Prindi’s Premier League Picks: Everton wins the derby, Saints nip point

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Picking Premier League matches is hard work and frankly, I’m crap at it.

But I love the banter and figure at the very least I can provide you with some fodder to tear me up with in the comments. 

So let’s get it on.

UPSET SPECIALS

Everton v. Liverpool (Sat 7:45am ET on NBCSN; Goodison Park)

Is there a chance Everton win this fixture?

Possibly. But it doesn’t feel very likely, does it?

The Toffees have only won the derby once in the last 13 league meetings. What a ‘mare.

Making matters worse, Liverpool always gets up for this fixture. Stevie G puts on his cape and there’s nothing Luis Suarez loves more than winding the Bluenoses up (see – last year’s dive celebration in front of David Moyes).

Then you factor in Suarez’ brother-from-another-mother, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho’s return to health and the defense’s shoring up and, yeah, things look real promising for the ‘Pool.

So what do Everton have to do to win this fixture?

Well, Romelu Lukakau, Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu all need to step up. It simply hasn’t been good enough recently. Goalless in two straight matches? That’s crap.

Leighton Baines has to improve as well. The left-back has been a bit sloppy lately. Clean it up, son.

So, no. I don’t think the Toffees have a very good chance at winning this match.

But screw it. The idea of the Lower Gwladys going OFF after a derby win sends chills down my spine. Bliss. Ecstacy. Blue Scouse heaven.

Everton 3 Liverpool 2

source: Getty Images
Victor Wanyama, the Ford F150 of the Premier League.

Arsenal v. Southampton (Sat 10:00am ET on NBCSN; Emirates Stadium)

My buddy Jeff emailed me this week and said his co-worker is a major Southampton supporter and wanted to know my thoughts on the Arsenal match.

But before I get into it let me just say this: How awesome is it that in New York City – as in, not England – I come into contact with two to three Saints supporters a week.

That’s a lot! Most have Southampton roots but a bunch are new American converts, which stokes me.

I’m a huge admirer of Southampton. I love me some Nicola Cortese. Love Mauricio Pochettino. Love Adam Lallana, Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin, Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse… The list goes on and on. Total gangbusters, all of them. But none moreso than Artur Boruc, who has that crazier-than-a-bag-of-kittens look in his eye like he might just be carrying a box cutter in his socks. Intimidation. Such a huge part of being a keeper.

Anyway, back to the Arsenal match. Can the Saints win?

If Wanyama and Schneiderlin shut down Arsenal’s midfield, yes. But it’s a huge ask.

Mesut Ozil was sent home to rest by Germany and although he probably spent a decent part of his break getting all bug-eyed in the nightclubs (typical, really), he should be fired up and ready to go in this match. Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey are both back as well, which is a bit scary.

Still, I’m feeling the Saints can nick points here. I think they score early but Arsenal make it honors-even late in the match.

Arsenal 1 Southampton 1

source: Getty Images
Sunderland has responded well to Gustavo Poyet. Must be the sign-language.

Stoke City v. Sunderland (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; Britannia Stadium)

If Tony Pulis gets hired by Crystal Palace I’m going to be strangely aroused.

That’s when you know you love the Premier League waaay too much.

I can’t help it though. Since word broke that the baseball-capped-wonder is likely to be hired I’ve been counting down the days until Stoke meets Palace at Selhurst Park on January 18th (as of today the countdown is at 58 day, by the way).

As far as this match goes, Stoke will need to channel the tactics of Mr. Pulis if they want to take any points off of Sunderland because they’re already a vastly improved side under Gus Poyet. A win Saturday will be the Black Cats third in their last four league fixtures. Impressive stuff.

Stoke City 1 Sunderland 2

West Ham United v. Chelsea (Sat 12:30pm ET on NBC; Upton Park)

Last year West Ham were blowing bubbles throughout this whole contest. And what a barn-stormer it was!

Momo Diame scoring in the 86th and 91st minute to win the match 3-1. So sick. Diame is such an under-rated player, an absolute beast in the midfield.

This weekend, I think the Hammers revisit at least a bit of last year’s glory.

West Ham 1 Chelsea 1

Cardiff City v. Manchester United (Sun 11:00am ET on NBCSN; Cardiff City Stadium)

Cheeky good one here. I’d love to see Cardiff show up and get the home crowd rocking.

Plus, Gary Medel is one of my new favorite players. He looks exactly like this old, scarred-up pit-bull that lives down the street from me. Plays like it too.

Cardiff City 1 Manchester United 1

SQUEAKY BUM TIME

Fulham v. Swansea City (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; Craven Cottage)

How many games before Martin Jol loses it on Rene Meulensteen? Two? Three matches, tops?

Look, I’m not saying I hope it happens. I’m just saying it feels like an inevitability that, at some point in the near future, it’s gonna hit the fan at Craven Cottage.

This weekend, however, I think the Cottagers pick up a point.

Fulham 2 Swansea City 2

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Saido Berahino is going one place and one place only. Up.

