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Second week second-guessing Premier League table predictions

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The transfer window had just closed when ProSoccerTalk’s staff made their predictions for the 2018-19 season.

For the most part, the first two weeks of the Premier League season have cemented this writer’s faith in his projections.

[ RECAP: Palace 0-2 Liverpool ]

In four cases, however, being allowed some Monday mulligans would have me moving teams more than one spot in my predicted table.

Moving up

Spurs (Predicted 6th; New spot 3rd) –> The worries I have about Dele Alli returning to world-beating status have been quelled by Lucas Moura‘s newfound comfort in creating Premier League chances. Tottenham’s defenders the same. Next Monday’s trip to Manchester United will say a lot about both clubs. And hanging onto Toby Alderweireld instead of allowing him to steady Manchester United’s creaky back line was smart.

Watford (Predicted 18th; New spot 12th) — Don’t get us wrong, the Hornets have not done much yet. Beating a Europa League weary and shallow Burnley isn’t a great feat, though their home defeat of Brighton is a bit more impressive after the Gulls knocked off Man Utd. That said, Javi Gracia‘s men have a clear plan to get service to Troy Deeney and Andre Gray, and terrific playmakers in Roberto Pereyra and Abdoulaye Doucoure. They are better than relegation fodder, and should finish 7-10 points clear of the drop.

Moving down

Manchester United (Predicted 2nd; New spot 5th) –> United probably would’ve drawn Brighton on Sunday had they a few extra minutes on the clock, but there’s a chance Leicester would’ve done the same to them on Opening Day if afforded the same opportunity. Is Eric Bailly the proactive wall we saw versus the Foxes or, well, the reactive problem he was at Brighton?

I believed the start of the season and return to fitness for so many World Cup players would dispel the odious scent from Jose Mourinho’s offseason obnoxiousness. It hasn’t, and it’s going to cost the team the Top Four. That said, I’ll hedge a little and say United’s players may make a decent Champions League run if given a good group stage draw.

Wolves (Predicted 13th; New spot 17th) –> I thought Wolves had enough firepower to challenge for a top half spot, but Nuno Espirito Santo’s side looks incapable of keeping dangerous chances away from goalkeeper Rui Patricio, who can only do so much.

Burnley 1-3 Watford: Hornets buzz through Turf Moor

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  • Watford scores 3 mins into each half
  • Tarkowski scores for Burnley
  • Hughes bags beauty

Will Hughes put an exclamation point on Watford’s excellent start to the season as Javi Gracia‘s dynamic Hornets belted Burnley 3-1 on Sunday at Turf Moor.

Andre Gray and Troy Deeney also scored for Watford, while James Tarkowski‘s seventh minute goal for Burnley had it 1-1 early.

Burnley is off to Fulham on Aug. 26, the same day Watford attempts to go 3-0 with a match against Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Watford took the lead inside of five minutes, with Andre Gray leaving his feet to direct a pinpoint volley past Joe Hart. That ended the goalkeeper’s shutout streak at 303 minutes and gave Watford its first away league goal since January.

It was 1-1 within minutes, as James Tarkowski leapt to pop a header past the reach of Ben Foster.

Jeff Hendrick has a penalty shout go unheard after deciding not to take a first touch shot near the penalty spot.

Burnley came close to producing 2-1 before halftime, as Stephen Ward slipped Hendrick into the box but Watford cleared the ball before Aaron Lennon could latch onto a back post pass.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Deeney made it 2-1 with a classy settling of a Abdoulaye Doucoure effort into the box, sliding his shot around a splayed Joe Hart.

Hughes’ goal was magnificent, albeit given plenty of room to operate from Burnley.

Sam Vokes headed wide of the far post in the 70th minute.

Watch Live: Man City-Huddersfield Town; Burnley-Watford

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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Man City meets the Etihad Stadium faithful for the first time this season, hoping to do something a bit different from its title season (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Huddersfield Town stymied City 0-0 at the Etihad last season, albeit after the title was well in hand, and led the champs at halftime of what would be a 2-1 City win at the John Smith’s Stadium.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Ederson, Mendy, Kompany (C), Stones, Laporte, Gündogan, Fernandinho, Silva, Bernardo, Jesus, Aguero. Subs: Bravo, Walker, Sterling, Sané, Mahrez, Otamendi, Foden

Huddersfield Town: Hamer, Kongolo, Schindler, Stankovic, Smith, Lowe, Hadergjonaj, Billing, Sabiri, Pritchard, Mounie. Subs: Lossl, Diakhaby, Ramadan, Van La Parra, Mbenza, Williams, Depoitre.


Watford goes to the road, hoping to make it 2-for-2 in wins to start the Premier League season when it visits Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET, online at NBC Sports Gold via NBCSports.com).

Burnley beat Istanbul Basaksehir in Europa League play on Thursday at Turf Moor. Can the Hornets take advantage of tired legs?

LINEUPS

Burnley: Hart, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward, Lennon, Hendrick, Cork, Westwood, Gudmundsson, Wood. Subs: Heaton, Taylor, Vokes, Barnes, Gibson, Bardsley, Long.

Watford: Foster, Holebas, Cathcart, Kabasele, Janmaat, Pereyra, Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes, Gray, Deeney. Subs: Gomes, Prodl, Mariappa, Femenia, Masina, Sema, Success.

What did we learn from Premier League Week 2?

