Nick Pope

Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

Bournemouth snap up $15M defender, look to Burnley GK

Leave a comment

Bournemouth is already busy in the transfer market.

Eddie Howe‘s men have added a $16.5 million defender from Championship outfit Bristol City and may soon swoop to buy a $19 million goalkeeper from a Premier League rival.

The latter target is reported as Nick Pope, part of a deep Burnley goalkeeping corps that includes Tom Heaton and Joe Hart.

[ MORE: Kompany signed, hired by Anderlecht ]

The former would be Lloyd Kelly, who racked up more than 2300 minutes for Bristol and is expected to represent England with the U-21 side this summer.

Primarily a left back but capable of defending centrally, Kelly has 48 first team appearances with two goals and two assists to his name.

From The Bournemouth Echo:

“I’m still young and developing as a player but at the same time I feel like this is probably the best place for me to develop those skills, especially being around a Premier League team and playing Premier League sides,” Kelly said. “I feel like it will speed up that process a bit more.”

PL Sunday preview: Chelsea, Arsenal chasing title pacers

AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Leave a comment

One half of the Premier League’s “big six” will be in action, spread across three games, on Sunday.

Chelsea seek to remain in the PL title race; Arsenal seek to extend their winning streak to 12 games; Manchester United seek to reassert themselves and turn their season around.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 10? ]

Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

It’s been a while since Arsenal last dropped points — let alone lost a game. You have to go back to the second week of the PL season to find the most recent blemish on Unai Emery‘s otherwise sparkling record. No side in Europe can claim a better ongoing run of results (11 straight wins, by a combined score of 31-9 – all competitions). The Gunners will look to make it a dozen wins in a row on Sunday, when they visit Selhurst Park. The club’s longest-ever winning streak is 14 games — achieved in the fall of 1987. Wins over Palace, Blackpool (League Cup) and Liverpool would see Emery and Co., match the record.

Things couldn’t be going much worse for Palace at the moment. Roy Hodgson‘s Eagles have lost three straight league games (winless in four) and slipped to 15th in the PL table, now just two points clear of the relegation zone, during the slide.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace — OUT: Christian Benteke (knee), Scott Dann (knee) | Arsenal — OUT: Laurent Koscielny (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Sead Kolasinac (hamstring), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (fitness)


Burnley vs. Chelsea — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Chelsea remain one of three unbeaten PL sides (Liverpool and Manchester City) ahead of Sunday’s trip to Turf Moor. Maurizio Sarri‘s side has, however, dropped points in three of their last four games (draws with West Ham United, Liverpool and Man United). That mini-skid has seen the Blues fall five points back of leaders Liverpool (and potentially City, who play on Monday, as well). Eden Hazard has been arguably the PL’s best player through nine games, but the Belgian superstar’s status is unknown due to a lingering back injury suffered during last week’s 2-2 draw with Man United.

Speaking of Belgian centerpieces, midfielder Steven Defour is back and available for the Clarets after nine months out following knee surgery. Likewise, winger Robbie Brady is expected to be available for selection for the first time in 10 months following a knee operation of his own. The two represent a different class of players capable of delivering Burnley back into the PL’s top-half to build upon last season’s seventh-place finish.

INJURIES: Burnley — OUT: Ben Gibson (fitness), Nick Pope (shoulder), Stephen Ward (knee) | Chelsea — QUESTIONABLE: Eden Hazard (back)


Manchester United vs. Everton — 12 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com

Seven points — and five places in the table — currently separate Man United from the top-four, thanks to the Red Devils’ dreadful start to the season (just four wins, and three losses, in the first nine games). European competition hasn’t treated them much better, as they were completely outplayed and beaten by Juventus at Old Trafford this week. Jose Mourinho isn’t expected to have Alexis Sanchez or Jesse Lingard to pick from on Sunday, meaning Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford should start by default. Martial bagged a brace in the draw with Chelsea, while Rashford hasn’t scored a league goal since Sept. 29; it’s been even longer for Lukaku, whose last PL tally came on Sept. 15.

On the other side, Marco Silva has Everton playing some great soccer late: three straight wins, by a combined score of 7-1. Even better, six of the seven goals have been scored by Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Bernad, Theo Walcott or Cenk Tosun, the Toffees’ five most important attacking players. With summer signings Andre Gomes and Yerry Mina making the startling lineup and bench for last week’s victory over Palace, Silva has everyone around Goodison Park feeling exceedingly hopeful ahead of Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford.

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Alexis Sanchez (groin), Marouane Fellaini (groin), Scott McTominay (knee), Jesse Lingard (groin) | Everton — OUT: None

Report: Man United struggles put De Gea future in jeopardy

Getty Images
1 Comment

Much of the focus at Manchester United has been on the strenuous relationship between Jose Mourinho and French midfielder Paul Pogba. Turns out, he might not be the only player disillusioned with the current environment.

