Premier League transfer grades

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The summer transfer window is over. All of the deals are done. Premier League squads are now set until January.

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Wow. That was fun. Given all of the records broken, all of the big names arriving, leaving or staying in the Premier League, which club did the best business this summer?

[ MORE: PL season previews ]

Below we dish out grades to all 20 Premier League teams based on their ins and outs.


Arsenal: B+

A very decent window for the Gunners, who added two key defenders in the final hour. Kieran Tierney David Luiz arrived and all of a sudden this looks like a more balanced squad. Nicolas Pepe arrived in a club record-deal to spice up their attack, plus Dani Ceballos oozes quality in midfield. Losing Laurent Koscielny was a blow, but Luiz is better than their current central defenders even if he takes a few risks on the ball. Overall, Unai Emery‘s squad is stronger than they were 12 months ago.


Aston Villa: B+
Where do we start with Villa!? 12 new signings this summer from the newly-promoted team, who are one of the big spenders with over $180 million spent on transfer fees alone. Tom Heaton, Wesley, Trezeguet, Jota and Tyrone Mings all look like being very important signings, and Villa have a very strong squad. Will it be enough to keep them up? We are about to find out. Villa get an A for ambition, but a B+ right now because it is so tough to predict how bringing in so many players at the same time will work out. Ahem, Fulham…


Bournemouth: C
The Cherries did a few pieces of decent business with Harry Wilson arriving on loan, plus Jack Stacey, Lloyd Kelly and Arnaut Danjuma all coming in to strengthen their squad. Bournemouth kept hold of Nathan Ake, Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson, which is huge, but maybe they needed a few more experienced defenders to improve their goals against column.


Brighton & Hove Albion: C+
Graham Potter has been given money to spend and he’s strengthened Brighton’s attacking unit. Trossard arrived from Genk and Neal Maupay from Brentford in club-record deals, but will they settle in quickly in the Premier League? It looks a big gamble for Brighton. Losing Anthony Knockaert was a strange one, but they did keep hold of Lewis Dunk. A decent window for a side who struggled massively in the second half of last season, and needed a little more in midfield and attack. They’ve got that.


Burnley: D
Danny Drinkwater‘s arrival on deadline day was the biggest move for the Clarets, as Sean Dyche‘s side once again kept their wallets in their pockets. Jay Rodriguez arrived from West Brom and the hometown hero will be tasked with scoring goals, but overall it was an underwhelming window for Burnley. After their relegation scrap last season, many would have called for bigger changes. They did keep James Tarkowski though.


Chelsea: C-

Well, we can’t judge Chelsea on incomings due to their transfer ban, but Christian Pulisic did arrive after his loan spell at Dortmund and he looks like a star in the making. Matteo Kovacic is now a permanent Chelsea player too, while the big arrivals for Frank Lampard have been those coming back from loan deals. Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori will all be important players this summer. Losing Eden Hazard was a hammer blow, while the loss of Luiz should not be understated either. As expected, not the best window for the Blues.


Crystal Palace: D
Losing Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Man United was far from ideal, and even though Wilfried Zaha remains at Selhurst Park, is he happy enough to put on a show each week and push the Eagles up the league? Zaha looked set to join Arsenal, Everton, Napoli and others this summer, but the move just didn’t happen. Palace’s asking price of close to $100 million didn’t help out Zaha, and now they have to deal with him not being happy about having to stay in south London. This will be tricky for Roy Hodgson to handle.


Everton: B+
A very good window for the Toffees, led by the acquisition of rising star Moise Kean from Juventus. The deadline day capture of Alex Iwobi is also a very smart buy and they now have so many attacking options behind Kean. Sidibe gives them extra cover at center back, while Andre Gomes is a star in midfield and it was key to make his loan move from Barcelona permanent. Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Fabian Delph are shrewd signings to plug the gap left by Idrissa Gueye and Marco Silva has all the tools to lead this team to a top six finish. Very very decent.


Leicester City: B
Yes, they lost Harry Maguire, but they did so on their own terms and got close to $100 million for him. Adding Youri Tielemans was a must after his superb spell on loan from Monaco in the second half of last season. The Belgian midfielder oozes class and was worth breaking their transfer record for. Ayoze Perez will be a great understudy to Jamie Vardy up top and although it would have been nice to add another center back to replace Maguire, it was a smart move to not pay over the odds for James Tarkowski or Lewis Dunk. Dennis Praet’s arrival on deadline day strengthens their midfield further and this young, exciting team will push for the top six. Brendan Rodgers will be content with this summer. Nothing more. Nothing less.


