Top 5 storylines

Top Premier League storylines: Week 7

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The Premier League weekend includes a match-up of two of the biggest clubs in the league, as well as two closely positioned upstarts aiming for a possible Top Four place.

It’ll be a good one, sandwiched between the League Cup and UEFA Champions League.


Revamped Man City back line meets stiffer away test

  • Everton v. Man City, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

The blowouts of Watford and Shakhtar Donetsk were nice, but the challenge presented by Everton’s group is a much trickier one for, presumably, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi. The Toffees give up the second-fewest shots per game in the Premier League. First is City. Someone will give at Goodison, and many would bet on that being inconsistent Everton. That might be too easy of an assumption.


Alarmed Arsenal meets finish-lacking Manchester United

  • Manchester United v. Arsenal, Monday, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Arsenal is out-scoring folks in three competitions now, but the Gunners haven’t been able to keep the door closed at the back in Premier League play. Manchester United has generated chances without finish for several games, and Arsenal is integrating a number of now-fit defenders. That’s good, but there could be growing pains for the Gunners. If there are not, United will likely find itself bottom half after seven match days.


Can Chelsea begin a soft stretch of schedule in style?

  • Chelsea v. Brighton and Hove Albion, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The numbers say Chelsea has been very unlucky over the course of its 2-2-2 start, while Brighton has scored two goals in five matches since clobbering Watford on Opening Day. The Blues are coming off a 7-goal show from their backups, and ornery after an unlucky loss to Liverpool. Can Frank Lampard‘s men make a statement of intent?


Liverpool must be wary of Chris Wilder‘s gnarly, unfazed Blades

  • Sheffield United v. Liverpool, Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Sheffield United has been in every match its played this season, beating Everton, drawing Chelsea, and staging tight contests with upstarts Bournemouth and Leicester City. Liverpool has been a bit open at the back, and the Blades have been opportunistic. The Reds should ease past this one, but can’t be caught looking ahead to Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League.


Low-key litmus test on the South Coast

  • Bournemouth v. West Ham United, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

Weakened lineups cost both sides in the League Cup, as Eddie Howe and Manuel Pellegrini are clearly focused on Saturday’s match at the Vitality Stadium. As they should! This one has all the signs of a beauty, with the winner sitting fifth or higher after seven weeks. That’s a decent prize.

Top Premier League storylines: Week 6

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Of the seven Premier League sides to handle midweek Europeans challenges, only two face-off and that predictably is the hallmark of the weekend in England.

[ MORE: Silva to Inter Miami? ]

What else is cooking? Smell the aromas of the weekend ahead, below.


How will Frank Lampard attack Liverpool?

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

The Blues’ 5-2 defeat at Wolves last week did not help spin a win over Valencia in the Champions League, and Frank Lampard’s next chance to make a statement comes against a team that is perfect in PL play and finds itself licking its wounds from a subpar performance at Napoli. Can a very fresh Christian Pulisic make the difference for Chelsea? Will Callum Hudson-Odoi take the positive vibes from his new contract and solid PL2 appearance into the fray?


Will Fernandinho help stabilize Man City against improving Watford?

  • Man City v. Watford, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

City went to Ukraine and blanked Shakhtar Donetsk with Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho at center back, and the Brazilian center midfielder says he’s been preparing for his possibility for some time. If Watford looks anything like it looked in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal, we could see a very decent test for City’s back line.


Weary Spurs get top-half test from Leicester City

  • Leicester City v. Tottenham Hotspur, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Inconsistent Tottenham meets a Leicester City side with Top Six ambitions, licking its wounds from a 1-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford which probably deserved a point. Spurs aren’t feeling great following another blown 2-0 lead in a big spot away from home. How will they react in Leicester?


Will Solskjaer’s midweek rest risk reap rewards on Sunday?

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

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to hand heavy minutes to youngsters and second-choice players against Kazakh side Astana on Thursday at Old Trafford. Will that pay off when trying to stop Sebastien Haller, Felipe Anderson, and Manuel Pellegrini‘s Irons on Sunday morning?


Early season six-pointer at St. James’ Park

  • Newcastle United v. Brighton and Hove Albion, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Look, it’s Week Six and normally we’d say anything can happen in a Premier League season, but let’s be reasonable: If you’re looking at the teams for Newcastle and Brighton, this result will matter as many as any down the stretch in determining Premier League status for 2019/20.

Top PL storylines: Week 5

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The Premier League is finally returning after what somehow felt like the longest international break in ages.

Anyone else feel that way?

[ MORE: USMNT roundtable ]

Here’s what we have on the docket for a busy weekend in England.