According to a report by James Ducker of The Telegraph, Manchester United is “facing a serious battle” to convince goalkeeper David De Gea to stay beyond the end of his contract, which expires this coming summer with a team option for one more year. With such a short time left on his current deal, the report states that talks regarding an extension have reached an “impasse” leaving United wondering if they will either lose him for nothing in the summer of 2020 or be forced to sell him cheaply at the end of this season.

The report says that Manchester United’s inability to consistently challenge for trophies is the main reason for De Gea’s mood towards the club, and with Manchester United in 8th place after the club’s worst-ever Premier League start through seven matches, that doesn’t appear to be changing this season at this point.

De Gea has been the subject of endless rumors linking him with a move away from Old Trafford for years, and it has been confirmed in the past that he was close to a move to Real Madrid on numerous occasions. Madrid now has two long-term goalkeepers in Thibaut Courtois and Keylor Navas, but there would be plenty of potential suitors for one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League for years.

However, could it potentially be in Manchester United’s favor to move on from a goalkeeper potentially in decline? De Gea was below his standards this summer at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and it was surprising to see him earn a spot on the PFA Team of the Season last year over players like Ederson, Nick Pope, Jordan Pickford, or Kasper Schmeichel. De Gea is only 27 years old, extremely young for a goalkeeper, but with the performances suggesting a possible decline could be on its way, it’s not terribly surprising the club is standing firm in contract negotiations.

PL Sunday preview: 19th hosts 17th when Cardiff, Burnley meet

Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Only one game on the Premier League docket for Sunday, but it’s one that carries much weight in the 2018-19 relegation battle…

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 7? ]

Cardiff City vs. Burnley — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Cardiff came into the season as the overwhelming favorites to be relegated from — if not to finish dead last in — the PL, and the Bluebirds entered the weekend right where everyone expected them to be: bottom of the table, with just two points to show for their first six games. Then, a funny thing happened on Saturday: Neil Warnock‘s side rose to 19th without having yet played this weekend, thanks to Huddersfield Town’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. Given Cardiff’s inability to score goals, they might have already experienced the highlight of their week.

For all of Burnley’s struggles to start the season — and there have been plenty, as the Clarets collected just one point from their first five games before picking up their first win last weekend — Sean Dyche‘s side has still put together a defensive record which ranks in the top half of the PL (10 goals conceded in six games, 9th-fewest). That likely spells trouble for Cardiff, who have scored a PL-low three goals thus far.

The only possible silver lining for Cardiff — one that Warnock will be desperately hoping to realize — is that while they conceded a dozen goals in their last three games, they did so against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. They’re hardly the only side that’ll ship a large number in consecutive games against top-four hopefuls, and perhaps that challenge will have prepared Warnock’s men for the more realistic challenge that is a fellow relegation battler.

INJURIES: Cardiff — OUT: Aron Gunnarsson (knee), Peltier (shoulder) | Burnley — OUT: Ben Gibson (abdomen), Nick Pope (shoulder), Robbie Brady (fitness)

Could Joe Hart return to the England squad?

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gareth Southgate is planning a trip to Turf Moor this Saturday, and that could mean big things for 31-year-old goalkeeper Joe Hart.

The former Manchester City starter and longtime England #1 has fallen out of the setup after a dip in form that led to not only his fall down the England depth chart, but also his exit from the Etihad. After losing his starting spot at City in 2016, a loan move to Italian club Torino was the beginning of the end for Hart’s international job.

Or was it?

Jordan Pickford, who was one of the best goalkeepers at the World Cup this summer, is firmly entrenched in the starting spot. However, there are murky waters surrounding the backup job, and that’s where Hart could find himself back in the mix.

England boss Gareth Southgate has insisted publicly that the position is open for the taking. Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy is expected to be the man Southgate calls upon during the October international break, but that’s nowhere near set in stone. Burnely’s Nick Pope, who served as backup at the World Cup without seeing game action, is out injured for a significant amount of time with a dislocated shoulder. Jack Butland‘s stock has dropped after Stoke City was relegated, and now the Potters toil in the bottom third of the Championship standings. Fulham shot-stopper Marcus Bettinelli was called up in early September, but he did not feature, and the 26-year-old hardly even has the confidence of his own club manager.

So, could Hart earn himself a spot in the rotation? With Pope injured, the 31-year-old has stepped in at Burnley and performed at a decent level despite just a single point for the club through the first five Premier League matches. With few concrete options, it’s possible a familiar face could be back in the England squad.