10 things we learned in the Premier League – Matchweek 28

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What did we learn during Matchweek 28 of the 2021-22 Premier League season? Plenty, even with one more match to go (Spurs vs Everton).

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

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

VIDEO: PL highlights ]

Let’s get to it.

1. Man City’s message sent (Man City 4-1 Man United): While many have been salivating at the idea of Man City allowing Liverpool back into the Premier League title race by — checks notes: dropping four points  in 2022 — City just keeps operating their clinic. Yes, Liverpool has a match-In-hand and plays City, but do you suspect that Liverpool will go unbeaten and City will lose twice? There’s a race, yes, but the Reds still have an incredible amount of work to do against a team that’s lost the xG battle in a game… twice in 28 matches this season. (NM)

2. Lacazette’s playmaking, hold up play making the difference (Watford 2-3 Arsenal): The French striker hasn’t been Mikel Arteta’s cup of tea from time-to-time but he’s showing that he’s up to the task of hassling back lines, finding the open man, and being a pest in so many different ways. Lacazette may not be a title-contending striker, but it would also be interesting to see how he’d do with, I don’t know, Man City? (NM)

3a. Liverpool’s defending not title worthy:(Liverpool 1-0 West Ham): The Reds have gotten to their place in this season’s Premier League title race largely by manufacturing loads of chances and finishing a whole lot of them, but both the midfield and back line were not near title caliber in defense as Fornals, Lanzini, and Michail Antonio has enviable chances to give not just one but three points to the visitors from London. Yes, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and others contributing big defensive plays — Naby Keita, too — but it’s necessary to note they also opened the door to other chances by switching off or making silly mistakes (NM).

3b. Liverpool’s defenders plenty good going forward: (Liverpool 1-0 West Ham): Trent Alexander-Arnold is a maestro with the ball at his feet and he had five key passes on the day including the set-up of Mane. Robertson had three key passes during his 90 minutes and Konate completed 5-of-8 long passes while Virgil van Dijk pushed a shot toward the West Ham goal. So even if the Reds were punished for a mistake, their defenders provided plenty of chances to have that mistake be in a 4-1 win rather than a 2-1 loss (NM).

5. Refreshed Kai Havertz shines with Pulisic (Burnley 0-4 Chelsea): Unused in three matches after scoring against Lille in the UCL, Havertz delivered a pair of goals at Turf Moor and showed that his growing chemistry with the American playmaker. There was a certain connection between Pulisic and former Chelsea big man Olivier Giroud, and the fits and starts of Havertz’s early days — with huge European highs and some serious lows — can find consistency, the Blues are going to find a new gear (NM).

6. Jesse Marsch brings solidity, organization to high-press (Leicester 1-0 Leeds ): This was much better from Leeds as they looked balanced in Marsch’s first game in charge. They had defensive solidity and were better organized and they were hardly opened up on the counter. They still pressed Leicester high but it was as a group instead of individually. The tweaks made by Marsch to the team Marcelo Bielsa built were instantly recognizable and the American coach will be pleased with pretty much everything he saw from his side. However, they have to be more clinical when they do get chances as they won’t get as many as they did under Bielsa. With 11 games to go, Leeds need points and not positive performances (JPW).

7. Fraser, Joelinton reclamation projects complete (Newcastle 2-1 Brighton): It’s actually bonkers to consider that Joelinton isn’t just functioning as a center midfielder but looking like he’s played there his entire life. Eddie Howe’s decision to play him there is a stroke of genius and the crazy price tag that made him look like a bust at center forward now looks like an appropriate fee for a havoc-wreaking midfielder who is outright dominating the middle of the park. Ryan Fraser has been much, much better after a near three-season drought following an outburst at Bournemouth that had him targeted by Arsenal and others. Howe rode through some poor performances early in their shared tenure up north but his patience is being rewarded (NM).

8. Coutinho destroys Saints’ press (Aston Villa 4-0 Southampton): Villa used a midfield diamond to thwart Saints’ high-press and it worked a treat. Luiz, McGinn and Ramsey did plenty of running and pressing to shut Saints down, while Coutinho floated in the gaps and caused havoc when he got on the ball. He’s only on loan from Barcelona but this was an example of the old Coutinho at work and he used to love picking Southampton apart during his time at Liverpool. It seems very likely that Villa will try to buy Coutinho permanently this summer and he looks at home as Gerrard has found the perfect role for him (JPW).