The reigning champs begin life without Laporte

  • Norwich City v. Man City, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Aymeric Laporte may not get the headlines of Virgil Van Dijk, but the Man City man has been a close second to the Liverpool star when it comes to how important a role he plays to his defense. Fortunately, Man City has reliable Nicolas Otamendi and a healthy John Stones. How they perform together will go a long way to determining whether a 3-peat is an option once Laporte returns after the new year. The first Laporte-less test comes against Teemu Pukki and defense-starved Norwich City


Spurs aching for stability, return to form

  • Tottenham Hotspur v. Crystal Palace, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Both Tottenham and their visitors had a key attacker in the rumor mill throughout August, and both Christian Eriksen and Wilfried Zaha stayed put at the transfer deadline. Spurs have just five points through four games, but have already played two Top Four rivals (draws with Man City and Arsenal). It’s fair to say nothing short of a home win over Palace will be acceptable to the Lilywhite faithful. Can Spurs “re-focus?”


New (old) boss bump against dangerous Gunners?

  • Watford v. Arsenal, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Watford fired Javi Gracia in favor of a return to Quique Sanchez Flores, and the Hornets’ home faithful will see whether it gives the moribund Hornets a return to 2018-19 form. Watford has just one point from the first four matches of the season, while Arsenal has only lost to Liverpool. Goal fest?


Someone’s stalling has to end here

  • Wolves v. Chelsea, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

Europa League congestion can rightfully be blamed for some of Wolves’ struggles to start the season, but no such prognosis can be made ahead of a visit from less-than-inspiring Chelsea. This is a good litmus test for two teams’ high-end hopes, and a loss for the hosts could see them finish the weekend in the drop zone.


Business as usual for Salah, Mane versus Newcastle

  • Liverpool v. Newcastle United, Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Forget the argument last week: Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and their fellow Reds will be licking their lips to face a Newcastle team which hasn’t won at Anfield since a League Cup match in 1995. The goal scorer? Steve Watson.


Brendan Rodgers aims to make statement at Old Trafford

  • Manchester United v. Leicester City, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

The hosts Red Devils are running out of excuses for their in-game dominance not producing three points, and the latest test at Old Trafford comes via an in-form Leicester City. Will Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers deliver his first big result of the season?

Top five Premier League storylines: Week 29

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The games keep coming thick and fast across the Premier League, with another full slate of matches coming up this weekend.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Matchweek 29 sees plenty of derby games take center stage, while all eyes will remain on Liverpool and Manchester City as just one point separates them at the top of the table.

Below are a look at the top five storylines ahead of this weekend.


Arsenal have Tottenham in their sights – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET: Tottenham v. Arsenal – NBCSN [STREAM])

Arsenal have clawed their way back into the top four in recent weeks and a win against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday will see them move just one point behind Spurs in the table. Unai Emery smells blood in the water.

“We have been speaking about the opportunity [to finish above Tottenham],” Emery said. “Each match is giving us the opportunity to win three points. There were 10 points between us and Tottenham two weeks ago and now it is four points.”

Arsenal have taken care of business emphatically against the teams they should beat in recent weeks, while Spurs have suffered back-to-back defeats this week and some are questioning whether Harry Kane‘s return to fitness has disrupted their balance in recent games. Regardless of that debate, Kane loves playing against Arsenal and the balance of power in north London has shifted over to Tottenham since Mauricio Pochettino has been in charge. That said, Emery’s men beat Spurs 4-2 in the PL earlier this season and Spurs won at Arsenal in the League Cup, so there is little between these teams. No motivation will be needed for either manager in this one, as a sellout crowd at Wembley will kick off the weekend.


Liverpool must avoid derby upset at Everton – (Sunday, 11:15 a.m. ET: Everton v. Liverpool – NBCSN [STREAM])

Jurgen Klopp has described Sunday’s Merseyside derby as a “World Cup final” for Everton and he’s not wrong. The Toffees will want to do whatever they can to scupper Liverpool’s title charge, and stopping Klopp’s men from getting maximum points on Sunday will go a long way towards doing that. Marco Silva‘s men should have drawn at Anfield earlier this season but Divock Origi‘s wild late goal won it for Liverpool. And although Liverpool have dominated this rivalry for decades, heading to Goodison hasn’t been easy for them in recent years as they’ve drawn four of their last five trips across Stanley Park. With Everton sitting comfortable in midtable, putting a big dent in Liverpool’s title bid is probably their main objective remaining this season. Expect a ferocious atmosphere at Goodison with Liverpool potentially in second place by the time the game kicks off on Sunday due to Man City’s clash at Bournemouth on Saturday. This is one of the biggest hurdles remaining for Liverpool in their title bid…


It is now one from six to go down

  • Saturday, 10 a.m. ET: Man United v. Southampton – NBCSN [STREAM]
  • Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET: Fulham v. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM]
  • Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET: West Ham v. Newcastle – NBCSN [STREAM]
  • Saturday, 10 a.m. ET: Brighton v. Huddersfield – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
  • Saturday, 10 a.m. ET: Burnley v. Crystal Palace – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Following their defeat at Southampton in midweek and the firing of Claudio Ranieri, only a miracle will keep Fulham in the Premier League. Alongside Huddersfield they are now cut adrift at the bottom, with Fulham now 10 points from safety with 10 games to go. Cardiff City sit in the final relegation place, with Southampton, Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Newcastle hovering above them. It is now a case of one team from those six to join Huddersfield and Fulham in being relegated, and the remaining schedule for these teams varies greatly.

