Manuel Pellegrini

Leicester City smashes West Ham, loses Vardy

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Leicester City snapped a two-match losing run with a 4-1 defeat of West Ham United on Wednesday.

The third-place Foxes move to 48 points, but lost Jamie Vardy and Nampalys Mendy to first half injuries.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Pereira set each other up for goals and Ayoze Perez scored twice late in the win.

Mark Noble scored a penalty of his own for the losing side, whose 23 points are out of the drop zone on goal differential. The Irons have played one fewer match than everyone but Liverpool.


Three things we learned

1. Barnes rides high:  Harvey Barnes is having an uneven season in the Premier League, like many to just turn 22. But the youngster is certainly on an upswing, having scored in a weekend loss at Burnley and collecting a goal and an assist on Wednesday. His six assists lead the Foxes, and may just be the tip of the iceberg.

2. More of the same from West Ham (and that’s not good): David Moyes‘ West Ham looks a lot like Manuel Pellegrini‘s West Ham, which isn’t a surprise given the latter’s better reputation in recent seasons. It’s a draw and two losses since the 4-0 win over an abject Bournemouth, and the Irons’ match-in-hand on the relegation field is against Liverpool (who they still face twice). Felipe Anderson is set to miss a month and that won’t ease concerns either.

3. Vardy injury, defense a big concern: The league’s leading scorer got his leg stretched out on the pitch and was favoring his gluteal area in the first half, eventually limping off the field. Losing him would ask a lot of Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Foxes also would be wrong to overlook another goal conceded, even if it came by controversial penalty. Leicester has conceded in seven of eight league matches,  and five included multiple goals. It’s not a huge worry in a 4-1, but a trend indeed.

Man of the Match: Barnes.


Jamie Vardy cut into the box early but his first touch betrayed him and couldn’t get full power on a shot to Darren Randolph.

The in-form Barnes got the Foxes in front by turning a Ricardo Pereira dinked pass into the open goal.

An injury to Nampalys Mendy accelerated the return of Wilfred Ndidi to the pitch, the midfielder returning in the 34th minute.

Vardy was then forced off the pitch with an apparent back injury, bringing Kelechi Iheanacho into the fold in the 44th minute.

Barnes then returned the favor to Pereira, who whistled his effort into the goal in the fifth minute of first half stoppage time.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

But hold on.

Noble needed just five second half minutes to pull one back for David Moyes’ men, as Sebastien Haller won a suspect penalty off Ndidi.

Kasper Schmeichel made a fine save on Michail Antonio to keep it 2-1.

Leiceste regained control and looked the only threat to make it 3-1 after that, with Perez converted a penalty after Angelo Ogbonna fouled Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Nigerian forward then set up Perez for his second to salt away the win.

West Ham smashes Bournemouth as Moyes begins 2nd term

Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images
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The David Moyes era is off to a flying start thanks to West Ham United’s 4-0 demolition of woeful Bournemouth at the London Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Mark Noble scored twice, once from the spot, to join Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller on the score sheet.

Bournemouth sinks into 18th with 20 points, two points and places behind the hosts.


Three things we learned

1. Key pieces give David Moyes a dream (re)debut: Manuel Pellegrini will be shaking his fists at the sky after West Ham’s biggest names delivered on Wednesday (Actually, he seems like a classy guy and he’s probably happy for them). Anderson and Haller both scored, and their awakening is paramount to the Irons success. The opponents won’t always be visitors and Bournemouth, but this was a professional home win and cannot be discounted given the misery around the London side.

2. Cherries table spot fits their season: Bournemouth dipped into the Bottom Three thanks to Aston Villa joining West Ham as teams to collect three points on Wednesday. It could’ve been so much worse than 4-0, as Aaron Ramsdale made a few decent saves and the Irons also missed some gilt-edged chances. Don’t take too much away from West Ham’s response to a new manager and their attacking talent, but Bournemouth looked so, so bad in being out shot 14-3.

3. Cresswell sending off overturned: Aaron Cresswell drew a straight red card in the 75th minute with a studs-up tackle. Ugly stuff on a beautiful day for the Irons, but their fortunate day continued when VAR took it from a red to a yellow.

