Watford v Norwich City - Capital One Cup Third Round

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.

Reports: Man City to trigger $60 million Laporte release clause

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 17: Luis Suarez (L) of FC Barcelona kicks the ball next to Aymeric Laporte (C) of Athletic Club during the Spanish Super Cup second leg match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club at Camp Nou on August 17, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
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Pep Guardiola isn’t in Manchester yet, but he’s already making plans for his side.

According to reports in Spain, Manchester City is ready to bring Aymeric Laporte to the Etihad, one of the most highly-rated defenders in Europe.

[ MORE: Burnley clinch PL promotion ]

The 21-year-old center-back has already made more than 100 appearances for Athletic Bilbao in La Liga, and City would need to pay nearly $60 million to trigger his release clause.

Guardiola has coached against Laporte while in charge of Barcelona, and it is believed he is Pep’s top defensive target to move in for the likes of Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis.

Named to the La Liga Team of the Year as a teenager in 2013-14, Laporte has been on the radar of all the major clubs around Europe. However, he saw his season cut short in March after suffering a terrible leg break on international duty with the France U21 side, ruling him out until August.

[ MORE: UEFA Champions League semifinal preview ]

Although he could miss the beginning of next season while still recovering from injury, bringing Laporte to Manchester would be a move that could set up the club defensively for years to come. Should City meet Bilbao’s massive release clause, Laporte would add to the magnificently expensive City back-line, joining Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi to form a trio of center-backs worth more than $150 million.

VIDEO: Post-match melee breaks out between Spurs and Chelsea

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Tensions boiled over on the touchline after Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham as players had to be separated while heading down the tunnel.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Leicester City coverage ]

A testy match that saw referee Mark Clattenburg issue 12 yellow cards, the battle continued after the final whistle as a melee erupted in front of the benches.

It is unclear as to what caused the disruption, but it was not the first skirmish of the night. Earlier in the match, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino found himself on the pitch in the middle of a shoving match between players.

[ VIDEO: Leicester pubs erupt as Foxes clinch Premier League title ]

Seen in the video above, Spurs’ backup goalkeeper Michel Vorm seemed to be in the middle of things with who else but Diego Costa. Harry Kane and John Terry tried to quiet things down, but to little avail.

There are only two matches left in the Premier League season, but the FA will certainly be reviewing video of this incident and sanctions could come down on players or the clubs.

Emotional Ranieri thanks former club Chelsea; set for incredible return

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LONDON — Am emotional Claudio Ranieri called Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink after their 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday which sealed the title for Leicester City.

Ranieri, 64, was manager of Chelsea from 2000-4 and was a fan favorite at Stamford Bridge despite never winning a trophy. He was replaced by Jose Mourinho in 2004 but has remained in the hearts of Chelsea’s fans ever since.

[ MORE: Latest Leicester news after PL win ]  

On Monday that was clear.

The amiable Italian is a charming individual, a grandfather figure to most, and one Chelsea fan held up a sign which simply said: “Do it for Ranieri” and Chelsea fans sung his name and “Leicester, Champions!” as they reveled in Tottenham’s demise at the final whistle.

They won the league for Ranieri, as Chelsea rallied from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Eden Hazard‘s stunning late goal sealing the title for Leicester.

Chelsea’s old boss flew back to Italy on Monday to spend time with his 96-year-old mother and on his return to Leicester and England he will lauded as a hero. His team will go down in history and so will he. Calls continue for him to be knighted by the Queen of England. It is highly likely he will be. He deserved it after masterminding the greatest Cinderella story in sporting history.

[ VIDEO: Fans react in Leicester to winning the PL ]

Here’s what Hiddink had to say on his phone call with Ranieri.

“I got a call from Claudio Ranieri and he thanked us, especially for the second half,” Hiddink revealed. “I congratulated him on being champion. His voice was trembling.”

Ranieri is an emotional man who has been welling up after recent wins and as the momentum continued. The tears will be flowing in the coming days and weeks as what he and his team have achieved starts to sink in.

In his first season as Leicester manager he has turned a 5000-1 shot and heavy favorite for relegation into the champions of the Premier League. Ranieri was the bookies’ favorite to get be the first PL manager to be fired at the start of the season.

Now he’s the manager who delivered the PL trophy in the most remarkable fashion imaginable. With, of course, a little help from his old club.

Want to know what makes this even better? Ranieri returns to his old club Chelsea on the final day and the Foxes will receive a guard of honor from last seasons champions, Chelsea.

Chelsea let him go in 2004 as owner Roman Arbamovich didn’t believe he could win the west London club the title.

Yeah, about that…

From League One to PL champion: Andy King has seen it all

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Andy King of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion at The King Power Stadium on March 1, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Andy King has been through it all, and now he’s a Premier League champion.

With more than 300 appearances for Leicester, King never could have imagined being champions of England when he was playing with the Foxes in the third division just a few years ago.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Leicester City coverage ]

King joined Leicester City’s academy as a 15-year-old, climbing the ladder from League One to the top of the Premier League.

Speaking to the BBC after clinching the title, an emotional King reflected on this achievement.

I thought I’d seen everything with this club, but I never thought I’d see this. It’s difficult to put into words. The players deserve it, the gaffer and the staff deserve it, and the fans deserve it. It’s been an unbelievable season.

The story of where this team has come from to get to this point has been all over the world recently and I think the lads deserve great credit for the way they’ve taken it in their stride, stayed focused and kept delivering results – especially with a great side like Spurs chasing us so hard. We’ve been so consistent and just determined not to let the opportunity pass us by. We deserve this.

King has only managed seven league starts this season, stuck behind standout performers N'Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater. However, he has been an important player off the bench and a veteran presence in the dressing room, despite still being just 27-years-old.

King is the first player to win the League One, Championship, and Premier League titles all with the same club.