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Premier League Preview: Cardiff City vs. Brighton and Hove Albion

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  • Joe Ralls is available again for Cardiff but Jazz Richards (hamstring) and Kenneth Zohore (calf) will both miss out through injury and Harry Arter is suspended.   
  • Brighton continue to be without Pascal Gross, Davy Propper (ankle) and David Button (knee), while Alireza Jahanbakhsh is likely to be absent with a hamstring strain. 
  • Cardiff and Brighton have never met before in the top flight. This is the fourth new top-flight fixture this season after AFC Bournemouth v Cardiff, Brighton v Fulham and AFC Bournemouth v Fulham. 
  • The Bluebirds are aiming to halt their habit of conceding the opening goal, having done so eight times in the Premier League this season, the most of any team, level with Fulham.  

Brighton and Hove Albion has the chance to move into the top ten of the Premier League table as Chris Houghton’s side travel to face Cardiff City in the first match of week 12 (Watch live on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Seagulls have enjoyed a great start to the season, with three wins in its last four including a 1-0 win at relegation-threatened Newcastle. The defense, led by Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy has held firm while 35-year-old Glenn Murray continues to drink from the fountain of youth, scoring six goals this early in the PL season. Cardiff on the other side are desperate for three points at home, as it currently sits in the drop zone with five points from 11 games.

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What they’re saying

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock on finding positives out of a rough start to the season: ““I think as a team we’ve improved nearly every game since the Bournemouth game and we’ve played far more football than people give us credit for. But it’s about getting the balance, we have changed and now we need a bit of luck. My wife says my luck is changing from today, so I can’t argue with my wife. But every game is winnable for us until Christmas if we have a good day. If we didn’t win it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but Saturday is one we want to win.”

Brighton and Hove Albion manager Chris Houghton on facing Cardiff: “It goes without saying that when you get used to this league you recognize that trips to teams who aren’t in the top six might not be as daunting – but this is still only our second season in the division. We know them quite well as a team, and their level of performance this season has been relatively good on the whole despite the results. They’re at home and they’ll have good backing from the crowd, so our approach is exactly the same as any other away game – but every game is an opportunity for us.”

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Prediction

It’s a matchup between two teams who display similar playing styles, so like many games with teams farther down the table, this one should come down to a set piece. We’ll give Cardiff the narrow victory, picking up three massive points over Brighton. Cardiff 1-0 Brighton

Grades, key takeaways on each PL club so far

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With four games done and dusted as we head into the first international break of the 2018-19 Premier League season, now seems like a good time to focus on how each team team has looked so far.

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It’s never too early for this. Trust me.

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Below we give each PL club a grade based on their early season performances (I can hear you screaming ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint’) and what the key takeaway has been for each so far.


Arsenal

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Grade: C+
Key takeaway: Plenty of work to do defensively and the possession style from the back is going to cost Petr Cech his role as a starter. Slick going forward but where does Mesut Ozil slot into Unai Emery‘s plans? Still a lot of questions unanswered with the Gunners looking likely to finish outside the top four after some early season struggles. That said, if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette get going, they could easily finish in the top four.


Bournemouth

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Grade: B+
Key takeaway: Eddie Howe continues to work wonders on the South Coast as the Cherries’ only defeat came at Chelsea, and they pressed the Blues pretty hard and missed some big chances. Bournemouth look like they can push for the top 10 and Callum Wilson is fired up this season. A better start than they’ve had in recent years since gaining promotion to the Premier League in 2015.


Brighton & Hove Albion

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Grade: B
Key takeaway: Glenn Murray continues to defy father time with three goals already. Two defeats have come against Watford and Liverpool, while the win over Man United showed their improved attacking prowess. Any injuries to key defenders and they could struggle but much more adventurous this season, especially at home where their form remains fantastic. Solid and steady start for the Seagulls under Chris Hughton.


Burnley

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Grade: F
Key takeaway: We see it season after season. Qualifying for the Europa League will impact the fortunes of the so-called smaller PL teams and Burnley not only failed to make the Europa group stages, but they’re also without a win in the PL. Sean Dyche has had injuries to key players to contend with but their lack of defensive solidity, and goals, show how remarkable their seventh-place finish was last season. Relegation battle coming up for the Clarets.


