Brendan Rodgers has Leicester City whirring

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Leicester City is a top Premier League club.

Say it again with me. We’re doing this Good Will Hunting style, until you truly believe the words you are repeating.

Leicester City is a top Premier League club.

Four years after winning the title against astronomical odds in one of the most historic seasons in sports history, Brendan Rodgers has cemented Leicester City as anything but a fluke. This club is for real.

[ MORE: Leicester City tops Aston Villa ]

After three mid-table finished that allowed the club to institute a sustainable model of player acquisition, talent development, and asset maximization, the Foxes are back near the top of the table and look a club that has the ability to secure itself as a leading force in the English top flight.

This summer, the club put the finishing touches on two critical components of the plan, two moments that may prove defining decisions in the club’s history. The first was selling Harry Maguire and replacing him with young Caglar Soyuncu, a move which not only netted the club a massive sum of money, but also cemented Leicester City as a talent development hub capable of producing talent, offloading for a huge profit, and not losing a step on the pitch.

The second was replacing Claude Puel with Brendan Rodgers. Puel, in charge of Leicester City for two years, was caught in between instituting his preferred possessional style of play and changing the culture of the squad, a hesitation which cost the Frenchman his job. Last season, Leicester City was seventh in the league in passes per game but fifth in accurate long-balls per game, a testament to his inability to decide the squad’s identity. This season, Leicester City is fourth in passes per game behind Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool, and fourth in total shots per game, all while sitting ninth in accurate long-balls (for what it’s worth, Liverpool is 1st in that category while Man City is third, largely down to their exorbitant possessional advantages). This team has completed the transformation Puel wanted but never achieved – they are a dominant Premier League side that wants to dominate its opponents.

Even deeper, the numbers agree. Jamie Vardy is scoring at otherworldly levels, especially for a player at 32 years old. His 16 goals lead the league by six, and even with his outrageous finishing ability (he has a +5.47 differential between actual goals scored and expected goals scored, nearly double anyone else – Harry Kane and Teemu Pukki are second at +2.92), he is still second in the league in total xG behind Marcus Rashford.

James Maddison, Ricardo Pereira, and Wilfried Ndidi are all among the top 5 in WhoScored player rating this season, while Vardy sits seventh. Soyuncu ranks sixth in the league by WhoScored among central defenders in his first full Premier League season at just 23 years old, while his center-back partner Jonny Evans is eighth in his 13th campaign in the English top flight. Pereira is a tackling machine who gets far less screen time than new Manchester United signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka, owner of a reputation for that exact skill which earned him a big-money move. Ndidi, meanwhile, continues to rise in prominence as he leads the Premier League in tackles and ranks third in interceptions.

Sure, Rodgers inherited a fantastic squad, but the list of players falls well short of screaming “second in the table” and the former Liverpool manager has metamorphosed them from budding talents to world-class players. He has mixed young talent with veteran experience flawlessly, making sure to keep title veterans Wes Morgan, Cristian Fuchs, and Marc Albrighton involved despite their declining roles.

The club has also found itself the beneficiary of a few unique circumstances. Most notably, they have avoided significant injury to this point in the season. A large part of that has been Vardy’s international retirement which (at least, for the time being) has kept him fresher than most, whereas double duty has weighed down other top goalscorers in the league. Only Matthew James is currently sidelined for the Foxes who remain one of the healthiest teams in the league. They also don’t have European play to worry about, a proven ingredient for domestic success.

Still, Rodgers is the source of much of their continued improvement. The Foxes have conceded just nine total goals all year, the least of any English top flight side, and are the only team in the league not to have conceded from a set-piece this Premier League season, a testament to their rigid and well-drilled discipline. And they have scored gobs of late goals under the current boss – they scored 10 goals inside the final 15 minutes of his first eight games in charge of the club, and this season they lead the league with five goals inside the final five minutes (even with Manchester City). Against Aston Villa he managed to pair Vardy with Kelechi Iheanacho up front, a prospect that left Puel utterly baffled.

