Frank Lampard

Premier League club grades: The story so far

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We are nearly a third of the way into the 2019-20 Premier League season and the table is finally starting to take shape.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The surprise packages seem here to stay, there are a bunch of teams battling for European qualification, plenty of giants are struggling and it seems like both the title and relegation battles have already started.

Taking all of that into consideration, we feel like 12 games into the season is a very good time to dish out some grades on each PL club based on their performances so far.

Here it goes…


Arsenal: D
Unai Emery is under pressure, big time, as the defensive problems weren’t properly fixed. Add to the mix that Granit Xhaka was handed the captaincy via a player vote, then stripped of it after his outburst following fans celebrating his substitution and things are a bit of a mess. The only reason Arsenal didn’t get an F is because somehow they are still in the top six and well-placed in the Europa League. That said, they are eight points off the top four and Emery needs some big wins fast. His team don’t seem to know what is being asked of them tactically, and he’s almost 18 months into the job. Scary.


Aston Villa: C
This is just about what we expected from Villa on their return to the PL. Dean Smith‘s side are fun to watch and take risks in the final third, but they are naive defensively. They’ve pushed Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal all the way and they’ve picked up some big wins when things click in attack. Villa look set to hover just about the relegation zone this season and look to have enough quality in midfield and attack to stay out of trouble.


Bournemouth: B-
It’s a case of one step forward, one step back for the Cherries. The last few weeks summed that up well as they beat Man United then lost to Newcastle. Defensively they’ve improved massively but Eddie Howe‘s side are now suffering with a lack of clinical finishing in attack. Bournemouth will be well clear of relegation trouble, but a European push still seems a step too far for this young side.


Brighton: B+
Graham Potter‘s arrival has seen the Seagulls play some wonderful stuff, especially at home. Brighton have picked up some big wins and they have a gem in Leandro Trossard and youngster Aaron Connolly has emerged as a regular. Brighton still have a strong defensive core but they are much more adventurous going forward and Potter has got his ideas across to the players very quickly. A great start for a team many tipped as relegation favorites.


Burnley: B
Some very strong displays from the Clarets, as they’ve hammered the likes of Southampton, Norwich and West Ham, plus beat Everton and drew against Villa and Wolves. They are back to their best with a strong defensive unit and Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes are a handful up top. A top 10 finish seems very likely.


Chelsea: A+
It couldn’t have gone any better than this. Frank Lampard‘s first few months as a top-flight manager got off to a slow start but the Blues have won six PL games on the spin and are sitting pretty in the UEFA Champions League. Christian Pulisic has been on fire in the last month and the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have taken their chances in the first team, not to mention Jorginho and Willian shinning in their new roles as leaders. Chelsea may not be genuine title contenders, but they look certain to finish in the top four. In a season where they were supposed to be hit hard by a transfer ban, that’s very good going. Super Frank, indeed.


Crystal Palace: C+
The Eagles have had their ups and downs and after a fast start they’ve been on a gruelling stretch of games. Wilfried Zaha doesn’t seem fully focused and has looked frustrated, while Roy Hodgson has had to rely on Jordan Ayew for goals. How long will that last? Defensively Gary Cahill appears to be one of the bargains of the season after his free transfer from Chelsea, with the Eagles tough to beat but lacking a little in attack. Palace will be battling for a top 10 finish. Nothing less, nothing more.


Everton: C-
The last few results have improved this grade significantly, as Marco Silva still has so many issues to sort out at Everton. It appears the owners will give him plenty of time and drawing against Spurs and beating Southampton bought him some more of that. But what is Everton’s identity? They now seem to be slipping into a counter-attacking style which suits their players best, and they have to nail down that identity. Everton have the players to push for the top six (the horrible injury to Andre Gomes will make that tougher) but they have underperformed and Silva has been under pressure. Maybe now the pressure has eased (slightly) they can rise up the table.


