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PL Preview: Man United vs. Newcastle

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Manchester United’s search for an end to the four-match winless streak now features a brand new dark cloud hanging over Old Trafford as the Red Devils host Newcastle at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

[ WATCH LIVE: Manchester United vs. Newcastle ]

A major report by The Mirror on Friday claims that Jose Mourinho will be fired following Manchester United’s match no matter the result, surely to dominate the pre-match chatter. Mourinho has had a tumultuous season, as feuds with players like Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial bled over into the media.

United has not won since a Champions League win over Young Boys on September 19th, a run of four matches across all competitions without a win. That stretch has seen them lose to West Ham in Premier League play and Championship side Derby County on penalties in League Cup play, plus draws against newly-promoted Wolves in the league and most recently a boring 0-0 finish against Spanish side Valencia.

Ander Herrera has missed much of the start to the season with an ankle injury, and was thought to be on his way back, possibly returning in this weekend’s match, but the BBC reports he will remain on the sideline. Marcos Rojo and Jesse Lingard also miss out for Manchester United.

For Newcastle, Solomon Rondon is out with a thigh injury, while Paul Dummett and Federico Fernandez are likely to miss out with hamstring problems. The Magpies have only won once in their past 36 visits to Old Trafford, but could have a great opportunity to buck that trend as they face a wounded giant. Newcastle has yet to win a single Premier League match this season, with just two points through the first seven games of the campaign.

What they’re saying

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on Newcastle’s results: “The results they had against the top teams didn’t get them points yet this season but gave them very, very close results and very difficult matches for the opposition, so we expect a difficult match.”

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez on Manchester United’s struggles: “In all my time in England, I don’t remember any fragile Manchester United team. All of them have been really strong every year with good managers, good players, so I don’t see any fragile Manchester United team.”

Prediction

The new report about Jose Mourinho gives this match an entirely different feel. Could Mourinho indeed save his job with a win? Is it already over for the Portuguese boss? Will the players play for him with his job on the line? Will they throw him under the bus? There’s so much unknown here. What we do know is that both these teams come into the match in poor form, and something has to give. That something feels far more likely to be Manchester United than Newcastle, even if Mourinho is right that the Magpies have deserved more from a number of results. Still, this match has a 1-1 draw all over it, a fitting end to Mourinho’s tenure at Old Trafford.

Report: Manchester United staff thinks Mourinho to be fired soon

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According to the Daily Mail, there are Manchester United staff members who believe Jose Mourinho could be fired this week.

The report states that both staff members and players on the roster were “openly discussing” Mourinho’s job status on the train ride home from the team’s most recent failure, a 3-1 loss to West Ham in London.

Manchester United sits nine points adrift of the top of the Premier League table, the club’s worst start in 29 years to this stage. The Red Devils fell to Derby County on penalties in their previous match to fall out of the League Cup in the third round, and have losses to Tottenham and Brighton earlier in the season.

Mourinho has most come under fire for his treatment of French midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been criticized and benched at times this year by the Red Devils boss, and Alexis Sanchez is the latest star to feel Mourinho’s heat. The Manchester United defense has also struggled mightily, with Mourinho unable to find his best defensive lineup. He has rotated between Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly, and even young Scott McTominay, some of whom have dealt with injuries over the course of the young season. He has also missed key midfield cog Ander Herrera who should return soon from an ankle injury.

The Portuguese manager was meant to bring the club back to the heights of Sir Alex Ferguson, and they finished second in the Premier League table last season, but with the massive gap behind champions Manchester City, it was tough to enjoy the growth of the team. This year, they have taken a significant step back, with Mourinho unable to shake the narrative that his squads implode in his third season at the club.

The biggest hurdle to Manchester United making a change is Mourinho’s contract, which has a year-and-a-half left on it and pays him a whopping $19.5 million a year, all coming on an extension signed earlier this calendar year. United would have to pay the remaining amount on his deal should they cut him loose. Mourinho even joked about his contract a few weeks ago, saying “do you know how much they would have to pay me?” when asked if he’s worried about his job security.

PL Sunday preview: Man Utd, Spurs, Arsenal hit the road

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures is chock-full of top-six sides in action, as Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur all look to advance their respective bids to topple this season’s favorites, Manchester City and Liverpool.

[ MORE: What did we learn from PL Saturday, Week 4? ]

Cardiff City vs. Arsenal — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The pressure has eased — even if only ever so slightly — on Unai Emery after picking up his first victory as Arsenal manager last weekend. What the Spaniard could now use is a healthy haul of points from the Gunners’ next seven games, all of which come against non-top-six sides. Up first is a trip to the south of Wales to take on 16th-place Cardiff, a side still seeking its first win (and goal) this season. Emery and midfielder Mesut Ozil have reportedly fallen out with one another, but the manager maintains the story is little more than tabloid fodder.

