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Prindi’s Premier League Picks: Stoke to beat Fulham, Jol gets sacked

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Picking Premier League matches is hard work and frankly, I’m crap at it. But I enjoy the banter and figure at the very least I can provide you all with some fodder to tear me up with in the comments, or just make predictions of your own. Let’s get it on.

UPSET SPECIALS

Manchester City vs. Everton (Sat 7:45am ET on NBCSN; Etihad Stadium)

Having lost to Aston Villa last week and gotten pounded by Bayern Munich 3-1 in midweek Champions League action, you can bet the Citizens will be rearing to go on Saturday. But this isn’t your father’s Everton side. Rejuvenated by the attacking approach of Roberto Martinez, the Toffees are a footballing side with conviction. And with their impressive history of beating up on City (winning 9 of their last 12 meetings), this match is shaping up to be a real cracker.

City are heavy favorites (22/33) but if Kevin Mirallas (ankle) is healthy enough to play, I think Everton get a result.

Cardiff City vs. Newcastle United (Sat 10:00am ET on NBC Live Extra; Cardiff City Stadium)

Gut-check match for Newcastle, here. The Premier League’s most inconsistent club could just as easily win this match 4-0 as lose it by the same score. Come Saturday, the Magpies will have no excuses but to perform as Yohan Cabaye should be healthy enough to start and Jonas Gutierrez returns from injury. What’s more, Newcastle have won their last six successive meetings with Cardiff City in all competitions. Who knows, maybe The Real Papiss Cisse will finally stand up and score a goal after 12 straight league contests without a strike? Wouldn’t that be something!

Cardiff (27/20) are slight favorites in this match but I think those unpredictable Magpies take this one.

Fulham vs. Stoke City (Sat 10:00am ET on NBC Live Extra; Craven Cottage)

The yuck match of the weekend pits a goal-starved Fulham against rough-and-tumble Stoke City, looking to make amends for last week’s home loss to Norwich City. Fulham have won four of their five Barclays Premier League home games against Stoke, including the last three in a row at Craven Cottage. But having averaged 426 passes per game under Mark Hughes, this is a new Stoke side and one that desperately needs to return to their winning ways.

Fulham are heavy favorites but I think Stoke (11/5) win and Martin Jol gets sacked. You heard it here, peeps.

source:  Norwich City vs. Chelsea (Sun 8:30am ET on NBCSN; Carrow Road)

Chelsea come into this match as heavy favorites (5/9) following their 4-0 drubbing of Steaua Bucharest in mid-week Champions League action. The victory left Jose Mourinho a happy man but his side will need to be careful at Carrow Road where Norwich have conceded only 23 goals in 22 home league games under Chris Hughton, keeping nine clean sheets during the run.

Yeah, I’m saying it – The Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s get a result in this match.

Southampton vs. Swansea City (Sun 8:30am ET on NBC Live Extra; St Mary’s Stadium)

I’ve gone back and forth on this game so many times I’m dizzy. The most important thing to know is that this could very well be the match of the week – two quality footballing sides, both playing well and looking to make a name for themselves in the Premier League.

All signs seem to point to Southampton. The Saints are enjoying a three match unbeaten streak, they’re healthy and they’re playing at St. Mary’s, which can be fortress. What’s more, Swansea played a grueling Europa League match against St. Gallen on Thursday night.

But I just feel that Swansea is the slightly more talented side at the moment. They’ve got this hunger about them, the squad rotation seems to be working and they’re scoring goals. As 11/4 dogs to win, the Swans are a longshot here but as long as Michu plays (head injury) I think they win it.

SQUEAKY BUM TIME – TOUGH CALLS

Hull City vs. Aston Villa (Sat 10:00am ET on NBC Live Extra; KC Stadium)

As the great Ron Burgundy once said, “Don’t act like your not impressed!” That’s exactly the mentality Hull City should have right now. Coming into the season they were hands-down favorites (along with Crystal Palace) to be relegated. But the additions of Tom Huddlestone and Jack Livermore have gelled brilliantly and, combined with a tough defense, a chippy Robbie Brady and an underrated Sone Aluko, the Tigers are deservedly a Top 10 squad.