Liverpool: C

Just $6 million spent by Jurgen Klopp on two youngsters, and the German coach is very comfortable with that. With Rhian Brewster, Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returning from injury and Divock Origi back in the frame, they have options outside of their best starting lineup. That said, is this Liverpool squad deep enough for a PL and Champions League push? If they suffer a few injuries to attacking players, you would be right to worry about Liverpool’s staying power. Having got Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, Simon Mignolet and Danny Ings off the wage bill, maybe Liverpool will spend money in January. This is a bit of a gamble for the reigning European champions.


Manchester City: B

Joao Cancelo and Rodri give Man City cover in two key areas, right back and central midfield. Rodri is the long-term replacement for Fernandinho in the hooding midfield role and it will take him a little while to get used to the pace of the Premier League. Elsewhere they tried to sign Maguire but didn’t want to pay what Man United did, so there is a sizeable gap at center back after legend Vincent Kompany departed over the summer.


Manchester United: B+
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted young, quick, hungry players this summer and he got them. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire arrived for huge fees and Daniel James looks a huge talent out wide. Paul Pogba has remained at United, for now, and Romelu Lukaku departed for $90 million to balance the books. United’s back four of Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire and Shaw is very solid, but they are still a little tough to figure out in midfield. Going forward they are now led by Rashford, James and Mason Greenwood should emerge. All in all, a very positive window. Linked with approximately 8,992 players over the summer, the three they did sign are all quality additions.


Newcastle United: C
After losing Ayoze Perez and failing to sign Salomon Rondon permanently, the start of the window wasn’t looking great for the Magpies. Add in the fact that Rafael Benitez walked out as a manager and journeyman boss Steve Bruce replaced him, and there was almost a riot in Newcastle as much-maligned owner Mike Ashley once again failed to sell the club. There were the additions of Joelinton, Andy Carroll and Allan Saint-Maximin to boost their attacking options but Newcastle’s fans won’t be overjoyed with this summer.


Norwich City: D
Daniel Farke has kept faith in the team which got the Canaries promoted last season as the champions of the Championship spent very little. Teemu Pukki is their main threat up top, and it will stay that way, while they kept hold of young full back Max Aarons. Norwich’s squad is really interesting but they probably should have showed a little more ambition this summer. That said, we’ve seen newly-promoted teams spend big and fail to integrate all of their new signings successfully, so it is a fine line.


Sheffield United: C+
Ollie McBurnie and Lys Mousset arrived in club-record deals as Chris Wilder kept his defensive unit together but strengthened the attack. Bringing Dean Henderson back in on loan from Manchester United was brilliant business and the Blades have gone right in the middle of fellow new boys Villa and Norwich. Villa have spent big, Norwich have spent nothing and Sheffield United have spent a little on some young, quality lower-tier players.


Southampton: C+
Saints needed to strengthen their defense and they look to have done that right at the end of the window with the addition of Kevin Danso. That was much needed for Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side. In attack they upgraded the team massively with Moussa Djenepo and Che Adams arriving for big money, so they look like they will be more dangerous. Moving on players has been tough but they managed to sell Charlie Austin, Matt Targett and a couple of others to balance the books. Steady summer.


Tottenham Hotspur: A-

Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele are two superstars, while youngsters Jack Clarke and Ryan Sessegnon have arrived too. What a good summer for Spurs. They also kept Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen, for now, and they will try and get both to sign new deals. In the case of Eriksen it seems like a lost cause as he could still leave for Real Madrid or elsewhere in the final weeks of the European window. If he does, and Danny Rose joins him in moving to a club outside the PL, Spurs are set with their additions this summer. Lo Celso is initially a loan deal but is expected to sign permanently and the fact they were linked with Dybala and Coutinho shows the caliber of players Spurs are now going for.


Watford: B+
A wonderful end to the window for Watford, who brought in Danny Welbeck and Ismaila Sarr in the final 24 hours. Sarr is a club-record signing and a hugely talented winger, while Welbeck will compete with Gray and Deeney for minutes up top. If Welbeck can stay fit, that is a great buy. Craig Dawson is a steady head in defense and Watford do need to shore things up at the back a little. Javi Gracia has done well to add to his squad which did so well last season.


