Bernard

Bernard leads Everton past Watford

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Everton beat Watford 1-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday, as Bernard‘s first half chance was enough to grab all three points for the Toffees.

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The Toffees had chances on the break to seal the deal but had Jordan Pickford to thank as Watford pushed hard for an equalizer.

Marco Silva‘s Everton have four points and two clean sheets from their first two games, while Watford have lost two out of two.


3 things we learned

1. Bernard reminds us of he’s quality: It was the moment which won Everton the game and it was that extra bit of quality we’ve come to expect from Bernard. We haven’t seen it enough over the past 12 months, but he has something Everton’s other attackers don’t have. Walcott, Richarlison and Kean have pace to burn but Bernard’s creativity is key to mixing things up.

2. Watford’s flat start a little concerning: Yes, they looked decent in the second half, but Javi Gracia‘s side just aren’t doing enough to force the issue in games. After getting hammered in the FA Cup final last summer and finishing the season poorly to finish outside of the top 10, Watford have maybe lost a little momentum. Danny Welbeck made his debut and should give them some extra firepower up top, while Sarr will be a good buy long-term.

3. Pickford saves Everton: A fine stop from Pickford in the second half kept Everton in this game and England’s goalkeeper came up big in a big moment. Pickford needs to do that consistently this season if the Toffees are going to finish in the top six. Defensively they’ve got better, but Pickford is key to all of that.

Man of the Match: Jordan Pickford – One fine stop and a calming influence at the back. Big performance from the Everton goalkeeper.


After a bright start Everton took the lead, as a long ball forward found Bernard and the Brazilian winger cut inside and curled home at the near post.

Watford finally woke up and former Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu was popping up to cause the Toffees defense problems. It looked like Yerry Mina took him down in the box but no penalty kick was given.

Etienne Capoue forced Jordan Pickford into a smart save at one end and Richarlison nodded over as Everton should have doubled their lead.

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Pickford then denied Troy Deeney with a glorious save after rushing off his line bravely.

Richarlison missed another glorious chance in the second half against his former club as he nodded over, while Watford pushed forward late on for an equalizer.

Moise Kean, making his debut, surged clear but fired over as Everton looked to seal the win.

Abdoulaye Doucoure came close but Everton held on to stay unbeaten and they now have four points from their first two games of the season.

Premier League Preview: Man City v. Spurs

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The Premier League has a monumental match for the second-straight week, as champions Manchester City host Tottenham Hotspur in a tension-filled affair at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Both sides controlled play in opening day wins, though an early concession had Spurs facing blocks of defenders, and will be raring to meet the challenge at hand.

Mauricio Pochettino says Giovani Lo Celso will make his first match day 18 for Spurs, though he will not start; Jan Vertonghen may return to the Starting XI.

As for City, Fernandinho is fit and Bernardo Silva may also make his season debut after missing the opener with a minor injury.


Projected lineups

Man CityEderson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva; Jesus, Aguero, Sterling

Spurs: Lloris; Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Winks, Ndombele, Sissoko; Eriksen, Moura, Kane.


What they’re saying

Guardiola on whether Raheem Sterling is the top attacker in the league: “There are many and he’s one of them. Look at the top six teams and you will find many, many players. The premier League is incredible. We have many but even still. I didn’t watch all the other games but Sterling has played good from the beginning and been clinical. We want more. Everybody wants more and he wants more. It was just the first game.”

Spurs on chasing the champsWe are going to fight again this season against ourselves to try to improve our balance. If we analyze the last five years we always improve every season in different things but in the Premier League I think we decrease in our performance or in the points we got. That is our challenge, to improve ourselves. To improve our numbers in the Premier League. Of course in Europe we have improved and become more competitive and got to the final of the Champions League.


Prediction

City lost exactly one home match last season, a 3-2 thriller with Palace on Dec. 22. Take that out, and they allowed nine goals in 18 wins; Nine were clean sheets and they did not trail aside from the Palace match.

That said, Spurs have experience scoring at the Etihad from that 4-3 second-leg Champions League thriller in April.

We expect a special tactical treat, and goals: Man City 2-1.

Top PL storylines: Matchweek 2

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The Premier League season is officially under way and already Manchester City is on top of the table after just one week, having taken down West Ham by a blistering 5-0 scoreline that could be even more.

