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Biggest surprise PL teams this season

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Which team have been the biggest surprise packages in the Premier League this season?

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With the first-ever PL winter break kicking in, now seemed like a good time to reflect on the first two thirds of the season and discuss which teams have surprised us so far, in a positive way.

Here’s a look at four teams who have exceeded expectations, so far.


Sheffield United: 6th place, 36 points

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Chris Wilder‘s Blades are the biggest surprise of the season in the Premier League. Period. Nobody expected this from the newly promoted side as they are in with a serious chance of qualifying for Europe. Their 3-5-2 formation with overlapping center backs and deep central midfielders bamboozles opponents and the Blades fans are in dreamland. With Wilder a lifelong fan, there is an incredible connection as he’s lead them from League One to the top six in the Premier League playing pretty much the same way and plenty of the players have been around for their journey back to the top-flight. Some of the signings they’ve made before and during the season have been masterstrokes and if European nights arrive in the Steel City next season. Bramall Lane will be rocking. Plenty of new boys are high in confidence early in the season then drop off but Sheffield United have been consistently excellent. They have only lost twice away from home all season long and those defeats came at Man City and Liverpool, the top two.


Leicester City: 3rd, 49 points

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The Foxes have struggled a little in recent weeks but Brendan Rodgers has built a superb young team which took the league by storm in the opening half of the campaign. They are out of the Premier League title race but for large spells of the season they looked like the only challengers to Liverpool. Still, with Jamie Vardy rolling back the years up top and the likes of Wilfried Ndidi, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans consistently brilliant in midfield, plus Ricardo Pereira and Caglar Soyuncu superb in defense, they are worthy of a top four finish. With 13 games to go they have a 12-point lead over fifth place. It would take a monumental collapse for Leicester to not be in the Champions League next season. This is all as a result of smart decision making at all levels at the club. Rodgers is a brilliant manager, they have a great recruitment team and youngsters are choosing to sign for Leicester because there is a clear vision, playing style and philosophy.


Newcastle United: 12th, 31 points

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Hands up who had Newcastle going down at the start of the season? Most of you will have your hands raised. With Rafael Benitez out and Steve Bruce in, Newcastle’s fans were furious and even the fact that Mike Ashley spent a bit of money on Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin didn’t calm things down. Bruce’s Newcastle have been awful to watch all season long and in terms of expected goals they would be rock bottom of the Premier League table. They’re aren’t and that is because this isn’t Bruce’s first rodeo and he has his team playing to its strengths as they’ve beaten Tottenham, Chelsea and Man United, plus drawn with Man City. They aren’t fun to watch but Newcastle sitting pretty in midtable at this point of the season, especially given all of the injuries they’ve had is a huge surprise.


Liverpool: 1st, 73 points

Liverpool v Southampton recap highlights
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Not so much a surprise but just utterly unbelievable. With 24 wins from their first 25 games, Jurgen Klopp‘s side are unbeaten and are on course to shatter every single Premier League record for title winners. They have Arsenal’s unbeaten record of an entire campaign without a defeat in sight, and they are 42 league games unbeaten, which is closing in on Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run. The reigning European champions were supposed to gain confidence from winning the UEFA Champions League last season and missing out on the title by just one point but this has been ridiculous. Yes, we shouldn’t be surprised Liverpool will win the Premier League title but we should be surprised, and amazed, with how they are doing it.

Honorable mention:
Wolves: Have taken the next step with Traore and Jimenez superb in attack and they are in the Europa League last 32 and in the top four battle.
Chelsea: Frank Lampard‘s youngsters started strongly but like Leicester they’ve hit a few speed bumps. In the UCL last 16 and in the top four. Very decent.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Graham Potter‘s side play wonderful soccer and even though they’ve been dragged into a relegation battle, the way they play under Potter is a joy to watch.

Reaction to Premier League return on June 17

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Our partners in the UK, Sky Sports, have confirmed that the 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17 and the reaction to that news has been one of relief and delight across the globe.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Premier League is holding in-depth meetings with all 20 clubs on Thursday to determine the potential restart date, among many other matters, and June 17 has emerged as the date games will return.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Premier League season was suspended on March 13 with 92 games remaining, and when the season restarts on June 17 it will have been 100 days without a game in England’s top-flight.

It is believed that the clubs want the Premier League season to be finished by August 1, so clubs can then focus on the FA Cup and European action in the Europa League and Champions League, while the 2020-21 season can then resume in early September.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, with contact training now allowed after a return to small-group training was a success. The third round of COVID-19 testing saw a slight rise in positive tests compared to the last, as a total of 2,752 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out on Premier League players and staff with a total of 12 positive results.

Here’s a look at the reaction from key figures across the soccer world to the news the Premier League season will restart in less than three weeks’ time.

You beauty.

Bundesliga schedule for Matchweek 29

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The return of German soccer has been hugely successful and the Bundesliga schedule for Matchweek 29 is locked and loaded and below are details on how you can watch the games in the USA.

Dust off your lederhosen, fill that stein to the brim and make sure you know which young American stars to keep an eye on. Live sports is back.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores ] 

Bayern Munich are top of the table with a seven-point lead after their big win at Borussia Dortmund, while RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach have all dropped points as their title bids have faltered.