Cardiff City

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Grade: C
Key takeaway: Just two points on the board for the Bluebirds but this is pretty much exactly what we expected from Neil Warnock‘s side. Hard to break down and they gave Arsenal a heck of a scare in the Welsh capital on Sunday. They will rue not beating Newcastle and Huddersfield when having a man advantage for large spells of the game, especially with a tough run of games coming up. Scoring goals will be the main issue for Cardiff with Bobby Reid and Kenneth Zohore off target through the first four weeks.


Chelsea

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Grade: A-
Key takeaway: They should really get an A given the way the players have already adapted to Maurizio Sarri‘s tactics, but the only real test was against Arsenal and they showed plenty of weaknesses in that game. Chelsea’s players look rejuvenated going forward, with Jorginho pulling the strings, N'Golo Kante leading the high-press in a new advanced position and Eden Hazard their main man. Defensively the duo of Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz in a 4-3-3 formation have been caught out at times and that will be a concern for Sarri against  tougher opposition. Four wins from four is a great start for the new Italian coach. But he knows his pressing game will take months for his Chelsea side to perfect. Off the pitch, Roman Abramovich’s situation is slightly worrying but it doesn’t seem like the club will be sold anytime soon.


Crystal Palace

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Grade: C
Key takeaway: The Eagles had a great win at Fulham on the opening day and although they lost to Liverpool and Watford, they impressed in both games. Without Wilfried Zaha they had no answer in their third-straight defeat, which came at the hands of Southampton. We’ve learned that Palace are more reliant on Zaha this season than they were last season. Any long-term injury to Wilf and it’s tough to see where the goals will come from for Roy Hodgson‘s men.


Everton

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Grade: B
Key takeaway: Still unbeaten under Marco Silva, Everton have flattered to deceive a little but they’ve been superb on the counter attack which is the style the Portuguese coach loves. Richarlison was flying before his silly red card at Bournemouth and Silva’s inability to arrange his teams effectively at defensive set piece situations continues. Sloppy draws against Bournemouth and Huddersfield show their defense needs work, but in fairness they’ve had injuries galore at that position. Top seven still a real possibility for the Toffees.


Fulham

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Grade: B
Key takeaway: Silly defensive mistakes have riddled Fulham’s first four games. They’ve got four points on the board as they smashed Burnley and drew at Brighton, but they led the latter 2-0 before coughing up two needless goals. Slavisa Jokanovic‘s side are lovely on the eye and Mitrovic, Seri and Schurrle have impressed. More composure in both boxes needed.


Huddersfield Town

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Grade: D-
Key takeaway: Two points on the board shows that the Terriers are still very capable of battling for points in the Premier League, but there’s a sense of a Sophomore slump. Where will the goals come from? David Wagner isn’t getting too worried after heavy defeats to Man City and Chelsea, but it’s clear for all to see Huddersfield will be in a relegation scrap this season.


Leicester City

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Grade: B+
Key takeaway: Their results may not show it but Leicester have been very good early in the season. They lost 2-1 to Man United and Liverpool but could have easily won both games and deserved a point from both at the very least. Claude Puel has injected youth into the Foxes with James Maddison, Ben Chilwell and Demarai Gray all impressing. A really nice balance about this team now compared to their previous incarnation as a counter-attacking monster.


Liverpool

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Grade: A
Key takeaway: Jurgen Klopp‘s men have found a handy knack of not playing well but still winning games. Four wins from four suggests it’s a great start. They edged by Brighton and Leicester despite not being at their best and that came after blowing past West Ham and Crystal Palace. Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez are developing a strong partnership at center back, while Alisson had a solid start but his huge blunder against Leicester should help him out, in the long run, as he figures out the Premier League. The usual suspects continue to fire in attack and with Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri arriving, plus Daniel Sturridge fit, Klopp’s squad is a lot deeper this season.


Manchester City

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Grade: B+
Key takeaway: The only blot on the copybook was the 1-1 draw at Wolves and without the injured Kevin De Bruyne City have struggled to break down teams as easily as they did last season. That said, big wins against Arsenal and Huddersfield proved their strength in-depth and they look set for a big title charge again this season. Pep Guardiola‘s men will have to deal with teams sitting even deeper against them this season. How is that possible? Still, Sergio Aguero and David Silva are delivering again for the reigning champs but both Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez have struggled early in the season.


