Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Fulham

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  • Palace have a poor record against the Cottagers at home in last 10 meetings (1-5-4)
  • Three of Fulham’s five league goals have been scored by subs this season, most in the PL
  • Crystal Palace have yet to keep a clean sheet this campaign

It is sure to be a real ding-dong battle down at Selhurst Park on Monday, as Crystal Palace take on Fulham (3pm ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) in a London Derby under the lights.

Both teams are desperate for three points with the home side losing six of their seven Premier League games so far, following their promotion from the Championship. Palace sit second from bottom in the PL, with Fulham just two places ahead of them and also struggling for form.

Ian Holloway will be hoping his side can dazzle against the Cottagers, with a home much needed home win putting them within one point of Norwich and Fulham direct above them in the standings. Expect a fiercely contested affair, full of touch tackling and last-ditch defending, as both these teams know a draw isn’t really what they need right now.

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The ecstasy of Fulham’s late win over Stoke was almost too much for manager Martin jol to handle…

Martin Jol’s Fulham have been under intense pressure after a run of just one point from five games, but a vital 1-0 victory against Stoke City — courtesy of substitute Darren Bent’s late goal — made the international break seem much smoother for the Dutchman and his squad. That narrow victory could prove to be the turning point, as Fulham aim to edge back up the table by beating plucky Palace.

Fulham’s on-loan striker Bent, 31, has been prolific since 2008-09 despite being on the bench for Aston Villa for most of last season. Only Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard have scored more PL goals than his 67 in that time frame, and his knack for finding the back of the net could be vital for Fulham this season. Bent’s impact on Monday’s game will be watched even closer, as Palace thought they’d agreed a loan move for him on transfer deadline day in September, only for the England striker to choose Fulham instead which
caused a little unrest between Holloway and Jol.

Both teams are getting players back to full fitness, with Palace winger Yannick Bolasie ready for his first start, while Fulham have Scott Parker, Aaron Hughes and Adel Taarabt in contention.

What they’re saying

Steve Sidwell on Palace being tough opposition: “I’ve seen them a couple of times. I watched the first game on TV against Tottenham Hotspur and I thought they were very unlucky not to get a result. It’s one of those scenarios where they’re always going to be the underdogs going into every game just because they’ve come up and the pressure is off. When the pressure is off you can enjoy it more and be more relaxed in your individual play. It’s going to be a tough game, Selhurst Park is a tough place to go and hopefully we can go there and stick to a game plan that we’ve been working on and try to get the three points.”

Ian Holloway on Darren Bent signing for Fulham over Palace: “That was then. Fulham have done very well to get him, he’s a fantastic player and a very good person, so well done to Martin Jol. We had a couple of discussions about it, and I thought he was turning up at my training ground. But you’ve never got anything in the ‘keep net’ until you’ve actually got it there, have you? So I learned that perhaps I shouldn’t have even spoke about it, I do apologize. But at the time I got a camera shoved in my face, 30 seconds after I’d found out he signed for Fulham. I do apologize to Martin Jol if that upset him, I didn’t mean to. I didn’t realize Fulham hadn’t announced they signed Bent yet.

Prediction

This game will be an extremely tight affair, and I expect things to be level until late on. Fulham looked devoid of confidence on the ball against Stoke last time out, and probably should’ve lost the game. But their late win may have filled the Cottagers with belief. Saying that, Palace are struggling to get any belief going, but I fancy them to clinch a vital victory tonight with their raucous crowd roaring them on. Another celebratory jig from Holloway could happen, as Palace’s pacy attackers Bolasie, Jason Puncheon and Dwight Gayle will prove too much for Fulham.

FIFA suspends Brazilian soccer president Marco Polo del Nero

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has suspended Brazilian soccer federation president Marco Polo del Nero for 90 days while he is under an ethics investigation.

Del Nero has remained in power in Brazil despite being charged by American authorities with racketeering and money laundering in 2015.

FIFA says Del Nero has been provisionally banned from all soccer activities as formal ethics investigation proceedings are conducted.

Del Nero fled Zurich in May 2015 when FIFA colleagues were arrested, quit the executive committee of soccer’s governing body after missing meetings and was then indicted in the United States in December 2015. He has not been extradited from Brazil to face the charges.

Preview: How can Tottenham stop Man City?

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Can anyone stop Manchester City? Tottenham Hotspur will try this Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) with Mauricio Pochettino‘s men aiming to give the chasing pack some hope that City can be caught.

