Andy Robertson

Fifty fearful predictions for 2019-20 Premier League season

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We’re about to start 250-plus days of frenetic, teeth-grinding, pulsating days of Premier League football, so what do you say we have a little fun with what could happen over the next nine months.

[ MORE: Transfer records for all 20 PL clubs ]


1. Virgil Van Dijk will win the 2019 Ballon d’Or.

2. Arsenal will be better than most expect en route to winning a trophy this year.

3. Man City and Spurs will make the deepest runs in the UEFA Champions League (unless drawn against each other early in the knockouts).

4. Harry Kane will be near the top of the Premier League goal charts in August, bucking his early season trend.

5. He won’t win the Golden Boot, though, as Mohamed Salah earns that honor.

6. Christian Pulisic will register double-digit assists for Chelsea, but finish just shy of double-digit goals.

(Photo by David Geieregger/SEPA.Media /Getty Images)

7. It will be the other way around for Newcastle record signing Joelinton.

8. Aston Villa’s Dean Smith will finish second in PL Manager of the Year voting, and only because not enough voters will select someone outside the Top Four.

9. Ederson will win the Premier League’s Golden Glove.

10. Norwich City will be the first team to sack its manager.

11. Alexandre Lacazette will have more total goals+assists than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

12. So will Nicolas Pepe.

13. But Aubameyang will finish tied with Harry Kane for second-most goals in the Premier League.

14. Raheem Sterling will win Premier League Players’ Player of the Year.

15. Dele Alli will start less than half of Spurs league matches.

16. A team will be relegated despite reaching the 40 point mark.

17. Watford will lead the league in yellow and red cards.

18. Either Burnley’s Sean Dyche or Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe will take a new coaching job before the end of the season.

19. Ruben Loftus-Cheek will return from injury in the winter and become a key piece of some team’s season, whether at Chelsea or on a half-season loan.

20. Arsenal will lead the league in expected goals per game.

21. Everton will be in the Top Four come Nov. 2’s visit from Tottenham.

22. Liverpool will lose the UEFA Super Cup to Chelsea in penalty kicks, and penalty kicks v. Liverpool will become just about the most useless, annoying buzz topic in English football.

23. Man City won’t lose until Dec. 14 at Arsenal.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

24. At least one $30 million-plus summer transfer will be sold or loaned in January.

25. Once healthy, Kieran Tierney will have a better first 22 games at Arsenal than fellow Scottish import fullback Andy Robertson had at Liverpool.

26. Sheffield United will be top half of the table at the first international break.

27. Marcus Rashford will score 10 goals and 10 assists for Manchester United, but it will be regarded as not enough due to unrealistic expectations.

28. Burnley will not sit above 10th at any point after Week 1.

29. Brighton’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh will rise from his terribly disappointing debut season in England to score at least one otherworldly goal.

30. Mike Ashley will start a new or renewed takeover rumor right before the January transfer window.

31. Marko Arnautovic‘s brother will link his brother with a return to the Premier League in January.

32. VAR will decide a critical, hairline goal in a Man City-Liverpool match.

33. Liverpool will go unbeaten at home.

34. Everton will win a Merseyside Derby.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

35. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will have as many assists as Trent Alexander-Arnold.

36. Josh Sims‘ loan stint with the New York Red Bulls will make him an in-demand transfer target for a PL team in January.

37. Speaking of Southampton, Saints will be in the conversation for a Europa League place before the festive season (Ultimately, the season flames out).

38. At least one non-Top Six team will win a domestic cup.

39. Watford and Crystal Palace see the biggest drop in point total from last season to this.

40. Southampton and Everton make the biggest leap in point total from last season to this.

41. Alexis Sanchez will end up starting matches for Manchester United.

42. Olivier Giroud will match his Premier League best for goals in a season (16, twice).

43. Everton will qualify for Europe.

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

44. Andy Carroll will score against former clubs West Ham and Liverpool.

45. Ismaila Sarr will score 10 goals as Watford’s record transfer.

46. It will be a breakout season in England for Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, who will look more like the force he was in the Bundesliga.

47. Gabriel Jesus will return to double-digit goals for Man City.

48. West Ham’s Felipe Anderson will post the most assists of any player not on Liverpool or Man City.

49. Jonas Lossl will start 10 or more matches for Everton.

50. Man City will threepeat, and the title will be decided before the final week of the season.

Salah, Alisson and others returning to Liverpool this week

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Despite Liverpool’s poor run of results during the preseason, Jurgen Klopp says he’s not very concerned.

That’s because Liverpool, more than most other teams it seems this year, has been without a dozen key players all preseason, and others who arrived a week or two late after international duty following the Premier League season. However, that all changes on Monday.

Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Alisson, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri are all returning to preseason work as Liverpool heads to Evian, France to continue warm-weather training. Liverpool has just a week before facing Manchester City in the FA Community Shield, and then another week before the start of the season. It’s unlikely that the quintet returning this week – with Sadio Mane set to return next week – will be ready to go for the start of the Premier League season, but it can potentially give the team a mental lift to see many of the team’s stars back in the squad for daily training sessions.