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With the first week under our belt, here are the top storylines as clubs look to keep the ball rolling, or in the case of teams like the Hammers, Norwich City, or Watford, turn their fortunes before falling too far behind.


Chelsea looks to build on midweek showing

  • Chelsea v. Leicester City, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

For long stretches of the midweek Super Cup, Chelsea looked the better side against Liverpool. While the Champions League title holders eventually won the match on penalties after a 2-2 draw, the Blues look much improved from their opening week drubbing at the hands of Manchester United.

Frank Lampard still has improving to do as a manager, indicative of his slow reaction to a second half surge by Liverpool, but the Blues boss could hand Christian Pulisic his full Premier League debut after leaving the American on the bench against Manchester United. It’s not perfect, and Chelsea has a long way to go to be a truly competitive force at the top of the Premier League table, but marketable improvement at this stage in the season is always a welcome sight.


Spurs gets crack at defending champs

  • Man City v. Tottenham, Saturday, 12:30 a.m. ET on NBC

Tottenham began its new season with a 3-1 comeback win over newly promoted Aston Villa, and while it took time for the Champions League finalists to gain a foothold in the match, the final result will encourage Spurs fans as they get an early shot at Manchester City. It’s likely a little too early for Giovani Lo Celso or Ryan Sessegnon to make a full debut, but Tanguay Ndombele got off to a good start with a goal against Villa and the new-look Spurs will likely provide Man City a serious test.

City was explosive against West Ham as Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were both spectacular, but Bernardo Silva could be brought into the side after finding the substitutes bench in the opener, as could Sergio Aguero.


Early relegation six-pointer?

  • Norwich City v. Newcastle United, Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

Many Premier League projections, including some of our own here at Pro Soccer Talk, have Norwich City and Newcastle both in various stages of the relegation picture. It’s possible that this early match could prove vital in helping shape the bottom of the table.

If so, the matchup could be an entertaining one. While these two sides combined for just one goal between them last weekend, they were both positive going forward in spells. The last four matchups between these two teams have produced a total of 24 goals, and the last time they faced off in Premier League competition, they were both eventually relegated. It may be early, but they all count the same.


Arsenal stars could return

  • Arsenal v. Burnley, Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac still have safety and security issues to sort out – a worrying prospect for players just looking to ply their trade on the pitch – but they’re back in Arsenal training and could return to the matchday squad after missing out on the opening weekend.

With the pair potentially in the fold, it will give the Gunners a boost after looking bright but wasteful in the early 1-0 win over Newcastle. Ozil could come in for Reiss Nelson while Kolasinac would replace the deputizing Nacho Monreal. David Luiz could also make his Arsenal debut with Calum Chambers possibly making way, giving Arsenal a much more complete lineup than last week. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the game’s only goal in the season opener, and he is tipped to strike many more times this season in a likely Golden Boot challenge.


Wolves looks to again trouble Manchester United

  • Wolverhampton Wanderers v. Manchester United, Monday, 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Manchester United looked stellar in the opening weekend against Chelsea, but they’ll take on a pesky foe in Week 2 as they look to keep the momentum going. Wolves picked up four points off Manchester United last season as they proved difficult for many top sides to deal with throughout the season.

Most importantly, the Red Devils will need to deal with Raul Jimenez who has picked up where he left off last season with four goals in Europa League play to start the campaign, although he – along with the rest of the Wolves squad – was held off the scoresheet in the Premier League opener against Leicester City. That 0-0 draw was drab as Wolves appeared tired after early European play, but the home side will feel they can hit Manchester United on the counter Monday as they did a number of times last season.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 1

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We here at ProSoccerTalk are trying to put a new spin on our weekly Premier League power rankings this season, and we’ve got a few weeks to figure out the best way to track the most powerful teams in the world’s top league.

