Premier League Storylines

Premier League Storylines: Matchweek 24

Leave a comment

There’s no time to languish in weekend losses, revel in big wins, or — like half the Premier League’s teams — scratch their heads about draws.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

A delightful midweek match week arrives Tuesday before the weekend’s FA Cup fourth round scraps, and we’re quite pleased to reap the rewards.


Can Arteta get a statement win at Stamford Bridge? [ STREAM ]

  • Chelsea v. Arsenal, Tuesday (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta was denied a statement win when these sides met on Dec. 29, a 1-0 lead turned into three dropped points due to some tactical nous from Frank Lampard. Arteta is not mincing words about the import of the return affair at Stamford Bridge, calling it a “must win” against the uneven Blues.

Invincible Watch [ STREAM ]

  • Wolves v. Liverpool, Thursday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Our unscientific ranking says this is the fourth-toughest test of the 16 remaining in Liverpool’s quest for Premier League immortality as an unbeaten team. Wolves played Liverpool to the bone at Anfield, falling on a Sadio Mane 42nd minute goal.

Red Devils rebound on tap [ STREAM ]

  • Manchester United v. Burnley, Wednesday (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Whatever Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks, Manchester United’s 2-0 loss to Liverpool was not encouraging. The Red Devils also learned that Marcus Rashford is out 2-3 months, not weeks, and Burnley’s woeful defense will be feeling a lot better about this fixture than it did last week. So, of course, we should expect Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood to have a field day, right?

Can Eagles, Saints push for Europa? [ STREAM ]

  • Crystal Palace v. Southampton, Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold)

Palace has had an uneven season with plenty of injuries, but held off Man City to grab another point at the weekend. That’s ninth place and 30 points, two more than surging Southampton, and Sheffield United’s 33 points provide the seventh place standard. Three points here sure would be nice for either. (Big announcer voice) But only one can take all of them.

Another Brucie Bonus at Goodison Park? [ STREAM ]

  • Everton v. Newcastle United, Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold)

When these two matched up on Dec. 28, there were 42 shots but only one goal. If this one is nearly as entertaining, get your proverbial and actual popcorn ready. Steve Bruce‘s Magpies have made a habit of surprising this season, and it’s not like they used up attacking legs while defending deep versus Chelsea.

Premier League storylines: Matchweek 18

Leave a comment

Matchweek 18 of the Premier League season is swimming in storylines, even with the league leaders in Qatar battling for the Club World Cup.

We could see a change in the Top Four for the first time since Chelsea climbed into fourth with a defeat of Burnley.

Jose Mourinho aims for Top Four against 2x former employers [STREAM]

  • Tottenham Hotspur v. Chelsea, Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN)

The Mourinho bump has been very real for Spurs, and imagine the joy he’d get from getting his club back into the Top Four by beating old pals Chelsea. Spurs have lost their last two meetings with the Blues, though both were at Stamford Bridge.

If Mourinho gets the job done, he’ll sink his longtime star midfielder Frank Lampard into his deepest hole as Chelsea boss. The Blues have dropped points in four of five league outings. Lampard’s being asked a lot more about who he’ll buy in January than how well the kids have developed under his watch.

Two versus three in Manchester [STREAM]

  • Man City v. Leicester City, Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC)

The visitors are coming off their first dropped points in nine outings across all competitions, and have a 4-point cushion on the third-place hosts. That’s not going to scare Pep Guardiola and the Etihad Stadium set, who is coming off a clean sheet of Arsenal, its first since October in any competition. To do the same to Leicester City would be very impressive, and a win would boost City to within a point of second.

With Top Four rivals squaring off, can Solksjaer’s Red Devils avoid a sting? [STREAM]

  • Watford v. Manchester United, Sunday (Watch live, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN)

Since an Oct. 6 loss to Newcastle, Manchester United has played 15 matches and lost just twice. One of those came in Kazakhstan with a bunch of kids. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s men start the festive season with a 9W-4D-2L mark in their last 15, and a trip to Vicarage Road shouldn’t be an issue, yeah? With Chelsea facing Spurs, United could finish alone in fifth or within a win of the Top Four.

(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Toffees look to continue upswing when wobbly Gunners visit [STREAM]

  • Everton v. Arsenal, Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Arsenal has been as bad as its been in ages, and Mikel Arteta saw that first hand when his Man City popped the Gunners 3-0 last weekend. He’s probably going to be in charge of the Gunners one week later, though surely watching from the stands if in the stadium.

The Gunners will go up against a group of players who bothered to respond when their manager was fired earlier this season. Duncan Ferguson is still in charge of Everton as the pursuit of Carlo Ancelotti continues, and another win would give him a nearly unparalleled interim tenure.

Loser at Villa Park spends Christmas in the bottom three [STREAM]

  • Aston Villa v. Southampton, Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold)

Eleven goals of differential is the margin separating the hosts from the visitors’ place in the relegation zone. Starting the festive fixtures with a move clear of danger sure would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Premier League storylines: Matchweek 15

Leave a comment

Midweek Premier League action is coming up on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Hook it to our veins.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

December is here and that means one thing: PL games by the boatload. Oh yeah, family and presents and food and stuff too… but mostly, Premier League.