Leicester City: A+
Brendan Rodgers is working miracles at the King Power Stadium. This young Leicester side have been a revelation so far, with Jamie Vardy leading the PL in goals and finishing off most of the copious chances created by James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Co. At the other end of the pitch Caglar Soyuncu has replaced Harry Maguire expertly and Wilfred Ndidi is ripping it up as N’Golo Kante’s replacement. The Foxes are perfectly balanced and sit second in the table for a reason. They deserve to be there, but the only worry is who will replace Vardy if he’s injured? If he stays fit, Leicester will finish in the top four. Simple.


Liverpool: A
Unbeaten with 11 wins from their opening 12 games. Not bad, Jurgen, not bad at all. Klopp’s Liverpool are hungry and although they haven’t been at their best for most of this season they are ruthless in attack and dogged in defense. Sadio Mane has taken his game to a new level and Fabinho is shielding the back four superbly. They are eight points clear but know how quickly those leads can evaporate. Still, pretty much the perfect start for Liverpool as the reigning European champs are the red-hot favorites to secure their first league title for over 30 years. If injuries are kind to them, there is no way they will let this lead slip this time.


Man City: B
Pep Guardiola‘s side have been hit hard by defensive injuries early in the season and the defending champs will rue not signing a new center back in the summer. With Aymeric Laporte going down, they’ve had to put Fernandinho at center back with Otamendi and Stones all over the place. Ederson‘s recent injury was also a blow as going forward they’ve been sublime but defensively there have been huge issues, as the defeats against Norwich and Liverpool proved. Nine points off the top early on, can Man City claw this back? It is going to take a superhuman effort, plus a Liverpool collapse, to do that. Guardiola’s side may soon go ‘all-in’ on chasing that Champions League trophy.


Man United: C+
What a weird start to the season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s young side. They’ve beaten Chelsea and Leicester and drawn against Liverpool and Arsenal, but they’ve also lost to Newcastle, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and West Ham. A real mixed bag, which is what you can expect with such a young team out there week in, week out, and because of injuries. When Rashford, Martial and James are fit, they look so dangerous in attack and at least there is a plan in place and a style of play. Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have shored things up at the back and United now need a midfield playmaker to step forward to dictate games. Expect them to make a move in the January window for a Bruno Fernandes type, while a top four finish isn’t out of the question but is looking unlikely after a topsy-turvy start.


Newcastle United: B-
Things have gone surprisingly well for Steve Bruce‘s side so far. Anarchy was in the air among the Toon Army in the summer but wins against Spurs and Man United calmed things down, and they’ve just beat West Ham and Bournemouth back-to-back. Relegation could still be on the cards, but for now the Magpies are looking solid defensively and are tough to beat. Joelinton and Miguel Almiron are struggling to produce in attack and long-term that seems to be their biggest problem.


Norwich City: C
It all started so well as Teemu Pukki couldn’t stop scoring and they beat Man City to spark wild scenes at Carrow Road. That was in September and Norwich haven’t won since. There’s no doubt defensive injuries have hit Daniel Farke‘s side hard and the players they have are adventurous but seem to be taking too many chances in possession. Pukki has been an isolated figure in recent weeks but if they can get him the ball in dangerous areas, he will finish. There’s a long way to go but Norwich sit bottom and look destined for relegation. But maybe Pukki is ready to fire up another #PukkiParty…


Sheffield United: A
The newly-promoted Blades have been one of the stories of the season so far as they sit in fifth place. We’ve all heard about their overlapping center backs and Chris Wilder being adamant they won’t change their style of play, but one of the biggest plus points from their opening few months back in the PL has been their work rate. Every play on this Sheffield United team knows their job and works their socks off. They play as a unit and have given some of the big boys big wake-up calls (they’ve beat Arsenal, drawn against Chelsea and Tottenham and only lost late on against Liverpool). The way they commit players forward is refreshing and they have brought something totally different to the PL. They should easily stay up.


Southampton: F
What a disastrous start for Saints in Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s first full season in charge. They didn’t make the correct offseason additions and were hamstrung by previous poor signings they couldn’t offload. Danny Ings has been the only bright spot so far as he’s scored seven goals in all competitions, but Saints have the worst defense in the league. They were smashed 9-0 at home by Leicester City and they sit second from bottom in the table. It’s true that the fixtures machine wasn’t kind to them for the start of the season, but they now have a very winnable run of games coming up. If they are still in the bottom three in mid-December, they look certain for relegation.