[ MORE: USSF promotes Stewart, hires USWNT GM ]


20. Watford — Many were tipping Watford for bigger things after a very decent 2018-19, and those opinions were rewarded by conceding three goals at home to a club that scored 16 away goals last season. Shoulder shrug emoji?
Last season’s final power ranking: 11
Opening Day: Lost 3-0 v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Everton

19. Southampton — Maybe Burnley’s Erik Pieters and Ashley Barnes traded bodies with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino, but Saints need to be better than a 3-0 opening day loss to Burnley.
Last season’s final power ranking: 15
Opening Day: Lost 3-0 at Burnley
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Liverpool

18. West Ham United — Not many teams can make Issa Diop look like an episode of “my very first time as a professional.” Ain’t too many teams like Man City.
Last season’s final power ranking: 10
Opening Day: Lost 5-0 v. Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Brighton and Hove Albion

17. Norwich City — Let’s be real: The 4-1 loss to Liverpool could’ve been 6-4. The Canaries created plenty of chances.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Lost 4-1 at Liverpool
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

16. Newcastle United — Arsenal did the St. James’ Park faithful a solid by keeping Lacazette, Pepe, and David Luiz on the bench.
Last season’s final power ranking: 13
Opening Day: Lost 1-0 v. Arsenal
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Norwich City

15. Bournemouth — Eddie Howe‘s teams are usually a bit more savvy against the lower lights of the league.
Last season’s final power ranking: 14
Opening Day: Drew 1-1 v. Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Aston Villa

14. Crystal Palace — Could’ve use Wilfried Zaha in the Starting XI, and how Roy Hodgson settles the Ivorian will go a long way towards its season fate.
Last season’s final power ranking: 12
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 v. Everton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Sheffield United

(Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

13. Sheffield United — 33-year-old Billy “Mr. Sheffield United” Sharp getting his first Premier League goal to draw the Blades’ first PL match in years was my favorite moment of the weekend.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Drew 1-1 at Bournemouth
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Crystal Palace

12. Chelsea — Frank Lampard is right in that the Blues were better than a 4-0, but he’s also wrong in ignoring Jose Mourinho’s overall point; The young lineup to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Opening Day was as naive as the players in it, even if Mason Mount was a nice surprise.
Last season’s final power ranking: 4
Opening Day: Lost 4-0 at Man Utd
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Leicester

11. Everton — A second-successive season opening red card at Palace. The 0-0 result is respectable, but not great if you want to be a Top Six side.
Last season’s final power ranking: 5
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Watford

10. Leicester City — Controlled play but really should’ve been able to get it over the line against a Wolves team who was in Armenia a few days earlier.
Last season’s final power ranking: 8
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 v. Wolves
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Chelsea

9. Wolves — To get a point at Leicester despite playing Thursday in Armenia is solid.
Last season’s final power ranking: 6
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 at Leicester City
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday v. Man Utd

8. Aston Villa — Showed discipline under siege.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Lost 3-1 at Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

7. Arsenal — The problems Arsenal had winning the ball versus Joelinton, a promising player and big signing, makes you wonder what will happen against Roberto Firmino and Harry Kane.
Last season’s final power ranking: 7
Opening Day: Won 1-0 at Newcastle
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Burnley

6. Burnley — We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: We have too often bet against Sean Dyche, who like his Clarets is tactically smart and physically terrifying.
Last season’s final power ranking: 16
Opening Day: Won 3-0 v. Southampton
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Arsenal

5. Brighton and Hove Albion — Raise your hand if you saw the Seagulls going on the road and professionally out-maneuvering Watford at nearly every turn. Put your hand down. Dishonesty isn’t cool.
Last season’s final power ranking: 17
Opening Day: Won 3-0 at Watford
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. West Ham

4. Liverpool — Mohamed Salah was wonderful and Fabinho a treat, but you’d be naive to gloss over another shaky defensive performance after a summer of rough ones.
Last season’s final power ranking: 2
Opening Day: Won 4-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

3. Tottenham Hotspur — Thoroughly dominated Aston Villa and, most important, found its way through the packed in back.
Last season’s final power ranking: 3
Opening Day: Won 3-1 v. Aston Villa
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Man City

2. Manchester United — Spare a thought for David De Gea, whose first half allowed for the Red Devils’ standout final half hour.
Last season’s final power ranking: 9
Opening Day: Won 4-0 v. Chelsea
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday at Wolves

  1. Manchester City — Raheem Sterling is unfair, and City hasn’t even really worked Joao Cancelo into the mix. And Bernardo Silva was injured.
    Last season’s final power ranking: 1
    Opening Day: Won 5-0 at West Ham
    Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Spurs

What we learned from opening PL Saturday

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LONDON — The new Premier League campaign is off and running and we learned so much from the opening Saturday of the season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Hot takes: Aston Villa are probably going to finish in the top 10. Man City may well score 150 Premier League goals this season. Harry Kane will win the Golden Boot. And maybe we were all a little too hasty to write off the likes of Sheffield United, Brighton and Burnley before a ball was kicked…

What did we learn from the opening Saturday of the season?


