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Griezmann: Playing for Barcelona is ‘not the easiest’

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Over the summer, Barcelona shelled a whopping $135 million to land Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid.

It was a match made in heaven; the rest was supposed to be history.

Only that hasn’t been the case for the Frenchman in Barcelona.

Despite scoring a brace in his debut at the Camp Nou, Griezmann’s impact and influence on the field has quickly dwindled. In 11 league appearances with the Catalan giants, the 28-year-old has scored four goals and added three assists, signs that the World Cup winner is, in fact, struggling with his new team.

Speaking to Telefoot, Griezmann revealed that playing for Barcelona is not an easy thing to do, but that with hard work, his fortunes will turn around for the best:

“It is hard, I knew it would be, it is not the easiest place. This is a new team, a new club, new tactics, a new position. I have to work, try to understand my team-mates, after they will understand me too and it will work just like that… Critics will always be there. But I am good, I am proud of where I am. Only work pays off. I have to take confidence and it will all come just like that.”

This season, Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has frequently deployed the Frenchman as a left winger, with the hope that he will link up with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. The positives form such an ideology have yet to be reaped, however. Griezmann is scoring a goal every 224 minutes, a career worst.

The 28-year-old, too, has played in a central role on a couple of occasions, specifically during the absences of Messi and Suarez, but it hasn’t worked out for a player that has made a career from roaming that part of the field.

The building clamor at the Camp Nou is borderline justifiable – mainly because it’s now evident that Griezmann is wrestling with adapting to the expectations and systems in place in Barcelona.

But the high-flying attacker has proven he’s worth the price time and time again, and now he’s on the record saying that he’ll do everything in his power to do so with his new club.

Report: USMNT’s McKennie linked with Everton, Newcastle

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Weston McKennie has been linked with a move to Premier League sides Everton and Newcastle United.

The USMNT midfielder, 21, has been the main man in Schalke’s midfield over the past few seasons but he is reportedly available for $28 million this summer and several Premier League teams are interested in McKennie.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

According to a report from Bild, both Everton and Newcastle want to sign Weston McKennie from Schalke this summer.

McKennie has been one of the only Schalke players who can come out of the end of the season with his head held high. David Wagner’s side ended the season on an incredible 16-game winless run and scored just five times after the restart. McKennie scored two of them.

The versatile midfielder can also play at full back and per other reports, Hertha Berlin are also interested in signing him. Schalke’s sporting director Jochen Schneider pointed to the fact that McKennie has a contract until 2024 which he signed last summer but he wouldn’t rule out a move.

Schalke are said to be in a dire financial situation and are trimming their wage bill and squad accordingly this summer.

McKennie has previously said he wants to make the move to the Premier League and both Everton and Newcastle would seem like very good landing spots for him. In fact, along with Crystal Palace and West Ham, those were the two teams I previously selected as being the best place for him to land if he did indeed get his wish for a move to England.

“For me, the next target is England. It has always been my dream to play in the Premier League. I want to join a club that is fighting for a place in Europe: the Champions League or the Europa League. For now, I am happy in Schalke because I can play,” McKennie said.

That’s the key here. McKennie will want to play and at Everton and Newcastle he would have a battle to get into the team initially but he would surely be a regular contributor considering what we’ve seen from him in the Bundesliga over the last few seasons. Both Everton and Newcastle need a destructive holding midfielder and McKennie fits the bill.

The $28 million price tag seems a little high in the current market, so that could be a stumbling block, but there’s a deal to be done here. Schalke need to trim their wage bill, McKennie wants to move to the Premier League and Premier League clubs wants to sign him.

Premier League standings

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The Premier League is back a three month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. Below you will find a reminder of the Premier League standings as we get back to business.

[ MORE: Latest PL TV schedule ]

With 92 games remaining in the 2019-20 Premier League season, there is plenty to play for up and down the league and the standings are extremely tight.

