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Top Premier League Storylines for Week 4

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The Premier League has one last shout before the first international break of the season. There are four teams remaining who have yet to drop a point…Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, and…Watford? Arsenal is in ninth, Manchester United in 13th. The early-season table is fun!

[ MORE: Premier League club power rankings ]

So, with a short break on the horizon, who will take control at the top of the table and who will slip? Who will rise from early-season doldrums, and who will head into the hiatus needing a lift? There’s plenty to break down, so here’s a good place to start.

Two teams with perfect starts clash
Watford vs. Tottenham — 11:00 a.m. ET Sunday on NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

The ol’ Something Has To Give match. Tottenham has put to bed talks of its fruitless transfer window with a perfect 3-0-0 start, while Watford has surprised everyone without a slip to this point. Both sides can’t get three points from this match, so someone has to slip.

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Last season, Watford did something similar, with just one loss to the eventual champions through its first eight league matches. Eventually they fell and fell and fell, finishing 14th, just eight points above the drop. Still, that big start helped them stay up, and this year could be the same.

It will be interesting to see how Mauricio Pochettino plays this one. Spurs won big last week against Manchester United, but they were shaky defensively in the first half. It’s possible he switches to a back-three with Davinson Sanchez, Toby Alderweireld, and Jan Vertonghen plus a pair of wing-backs in Kieran Trippier and either Danny Rose (who struggled last week) or Ben Davies.

Will Liverpool continue to take no prisoners?
Leicester City vs. Liverpool — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

The Reds are blitzing the Premier League early on, and have taken a two-point lead over other Premier League title favorite Manchester City. Jurgen Klopp has the team firing on all cylinders and playing exactly as he instructs them to. Evidence to that fact is the team’s leading scorers in Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, who have combined for five of the team’s seven league goals thus far. In addition, they have remained the only Premier League side to have not conceded a single goal in league play.

Leicester City, meanwhile, has had a roller coaster start to the 2018/19 campaign. They have two wins in three Premier League matches, but have also seen two players sent off. If the Foxes suffer another red card on Saturday, they will surely be ripped to shreds by the visiting Reds.

Manchester City looks to bounce back against spunky Newcastle
Manchester City vs. Newcastle — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC [ STREAM ]

Last week, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City dropped its first Premier League points since February with a disappointing draw against newly-promoted Wolves. Kevin De Bruyne isn’t walking back into that locker room for months, and the attack sputtered against a well-organized team that peppered off 11 shots despite having just 29% possession.

Now, they return home to host a Newcastle side that has come up just short against a pair of title contenders in Tottenham and Chelsea. First, they fell to Spurs 2-1 on opening day despite matching the visitors shot-for-shot. Then, they slipped to the Blues at home on an unlucky DeAndre Yedlin own-goal. Under Rafa Benitez, this is a team that can provide any top team a challenge on the right day. City will need to come up with answers to questions posed last weekend, especially if captain Jamaal Lascelles is set to return for the Magpies from injury.

How will Manchester United respond?
Burnley vs. Manchester United — 11:00 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Last weekend, after the final whistle doomed Manchester United to an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at home, Jose Mourinho looked like a man whose time is up. Yet here he is, set to take charge for another weekend with Manchester United sitting in 13th in the Premier League table. Does Mourinho deserve to still be at the helm, or has he earned the pink slip?

None of that matters for now, because he remains as the Red Devils’ boss, and he put in the work midweek as Burnley looked to progress in the Europa League.

Burnley had its fair share of upsets last season, including earning a point at Old Trafford last season thanks to a 2-2 draw on Boxing Day. This season, the Europa League has clearly sapped the team of some energy, as evident by the 4-2 result last weekend at Craven Cottage in a game that Fulham could well have scored three more, and Burnley missed chances of its own. So does Mourinho earn more time in charge, or do things truly come crashing down at Turf Moor?

Kane strikes as Spurs down Fulham

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  • Moura scores beauty
  • Mitrovic briefly has it level
  • Trippier curls in free kick
  • Kane scores first August PL goal

Tottenham Hotspur continued its impressive run against Premier League new boys, wearing down Fulham in a 3-1 win on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.

Lucas Moura, Kieran Trippier, and Harry Kane scored for Spurs, who only conceded an Aleksandar Mitrovic header.