West Bromwich Albion v. Aston Villa (Mon 3:00pm ET on NBCSN; The Hawthorns)

Has everyone seen the Saido Berahino U-21 highlights from the international break?

Silly. That boy is some player.

As for Aston Villa, things are looking bleak.

Paul Lambert’s side come into this match majorly dinged up as Christian Benteke, Brad Guzan, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Wiemann are all potentially out, making this one feeling like a W for the Baggies.

West Bromwich Albion 1 Aston Villa 0

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

Hull City v. Crystal Palace (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; The Kingston Communications Stadium)

The Hull City owner wants to change the team name to simply ‘Hull’, thereby eliminating ‘City’. Hull Tigers. Sounds terrible to me. Hope that doesn’t happen.

Hull have quality. No issues in this match.

Hull City 3 Crystal Palace 1

Newcastle United v. Norwich City (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; St James’ Park)

Newcastle is sneaky good. Loic Remy is sneaky good. And Norwich hate sneaky stuff.

Newcastle 4 Norwich City 2

Manchester City v. Tottenham Hotspur (Sun 8:30am ET on NBCSN; Etihad Stadium)

Mmmmm, tasty. City has won six straight at home. Of course, that’s probably because they’ve been so poor on the road they’ve felt obligated to play well in front of the home support.

As for Spurs — they’re a hot mess. Dembele’s head looks turned. Eriksen injured. No cohesion in attack. I just don’t see it happening.

Manchester City 3 Tottenham 1

Karim Benzema signs new contract at Real Madrid

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Karim Benzema has signed a new four-year contract at Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Sargent to Werder Bremen

The French striker, 29, has become the latest star name to commit their future to the two-time reigning European champions with Marcelo, Isco and Dani Carvajal all signing new deals over the past week.

Benzema will now remain at Real until June 30, 2021, with the Frenchman scoring 181 goals in 371 appearances as well as winning two La Liga titles, three European Cups and two Copa del Rey trophies during his time in the Spanish capital.

It is believed this new deal has a release clause of over $1.35 billion as Spanish clubs are now becoming increasingly wary of losing their star players a la Neymar leaving Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain.

Despite his expulsion from the French national team for over 18 months due to his alleged involvement in a blackmail case involving a sex tape and former teammate Mathieu Valbuena, Benzema has been in fine form for Real since Zinedine Zidane took charge in 2015.

Benzema scored 19 goals in 48 games in all competitions last season and 28 in 36 games the season before that as his hold up play and ability to drift out wide or drop deeper crucial to getting the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Co.

That said, Benzema has scored just once in six appearances this season but Real are obviously happy with what he is producing aside from goals.

With question marks over the future of Bale at the Bernabeu, locking down Benzema shows just how important he is to Zidane’s attacking unit as they seek to seal a third-straight UEFA Champions League title.

FIFA open investigation into Chelsea’s youth transfer policy

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Chelsea could be in big trouble.

FIFA have confirmed they’re investigating Chelsea’s youth transfer policy yet again, specifically over the recruitment of foreign players under the age of 18.

What could the punishment be? The worst-case scenario is that Chelsea would be banned from signing any new players across its senior or youth levels but it is believed this situation isn’t as serious as previous investigations involving Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

Via the Telegraph, FIFA had the following to say about the investigation: “As the investigation is ongoing, no further comment is possible for the time being.”

Chelsea released a short statement saying: “Chelsea FC complies with all FIFA Statutes and Regulations when recruiting players.”

It will be the third time in eight years that world soccer’s governing body have looked at Chelsea’s youth policy and back in 2009 they were handed a transfer ban for two transfer windows over the signing of French teenager Gael Kakuta from Lens in 2007 but that was later overturned after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was successful.

Chelsea were also investigated last year over the signing of Bertrand Traore after images emerged of him playing for the club as a 16-year-old, before international clearance had arrived.

Spanish clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have been found guilty after similar investigations took place with Barca banned from signing players for two transfer windows and the same happening to Atletico who can’t sign any new players until January 2018, while Real Madrid had their ban reduced to one window after an appeal.

In the UK both Liverpool and Manchester City have recently been handed fines and bans for not following rules over recruiting young players domestically.

For foreign players signing for a team in another country there are strict rules in place.

Their family must either be relocating for non soccer reasons to the country where the new club is based, they must live no further than 50km from a national border and the club with which the player wishes to be registered with is within that 50km radius, or if they sign between the age of 16-18 the new club must provide them with housing, access to education and a soccer education.

USMNT prospect Sargent signs for Werder Bremen

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Josh Sargent’s star is rising fast.

The 17-year-old is the latest U.S. national team prospect to head to the Bundesliga as Werder Bremen announced Wednesday that he will sign with the club in February 2018 when he turns 18.

[ MORE: Pulisic up for 2017 Golden Boy ]

Bremen stated that Sargent had “numerous offers from other top clubs in Europe” but was “convinced by our philosophy at SV Werder and that we can now oversee his development as a player and support him along the way.” It is believed Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich were interested in signing Sargent.

