2019-2020 Premier League Season

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Premier League Preview: Southampton v. Watford

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  • Southampton sit in 19th place, with nine points
  • Watford is right behind the Saints, in dead-last with eight points
  • Southampton has still not won at home this season
  • While Watford has already replaced its manager, Southampton has still held onto Ralph Hassenhuttl. 

It’s a proverbial relegation six-pointer as Southampton hosts Watford in a match broadcast live over the air across the U.S. (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com).

The Saints have fared somewhat better – all in all – since the 9-0 thrashing to Leicester City at home, and arguably should have picked up a crucial three points at Arsenal last week. However, Ralph Hassenhuttl desperately needs three points on Saturday with Watford coming to town.

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On November 8, Watford picked up on its first Premier League win (2-0 over Norwich City) under Quique Sanchez Flores since he returned to the club in September and could jump over Southampton in the standings with a road win. History isn’t necessarily on either team’s side heading into this encounter. Both teams have finished with a 1-1 draw in the last three matches between these two teams, with Watford coming back to tie the game in all of them.

Sanchez Flores has also had to deflect reports in the media that he could be sacked again by the Pozzo family, which owns Watford, since the team has barely improved since he took charge. Should Watford lose again, his fate could be decided on Monday morning.

Injuries/suspensions

Southampton: OUT – Stuart Armstrong (hamstring); DOUBTFUL – Sofiane Boufal (toe); PROBABLE – Jannik Vestergaard (illness)

Watford: OUT – Craig Dawson (head), Christian Kabasele (hamstring), Daryl Janmaat (knee), Tom Cleverley (heel), Danny Welbeck (hamstring) and Sebastian Prodl (knee); DOUBTFUL – Roberto Pereyra, Daniel Bachmann (both hamstring), Domingos Quina (groin)


Projected lineups

Southampton: McCarthy – Soares, Stephens, Bednarik, Bertrand – Valery, Højbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Redmond – Ings, Long

Watford: Foster – Femenia, Mariappa, Dawson, Cathcart, Holebas – Hughes, Capoue, Doucoure – Sarr, Gray, Deulofeu


What they’re saying

Ralph Hassenhuttl on what Southampton took from its 2-2 draw: “Every game in the Premier League is a tough one. You have to put everything on the pitch to get something and this is what we know and it’s good now that we have found back a little bit of self-confidence. This is very important for us and that gives us a lift, absolutely, and we need this lift that we can put it on the pitch from the first moment on, that we can invest a little bit for the fans and for the crowd, and they help us then – creating chances, showing that we are on the front foot and then we need the crowd to support us, because we must turn the table at home.”

Sanchez Flores on a 6-point match against Southampton: “It could be [a turning point], for us it’s a long time saying it’s finals and finals and finals. We are preparing finals but when you play finals I know what it means. When you prepare finals you need to reduce mistakes. We know they are dangerous, they have very quick players, good players in the midfield, strong defenders. But we have our players too, we have things we want to do. It should be even, like every single match in the Premier League.”


Prediction

Both teams desperately need a win. So of course, they’ll find a way to draw. In the breezy south coast of England, long balls will go wayward and the team which can move the ball on the ground best will control the match. Ultimately, neither team has proven it is good enough to win this match, but Saturday can be a chance to turn it all around.

Southampton 1-1 Watford

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. West Ham

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  • Chelsea sit in 4th place, two points back of Man City
  • West Ham sit in 17th place, three points above the relegation zone
  • The Hammers have lost four of their last five matches. Chelsea meanwhile is looking for win seven in its last eight Premier League games.
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 13 home Premier League meetings with West Ham (W9), last losing to the Hammers by a 3-2 scoreline in September 2002.

Chelsea look to keep pace in the top four and get back to winning ways as Frank Lampard‘s side hosts a London derby against struggling West Ham United (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSports.com).

Chelsea dropped a 2-1 scoreline last week to Man City, and then was compounded with a wild 2-2 draw with Valencia in mid-week UEFA Champions League action. Defense has been an issue, as Chelsea has allowed two or more goals in three of its last four matches.

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Saturday’s match could be a big boost of confidence for Lampard’s men though, as West Ham comes to Stamford Bridge. The Hammers are in horrendous form recently under former Man City title-winning coach Manuel Pellegrini. Defensively the team has been all over the place, especially without Winston Reid, though Reid is back in training. However, based on current form, even a Chelsea team without Tammy Abraham, out with injury, should be just fine, with Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic running havoc along the wings.

