Lethal Liverpool wallops West Ham

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  • Mane bags two
  • Salah scores (again)
  • Sturridge rounds it out

New-look Liverpool appeared even more dangerous than its previous edition, scoring four goals in a decisive win over West Ham United on Sunday at Anfield.

Sadio Mane scored twice in the win, Naby Keita was fantastic on debut, and both Mohamed Salah and Daniel Sturridge found the back of the net in the win.

It was a shoulder-shrugging debut for Manuel Pellegrini as West Ham manager. What could he have done?

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The Reds were very lively early, as West Ham attempted to weather the opening charge at Anfield.

Salah got the opener by running to the back post to slot Andy Robertson‘s cross-six pass into the goal after Naby Keita dribbled into space.

Fabianski made an outstanding save on Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s 24th minute free kick, even if the effort may’ve simply clanged the post had the keeper not reached it.

Angelo Ogbonna swept a long ball over the top for Marko Arnautovic as the Austrian surged forward, leading to a corner collected by Alisson.

Fabianski had to collect a tame Salah header in the 37th, and then the Egyptian was stymied well by the Polish keeper following a Roberto Firmino pass to the doorstep.

If West Ham could just get to halft… whoops. Robertson spun a back post cross that could’ve easily been out for a goal kick had industrious James Milner not slid to rescue the ball and knock it into the path of Mane for a tap-in. 2-0.

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An offside Mane needed just seven minutes of second half play to make it 3-0 to the hosts, pushing a shot past Fabianski off a Roberto Firmino feed.

Sturridge had been in the game for less than a half-minute when he knocked a back post corner beyond Fabianski’s reach.

Top Ten additions of the Premier League summer

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Warning: We’re not positive this list is going to satisfy anyone, including fans of the No. 1 player’s team.

Tasked with naming the Top Ten additions in the Premier League this summer, we had to include a signing agreed to before last season began, and also wanted to account for the impact a signing could have on a team’s fortunes.

For example, Alisson is a very good goalkeeper, but we’re not exactly sure goalkeeper is what crushed Liverpool’s hopes last season (Sergio Ramos, more likely).

[ MORE: 2018-19 PL season preview hub ]  

10. Felipe Anderson, West Ham — Maybe just off the list if Manuel Lanzini is healthy, but the signing from Lazio will be tasked with getting service to Marko Arnautovic and Co.

9. Cheikhou Kouyate, Crystal Palace — Established PL tough guy taking some onus off Luka Milivojevic.

8. Yerry Mina, Everton — Powerful Colombian center back brings a lot to what was an aging Toffees back line.

7. Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Brighton and Hove Albion — The Eredivisie’s top star joins Pascal Gross and his rising Gulls.

6. Fred, Manchester United — The best teams in the PL give you a tough time getting through the middle of the park; Nemanja Matic and Fred should make it a nightmare.

5. Jean Michael Seri, Fulham — What a win for the Cottagers, who get a nice Nice player who can play a pivotal role in all parts of the pitch.

4. Riyad Mahrez, Manchester City — The Etihad Stadium is an embarrassment of riches.

3. Joao Moutinho, Wolves — Consider that this guy cost just $7 million. Even at age 31, that meager fee bumps him up the list for a club which will be hoping for better than simple survival.

2. Jorginho, Chelsea — Maurizio Sarri must laugh when he considers his ability to use Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, and Tiemoue Bakayoko to make a midfield hell for opposing attackers.

  1. Naby Keita, Liverpool — So much complete than anything Liverpool had in its center midfield last season. If he was able to arrive in 2017-18, the Reds might’ve won the UCL and finished second to City. Huge addition.

Top 10 Premier League storylines

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Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for since Manchester City hoisted the Premier League trophy nearly three months ago.

With the Citizens projected favorites to top England again in 2018-19, 19 other clubs will be gunning for Pep Guardiola‘s side.

Will the Manchester giants be able to sustain their brilliance from a season ago? How will some of the other big clubs’ spending cut into the Citizens’ success?

