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Off to a flyer? Toughest, easiest starts to Premier League schedule

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Cardiff City will be ruing its fixtures to start life in the Premier League, while champions Manchester City should be salivating.

You might’ve thought that any way, but the schedule makers certainly did favors to the champs and took a plank to back of one of the new boys.

[ MORE: Full 2018-19 PL schedule ]

Using last season’s table position and assigning the promoted sides to spaces 18-20, Man City gets the easiest first six matches in the Premier League.

Following a tricky Opening Day at Unai Emery’s Arsenal, Man City will face Huddersfield and Newcastle with all three newly-promoted sides filling out the sextet.

Burnley will have a good chance to get off to another hot start, with Southampton, Watford, and Fulham on the docket before a visit from Manchester United. Wolves, Cardiff, Huddersfield Town, and Bournemouth follow.

As for aforementioned Cardiff, the Bluebirds could be waiting a long time for a win if they cannot pick up three points versus Bournemouth, Newcastle, and Huddersfield Town; The next five opponents? Arsenal home, Chelsea away, Man City home, Burnley home, Spurs away.

Also getting a rough ride is Newcastle, who opens with Spurs before facing Cardiff. Then it’s Chelsea home, Man City away, Arsenal home.

It all comes out in the sauce by the end of the run, but clubs can find themselves in deep holes with poor starts. Newcastle and Cardiff face big challenges, while Man City and Burnley should be smiling early.

Transfer rumor roundup: Arnautovic to Man Utd; J-Rod, Jorginho buzz

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The transfer rumor mill has churned out two double-digit Premier League strikers and a Serie A second-place hero into Wednesday’s reading material.

[ MORE: Newcastle signs Dubravka ]


West Ham big man Marko Arnautovic and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho may seem like a combustible pair, but the Red Devils boss is apparently interested in seeing the mix.

Arnautovic, 29, engineered a $26 million move away from Stoke to West Ham last season, and came into form under David Moyes when he bagged 11 goals and six assists after going his first 11 matches without either.

Now the center forward who also plays either wing would perceivably be a depth move behind Romelu Lukaku. The move doesn’t seem the neatest fit given Arnautovic’s preference to play left wing and United’s glut of players on that side of the pitch.

West Ham is said to value Arnautovic at $67 million, which seems bonkers and a non-starter. Arnautovic did spent time under Mourinho at Inter Milan.


West Brom striker and former England man Jay Rodriguez is also wanted by Premier League teams after scoring 11 of West Brom’s 31 goals in Premier League play.

Rodriguez cost the Baggies around $16 million last season, when he signed a four-year deal with the Midlands club.

West Brom will be attempting to convince Rodriguez and/or Salomon Rondon to stick around and dominate Championship defenses, but Burnley and Bournemouth are said to be after Rodriguez.

“J-Rod” has spent time on the South Coast with Southampton, and started his career with the Clarets having been born in Burnley. He could team up with Chris Wood to lead Burnley into Europe.


Jorginho’s rumored move to Manchester City took another step on Wednesday, with the player’s agent admitting an offer has been made for the Napoli star.

“I know an offer to Napoli has arrived from Manchester City. We’re waiting for their response. I don’t think they have rejected offers. If Napoli find an agreement with City, we will assess everything,‚Ä̬†Joao Santos told TMW. “Obviously, Manchester City would be very welcome, an opportunity not to be turned down. The coach is one of the best in Europe.”

Jorginho, 26, scored against Man City in the UEFA Champions League, and Napoli finished four points behind Juventus. He posted two league goals and four assists in Serie A, averaging 1.9 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per game.

Revisiting PST’s preseason Premier League predictions

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Back in August, we asked our staff to pick its 1-20 table and answer a bevy of roundtable questions.

[ MORE: Atleti wins Europa League ]

The crystal ball ain’t so crystal clear.

The table

— Five of six writers had Manchester City lifting the Premier League trophy, with Nick Mendola’s (me) audacious 90-point total the closest to City’s actual 100 points. Kyle Bonn picked Manchester United to win the league.

–Nick Mendola’s (me) equally audacious prediction that Burnley would finish 20th with 18 total points has had him apologizing on this page for months. Way to go, numbskull.

— No one called more than one relegated team correctly. Swansea had three people pick it for the drop, while I was the lone one to tab West Brom. JPW and Andy Edwards failed to name a single relegated team.

— Who had a team finishing the most spots higher than they did? JPW and Andy Edwards had 16th place Southampton finishing 8th.¬†I had eventually relegated Stoke in 11th, while JPW had them 10th, and Andy Edwards had them 7th!

— Chelsea’s fifth place finish was a surprise to everyone; Only JPW had them finishing lower than second… in third.

— Surprised Arsenal finished in sixth? Kyle Bonn, Andy Edwards, and Matt Reed aren’t.

The roundtable

— We asked who’d go the further in the Champions League, and JPW was the only one to name Liverpool (although he hedged in a bit by saying the Reds¬†and Man City).

— We asked who’d score the most league goals between Romelu Lukaku,¬†Harry Kane, Alvaro Morata,¬†Alexandre Lacazette, or Sergio Aguero? Four correctly went with Kane, with Kyle Bonn wrong with Lukaku and this humble writer wrong with Lacazette.