Injuries/suspensions

Chelsea: OUT – Tammy Abraham (hip)

West Ham: OUT – Issa Diop (suspension), Winston Reid, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere (all injured)


Projected lineups

Chelsea: Kepa – Azpilicueta, Tomori, Zouma, Emerson – Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic – Pulisic, Batshuayi, Willian

West Ham: Roberto – Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell – Felipe Anderson, Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko – Haller


What they’re saying

Frank Lampard on facing a struggling West Ham: “I expect West Ham to bring passion and effort. They are in a difficult place because of their recent run, and sometimes that can bring out the best in players. You look at people in their team like Mark Noble and Declan Rice, players that care for the club, and they want to react to a manager who is a top manager so I am expecting a reaction from them. We know they have individual quality in forward areas so I am taking the game nowhere near lightly. It is a tough match.”

Mark Noble on improving West Ham’s defense: “We have to defend better as a team but that side of the game does seem to have become ‘uncool’,” he observed. “The philosophy of football seems to have changed. Maybe it doesn’t look that great if the ball is near the touchline and you run over and smash it into the crowd so your team can get back into shape. Instead now, you maybe try and step over, pass it back to the ‘keeper who kicks it straight up in the air and results in a 50/50 challenge. The teams who defend best normally do well.”


Prediction

West Ham faces Chelsea at arguably the worst time. For a team in need of a pick-me-up, to have to go to Stamford Bridge and face one of the quickest, most dynamic attacks in the Premier League will leave some West Ham players with serious nerves in the tunnel before taking the field. Chelsea should have no issues, and though it’s a London derby, the hosts should take all three points.

Chelsea 3-1 West Ham

Pochettino brushes off talk of potential departure

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Tuesday’s 7-2 home thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich was the latest blow in what’s been, from a certain perspective, a tough start to the 2019-2020 Premier League season for Tottenham.

However, despite the rough result in the UEFA Champions League, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said he sees no reason to jump ship anytime soon.

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“In five-and-a-half years, every single press conference we have talked about my future,” Pochettino said, via Sky Sports. “I hope [because] we are still talking, it means that I am going to spend five more years here, at least.”

Of course, the likelihood that Pochettino stays for another five years is very slim. He’s been rumored to take the Real Madrid job, and should that open up next summer, there’s no reason he couldn’t resign from Spurs and move to Madrid. However, it is a boost to Spurs fans that the Argentine manager isn’t going out like this, with a very disappointing defeat early in the season.

Pochettino guided the club past expectations last season in thrilling fashion, securing another top-four performance and helping execute a three-goal comeback over Ajax to make the UEFA Champions League final. Since then, there’s been upheaval within the squad, players like Danny Rose who were told they could leave, stayed. Meanwhile, a player who reportedly wanted to leave, Christen Eriksen, stayed as well. All that, plus Tottenham’s 11-point haul through seven Premier League matches has them outside the Champions League places, for now, and it’s been an up-and-down season for sure.

Along with his players, Pochettino has been rumored to be leaving Tottenham at any point, after five years of battling with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy over new signings to stay competitive with Liverpool. Yet, Tottenham are still in the hunt for a top-four place, and nothing’s changed in terms of the Champions League picture. Spurs could still finish second and advance, ensuring plenty of money coming in for the club in revenue.

Pochettino has had a tough season for sure, but he appears to be staying for at least a while longer before it’s his time to move on.

Pogba, Shaw, Martial remain sidelined

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Paul Pogba will miss a second straight Premier League match as he continues to overcome a persistent ankle injury.

Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, ahead of his side’s league matchup at West Ham United on Sunday, confirmed that Pogba, along with left back Luke Shaw and forward Anthony Martial will all miss out on the match-up. Pogba hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury in Man United’s 1-1 draw with Southampton before the international break.

Pogba missed a chance to join up with the France National Team for Euro 2020 qualifiers and according to Solskjaer, via the Manchester Evening News, Pogba hasn’t returned to full training. At the same time, Wales international and rising star Daniel James could also miss the match with an undisclosed injury. James reportedly suffered the injury during Man United’s 1-0 win over Leicester City.

The quartet of players all missed out on Man United’s 1-0 win over Astana in the UEFA Europa League group stage opener. Man United is now 2-0 since losing Pogba, with the wins over Leicester City and Astana. It will be fascinating to see whether Nemanja Matic retains his place alongside Scott McTominay, and whether that gives Man United a little more defensive balance.

Pogba so far has played four matches for Man United this season. Both Shaw and Martial have just played three times, though Martial already has two goals on the season.