9. Aaaaaaaand the Bees exhale (Norwich 1-3 Brentford): The beekeeper can relax for a moment, though Thomas Frank will be forced to quickly put this slump-ender in his rearview mirror. Brentford was good money for the win despite a distinct lack of possession, but Toney was near his best and Kristoffer Ajer a difference-maker at both ends (NM).

10. Wolves in a rut (Wolves 0-2 Crystal Palace): At some point Wolves’ defensive solidity was going to break down and it has in dramatic fashion in the last week. Three-straight defeats to Arsenal, West Ham, and Palace have seen Wolves go from top four contenders to Europa League hopefuls. Their amazing form to get them in a great position to qualify for Europe was built on a solid defensive unit but they started this game slowly and their confidence seemed to be hit by losing late on at Arsenal last week (JPW).

South Korea vs Portugal: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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South Korea have a must-win Group H finale against Portugal, who have already made it through to the last 16 of the World Cup.

STREAM LIVE SOUTH KOREA v PORTUGAL

Heung-min Son has struggled and South Korea have just one point on the board so far from their games against Uruguay and Ghana. Last time out they lost 3-2 to Ghana in excrutiating fashion after fighting back from 2-0 down to make it 2-2. Now more than ever, Son’s country needs him to deliver as he has failed to score or assist in the opening two games and looks extremely frustrated. South Korea must win to have a chance of reaching the last 16 ahead of Uruguay and Ghana.

[ MORE: Group H standings, schedule, rankings ]

The opposite emotions are true for Portugal who beat Ghana 3-2 and then Uruguay 2-0 to breeze into the last 16 and they only need a point to secure top spot in Group H. Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva have been pulling the strings and this Portugal side is stacked in attack with Rafael Leao and Joao Felix rotated in and out of the team to support Cristiano Ronaldo.

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

Here is everything you need for South Korea vs Portugal. 


How to watch South Korea vs Portugal live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Friday, December 2
Stadium: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Obviously the stage is set for Heung-min Son. He is a hero in his homeland and he’s worked so hard to be fit for this tournament after the nasty facial injury but looks out of sorts on the left. Perhaps he can moved inside or slightly deeper to get on the ball more? Cho Gue-sung scored two beauties against Ghana and if South Korea can put more quality deliveries into the box, they will cause problems. They simply have to go all-out for the win and that approach saw them deliver their best play of the tournament in the second half against Ghana. However, South Korea’s Portuguese coach Paulo Bento was sent off at the end of that disappointing defeat to Ghana as he was unhappy with a late corner not being allowed as the final whistle was blown. He will miss this game through suspension. 

For Portugal it’s about resting key players and warming up for their last 16 clash. Winning the group is essential as that means they would face one of Serbia, Switzerland or Cameroon in the last 16 rather than Brazil. It is very unlikely Portugal won’t finish top, but it could happen. Basically, Ghana would have to win big to overturn a three-goal difference by beating Uruguay and Portugal would also have to lose against South Korea. It could happen but Fernando Santos can rotate his team and still have so much quality on the pitch as Goncalo Ramos, Diogo Dalot, Matheus Nunes and Rafael Leao could all start.


South Korea quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 28
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 10
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC
Coach: Paulo Bento
Key players: Heung-min Son, Young-gwon Kim, In-beom Hwang, Woo-yeong Jeong

Portugal quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 9
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs
Coach: Fernando Santos
Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Neves, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Cancelo


Ghana vs Uruguay: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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This is going to be an epic Group H finale as there is so much history between Ghana and Uruguay and both teams still have a chance of reaching the last 16.

STREAM LIVE GHANA V URUGUAY

When you say Luis Suarez, Ghana and World Cup together, most people think of his incredible handball to deny the Black Stars victory in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup. We all know what happened next as Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan missed the spot kick after Suarez had been sent off, then Uruguay won on penalty kicks to deny Ghana an historic semifinal berth.

The whole of Ghana has never forgot that and the Black Stars get their chance for revenge in this clash.