It’s time at Pro Soccer Talk to take a look at 10 of the most pressing storylines heading into the new season, which kicks off on Friday.

WATCH LIVE: Transfer Deadline Day show, August 9 at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com 


1. Is Man City possibly better than last season?

Guardiola and Co. set so many records in 2017-18 it’s honestly hard to keep track of their brilliance. With a squad that already features world-class talents in Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero, what did the Spanish manager decide to do this year? The club added another one of the PL’s top attackers in Riyad Mahrez, which provides the team with a further embarrassment of riches up front.

It’s a tremendous dilemma to have, but how Guardiola manages to fit Aguero, Mahrez, Sane, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and others into regular lineups will likely determine how the club does not just in the PL but in Europe as well.


2. Who challenges the Citizens?

It’s easier said than done to dethrone a champion, and even some of the other big six clubs in England did well to bolster their rosters, it remains to be seen whether or not it will be enough to topple Man City.

Of Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal (last season’s second through sixth-place finishers), the Reds are certainly the biggest winners this offseason with the signings of Fabinho and Naby Keita to upgrade the team’s midfield.

Meanwhile, Spurs has yet to make a signing. Man United is in turmoil between a number of strains with manager Jose Mourinho and several of his players. See, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. Also, Chelsea and Arsenal each have new managers (which we’ll discuss later).

It’s not impossible for one of these teams, or perhaps a team like Everton, who has gone transfer-happy again this summer, to contend for the title, but for right now, it looks like a two team race at the top with City and Liverpool.


3. Which newcomer(s) shakes up the PL?

Cardiff City, Fulham and Wolves each earned promotion to the top flight earlier this year, and now it is up to them to stay in the PL with the likes of England’s elite.

Both Fulham and Wolves have spent heavily this summer, particularly the latter, who have signed an entire Portuguese contingent led by goalkeeper Rui Patricio, Benfica’s Raul Jimenez (Mexico) and Atletico Madrid attacker Diogo Jota.

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While spending doesn’t always lead to success, it certainly shows initiative from these clubs that they are in it for the long haul, it could very well end up with sustained time in the top division.


4. How does Spurs do with its current squad?

Nobody can question Mauricio Pochettino‘s brilliance as a manager, but at a certain point he and his staff might have to accept the fact that they’ve gone as far as possible with their current squad.

With just a day left in the transfer window, Tottenham has yet to sign a single new player, although Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish remains a coveted asset by the team.

Finishing runners up a season ago probably isn’t a failure when you consider just how good Man City is/was, but Tottenham’s shortcomings in the UEFA Champions League and other club competitions has to make many wonder if they’ve peaked with this roster.

Harry Kane will always score his goals. Heung Min Son, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen are tremendously gifted players in the attacking third. The team boasts a strong back line, led by Toby Alderweireld and Jan Verntonghen.

However, the rest of the PL is only getting stronger, and if Spurs couldn’t get over the hump before, it looks like the team’s ascent towards the top will only get more challenging.


5. Who adjusts better with a new manager; Arsenal or Chelsea?

Last season did not go according to plan for either club, and subsequently changes were made in the managerial department.

For Arsenal, the departure of Arsene Wenger may have been a bit overdue, but the club’s lack of success in 2017-18 cannot be solely attributed to the Frenchman.

Chelsea’s issues with Antonio Conte boiled up rather quickly, despite having won the PL two seasons ago. That led to his sacking this summer, and the arrival of Maurizio Sarri, who has already seemingly won over the players enough to keep the majority of those linked with moves away from Stamford Bridge.

The Blues arguably have more talent, and the squad seems to have bought into Sarri’s approach, which is more “football first” than Conte. The Italian doesn’t focus on the transfer market or any other phases outside of what goes on within the confines of the pitch.

Meanwhile, Unai Emery has inherited a Gunners team that has bulked up in the offseason, particularly on the defensive side of things. Stephan LichtsteinerSokratis Papastathopoulos and goalkeeper Bernd Leno could aid Arsenal massively on the back end, while the club also managed to pick up one of the biggest risers of the summer in Lucas Torreira after a stellar World Cup for Uruguay.