Tottenham Hotspur: D-
A summer of discontent has rumbled on into the fall and now the winter as Mauricio Pochettino‘s mood swings sum up the current situation at Spurs. Eriksen, Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Rose all want to leave but contract situations haven’t been sorted out by Daniel Levy and this has become one heck of a mess. Spurs sit in 14th place in the table, 11 points off the top four, and they look a shell of the hungry, determined side which overachieved season after season since 2015. Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are trying their best to score goals and lead the team but something isn’t right behind-the-scenes and Pochettino has a huge job on his hands to push for a top four finish.


Watford: D-
It has taken them 12 games to get a win but the recent signs have been good for the Hornets. After sacking Javi Gracia and bringing in former manager Quique Sanchez Flores they have shored things up defensively overall (let’s forget that 8-0 loss at Man City) and they’ve now drawn games against Spurs, Arsenal and Sheffield United. The win against Norwich gave them belief they can pick things up in the second half of the season and with Troy Deeney set to return they will now have more of a threat in the final third alongside Gerard Deulofeu. Goalkeeper Ben Foster has been superb so far and Watford will need to keep improving defensively if they’re going to get out of the bottom three. They certainly have the talent to do so.


West Ham United: D
Worrying times for Manuel Pellegrini as the Hammers enjoyed a good start but haven’t won since September. West Ham spent big again in the summer and they’re in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle. Declan Rice is struggling for form, so too is Sebastien Haller, and the loss of Lukas Fabianski to injury was a hammer blow (pardon the pun) as Roberto has struggled massively since replacing him in goal. West Ham shouldn’t be in a relegation scrap but it looks like a bleak winter is ahead.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: B-
Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side are ticking over very nicely after a slow start with their small squad seeming to get up to pace of the Thursday-Sunday grind with the Europa League. Raul Jimenez is on fire and although they’re making defensive mistakes, Wolves are able to bounce back better this season when they’ve fallen behind. They should be battling for another top seven finish as well as going on a deep run in the Europa League.

Leaked image shows big fines that face Chelsea rule breakers

Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images
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Frank Lampard‘s ready to go into his players’ wallets if they disobey his laws.

A posted list of fines for Chelsea players, signed by the manager, has been confirmed and we would completely understand if the Blues were on time all the time.

[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]

A player is fined about $640 per minute he’s late to a meeting, and if he misses a practice, well, wow: The fine is nearly $26,000.

If a phone rings during a meeting, that’s gonna be $1,300.

And if any fine isn’t paid within two weeks, it doubles! Seems like Christian Pulisic and his teammates will have a lot of alarms set on their phones.

From The Telegraph:

Lampard has also banned agents from the training ground, unless on official business, and players must inform the club if they intend to travel abroad, even on scheduled days off.

The average Chelsea salary last season was approximately $6.6 million, meaning players make on average $127,000 per week.

The full list of fines is below.

USMNT star Christian Pulisic suffers injury

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Christian Pulisic hobbled off after scoring with his last touch of the game for Chelsea against Crystal Palace.

[ MORE: Pulisic watch – How did he do? ]

This doesn’t sound like great news for the USMNT ahead of the international break coming up this week. But it looked like a small knock on the hip, so that could be something he will shake off. That said, is there any point in the USMNT risking his long-term fitness?

Speaking after the game, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard revealed that Pulisic came off with a hip injury.

“The only frustration is that he comes off with a bit of a hip injury,” Lampard said. “He was going to get subbed before he scored his goal. He’s got a bit of a hip issue. But I’m hoping it’s not too bad because the way he’s in full flow at the moment is great to see.”

It looked like Pulisic was injured as he bravely headed home to make it 2-0, with Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita clattering into him as he scored.

Lampard then praised the USMNT winger.

“I always believed he had huge talent and that he would be a great player for us. He has been first class for us,” Lampard said. “Scoring in the six yard box is a huge thing for a young player.”