It’d be a different story if Christian Benteke was healthy but that’s not the case. This is your atypical let-down game following a big win.

All-in on Hull City (13/10) to take all three points.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Arsenal (Sun 11:00am ET on NBCSN; The Hawthorns)

Give them credit, West Brom have won two successive matches in the Premier League and if they win this weekend it will be the first time in a year they’ve gone three straight. But the Baggies will be up against on Sunday when Arsenal, winners of their last eight Premier League away matches in a row, are 10/13 favorites to win.

Wins rarely come easy at The Hawthorns but Arsenal’s form is too strong to be denied.

LOCK IT DOWN!

source:  Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace (Sat 10:00am ET on NBCSN; Anfield)

The Survivor Pool layup of the week, this match has all the looks of a Liverpool steamroll. Luis Suarez is back, Daniel Sturridge has either scored or assisted 15 goals in his last 11 Premier League appearances and Crystal Palace have now gone 270 minutes without a Barclays Premier League goal.

There’s a reason Liverpool are 2/11 favorites. Domination.

Sunderland vs. Manchester United (Sat 12:30pm ET on NBCSN; Stadium of Light)

If Sunderland lose on Saturday it will be their fifth consecutive Premier League loss, which hasn’t happened since March 2006 (when the lost six in a row). The Black Cats will do their best to avoid this streak and reverse the darkness Paolo Di Canio put over the club, but it won’t be easy. United, however, will be hard pressed for a win to put an end to their two match league losing streak. With Wayne Rooney expected to be available after sitting out the Champions League draw with Shakhtar Donetsk with a shin injury, there will be no excuses at the Stadium of Light.

No shock here. United, as 4/7 favorites to win, get back on track.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United (Sun 11:00am ET on NBC Live Extra; White Hart Lane)

Having not won since opening day, West Ham United need some help. They need a boost. They need… a striker!!! With Andy Carroll sidelined with injury, I just don’t see how this side can win. Modibo Maiga isn’t scaring anyone, especially the staunch Tottenham defense. What’s more – Spurs have won 15 and lost just two of their last 25 London derbies at home in the Premier League.

Tottenham at 5/12, won’t be denied.

Enjoy the matches!!!

Pardew says Crystal Palace need a “big name” signing this summer

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21:  Alan Pardew manager of Crystal Palace gives a thumbs up during The Emirates FA Cup Final match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium on May 21, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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After losing to Manchester United in the FA Cup final on Sunday, Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew is already looking ahead to next season.

The Eagles’ boss was happy with his team’s performance against United, but admitted that the club needs to bring in some more talent over the summer transfer window.

MORE: All 2015-16 PL season reviews ]

Speaking about his summer plans, Pardew said he wants to bring a “big name” to Selhurst Park to help Palace continue their plan of growth.

We have shown that we have got talent in the group. We need to refine it a little bit, and we are going to try to do that in the transfer market. But we were a force to be reckoned with against Manchester United. We have given a real good, honest account of ourselves.

I think we have got to get players who are better than this. There is no point in getting players who are not potentially better than the ones we have got. Well, then they have got to be good players. So will there be a big name in there? There’s going to need to be.

After a hot start to the 2015-16 Premier League season, many believed Pardew had a Palace side that was able to compete in the top half of the table for a spot in Europe. However, after sitting fifth on Boxing Day, Palace won just two of their final 21 matches and slid all the way down to 15th on the table.

[ MORE: The best moments of LVG’s memorable yet bizzare tenure at Man United ]

Palace has far too much talent to be languishing near the relegation zone, but Pardew is right that work must be done over the summer. If the club’s new American ownership is willing to spend, a quality striker will be Pardew’s first target.

Last summer’s striker signing Connor Wickham finished the season tied for the team lead with five goals, level with Yohan Cabaye and Scott Dann. When considering that four of Cabaye’s five goals came from the penalty spot and that Dann is a center-back, the Eagles’ lack of attacking depth is quite clear.

