Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey

Premier League Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal

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  • The Eagles have lost seven of their first 8 PL games this season
  • Palace haven’t beaten Arsenal at home since November 1979
  • Arsenal’s midweek defeat to Borussia Dortmund ended their 12-game unbeaten run

At Selhurst Park on Saturday, managerless Crystal Palace take on league leaders Arsenal (7:45am ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) as a second London derby arrives south of the River Thames this week.

The first London derby Palace faced this week, a 4-1 loss to Fulham, ended disastrously as Ian Holloway left the Eagles by mutual consent on Wednesday and Keith Millen will be in charge as caretaker boss when the Gunners visit.

Holloway’s departure didn’t surprise many, following seven defeats from their first eight games and Palace struggling to adapt to life back in the PL after a huge influx of new faces to the squad. Holloway cited the latter was the main issue, as the 14 new players he signed didn’t gel and he felt that the team spirit, which had lifted the Eagles out of the Championship last season, had vanished. Ex-Stoke City manager Tony Pulis is the favorite to replace Holloway, as the hot seat at Selhurst is unlikely to cool down for too long.

As for Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger is expecting a response after his side lost 2-1 to Dortmund in their UCL group stage match in midweek. Robert Lewandowski’s late strike punished the gun-ho Gunners who were looking to seal all three points, as they lost their first match in 12 games across all competitions.

In terms of injuries, Millen have a fully-fit squad to choose from as Palace aim to cause an upset, while Wenger expects Jack Wilshere to recover from an ankle knock and Mathieu Flamini is back in contention after concussion symptoms.

What they’re saying

Arsene Wenger on Ian Holloway’s departure: “I feel that it’s very harsh on Ian Holloway because he has done exceptionally well with Crystal Palace to get them up to the Premier League. It’s very difficult to do that and I find it very quick and very early to separate from Ian Holloway. For me, he has exceptional talent to manage a football team. He is a football man. He has something that belongs to him that he is special but you feel there is a strength in there that can take people on board with him. When you go through defeat after defeat when you want absolutely everything to win, it can drain you down. That can happen to everybody and when you are a bit older you can maybe deal with it a little bit better. But what is the killer in our job is to lose a succession of games and when you lose five, six or seven on the trot that is difficult to swallow.”

Ex-manager Ian Holloway on Palace’s future: “Now with me out the way, all this will stop and the new man will have a chance to start again. But I believe the club is in a fantastic position. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done here with Steve [Parish, co-Chairman].  If someone does want a chance at a Premier league club, a fresh start with a good group, they should really believe in this project, because it doesn’t need much.”


Arsenal win, all day long. Despite the kick up the backside losing a manager usually gives a team, Palace will be up against an Arsenal side who are also desperate to impress after they lost for the first time in 12 games in midweek. The Gunners possess a plethora of top class attacking talents, and if this game isn’t won by two of three goals in Arsenal’s favor I’d be very surprised. Sorry Palace fans, I’m afraid without a manager this dismal start to the season will only continue.

College Soccer Update: Stingy Kentucky picking up speed; Cal Poly’s overhead wonder (video)

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Three-hundred thirty-two minutes and 26 seconds. That’s how long it’s been since an opponent has managed to put a ball into the goal behind the University of Kentucky men’s team.

It’s a statistic which not only makes an impression, but carries hope; Hope that the Wildcats will improve upon last season’s tournament work that saw them exit their conference tourney and the NCAA tournament early.

“If you go back to last year we had a really good run, but got knocked out in our conference tournament and then in the first round of the NCAA Tournament,” said fourth-year head coach Johan Cedergren. “Peaked too early and got a little overconfident.”

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The Wildcats are atop Conference USA with a 3-0 record in league play, having knocked off a strong New Mexico side this weekend. They’ll face Evansville and Ohio State the following two Wednesdays before meeting fellow CUSA 3-0 squad South Carolina.

It’s all according to plan for Cedergren, who is experiencing the senior years of his first recruiting class. One of those is goalkeeper Callum Irving, who is one clean sheet away from making program history for the most blankings as a Wildcat.

It’s helped having a versatile team to help out. Despite injuries to a pair of key backs, junior center back Jordan Wilson and senior holding mid Kristoffeer Tollefsen have combined with Irving to keep the side well-organized.

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“Over here you are very stat focused and Callum wouldn’t have these numbers without (Wilson),” Cedergren said. “And Tollefsen plays that holding mid role that is very hard to quantify. He made third team all conference last year, but he’s one of the best players and he’s playing at 75% percent.”

Cedegren also credits Hermann Award watch lister Napo Matsoso, who leads the team in shots, with keeping teams off-balance. And between Irving and the attack, the coach hopes that this season is the year the Wildcats will peak at the right time.

Three stars

  1. Oregon State — The Beavers opened PAC-12 play with a pair of 1-0 wins, knocking off UCLA with a Timmy Mueller (remember the name goal) before knocking off San Diego State by the same score. Next weekend? Cal and Stanford, both on the road.
  2. Nick DePuy, UCSB —  The 6-foot-4 junior forward has only been held off the score sheet thrice this season, and fired off 10 shots including three goals this weekend. Two were road game-winners at UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge.
  3. Chase Minter, Cal Poly — All three stars stay on the West Coast, thanks to Minter’s work setting himself up for this bicycle kick goal.

Other notes

— Creighton is back as the unrivaled No. 1 in the country amongst men’s Division I sides, claiming all 24 votes.
— Only one change in the Top 10, as Virginia moves up a spot to No. 10 and Elon falls three spots to No. 13. Leaping into the Top 25 after not receiving any votes last week is Oregon State. Kentucky, Butler and Syracuse move from receiving votes to Top 25.
— There s a single player who is in both the D-1 Top Ten in goals and assists, and his name will be familiar to those who read this space: Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone has eight goals and six assists after a 2+3 performance at St. Bonaventure on Saturday night.
— Also No. 1: Midwestern State (Men’s D2), Franklin & Marshall (Men’s D3), North Carolina (Women’s D1), Gannon (Women’s D2), Messiah (Women’s D3)

Samir Nasri rules out return to France squad; Likes MLS over Ligue 1

Manchester City's Samir Nasri celebrates after scoring during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park Stadium, Liverpool, England, Sunday Aug. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
AP Photo/Jon Super
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When Samir Nasri is done with his time at Manchester City, he doesn’t want a return to Ligue 1. We knew that. He’s said it in March, and again over the summer.

But his willingness to stay away from home goes for club and country, as he’s not interested in a return to the national team fold. Heck, they could hire his family and he’s scoff at the idea.

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Nasri played in Marseille from his age 10 year through 2004, when he headed to Arsenal. He also scored five goals in 41 caps before being removed from the French fold by Didier Deschamps.

That hurt.

From Sky Sports:

“Even if my dad is coach, I will not return,” he said on French television. “I’ve suffered with the selections… missing a World Cup destroys you a bit. After 2012 I wanted to stop but my father told me I had to play the World Cup. I tried to be good.

“I do not see myself returning to Ligue 1. I love the Premier League. I like my life in England,” said Nasri. “I see myself going to play in the MLS, to discover something other than France.”

That makes at least three times Nasri has proffered a “come get me… eventually” plea to American powers-that-be.

Nasri is a bit of a loose cannon, but he’s also the sort of player who could punish defenses in MLS if given the chance to operate as the focal point of an attack. Perhaps with Didier Drogba in Montreal?

No, his time at the Etihad Stadium isn’t nearing an end just yet but… Yes, please. Maybe Nasri is one of those “In the league but not at the risk of my favorite team” players, but yes, please.