Southampton 2-0 Crystal Palace: Saints get the job done (video)

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The first half was a rather dull affair. Morgan Schneiderlin had a chance in the eighth minute, sending his header over Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni, but a defender was there to clear the ball off the line. Other than that close chance for Southampton, the most interesting thing to happen was when Marouane Chamakh got himself behind the Saints’ defense and found himself one on one with Artur Boruc. Rather than make the most of a good opportunity, the Palace defender flopped over, hoping for the call, and instead found himself booked for diving.

The hosts put themselves in charge early in the second half, and had the result sorted out by the time the 50th minute rolled around. First Pablo Osvaldo put himself on the scoresheet, with the record signing getting his first goal for Southampton. Adam Lallana took advantage of some poor Palace defending to slot the ball over to Osvaldo, whose low shot fired past Speroni’s outstretched palm.

Rickie Lambert was not about to let himself be outdone by Southampton’s shiny new toy. The England international scored his own just two minutes after Osvaldo scored the first, his free kick from 25 yards flying into the back of the Palace goal.

From then on, Southampton were in the driver’s seat, and Mauricio Pochettino had every intention of keeping them there. The tactician made his subs with defense in mind, and after the 60th minute, the Saints found very little need to take a chance on a shot.

Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Wanyama, Steven Davis (Ward-Prowse 67), Schneiderlin, Lallana (Ramirez 86); Osvaldo, Lambert (Rodriguez 77)

Subs not used: K. Davis, Cork, Chambers, Hooiveld

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Moxey; Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Bannan (Jerome 57), Kebe (Phillips 73); Gayle (Thomas 58), Chamakh.

Subs not used: Price, Parr, Campana, O’Keefe

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!