Shaw's surging runs from left back has seen the talented teenager burst onto the scene in the PL.

Southampton 0-0 West Ham: Home side clearly on top but no breakthrough in physical battle (Video)

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Southampton battered and bruised the visiting back line all afternoon in the rain and wet, but could not find a way through as the two sides played to a 0-0 draw at St. Mary’s on Sunday.

The Saints came oh-so-close on numerous occasions, but the experienced Jussi Jaaskelainen denied them time and time again to earn a point for West Ham.  Adam Lallana, Pablo Osvaldo, and Morgan Schneiderlin all impressed in front of their home fans but it was the 39-year-old keeper’s day.

West Ham begun by pressing the midfield and it worked for the first 10 minutes, not allowing Southampton to build a single play into the attacking third.  It only took the Saints until after those first 10 minutes, however, to settle in and begin to piece together attacks.

New striker Osvaldo had the first real chance of the game, and most certainly should have scored.  Jay Rodriguez worked the ball down the left edge of the box before cutting it back into the middle of the penalty area, where Osvaldo was waiting.  The Italian pounced with tons of space, but he struck his shot into the dead center of the net, and Jaaskelainen stood strong to save.

The wet pitch played a part as well in the 23rd minute as two West Ham defenders slipped and gave Rickie Lambert a chance. The English international touched to Osvaldo and then found space, and when Osvaldo passed it back he had an opening, but his shot towards the bottom left corner was weak and Jaaskelainen saved well again.

Southampton’s passing became more and more precise as the game built on, and it began to dishearten the West Ham midfield. A silly foul out of clear frustration brought out the game’s first yellow card to Mohamed Diame in the 29th minute.

source: Getty ImagesThings got a bit chippy before halftime, with Schneiderlin making a very hard, possibly studs-up challenge on Diame that angered West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, but referee Andre Marriner refused to show him any discipline.  A dangerous free kick for the Saints a few minutes later resulted in obvious offsides but the linesman failed to call it as Rodriguez’s header flashed over.

The second half proved just as physical as the first. Victor Wanyama fired a venomous shot from long range in the first five minutes of the period, but Jaaskelanian parried it over.

Southampton again had a glorious chance go awry when Osvaldo threaded through Lallana all on his own, but the midfielder’s first touch was too heavy and Jaaskelanian collected.  Minutes later Rickie Lambert rattled the post with a header off a corner.

Southampton got acrobatic in the 61st minute as they searched for the opener. Rickie Lambert fired a long ball forward for Jay Rodriguez on the right edge.  The 24-year-old Englishman then cut it back for Osvaldo whose original shot was blocked.  The ball popped up in the air, and Schneiderlin attempted a bicycle kick which was on target but only found Winston Reid’s head as he nudged it over the bar.

A yellow for Joey O’Brien in the 70th minute for a tackle from behind brought the teams towards their boiling points, but again referee Marriner let the offender off relatively easy.

James Collins nearly grabbed three sneaky points for the visitors in a moment of chaos in the Southampton box on the 84th minute.  The only bit of real West Ham pressure in the entire match saw the ball fall to Collins with acres of space but he blasted it well over.

The draw means Southampton’s impressive yet frustrating start to the campaign continues.  They have looked a quality team in all three of their previous matches, one each of a win draw and loss, but the results are clearly varied.  For West Ham, it’s a key point but they looked to lack any kind of stake in the game and going forward that may not fly against more consistent sides.

Lineups:

Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovern, Shaw (Chambers, 77′); Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Lallana (Ward-Prowse, 72′); Rodriguez, Osvaldo, Lambert.

West Ham United: Jaaskelainen; Demel (Rat, 62′), Collins, Reid, O’Brien; Diame, Noble, Nolan, Jarvis, Morrison (Taylor, 77′); Maiga (Vaz Te, 68′).

Watford “Behind The Badge” airs third installment; Catch up on Episode 2 here

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Catch up on Watford’s look “Behind The Badge” ahead of Sunday’s third episode of the four-part glimpse into one of the Premier League’s promoted sides.

The Hornets sit 11th, currently 7 points clear of relegation danger, and are giving fans a better idea of what’s been going on at Vicarage Road.

[ MORE: Behind the Badge archive

In an exclusive series, NBC Sports followed around the Hornets in a very similar fashion to HBO’s Hard Knocks which joins the preseason camp of one NFL team each summer.

Below is the schedule for the three remaining episodes on Watford, which you can watch on NBCSN and live online via NBCSports.com in the coming weeks, plus a link to watch episode one in full from last week.