[ LIVE: Stream Man City v. Spurs

Pep Guardiola‘s men have won 15 consecutive Premier League games to stretch their lead atop the PL to 11 points heading into the busy festive season, but a visit from Spurs represents one of their toughest tests of the season so far.

Spurs currently sit in fourth place in the table but are 18 points behind City.

In team news Man City have no fresh injury concerns as Vincent Kompany could return after missing out at Swansea City in midweek, but John Stones remains out injured.

Tottenham will be missing Victor Wanyama and Toby Alderweireld through injury, while Davinson Sanchez serves the final game of his three-match ban.


What they’re saying

Guardiola on Man City going the entire season unbeaten: “It is not going to happen. We are going to lose games, it belongs to Arsene Wenger. Now what happens is an exception, it’s not normal what we’ve done. We’ll try to maintain it but we are going to lose games. It is important is to play better, that’s important. Records are OK but they stay there and one day they will be broken. We focus on the pitch and try to be better, make chances, concede few. I’m happy with the way we play – although I feel we can do much, much better.”

Pochettino on Man City’s incredible run: “They [Manchester City] are showing that they are not only the best in England but in Europe too with the Champions League. They are playing so well and deserve all the praise. It will be so tough. I think Manchester City deserve all the credit with what they are doing.”

Prediction

Spurs will prove a tough test for a rampant Man City squad and I expect Dele Alli and Harry Kane to cause plenty of problems for a threadbare City defense. 2-2.

Source: MLS rejected deal that would’ve brought Ousted to LA Galaxy

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TAM has become a great discussion in Major League Soccer, allowing teams to acquire more top-caliber players, but it appears in one instance the mechanism could actually hurt a player’s chances of being re-signed.

[ MORE: LAFC close to signing third DP, Portuguese midfielder Geraldes ]

Pro Soccer Talk has learned through an MLS league source familiar with the situation that the LA Galaxy had a deal in place to acquire Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), however, the league rejected that offer.

The 32-year-old took to Twitter on Friday, stating that a total of three teams offered him a contract using TAM, however, none of them were able to be executed.

It was announced back on Nov. 7 that Ousted would not return to the Whitecaps for the 2018 season, after spending nearly four-and-a-half years with the Canadian side.

Additionally, Ousted was scheduled to be one of the players eligible to be selected in Friday’s MLS Stage 1 Re-Entry Draft, but he has since been “forced to opt out.”

There are several ways a player can qualify to participate in the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft, and with Ousted having played over three MLS seasons and being over the age of 23, that previously ruled him eligible.

Under MLS’ current TAM rules and regulations, Ousted would have had to have been making at least $480,625 in 2017 in order for the veteran goalkeeper to qualify for a TAM offer.

That number is scheduled to increase for the next season, with the maximum budget charge set at $504,375 in 2018.

Ousted was only making roughly $378,933 in 2017, with a base salary of $360,000, per the MLS Players’ Union website.

In order for an MLS club to sign Ousted at this stage would require them to go above and beyond his option for next season, which as the goalkeeper states in his second tweet would be a “gamble.”

Below are the ways MLS has declared it possible for clubs to use TAM in order to sign or re-sign players.

Prince William’s dilemma: Royal Wedding clashes with FA Cup final

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The date for the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle has been set and there’s a bit of a dilemma for Prince William: it’s on the same day as the 2017-18 FA Cup final on May 19, 2018.

Why does that matter?

William has been the president of the English Football Association for the last 10 years and he, along with other members of the Royal Family, usually attend the showpiece final at Wembley and hand out the trophy to the winning team.

Not this time.

With the date confirmed on Friday for the Royal Wedding takes place at Windsor Castle on May 19, specific times have yet been announced for the ceremony. Could that mean a late dash from the wedding to hand out the trophy at Wembley for Prince William? If his beloved Aston Villa make the final, maybe it’s not out of the question…

In a statement to the BBC, the FA had the following to say about the “fixture clash” in May:

“Everyone at The FA is delighted for HRH Prince Harry and Megan Markle with the announcement of their wedding at Windsor Castle next year. Saturday May 19 promises to be a wonderful day with a special royal occasion followed by English football’s showpiece event, the Emirates FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. With millions coming together to watch both events at home and around the world, it will be a day to celebrate.”

The life of a royal isn’t all fun and games…