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Second week second-guessing Premier League table predictions

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The transfer window had just closed when ProSoccerTalk’s staff made their predictions for the 2018-19 season.

For the most part, the first two weeks of the Premier League season have cemented this writer’s faith in his projections.

[ RECAP: Palace 0-2 Liverpool ]

In four cases, however, being allowed some Monday mulligans would have me moving teams more than one spot in my predicted table.

Moving up

Spurs (Predicted 6th; New spot 3rd) –> The worries I have about Dele Alli returning to world-beating status have been quelled by Lucas Moura‘s newfound comfort in creating Premier League chances. Tottenham’s defenders the same. Next Monday’s trip to Manchester United will say a lot about both clubs. And hanging onto Toby Alderweireld instead of allowing him to steady Manchester United’s creaky back line was smart.

Watford (Predicted 18th; New spot 12th) — Don’t get us wrong, the Hornets have not done much yet. Beating a Europa League weary and shallow Burnley isn’t a great feat, though their home defeat of Brighton is a bit more impressive after the Gulls knocked off Man Utd. That said, Javi Gracia‘s men have a clear plan to get service to Troy Deeney and Andre Gray, and terrific playmakers in Roberto Pereyra and Abdoulaye Doucoure. They are better than relegation fodder, and should finish 7-10 points clear of the drop.

Moving down

Manchester United (Predicted 2nd; New spot 5th) –> United probably would’ve drawn Brighton on Sunday had they a few extra minutes on the clock, but there’s a chance Leicester would’ve done the same to them on Opening Day if afforded the same opportunity. Is Eric Bailly the proactive wall we saw versus the Foxes or, well, the reactive problem he was at Brighton?

I believed the start of the season and return to fitness for so many World Cup players would dispel the odious scent from Jose Mourinho’s offseason obnoxiousness. It hasn’t, and it’s going to cost the team the Top Four. That said, I’ll hedge a little and say United’s players may make a decent Champions League run if given a good group stage draw.

Wolves (Predicted 13th; New spot 17th) –> I thought Wolves had enough firepower to challenge for a top half spot, but Nuno Espirito Santo’s side looks incapable of keeping dangerous chances away from goalkeeper Rui Patricio, who can only do so much.

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.

What have we learned from PL opening weekend?

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With seven Premier League games now done and dusted on the opening weekend of the 2018-19 season and three games coming our way on Sunday, there’s plenty to digest and look forward to.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Following Manchester United’s nervy victory over Leicester City on Friday we learned plenty about the Red Devils. But what did we learn on Saturday as three new boys arrived and the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham kicked off their campaigns?

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Here’s a look at what stood out from the opening weekend, so far.


1. Pogba is a superstar and needs to stay at Man United
He wore the captains armband. He scored a penalty kick (after usurping Alexis Sanchez to take it) and he was deemed a “monster” from his manager Jose Mourinho. Pogba was just that against Leicester as he drove on from central midfield time and time again to show his true class and give United’s fans a glimmer of hope that he’s now found the right midfield partner in Fred and Mourinho has figured out how to get the best from him.

That said, Pogba’s comments after the game suggest he still isn’t happy at United.

“Of course it makes me proud, it makes me happy to wear this (armband) at a big club like Manchester United,” Pogba said. “Like I always say, I always give my best for the fans, for my team-mates, for the people that trust me.”

Following Mourinho’s constant critiques since he arrived in 2016 and now amid rumblings of Barcelona wanting to sign him, the World Cup winner didn’t exactly seem ecstatic after his Man of the Match display. Keeping Pogba is essential to United doing well this season as the penny seems to have dropped for the powerful midfielder and his success with France this summer seems to have returned the swagger to his game.


2. Tottenham grind out win; Kane’s drought continues
With Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris only returning back to Tottenham earlier this week, it was always going to be a disjoined display from Spurs at Newcastle. Mauricio Pochettino‘s side battled to victory on the road. Vertonghen and Alli headed home in the first half but it was a shaky display overall from Spurs as Newcastle went close on several occasions and Salomon Rondon hit the crossbar on his Magpies debut. On top of this, Harry Kane continued his weird record of not scoring a PL goal in the month of August, as it’s now 14 games all-time without scoring in August. Still, the last few times he hasn’t scored in August it worked out pretty well… 


3. Roberto Pereyra had himself a day


Watford may be quite an unfashionable team to watch at times, but Roberto Pereyra wasn’t on Saturday. The Argentine attacker scored two beauties for the Hornets as they easily beat Brighton. On the hotseat after a shaky end to last season, despite keeping Watford up after arriving in January, Javi Gracia badly needs a good start to the season. Pereyra’s beauties gave him the perfect opening weekend. 


