Lunchtime distraction: The best of Manchester City’s Balotelli videos

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Like a lot of teams, Manchester City’s got their own YouTube channel. Unlike every other team, City has a playlist dedicated to Mario Balotelli.

As in the rest of the world, Balotelli’s a hot button topic here at PST, one which we don’t talk about in the break room. Mr. Davis seems to have nothing against the young man but still wonders if the young Italian sniper isn’t more trouble than he’s worth. Me? I think Balotelli could grow into soccer’s answer to Ziggy Stardust and could care less if that upsets City’s dressing room (greater good, and all).

Unfortunately (and perhaps, surprisingly) most of the 29 videos on City’s playlist fail to capture Balotelli’s post-modern marvel, but just as with Balotelli in real life, if you watch long enough, you’ll see something amazing.

We’ve picked out a few.

Here’s Balotelli and friends attempting to decapitate City’s goalkeepers. Some might more accurately call this free kick practice:

If that kind of Serious Mario’s not to your liking, here’s a bit of whimsy:

That alone is reason to try and catch City when they tour the U.S. Every day during their preseason tours, you’re likely to see something like that (unfortunately, on the field, you’re likely to see something like this).

Next, Super Mario’s interview for Manchester City’s website after last season’s dramatic, title-clinching win against Queens Park Rangers. Name one other player in the world that could pull off that hat:

And how many players in the world could beat Joe Hart from 22 yards, let alone have the audacity to taunt him (albeit in a good natured, training ground way):

Just a couple more. This one, like the gag on the camerawoman (above), is another place where people can see what they want. If you don’t stay to the end of this short video, all you see is an indignant kid. The truth is much more entertaining:

And finally, if you need something to aggravate you as you transition back into work, here’s Balotelli being interviewed by Oasis’s Noel Gallagher.

VIDEO: Pedro scores stunning goal for Chelsea

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Not a bad way to start the Premier League weekend…

12 minutes into the first game of Matchweek 9, Chelsea’s Pedro curled home a stunning effort into the far corner and off the far post after a corner was played short to him.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A simply stunning goal from the Spaniard which you can watch in the video above.

Watch Live: Chelsea v. Watford in top five clash

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Chelsea host Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as fifth and fourth clash.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea are without a win in three games in all competitions and some pressure is starting to build on the Blues as they’ve fallen further behind the two Manchester clubs atop the PL table.

As for Watford, Marco Silva‘s men are in fourth place and aiming to keep up their impressive away form in the PL this season with three of their four wins coming on the road.

In team news Chelsea’s injuries are piling up with Victor Moses and N'Golo Kante missing but Alvaro Morata does start after recovering from his hamstring injury, while Watford start Troy Deeney up top after his impressive cameo against Arsenal last week.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Courtois; Rudiger, David Luiz, Cahill; Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Alonso; Pedro, Morata, Hazard. Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Ampadu, Zappacosta, Musonda, Willian, Batshuayi

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenia, Cleverley, Doucoure, Holebas; Pereyra, Deeney, Richarlison. Subs:

Sky Blue’s Sam Kerr named NWSL league MVP for 2017

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CHICAGO (AP) Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr has been named the National Women’s Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player for this season.

Kerr, a standout on the Australian national team, had a league-record 17 goals and became the league’s fifth Golden Boot winner to also be named MVP.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

She became the first NWSL player to score four goals in a game on Aug. 19 against the Seattle Reign. Kerr rallied Sky Blue from a 3-goal deficit to beat the Reign 5-4.

Kerr’s award was announced Friday. The league had earlier announced the season’s other award winners: North Carolina’s Abby Dahlkemper was named Defender of the Year, teammate Ashley Hatch was named Rookie of the Year, Portland’s Adrianna Franch was named Goalkeeper of the Year and the Thorns’ Mark Parsons was named Coach of the Year.

The Mendy Effect: Pep praises injured back

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Full back Benjamin Mendy cost Pep Guardiola and Manchester City $68 million, but perhaps he’ll be just as valuable as a very expensive sports psychologist.

The “Shark Team” member was amusing on social media even before his ACL injury sent him to the sidelines until at least April, but he’s become a must-follow Twitter fixture with his in-game messages (See some of his work below).

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

City faces Burnley at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s fairly clear his act has translated in private, too, as apparently Mendy is just as good in group messages (Let us in, Pep. We won’t tell anyone). From ManCity.com:

“Usually, players who are out for a long time with injury are sad. They sometimes train apart and feel isolated.

“Mendy decided to be present. He is communicating on social media, WhatsApp and he calls his teammates and messages me. He is going to be so important outside the pitch because people like him make the atmosphere much better.”

It’s not surprising for anyone who’s been following the former Le Havre, Marseille and Monaco man.

Keep in mind, these Tweets below are from the last few days alone!