FIFA fires finance director Kattner over bonus payments

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - FEBRUARY 26:  FIFA Acting Secretary General Markus Kattner looks on prior to the Extraordinary FIFA Congress at Hallenstadion on February 26, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
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GENEVA (AP) FIFA has fired finance director and interim secretary general Markus Kattner after an internal investigation revealed he got irregular bonus payments worth millions of dollars.

Kattner was due the payments over a six-year period from 2008-14 from additions to his employment contract, a person familiar with the FIFA investigation said Monday.

The extra payments were signed off by then-President Sepp Blatter and then-secretary general Jerome Valcke, Kattner’s immediate boss in that period.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s FIFA coverage ]

“We don’t yet understand why these payments were made,” the person said on condition of anonymity as details of the investigation are confidential. “These contract provisions were not known widely and not to the appropriate officers at FIFA.”

It is unclear if the contracted payments which came to light last week could form part of a wider investigation of criminal mismanagement at FIFA conducted by Swiss federal prosecutors.

“We are not in a position to determine the legality of the contracts,” the person said, adding that “the appropriate authorities are aware of the issue.”

FIFA’s ethics committee is likely to now open an investigation against the 45-year-old German official, with charges of conflict of interest and disloyalty to FIFA among potential outcomes.

[ MORE: Louis van Gaal officially sacked at Manchester United ]

Kattner joined FIFA as director of finance in 2003 and took the deputy secretary general title in 2007, the year Blatter hired Valcke for the top administrative job of world soccer’s governing body. Kattner was promoted in an interim role when Valcke was suspended last September for financial wrongdoing and then fired in January.

“Markus Kattner has been dismissed from his position effective immediately,” FIFA said in a statement Monday. “FIFA’s internal investigation uncovered breaches of his fiduciary responsibilities in connection with his employment contract.”

FIFA has already announced that United Nations official Fatma Samoura is due to start work next month as the new permanent secretary general.

Kattner’s alleged wrongdoing came to light last Friday, the person said, one week after Samoura’s hiring was announced by President Gianni Infantino.

The 45-year-old German official was at FIFA headquarters on Monday before his firing was announced.

His exit is unconnected with the timing of Samoura’s hiring and expected arrival at FIFA in June, the person said.

[ MORE: Frank Lampard responds after being booed by NYCFC supporters ]

“This is based on documentary evidence that is information which emerged in the last three days,” the person said, with no whistleblower involved in revealing the case.

FIFA is being subjected to an internal investigation led by United States-based legal firm Quinn Emanuel, which is working separately from investigations by federal prosecutors in the U.S. and Switzerland.

As a central figure overseeing FIFA finances for more than 12 years of Blatter’s presidency, Kattner’s name has been linked to allegations in the American and Swiss cases, and investigations of other officials by FIFA’s ethics committee.

Michel Platini has said that his invoice requesting a $2 million payment for backdated salary from FIFA was sent to Kattner in 2010. The now-banned UEFA president got the money approved by Blatter in February 2011.

[ MORE: Uruguay sweating Suarez’s fitness ahead of Copa America Centenario ]

In that case, Platini had a four-year ban confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport this month, and Blatter awaits an appeal at CAS to challenge his six-year ban. They deny wrongdoing.

Kattner is also expected to be sought as a witness in German and Swiss investigations of unexplained payments between German organizers of the 2006 World Cup and FIFA.

When questioned at FIFA news conferences since October, Kattner has said he has been advised by FIFA not to comment on ongoing criminal and ethics cases.

Looking ahead for the USMNT: Two key friendlies before Copa 100

PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - NOVEMBER 17: USA's #3 DeAndre Yedlin brings the ball under control as T&T's # 3 Joevin Jones looks on during a World Cup Qualifier between Trinidad and Tobago and USA as part of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for Russia 2018 at Hasely Crawford Stadium on November 17, 2015 in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo by Ashley Allen Getty Images)
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With the Copa America Centenario kicking off next week across the United States, what can we expect from the USMNT in their two upcoming friendlies?

