Grealish, Smith… and Springsteen? Villa vs Man City is why we watch


“It’s a club that is so close to my heart and I definitely hope to go back there. That’s always been in my mind. Ashley Young has done it and I want to do the same, 100 percent. … You only get one shot at your career and it just flies by,” Jack Grealish

“Stay on the streets of this town and they’ll be carving you up alright. They say you gotta stay hungry, hey baby, I’m just about starving tonight,” Bruce Springsteen.

I’m a big fan of Bruce Springsteen, and I’d argue that the music of the man from New Jersey is oddly fitting to score the physical and possible (probable) playing return of Jack Grealish to Villa Park (watch live 3:15 pm ET on Peacock Premium).

It’s the humanity of Grealish, the faith of the Villa fans, the power of Man City, and the sociology of it all that makes Wednesday’s Aston Villa vs Man City match even more fascinating to me than the Merseyside derby occurring 45 minutes later about 100 miles northwest. Even if Grealish doesn’t play — he faces a late fitness test — he’ll still be in the building in a mentally-charged state.

What makes Springsteen’s songs — and his concerts! — so special is that they force you to run the emotional gamut in addition to the full-body exercise of singing along and, yes, even dancing awkwardly on the floor while the E Street Band drives you throw two-plus hours of rock and roll.

Springsteen’s lyrics do more than a few things that fit Grealish’s story so well:

  • Celebrate the ties that bind us, for better or worse, to home
  • Detail the desire to get the heck out of town
  • Wonder what else is out there and if we’re reaching our very best
  • Return home to give it another go

And those will all be on display in varying degrees Wednesday at Villa Park.

The dogs on Main Street howl ’cause they understand

For as long as I can remember, there’s been a spirit around Aston Villa of a dormant giant in a big city.

Birmingham’s story, in some ways, often made me think of my home city of Buffalo. Once the site of a World’s Fair, then a punch line, and now very much on the upswing again. In fact, whether Newcastle, Glasgow, and to some extent Hamburg and Dortmund, that overriding feeling of what the area’s biggest teams were versus what they are and could become led me to an emphatic empathy with the supporters’ hope and the clubs’ sense of duty to punch through the current ceiling.

With Celtic and Rangers, it’s when the Scottish giants hit the European scene with marvelous national chips on their shoulders. For Villa now, it’s rising back up through the stratosphere to the days of regular top-six finishes (and for sure, for so many, the 1980-81 top-flight title).

This, perhaps, is an integral component of what makes derby days so special, whether Celtic vs Rangers, Hamburg vs St. Pauli, or Villa vs Birmingham (and, Wednesday plug alert, Everton vs Liverpool at 3:15pm ET live on NBCSN and online via We’re reminded that the challenges that exist beyond our local borders don’t change the need to scrap inside them.

Then there are more unique and emotion-stirring events like Grealish’s Wednesday return to VIlla Park — an odd sort of derby in itself — the local hero tied to town and club who eventually felt the pull of something bigger, if less weighty, tear them from home in search what might be elsewhere.

“Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king
And a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything
I wanna go out tonight, I wanna find out what I got,”

Springsteen, “Badlands” (1978)

The key difference here, unlike Springsteen playing a huge show in New Jersey, is that most Villa fans won’t be relishing Grealish on the opposition. After all, as detailed above, Villa’s drive is the be amongst the Man Cities of the world, not a launching pad for its players.

And so the romance and soul-stirring here is more about Grealish himself, the teen phenom who stuck with the club through relegation and saw his name in the transfer rumor mill time and again before eventually making the call to leave, gutting as it was.

You’re walking tough, baby, but you’re walking blind to the ties that bind. You can’t break the ties that bind

In a sense, look to another boyhood Villa fan in Dean Smith, the manager who along with Grealish led Villa back to the Premier League.

Grealish left on his own terms.

Smith was not so lucky.

But, really, time in our prime is fleeting and needs to be respected. It always ends, regardless of what you’ve brought your club but for whatever reason we have an easily understanding when the boss or player is fired or dropped more than when they leave the test presumably deeper waters. I’m mildly connected to Smith’s son, and it was eye-opening in a positive way to see him on social media celebrating Villa’s win at Palace and Norwich’s draw versus Wolves in the same post. We go on.

That brings us back to Springsteen, and I think “The Boss” and his E-Street Band provide a unique perspective on the Inner workings of a talent like Jack Grealish. The collective had proven capable of true brilliance, but the jewel at its corps, the leader of a whole greater than the sum of its parts, could no longer resist the urge to see what he was about on his own. It wasn’t about Villa, like when Springsteen broke up the E Street Band but still played on some of their individual records (and, it should be noted, put the band back together and kicked the world’s ass for another 20+ years).