West Ham United: B+
Sebastian Haller and Pablo Fornals strengthen West Ham’s already strong attack and they managed to move on Marko Arnautovic who finally sealed his move to China. Manuel Pellegrini‘s squad is a little top-heavy but keeping hold of Diop and Rice was crucial to their defensive unit. The Hammers are primed for a European push, with plenty of attacking options the envy of their rivals.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: C
Probably should have done a little more to add to their squad given their European campaign. Patrick Cutrone will challenge Raul Jimenez in attack and allow Nuno Espirito Santo to rest the Mexican star from time to time. That is crucial. But apart from that they’ve only brought in youngsters after signing Leander Dendoncker and Jimenez permanently. A solid enough window, but their lack of signings could impact their PL form after a Thursday-Sunday slog due to the Europa League.

Picking a 2019 Rugby World Cup team based on your PL club

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Okay, we know the balls are shaped slightly differently, but there is plenty of shared history between soccer and rugby and the 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off this Friday across NBC Sports.

WATCH 2019 RUGBY WORLD CUP

Barring in mind you’ll be able to watch every single game live from the World Cup in Japan via NBC Sports Gold and across the NBC family of channels, now is a good time to brush up on your rugby knowledge.

Let’s make it as easy as we can for you.

Below we take a look at which of the 20 World Cup nations is most similar to one of the 20 PL clubs.

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If you’re looking to watch the World Cup but don’t know which team to support, this will help you out, as all you have to find the PL club you support and, hey presto, you have a team for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.


Argentina = Everton
A team which is usually the ‘best of the rest’ in world rugby. Yep, Toffees fans can sympathize with being just good enough to be included in the big conversations but never quite getting over the line. This year could be different, though. Argentina and England are expected to advance from their pool, as France aren’t as good as they’ve been in past World Cups. Opportunity knocks for Argentina.

Australia = Chelsea
Both have had success in the past but both are just on the outside looking in when it comes to the favorites. Australia, like Chelsea, have plenty of inexperienced players heading into this World Cup. Could be a good outside bet to cause a few shocks and will always be in the conversation at the business end of the tournament.

Canada = Brighton
Canada are in the midst of a rebuild after struggling at the 2015 World Cup. Brighton are in the midst of a rebuild after just staying up in the Premier League last season.

England = Liverpool
The second favorites, for many, to win the World Cup, there is a lot of excitement around this England side. Like Liverpool, historically they are always up there, but a new approach from the eccentric Eddie Jones has brought about good results. Like Jurgen Klopp, an exciting team has a charismatic leader. This could be the year for both of these teams…

Fiji = Aston Villa
Upstarts who have a fine heritage in the game, Fiji have arrived after big recent wins against France and Wales. Villa have returned to the big time and are expected to say, and this tournament provides Fiji with a perfect chance to secure their best-ever finish at a World Cup. Semi Radradra is to Fiji what Jack Grealish is to Aston Villa.

Georgia = Burnley
Placed in a tough pool, nobody expects anything from Georgia. They are the heavy underdogs and have never made the knockout rounds of a World Cup. Burnley know all about being the underdogs, and Georgia are a physical side who make it tough for opponents. Yep, this comparison works perfectly.

France = Leicester City
Much-changed France have been overlooked by many, but they have the young talent to succeed. Leicester have a plan and identity and even though this season may not be their year to break into the top four, there is potential for them to do it. France will be lucky to get to the semifinals, but if they do, they are very unpredictable under Jacques Brunel.

Ireland = Man United
They possess so many talented players and although they are currently ranked as the top team on the planet, Ireland a real Jekyll and Hyde team. Like Man United, they are well-supported and will be there or thereabouts, but many aren’t backing them to succeed. This time.

Italy = Southampton
Always around, and capable of causing upsets, both Italy and Southampton fly under the radar. Like Saints, this Italian side has a small core of key players and they cannot afford any injuries. If they make it out of the group stage it would be a big achievement, and if Saints finish in the top 10 that would be comparable.

Japan = Wolves
A team aiming to join the big boys, Japan and Wolves have a lot in common. Japan won three of their pool games in 2015 but agonizingly failed to make the quarterfinals. Hosts Japan will have a lot of expectation on them this time around, while Wolves’ expectations levels have also increased. Can they deliver?