Sargent scored four goals and grabbed on assist for the U.S. U-20 side which reached the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup in South Korea over the summer and he will play for the USA’s U-17 side at the World Cup in India next month.

The promising striker, who currently plays for St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri Soccer Club, had this to say about his upcoming move to Germany.

“My full concentration is first and foremost on the World Cup and the time I have left in Missouri. But I am really looking forward to next year and the new challenge in Bremen,” Sargent said. “Werder made a huge effort with me and they have always shown in the past that they give young players like myself an ideal introduction to professional football. That meant that my decision to continue my career in Bremen was not a hard one to make.”

Bremen say that Sargent will spent his first few months in Germany training with the U-23 side and will then link up with the first team ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.

With Christian Pulisic ripping it up at Borussia Dortmund and Weston McKennie getting starts for Schalke, it seems like Bundesliga teams can’t get enough of teenage American talents.

Nominees for FIFPro World XI announced

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The best 55 players on the planet have been selected by their peers.

[ MORE: Pulisic up for 2017 Golden Boy ]

World Players’ Union FIFPro, in conjunction with its partner player associations across the globe, asked over 25,000 professional players to select their FIFPro World 11 for the 2016-17 season.

Each professional player could pick one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three attackers to make up their best XI.

Real Madrid, the two-time reigning European champions, set a new record as 13 of their players were among the 55 nominees shortlisted, while 13 players from the Premier League are included with Antonio Valencia, Philippe Coutinho, Nemanja Matic, Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku all shortlisted for the first time.

David De Gea, David Luiz, Eden Hazard, N'Golo Kante, Mesut Ozil, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexis Sanchez make up the rest of the Premier League contingent.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar will be the frontrunners to make up the front three in this team, just as they did in 2015, and Messi and Ronaldo have both been in the FIFPro team in each of the last nine seasons.

Below are the 55 players who received the most votes as the FIFPro World 11 will be announced in London on Oct. 23 at the Best FIFA Football Awards where the World Player of the Year and other prestigious accolades will be dished out.


Goalkeepers
Gianluigi Buffon – Italy, Juventus
David de Gea – Spain, Manchester United
Keylor Navas – Costa Rica, Real Madrid
Manuel Neuer – Germany, FC Bayern Munich
Jan Oblak – Slovenia, Atletico Madrid

Defenders
David Alaba – Austria, FC Bayern Munich
Jordi Alba – Spain, FC Barcelona
Dani Alves – Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain
Jerome Boateng – Germany, FC Bayern Munich
Leonardo Bonucci – Italy, Juventus/AC Milan
Dani Carvajal – Spain, Real Madrid
Giorgio Chiellini – Italy, Juventus
Diego Godin – Uruguay, Atletico Madrid
Mats Hummels – Germany, FC Bayern Munich
Phillipp Lahm – Germany, FC Bayern Munich/retired
David Luiz – Brazil, Chelsea FC
Marcelo – Brazil, Real Madrid
Javier Mascherano – Argentina, FC Barcelona
Pepe – Portugal, Real Madrid/Besiktas
Gerard Pique – Spain, FC Barcelona
Sergio Ramos – Spain, Real Madrid
Thiago Silva – Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain
Samuel Umtiti – France, FC Barcelona
Antonio Valencia – Ecuador, Manchester United
Raphael Varane – France, Real Madrid

Midfielders
Thiago Alcantara – Spain, FC Bayern München
Sergio Busquets – Spain, FC Barcelona
Casemiro – Brazil, Real Madrid
Philippe Coutinho – Brazil, Liverpool FC
Eden Hazard – Belgium, Chelsea FC
Andres Iniesta – Spain, FC Barcelona
Isco – Spain, Real Madrid
N’Golo Kante – France, Chelsea FC
Toni Kroos – Germany, Real Madrid
Nemanja Matic – Serbia, Chelsea/Manchester United
Luka Modric – Croatia, Real Madrid
Mesut Ozil – Germany, Arsenal FC
Paul Pogba – France, Manchester United
Marco Verratti – Italy, Paris Saint-Germain
Arturo Vidal – Chile, FC Bayern Munich

Forwards
Gareth Bale – Wales, Real Madrid
Karim Benzema – France, Real Madrid
Edinson Cavani – Uruguay, Paris Saint-Germain
Paulo Dybala – Argentina, Juventus
Antoine Griezmann – France, Atletico Madrid
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Sweden, Manchester United
Harry Kane – England, Tottenham Hotspur
Robert Lewandowski – Poland, FC Bayern Munich
Romelu Lukaku – Belgium, Manchester United
Kylian Mbappe – France, Paris Saint-Germain
Lionel Messi – Argentina, FC Barcelona
Neymar JR – Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain
Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal, Real Madrid
Alexis Sanchez – Chile, Arsenal FC
Luis Suarez – Uruguay, FC Barcelona