“Throughout my career I have respect for the media, for newspaper, radio, TV. But there are a lot of people in the media and at not every moment is the information real. It isn’t true, the news. … In this situation with Mesut Ozil, it is clear: he is OK, he has the commitment we want, he is a very important player for us and we want to help him to give us the best performance in each match and each moment.”

As for the Bluebirds, Neil Warnock‘s side is the last remaining team without a goal to their name this season. On the bright side, the two points they have to their name means they’ve kept a pair of clean sheets — in back-to-back games, no less — against Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town.

INJURIES: Cardiff — OUT: Junior Hoilett (groin), Aron Gunnarsson (knee) | Arsenal — OUT: Sead Kolasinac (knee), Laurent Koscielny (achilles), Carl Jenkinson (ankle), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (knee)

Burnley vs. Manchester United — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

It might be early in the 2018-19 season, but it’s not too early for Jose Mourinho to find himself facing the possibility of being fired should Man United lose away to Burnley a week after losing 3-0 to Tottenham Hotspur. It’s not just Monday’s result, but the overwhelming sense of discontent around Old Trafford that has begun to make Mourinho’s position feel as if it’s untenable. He and his players are saying all of the right things, publicly, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Turf Moor, but it’s not as if anyone has any other choice at the moment.

Luke Shaw, for instance, feels the players must stick together and keep their heads down to right the ship.

“You see a lot of things in the media that go on about what our dressing room is like, but we have a really good spirit, a really good group of lads who want to work and achieve big things here. We have a group of hard workers and amazing talents, everywhere you look on the field. We have got to start taking our chances and I am sure we will start winning games. We have got to pick ourselves back up, keep working hard and we need to pick up points after two losses. We need to win and win in a good way.”

Burnley, on the other hand, are dealing with adversity of their own after failing to qualify for the group stage of the Europa League this week. Now, Sean Dyche‘s men seek their first win of the season, and their first point since opening day. Back-to-back defeats to Watford (3-1) and Fulham (4-2) have dropped the Clarets to 19th place in the league table.

INJURIES: Burnley — OUT: Johann Gudmundsson (hamstring), Steven Defour (calf), Robbie Brady (hastring) | Man United — OUT: Marcos Rojo (undisclosed), Diogo Dalot (fitness), Sergio Romero (fitness)

Watford vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 11 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

At the other end of the table, Sunday also provides an unlikely meeting of unbeaten sides when Watford host Tottenham at Vicarage Road. The Hornets have feasted on bottom-half sides in their first three games, while Spurs landed the first blow of the season amongst the “other” top-six sides vying for Champions League qualification.

While much of the talk about Mauricio Pochettino‘s side has focused on the fact that not a single player was signed this summer — the first such occurrence for a PL club since the summer transfer window began — Monday’s demolition of the Red Devils served as a coming-out party for Brazilian attacker Lucas Moura, a $___-million acquisition who had virtually no impact last season after signing in January. As a well-known former manager in north London might say, getting Moura up to speed with a full preseason behind him has been kind of like a new signing.

Pochettino’s counterpart on Sunday, Javi Gracia, has pushed all of the right buttons thus far, and he’s had to do so when it comes to picking his lineup and substitutes. With such a healthy, deep squad, Gracia might feel this is Watford’s best chance to knock off Spurs for the first time in the PL era. In 12 league meetings spanning two and a half decades, they have just three points to show for their efforts, and haven’t beaten the north London side in league play since 1987.

INJURIES: Watford — OUT: Tom Cleverley (achilles), Younes Kaboul (foot) | Tottenham — OUT: Hugo Lloris (thigh), Heung-Min Son (international duty), Moussa Sissoko (hamstring)

Transfer window grades for each Premier League team

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The summer transfer window is now closed and Premier League teams have done all of their transfer business until January 2019.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live

It has been a steady flow of transfers this summer and all of that ended with a flurry on Thursday on the eve of the new 2018-19 PL campaign.

Below we grade each PL club based on their ins and outs this summer.


Liverpool: A
Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool simply blew everyone out of the water this summer with their dealings. Alisson is a huge upgrade as their goalkeeper, while Fabinho and Naby Keita have looked brilliant in preseason and so too has Xherdan Shaqiri. Liverpool will push Man City close for the title this season and that’s largely thanks to their aggressive attitude in the summer window. A fantastic summer which was a huge statement.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: A-
Stunning transfer window for the Premier League new boys. Experienced Portuguese internationals Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho were complemented by Raul Jimenez, Adama Traore and Leander Dendoncker as Chinese owners Fosun backed Nuno Espirito Santo to continue their rise. Top 10 for Wolves this season? One of the best squads of any promoted team in recent, if not entire, PL history.