Namibia = Bournemouth
One of the smallest nations at the World Cup, Namibia have defied the odds to reach seven-straight World Cups. How much longer can they keep doing that? Bournemouth are now regulars in the PL, as Eddie Howe has worked similar miracles. Both minnows don’t get the respect they deserve, but how long will their fairytales last? And can they finally step up to the next tier?

New Zealand = Man City
The undisputed favorites to win, both teams seem too strong for their opponents. Dynasties have been produced as a string of superstars are well-drilled and hungry for continued success. Like Man City, New Zealand are going for the three-peat after winning the 2011 and 2015 World Cups on home soil and then in England. The All Blacks are stacked.

Russia = Norwich City
The Russians only qualified due to Romania and Spain breaking rules, and they are expected to be battered in the World Cup. Like Norwich, nobody gives them a chance. But we all know how Norwich have fared so far. If Russia can secure one win in pool play this will be deemed a huge success.

Samoa = West Ham
They have the squad to prevail, but so many changes behind-the-scenes has led to chaos for Samoa. Sound familiar, West Ham fans? Both teams have the potential to disrupt the big boys but haven’t come close to doing so in recent years. Talented, but more structure needed.

Scotland = Newcastle
Capable of beating anyone, Scotland and Newcastle are very good when it all slots together. But that only happens rarely. Sleeping giants, they are even close geographically. For all of the passion of their fans, there has been little to shout about in recent times. Neither team has a Plan B.

South Africa = Tottenham
A contender, for sure, but can they put it all together to lift the trophy? Tottenham have struggled with that in recent years, and although South Africa won the World Cup in 1995 and 2007, those are their only two finals in history. Both teams a little too inconsistent.

Tonga = Crystal Palace
A team always punching above their weight and modest resources, Tonga can cause upsets, just like they did when beating France at the 2011 World Cup. Crystal Palace love to play the underdogs too, and are willing to dig deep in a solid, defensive system. Tealusa Veainu is the speedy star of this Tonga side, and just like Wilfried Zaha for Palace, they need him to shine in key moments.

Uruguay = Sheffield United
This Uruguay side have totally overhauled their team since the last World Cup in England, and that mirrors what Chris Wilder has done at Sheffield United. A totally new playing style has arrived for Uruguay, as they’ve ditched the defensive style for being fluid and exciting to watch. That slots in with the Blades’ identity where overlapping center backs are kings. A work in progress. Fun to watch.

USA = Watford
Well, rugby in the U.S. is clearly on the up. This is the best-ever team from the USA but they have been placed in a very tough pool alongside England, Argentina and France. Watford have the best-ever team right now, but have they also reached the proverbial glass ceiling? Capable of upsets, the U.S. will have to rack plenty of them up to make it to the last eight for the first time in their history. AJ MacGinty runs the show for the Eagles, jus as Gerard Deulofeu keeps Watford moving forward.

Wales = Arsenal
Warren Gatland is leaving after this tournament, and like Arsene Wenger for Arsenal, he brought sustained success for Wales. But all good things come to and end. Unlike Wenger, Gatland will be hoping to go out on top and this Welsh side have the potential to do just that after their Six Nations’ success. They don’t have the biggest squad depth in some key areas (Arsenal fans will sympathize with that) but when their best lineup is out there, they can beat anybody.

Arsenal bests Eintracht Frankfurt behind teen hero Saka

Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images
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Arsenal got its Europa League campaign off to a pleasant if uneasy start, riding a deflected first half goal and solid goalkeeping before breaking out late for 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the Commerzbank-Arena on Thursday.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Joe Willock scored the early marker, while newly-minted 18-year-old Bukayo Saka capped a strong performance with a late insurance marker and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put it to bed.

American defender Timothy Chandler was a second half sub for the Bundesliga hosts.


Three things we learned

1. Goalkeeper matters huge: Even as underrated Bernd Leno got a night off, Arsenal got a big performance from its goalkeeper. Eintracht took double the shots of its visitors over the first hour of play. Emiliano Martinez made his season debut and was very, very good for the Gunners. He played just one Europa League match last season and spent half the year with Reading on loan, but the 27-year-old looks in line for more experience this season and even played a role in Arsenal’s second goal.