First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Embedded above
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN

Follow @NicholasMendola

MLS Cup Final preview: Seattle, Toronto battle subzero temps for first Cup

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley walks off the field after a training session, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in Toronto, for the MLS Cup soccer championship. Toronto hosts the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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  • First MLS Cup Final for both
  • Sounders all-time 7W-2L-2T
  • TFC joined in 2007, Seattle 2009

It’ll be in the high twenties (-1 Celsius) when Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders kick off the MLS Cup Final on Saturday night in Ontario (Kickoff is Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT).

Combine the visible breath and slight chance of snow with a BMO Field which has been relentlessly loud throughut TFC’s playoff run, and we have the makings of an all-timer.

[ MORE: PST’s MLS Cup roundtable ]

Toronto and Seattle met up at the same venue on July 2, the 1-1 draw perhaps a bit deflated by the absence of Clint Dempsey for Seattle and TFC’s American duo of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.

Seattle superstar Nicolas Lodeiro wasn’t there, either, still weeks away from arriving from Boca Juniors.

This is the second MLS Cup Final at BMO Field, after Colorado defeated FC Dallas in 2010. TFC men Drew Moor and Clint Irwin were part of the championship-winning Rapids in that one.

Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris greets fans who gathered to send off the team after MLS soccer training, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Tukwila, Wash. The Sounders were scheduled to travel to Toronto later Wednesday to prepare to face Toronto FC in the MLS Cup Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle’s Jordan Morris (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

[ MORE: PST’s Michael Bradley interview ]

Toronto will bring star power to go with a challenging formation; While accolades rightly go to Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Sebastian Giovinco, the Reds’ 3-5-2 under Greg Vanney features versatile wide men in Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow.

Seattle is powered through Nicolas Lodeiro, the ex-Boca Juniors playmaker who has been nearly as effective as Giovinco (albeit with a smaller MLS sample size). Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, the ex-TFC man, has been very good at the back, but can the Sounders’ back line handle Altidore and Giovinco?

The metronomes could be the difference. Bradley’s been good for TFC, but Osvaldo Alonso gave an MLS MVP caliber performance this season.

[ MORE: PST talks with Ozzie Alonso ]

What they’re saying

Toronto FC keeper Irwin on the weather: “It’s probably the most difficult part. As a field player, you can move around. You’re warmer, more active. At this point, there’s not much we can do other than bundle up, and I’ll stay moving back there.”

Seattle forward Jordan Morris on Lodeiro“The first thing Lodeiro said to me is, ‘When I get the ball, you just run.’ I think of him like a quarterback.”

Prediction

Look to the engine rooms here. Alonso is a handful and a magnificent passer of the ball. On his day, Bradley is even better. Will it be? Neither player will shirk from pressure. We’re thinking extra time after a 1-1 match. And Toronto’s depth and home field will propel it to a 2-1 win.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Manchester City

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Bacary Sagna of Manchester City clears the ball from Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester City at The King Power Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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  • Man City leads all-time 53W-29D-28L
  • Leicester took 4 of 6 pts last season
  • MCFC won previous four

To cure what ails, Leicester City has to knock off one of the top contenders to its Premier League throne: Manchester City (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on NBC and NBCSports.com).

There are some advantages for Leicester, though, as Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero are suspended for their red cards picked up the loss to Chelsea. Pep Guardiola used Pablo Zabaleta next to Fernando in the UCL draw with Celtic, and looks set for the same come Saturday.

Leicester rested the majority of its starters in a 5-0 loss at Porto this week, following up a 2-1 setback at Sunderland that left the champs just two points ahead of the 18th and 19th placed clubs in the PL.

What they’re saying

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri on the task at hand: “I was waiting for a period like this. Now it’s important to react with a big effort together from the team. That is my focus now. We have to be focused on these matches until Christmas Day. We have to get points. We need points and we have to fight. This part of the season is our key moment. I think every match gives us an opportunity. We have to fight. I repeat, we have to fight.”

Man City’s Pep Guardiola on Zabaleta’s positional change“But I think Pablo Zabaleta can play in the middle – he is very experienced and he can play there as he did very well against Celtic. I think in the last years of his career he’ll play more in the middle and it gives us another option.”

Prediction

As much as the injuries hurt Man City, there’s certain harm in the wounded unit that fell 3-1 to Chelsea. We believe the Foxes will strike, but Kelechi Iheanacho has proven more than a suitable fill-in for Aguero. Man City 2-1.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks – Week 15

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Week 15 of the Premier League is here.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live ] 

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Click play on the videos below to hear my score prediction and preview of each game.

[ VIDEO: Previews of every PL game – Week 15 ]

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Chelsea 3-0 West Brom – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Liverpool 4-1 West Ham – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Leicester City 1-3 Man City – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS… 

Swansea City 2-3 Sunderland – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, CNBC) – [STREAM]

Watford 0-1 Everton – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Burnley 1-2 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Southampton 1-1 Middlesbrough – (Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Man United 1-2 Tottenham – (Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Hull City 2-1 Crystal Palace – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]