[ MORE: Pulisic on Chelsea’s winning run ]

Pulisic, 21, scored for the third Premier League game running as he capped off a wonderful performance against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

But assessing this injury will be the most important thing for Gregg Berhalter’s side ahead of their pivotal CONCACAF Nations League clash against Canada in Orlando next Friday.

It looks like Pulisic isn’t badly hurt, as this video of him dancing below shows.

But do the USMNT really need to put him on a 10-hour flight right now? Pulisic will want to lead the U.S. as they have to win their final two games of the CONCACAF Nations League and overturn a three-goal deficit to Canada in the process to win Group A.

Pulisic leads Chelsea past Crystal Palace

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Chelsea beat a stubborn Crystal Palace side 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic popped up with second half goals.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Abraham opened the scoring and Pulisic then delivered a late header to cap off a fine individual display.

A sixth-straight Premier League win for Frank Lampard‘s side momentarily pushed them up to second place in the table.


3 things we learned

1. Confident Pulisic in full flow: From the first whistle Pulisic was feeling this and he went close on several occasions before he scored with his last touch of the game. The way he cut inside, dribbled past defenders and let fly was a joy to watch and Palace didn’t know how to handle the 21-year-old from Pennsylvania. Pulisic in full flow is a thing of beauty after his early struggles he’s now scored five PL goals in his last three games and this display was his best so far in a Chelsea shirt.

2. Blues miss Jorginho. Who partners him in midfield? Lampard will have a selection problem after the international break. Jorginho and Matteo Kovacic have played really well together while N’Golo Kante has been out, but Kante and Kovacic played well against Palace on Saturday. Kante is a guaranteed starter and Jorginho has now entered that territory as Chelsea missed his creativity and sublime passing skills against Palace. Kovacic played well but he will probably be the odd man out in central midfield.

3. Zaha frustrated by James: Chelsea teenager Reece James was handed his first PL start and he excelled to keep Wilfried Zaha quiet. The Palace winger was booked in the first half and look frustrated throughout as Palace couldn’t get him the ball and when he did, James timed his tackles superbly. James took his chance.

Man of the Match: Christian Pulisic – There is no American bias here. Pulisic was superb in the first half and then capped his fine display off with a late header before being subbed out to a standing ovation. What a few weeks for the USMNT star.


Chelsea took the game to Palace early on as Reece James’ cross almost caught out Vicente Guaita who had to tip the ball away.

Pulisic then dragged a shot wide as the Blues had most of the possession in the first half, and the USMNT star then bamboozled Joel Ward before forcing Guaita into a fine stop at his near post.

Willian and Emerson flashed free kicks wide and Pulisic then set up N’Golo Kante but his shot was well-blocked. Luka Milivojevic flashed a free kick wide of the far post as Palace struggled to get out of their own half in the first half.

Pulisic headed Kante’s cross over, then Willian’s shot was superbly blocked by Gary Cahill after Guaita had denied Tammy Abraham right on half time.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

At the start of the second half Chelsea called for a penalty kick as Pulisic bounced the ball off substitute Martin Kelly, but nothing was given.

Abraham buried his first chance of the game as Kovacic played the ball into Willian and his clever flick found the English striker onside and he slotted home to make it 1-0.

Kovacic then found Pulisic who took a great first touch and sent a powerful effort on goal which Guaita tipped over.

At the other end Milivojevic whipped in a dangerous free kick which found James Tomkins at the back post but he nodded just wide as the ball worked its way through a slew of bodies.

But with his final touch of the game Pulisic headed home after the ball deflected into his path and he scored for the third game running in the Premier League.

Watch Live: Chelsea v. Crystal Palace

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Chelsea host Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Blues aim to record a sixth-straight Premier League win.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Frank Lampard‘s boys have been in superb form with Christian Pulisic leading the charge, but they know Roy Hodgson‘s Palace are very dangerous away from home with Wilfried Zaha launching counters.

In team news Chelsea bring back N’Golo Kante after his injury, with Emerson and James coming in at full backs.

Palace bring in Andros Townsend to give them a little more trickery and dynamism out wide.


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