6. Which club steps into the top-6 race?

Everyone knows who the perennial powers are in England, and in most of the five major leagues across Europe, for that matter.

If you’re not named Arsenal, Chelsea, City, Liverpool, Man United or Spurs, your chances of winning the PL are usually quite slim.

Taking Leicester out of the equation during their magical run in 2015-16, only one club has won a PL title in the Premier League era that wasn’t one of those six previously-mentioned teams (Blackburn Rovers in 1994-95).

Clubs have Everton and Leicester have shown a willingness to spend, just as newcomers Fulham and Wolverhampton have done this summer, but long-term success in England is often hard to come by.

The Toffees are probably the safest bet to have a shot at cracking the top six, but then again, that’s a task that’s easier said than done.


7. Is Jose Mourinho on thin ice at Old Trafford?

For as brilliant of a manager as Jose Mourinho is, he certainly has a way of wearing out his welcome.

And in a very quick manner, too.

Instead of giving the requisite praise to Paul Pogba following the player’s World Cup title with France, Mourinho went after his midfielder, calling for him to replicate those performances during the PL season.

While much of what Mourinho said was tame, it makes one wonder why he would go after one of his biggest stars, especially because it has set up a 24-hour period that could see Pogba exiting United for the second time in six years.

The results have been a struggle for Mourinho in PL play since taking over in Manchester, and if he manages to continue to alienate his players it might not be long before he’s looking for another job.


8. Will West Ham take the next step?

Since the conclusion of last season, only Liverpool has spent more money on new players than the Hammers — who have shelled out an astonishing $117 million this window.

It’s easy to forget that this team was seventh just two seasons ago during the club’s final season at Upton Park, however, last season was a bit more of a struggle despite a hefty spending spree that brought in players like Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic.

This summer, the Hammers are at it again, and with bigger names incoming. Andriy Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson could be game-changing additions to the Hammers attack, while Łukasz Fabiański and Jack Wilshere are steady pieces in their own right.


9. Younger faces make push for bigger roles

We’ve seen clubs thrive when using their younger talents. Just take Spurs as an example, with a squad mostly made up of talents under the age of 25.

Now, we’re seeing a bit more of a trend and willingness from managers to give their youngsters a run out in order to prove themselves.

At Man City, it’s Phil Foden. At Chelsea, new manager Maurizio Sarri sees something special in Callum Hudson-Odoi.

In a league where stars are so prevalent, it’s easy to get caught up in the Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Eden Hazard hype train, but it’s the next generation of stars that ultimately carries the league going forward, so it’s nice to see these types of players making their way up the pecking order.


10. Tracking the Golden Boot race

We’re at a stage now where there are so many quality goalscorers in the PL that it’s honestly hard to keep track of them all.

And even though Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero are the traditional goalscorers in that category, there are many others, including Mohamed Salah from last season, that are more than capable of winning the Golden Boot.

If Kane can do it again in 2018-19, he’d become the third player in the PL era to win the Golden Boot on three separate occasions, a truly remarkable feat.

Season preview: Pellegrini the man to meet West Ham’s ambition?

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West Ham United at a glance

Premier League titles: 0
FA Cups: 3 (1964, 1975, 1980)
League Cups: 0
UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1 (1965/66)

[ MORE: 2018-19 PL season preview hub ]  


They will challenge for the Top Six because… Pellegrini is simply a different class of manager to their recent bosses, and has a better grip on massaging bigger egos in a bigger squad. Marko Arnautovic is a tough mark up-top, and should be further freed by the addition of Brazilian winger Felipe Anderson. The full backs are good, especially Arthur Masuaku, and Lukasz Fabianski is an upgrade on the Joe Hart-Adrian combination.

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They’ll again stumble and find themselves in a relegation scrap… Last season’s demons hit the club on and off the pitch, and fan anger is just a moment away. Arnautovic is a combustible character, and the club is an injury or two away from counting on Mark Noble.