— We asked which Premier League player would feel worst about his decision to leave his previous PL club, and we were all wrong (except perhaps JPW’s choice of Wayne Rooney, but that’s debatable). Dan Karell said Virgil Van Dijk, Matt Reed said Nemanja Matic, and I said Kyle Walker. All are probably quite happy with the manner of their seasons.

— We asked who’d fare better between manager Marco¬†Silva, Frank De Boer, or Mauricio Pellegrino. They were all fired, though Silva’s departure was least his fault. So JPW wins again.

— We predicted who’d get fired first. The winner was Frank De Boer, but we all named men who’d get the sack. Craig Shakespeare (JPW), Paul Clement (me), Marco Silva (Matt Reed and Kyle Bonn), and Mark Hughes (Dan Karell).

— We asked which newly-promoted club will finish higher. Four of the five said Newcastle, with someone trying to hide his bias by saying Brighton.

— We asked who’d finish highest and lowest of this group:¬†Southampton, Stoke¬†City, West¬†Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, Leicester City.

Leicester finished highest and West Brom finished 20th. Dan and I correctly tabbed Leicester, while four of us correctly pegged the Baggies as the lowest.

— As for who would get promoted from the Championship, so far we’re 1/12. That could move to three if Dan and Kyle are correct in picking Fulham. Matt tabbed Cardiff City.

Burnley 1-2 Bournemouth: Substitute Wilson grabs late winner

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Burnley, so defensively sound all season long, slipped up – literally – at the death of the campaign as they lost a lead and fell to Bournemouth 2-1 at Turf Moor. Kevin Long slipped, allowing substitute Callum Wilson to score in second-half stoppage time, giving a great Burnley season a sour finish.

The best early chance fell to Bournemouth as they worked a shot for Lys Mousset in the 22nd minute, but Burnley keeper Nick Pope was best to it, sprawling to his right to keep out the low effort.

Despite slight possessional domination for the visitors through the opening 45 minutes, it was Burnley who picked out more shots, and they grabbed the opener six minutes before halftime on a sloppy strike. A cross from the left baseline looped in from Stephen Ward, and it fell to Chris Wood in all kinds of space on the penalty spot. The Burnley striker popped his shot and it deflected hard off Tyrone Mings to wrong-foot goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and the shot bounded in for the game’s first goal.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Bournemouth started the second half brightly, and had a header by Steve Cook go just wide moments after the break. Their initial spell was stymied by the solid Burnley defense, but the visitors would find an equalizer with 16 minutes to go on a rare mistake at the back by the hosts.

Jermain Defoe came off the bench and immediately had a solid effort, sliding to meet a cross at point-blank range, but Pope was there to impressively parry the effort. However, the home side couldn’t get the ball clear, and Bournemouth latched back onto possession, eventually finding Josh King who delivered a looping shot that tucked inside the top-right corner with no chance for Pope to make another stop.

[ MORE: Final Premier League standings ]

Burnley had one more chance to grab the three points on 87 minutes, but Jack Cork‘s ball in for Sam Vokes was just inches too far, and Begovic could collect easily. Down the other end, Bournemouth had one more chance as well, as substitute Callum Wilson fired low to the left corner, but his shot skittered agonizingly wide.

It seemed wrapped up as the four minutes of stoppage time ticked down, but the Cherries had one more moment to savor at the end of the season as Bournemouth broke. Burnley defender Kevin Long slipped on the ball, and coughed it up to Defoe, and on the two-on-one, Defoe slipped in Wilson for the tap-in with a minute remaining in stoppage time.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The three points for Bournemouth moves them into a 12th-placed finish, holding off West Ham behind them with 44 points. Burnley will end the year in seventh, five points above Everton with 54 on the year, a fantastic finish despite the late hiccup.

Arsenal sends Wenger off in style

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  • Arsenal sews up sixth
  • Burnley will finish seventh
  • Both headed for Europa League

Alex Iwobi had a world-class day, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagged a brace, and Arsenal sent Arsene Wenger off in style with a 5-0 win over Burnley in his Emirates Stadium finale on Sunday.

Iwobi set up multiple goals and had one himself, while Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette also scored in the win.

The Gunners will finish sixth in the Premier League, ahead of Burnley.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal was all over the Clarets despite the absence of playmaker Mesut Ozil, and went ahead inside the first 15 minutes.

Aubameyang slid to knock in an Alexandre Lacazette pass after a 1-2 between the Frenchman and Alex Iwobi.

Ashley Barnes suffered an apparent shoulder injury and had to leave the game with his arm in his jersey like a makeshift sling, clearing the way for Sam Vokes‘ introduction in the 22nd minute.

Nick Pope made a fine stop on Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s deflected shot in the 44th, but it didn’t stay 1-0 into the break.

Lacazette darted to slap Hector Bellerin‘s cross into goal after another Iwobi set-up. If Lacazette didn’t hit it, Aubameyang may have, as Arsenal was looking fine on the day.

Kolasinac hit a 54th minute strike on the screws after being cued up by Jack Wilshere, and Arsenal was rolling at the Emirates when Mkhitaryan just missed curling a worldie around Pope.

Iwobi got a deserved goal for himself in the 64th when he belted a Mkhitaryan cutback into the upper 90. Little-to-no resistance from Burnley.

Aubameyang got is second in the 75th minute, and Arsenal then introduced old friend Per Mertesacker to the proceedings. That triggered loud applause from the Gunners faithful.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]