Manchester United

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Grade: D
Key takeaway: Jose Mourinho’s men have had a tumultuous start to the season and the main issue has been defensive deficiencies. After a summer of searching for new center backs and not buying any, Mourinho’s current defenders are all over the place. Add in rumors about Paul Pogba not being happy, Mourinho’s post-Tottenham meltdown and two-straight defeats and there was an air of panic around Old Trafford. The win at Burnley settled things down before the international break but Mourinho is still in fighting mode as many believe another third-season syndrome is in full-flow. Six points on the board from four games isn’t great, but United will still be challenging for the top four at the very least.


Newcastle United

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Grade: D
Key takeaway: No wins yet for Rafael Benitez’s men but they were handed a pretty awful start in terms of the fixture list. Narrow defeats to Tottenham, Chelsea and Man City have seen him set up his team differently for each and key injuries haven’t helped. The main takeaway is that Benitez is working miracles with the squad at his disposal and Newcastle’s fans shouldn’t forgot that after many criticized his ultra-defensive tactics against Chelsea, where they almost grabbed a point. A season above the relegation zone would be a huge success.


Southampton

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Grade: C+
Key takeaway: Mark Hughes‘ men have every right to feel a little hard done by with their points tally after four games. But at least they have their first win on the board after beating Crystal Palace. Danny Ings will be their savior this season as he looks sharp and Hughes has finally settled on his best starting lineup in a 4-4-2 formation. Narrow defeats against Everton and Leicester prove they probably aren’t good enough to challenge for Europe this season but they shouldn’t be dragged into another relegation scrap.


Tottenham Hotspur

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Grade: B-
Key takeaway: Heading towards four wins on the spin to open the season, a late implosion at Watford ahead of the international break showcased the reason for Mauricio Pochettino‘s recent pessimism. Even after Spurs’ 3-0 shellacking of Manchester United at Old Trafford, Poch warned his side they weren’t performing well. Given the fact plenty of his starting lineup reached the final two days of the World Cup, there is a healthy hangover among this squad. Throw in their stadium delay and no new signings this summer and three wins from four is very decent. Lucas Moura‘s form has been a huge boost and he’s been like a new signing, plus Harry Kane has actually scored (twice) in August. Spurs will be in the top four mix again.


Watford

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Grade: A+
Key takeaway: The surprise package of the season so far, Watford have four wins from four after their comeback win against Tottenham. Javi Gracia‘s men were one of the relegation favorites before a ball was kicked but they’ve once again started a season on fire. Can they keep it up? They seem to have many contributors this season rather than relying on Richarlison like they did before he left for Everton. Abdoulaye Doucoure has taken his game to another level, plus Andre Gray, Troy Deeney and Roberto Pereyra have all chipped in. It seems like the Hornets could challenge the top six this season. What a huge surprise.


West Ham United

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Grade: F
Key takeaway: If we could give them a lower grade, we would. A simply shocking start for the Hammers under new manager Manuel Pellegrini. They spent over $130 million on new players in the summer but there’s no balance to their team, huge holes in central midfield and they’re leaking goals galore. Not a great combo, right? West Ham’s owners will soon see protests and more from the fans if this run continues. That means Pellegrini, quite unbelievably, is the bookmakers favorite to be the next PL manager to get the sack. Defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal were expected but home losses to Bournemouth and Wolves were not. Felipe Anderson has shown bright sparks along with Marko Arnautovic up top, but that’s about it.


Wolverhampton Wanderers

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Grade: B+
Key takeaway: Wolves look the part in the Premier League. Ruben Neves is a wizard alongside Joao Moutinho in midfield, Raul Jimenez is a handful up top and Rui Patricio is a star in goal. New arrivals throughout their spine have helped Nuno Espirito Santo keep the core of his team which won promotion last season but also take to life in the top-flight effortlessly. Wolves could easily have won all four games (they’ve had to settle for five points instead) and they are a team which has a clear identity to press high in a 3-5-2 formation. As the season wears on we should expect to see them in the top 10.


Newcastle miss late penalty, draw at Cardiff

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  • Hayden sent off in second half
  • Zohore, Perez go close
  • First point of season for both clubs
  • Etheridge saves last-gasp penalty kick

Cardiff City and 10-man Newcastle United played out a tight, tense draw at the Cardiff City stadium on Saturday.

Kenneth Zohore had Cardiff’s best chances, while Newcastle battled hard after going down to 10-men in the second half but failed to create many clear-cut chances.

Newcastle had a glorious chance to grab all three points late on but Kenedy‘s penalty kick was saved by Cardiff’s Neil Etheridge in the 96th minute.