VAR WORKED VERY, VERY WELL

This was the first weekend VAR was used across the Premier League and, all in all, it went very smoothly. In what was probably the most high-profile use of the new system, it was used to order a retake of a penalty kick which Sergio Aguero missed at West Ham. After two Hammers defenders encroached into the box, and were then able to get to the ball first after Fabianski’s save, they became active and VAR was used correctly.

From offside decisions to possible red cards, VAR was used quickly and efficiently and if you want a primer about how it’s going to work this season, click here. If the first week of VAR is anything to go by, the PL’s decision to wait to use this system has been proved correct.


MAN CITY OUTDO LIVERPOOL

Liverpool scored four, so Man City had to score five, didn’t they? After Liverpool’s first half blitz against Norwich led to a 4-1 win at Anfield on Friday, Man City destroyed West Ham 5-0 at the London Stadium on Saturday. Pep Guardiola‘s men stepped on the accelerator in the second half and with Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan on the bench, plus Joao Cancelo, their strength in-depth is ridiculous. Raheem Sterling‘s hat trick was a thing of clinical beauty and Man City are in midseason form.

There are plenty of twists and turns ahead in the Premier League title race and it is clear, especially after the opening weekend, that Liverpool and Man City can beat most teams without getting out of second gear. City looked fresh and with Alisson going down injured against Norwich, you’d have to say it is advantage Man City after the opening weekend. One down, 37 to go…


NEW SEASON, SAME HARRY KANE

Harry Kane looked fit, sharp and hungry as Tottenham fought back to beat Aston Villa 3-1. Spurs didn’t start well but when they equalized through debutant Tanguy Ndombele, there was only one winner. Christian Eriksen‘s arrival off the bench made a massive difference and Kane pounced twice to finish clinically.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned

He missed two chances in the first half he would usually have scored, and even though he rarely scores in August, he grabbed two crucial late goals to send Spurs’ fans wild. Without Jan Vertonghen, Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli, Kane stood tall to lead Spurs to victory. Now he has had an entire summer to relax and recover, England’s star striker and everyone connected with Spurs will be hoping he can shake off his ankle injuries to lead them on a title push with Liverpool and Man City. Spurs have so many attacking options with the arrival of Giovani Lo Celso, plus Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela around, but Kane remains their biggest hope of silverware.


ASTON VILLA WILL BE DANGEROUS

As we are about to discuss below, the opening weekend usually springs a few surprises. Aston Villa looked like they would spring one of those at Tottenham. With 12 summer signings, it was difficult to know how Villa would line up but Dean Smith’s side put in a near-perfect away display. The last five minutes saw Harry Kane score twice and they lost 3-1. They scored early, sat back and soaked up pressure and looked dangerous on the counter as they built off Wesley‘s knockdowns. Jack Grealish was a beast in midfield, Tyrone Mings held things together at the back and Tom Heaton made a string of fine saves in the second half.

The team from England’s second city have a huge fanbase and the former European champions are a Premier League club. It is as a simple as that. With John Terry‘s influence on their defense obvious, the flair of Smith’s side is led by Grealish and there was a decent balance to Villa in the first 60 minutes before they ran out of steam. I’m not saying they’re going to be better than Wolves were last season, but a top 10 finish isn’t out of the question in 2019-20.


OPENING WEEKEND STAYS WEIRD

Burnley beating Southampton 3-0? Brighton winning 3-0 away at Watford? Yeah, I told you in this Matchweek 1 preview video to beware of upsets during the opening weekend and it didn’t disappoint. Burnley battered Saints in the second half as Ashley Barnes morphed into a clinical battering ram, and the Clarets were back to their gritty best in defense.

Brighton’s new boss Graham Potter caught everyone by surprise as the Seagulls grabbed their first win in 10 PL games, with that run stretching back to March. Everyone questioning the dismissal of Chris Hughton will now be served up a plate of humble pie as Brighton’s attacking masterclass (with pretty much exactly the same lineup Hughton was using last season) was hammered home by subs Florin Andone and club-record signing Neal Maupay who both scored.