Oddly enough or maybe even ironically, Springsteen last played Villa Park in 1988, without the E Street Band. Grealish was negative-7 years old.

The eyes trained on Villa come kickoff will be in part more due to the new arrival and nascent success of manager Steven Gerrard, oddly enough a one-club man (in Europe) who played against Grealish and knows well the challenges of sticking with a club (Gerrard recently commented on his almost leaving the Reds for Chelsea when asked about Grealish’s move)

But the far more fascinating subplot is that of Grealish, returning from injury to the place that birthed his career. The 26-year-old was six when he started with Villa. He was 25 when City paid the most money ever for an English player to buy his services from the Birmingham set.

And if we know anything about Grealish on the field, we’ll be assured that one of the world’s most often fouled players is about to get the feathers beaten out of him by his former teammates.

But that won’t be anything compared to the battle going on in his head as a players who spent two decades seeing a building as his home and now comes back wearing a different color (well, really, just more of one of the two Villa hues, essentially).

It’ll be difficult to take our eyes off him, even with 21 other players and thousands of spectators surrounding him.

So let the games start, you better run you little wild heart
You can run through all the nights and all the days
But just across the county line, a stranger passing through put up a sign
That counts the men fallen away to the price you pay
And before the end of the day I’m gonna tear it down and throw it away


Premier League final table: Final standings for 2022-23 season


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 returned with a bang and the start to 2023 delivered plenty of fun and it continued into the business end of the season.

Manchester City chased down Arsenal to win yet another Premier League title. Manchester United’s new-look side reclaimed a place in the top four, and so did Newcastle. Brighton and Aston Villa surprised by qualifying for Europe, while Liverpool dips into an unusual competition for its recent standards.

Teams were relegated. Managers were sacked. And here’s how the table looked when all was said and done.

Premier League final table – End of season

Premier League standings

NBC Sports’ standings and scoreboard

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Leicester relegated despite final day win over West Ham


Leicester City has been relegated to the Championship despite getting the win it needed to have hope of survival: a 2-1 defeat of West Ham United at the King Power Stadium on Championship Sunday.

Leicester entered the day two points back of Everton for 17th place on the Premier League table and got goals from Harvey Barnes and Wout Faes to secure three points, but Everton outlasted Bournemouth 1-0 to match the Foxes and keep them below the dreaded line.


Leicester finishes its season with 34 points in 18th place on the Premier League table.

West Ham, on the other hand, will be forgiven for focusing on the Europa Conference League Final but fought hard for an equalizer even though it only found a Pablo Fornals marker after Leicester had gone ahead two. The Irons finish 14th with 40 points.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Too little, too late for Foxes

“Too little, too late” may go down as the story of the Foxes season.

Leicester did not get its recruitment plans correct — somewhat forced by Financial Fair Play — and then put too much faith in Brendan Rodgers to make things work.

Dean Smith got some performances out of this men, few better than Sunday, but this ultimately feels like a fait accompli: Sometimes, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Despite big seasons from Harvey Barnes and James Maddison, this was that.

There’s also the question of playing for a draw against Newcastle on Monday, but let’s not heap criticism on Dean Smith for taking a calculated risk. He deserves better.

Leicester vs West Ham player ratings: Stars of the Show

Leicester vs West Ham player ratings

Harvey Barnes goal video: Leicester lifeline!

Wout Faes goal video: Foxes double the lead

Pablo Fornals goal video: Irons pull one back

How to watch Leicester vs West Ham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30am ET Sunday
TV Channel: SYFY
Online: Watch live on Peacock + Watch live on

Key storylines & star players

Leicester would love to see Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Wilfred Ndidi pass fitness checks, but Dean Smith will have rested and ready Harvey Barnes and James Maddison in a bid to score more goals than the Irons.

West Ham could be seeing the penultimate appearance of Declan Rice in an Irons shirt, as the big-money midfielder is being linked to several big clubs in the Premier League.

Leicester team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: James Justin (calf), Jannik Vestergaard (calf), Wilfred Ndidi (thigh), Caglar Soyuncu (thigh), Ryan Bertrand (other)

West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Gianluca Scamacca (knee)

Chivas vs Tigres: How to watch live, stream link, updates


Chivas and Tigres square off in Guadalajara on Sunday (kick off 9:25pm ET) as the second leg of Liga MX’s Clausura final should be absolutely epic.


Tied at 0-0 from the first leg of the final in San Nicolas on Thursday, the advantage is with red-hot Chivas as their stunning recent form saw them win their final four games of the Clausura regular season to finish third in the table before beating Atlas and Club America in the playoffs.

