Sead Kolasinac

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Top PL storylines: Matchweek 2

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The Premier League season is officially under way and already Manchester City is on top of the table after just one week, having taken down West Ham by a blistering 5-0 scoreline that could be even more.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

With the first week under our belt, here are the top storylines as clubs look to keep the ball rolling, or in the case of teams like the Hammers, Norwich City, or Watford, turn their fortunes before falling too far behind.


Chelsea looks to build on midweek showing

  • Chelsea v. Leicester City, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

For long stretches of the midweek Super Cup, Chelsea looked the better side against Liverpool. While the Champions League title holders eventually won the match on penalties after a 2-2 draw, the Blues look much improved from their opening week drubbing at the hands of Manchester United.

Frank Lampard still has improving to do as a manager, indicative of his slow reaction to a second half surge by Liverpool, but the Blues boss could hand Christian Pulisic his full Premier League debut after leaving the American on the bench against Manchester United. It’s not perfect, and Chelsea has a long way to go to be a truly competitive force at the top of the Premier League table, but marketable improvement at this stage in the season is always a welcome sight.


Spurs gets crack at defending champs

  • Man City v. Tottenham, Saturday, 12:30 a.m. ET on NBC

Tottenham began its new season with a 3-1 comeback win over newly promoted Aston Villa, and while it took time for the Champions League finalists to gain a foothold in the match, the final result will encourage Spurs fans as they get an early shot at Manchester City. It’s likely a little too early for Giovani Lo Celso or Ryan Sessegnon to make a full debut, but Tanguay Ndombele got off to a good start with a goal against Villa and the new-look Spurs will likely provide Man City a serious test.

City was explosive against West Ham as Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were both spectacular, but Bernardo Silva could be brought into the side after finding the substitutes bench in the opener, as could Sergio Aguero.


Early relegation six-pointer?

  • Norwich City v. Newcastle United, Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

Many Premier League projections, including some of our own here at Pro Soccer Talk, have Norwich City and Newcastle both in various stages of the relegation picture. It’s possible that this early match could prove vital in helping shape the bottom of the table.

If so, the matchup could be an entertaining one. While these two sides combined for just one goal between them last weekend, they were both positive going forward in spells. The last four matchups between these two teams have produced a total of 24 goals, and the last time they faced off in Premier League competition, they were both eventually relegated. It may be early, but they all count the same.


Arsenal stars could return

  • Arsenal v. Burnley, Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac still have safety and security issues to sort out – a worrying prospect for players just looking to ply their trade on the pitch – but they’re back in Arsenal training and could return to the matchday squad after missing out on the opening weekend.

With the pair potentially in the fold, it will give the Gunners a boost after looking bright but wasteful in the early 1-0 win over Newcastle. Ozil could come in for Reiss Nelson while Kolasinac would replace the deputizing Nacho Monreal. David Luiz could also make his Arsenal debut with Calum Chambers possibly making way, giving Arsenal a much more complete lineup than last week. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the game’s only goal in the season opener, and he is tipped to strike many more times this season in a likely Golden Boot challenge.


Wolves looks to again trouble Manchester United

  • Wolverhampton Wanderers v. Manchester United, Monday, 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Manchester United looked stellar in the opening weekend against Chelsea, but they’ll take on a pesky foe in Week 2 as they look to keep the momentum going. Wolves picked up four points off Manchester United last season as they proved difficult for many top sides to deal with throughout the season.

Most importantly, the Red Devils will need to deal with Raul Jimenez who has picked up where he left off last season with four goals in Europa League play to start the campaign, although he – along with the rest of the Wolves squad – was held off the scoresheet in the Premier League opener against Leicester City. That 0-0 draw was drab as Wolves appeared tired after early European play, but the home side will feel they can hit Manchester United on the counter Monday as they did a number of times last season.

Ozil and Kolasinac back in Arsenal training but fear for safety

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Following the dramatic attempted carjacking that threatened the well-being of Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac, the pair has returned after a short leave of absence regarding fears for their safety, but concerns remain as the two have become targets for gang violence in London.

Two men were arrested outside Ozil’s house towards the end of last week, causing the two to withdraw from the Arsenal squad for the opening match of the Premier League season against Newcastle United over further safety concerns. The two men were caught in a scuffle with the posted security detail which has been provided for 24-hour protection of both Gunners players.

The Telegraph reports that a second threat was made in the wake of the attempted carjacking, and the building concerns led to their withdrawal from the weekend’s matchday squad. According to The Evening Standard, Ozil’s new wife, Bella – whom he just married this spring – has flown home to Germany in the wake of the threats as the Gunners’ playmaker looks to keep his family out of harm’s way. Kolasinac also reportedly sent his wife home, along with his dog after the initial attack.

It is troubling that players feel they must withdraw from work in order to feel safe, and have sent their loved ones away. The gang violence targeting the Arsenal pair began, as The Athletic insinuates, as Ozil went out with his wife and Kolasinac to buy his new bride a watch. The trio was followed home and attacked outside Ozil’s house, and Kolasinac bravely fended off the knife-wielding aggressors with his bare hands as they looked to steal the newly purchased valuable. This seemed to anger the gang, and further threats have been made in the wake of the initial attack as they hope to avenge the failed assault.