It’s a shame this team isn’t among those competing in Europe this campaign, as they could surely challenge the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich for a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals, but they will almost certainly get the chance next season. They get a chance to play with the Premier League big boys soon during the holiday season, with back-to-back matches against Liverpool and Man City just after Christmas Day.

Claude Puel just couldn’t get it right. Vardy said earlier this season that Puel’s training sessions were “too slow” to the point where it was consequently “difficult for us to be fast and aggressive in matches.” That’s not a problem any longer. Brendan Rodgers has this team absolutely soaring at breakneck speeds towards a long-term place among the Premier League’s elite. The Foxes’ transformation from one-hit wonder to sustainable elite-level success should be a case study for other clubs looking to is still in progress, but has reached the final phase.

Eight games in a row they have won now, the most in team history. Brendan Rodgers called Sunday’s win “a historic day for the club,” but the picture is much bigger than that.

“Leicester City is a top Premier League club.” Say it again until you believe the words you are reciting. Know that they are true.

Tottenham vs Manchester City, live! Score, updates, live stream link, highlights

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Manchester City can gut the gap to Premier League leaders Arsenal to just two points with a win over Tottenham in north London on Sunday (watch live, 11:30 am ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com). 

STREAM LIVE TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY

Arsenal (50 points) were handed just their second defeat of the season on Saturday, beaten 1-0 away to Everton as Sean Dyche made his debut as Toffees manager. Now level on games played for just over 24 hours, Manchester City (45 points) are once again within striking distance, but Tottenham (36 points – 5th place) have given them fits in recent seasons, when few others could.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Tottenham vs Manchester City

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Tottenham vs Manchester City live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Tottenham vs Manchester City live score, updates

Tottenham vs Man City live score: 1-0 (Kane, 15′)

12:43pm ET: So nearly 2-0, but Ben Davies’ header off a corner kick is just off the mark.

Wait, what’s that? Kevin De Bruyne’s music? A game plan crying out for him is now getting its pleas heard as cameras catch the Belgian getting dolled up for his introduction.

12:37pm ET: Back in play, albeit slowly, and the second half’s first real moment comes when Grealish wins a foul on the left off of Emerson Royal. The lofted in free kick is a bit wayward and seems to carry too much, and the passage ends with a City goal kick. Still 1-0 Spurs.

12:20pm ET: HALFTIME STATS! It’s still 1-0 to Spurs on Kane’s record-making goal. Here’s how the match looks, via FotMob:

Tottenham vs Manchester City live
fotmob.com

12:17pm ET: Crossbar smashed! Riyad Mahrez nearly has it 1-1 at the break. We’re almost done with two minutes stoppage time.

12:13pm ET: Close! Grealish has been a live wire and whips in a shot that cannot find the frame. City cannot find Erling Haaland and the xG battle is even at 0.37 even if City has 68 percent of the ball and a 6-2 edge in shots. Still 1-0 Spurs, who have a corner and cannot get through City because Kane and Eric Dier have a few chances to snap a loose ball home.

12:05pm ET: It’s slowed down a bit, so let’s take a moment to shout out reaction from the other two Premier League players who can say they’ve scored 200 goals in the competition.

Here’s more on Harry Kane’s Tottenham record and new berth in Premier League history.

11:52am ET: YELLOW CARD, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR. Man City right back at it, but Spurs take the ball back and Kane wins a free kick just inside the circle. City takes the ball back and Jack Grealish and Rico Lewis are bringing electricity to the center of the park. Lewis is chopped down by Rodrigo Betancur, who sees a yellow card for his petulance.

11:47am ET: GOOOOOAAAAALLLL! TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR! And it’s history for Harry Kane! It had still been a lot of City, but a bad giveaway deep in its own end allows Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to lay the ball off for Kane inside the 18. From this angle and range, the new all-time Tottenham Hotspur goal scorer is not going to miss and Spurs lead at home with his 267th goal in the shirt. It’s also his 200th Premier League goal. What a moment! Tottenham 1-0 Man City, 15′.

