Premier League Preview: Norwich City vs. West Ham United

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  • Norwich are unbeaten in 15 home league games against West Ham
  • The Canaries have conceded 18 goals in their last five matches
  • West Ham have recorded four 0-0 draws this season, most in the PL

Both sides have one thought on their mind heading in to this game…. score goals.

Two of the leanest attacks in the PL will meet at Carrow Road on Saturday as Norwich host West Ham United (watch live on NBC, 12:30pm ET and watch live online at NBC Sports Live Extra) with both teams desperate for a win.

Norwich City are the lowest scoring side in the PL with just six goals for this season, while West Ham haven’t fared much better as they’ve only scored eight.

But don’t let the low-scoring figures put you off, this one has all the makings to be a pulsating clash on a chilly evening in Norfolk.

Plus Norwich manager Chris Hughton is reportedly fighting for his job after a poor run of form, including that 7-0 demolition from Manchester City last weekend, has seen the Canaries drop into the relegation zone despite spending big to bring the likes of Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel this summer. But have missed out through injury to date, but the goals and creativity going forward just isn’t clicking for Norwich and now they’re leaking goals at the back.

(WATCH – PST Extra: Talking Manchester United vs. Arsenal, Chelsea’s struggles and the South Wales derby)

That’s worrying as Norwich were always so sound defensively in their last two PL campaigns, but in their opening 10 matches this season they’ve let in 20 goals already.

Sam Allardyce’s West Ham side are incredibly resolute in defense after keeping six clean sheets in 10 games and have Jussi Jaaskelainen to thank for that with some terrific displays. However the Hammer manager has been hampered with injuries to star striker Andy Carroll and many other attackers and Allardyce has already described this match as “six-pointer.” This is serious.

(MORE: Preview – Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion)

In terms of injuries, Robert Snodgrass will return for Norwich but summer signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel will miss out with a toe injury. West Ham are still struggling to have any fit strikers to call upon, as long-term absentees Carroll and Ricardo Vaz Te are joined by Mladen Petric on the treatment table.

What they’re saying

Sam Allardyce plays up importance of Norwich game: “It’s a six-pointer I would say already. They played very well in their last home game against Cardiff. Irrespective of recent results I was listening to the commentary of that game about how many chances they created and how many chances they missed. We have to make sure that we frustrate them in that area again on Saturday.”

Chris Hughton on his sides responding following their 7-0 loss at Man City: “We’re on the back of a negative at the moment with the Manchester City result, but it was only two games before that we were on the back of some really good performances. It’s our responsibility now to make sure that we get the right reaction from that game, and the great thing about this game is that you always get another opportunity. It’s a home game against West Ham and we need to make sure we get the right result. If we win on Saturday, it will give us back a good feel and we will go above West Ham in the table.”

Prediction

Despite West Ham’s poor run of form away at Norwich in the league, they’ve actually picked up some good results on the road this season and Big Sam sets them up as difficult to beat. The Canaries can’t get that lucky break they need and it’s going to be a long hard season unless the likes of Hooper, Elmander and van Wolfswinkel start scoring. West Ham will sit back and soak up the pressure, and expect them to hit the Canaries on the break to devastating effect. An away win is the smart bet here, I fear for Hughton’s future.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.