Here’s a look at the top storylines heading into the next three days of PL action with two games on Tuesday and Thursday and six on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Need Premier League tickets? ]


Mourinho returns to Man United with Tottenham

  • Man United v. Tottenham, Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Jose Mourinho returns to Old Trafford as he aims to make it four wins out of four as Tottenham’s manager. If you read that sentence to someone this time last year they likely would have fallen off their chair. A lot has changed in the last 12 months since Mourinho was fired by United, but mostly for him. United are still sluggishly pushing for a top four finish and look no closer to achieving that this season than they did last season. In fact, after 14 games last season Mourinho’s United had 22 points on the board. This season they have 18, despite heavy investment in Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Dan James.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side have coughed up leads against Aston Villa and Sheffield United in their last two games and now sit eight points off the top four, while Spurs are two points ahead of them. Harry Kane against Harry Maguire should be an epic battle and Mourinho knows this United team better than most and will no doubt have a very specific gameplan to edge his team further ahead in the race for a top four finish. Mourinho has received a pretty positive reception on his recent returns to Old Trafford as a TV pundit, but that will quickly evaporate if he’s sliding down the touchline on his knees in celebration on Wednesday. Spurs have momentum but both teams are conceding plenty of goals. This should be box office and if Mourinho wins, ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino will surely move closer to taking Solskjaer’s job. The wild managerial merry-go-round continues.


Arsenal, Everton in freefall

  • Arsenal v. Brighton, Thursday (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
  • Liverpool v. Everton, Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com)

Unai Emery has gone and Marco Silva is hanging on by a thread. All is not well at Arsenal or Everton. Both clubs have spent a lot of cash over the past few years but not in the right areas. Arsenal continue to buy talented attackers and neglect their defense, while Everton focus on wingers and midfielders instead of buying the top striker they needed to replace Romelu Lukaku. Aside from issues on the pitch, there a plenty off it for both clubs. Arsenal don’t seem to have a plan for the future as majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has his son Josh talking about the Arsenal DNA and how Freddie Ljungberg is the right man for now. Things didn’t look any different under Ljungberg on Sunday at Norwich as Arsenal were good going forward but a shambles at the back.

There is no clear plan for the future at Arsenal and the same can be said for Everton. Majority owner Farhad Moshiri is sticking with Silva, for now, but with different opinions behind-the-scenes and a team woefully underachieving, it’s a case of who can Everton attract to do any better than Silva currently is? A jolt in the right direction for Arsenal and Everton, who face Brighton and Liverpool respectively in midweek, is badly needed but it is the long-time plan which needs more attention. That has been badly neglected in recent months and both are paying for short-sighted splurges in transfer window rather than transformative philosophical changes. Everton will do well to get anything at Anfield, and although they’ve been unlucky in recent weeks, a heavy defeat to their rivals would be the end for Silva. As for Arsenal, a heavy win is the least Ljungberg will want as he aims to stake his claim to take the Gunners over for the rest of this season at the very least.


Can Leicester, Man City stay in touch with Liverpool

  • Leicester City v. Watford, Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com)
  • Burnley v. Man City, Tuesday (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Liverpool are looking lonely atop the Premier League table. Leicester City are doing their best to stay in touch with them, and their dramatic 2-1 win against Everton on Sunday proved they have momentum, and perhaps fate, on their side in their unlikely title bid. Of course, Man City are still the favorites to hunt Liverpool down, just as they did last season, but Pep Guardiola‘s battered and patched up defense head to Burnley knowing that they really can’t afford to drop any more points… this season. An 11 point lead over Man City is an incredible achievement at this stage of the season but anybody who has watched Liverpool regularly will admit they’ve been far from their best this season. They’re grinding out win after win but unless their form improves, eventually they will slip up. Leicester host struggling Watford and Man City head to Burnley knowing they have to win to put the pressure on Liverpool. It is that simple.

Relegation six-pointer at St Mary’s

Southampton breathed a huge sigh of relief after their late comeback win at home against Watford on Saturday but Ralph Hasenhuttl knows they are still in deep trouble. Saints’ first half display was one of their worst of the season as the pressure of not having a home win since April weighed heavy on the shoulders of his players. There was a negative vibe among the home fans at St Mary’s as they booed their players throughout, but the arrival of Sofiane Boufal off the bench in the second half swung the game in their favor. Hasenhuttl has called on his players to be brave and he must be brave with his team selection too.

Neither Saints or Norwich can defend but both teams have shown they can score plenty of goals and in a key relegation scrap, it’s all about which club can hold their nerve in front of goal on Wednesday. Saints are under pressure but face Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa and West Ham in their next four and they know they need momentum at this key point of the season. As for Norwich, there is no pressure on them. Everybody knows they have the smallest budget in the PL but they continue to punch above their weight and should have beat Arsenal on Sunday. Southampton and Norwich will be in a relegation battle all season and this game is crucial in deciding which team finishes above or below the dreaded dotted line.

