Preview: Southampton vs. West Ham United

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  • The two sides have faced each other 98 times in all competitions, with West Ham holding a slight edge at 37-32-28.
  • West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has never lost to Southampton in top flight competition, winning 3 and drawing 6.
  • Southampton are a goal shy of 650 Premier League goals in club history.

With both teams sitting on four points in their first three league matches, the two sides come into this match at St. Mary’s Stadium in very different shape.

The home side are almost entirely injury free and playing lovely soccer, especially striker Rickie Lambert who has vaulted to star status in international play for England along with playing fantastic for Southampton to start the season as well.

Saints manager Mauricio Ponchettino have loads of quality strikers to choose from, between Lambert, Jay Rodriguez, and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo.

The Hampshire club seems to be quite boosted by their fantastic captures in the summer window, including Osvaldo, Victor Wanyama in the midfield, and defender Dejan Lovern.  The team only swopped for those three players, but spent an estimated £33 million ($53 million) on the trio combined.

On the other side of the coin, Sam Allardyce and West Ham have a serious striker conundrum.

With Andy Carroll mired in foot injury misery (a Lis Franc problem most likely, given what Allardyce said) and new signing Mladen Petric not match fit yet, Allardyce will continue to turn to Malian targetman Modibo Maïga. The 26-year-old has played every minute of the three matches so far and has yet to find the net.  His only other option up front is 18-year-old Englishman Elliott Lee, who has a grand total of 3 Premier League minutes in his career, making his debut in the Hammers loss to Stoke City two weeks ago

What they’re saying

Victor Wanyama on Southampton’s chances against West Ham: “I think it is going to be a hard game, but we are ready for it and looking forward to the challenge. We have been working hard and we had some good results, and also some bad ones, but I think we are still on track and looking forward to doing well. I would say (our) first (goal) is to just do better than last season and from there we will see what happens. I think that is possible.”

West Ham midfielder Mark Noble on Lambert: “When you see a player like that who has worked so hard and played the leagues you can’t help but be happy for him. I played against him a couple of times (in the Championship), and I always thought he was a top player. As a holding midfielder you are always in close contact with centre-forwards and the ball was getting fizzed into him and he was laying it off, so you can appreciate that. Lambert is a dangerous player, but we have got two good centre-halves so I am hopeful they can look after him over the 90 minutes.”

Allardyce on Andy Carroll’s injury setback: “We had been very cautious, very patient with him along the way and it’s sad this has happened for him as well as us. He doesn’t need an operation but we need to give the foot time to re-heal, continue the rehab and get him back in training again.”

Prediction

With Allardyce’s striker problems, this match’s result depends solely on whether the home side is ready to take the leap forward together with the new signings and put on a real show.  This has all the resources to be a big Southampton win, but they will need to grab the bull by the horns and prove to the Premier League that this is one unit rather than 11 players.  A 2-0 Saints victory is not a bad bet at all in this scenario.

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.

Everton announce lifetime ban for fan involved in altercation with Lyon player

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On a night when UEFA unveiled a new campaign for respect, there wasn’t enough of it shown both on and off the field.

Everton has followed up on UEFA opening up disciplinary proceedings against them by banning a fan from Everton matches after the fan was seen to punch at an Olympique Lyon player in the second half of Lyon’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.

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“Club Officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players,” Everton said in a statement. “We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the Club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside Police.”

The video below shows a fan – amazingly, holding onto a small boy in one arm – throwing some punches at Lyon players after a fracas on the field.

The punch and ban is yet another dark moment for Everton, which has just one point from its first three Europa League matches and sits in 16th place in the Premier League with eight points from eight games.