11:36am ET: It’s been a good start for Man City, with a couple of corner kicks. City, however, looks like it will be dealing with an 18 that resembles cartons of milk on the shelf at the grocery store. City currently opening the door to find a compact Spurs unit all over the pitch, with several shots blocked inside the 18.

11:15am ET: Good morning! Nick Mendola here with you ahead of a game Antonio Conte would love to get and Pep Guardiola will be planning to capture. Some odd comments from Guardiola before the game about Kevin De Bruyne being out of the Starting XI for tactical reasons, while Phil Foden misses out through injury/illness. Exciting under-the-radar Maximo Perrone has a spot in the 18, too, and some are suspecting him as a long-term Rodri clone. As for Spurs, Conte does get Richarlison on the bench, which also holds room for new signings Pedro Porro and Arnaut Danjuma. Depth options and two tactical wizards on the touch line should make this a complete game… unless Erling Haaland makes it a fait accompli before it has a chance to become a chess match. (NM)


Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lucas Moura (calf)

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: John Stones (thigh), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE), Phil Foden (foot)


Key storylines & star players

When these sides met just two weeks ago, Tottenham found themselves 2-0 up at halftime and threatening to cause the Man City upset yet again, effectively handing rivals Arsenal a three-point boost in the title race. Then the second half kicked off, and the two-time defending champions poured in four games, including three in the first 18 minutes. Another fantastic half wasted by Tottenham, though it was typically a poor start followed by a frantic finish of their own. Harry Kane will pass Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time top scorer when he scores his next goal, taking his total in all competitions to 267. If Kane scores that goal in a Premier League fixture, the record goal will also be his 200th in the league.

Erling Haaland (25 goals) is the only player with more PL goals than Kane (16) this season, and though his numbers are certainly eye-popping, his arrival has clearly unsettled Pep Guardiola’s tactical system to some degree. A season ago, Manchester City conceded just 26 goals in 38 games (0.68 per game). This season, 20 goals in 20 games, up nearly a half-goal per game.

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Harry Kane record goal: New Tottenham record; Joins Rooney, Shearer

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Harry Kane and Tottenham Hotspur are names that go hand-in-hand for a generation of Premier League viewers, so how fitting that the English center forward has now scored more goals in a Spurs shirt than anyone in history?

Very.

Kane, 29, fired Tottenham in front of Manchester City on Sunday at home, giving Spurs a 1-0 lead against the run of play and earning him his 267th goal in the club’s shirt.

STREAM LIVE TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY

The goal, also his 200th in the Premier League. Only two other players have done that: Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208).

Kane doesn’t turn 30 until the summer. If his ankle cooperates and he stays in Enland, well, sorry Alan.

England star Kane has now passed the legendary, late Jimmy Greaves for most Tottenham goals but needs another 21 to break Greaves’ record for league goals in a Tottenham shirt. Greaves scored 357 goals for Spurs, Chelsea, and West Ham in the pre-Premier League era.

Nottingham Forest beats Leeds to continue surge

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Nottingham Forest won yet again as they beat Leeds United 1-0 to move into midtable and keep their great recent form going. 

FULL MATCH REPLAY

Steve Cooper’s side have won three of their last five Premier League games and are unbeaten in that stretch. Brennan Johnson continue his fine form too as the youngster sent home a beautiful volley in the first half and Forest defended well to keep Leeds at bay with new signing Keylor Navas in fine form in goal.

As for Jesse Marsch and Leeds, they huffed and puffed and wasted big chances in the first half as they’ve now won just two of their last 17 Premier League games and are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference as they haven’t won any of their last seven Premier League games.