Both teams are off and running with their first point on the board for the season.

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Cardiff started brightly and Bamba had an effort bundled away by Newcastle and at the other end Ayoze Perez had a decent effort on goal.

Zohore was a handful in the first half as he nodded wide and created plenty of mayhem in the box.

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A major flashpoint arrived before half time as Kenedy kicked out at Camarasa and could have been in plenty of trouble had referee Craig Pawson seen the incident.

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Cardiff threatened on the break as Zohore headed wide and Jonjo Shelvey made a great last-ditch clearance to deny the home side taking the lead.

Issac Hayden, a half time sub, then caught Josh Murphy and was shown a straight red card. Harry Arter was lucky to stay on the pitch after a late kick as the game heated up.

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Zohore then had a header cleared away at the near post as Cardiff pushed for a late winner but Newcastle were given a great chance to snatch all three points.

Muto’s cross from the left struck Sean Morrison in the arm and a penalty kick was awarded.

But Kenedy’s tame free kick was saved by Etheridge and Cardiff grabbed a point as Newcastle were dejected.

Premier League friendly roundup

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With just 13 days to go until the 2018/19 Premier League season kicks off, a whole host of clubs were in action on Saturday across the globe as preseason reaches its climax.

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From Arsenal hammering PSG in Singapore to a bunch of PL clubs playing against second-tier Championship sides on home soil, the run-outs for new boys continued.

Below is a look at all of the PL clubs in action on Saturday, with only Burnley and Huddersfield not playing.


Leicester 1-2 Udinese – Lasagna and Machis struck in the first half for the Serie A side against the Foxes in Austria. Ricardo went close and then linked up with Kelechi Iheanacho who made it 2-1, as Claude Puel is without stars Harry Maguire and Jamie Vardy but Leicester’s squad is looking deeper than last season.


Dijon 0-2 SouthamptonShane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini with a goal in each half for Mark Hughes‘ men as they completed their preseason trip to Switzerland with a win against Ligue 1 Evian.


Ipswich Town 1-2 West Ham United – The Hammers took the lead early as record signing Felipe Anderson headed home at the back post, but Harrison soon put the Tractor boys level with a tidy finish and went close soon after. Mark Arnautovic scored the winner as Manuel Pellegrini‘s side continue their impressive preseason form.


Reading 0-4 Crystal PalaceAlex Sorloth gave Palace a first half lead as he hammered home a cross from Wilfried Zaha and the Eagles didn’t look back. In the second half Roy Hodgson‘s side added another three goals with Zaha grabbing two and James Tomkins nodding home Andros Townsend‘s fine cross.


Nottingham Forest 2-0 Bournemouth – A goal either side of half time gave Forest the victory against PL side Bournemouth with Tendayi Darikwa and Gil Dias on the scoresheet. The Cherries kept Costel Pantillimon busy but couldn’t break through at the City Ground.


Brentford 1-2 Watford – The Hornets fell behind as Ben Foster parried out a free kick and Ollie Watkins put Brentford in front. Maxi Pereyra caused problems and forced Brentford into an own goal to level the scores, then Andre Gray continued his fine form as he made it 2-1 in the first with his third goal of preseason. That turned out to be the winner.


Birmingham City 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion – Second-tier Birmingham took the lead as Kieftenbeld volleyed home in the first half. And the Seagulls levelled in the final minute as new boy Yves Bissouma scored a beauty. The midfielder promises to be some signing from Lille.


Burton Albion 1-5 Cardiff City – The Bluebirds comfortably beat Championship side Burton after falling behind as Junior Hoillet’s dangerous free kick led to an own goal, Kenneth Zohore made it 2-1, then a beauty from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing made it 2-1 and second half goals from Bobby Reid and Callum Paterson completed the rout.


Derby County 2-1 Wolves – Joao Moutinho made his debut for PL new boys Wolves and although his fellow Portuguese international Patricio saved well, David Nugent was on hand to give Derby the lead. Wolves equalized through Diogo Jota who finished after Ruben Neves crashed against the bar, but Frank Lampard‘s side won it late on as Chelsea loanee Mason Mount scored the winner.


In action later on Saturday…
Manchester United v Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur v Barcelona
Bayern Munich v Manchester City
FC Porto v Newcastle United
Inter Milan v Chelsea
Rennes v Everton
Athletic Bilbao v Fulham