Transfers in: Felipe Anderson ($43 million, Lazio), Issa Diop ($29 million, Toulouse), Andriy Yarmolenko ($23 million, Borussia Dortmund), Lukasz Fabianski ($9 million, Swansea City), Fabian Balbuena ($5 million, Corinthians), Ryan Fredericks (free, Fulham), Jack Wilshere (free, Arsenal).

Transfers outCheikhou Kouyate ($12 million, Crystal Palace), Reece Burke ($2.5 million, Hull City), James Collins (free agent), Patrice Evra (free agent)


Best possible XI

—– Fabianski —–

—- Fredericks — Diop —  Ogbonna — Masuaku —- 

—- Rice — Wilshere — Obiang—-

—- Anderson —- Arnautovic —- Yarmolenko


Ranking their offseason: 7/10 – Anderson missed significant time last season but was a big part of Lazio’s strong second half to the season. Yarmolenko has been productive in multiple top leagues, and Jack Wilshere on a free is a big deal. If Issa Diop can stand firm in his first Premier League season, this figure might be an 8/10 or better.


Star player: Marko Arnautovic –  Yes, the striker often gets top billing in these preview pieces, but it’s hard to debate another player as West Ham’s star when this Austria menace is on his game. The 29-year-old matched his career-best output of 11 goals and six assists.

Coaches’ CornerManuel Pellegrini — The Premier League winner returns to England, this time in London. He’s been successful in both league and Cup play, which could bode well for West Ham’s hopes of taking a step into Europe via an alternative route.


PST Predicts: Comfortably midtable, but just below the radar of making a threat to the Top Six.

Ranking top 10 Premier League players in each position

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It’s always nice to open up a can of worms before the start of the season, right?

[ MORE: 2018/19 PL season preview hub ]  

With new players arriving in the Premier League and superstars staying put this summer, we thought it would be a good idea to rank the best players in each position ahead of the 2018/19 season.

Think of this as a preseason PL player Power Rankings, if you will, and if you want to use this us a “cheat-sheet” for your PL fantasy teams, go for it.

Here’s a list at the top 10 in each position.

I’m sure you we will all agree wholeheartedly on these selections…


Goalkeepers

1. David De Gea
2. Ederson
3. Thibaut Courtois
4. Hugo Lloris
5. Jordan Pickford
6. Kasper Schmeichel
7. Alisson
8. Rui Patricio
9. Ben Foster
10. Lukasz Fabianski


Right back

1. Kyle Walker
2. Kieran Trippier
3. Trent Alexander-Arnold
4. Victor Moses
5. Antonio Valencia
6. Hector Bellerin
7. Serge Aurier
8. Pablo Zabaleta
9. Cedric
10. Adam Smith


Center back

1. Virgil Van Dijk
2. Harry Maguire
3. Toby Alderweireld
4. Jan Vertonghen
5. Cesar Azpilicueta
6. Nicolas Otamendi
7. Davinson Sanchez
8. Eric Bailly
9. Vincent Kompany
10. John Stones


Left back

1. Andrew Robertson
2. Ben Davies
3. Benjamin Mendy
4. Ashley Young
5. Marcos Alonso
6. Danny Rose
7. Ryan Bertrand
8. Arthur Masuaku
9. Leighton Baines
10. Patrick Van Aanholt


Central midfielders

1. N'Golo Kante
2. David Silva
3. Naby Keita
4. Paul Pogba
5. Fernandinho
6. Nemanja Matic
7. Jordan Henderson
8. Ruben Neves
9. Jean Serri
10. Luka Milivojevic


Attacking midfielders/wingers

1. Mohamed Salah
2. Kevin De Bruyne
3. Eden Hazard
4. Sadio Mane
5. Alexis Sanchez
6. Raheem Sterling
7. Mesut Ozil
8. Leroy Sane
9. Christian Eriksen
10. Riyad Mahrez


Strikers

1. Harry Kane
2. Sergio Aguero
3. Romelu Lukaku
4. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
5. Roberto Firmino
6. Wilfried Zaha
7. Gabriel Jesus
8. Alexandre Lacazette
9. Marko Arnautovic
10. Jamie Vardy