10 things we learned in the Premier League – Matchweek 21

0 Comments

What have we learned (so far) during matchweek 21 of the 2021-22 Premier League season?

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

Here’s a look at 10 things which stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nicholas Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) share their observations from across the most recent Premier League games.

VIDEO: PL highlights ]

Let’s get to it.


1. Sluggish City edge to victory (Arsenal 1-2 Manchester City): This was not a vintage City display at all, but after a quick turnaround from their win at Brentford on Wednesday it was a performance of champions. They edged to victory and did what they had to do, but their forward line was sluggish as Sterling, Jesus and Mahrez didn’t click at all. Pep Guardiola didn’t look best pleased despite the late win and he will admit that this was far from City’s best display. But they got the win, their 11th straight, as they continue to pull away at the top of the table. (JPW)

2. Pulisic has electrifying moments but will rue most of day (Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool): USMNT star Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz had more than enough chances to back up Thomas Tuchel’s benching of Romelu Lukaku but only Pulisic got his goal and the American’s two or three brilliant moments fail to make up for some bad giveaways and muffed opportunities. Havertz could get his own section, so let’s stick with Pulisic. The 23-year-old had two tremendous opportunities to score fairly-straightforward goals but only converted on a much more difficult question. (NM)

3. Spurs creating more chances (Watford 0-1 Tottenham): Through seven Premier League games under Antonio Conte, Tottenham were defensively solid without setting the opposition’s penalty area alight with high-percentage scoring chances. Watford, with their 35 goals conceded in 17 games, appeared on the fixture list at exactly the right time. The chances were there, as Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura combined to create a few high-quality chances while Watford sunk deeper and deeper into their own half, only to steal the three points very late on from a set piece. (AE)

4. Fortunate Mane finds opener (Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool): Sadio Mane’s forearm to the face of Cesar Azpilicueta inside of the game’s first 10 seconds would’ve likely been enough to get him sent off of any other game (or, perhaps, this one in any other minute). Anthony Taylor nor the VAR were ready to sanction a first-minute dismissal, and Mane made the most of his reprieve by putting the Reds up 1-0 when he stayed patient to beat Edouard Mendy. (NM)

5. Gutsy Gunners deserved more (Arsenal 1-2 Manchester City): They imploded but they deserved more. This was a very good display from Arsenal. Especially the first 55 minutes before all hell broke loose. They were incisive on the break as Saka, Martinelli, Lacazette and Odegaard were on the same page and ripped City apart. Arsenal should have been at least two goals up when City won their penalty kick. They continue to struggle to get points against the big boys and that is the final step for this young side to seriously push for a top four finish. Xhaka and Gabriel were at fault for rash decisions and Arsenal’s youngsters deserved more. Perhaps if Mikel Arteta was on the sidelines (he tested positive for COVID-19) he could have helped them get over the line, but he will still be proud of their display and they’re heading in the right direction. (JPW)

6. Brentford never stop fighting (Brentford 2-1 Aston Villa): They are absolutely brilliant to watch and never give up. Thomas Frank is a very proud man and despite injuries which have hit them hard in recent weeks, Brentford keep on fighting and they are digging deep to win games at home. That will keep them in the Premier League this season and with 23 points after 19 games they are well on their way to the magic 40-point marker. What a season they are having. What an atmosphere their fans are creating at home. Brentford is a tough place to go. (JPW)

7. Back-to-back blowouts (nearly) (Crystal Palace 2-3 West Ham): After starting the season brilliantly and establishing themselves as top-four contenders once again, West Ham hit a rough patch from mid-November to Boxing Day as they won just one of seven in the Premier League and slipped to 6th in the table. The 4-1 win over Watford midweek raised a few eyebrows, but that was against one of the Premier League’s worst defenses. What would they do against a rigorously drilled side like Crystal Palace? Turns out, much of the same (for a half, at least). Antonio is catching fire once again, the defense is tightening was tightening back up for 80 minutes, and David Moyes will be feeling hopeful for what 2022 brings to east London. (AE)