After defeating Puerto Rico in a glorified scrimmage on Sunday, the U.S. has two more matches before the tournament that will pose a much tougher challenge for Klinsmann’s men.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The USMNT faces Ecuador on Wednesday, May 25 in Texas before traveling to Kansas City to take on Bolivia on Saturday, May 28. Both of those South American sides will be competing in the Copa America.

While Klinsmann may have given some of his younger players minutes against Puerto Rico, you would expect a much stronger lineup to be fielded in the friendlies against Ecuador and Bolivia.

However, as all U.S. Soccer fans know, you can never predict what Jurgen Klinsmann is going to do.

[ MORE: Louis van Gaal sacked after two years at Manchester United ]

Klinsmann confirmed that Brad Guzan will be his number-one goalkeeper at Copa America, which means we will likely see the Aston Villa man in net for both upcoming friendlies.

The USMNT will also get some reinforcements on the back-line with both Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler joining up with the team ahead of the Ecuador match. Cameron and Besler have worked together well as a solid center-back pairing in the past, but Besler will likely find himself behind John Brooks, who is coming off of a great season with Hertha Berlin.

The midfield is probably the biggest question in this team, as Klinsmann has endlessly tinkered with both formation and player selection. Michael Bradley is a surefire pick, but the other spots are much harder to determine. Klinsmann has recalled one of his personal favorites Jermaine Jones to the squad, a veteran who has found some good form in Colorado this season. Jones could slot into the middle alongside Bradley, but at 34-years-old, his lack of pace could cost the U.S. when facing a side like Colombia in the Copa America.

[ MORE: Liverpool set to sign Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius ]

Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic is the youngest player in the side, with the 17-year-old entering this week with just one cap to his name. While Klinsmann may have brought the teenager just for the learning experience, fans will want to see Pulisic on the pitch and these friendlies could be a time for the midfielder to earn valuable minutes for his progression. However, if Klinsmann has no plans to play Pulisic at the Copa, it would be better for the team’s consistency if he does not feature in the pre-tournament matches.

Up top, Bobby Wood may have finally done enough to lock down a starting position. With Jozy Altidore out injured, this is Wood’s time to shine and prove he should be Klinsmann’s first choice striker every match.

The USMNT kicks off the Copa America Centenario on June 3 in Santa Clara, California, facing Colombia at Levis Stadium.

Arnautovic’s Stoke future up in the air ahead of EURO 2016

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 23:  Marko Arnautovic of Stoke City looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Stoke City at Etihad Stadium on April 23, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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After leading Stoke City in scoring this season, Marko Arnautovic may be on his way out.

Despite being under contract for another year, Arnautovic has yet to sign an extension with the Potters as he takes some time to decide on his future.

MORE: All 2015-16 PL season reviews ]

Arnautovic’s current contract contains a release clause of about $18 million, a price many top European clubs would be willing to pay after the winger scored 11 Premier League goals this season.

Speaking with the Stoke Sentinel, Potters’ CEO Tony Scholes said that while they want to sign Arnautovic to a new deal, the player and his agent are holding out.

I would love to appear more knowledgeable than anyone else on this, but the truth is it’s in Marko’s hands. And at the moment, the decision he’s taken is that he doesn’t want to sign yet.

He’s not out of contract for another year, albeit there is a release clause in his contract. We hope he will sign, but as I sit here now I can’t give you a definitive answer on that.

We want him to sign. He knows what we are prepared to pay. We believe this is the best place for him given the season he’s had, but at this moment in time Marko and his agent are biding their time.

Arnautovic is likely waiting to sign a new deal until after the European Championship, which runs from June 10-July 10. A starter for an Austrian team that went undefeated during qualifying, Arnautovic could see his value rise even more if he puts in a good showing in France.

[ MORE: Pirlo, Giovinco left off of Italy’s provisional roster for EURO 2016 ]

Losing Arnautovic would be a huge blow for the Potters, as he was their best player this season and a key piece in the club’s growth moving forward. Stoke is surely a club on the rise, but it’s up to Arnautovic to decide whether his future lies at the Britannia Stadium.