​“The lads coming back, even if they don’t play, it gives you a lift when they train and with the way they go about their business,” Liverpool left back Andy Robertson told the club’s website. “It doesn’t matter if they play on Wednesday or not, that’s completely up to the manager three days in, but that’s irrelevant: if they’re back in training and back around the place then it makes a difference.

“Mo and Bobby are two of our main men and Alisson was magnificent last season. They are huge characters in the changing room as well so that’ll be massive for us, and then Sadio will come back the following week. Once we get the whole team back together, and I think Shaq and Naby aren’t far off too, they’re players that are familiar around the set-up and around the system and that’s what we need. The quicker we get all of us back together then hopefully the better.”

Without many of the top attackers, some young players for Liverpool have been playing plenty. Aside from players like Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain building fitness, Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster have received regular minutes. In addition, new signings Harvey Elliot, who just signed officially for Liverpool in the morning, and summer signing Sepp van den Berg each saw the field against Napoli. While they likely won’t play much this Premier League season, they may be called upon to at least be on the bench early on.

Klopp referred to this preseason, with so many stars missing, as a strange one.

“It’s kind of a new situation, but that’s not the reason what’s happened,” Klopp said. “Missing six players is strange. That you lose players during a pre-season, we are used to – that happened from time to time. But that they don’t start from the beginning and come a couple of days before or after we start with the season is not cool. Again, that’s how it is and we prepared everybody as good as possible. We have to fight the start of the season 100 per cent with all we have. The good thing is, if the opponents want to analyse us now, they think ‘easy job’, but we will be a different animal next week.”

Reports: Arsenal to spend big for Pepe, Tierney

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If the latest reports are to be believed, Arsenal’s transfer budget is actually much bigger than expected.

In a pair of reports, Arsenal is looking at paying as much as around $120 million in transfer fees to sign Lille attacker Nicolas Pepe and Celtic left back Kieran Tierney. L’equipe states that Arsenal has made a $90 million offer for Pepe, while Sky Sports reports Arsenal has made a bid of $31.4 million to Celtic for Tierney.

[READ: Premier League friendly roundup]

If true, it would certainly be an upgrade at left back for Arsenal. Tierney, at 22-years of age, is one of the top young left backs in Europe and if not for Andy Robertson, would be playing a lot more for the Scotland National Team. Regarding Pepe, he’s had a strong last couple of seasons with Lille, including scoring 22 goals with 11 assists in Ligue 1 last season.

However, Pepe really struggled with the Ivory Coast National Team at the Africa Cup of Nations, perhaps due to exhaustion and a lack of gas in the tank. In addition, his position as a forward and winger isn’t exactly a position of need for the Gunners. Arsenal currently has Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and even Reiss Nelson.

Last summer, Arsenal was able to bring in the vast majority of its signings by July 11. Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Bernd Leno and Stephan Lichtsteiner all signed early.

This summer, it’s only signed academy players and 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli so far, with the necessary signings now late to arrive for preseason training. Arsenal certainly needs a replacement for Aaron Ramsey, David Ospina/Petr Cech, and Lichtsteiner.

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT back on the move in England

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Left backs! Get your left backs here!

We’ll learn a bit more about how much a Premier League club values an American asset in the next couple of weeks.

Everton left back Antonee Robinson spent last season on loan at Wigan Athletic, and the Latics are said to have bid to bring the seven-times capped 21-year-old from Merseyside to Greater Manchester.

Robinson is yet to appear for Everton on a senior level, but has made 60 appearances between Bolton Wanderers and Wigan on loan the past two seasons.

[ MORE: USMNT faces T&T for first time since Couva ]

He was third on Wigan in tackles-per-game and second in interceptions-per-game.

Everton has 25-year-old Lucas Digne as the easy first choice left back following an incredible season at Goodison Park, and coverage from Leighton Baines. Will it be a sale or a Premier League loan for Robinson this season?

Let’s stay with left backs, and look to a team with one of the best in the Premier League. Liverpool have Andy Robertson, but Jurgen Klopp may be ready to pay nearly $58 million to secure depth at the spot.

The name is Junior Firpo, and the Real Betis man has that figure as his release clause. The Dominican Republic 22-year-old has 43 appearances for Betis and has scored five times with seven assists. He’s also played left mid.

Meanwhile, Arsenal is also looking to improve at left back but went a bit low with their opening salvo to Celtic over Bhoys star Kieran Tierney.

Tierney, 22, has 170 appearances at his young age, having scored eight times with 37 assists. Arsenal apparently bid just under $20 million to bring him to the Emirates Stadium.

Consider that Liverpool bought fellow Scottish left back Robertson from Hull City for around $10 million in 2017, and that Robertson captains the Scotland national team while Tierney is not a regular.