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Six games took place on the second Saturday of the 2018-19 Premier League season, as the dust began to settle after opening weekend.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

What did we learn as Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton won? Is it too early to write off the PL new boys, West Ham and Arsenal?

Here’s a look at the key takeaways from Week 2.


Chelsea, Arsenal will be fun to watch this season

Based on the style of play it is clear that both Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery are getting their messages across at Chelsea and Arsenal respectively, but the pulsating London derby proved there is still plenty of work to be done for both.

Both managers admitted as much after the game as Chelsea raced into a 2-0 lead then coughed that up by half time as Arsenal also squandered several glorious chances. Chelsea look more balanced and set to dominate possession with high-pressing tactics this season. Arsenal look more likely to create problems by being direct. That’s a big difference from last season, but both showcased obvious defensive deficiencies.

It’s tough to see either team being title contenders this season even though Sarri’s Chelsea are top of the league with two wins from two, while Arsenal have suffered two defeats (albeit against Man City and Chelsea) early on. Having to balance the Europa League and Premier League will be tough for Sarri and Emery but at least it will give them plenty of games to embed their philosophies, and much-needed balance, further.


Richarlison the real deal

Three goals in his first two games for Everton has seen the boy from Brazil become a hero at the Gwladys Street end already. Richarlison’s $56 million transfer from Watford led many to laugh at the Toffees for splashing out that cash but the 21-year-old tormented Southampton’s attack and was well-placed to head home to make it 2-0. He started off the season on fire under Marco Silva at Watford in 2017-18 (his first season in England) and he’s doing exactly the same at Everton. Some players and managers just click when they work together and this duo seem to have a strong bond on and off the pitch. Everton have four points from their first two games and all of the talk will be about Richarlison leading them towards a top six finish at least and maybe even a push to finish in the top four.


Harry Kane tired, but off and running in August

The Spurs star scored for the first time in August in his career and he’s off and running for the new season. He’s had to wait 15 games for his first Premier League goal in August and heading into this season he seems less fresh than previous years. Given his exploits at the World Cup for England this summer it’s easy to understand why Kane looks a little sluggish. Mauricio Pochettino will have to monitor him closely if he wants another 30-goal plus season from Kane.

Like Kane, Spurs labored to victory against Fulham at Wembley as the new boys controlled plenty of the play and missed some great chances. You just felt that Tottenham had another few gears they could click into and they did that late on after Mitrovic’s equalizer. Pochettino’s players will be jaded from a long summer at the World Cup and he must manage them correctly, minutes wise, if they’re going to not only secure another top four finish but make a serious title charge this season.


Despite optimism, new boys could struggle

It could well be a long, hard season for Fulham, Wolves and Cardiff City. The new boys made plenty of noise (especially Wolves and Fulham) with their purchases over the summer as they spent big and brought in plenty of big names. In the case of Wolves and Fulham, did they bring in too many? Fulham created plenty of chances at Tottenham in their 3-1 defeat and Slavisa Jokanovic lambasted silly mistakes costing them dear.

The Cottagers will play some of the most attractive soccer in the division this season but they must be more ruthless. Wolves’ 2-0 defeat at 10-man Leicester didn’t tell the whole story as they hit the woodwork three times and threatened throughout, but Nuno Espirito Santos’ men were also guilty of silly mistakes costing them dear. Cardiff knew what they were in for this season. They will be okay this season, you would think. Neil Warnock’s men battled to a point at home against 10-man Newcastle but when they tot up the points they should have won at the end of the season they will count a failure to beat the Magpies as two points dropped, despite Neil Etheridge saving a last-gasp penalty kick.

Everton edge by Southampton as Richarlison stars again

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  • Richarlison has 3 goals in first 2 games
  • Southampton’s Ings scores on full debut
  • Everton’s first win under Marco Silva

Everton beat Southampton 2-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday, as the Toffees rode a fast start to victory.

Theo Walcott and Richarlison scored first half goals to set Marco Silva’s side on their way but Danny Ings scored his first Saints goal on his full debut but it wasn’t enough to grab Mark Hughes‘ men a draw.

With the win Everton remain unbeaten in the new campaign with four points on the board, while Saints have one point after two games.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Everton went close early through headers from Michael Keane and Cenk Tosun but Alex McCarthy saved easily.

Southampton should have taken the lead as Charlie Austin nodded a cross from James Ward-Prowse wide when he really should have hit the target.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Walcott then gave Everton the lead as Morgan Schneiderlin played the ball around the corner from a well-worked free kick and Walcott finished calmly against his former club to make it 1-0.

Keane and Tosun then went close again as Everton threatened to run away with things before half time. Yet Ings almost made it 1-1 as he followed up a mistake from Jordan Pickford but the latter saved superbly to deny Ings as he pushed it onto the bar.

Richarlison then scored his third goal in his first two PL games for Everton to make it 2-0 before the break. The Brazilian nodded across goal from Walcott’s cross to send Evertonians wild.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ings went close either side of half time but Everton continued to look lethal as Richarlison again went close but McCarthy denied him.

But Ings did get his goal as he poked home Mario Lemina‘s flick-on from a corner and Saints dragged themselves back into the game.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Walcott should have grabbed a third for Everton and Saints went close to an equalizer in an improved second half display as Ings’ shot was blocked by Tom Davies late on.

Pickford then caught Ings in a challenge and Southampton were calling for a red card but nothing was given.

But it was Richarlison who stole the headlines once again for Everton.