Man of the Match: Noble. Moyes said he was gonna lean on his captain, and “Mr. West Ham” was didn’t mind the extra weight.


Bournemouth’s been as bad as West Ham, and the hosts punished their poor defending twice in the first 26 minutes.

First, Felipe Anderson and Robert Snodgrass conducted some in-box interplay before the latter set up Noble for his opener.

Then Haller used a scissor kick after Snodgrass cued up a Ryan Fredericks cross to the Frenchman.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson then put Noble to the turf for a 34th minute penalty. The captain rolled it in.

Anderson missed a chance to make it 4-0 in the 66th minute and was due to be subbed off when he cashed in a second chance.

The ex-Lazio attacker took a terrific first touch of a fantastic Declan Rice diagonal ball and dribbled into the 18 to roll past Aaron Ramsdale.

That’s when Aaron Cresswell lost his mind, tackling Ryan Fraser to see straight red in the 75th. Fortunately for him, VAR saw a clear and obvious error. Very fortunate.

Moyes: West Ham needs transfer buys ‘to stand up’

David Moyes introductory press conference
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Allow him to re-introduce himself, Hammers.

West Ham United boss David Moyes is putting the onus on his players ahead of his second bid to save the Irons’ Premier League status.

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Hired Sunday to replace Manuel Pellegrini, Moyes says West Ham is in a better position than the last time he took the reins.

The club signed Sebastien Haller and Pablo Fornals this summer after landing Felipe Anderson, Issa Diop, and Andriy Yarmolenko in 2018/19.

“They have spent well on players. If we’re being truthful, we need those players to stand up,” said Moyes at his re-introductory press conference, via Football.London. “They will have a massive impact on the support and they need to stand up in the coming weeks. We had to get a quick turnaround last time to get results, we have to do that again but I do know I now have a longer project.”

West Ham sits a point ahead of the drop zone, with a match-in-hand on its relegation rivals. It was enough to earn an “F” grade in our midseason ratings.1

Moyes oversaw training for the first time on Monday, and said Alan Irvine will join his back room staff with Stuart Pierce a possibility, too. He credited Mark Noble for his help ahead of a big six-pointer with Bournemouth this weekend (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET Wednesday on NBC Sports Gold).

He also wouldn’t rule out spending money in the January window, but again pointed back to the current crop of Irons.

“I think there is money there to spend. I am more interested in the players at the club at the moment, see how we can mould them into the best possible team and formation. We have to get results.”

Howe hopes Bournemouth can shake ‘most difficult’ period in 2020

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Eddie Howe very clearly loves his job and AFC Bournemouth with every fiber of his being, but its also quite clear that he hasn’t enjoyed the numerous challenges that came with being the Bournemouth manager in 2019.

[ MORE: Arteta urges Xhaka to reject transfer to Hertha Berlin ]

Most notably, the Cherries have battled a laundry list of injuries dating back to last season, and the serious lack of resources at Howe’s disposal is beginning to take its toll. With just one win from their last nine Premier League games, Bournemouth sit 16th in the table, just two points clear of the relegation zone, as the calendar changes over from 2019 to 2020. Howe is desperately hoping that a new year will bring his side some new luck — quotes from Sky Sports:

“It’s been a tough year. If I cast my mind back to last year, we started the season with injuries and a stretched squad. We battled and got through and achieved our aims throughout the season.

“But this early season has been probably the most difficult I have had in terms of resources. I have learned a lot throughout it and am looking forward to maybe a change of luck as we go into a new year.”

“Every year that Bournemouth stay in the Premier League has to be the overriding thing that is remembered, not injuries.

“It is not a hard-luck story, it is not [about] feeling sorry for ourselves. We stayed in the Premier League. It is our fifth year. It is going to be very difficult to do it again but we can achieve it and continue to look optimistically for the future.”

Bournemouth will kick off 2020 with a trip to east London to take on West Ham United, who fired Manuel Pellegrini on Saturday and appointed David Moyes as his replacement 24 hours later, on New Year’s Day (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold).