Saints have tough games coming up then an easier finish. Cardiff have a tough schedule. Newcastle have an easier one. Brighton and Burnley have tough schedules and Crystal Palace’s remaining games are a mixed bag. Momentum and form is everything at this point of the season and the likes of Newcastle, Palace, Burnley and Saints have it in varying degrees. If you’re a Cardiff or Brighton fan right now, you have to be concerned. The battle to avoid finishing in 18th will likely go down to the wire and it will be as agonizing as it is exciting for almost a third of the league.


Rodgers has to hit the ground running – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET: Watford v. Leicester – NBCSN [STREAM])

Leicester pulled out all of the stops to get Brendan Rodgers from Celtic and now the former Swansea and Liverpool boss must hit the ground running as he returns to the Premier League. Claude Puel‘s time in charge of the Foxes was muddled and confusing for most of their squad, and it is likely Rodgers will get them back to basics between now and the end of the season. Rodgers will overhaul his squad and their style in the summer, as we know he loves to build from the back and push his wide defenders into attacking areas of the pitch. But Leicester still have a great opportunity to finish in seventh and qualify for Europe this season, with a favorable schedule and a squad hungry to impress the new manager and prove they can stick around beyond the summer.


Battle of the South American stars – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET: West Ham v. Newcastle – NBCSN [STREAM])

Miguel Almiron is making quite a name for himself in the Premier League after his January arrival from Atlanta United in Major League Soccer. The Paraguayan forward is already adored by the Newcastle faithful and has received standing ovations in his two masterful home displays (both wins) to push the Magpies away from relegation trouble. Next up: a trip to West Ham, one of the teams who were interested in signing him. The reason the Hammers maybe didn’t push quite as hard was due to Manuel Lanzini returning from injury a little sooner than expected and the Argentine playmaker adds a whole new dimension to Manuel Pellegrini‘s attack. The tenacious duo of Almiron and Lanzini will go head-to-head under the lights at the London Stadium on Saturday with both aiming to prove how important they are to their respective clubs.

Top Premier League storylines for Week 28

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It’s the last full midweek match day schedule for the Premier League season, and we’ve got some doozies on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday.

[ MORE: PL streaming schedule ]

A London Derby and two relegation six-pointers are on the docket, not to mention we’re fully locked into the “Will they or won’t they?” stage of Liverpool’s thin grip on first place in search of its first Premier League era league crown.

Salty London rivals meet at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur — 3 p.m. ET Wednesday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com

In a world where Spurs handle their business against Burnley, the visitors would be thinking about a title push right now (and they still can, with Liverpool and Man City on the schedule). Instead, Mauricio Pochettino‘s men are as salty as their rivals, who lost the League Cup Finals in penalties and sit sixth (Chelsea has a match-in-hand on fourth-place Arsenal and fifth-place Manchester United). Will Kepa Arrizabalaga keep his place?

Safety in focus at St. James’ Park
Newcastle United v. Burnley — 3 p.m. ET Tuesday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com

Both Newcastle and Burnley won their last times out to increase their chances of staying in the Premier League, and each side looks ready for the run-in. More points will need to follow, but a victor on Tuesday would certainly feel they’re well on their way to another Premier League season.

Leaders Liverpool look to snap out of scoring funk
Liverpool v. Watford — 3 p.m. ET Wednesday online via NBCSports.com

It’s been 222 minutes since Liverpool last scored a goal. Sadio Mane‘s 48th minute goal against Bournemouth has been met by 0-0 draws with Bayern Munich and Manchester United. There’s no real shame in that, but plucky Watford is aiming for a Europa League berth and would be happy to collect a point at Anfield.

Arsenal locks eyes with Top Four as Cherries hope to steady ship
Arsenal v. Bournemouth — 2:45 p.m. ET Wednesday online via NBCSports.com

Bournemouth has gained just one point from three matches since destroying Chelsea, and has since dipped six points off the race for seventh.

Saints, Cottagers tangle in huge six-pointer
Southampton v. Fulham — 2:45 p.m. ET Wednesday online via NBCSports.com

There’s a chance that both Southampton and Fulham go down to the Championship, but midseason hires Ralph Hasenhuttl and Claudio Ranieri will see each other as the first step toward safety.