West Ham United: A-
The Hammers have gone all out to back new manager Manuel Pellegrini and although their owners have plenty of critics, they’ve certainly ponied up the cash this summer. Yarmolenko, Lucas Perez and Felipe Anderson will deliver goals and trickery, while Fabianski, Diop and Fredericks strengthen their defense. Add in Jack Wilshere‘s arrival and West Ham’s squad looks more balanced and hungry this season. A push for Europa  League beckons for the Hammers.


Everton: A-
New boys Lucas Digne, Bernard, Yerry Mina, Andre Gomes and Richarlison are quality additions and the main aim for Marco Silva was always going to be to trim his bloated squad. Keeping hold of Jordan Pickford amid plenty of interest after his summer heroics at the World Cup was a positive. They left it late in the window but Everton were the big winners on Deadline Day with Kurt Zouma also close to a move.


Fulham: A-
Another PL new boy with a superb summer window. The Cottagers aren’t messing around and owner Shahid Khan was obviously hurt badly by Fulham getting relegated four years ago to make sure it doesn’t happen again on his watch. Jean Seri was a huge coup, while adding Andre Schurrle, Mitrovic, Chambers and Mawson was great business. On Deadline Day they pushed through deals galore too as Joe Bryan and Sergio Rico arrived, with Fulham looking more likely to challenge for the top 10 than be sucked into a relegation scrap.


Arsenal: B+
A few very good signings for Arsenal and they managed to keep hold of all of their star names. Unai Emery has signed plenty of young, promising players with Mateo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira looking like real steals in central midfield. Emery has also added experience nous in defense with Lichsteiner and Sokratis, with Bernd Leno set to push Petr Cech all the way for the starting spot in goal. Solid, sensible window for Arsenal given how many top attackers they already had at the club.


Chelsea: C+


Yes, they lost Thibaut Courtois. But Chelsea kept hold of Eden Hazard and they brought in Kepa for a world-record fee for a goalkeeper to solidify that position. Adding Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic will help new manager Maurizio Sarri bed in his new philosophy, but the lack of a new striker will be concerning. Unless Alvaro Morata improves drastically in his second season in the PL, Chelsea could struggle to turn their creativity into goals on a consistent basis.


Leicester City: C+
Getting $75 million for Riyad Mahrez was, in the end, a deal which worked out well for everyone and the Foxes reinvested plenty of that cash with seven new players coming in. Caglar Soyuncu, Jonny Evans, James Maddison, Ricardo Perreira and Rachid Ghezzal were the key arrivals and Claude Puel knows his team must get off to a fast start this season.


Crystal Palace: C+
Keeping hold of Wilfried Zaha was always going to be the main aim and Palace managed to do that. Max Meyer, Vicente Guaita and Cheikhou Kouyate arrived with the Eagles ready to build on their superb second half of last season under Roy Hodgson. Steady progress.


Southampton: C+
Losing Dusan Tadic was a blow and although they’ve spent over $65 million, you question whether Mark Hughes‘ squad is stronger than last season. A late move for Danny Ings could salvage their window as they’ve badly need a poacher for some time. Elyounoussi and Vestergaard will both contribute and Angus Gunn is a bright star for the future in goal. A decent window overall, but could have been better.


Brighton & Hove Albion: C
Plenty of incomings for Chris Hughton, but there is a concern about the quality of some of the new signings. Is this a case of quantity over quality for the Seagulls? Yves Bissouma from Lille will be a mainstay in midfield and has impressed in preseason, while Florin Andone will give them extra options in attack. Steady but unspectacular for the South Coast club in their Sophomore season in the PL.


Manchester City: C


They didn’t have to do much, did they? Pep Guardiola fell one signing short as he wanted to bring in a new central midfielder (because, why not?) but Jorginho chose to play for his former manager Sarri at Chelsea, which is understandable, to an extend. Mahrez will add something a little difference to City’s incredibly fluid attacking machine. City still have the best squad in the PL despite a quiet window.


Bournemouth: C
Jefferson Lerma’s club-record arrival late in the window was a bit of a headscratcher for the Cherries, but Eddie Howe‘s dealings have been pretty spot on over the years. The Colombia midfielder is a destructive force, but Bournemouth perhaps lack a little bit of cover in defensive errors. They also brought in David Brooks and Diego Rico in a quiet window overall.


Burnley: C
Did the business they needed to do with Joe Hart coming in, plus Ben Gibson and Matej Vydra arriving late in the window. Will that be enough to strengthen their squad if they reach the Europa League group stage? An average window overall, but they kept all of their stars this summer.