The price for players has leapt since that point, and we imagine the deal won’t get done for under $25-30 million if it’s done at all.

Euro 2020 qualifying: Turkey stuns France, Finland earns upset, Croatia tops Wales

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A few landmark results have begun to shape Euro 2020 qualifying in round three of the cycle.

Here is a rundown of all the results:

Turkey 2-0 France

The shock of the day came from Konya as first-half goals by Kaan Ayhan and Cengiz Under thwarted the reigning World Cup champs and put Turkey alone atop Group H. The France lineup that featured Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, and Olivier Giroud fell completely flat, somehow held without a single shot on target on just four total efforts in a massively disappointing performance, although France remained in a solid position sitting second in the group.

Finland 2-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina

Another surprising result came in Tammerfors as Finland got a brace from Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki to pull into a solid position near the top of Group J. Bosnia will rue missed opportunities, only able to put one of its 11 shots on target, with Edin Dzeko missing a glorious opportunity with 13 minutes to go, heading over the bar on a chance he normally puts away. Bosnia & Herzegovina felt the absence of creative force Miralem Pjanic as he was suspended for a straight red card against Greece.

Croatia 2-1 Wales

The visitors put up a solid fight in Osijek, but Croatia was clinical where Wales was not as Ivan Perisic scored the decider after a Jamie Lawrence own-goal put the hosts in front. Bournemouth attacker David Brooks came off the bench to pull Wales a goal back and give them a chance, but otherwise the visitors were wasteful with six shots on target.

Belarus 0-2 Germany

Leroy Sane put Germany in front 12 minutes in and they never looked back, confirming the victory on a Marco Reus strike past the hour mark to keep pace with Northern Ireland in Group C. Sane bagged his fourth goal in his last five international appearances, while Reus finished off a beautiful ball into the box by Matthias Ginter that evaded a host of defenders on its way to the goalscorer. While the scoreline may not have reflected it, Germany dominated the game with 75% possession and a 783-214 passing advantage.

Belgium 3-0 Kazakhstan

Dries Mertens and Timothy Castagne both scored inside the opening 15 minutes, while Romelu Lukaku capped things off just after halftime as Belgium rolled in Brussels. The strong Belgian lineup was far too much at home, holding 70% possession and competing a massive 829 passes to Kazakhstan’s 311, racking up 13 corners and an enormous 12 shots on target out of 27 total efforts.

Greece 0-3 Italy

The visitors bagged a quickfire trio of goals through the middle of the first-half as Nicolo Barella, Lorenzo Insigne, and Leonardo Bonucci all found the back of the net before the break to stun Greece in Athens. Insigne’s was silky as the Napoli attacker skipped past a defender down the left flank, carrying the ball into the top corner of the box and unleashing a pinpoint curler that found the inside of the side netting.

It was a dominating performance by Italy, holding 70% possession and out-passing Greece a whopping 685-253, out-shooting the hosts 16-5 and cruising through the second half under little pressure.

Scotland 2-1 Cyprus

Scotland survived a scare in Glasgow, requiring an 89th minute Oliver Burke winner to take down island nation Cyprus. The 22-year-old scored his first international goal at the most opportune time, breaking the deadlock late to keep pace with Belgium and Russia near the top of Group I. Andy Robertson, fresh off his Champions League title, scored the opener on an absolute thunderbolt from outside the box, but he was cancelled out by Giannis Kousoulos in the 87th minute.

Iceland 1-0 Albania

Johann Berg Gudmundsson scored the game’s only goal 22 minutes in as Iceland downed a pesky Albania side in Reykjavik. Albania earned seven corners to Iceland’s 1, but couldn’t find the back of the net as they forced Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson into just two saves the whole way.

Russia 9-0 San Marino

Zenit St. Petersburg striker Artem Dyzuba scored four as Russia blasted hapless San Marino in Saransk, with two more from Fedor Smolov. The win jumps Russia past Belgium into first in Group I with two wins out of its first three qualifiers.

Estonia 1-2 Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland needed a late comeback to top Estonia on the road as Sheffield United striker Connor Washington leveled the score in the 77th minute and Josh Magennis provided the winner three minutes later. Both players came off the bench to score, with Bolton striker Magennis skillfully turning a Jordan Jones cross in under heavy pressure in front of net. Estonia was up for the task for much of the game, with Konstantin Vassiljev’s 25th minute goal providing the tally that Northern Ireland just inched around to climb atop Group C with three wins from three.

Azerbaijan 1-3 Hungary

Hungary moved to the top of Group E after a dominating performance in Baku led by a brace from RB Leipzig defender Willi Orban.

Moldova 1-0 Andorra

Moldova survived nearly half the match a man down as the hosts earned their first points of Euro 2020 qualification behind an eighth-minute goal from 31-year-old defender Igor Armas which they protected the rest of the way. Despite just 35% possession, Andorra ripped off 12 shots, but only found the target with one in the loss.

Armenia 3-0 Lichtenstein