Tottenham is off to Manchester United next, while Fulham hosts Burnley at Craven Cottage.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Spurs were all over the Cottagers to start the match, and Lucas Moura couldn’t turn Ben Davies‘ rocket cross on goal in the sixth minute.

Moura then stole a poor Calum Chambers pass but fouled Fulham keeper Fabri in a race for the ball and saw the whistle blown before Harry Kane could pop the ball in the goal.

Kane was denied a penalty kick in the 15th minute, despite contact with his leg on a dribble in the box. And Christian Eriksen hit a 20-yard shot wide of the far post in a 23rd minute bid for an opener.

Moura made amends for his earlier foibles by bending an arrow off the far post to give Spurs the lead.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

But Fulham found some flow in the second half, as Mitrovic missed his first bid at a cross but stooped to nod Ryan Sessegnon‘s cutback over the line.

Dele Alli got a little too cute with a roller on the doorstep in the 66th minute. Kane hit the bar four minutes later, only adding to his head-scratching August record.

Trippier did put Spurs ahead, spinning a free kick inside the near post for his first goal in two-and-a-half years.

Kane finally got a Premier League in the eighth month of the calendar year, making one cut after a feed from substitute Erik Lamela and scoring a far post goal we’ve seen him bag a dozen times or more.

Report: Danny Rose in talks with Schalke

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Tottenham fans who have grown increasingly worried about the team’s lack of signings this summer might not want to read ahead. It will only make things worse.

According to Sky Sports, Spurs left-back Danny Rose is in talks with German club Schalke ahead of a potential transfer to the Bundesliga. That would severely complicate things for Tottenham this summer, with the club yet to bring in a single addition to the squad this transfer window.

While plenty have criticized Spurs in recent weeks for their lack of activity, things haven’t boiled over just yet thanks to the squad’s relatively significant depth already in place. However, the loss of Danny Rose, a presumed starter who has nearly 170 appearances for Spurs since joining in 2007, would place significant cracks in that depth.

The only other natural left-back on the squad is Ben Davies, and while center-back Jan Vertonghen can also slide over to play on the left, that possibility is limited especially by the rumored departure of Toby Alderweireld, requiring Vertonghen to be locked in centrally. 21-year-old Kyle Walker-Peters can also be deployed on the left but naturally is a right-back and has just three Premier League appearances, all on the right.

Rose was first-choice at Spurs for four years, but injuries derailed his plans last season, meaning he appeared in just 10 league games. He played a reserve role for the England team in the 2018 World Cup, on the bench to start most games due to the three-CB system employed by manager Gareth Southgate, but often entering as a substitute, ending the tournament with five appearances and 203 minutes played.

Many have speculated the possibility of Spurs letting Rose go in favor of a deadline day move for Fulham left-back Ryan Sessegnon, which was reported earlier on Wednesday, but Whites transfer guru Tony Khan put that to bed by publicly denouncing rumors of an exit for the 18-year-old star.

With Rose possibly headed out and Sessegnon not on his way to replace his fellow Englishman, this is worrying news for Spurs fans who are only comforted this summer by established squad depth. Should anything threaten to harm the currently deep roster Mauricio Pochettino has available to him, alarm bells could sound in earnest around White Hart Lane.

Ranking top 10 Premier League players in each position

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It’s always nice to open up a can of worms before the start of the season, right?

[ MORE: 2018/19 PL season preview hub ]  

With new players arriving in the Premier League and superstars staying put this summer, we thought it would be a good idea to rank the best players in each position ahead of the 2018/19 season.

Think of this as a preseason PL player Power Rankings, if you will, and if you want to use this us a “cheat-sheet” for your PL fantasy teams, go for it.

Here’s a list at the top 10 in each position.