Premier League midseason grades

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We are at the halfway point of the Premier League season, so now seems like a good time to dish out grades to each team.

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Based on the opening half of the 2019-20 campaign, which teams have impressed? Who should be doing better?

Below we give grades on all 20 teams and evaluate their first half of the season.


Arsenal: F
Unai Emery was fired, defensively they are all over the place and Arsenal currently sit closer to the bottom three than the top four. A terrible season so far and former captain Mikel Arteta has a huge job on his hands to make them competitive again. The only saving grace is that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to bang in the goals. Aside from that, shambles.


Aston Villa: D-
A decent enough start as Dean Smith‘s side showed plenty of promise after big spending in the summer but things have unraveled very quickly. Jack Grealish is doing his best but Wesley has struggled and defensively they are weak. A relegation battle beckons for Villa, and that was not expected. Smith is on borrowed time.


Bournemouth: D
Eddie Howe‘s side are in their toughest stretch since being promoted in 2015 and aside from their defensive injuries, the biggest concern is that they no longer seem capable of scoring at least two goals every game. The Cherries are slumping and it may be tough for them to turn this around. Losing Brooks to injury was a huge blow, while Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser have gone off the boil.


Brighton and Hove Albion: B+
Graham Potter has had a huge impact. Brighton have gone from being one of the worst teams in the PL to watch to one of the best. Trossard and Maupay have been big attacking additions and the Seagulls should be clear of the relegation scrap. A brave hire in Potter has paid off, as he’s already signed a new deal at the Amex.


Burnley: C+
Typically Burnley. Tough to play against, grinding out wins at home and they’ve gone back to being solid defensively. Chris Wood, Jay Rodriguez and Ashley Barnes give them extra firepower and the Clarets should be battling for a top 10 finish.


Chelsea: B+
A proper Jekyll and Hyde season for the Blues who have lost at home against some very poor teams but won at Spurs, Arsenal and have pushed the big boys all the way. Frank Lampard has kept faith in the youngsters with Abraham, Mount and Tomori ever present, while Pulisic is coming in to his own. A UCL last 16 berth was a huge bonus and sitting in the top four at midway is much better than many expected. They now have the added bonus of being able to buy new players in January.


Crystal Palace: B+
Roy Hodgson continues to work miracles with a banged up squad and the fact Wilfried Zaha is finally refocused (close to the January transfer window…) has pushed them away from the bottom three. Palace need to spend some money in January to help them stay midtable, while Gary Cahill has been the bargain of the season so far as a free agent.


Everton: C-
Marco Silva was a disaster and had he stayed, the Toffees were likely going down. Duncan Ferguson galvanized the squad as interim boss and made them hard to beat, while Carlo Ancelotti has arrived to add his experience. Big names players will arrive in January and the summer. Things are looking up for Everton who have too much quality to go down.


Leicester City: A+
Pretty much the perfect season so far as Brendan Rodgers side have a 9-0 win on the board, Jamie Vardy is in the form of his life and the Foxes sit second in the table and are looking good for a top four finish with a young, talented squad also in the League Cup semifinals. Their title hopes are done and dusted but a top four finish would be a superb return, especially after selling Harry Maguire in the summer.


Liverpool: A+
Talking of perfect seasons… Liverpool could legitimately go the entire campaign unbeaten and even though they probably played better last season they are grinding out wins this season. Jurgen Klopp‘s side have that psychological edge over the rest of the PL and even though they have had some injuries to key players, they’ve dealt with it with ease. 17 wins from 18 games is incredible and Sadio Mane has been the star man for the newly-crowned World Club Cup champs. They will soon become the PL champs as their title procession has begun.


Manchester City: B-
Their inability to sign a new center back in the summer has come back to hit them hard. Kompany left and Aymeric Laporte‘s injury means that Fernandinho has had to play as a center back, and Otamendi and Stones just haven’t been good enough. Full back is also an issue and even though Kevin De Bruyne is firing on all cylinders and they look great in attack, City are back to the team they were in Pep Guardiola‘s first season in charge. They will soon go all-in on the Champions League.


