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Premier League Preview: Newcastle vs. Tottenham

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  • This will be the fourth time these sides have met on the opening weekend, more than any other Premier League fixture.
  • Harry Kane has never scored a PL goal in August, despite playing 13 matches, 898 minutes and having 44 shots.
  • Spurs are playing their first match of the season away from home for the eighth consecutive campaign. Only Burnley have had a longer sequence in English top-flight history, with nine matches between 1888/89 and 1896/97.

Mauricio Pochettino begins his fifth season in charge of Tottenham with a trip up the country to visit Rafa Benitez and Newcastle early on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Pochettino broke a record this summer, making exactly zero signings in the transfer window, though he was also able to sign star Harry Kane to a new contract and keep he, Dele Alli, and even Toby Alderweireld at the club, despite plenty of foreign interest. All nine players involved in the World Cup semifinals are back in training, and a couple may even make the gameday squad.

Benitez meanwhile has called for a period of “calm” and has suspended contract talks with owner Mike Ashley after a tumultuous summer. Newcastle made seven signings, including Kenedy from Chelsea on loan and Solomon Rondon from West Brom, in addition to permanent signings such as Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez, but the club amazingly let 22 players leave, including Aleksandar Mitrovic for a transfer fee of $25.5 million to Fulham.

With so many players just getting back to fitness following World Cup duty, Newcastle could have the advantage over Tottenham in this season-opening matchup.

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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.

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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.


Report: Danny Rose in talks with Schalke

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Tottenham fans who have grown increasingly worried about the team’s lack of signings this summer might not want to read ahead. It will only make things worse.

According to Sky Sports, Spurs left-back Danny Rose is in talks with German club Schalke ahead of a potential transfer to the Bundesliga. That would severely complicate things for Tottenham this summer, with the club yet to bring in a single addition to the squad this transfer window.

While plenty have criticized Spurs in recent weeks for their lack of activity, things haven’t boiled over just yet thanks to the squad’s relatively significant depth already in place. However, the loss of Danny Rose, a presumed starter who has nearly 170 appearances for Spurs since joining in 2007, would place significant cracks in that depth.

The only other natural left-back on the squad is Ben Davies, and while center-back Jan Vertonghen can also slide over to play on the left, that possibility is limited especially by the rumored departure of Toby Alderweireld, requiring Vertonghen to be locked in centrally. 21-year-old Kyle Walker-Peters can also be deployed on the left but naturally is a right-back and has just three Premier League appearances, all on the right.

Rose was first-choice at Spurs for four years, but injuries derailed his plans last season, meaning he appeared in just 10 league games. He played a reserve role for the England team in the 2018 World Cup, on the bench to start most games due to the three-CB system employed by manager Gareth Southgate, but often entering as a substitute, ending the tournament with five appearances and 203 minutes played.

Many have speculated the possibility of Spurs letting Rose go in favor of a deadline day move for Fulham left-back Ryan Sessegnon, which was reported earlier on Wednesday, but Whites transfer guru Tony Khan put that to bed by publicly denouncing rumors of an exit for the 18-year-old star.

With Rose possibly headed out and Sessegnon not on his way to replace his fellow Englishman, this is worrying news for Spurs fans who are only comforted this summer by established squad depth. Should anything threaten to harm the currently deep roster Mauricio Pochettino has available to him, alarm bells could sound in earnest around White Hart Lane.

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.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

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.

Will Tottenham rue not spending big this summer?

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With respect to the possible addition of Jack Grealish, Tottenham Hotspur is betting big on previous years worth of squad construction in its bid to finish Top Three for the fourth-straight Premier League season.

It’s no one in, no one out for the North London side this season, at least it is with two days left in the transfer window. And while Spurs have done a fine job building up depth from within and without, matching their previous heights seems a fairly wild proposition.

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

Forget for a minute that Spurs first two matches could see them severely short-handed — Mauricio Pochettino claims he won’t start just returning World Cup stars that aren’t match-fit — and Tottenham is counting on its two-deep, to borrow an American football term.

Will they regret it? Good question.

It can be head-spinning for a Spurs supporter to take a look at the summer. Consider that Pep Guardiola claimed the days of big buys were over, only to break Man City’s transfer record via Riyad Mahrez. Jose Mourinho is angry that United hasn’t landed more of his targets, despite buying Diogo Dalot and Fred. Chelsea added Jorginho, Arsenal flipped its defense, and Liverpool bought every available player on Earth.

Spurs did last season well, winning a brutal Champions League group with Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid. They finished third in the Premier League and ran to the FA Cup semifinals before losing to Manchester United.

And Pochettino did a fine job working his depth last season, sometimes taxed a bit by injuries. Eighteen players played 18 or more times, with four more playing eight-plus matches.

Let’s say Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose leave, while Grealish arrives in London from Aston Villa. Pochettino gets a number of players, including Lucas Moura and Davinson Sanchez, who will have more comfort in his system.

Yet remember the 2017-18 table.

2. Man Utd — 81 pts
3. Spurs — 77 pts

4. Liverpool — 75 pts
5. Chelsea — 70 pts
6. Arsenal — 63 pts

Spurs had the benefit of Liverpool and Arsenal playing in European finals, and both the Gunners and Chelsea were largely underachievers with monumentally screwy managerial situations.

Pochettino (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

And here’s how it shook out for Spurs in head-to-head matches against their Top Four rivals:

Man City – loss at home, loss away
Chelsea – loss at home, win away
Man Utd – loss away, win at home
Arsenal – loss away, win at home
Liverpool – win at home, draw away

That’s 13 of 30 points, and the same team coming back. Perhaps United slips, and maybe City, too. Or maybe there’s better home comfort, and Spurs erase gaps.

But with nine World Cup semifinalists adjusting to a late vacation and a number of relatively affordable players waltzing to other clubs — See: Xherdan Shaqiri, Alfie Mawson, Max Meyer, Alireza Jahanbakhsh — could Spurs be made to pay dearly by a spate of injuries, at least compared to their rivals? Ask Liverpool of last season, and take a look at how they spent their offseason.