Top Premier League storylines: Week 13

Leave a comment

Yes, Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League and, sure, both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manuel Pellegrini are in managerial hot seats, but is there any match more intriguing than Man City and Chelsea squaring off with the knowledge that a bad outcome could see them double digits out of first?

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Below we take a look at the key storylines to keep an eye on across the PL this weekend.


The Jose Mourinho Era begins against a familiar foe

  • West Ham v. Tottenham Hotspur — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho have matched wits many times, which could help the former in his bid to get ready for a rankled Spurs side to kickstart the Premier League weekend.

Mourinho has only matched up with six managers more than Pellegrini in his career, and boasts a 7W-3D-4L record. Can he quickly get Spurs put together for a visit to a desperate Irons side.


Chelsea, Man City put slim title hopes on the line

  • Manchester City v. Chelsea — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC

Both Pep Guardiola‘s City and Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea have lost to Liverpool, meaning their chances to directly affect the Reds’ title hopes are limited. Matches like this one are the ones that get the Reds salivating, in fact, knowing that only one team can snare three points.

City enters the day nine points back of first and a point behind Chelsea and Leicester City. The Top Four race sure looks clear cut right now — the chasing pack is eight points behind fourth — but failure to win on Saturday will likely leave either side double-digit points back of first.


Knock off the Red Devils? Wilder things have happened

  • Sheffield United v. Manchester United — Sunday, 11:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has the newly-promoted side in fifth place on the table, one point better than his celebrated visitors. The Blades will sit no worse than five points back of the Top Four if they can beat Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Red Devils, adding another big name to a season of results which already includes a defeat of Arsenal and draws against Chelsea and Spurs. United is still without Paul Pogba and now will also miss Scott McTominay. Another upset brewing?


Reds hope to get back to business as usual in title fight

  • Crystal Palace v. Liverpool — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

A week removed from a glitzy show against Man City, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds now visit a Palace side who is probably getting sick of facing the Premier League’s best. Roy Hodgson‘s table rise has been stunted by a four-match winless run that includes 2-0 losses to Man City, Leicester City, and Chelsea to go with a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

A Liverpool win will boost it clearer of Man City and/or Chelsea, as the Reds seek a double-digit lead on the field (Second-place Leicester City is away to Brighton and Hove Albion).


Arsenal looks to right wobbly league ship versus slumping Saints

  • Arsenal v. Southampton — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Unai Emery‘s Gunners may be doing fine in the Europa League, but they’ve taken just two points from 12 since an Oct. 6 defeat of Bourrnemouth at the Emirates Stadium. Saints only win since mid-September in any competition is a 4-0 demolition of rivals Portsmouth. If Arsenal cannot get right here, well…

Top Premier League storylines: Week 12

AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

We all know that the highlight of the Premier League weekend is its final act before the international break, but there’s more going on besides Liverpool-Man City.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Below we take a look at the key storylines to keep an eye on across the PL this weekend.


1 v 2

  • Liverpool v. Manchester City, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

This is it: The date circled by both of these fan bases and most neutrals when the Premier League fixture list was released this summer. Man City’s injury list is long and Anfield has been a fortress, but the onus is on the league leaders to handle their business against the two-time reigning champions.

The story lines within this match alone are myriad: Is Ederson‘s injury a mirage? Can City’s marauding full backs deal with the Reds’ wing wizardry? Plus, will the love between Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp take a hit following a tense week of diving talk and a more tense battle on the pitch?

And let’s face it: VAR is gonna have something to say before the day is done on Merseyside.


Foxes can make Arsenal even smaller in rear view mirror

  • Leicester City v. Arsenal, 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN

The Gunners and Foxes know that at least one of the league’s top two will drop points this week, and Unai Emery knows the table can look a lot cozier if he can take three points from a Leicester City side which is overachieving by many metrics.


Chelsea finishes promising stretch of schedule at home

  • Chelsea v. Crystal Palace, 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN

Since losing to Liverpool, Chelsea has won five-straight in league play. The Blues have outscored Brighton, Saints, Newcastle, Burnley, and Watford by a combined score of 13-4. Palace is the last match of a winnable run before Man City comes calling after the international break.


Improving Seagulls hope Red Devils are weary

  • Manchester United v. Brighton, 9 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN

Graham Potter‘s Brighton and Hove Albion have won three of four to move within two points of fifth. United’s improved form took a step back at Bournemouth but picked right back up with a blowout of Partizan Belgrade on Thursday. Both sides will be looking for three points.


Blades aim to carve another point from a top end foe

  • Tottenham Hotspur v. Sheffield United, 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN

The Blades have beaten Arsenal, drawn Chelsea, and probably deserved a point against Liverpool. Now they had to a Tottenham side whose been anything but consistent, and Chris Wilder‘s men will be thinking another result is in the offing.