The Athletic report discusses Ozil’s love for life in London, and thus the attack must feel like a personal attack from a city he has poured out his heart to. It remains to be seen what affect this could have on the future of either player at Arsenal, especially if their families no longer wish to reside in a city that no longer feels safe.

Watch Live: Newcastle-Arsenal, Leicester-Wolves

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Four more teams begin their Premier League seasons at 9 a.m. ET Sunday as Newcastle, Arsenal, Leicester City, and Wolves take their bows on the NBC family of networks.

It’ll be Arsenal and Newcastle United at St. James’ Park, where Steve Bruce makes his managerial debut with record signing Joelinton atop an attack with previous record signing Miguel Almiron underneath (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac did not travel to Newcastle for safety reasons in the follow-up to a robbery attempt made on Ozil’s vehicle last earlier this month.

Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, and David Luiz are all on the bench for Arsenal.

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Over on CNBC, two clubs with Top Seven ambitions kick off their seasons at 9 a.m. ET in Leicester (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Brendan Rodgers‘ Foxes see Ayoze Perez starting in attack after his move from Newcastle.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolves played Thursday in the Europa League, and keep new signing Patrick Cutrone on the bench.

PL Sunday preview: Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Wolves all open season

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There will be no shortage of headlines Sunday as Chelsea travel to Old Trafford to commence their era under Frank Lampard and American superstar Christian Pulisic. The mouth-watering bout will be only one of three matchups, however.

A new-look Arsenal – without Mezut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac – will start to write its own story, with Steve Bruce‘s Newcastle as the first chapter’s antagonist. Meanwhile, Leicester City will look to take advantage of a well-traveled Wolverhampton Wanderers, who have been busy qualifying for Europa League ahead of the Premier League’s start.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Arsenal v. Newcastle — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With a slew of new signings – including record signing Nicolas Pepe – and an instructional, yet painful year behind them, Unai Emery‘ second time around is expected to offer bigger and better things for Arsenal. A trip to St. James Park is first on the menu for the Gunners. Injuries and fitness setbacks in mind, Arsenal will look to hit the ground running with their undeniable high-power attack, while fielding a once familiar foe in the backline – David Luiz.

Newcastle, on the other hand, will start from zero under Steve Bruce. There isn’t a healthy amount of optimism behind the Magpies, but new seasons always call for a new set of hopes. At home, Newcastle biggest wish will be to smash paradigms from the get-go.

Wolves v. Leicester City — 9:00 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Wolves are taking advantage of their head start: the Europa League. Thus far, in two rounds of qualification play, Wolves have outscored opponents 10-1, something that will surely benefit Nuno Espírito Santo’s side when they travel to King Power Stadium. Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves all look in midseason form already, too. There’s no better scenario for the West Midlands’ side to prove their legitimacy than a season-opening victory against the Foxes.

But the same goes for Leicester, who will look to make a statement against one of the two sides that edged them to that same European position. The Foxes will certainly miss Harry McGuire, but Brendan Rogers’ men have enough pieces to make up for the lost quality.

Chelsea v. Manchester United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

There’s arguably no better way to wrap up the first weekend of a new campaign: Chelsea v. Manchester United at the Theatre of Dreams.

On Chelsea’s end, the storylines fit the expectations. Club legend Frank Lampard kickstarts his coaching era with the Blues, while American sensation Christian Pulisic makes his Premier League debut – following a $73 million move from Borussia Dortmund to London last January. No Eden Hazard this time around for this new-era Chelsea, who will look to challenge the likes of Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham for the league title in the months to come.

Having added the likes of Maguire – the most expensive defender in history – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Daniel James, the Red Devils are hoping for a better season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who they finished sixth with last year. With Romelu Lukaku long gone in Italy at Inter Milan and no immediate replacement coming inline, all eyes are on 21-year-old Marcus Rashford. Will he and his teammates show up against Chelsea? Or will Lampard – this time as a coach – walkaway from Old Trafford with a grin on his face?

The stage is set..

Ozil, Kolasinac unavailable over safety fears

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Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac will not be available to play for Arsenal at Newcastle United this Sunday (Watch live, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Gunners have released a statement on the situation, as both players were targeted in an attack in London last month and reports state they have been singled out again over the past few days.

During the attack in north London Ozil and his wife were trapped inside his car while Bosnian international defender Kolasinac grappled with the knife-wielding attackers in the street and the Arsenal stars then escaped to a nearby restaurant.

Here’s the update Arsenal gave on Ozil and Kolasinac ahead of the trip to St James’ Park:

“Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac will not be part of the squad for our opening match against Newcastle United following further security incidents which are being investigated by the police. The welfare of our players and their families is always a top priority and we have taken this decision following discussion with the players and their representatives. We are liaising with the police and are providing the players and their families with ongoing support. We look forward to welcoming the players back to the squad as son as possible. We will not be making any further comment on the matter.”