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Premier League Team of the Week (Video)

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It was goals, goals and more goals this past weekend in the Premier League (34 in total), which provides a logical starting point for this round’s Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper – Asmir Begovic (Stoke City)

Begovic looks more and more like a keeper set for a move to a big club, possibly in the January transfer window, which would leave Stoke City in a precarious situation. This past weekend he was sensational for the Potters, keeping a clean sheet and deflecting notable attempts from Stephane Sessegnon and Morgan Amalfitano.

Defender – Dejan Lovren (Southampton)

Arguably the most important piece added in Southampton’s summer transfers, Lovren has been the glue in a Saints defense plagued by a leaky 2012-13 campaign. On Saturday it was his shot that Adam Lallana deflected to hand Southampton a share of the points against Manchester United.

Defender – Gareth McAuley (West Bromwich Albion)

What Lovren is to Southampton, McAuley is to West Brom – a menacing physical presence in the defense that will be the key to the Baggies finishing in the top half of the table. On Saturday he and the rest of the West Brom defense kept their unbeaten streak alive with a clean sheet at Stoke.

Defender – Chico Flores (Swansea City)

Chico Flores stamped out any hope Sunderland had of finding its first win of the season, shutting down Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore. It was Flores’ 80th minute shot that Fletcher turned into the net for the Swans’ fourth goal of the match.

Midfielder – Jonathan De Guzman ( Swansea City)

De Guzman is one of the most underrated midfielders in the Premier League. Slick skills combined with tenacious fight and impressive fitness, De Guzman is the engine in the center of the park that keeps the Swans moving. On Saturday his calculated pluck from 20 yards out helped Swansea solidify its 4-0 win over Sunderland.

Midfielder – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Ozil is a force to be reckoned with. His two goals led to Arsenal’s 4-1 trounce of Norwich City proving why he is worth every penny of the $69 million Arsene Wenger shelled out to acquire him.

Midfielder – Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

Gerrard calmly slotted home his 100th Premier League goal in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Newcastle. The Liverpool captain has had a been a bit subdued this season but a few quintessential Gerrard diagonal balls showed that he is still very much one of the best midfielders in the league.

Midfielder – Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Hazard’s brace against Cardiff City showed that he is finally developing into the goal-scoring threat that was acquired from Lille in the summer of 2012. With blazing speed and swift foot skills, Hazard is one of Jose Mourinho’s mainstays in the Blues midfield.

Midfielder – Andros Townsend (Tottenham) 

Townsend has been all the rage the last few weeks and after his wonder goal for England this past week the Spurs man nabbed his club an early lead that provided some breathing room from a feisty Aston Villa team.

Midfielder – Kevin Mirallas (Everton)

Mirallas has endured a difficult start to the season but opened his scoring account for the season with a well-taken strike from distance to help the Toffees defeat Hull City 2-1.

Striker – Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Along with Daniel Sturridge, Aguero looks the most likely to take down this season’s Premier League scoring title. Against West Ham the Argentine finished brilliantly on two occasions, once with his feet and once with his head.

Messi named La Liga Player of the Month for first time in career

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 06:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on January 6, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi has won every individual award imaginable, but now he can add another trophy to his shelf.

For the first time in his career, Messi was named La Liga’s Player of the Month for January.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings, Vol. VIII ]

It’s hard to believe, but somehow the Barcelona superstar had never won this honor before. Despite winning a record five Ballon D’or trophies as the best player in the world, this trophy had eluded Messi since its inception in 2013.

Messi scored six goals in six January matches as Barcelona sit atop the La Liga table, currently holding a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

Despite their dominance in La Liga, this is only the second time a Barcelona player has won this monthly award, as Neymar took home the honor in November of 2015.

USWNT-Mexico preview: Energized Yanks look to keep rolling toward Rio

FRISCO, TX - FEBRUARY 10:  Team USA poses for a photo before play against Costa Rica during 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying at Toyota Stadium on February 10, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The United States women’s national team looks to keep rolling through CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying with a match with Mexico on Saturday.

Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, is again the scene after the Yanks battered Costa Rica 5-0 on Wednesday.

[ MUST WATCH: Christen Press’ dazzling first touch, spin, goal ]

A win over Mexico would move the USWNT into the all-important semifinal, where a win would gain them entry into this Summer’s Olympic Games.

Mexico staged a blowout of its own on Wednesday, cruising past Puerto Rico 6-0 thanks in large part to a hat trick from Maribel Dominguez.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

Mexico has only beaten the USWNT twice in history, and only the 2010 Gold Cup semifinal is considered official.

In recent history, the USWNT beat up Mexico 5-1 last year, and thrice in 2014 by a combined score of 15-0. Expect very little to change with an energized, impressive U.S. side on Saturday.

[ SATURDAY: Watch USWNT vs Mexico live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Big boys to turn up

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Week 26 of the Premier League season is here. This will be a lot of fun with massive games at both ends of the table.

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.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live online ]

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out.

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

Arsenal 3-2 Leicester City – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Norwich City 0-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, USA) –  [STREAM]

Man City 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur – (Sunday 11:15 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United – (Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Everton 2-1 West Brom  – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Swansea 1-1 Southampton – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM] 

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

Chelsea 3-2 Newcastle – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

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

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

Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Ranieri on Leicester City’s dream season: “Nobody wake us up please!”

during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England.
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There’s plenty to like about Leicester City’s run to the top of the Premier League, but perhaps nothing is more enjoyable that its manager’s musings.

Claudio Ranieri, the Tinkerman himself, has provided some of the best quips of the season.

[ MORE: Top 5 storylines to look for in PL ]

From “I want to be the crazy man in the Premier League” to “It’s like nobody wants to win the league“, the 64-year-old Italian has offered plenty of beauties.

Make way for some more gems, from LCFC.com:

“I think we work so hard to achieve this level. We want to stay at this level. It’s no pressure for us. The pressure was at the beginning to start well, to carry on and maintain the standard of our performance.
“Now we are safe and we want to fight with respect with all our opponents. Face to face, we play with our strength and they play with theirs. If we win, fantastic. If we lose, next match.
“I think the pressure is on the other teams. We have pressure for our little gap. We continue to dream with our fans and we want to continue to dream. Nobody wake us up please!”
We love this man. To go from a short-lived run in Euro qualifying with Greece to this remarkable roll with Leicester has to be a bit dream-like. We get it. And we love that he’s going with it.