I’m sure you we will all agree wholeheartedly on these selections…


Goalkeepers

1. David De Gea
2. Ederson
3. Thibaut Courtois
4. Hugo Lloris
5. Jordan Pickford
6. Kasper Schmeichel
7. Alisson
8. Rui Patricio
9. Ben Foster
10. Lukasz Fabianski


Right back

1. Kyle Walker
2. Kieran Trippier
3. Trent Alexander-Arnold
4. Victor Moses
5. Antonio Valencia
6. Hector Bellerin
7. Serge Aurier
8. Pablo Zabaleta
9. Cedric
10. Adam Smith


Center back

1. Virgil Van Dijk
2. Harry Maguire
3. Toby Alderweireld
4. Jan Vertonghen
5. Cesar Azpilicueta
6. Nicolas Otamendi
7. Davinson Sanchez
8. Eric Bailly
9. Vincent Kompany
10. John Stones


Left back

1. Andrew Robertson
2. Ben Davies
3. Benjamin Mendy
4. Ashley Young
5. Marcos Alonso
6. Danny Rose
7. Ryan Bertrand
8. Arthur Masuaku
9. Leighton Baines
10. Patrick Van Aanholt


Central midfielders

1. N'Golo Kante
2. David Silva
3. Naby Keita
4. Paul Pogba
5. Fernandinho
6. Nemanja Matic
7. Jordan Henderson
8. Ruben Neves
9. Jean Serri
10. Luka Milivojevic


Attacking midfielders/wingers

1. Mohamed Salah
2. Kevin De Bruyne
3. Eden Hazard
4. Sadio Mane
5. Alexis Sanchez
6. Raheem Sterling
7. Mesut Ozil
8. Leroy Sane
9. Christian Eriksen
10. Riyad Mahrez


Strikers

1. Harry Kane
2. Sergio Aguero
3. Romelu Lukaku
4. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
5. Roberto Firmino
6. Wilfried Zaha
7. Gabriel Jesus
8. Alexandre Lacazette
9. Marko Arnautovic
10. Jamie Vardy

Tottenham target trio in summer overhaul

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Fresh from Mauricio Pochettino and his staff signing new five-year deals at Tottenham Hotspur, multiple reports claim the Argentine coach has lined up a trio of new signings to focus on this summer.

According to the Daily Mirror, Pochettino wants to bring in Anthony Martial from Manchester United’s, Fulham’s young star Ryan Sessegnon and Ajax’s teenage defender Matthijs de Ligt this summer.

This incomings would be part of a big summer overhaul as Toby Alderweireld could join Man United, while Danny Rose, Mousa Dembele and Fernando Llorente are all said to be available for transfer this summer as Spurs prepare to arrive in their new White Hart Lane stadium.

Poch released a statement after he signed his new deal stating that he and chairman Daniel Levy “have spoken at length about our aspirations for this football club. We both share the same philosophies to achieve long-term, sustainable success.”

Previously the Argentine had expressed his belief that Spurs will need to spend more money if they’re going to achieve their long-term goals of challenging for the Premier League trophy and European glory.

With Poch signing a new deal (said to be worth over $60 million over five years) he has obviously gained assurances from Levy that money will be spent on new signings and in Martial, Sessegnon and de Ligt.

Martial, 22, is clearly looking for a way out of Old Trafford with Jose Mourinho making it abundantly clear the French forward doesn’t have a future under him. Martial missed out on making France’s World Cup squad and despite having a long-term deal at United the striker needs regular minutes to get his career back on track.

Spurs’ other forward options, aside from Harry Kane, are Llorente (his arrival as a back-up to Kane just didn’t work out last season), Heung-Min Son and that’s about it. Pochettino could certainly use some firepower and Martial may well be used as a makeweight in a deal for Alderweireld.

Working with Pochettino would also be a very attractive proposition for Sessegnon and de Ligt, as the duo know they will get chances to play at Spurs and the way in which Dele Alli, Kane and others have developed proves that Poch can help them kick on to the next level.

If Rose leaves this summer, as expected, then Sessegnon would be the perfect replacement to battle it out with Ben Davies for the starting spot at left back. However, the 18-year-old left wing-back may well stay with his boyhood club Fulham if they’re promoted to the Premier League via the Championship playoff final against Aston Villa on Saturday at Wembley.

In the case of de Ligt, the Ajax youngster has been interesting Manchester City, among many other clubs across Europe, but the Dutch defender will surely see a brighter future at Spurs, especially if Alderweireld does move on as a spot will open up.

With Pochettino locked into a new deal, Spurs can continue to attract the top young talent across the planet such is his success at nurturing their skills and turning them into global stars.

Tottenham have the first building block in place to continue their charge as a top four club, now they need to add extra strength in-depth and then lock down the likes of Kane, Alli and Christian Eriksen to new long-term deals.