Victor Guzman and Alexis Vega are Chivas’ main attacking threats as they will keep it tight defensively and the energy of the home crowd at Akron Stadium should be a huge help as Chivas aim to win their first Clausura title since 2017, when they also beat Tigres in the final.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Arsenal | Liverpool | Chelsea | Tottenham | Man City | Man United

Tigres finished seventh in the Clausura standings and beat Toluca and Monterrey to reach the final. The duo of Sebastian Cordova and Andre-Pierre Gignac are their main hope of winning on the road in Guadalajara and lifting the trophy.

Below is everything you need for Chivas vs Tigres, one of whom will be crowned as the Clausura champions on Sunday.

How to watch Chivas vs Tigres live, stream link and start time

Kick off: Sunday, May 28 – 9:25pm ET 
TV Channel: Telemundo, Universo
Online: Stream via Peacock

First leg Tigres vs Chivas video highlights – 0-0

Leeds relegated from Premier League as Harry Kane hits 30-goal mark


Leeds (31 points – 19th place) have been relegated from the Premier League after they were beaten 4-1 by Tottenham at Elland Road on the final day of the 2022-23 season.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Harry Kane scored twice more to complete his second 30-goal season, as Tottenham (60 points – 8th place) missed out on the Premier League’s final European place with Aston Villa beating 6th-place Brighton to qualify for the Europa Conference League. Now, a painfully pivotal summer of hirings and signings awaits for Spurs.

It was a nightmare start for Leeds, who needed not only a victory of their own but also points to be dropped by both Everton and Leicester above them. Tottenham’s first foray into Leeds’ penalty area ended with Kane hammering the ball past Joel Robles.


New half, same story for Leeds, who conceded once again barely a minute into the second half. Kane turned provider this time, as he lofted a blind ball into the channel for the overlapping Pedro Porro, who barely had a sight of goal with Robles smothering the near post. But, Porro placed a pinpoint strike just inside the far post from a tight angle.

Leeds gave themselves a faint hope when he slotted home after Georginio Rutter picked him out between two defenders in the 67th minute, but Kane answered just two minutes later with his second of the day and the 280th — and potentially final — goal of his Tottenham career.

Leeds United relegation reaction

Club statement:

“Everyone connected with Leeds United is deeply disappointed by the club’s relegation back to the Sky Bet Championship, after three seasons in the Premier League.

“Relegation is painful, and we apologize to our fanbase that the performances this season have not seen the club consolidate our status as we had all hoped.

“However, Leeds United remains in a strong position to build a team that can challenge for promotion from the Championship next season.

“We know things have not been good enough, we know we have to improve, but please be assured that behind the scenes we have worked hard to ensure that the past will not be repeated. Our focus is now on how we get straight back to the Premier League.

“Thank you for your unwavering support for the players and the badge, our objective is to continue to build the club into the one you deserve.”

Stars of the show

Leeds vs Tottenham

Leeds vs Tottenham, final score: 1-4

2nd minute – Harry Kane hammers home Tottenham’s opening goal

47th minute – Pedro Porro places a pinpoint strike inside the far post for 2-0

67th minute – Jack Harrison gives Leeds a late lifeline

69th minute – Harry Kane answers immediately with his 30th goal of the season

90th minute +4 – Lucas Moura adds to Leeds misery with Spurs’ 4th goal

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

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: CNBC
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium + Watch on

Key storylines & star players

Leeds have had plenty of time opportunities to drag themselves out of the bottom-three and away from the relegation scrap as a whole, but they are now winless in their last eight games (0W-2D-6L) and have won just three of their last 24. Their biggest problem? The Premier League’s worst defensive record in 2022-23 — 74 goals conceded in 37 games. In each of the last four seasons, the side to concede the most goals has been relegated.

With another summer of uncertainty (from the manager to most of the first-team squad) on the cards for Spurs, Sunday could be the final time Harry Kane pulls on the white shirt of Tottenham, following reports this week that he will ask — or perhaps has already asked — to leave the club if a fair offer is made. Kane’s 278 goals make him the club’s all-time record goal scorer, and his departure could signal a full-blown tear-down and rebuild for the incoming manager still to be hired.

Leeds team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Tyler Adams (hamstring – out for season), Luis Sinisterra (ankle – out for season), Patrick Bamford (thigh)

Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Cristian Romero (undisclosed), Rodrigo Bentancur (torn ACL – out for season), Hugo Lloris (hip), Eric Dier (hernia), Ryan Sessegnon (thigh), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (undisclosed)

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