8. Slick Brighton finally finish chances, but can score even more (Everton 2-3 Brighton): They create so many chances in every single game and this was the first time this season that Brighton scored three in a game. Graham Potter’s side were so slick on the ball and even though they were a little lapse in defense, it seems like they’re playing with more freedom in attack now. This is how Brighton can kick on in the second half of the season and they even let Everton off the hook in the first half as they could have scored even more. Putting chances away consistently is the next step for Brighton. (JPW)

9. Calvert-Lewin rusty, but will be huge for Toffees (Everton 2-3 Brighton): He missed a penalty kick and missed a few chances but this was his first appearance since August and his hold-up play and movement will be key for Everton. They looked better in attack with DCL up top and Gordon supporting him and when Richarlison is back fit that gives Everton a totally different dimension. This was a tough loss but the main positive is that Calvert-Lewin is back fit. (JPW)

10. Bamford absence, off-kilter Raphinha still loom (Leeds 3-1 Burnley): Patrick Bamford is almost ready to return to the pitch for Leeds and Brazilian playmaker Raphinha just hasn’t been at his clinical best. That’s likely why Leeds was incapable of capitalizing on a brilliant 20-minute period in the first half, and Raphinha added insult to insult when he couldn’t snap home from close range in the second. Leeds got its winner, of course, but it could’ve been settled much sooner. (NM)

Follow @AndyEdMLS

USMNT reportedly opens contract talks with Gregg Berhalter; Good or bad idea?

0 Comments

Gregg Berhalter may be sticking around the United States men’s national team program, giving the USMNT coaching continuity as it moves from 2022 World Cup Round of 16 member to 2026 World Cup co-host.

ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle says that Berhalter is beginning contract discussions with the United States Soccer Federation but also interested in taking a job in Europe with his profile having risen alongside the USMNT at the World Cup.

Berhalter’s current contract ends at the end of the calendar year, and the Yanks have scheduled a domestic camp in January and friendlies against Serbia and Colombia.

[ MORE: USMNT transfer rumors for Musah, Dest ]

Berhalter has done some good things for the program, most notably winning the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup with two different groups. He also straightened out the defending, for the most part, and got out of the World Cup group.

Berhalter successfully recruited Sergino Dest and Yunus Musah, two of the program’s stars at the World Cup. He also convinced Malik Tillman, Gaga Slonina, and Jesus Ferreira that the U.S. was the right place for their national team futures.

He also, subjectively, was slow if not downright stubborn in acquiesing to certain points-of-view that made the team better. From Tyler Adams as a right back at the outset of his tenure to saying Tim Ream didn’t fit how he wanted to play about a month before the World Cup… then playing him every minute of the tournament.

But for the most part when lessons were learned, they stayed learned.

Should Gregg Berhalter continue as USMNT boss?

Let’s start here, because it’s necessary: It’s clear that Berhalter cared about his players and the project, whether you like the way he operated or not. This wasn’t a half-assed operation, but one with passion.

So does he still have that passion? Only he can answer that, and if he’d like to get more matchdays in his life then maybe he does want to go back to the club game.

And frankly, that’s fine either way, because his four years with the program were neither amazing nor pitiful. They can be described as anything from a slight disappointment to a minor success, depending on your perspective and expectations.

If you believe that picking up the pieces from the absolute travesty that was failing to qualify for the World Cup from the richest nation and one of the two most talented nations amongst CONCACAF men’s programs was really hard, then you think Berhalter getting the men to the 2022 World Cup and surviving the group with a young group was a solid step in the right direction and a minor success.

If you believe that the American soccer climate is such that you should always make the World Cup out of one of the world’s lesser confederations and that the Yanks progressed as the second team of a group in which they were the second-ranked team according to FIFA and Elo Ratings, well, you can have a different standard.

The Yanks will never again fail to qualify for the World Cup given the expanded field, but hosts have historically had a drastically-improved chance to reach the semifinals. THe federation would have to be confident that picking the best squad regardless of how it reflects on his previous selections — let alone a Best XI — is going to happen under a given coach.