Given that Bayern look likely to secure an eighth-straight title, there is an epic scramble for European qualification. The top four in Germany qualify automatically for the UEFA Champions League group stage and that means one of the five teams mentioned above as title contenders will miss out, while Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin are surging and Schalke and Freiburg have struggled in the Europa League spot.

Below is the full Bundesliga schedule for this week, as the fourth round of games to restart the campaign is a beauty, while there are also details on how you can watch on TV in the USA.

Bundesliga schedule

  • TV Channels: FS1, FS2
  • Stream Live: Via Fox Soccer
  • USMNT players to watch: Gio Reyna, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Alfredo Morales, Josh Sargent

Friday, May 29

2:30 p.m. ET: Freiburg v. Bayer Leverkusen

Saturday, May 30

9:30 a.m. ET: Hertha Berlin v. Augsburg
9:30 a.m. ET: Mainz v. Hoffenheim
9:30 a.m. ET: Schalke v. Werder Bremen
9:30 a.m. ET: Wolfsburg v. Eintracht Frankfurt
12:30 p.m. ET: Bayern Munich v. Fortuna Dusseldorf

Sunday, May 31

9:30 a.m. ET: Borussia Monchengladbach v. Union Berlin
12 p.m. ET: Paderborn v. Borussia Dortmund

Monday, June 1

2:30 p.m. ET: Cologne v. RB Leipzig

Barcelona ready to sell six players this summer

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According to the latest news out of Barcelona, the Catalan giants are ready to rework their squad and want to sell up to six players to fuel their transfer plans.

Those players being sold are Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets… just kidding. Of course not.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

According to a report from the Daily Mirror, Barca have made Rafinha, Arturo Vidal, Jean-Clair Todibo, Nelson Semedo, Junior Firpo and Moussa Wague available for permanent transfers. Wague is currently on loan at Nice, while Todibo is on loan at Schalke and Rafinha at Celta Vigo. Ousmane Dembele is another player who has been consistently linked with a move away from the Nou Camp too, as he continues to be hampered by injuries.

Why the huge exodus? It is believed Barcelona want to sign Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan and Miralem Pjanic from Juventus to spruce up their squad under relatively new manager Quique Setien, who only arrived in mid-January.

It is believed Inter boss Antonio Conte is a big fan of Vidal, but any deal for the Chilean midfielder would reportedly be separate for a deal for Martinez. The Argentine striker has been sensational for the Italian giants so far this season and is said to have been in close contact with Messi about a move to Barcelona.

As for Pjanic’s potential arrival, what does that mean for Ivan Rakitic? He has just one year left on his current Barcelona contract and seems relaxed about his future but Pjanic plays in a very similar position to the Croatian playmaker.

One thing is for sure, Barcelona need to freshen up this squad and there is plenty of transfer news floating around when it comes to ins and outs. They are just ahead of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga and Real have certainly had a huge overhaul over the last 12 months with Vinicius Jr., Eden Hazard, Brahim Diaz, Ferland Mendy, Rodrygo and Luka Jovic all arriving at different times.

Barcelona’s old guard remains intact with Messi, Busquets, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba as instrumental as ever but there’s no doubt Setien will want to strengthen his squad as they aim for Spanish and European glory next season and beyond.

With plenty of talk about Barcelona’s financial situation and the huge contracts that Messi, Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in particular have, offloading this many players suggests they have to cut their cloth accordingly in order to bring in top talent.

Setien will be hoping he can offload as many players as possible reshape this Barcelona squad which is still incredibly talented but has a few glaring needs.

Premier League to restart on June 17

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The 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17, Sky Sports confirmed on Thursday.

The Premier League is holding in-depth meetings with all 20 clubs and, among other matters, and June 17 has emerged as the date games will return. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Premier League season was suspended on March 13 with 92 games remaining.

Other reports also indicate clubs and the league have agreed on that date, which is five days later than the original placeholder date suggested last month. It has been reported the two games in hand, Man City v. Arsenal and Aston Villa v. Sheffield United, could be played on June 17 so all teams are on 29 games played, then the rest of the games would kick off on June 19-21.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

It is believed that the clubs want the Premier League season to be finished by August 1, so clubs can then focus on the FA Cup and European action in the Europa League and Champions League, while the 2020-21 season can then resume in early September.

Other reports suggest that a sticking point remains neutral stadiums as police forces in the UK want certain high-profile games to be played at neutral stadiums over fears of fans congregating outside home stadiums. However, it is believed the majority of games could be played at home stadiums as normal.

More details will no doubt filter out in the coming hours, while the meeting is also set to discuss the plan for possible curtailment if playing the remaining games of the 2019-20 season is not possible. The schedule for how games will be played will also be discussed, with five games back-to-back on both Saturday and Sunday reported as a possibility.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, with contact training now allowed after a return to small-group training was a success.

The third round of COVID-19 testing saw a slight rise in positive tests compared to the last, as a total of 2,752 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out on Premier League players and staff with a total of 12 positive results.

All 20 Premier League clubs have agreed to return to contact training in stage two of the ‘Project Restart’ plan, as the main focus is to agree on a Premier League restart date that managers and players can now focus on.