Liverpool have wrapped up the Premier League in stunning fashion over Man City, with the reigning champions and current second-place side eager to focus on cup competitions.

Three of the top four should stay there unless Leicester City’s form dips considerably, but the race for fourth and fifth should be fierce. We may know whether fifth is a Champions League place after scheduled June 8-10 meetings to hear Man City’s appeal over its European ban.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

With between nine and 10 matches left for everyone and eighth potentially being a Europa League spot, all the teams between fourth and 11th still have European hopes in the balance. That would change should Norwich City or Newcastle win the FA Cup, so call it 13 clubs.

The action is going to come fast and often, with the league putting together a staggered schedule of kickoff times that will make matches even more of an all-weekend affair.

Below are the Premier League standings in full, as we will updated them throughout the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

PREMIER LEAGUE STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Liverpool 32 28 2 2 70 25 45 16-0-0 12-2-2 86
 Manchester City 32 21 3 8 81 33 48 12-2-2 9-1-6 66
 Leicester City 32 16 7 9 60 31 29 9-4-3 7-3-6 55
 Chelsea 32 16 6 10 57 44 13 8-3-5 8-3-5 54
 Manchester United 32 14 10 8 51 31 20 9-5-2 5-5-6 52
 Wolves 32 13 13 6 45 34 11 6-7-3 7-6-3 52
 Sheffield United 32 12 11 9 33 32 1 8-3-5 4-8-4 47
 Arsenal 32 11 13 8 47 41 6 8-5-3 3-8-5 46
 Tottenham Hotspur 32 12 9 11 51 44 7 9-3-4 3-6-7 45
 Burnley 32 13 6 13 36 45 -9 8-2-6 5-4-7 45
 Everton 32 12 8 12 40 47 -7 8-5-3 4-3-9 44
 Crystal Palace 32 11 9 12 28 37 -9 6-4-6 5-5-6 42
 Newcastle United 32 11 9 12 33 43 -10 6-7-3 5-2-9 42
 Southampton 32 12 4 16 41 55 -14 4-2-10 8-2-6 40
 Brighton & Hove Albion 32 7 12 13 34 44 -10 5-6-5 2-6-8 33
 West Ham United 32 8 6 18 38 56 -18 5-3-8 3-3-10 30
 Watford 32 6 10 16 29 49 -20 4-6-6 2-4-10 28

 Aston Villa 32 7 6 19 36 60 -24 5-3-8 2-3-11 27
 Bournemouth 32 7 6 19 30 54 -24 4-5-7 3-1-12 27
 Norwich City 32 5 6 21 25 60 -35 4-3-9 1-3-12 21

Chelsea – Watford preview: How to watch, stream info, prediction, odds

Chelsea - Watford preview
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Chelsea – Watford preview: Chelsea looks to rebound from a surprise loss to a relegation candidate when it hosts another scrapper on Saturday at Stamford Bridge (start time, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

The Blues failed to take hold of third place after falling 3-2 at West Ham earlier this week, and will now face an ornery and underachieving Hornets side.

STREAM CHELSEA-WATFORD LIVE ONLINE

Watford’s 28 points are enough to be outside the drop zone, but just. Aston Villa and Bournemouth have 27 points each and also face top-four chasing sides this weekend.


Team news

Andre Gray, Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah are available for Watford after being scratched from the Hornets last start for a reported quarantine infraction.

What they’re saying

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard on the loss to West Ham: “Not the story of our season, but we have had many of these moments. Chance to go third but you have to do every part of the game to get them. The players in those moments have to show an extra mentality to get through a game like this. I have seen us play great games, but then I have seen opportunities to jump teams or close points, but we haven’t taken them. It shows the work we have to do.”