Berhalter’s 49 and is far from the worst or best boss in USMNT history. Whoever’s in the job four years from now will have a chance to go down as either one. Choose wisely, fed. And Gregg! Who knows how far his star could rise with a solid run in Europe, and history says there will be the chance to reconnect with the USMNT job.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Premier League table, 2022-23 season

0 Comments

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 ]

We’re at the 2022 World Cup break, and the final few rounds of Premier League fixtures caused so many shocks.

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.

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.

Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester United are locked in a battle for the top four, while Liverpool have improved and will be back in the Champions League scrap and Chelsea are struggling.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Who are the early-season candidates for relegation?

Newly promoted Nottingham Forest moved off the bottom of the table with a win before the break, with Wolves and Southampton currently occupying the other two relegation places.

Leicester have picked up a few big wins, while West Ham, Everton and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom-three after a topsy-turvy start.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – Matchweek 16

Follow @AndyEdMLS

England vs France: How to watch live, stream link, team news

0 Comments

Match 59 of the 2022 World Cup features a pair of European heavyweights duking it out for a place in the semifinals when England faces France on Saturday.

Didier Deschamps’ France is bidding to become a back-to-back World Cup winner, but Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions are tournament-hardened and have shown their explosive nature three times this tournament.

STREAM ENGLAND vs FRANCE LIVE

France beat Poland 3-1 in its Round of 16 match while England overcame a dodgy start to pound Senegal 3-0.

Neither team can say its faced a test like this in the tournament, and this could be a fantastic fight in Qatar.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for England vs France.


How to watch England vs France live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Saturday, December 1
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

England will look to Harry Kane, though the question remains who will flank the Tottenham center forward. Marcus Rashford’s been very good but Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden got the starting spots against Senegal and it paid off for Southgate.

Kylian Mbappe has been borderline unstoppable and will test Harry Maguire, John Stones, and friends and Antoine Griezmann pulls the strings in behind and Aurelien Tchouameni continues to strengthen his reputation in the center of the pitch.


England quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 5
World Cup titles: 1 (1966)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA
Coach: Gareth Southgate
Key players: Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham, Jordan Pickford

France quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 4
World Cup titles: 2 (1998, 2018)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group D)
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Key players: Kylian Mbappe, Raphael Varane, Antoine Griezmann

Follow @NicholasMendola

Croatia vs Brazil: How to watch live, stream link, team news

0 Comments

World Cup-savvy Croatia stands in the way of stylish Brazil’s pursuit of a sixth World Cup crown, and the pair promise a complex match-up on Friday in Al Rayyan.

Match 58 of the 2022 World Cup kicks off the quarterfinals as Neymar leads Tite’s star-studded CONMEBOL powers into a match against the 2018 runners-up.

STREAM CROATIA vs BRAZIL LIVE

Croatia got past Japan in penalties and will now dream of the two wins that could set it back in the final where France could again be waiting for a juicy rematch.

Croatia needed penalties to get past Japan in the Round of 16, while Brazil pasted South Korea 4-1.  Croatia has never beaten Brazil in four meetings, losing at the 2006 and 2014 World Cups.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Croatia vs Brazil.


How to watch Croatia vs Brazil live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Friday, December 9
Stadium: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic was fantastic in penalties versus Japan to get here, but Luka Modric continues to do the things that get Croatia out of trouble and puts the opponents into heaps of it. Josko Gvardiola has arguably been the defender of the tournament, and the 20-year-old looks to test his mettle again against the Selecao.

Pick a Brazil player who’s failed to impress and you’ve achieved a mighty feat. Neymar’s been fantastic when healthy while RIcharlison is in serious pursuit of the Golden Boot. Alisson Becker flexed his muscles once or twice versus South Korea and figures to be busier as the competition continues to heat up in Qatar.


Croatia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 12
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Zlatko Dalic
Key players: Luka Modric, Andrej Kramaric, Mateo Kovacic, Josko Gvardiol

Brazil quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 1
World Cup titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
World Cup appearances: 22
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (1st place)
Coach: Tite
Key players: Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Alisson Becker

Follow @NicholasMendola