Atletico Madrid  0-0 Celta Vigo

For a second consecutive week, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid dropped points, drawing with Celta Vigo 0-0 at Wanda Metropolitano.

Tied with league leaders Granada and Sevilla with 10 points, the alarm bells are far from going off in Madrid. However, as Saturday’s performance showed, los Colchoneros are having trouble finishing chances this season, despite fielding an attack with the likes of Joao Felix, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata.

In five games, Atletico have managed to score only five goals, six fewer than leaders Granada. Against Celta, Atletico registered 20 shots, five on target, but were unable to crack a stellar Ruben Blanco, who registered five saves.

Leveled with Granada and Sevilla, Atletico Madrid look to get back into winning ways as they take on RCD Mallorca. Elsewhere, Celta Vigo, who have won win after five games, host Espanyol next.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Villarreal 2-0 Real Valladolid

Levante 0-0 Eibar

Almeyda, Wondolowski sent off in Quakes’ fall against Atlanta (video)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The game in 200 words (or less): Melodrama took center stage in Atlanta United’s 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, as Matias Almeyda, Chris Wondolowski and Cristian Espinoza were all sent off on Saturday. Josef Martinez, six games away from tying Lionel Messi’s world record for most consecutive goals, left the field in 79th minute following an injury, ending his MLS-record run at 15 games. Playing with 10 players from the 34th minute onwards, the Quakes held on to the draw up until the 90th minute. Unmarked inside the box, Emerson Hyndman rocketed the ball past Daniel Vega, who recorded nine saves throughout the night. In stoppage time, Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez was rewarded for his stellar performance with a goal of his own. With a game at hand, Eastern Conference leaders, NYCFC, are three points ahead Frank De Boer‘s side. The Quakes, on the other hand, have internal fires to put out as they have lost six of their last eight, and are only a point above the red line with three games to play.

Three moments that mattered

27′ — Great run by Espinoza, greater ball by Vega  — Daniel Vega and Cristian Espinoza were players that San Jose were desperately missing last season. This sequence says it all.

 

90′ — Emerson Hyndman wins it for the Five Stripes   — Hyndman, with no one near him, seals three points for the home side.

 

90′ + 2 — Martinez takes advantage of broken San Jose  — Martinez’s goal was only salt in San Jose’s fresh wound.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Gonzalo “Pity”  Martinez

Goalscorers: Meram (4′), Guzan (27′ – OG), Hyndman (90′), Martinez (90′ + 2)

FIFA sees no obstacles for women to attend games in Iran

Getty Images
3 Comments

ZURICH — Soccer’s governing body FIFA says an inspection visit to Iran has shown “no noteworthy operational obstacles” to lifting the country’s 40-year ban and letting women attend a World Cup qualifying game next month.

After meeting government and soccer officials in Tehran this week, FIFA says it will work with Iran’s soccer body to also open domestic league games to female fans.

FIFA wants Iran to end its ban on women entering stadiums which breaches international soccer statutes prohibiting discrimination.

Global attention on the ban followed the death this month of a 29-year-old activist, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire outside a courthouse. She had been detained for dressing as a man to enter a soccer stadium in Tehran and faced six months in prison.

Ahead of Iran hosting Cambodia at the 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10, FIFA says the visit on Thursday focused on “international relations, security and ticketing matters.”

Iranian officials were told of FIFA’s “firm and clear position that women need to be allowed to enter football matches freely” with tickets sold to as many who wanted to attend.

FOLLOW LIVE: Atlanta v. Quakes, Galaxy v. Impact on a busy MLS Saturday

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Eight games in seven hours, now that’s a jam-packed MLS Saturday.

[ FOLLOW: MLS scoreboard, for the next 7 hours ]

Things kickoff with Matias Almeyda’s San Jose Earthquakes visiting red-hot Josef Martinez’s Atlanta United, and comes to a close in Los Angeles, where league leaders LAFC host Toronto FC and LA Galaxy, who look to continue moving up in the Western Conference standings, host Montreal Impact.

In between, the New England Revolution look to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture as they welcome Kyle Beckerman and Real Salt Lake, while the Chicago Fire hope to jump level with the Revs in the standings as they take on FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium.

Saturday’s full MLS schedule

Atlanta United v. San Jose Earthquakes — 3:30 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps v. Columbus Crew — 5 p.m. ET

New England Revolution v. Real Salt Lake — 7:30 p.m. ET

FC Cincinnati v. Chicago Fire — 7:30 p.m. ET

Sporting Kansas City v. Colorado Rapids — 8:30 p.m. ET

Houston Dynamo v. Orlando City — 8:30 p.m. ET

LAFC v. Toronto FC — 10:30 p.m. ET

LA Galaxy v. Montreal Impact — 10:30 p.m. ET