Troy Deeney on Watford’s struggles near the bottom three: “We’ve had chats. Everyone was frustrated so we’ve tried to park it as quickly as we can in regard to moving onto the next one, but there’s certainly been a lot of things said. It’s important we are able to do that as it doesn’t help anybody if people are not speaking up and saying what’s on their minds, so we had to get to a point where we understood everyone wants to win, no-one’s playing bad on purpose, but if you don’t get to the required standards you’re going to get called out and that’s ultimately what’s happened.”

Odds and ends

The odds reflect the task at hand for Watford at +750. A Chelsea win is -235.

Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham scored in a 2-1 Chelsea win at Vicarage Road earlier this season.

Prediction

The Blues bounce back, though not without warts in another 2-1 win.

Guardiola, Klopp disagree on gap between Man City, Liverpool

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Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp believe Man City and Liverpool are in very different places.

Very, very different places, according to the post-game reaction of Guardiola and Klopp.

[ MORE: Klopp happy with Liverpool ]

Asked by ProSoccerTalk after the game if Man City’s 4-0 win against Liverpool proves they aren’t that far behind the new Premier League champions ahead of the 2020-21 season, this was Guardiola’s response. Seriously, it was this long.

“The gap to Liverpool is more than 20 points. That is the difference between one team and the other one,” Guardiola said via Zoom. “It is 20 points. Like two seasons ago it was 25 [in favor of Man City], now it is 20 points for them. That is the reality. That result is not going to be confused with my players as to what is the reality. They were incredible, much better than us. We are not consistent and we have to recover the consistency that we had the previous seasons. It doesn’t matter anywhere we play. We take a result and points. But I am happy today because we beat a team who are the Champions of Europe and England. Like, they were really incredibly focused to beat us. I saw their faces, the way they shout, the way they communicated, they way they won it and that’s why. They didn’t come hear to celebrate absolutely anything.

“I think they celebrated and they are going to celebrate but I think they drank enough beers in the early days of the week but they came here to compete against us, without a doubt, and that is why for us, to prepare Arsenal and [Real] Madrid, it will be so important, this game, to take confidence and say ‘okay, we can do it’ but next season will be completely different. Everyone starts from zero and you have to show, first to Liverpool but especially for ourselves, that we can do it. That we can do what we have done these last few years, winning a lot of titles in many different competitions.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

ProSoccerTalk then asked Klopp what he thought about Guardiola pointing out the 20-point gap between Liverpool and second-place Man City?

“If anybody thought before that game that the quality gap between Liverpool and Man City is 20 or 23 points, I cannot help these people. That is how it is,” Klopp smiled. “Football is not about that. Football is about winning games and we did that, in a pretty impressive manner, to be honest. I saw pretty much all of the Man City games and even the games they lost were good. Unbelievable. It is the truth. It was not that they didn’t perform or whatever. They had moments when the opponents scored and that was tonight the case.

“We had our situations and if you’ve watched us before, you know we score in situations like this, more often than not. Tonight we didn’t. Not at all. Then to concede a penalty… I was really happy with the start of the game, to be honest. We were there, we were completely in the game, we pressed them, it was not comfortable for them. It was a good game. Both teams pressed high. Both teams tried to play football. When do you see that? You don’t see that a lot of times. In the very decisive moments, City was better tonight. You can see that in the result. We cannot change that. If anybody thought we were 20 points better than City, I cannot help them.”

This reaction from Guardiola and Klopp is somewhat predictable given their respective situations.

With six games of the season to go, Man City will finish a long way behind Liverpool in the table but don’t let that deceive you.

Pep Guardiola wants you to think they are a long way back to Liverpool which will in turn make his players think that and they will come back hungrier and fitter next season. Not to mention for the FA Cup semifinal against Arsenal and their Champions League clash against Real Madrid.

Jurgen Klopp wants you realize that Liverpool’s season has been incredible but it is not a true reflection as to their quality compared to Man City’s.

The real answer? Probably a bit of both. Man City and Liverpool are the clear title contenders and will be again next season but the result on Thursday proved they are very evenly matched. Well, they are closer than the current 20-point gap anyway.