2. Young stars shine: Willock was very good in the win, and produced several nice chances, but it’s fair to say that his goal was a good deal of Fortune. Saka’s big day was even brighter. The 18-year-old was a menace for most of the day, and scored a deserved goal late off a Nicolas Pepe feed. Saka then forced the turnover that led to Aubameyang’s goal, Arsenal’s third.

What a hit for his goal, too.

3. Emery deploys star subs: Unai Emery knows a bit about winning this competition, and he took out Willock and Smith-Rowe in order to protect the lead late (He also put in Ainsley Maitland-Niles for Sead Kolasinac, who was on a yellow card). He deployed fire power in Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos, which was unlikely a welcome site for the hosts.


Martinez was exceptional in posting his clean sheet, needing many big moments in the first half to allow Arsenal its 0-0 score line before fortune smiled upon the Gunners.

Willock’s shot took a mean turn off Eintracht mainstay center back David Abraham to produce a halftime lead (see video below Thing No. 3).

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

The floodgates opened late, doubtlessly aided by a second yellow card dished out to Eintracht’s Dominic Kohr.

Martinez’s day went to the wire, tipping a Danny da Costa ball away before denying Filip Kostic with less than 10 minutes on the clock.

He then started the play that led to Arsenal’s second goal, finding Pepe for a long dribble en route to Saka’s career milestone. He turned 18 just two weeks ago.

It was a day to remember for Saka and one to forget for Abraham, as the teen stripped the Eintracht captain of the ball before making a silky pass to Aubameyang.

UEL, LIVE — Man Utd, Wolves face Kazakh, Portuguese opposition

Photo by Oliver Hardt - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images
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The Europa League group stage begins play on Thursday, with Arsenal in Germany and taking care of 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt.

A younger Arsenal took the lead on a deflected shot from Man of the Match candidate Joe Willock, before Bukayo Saka took the MOTM mantle with a late goal and assist.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Manchester United and Wolves are set to kick-off their respective matches against Astana and Braga at 3 p.m. ET.

Lineups are out for both sides. United will be very young against Kazakh side Astana ahead of a Sunday visit to West Ham United, while Wolves start Raul Jimenez and Patrick Cutrone up top versus Braga.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow

Top Premier League storylines: Week 6

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Of the seven Premier League sides to handle midweek Europeans challenges, only two face-off and that predictably is the hallmark of the weekend in England.

[ MORE: Silva to Inter Miami? ]

What else is cooking? Smell the aromas of the weekend ahead, below.


How will Frank Lampard attack Liverpool?

  • Chelsea v. Liverpool, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The Blues’ 5-2 defeat at Wolves last week did not help spin a win over Valencia in the Champions League, and Frank Lampard’s next chance to make a statement comes against a team that is perfect in PL play and finds itself licking its wounds from a subpar performance at Napoli. Can a very fresh Christian Pulisic make the difference for Chelsea? Will Callum Hudson-Odoi take the positive vibes from his new contract and solid PL2 appearance into the fray?


Will Fernandinho help stabilize Man City against improving Watford?

  • Man City v. Watford, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

City went to Ukraine and blanked Shakhtar Donetsk with Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho at center back, and the Brazilian center midfielder says he’s been preparing for his possibility for some time. If Watford looks anything like it looked in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal, we could see a very decent test for City’s back line.


Weary Spurs get top-half test from Leicester City

  • Leicester City v. Tottenham Hotspur, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Inconsistent Tottenham meets a Leicester City side with Top Six ambitions, licking its wounds from a 1-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford which probably deserved a point. Spurs aren’t feeling great following another blown 2-0 lead in a big spot away from home. How will they react in Leicester?


Will Solskjaer’s midweek rest risk reap rewards on Sunday?

  • West Ham United v. Manchester United, Sunday, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to hand heavy minutes to youngsters and second-choice players against Kazakh side Astana on Thursday at Old Trafford. Will that pay off when trying to stop Sebastien Haller, Felipe Anderson, and Manuel Pellegrini‘s Irons on Sunday morning?


Early season six-pointer at St. James’ Park

  • Newcastle United v. Brighton and Hove Albion, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Look, it’s Week Six and normally we’d say anything can happen in a Premier League season, but let’s be reasonable: If you’re looking at the teams for Newcastle and Brighton, this result will matter as many as any down the stretch in determining Premier League status for 2019/20.