Newcastle: C-
Another window, another headache for Rafael Benitez as he managed to pick up a few new players but the Magpies faithful will be a little upset with owner Mike Ashley once again. Kenedy and Martin Dubravka are back again, while Ki and Salomon Rondon arrived. Fabian Schar and Muto will be intriguing buys, especially the former who should strengthen Newcastle’s defense. Federico Fernandez’s arrival on Deadline Day will further bolster that backline. However, you always feel like Newcastle’s fans are being let down as their club is so attractive in many ways but the ownership just isn’t interested in pumping huge sums of money into the team.


Huddersfield Town: D
Some loan signings from last season have been signed permanently with Lossl and Kongolo arriving. Durm and Mbenza will be intriguing signings but you can’t help but feel that David Wagner‘s side didn’t sign enough attacking players to spruce things up to try and turnaround their poor from the end of their debut PL campaign. Huddersfield will scrap for their lives but they didn’t add real quality in key attacking areas this summer.


Watford: D
Javi Gracia has brought in a few new names and signing Gerard Deulofeu on a permanent basis softens the blow of Richarlison’s departure. New arrivals in defense may not be strong enough and although Watford signed Doucoure to a new deal, it was a window where they didn’t really address their weaknesses.


Manchester United: D-


A really bad window for the Red Devils. There is no other way to put this. Lee Grant, Diogo Dalot and Fred were their only arrivals and they failed to shift on plenty of squad players. It is likely that big European teams will still be in for the likes of Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Marcos Rojo now their window is still open but it’s unlikely United will sell now. Jose Mourinho will not be a happy man after his desperate search for a new center back was unsuccessful.


Cardiff City: D-
Neil Warnock tried his best to wheel and deal but the Bluebirds failed to spend big and instead stayed committed to the players who won them promotion. That’s fair enough. Bobby Reid could be a surprise package up front after his arrival from Bristol City. Harry Arter will be a decent addition from Bournemouth will all of his PL experience in central midfield.


Tottenham Hotspur: D-


The only team in the history of the transfer window to not buy a new player says it all. With Spurs moving to a new stadium you can understand why Daniel Levy was being a little more frugal than usual, but the main issue for Spurs is that they have three star players still at the club who aren’t wanted by Mauricio Pochettino. Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele should be starters but unless they’re sold to other European clubs in the coming weeks they will be at Tottenham and sitting on the sidelines until January. Not a great situation. Nothing wrong with not buying new players if the quality isn’t there.


Transfer Rumor Roundup: Spurs set to sell; Mina to Man United

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Sky Sports are reporting that Tottenham Hotspur is ready to sell Mousa Dembele, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld this summer.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

The trio looked to be ready to leave Spurs since January, with Dembele and Alderweireld not getting any closer to signing new contracts with Mauricio Pochettino‘s side. As for Rose, his commitment to Tottenham has long been questioned and after he gave an explosive interview at the start of last season criticizing the club and its contract policy, his time seemed to be running out in north London.

It is believed that Tottenham will now listen to offers for all three players as they’re due to return to preseason training in the coming days following their run to the World Cup semifinal stage with Belgium and England.

Where could the trio be heading to?

Alderweireld and Rose have long been linked with a move to Manchester United, with the former seeming like a perfect fit for Jose Mourinho’s need for a center back as the pursuit of Leicester and England star Harry Maguire seems to have run its course with the Foxes wanting over $100 million for the defender.

With Alderweireld’s contract having a release clause in it from next season, Spurs are in a tough situation and will have to try and sell the Belgian star now or risk losing plenty of cash on the deal next summer. Dembele has been linked with a move to Inter Milan with the silky midfielder somewhat falling out of favor at Tottenham last season despite showing flashes of brilliance on the ball over the past five seasons at Spurs.

It is believed Spurs will look to the likes of Lewis Cook at Bournemouth to replace Dembele, with Pochettino’s penchant for developing young talent perfect for these kind of situations as he looks to move on veteran stars.


If you believe the reports then quite a few options are opening up for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United in their hunt for a new center back.

Aside from Maguire and Alderweireld, the Daily Mirror claim that United have made a move to sign Barcelona and Colombia center back Yerry Mina with his transfer fee said to be around $41 million.

The 23-year-old shone for Colombia at the 2018 World Cup, scoring twice with powerful headers as he first got them out of the group stage and then took their Round of 16 clash against England to extra time.

With Mina set to be behind both Barca legend Gerard Pique and World Cup winner Samuel Umtiti in the center back pecking order at the Nou Camp, it is easy to see why he’d find a move to United an attractive proposition.

Mina played in just four La Liga games for the reigning Spanish champions last season but his performances at the World Cup showcased not only his aerial ability at both ends of the pitch but also his ability to read the game as he shut Harry Kane down for the majority of their penalty shootout defeat to England.

With Mourinho said to be happy with only Eric Bailly among his center back options, the likes of Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof will likely see themselves fall behind Mina if he arrives at Old Trafford.