[ MORE: Group H standings, schedule, rankings ]

Focusing on this game, Ghana provided superb entertainment in their 3-2 win against South Korea and know a point against Uruguay will be enough to reach the last 16 if South Korea fail to beat Portugal in the other final Group H game. Thomas Partey has been superb in midfield, Mohammed Kudus scored twice up top in their big win and the additions of Tariq Lamptey and Mohammed Salisu just before this tournament has made a big difference.

As for Uruguay, they’ve huffed and puffed in their opening two games but have failed to score as Darwin Nunez, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have all looked off the pace. Rodrigo Bentancur and Federico Valverde have been great in midfield but is this one tournament too far for Uruguay’s incredible, but ageing, core? They need to win to have a chance of reaching the last 16.

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

Here is everything you need for Ghana vs Uruguay. 


How to watch Ghana vs Uruguay live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Friday, December 2
Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Ghana will likely start the same team which started against South Korea as they looked dangerous in attack but they will have to improve defensively and keep the ball a bit better. The Ayew brothers (Jordan and Andre) provide so much experience, while Inaki Williams and Kudus knit everything together well in the final third.

Uruguay have to go for it, so does that mean starting Suarez, Cavani and Nunez up top together? If they do that they could cause Ghana, who have looked shaky at the back, plenty of problems. They may go back to a back four and the trio of Bentancur, Vecino and Valverde to hold down midfield.


Ghana quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 61
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 4
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CAF via playoffs
Coach: Otto Addo
Key players: Jordan Ayew, Andre Ayew, Thomas Partey, Jeff Schlupp

Uruguay quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 14
World Cup titles: 2 (1930, 1950)
World Cup appearances: 14
How they qualified: Qualified from CONMEBOL
Coach: Diego Alonso
Key players: Luis Suarez, Federico Valverde, Darwin Nunez, Rodrigo Bentancur


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

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Cameroon needs to upset qualified Brazil and get help from the other Group G game when the World Cup group stage hits Lusail on Friday.

The Indomitable Lions lost 1-0 to Switzerland before drawing Serbia 3-3 In a thrilling second encounter.

STREAM LIVE CAMEROON vs BRAZIL

Beating tournament favorites Brazil is a big ask but it will be a heavily-rotated and Neymar-less Selecao who faces Cameroon. Brazil blanked Serbia 2-0 in Lusail before beating Switzerland 1-0 in Doha.

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

Here is everything you need for Cameroon vs Brazil.


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

Kick off: 2pm ET, Friday Dec. 2
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Cameroon defender Jean-Charles Castelletto has joined forwards Vincent Aboubakar and underappreciated Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in becoming one of the stories of Group G.

Brazil still needs to find its answer if Neymar cannot return to the fold this tournament. Richarlison and Raphinha have impressed but still need to show they can really carry the attack without Neymar. Could Gabriel Jesus shine in his absence?


Cameroon quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 43
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from CAF playoffs
Coach: Rigobert Song
Key players: Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Vincent Aboubakar, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting

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

Serbia vs Switzerland: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Serbia and Switzerland seek a win that could seal a place in the World Cup Round of 16 when they meet Friday in Doha.

The Swiss can qualify with a win, or a draw if Cameroon beats Brazil and tiebreakers stay in Switzerland’s favor. The Swiss beat Cameroon 1-0 in Al Wakrah but lost to Brazil by the same score in Doha.

STREAM LIVE SERBIA vs SWITZERLAND

Serbia started its tournament with a 2-0 loss to Brazil In Lusail before drawing a wild six-goal thriller with Cameroon In Al Wakrah.

Serbia qualifies with a win if Cameroon doesn’t beat Brazil. If Serbia and Cameroon both win, Serbia would need to take the lead in goal differential.

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

Here is everything you need for Serbia vs Switzerland.


How to watch Serbia vs Switzerland live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Friday Dec. 2
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Three different goal scorers hit the sheet in the draw with Cameroon, and Fulham star Aleksandar Mitrovic remains a threat to score every game. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic continues to show huge value in the center of the pitch.

Breel Embolo has Switzerland’s only goal and will be continue to be a focal point, while Man City defender Manuel Akanji, Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, and Nottingham Forest’s Remo Freuler make the Swiss a tough team to break down.


Serbia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 21
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 12
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs
Coach: Dragan Stojkovic
Key players: Aleksandar Mitrovic, Luka Jovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Dusan Tadic

Switzerland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 15
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 12
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Murat Yakin
Key players: Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Yann Sommer, Remo Freuler