4. Chelsea unspectacular but sturdy under Sarri
Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea got off to a winning start to the season as they beat Huddersfield and first half goals from N'Golo Kante and Jorginho set them on their way. Don’t be fooled by the scoreline as Huddersfield played well and Steve Mounie hit the bar in the first half and had some decent chances in the second half. Chelsea weren’t fluid but they looked more solid than they did against Manchester City in the Community Shield and Sarri will be pleased with the character of his squad. Bringing on Eden Hazard shows the quality they have to come as he set up Pedro for a fine third goal. They will take time to gel together but there are signs Chelsea can click under Sarri. Huddersfield isn’t an easy place to go to on opening day under a new manager who has had little time to work with his new squad. 


5. Perfect away day for Palace; Wolves the real deal 

Crystal Palace put in a fantastic away display at new boys Fulham as Palace let Fulham have the ball and two rapid counters taught the Cottagers a lesson with Schlupp and Zaha finishing off incisive counters. Textbook Roy Hodgson, and Palace. Everton’s two-goal hero Richarlison scored in each half to cap a superb debut as the Toffees dug deep after going down to 10 men in the first half and nicked a point at new boys Wolves.

Phil Jagielka‘s red card changed the game and it was debatable as he got plenty on the ball but did catch Jota and saw red for being the last man. Ruben Neves’ subsequent free kick was an absolute beauty and the atmosphere at Molineux was bouncing as the newly-promoted team proved they belong in the top-flight. For Wolves, well, they were the real deal against Everton. They fell behind to an early Richarlison goal and dragged themselves back into the game with Neves sublime on the ball. Richarlison scored a lovely second for Everton against the run of play, but Mexico’s Raul Jimenez nodded home a late equalizer to grab a point for the home side. From the stadium (it was their biggest crowd in 37 years)  to their squad and manager, everything about Wolves is Premier League. Their first PL game in seven years didn’t end in victory but it proved that Wolves will have plenty of good times this season.

Newcastle, USMNT back Yedlin limps off after late knee injury

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It took just a little over 180 minutes for the Premier League to claim its first potentially significant injury of the season.

[ RECAP: Newcastle 1-2 Spurs ]

American right back DeAndre Yedlin needed several minutes treatment after lunging for a ball in stoppage time between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur in the league’s second game of the season.

Yedlin, 25, limped off the field gingerly and was shown needing help to get up stairs in the tunnel. Overall, he had a decent performance was at fault for Dele Alli‘s 18th minute goal and was quite challenged by the Englishman.

The USMNT back played in 34 matches for the Magpies last season, notching two assists and gaining plenty of plaudits from the St. James’ Park faithful.

Tottenham edge past gutsy Newcastle

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  • Vertonghen put Spurs ahead
  • Joselu equalized soon after
  • Dele Alli scores winner
  • Rondon hits bar on debut

Tottenham Hotspur beat Newcastle United 2-1 at St James’ Park on Saturday, with Spurs battling to victory with several of their stars playing after just a few days of preseason training following the World Cup.

Jan Vertonghen gave Spurs the lead but Joselu equalized with a lovely header, then Alli also scored a header at the back post to cap a wild spell in the first half.

Spurs held on for the win despite late Newcastle pressure as Mauricio Pochettino side started off their new season with a win. And, oh yeah, Harry Kane still hasn’t scored in August.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs took an early lead as Vertonghen nodded home at the back post, with the goal awarded via goal-line technology.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Yet Newcastle responded right away as Joselu finished Matt Ritchie’s cross superbly to send St James’ Park wild.

Soon they were deflated once again as Serge Aurier surged forwar22685224d and crossed for Alli to nod home and restore Tottenham’s lead.

Three goals in seven first half minutes opened the first Saturday of the new season in style.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Mohamed Diame smashed the outside of the post in the second half after a wonderful piece of control, as Newcastle pushed to get back into the game.

Kenedy was then played in with a wonderful pass but got his first tough all wrong as Lloris smothered the chance.

And Lloris then saved well from Ayoze Perez from a tight angle.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Spurs threatened to add another on the break late on but Newcastle were also creating chances. Their best fell to new loan signing Salomon Rondon but his shot deflected onto the crossbar when he was played through.

Tottenham held on for victory as they started the second-straight PL campaign with a victory at Newcastle.