Manchester United: B
Very similar to Chelsea as their young side have shown glimpses of brilliance but they’ve lost against Palace, West Ham, Newcastle, Watford and Bournemouth. Defensively they are still coughing up easy goals and David De Gea is having a poor season, by his high standards. That said, Rashford, Martial and James are looking very good as a trio, while Maguire and Wan-Bissaka have slotted in seamlessly. Finding the right balance in central midfield in the second half of the season will be key if they are going to finish in the top four, but wins against Man City, Chelsea, Spurs and Leicester, plus their draw against Liverpool, prove they can mix it with the big boys. Finding consistency has to be their biggest aim for 2020.


Newcastle United: B+
Results wise it has been an amazing first half of the season for the Magpies and much-maligned boss Steve Bruce. They aren’t great to watch, at all, but Newcastle are almost closing in on the magic 40-point marker and are solid defensively. For now the natives at St James’ Park are on their side and Bruce has weathered the early storm. Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton need to produce more goals and if they do, Newcastle can push for the top 10.


Norwich City: C
The Canaries are punching above their weight week in, week out. Daniel Farke is a very good coach and he’s getting the best out of his limited squad, while Teemu Pukki is getting the goals to keep them competitive. Todd Cantwell is a gem and Norwich have had to deal with lots of injuries defensively. The only major negative is that they have been playing really well and attacking teams but they are a little naive and have been punished in plenty of games. It will be a huge surprise if they stay up.


Sheffield United: A-
Another newly-promoted team who have been open and attacking but the Blades have the defensive stability to get results. Chris Wilder‘s side are pushing for a top six finish and have only lost once away from home, at Man City, in the opening half of the season. From their overlapping center backs to Mousset, McGoldrick and McBurnie up top, they have been a wonderful addition to the PL. Fleck, Lundstram and Norwood are all so underrated too. Basically you can praise this entire team as Wilder has done a wonderful job keeping their identity intact while adapting to the PL.


Southampton: C
Probably where they should be at, just above the relegation zone. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side have recovered well from the 9-0 hammering at home by Leicester and in Danny Ings they have a Matt Le Tissier-esque savior. Ings scores almost every game and in Moussa Djenepo they have another top attacking talent. Saints need defensive reinforcements in January and if they can add quality at the back they should kick on in the second half of the season and be clear of danger. That said, the ownership need to realize that a relegation scrap will be the outcome each season until they make more funds available to spend.


Tottenham Hotspur: C+
Where do we even start with Spurs? Mauricio Pochettino was fired after a terrible start to the league season as problems brewing with players not signing new deals and Daniel Levy over transfers carried over from the summer months. Step in, the Special One. Jose Mourinho has added a cutting edge to this Spurs side and he’s refocused them. Defensively they are shambolic and they miss captain Hugo Lloris. Mourinho’s main aim is a top four finish and to go on another deep run in the UCL.


Watford: D-
The Hornets are on their third manager of the season and they’ve finally got going. Javi Gracia was fired quickly after a poor end to last season and a poor start this time around, then former boss Quique Sanchez Flores didn’t last long before Nigel Pearson arrived. Big wins against Man United and Aston Villa have followed and has them within touching distance of safety but it is still a tough road ahead. Troy Deeney‘s return to fitness is a boost and Watford believe now they can stay up with veteran goalkeeper Ben Foster in fine form.


West Ham United: F
The Hammers have hired David Moyes to replace the man who replaced him, Manuel Pellegrini. This will be very interesting. West Ham had a great start but have wavered badly and that has coincided with Lukasz Fabianski‘s injury. Now he is back and Moyes has returned they will be tougher to beat and Anderson, Haller, Antonio and Fornals have the quality to unlock opposition defenses. Still, a relegation battle is coming up and the Hammers ownership would have wanted a top six finish. They are underachieving massively.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: A-
Could they build on last season? Yep. They are probably better. Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore have improved in attack and Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side will be in the top four hunt this season. They are in the Europa League last 32 after a gruelling run of qualifiers and Thursday-Sunday action but their main focus will be on qualifying for the Champions League. They can take it to the top teams in the PL but how long can they keep going with a relatively small squad?