Nottingham Forest are now on 24 points, six points above the relegation zone, while Leeds remain on 18 points.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Gritty Forest see off disjointed Leeds

Nottingham Forest did not play well but they did what they had to do as defensively they are so solid, they have a clear plan and they are doing the basics so well. With Brennan Johnson in this kind of form, plus other threats on the break, Forest are looking set to stay in the Premier League quite comfortably. Jesse Marsch and Leeds look very disjointed as they continue to integrate new signings and get players back to full fitness. They looked like a team struggling for confidence and with no win in their last seven the pressure is mounting on Marsch. It seems like they just need one lucky break to get going again and regain their early season form. However, the Leeds fans aren’t happy and a bad week with their two games against in-form Man United could see the owners forced into a change.


Stars of the show

Keylor Navas: After arriving from PSG on loan in a major coup, the veteran Costa Rican goalkeeper stood tall in the first half and injured Dean Henderson may struggle to regain his starting spot.

Morgan Gibbs-White: Gave Forest an outlet and never stopped running. His close control took the pressure off his team when they needed it most.

Nottingham Forest vs Leeds
Graphic via FotMob.com

What’s next?

Nottingham Forest head to Fulham on Saturday, Feb. 11. Leeds have two huge rivalry games against Manchester United, first up at Old Trafford on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and then at home on Sunday, Feb. 12.


How to watch Nottingham Forest vs Leeds live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

We are deep into the four minutes of stoppage time.

Substitute Sam Surridge goes close to making it 2-0. Just off target.

The clock is ticking for Leeds. Just 15 minutes to go. Still 1-0 to Nottingham Forest.

Not a lot going on. Forest happy to sit back, while Leeds have made plenty of subs but they haven’t been able to carve out any big opportunities so far in the second half.

Weston McKennie is on for his Leeds United and Premier League debut. This feels like a game where he can have a big impact and dare I say grab a debut goal from a set piece situation? He’s very good at timing his runs into the box. Summerville is on too as Roca and Sinisterra depart.

Second half is underway! Nottingham Forest still lead 1-0. Colback and Aurier are on for Mangala and Danilo.

Navas with another fine stop to deny Wilfried Gnonto this time. Forest are making some sloppy mistakes at the back but Leeds aren’t punishing them.

Luke Ayling denied by Keylor Navas after Patrick Bamford missed his kick after a good ball back to him.

What a chance. It should be 1-1. Luis Sinisterra smashes over from close range after a ball over the top finds Gnonto and he tees up Sinisterra but he gets it all wrong. Oh dear.

Forest are sitting back after taking the lead. Leeds are struggling to build anything as they search for an equalizer.

What a start for Forest! Brennan Johnson with a lovely strike and the City Ground is bouncing. Bit of controversy on the Forest goal as Johnson was offside when the ball was initially played towards him when he won the free kick he ended up scoring from. Leeds will feel more than a little aggrieved with that.

KICK OFF: We are underway at the City Ground and Leeds have started brightly with Gnonto looking sharp down the wing.


Key storylines & star players

Though some fans have started to turn on Jesse Marsch, the American manager has seemingly been fully backed by the club’s hierarchy, not through their words but through their actions. Chris Armas was hired as Marsch’s assistant head coach, and then Weston McKennie was signed ahead of deadline day, affording Marsch the opportunity (and money) to further shape the club into his own. When Leeds kick off on Sunday, the only thing separating them from the relegation zone will be five goals in the goal difference column.

After winning just one of their first 12 games back in the Premier League for the first time since 1999, Steve Cooper’s side has gelled and picked up wins over Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Leicester since late October. The key to their success? Just five goals conceded in their last six games, with three of the five coming in a single game against Manchester United. Winning with clean sheets, picking up score-draws, after conceding 33 goals in 15 games to start the season.


Nottingham Forest team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Morgan Gibbs-White (ankle), Taiwo Awoniyi (groin), Dean Henderson (thigh), Cheikhou Kouyate (thigh), Giulian Biancone (knee), Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh), Ryan Yates (illness)

Leeds team news, injuries, lineup

OUT: Stuart Dallas (thigh), Crysencio Summerville (ankle), Adam Forshaw (groin), Archie Gray (ankle), Robin Koch (suspension)

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Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham, Brentford and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy season so far.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – February 4



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