2019-2020 Premier League Season

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Bergwijn keeps Tottenham’s Champions League hopes alive

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In one fell swoop, Steven Bergwijn showed why he could be the key to keeping Tottenham’s hopes alive in the UEFA Champions League, both this season and next.

After joining Tottenham from PSV Eindhoven in a $33 million transfer earlier this week, Bergwijn dazzled and delighted in his debut at the renovated White Hart Lane, scoring a goal on the half-volley as Spurs took out Man City, 2-0. With the win, Tottenham now sits just four points behind Chelsea and fourth place in the Premier League.

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More important than the win however was that the 22-year-old’s performance on Sunday showed exactly the kind of skills, ability, and work rate he brings to Tottenham. With Harry Kane out long term and Tottenham still searching for reliable attacking options who can score, you can do much worse than sign Bergwijn, who has lit up the Netherlands’ Eredivisie and Europe for the past three and a half seasons.

Bergwijn scored 14 goals in the Eredivisie last season, and after playing for the Netherlands National Team and in the Champions League for PSV, he’s battle tested against the best teams and players in Europe. With crunch Premier League matches coming in the weeks ahead, Tottenham will have to rely on Bergwijn to create goal-scoring chances and even score a few from his wide position to make up the four-point distance between them and the final Champions League place. In addition, he’ll be eligible to play for Spurs in the Champions League this season, including matches against Bundesliga front-runners RB Leipzig.

Spurs will also have to hope that Bergwijn doesn’t need much time to fully adjust to the pace and physicality of the Premier League. Based on Sunday’s performance, it looks like he’s ready to go.

Arsenal overruns West Ham with 3 second half goals

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Who saw that coming?

With three goals in a nine-minute span in the second half, Arsenal overcame a one-goal halftime deficit to comfortably beat West Ham, 3-1, on Monday night at the Olympic Stadium. It was a complete reversal after a second half where Arsenal didn’t attempt a single shot on target in the first half and were second-best in winning duals and second balls.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

But it was the Arsenal stars who helped the club when it was effectively on its knee, facing a tenth-straight match without a win. Goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and youngster Gabriel Martinelli secured all three points for Arsenal.

On the other side, West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini is in a whole host of trouble. West Ham sits just one point above the relegation zone after 16 league matches, and Pellegrini was expected to take the Hammers to the next level.


Three things we learned

1. Arsenal stars finally step up: With Arsenal on the verge of another demoralizing defeat, the club’s expensive strike force helped turn the tide in the second half. Martinelli, Aubameyang, and Pepe all played a huge role, and their goals, arguably against the run of play, were more than enough to inject some excitement into the club.

2. No Luiz, No Problem: Arsenal may have found its new starting centerback combination. After multiple error-prone performances with Sokratis playing alongside David Luiz, Arsenal boss Freddy Ljunberg went with Calum Chambers to partner Sokratis. The end result was a much more organized backline, and fewer mistakes, leading to fewer allowed goals.

3. Pellegrini on the hot seat: Pellegrini will have a nervous few days ahead of him. Despite a rare win over Chelsea last week, West Ham has now dropped successive defeats, first to Wolves and now Arsenal, leaving West Ham on the edge of relegation. Could Pellegrini last until January?

Man of the Match: Arsenal’s defense deserves credit, but goals win games, so Man of the Match has to go to Nicolas Pepe. The Ivory Coast international absolutely earned his massive transfer fee on Monday, scoring a beautiful curler and then setting up Aubameyang with a chip into the box.


In the run up to kickoff, and even halftime, Arsenal had plenty of obstacles to overcome.

Right back Hector Bellerin was forced out of the starting lineup during pregame warmups, and left back Kieran Tierney couldn’t finish the match, having to be substituted midway through the first half.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Arsenal interim coach Freddie Ljungberg also made some big lineup decisions. Alexandre Lacazette and David Luiz were dropped, with Brazilian teenager Gabriel Martinelli starting up top and Calum Chambers moving inside to centerback. It took 60 minutes, but those moves paid dividends in the end.

However, before then, West Ham controlled the first half, even with less of the ball. The Hammers showed more desire and determination than Arsenal, winning many second balls, and it led to the opening goal. A corner kick in the 38th minute pinballed in and out of the box, with Arsenal twice failing to clear it. Eventually, the ball fell to Pablo Fornals, who chipped a ball into the middle of the box. West Ham centerback Angelo Ogbonna, still up in the box after the corner kick, dashed onto it and though it went off his shoulder, deflected off an Arsenal defender and in for a goal. VAR checked it, as it does with every goal, but the decision stood, and it was well deserved.

West Ham even looked more likely to score a second late in the first half and then early in the second half, as Arsenal couldn’t string many passes together in their own third or the final third.

In the 60th minute, it was like a flip was switched. Suddenly, West Ham provided no pressure on Arsenal’s backline when it had the ball, allowing Arsenal to easily break the lines. After two passes getting through a half-dozen defenders, the ball ended up on the left wing with Aubameyang. Aubameyang crosses into the center and with a first-time finish, suddenly Martinelli put Arsenal level at 1-1.

In the 66th minute, again Arsenal broke through West Ham’s midfield quite easily. Dribbling forward, Mesut Ozil passed into the middle to Aubameyang, who fed Pepe wide. Pepe, who was one-on-one with Aaron Cresswell, cut inside and curled home a beauty to make it 2-1, Arsenal.

Three minutes later, Aubameyang and Pepe teamed up again. Pepe cut inside, but instead of shooting, he slyly chipped a ball into the box. Aubameyang waited for it and as he was inside, scissor kicked the ball in to make it 3-1.

With West Ham shellshocked, Arsenal held on late for a huge win, moving the club back into the top half of the Premier League table.

This story will be updated.

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.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

“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.