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

source:
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

Serie A: Juve keep winning to remain 1 point back of Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus closed the gap on Serie A leader Napoli back to just one point as the six-time defending champion eased past Genoa 1-0 on Monday.

Douglas Costa scored in the 16th minute, the first conceded by Genoa in five league matches. It was a less than convincing performance from Juventus but it was never really troubled, as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – standing in for the still-injured Gianluigi Buffon – was little more than a spectator.

“What was important was to win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “At the end there was a bit of nervousness because we were lacking in energy a bit.

“We could have finished off the match in the first half, and again with a couple of occasions after the break. We didn’t manage to so compliments to Genoa.”

The battle for the Serie A title is shaping into a two-horse race. Juventus moved 10 points clear of third-placed Lazio, although the capital side has a match in hand.

“The season is still long and all those who are behind us can still get back into the race,” Allegri said. “It was important to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Juventus needed to win after Napoli beat Atalanta 1-0 on Sunday.

Allegri’s side started brightly and had an early chance to take the lead but Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin did well to keep out a free kick from specialist Miralem Panic.

However, it did not take much longer to strike. Douglas Costa passed out left to Mario Mandzukic, who played a delightful return ball for the Brazil midfielder to slot into the bottom left corner.

League Cup semi: Man City take 2-1 lead into 2nd leg vs. Bristol

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Manchester City can move one step closer on Tuesday to claiming their first of four potential trophies this season, when Pep Guardiola‘s men take on Bristol City in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday ]

After coming back to beat the Robins in the first leg at home, Man City must now go on the road and take care of business to reach the Feb. 25 final at Wembley Stadium. As he has done so many times — and so famously — in the sky blue of City, Sergio Aguero grabbed the late winner (91st minute — WATCH HERE) 14 days ago.

For a few not-so-insignificant periods of the game, Bristol were very much the aggressors and appeared more likely to make the score 2-0 than for City to get back to 1-1. Bobby Reid converted from the penalty spot in the 44th minute after her was brought down under John Stones‘ wild, sliding tackle. Kevin De Bruyne leveled things up 10 minutes into the second half, setting the stage for Aguero’s late heroics.

[ MORE: Alexis-for-Mkhi swap complete | De Bruyne’s new contract ]

Since the first leg on Jan. 9, City have failed in their bid to finish the PL season with an unbeaten record before bouncing back to beat Newcastle United on the weekend, courtesy of a hat trick from Aguero — Guardiola quotes, from Sport24:

“I said many times it was going to happen, we can lose, so (it is) important the reaction we have. Still we have 42 points to play (for). It is 14 games. It is a lot of games to play and difficult games like Saturday and like Liverpool. It is important to show the team is still there but I don’t have the feeling we give up.

“We want to go through to the final in the (League) Cup and the FA Cup, so (we have) a lot of games but I think the people have the desire to keep going, to keep going, to keep going.”

[ MORE: One dream January signing for each top-six side ]

Bristol, meanwhile, have fallen on hard times: it’s been nearly a month (Boxing Day, to be specific — five losses, one draw) since Lee Johnson’s side last won a game in any competition, and they’ve fallen from second to fifth in the Championship table — Johnson quotes, from the Guardian:

“We don’t want to be brave losers, we want to compete to win. It’s up to the players to be focused and tactically aware, and who knows what will happen if we can show the same quality as we have shown in the previous rounds?

“We have to make sure we’re really bold. If you’re going to deliver a corner, do it like you mean it. I’d rather fail bold than fail timid. We know we have to score. I hope Pep picks his absolute best team and we can give them a right go. I’m not sure you could go and play an under-23 side against us at the moment and I think he’ll know that.”

The winner of Arsenal versus Chelsea (0-0 after the first leg) awaits in the final.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis-Mkhitaryan Swap Becomes Reality

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe react to the Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal between Arsenal and Manchester United finally becoming reality (0:20), Swansea’s stunning 1-0 victory over Liverpool (9:20), Southampton’s much-needed draw with Spurs (22:30) and Watford’s decision to part ways with Marco Silva (36:20). The gents end the show sharing their memories of the late English striker, Cyrille Regis (39:45).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Inter Milan sign Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan completed the signing of Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

Inter can sign the Brazil international permanently for $43 million plus $3.7 million in bonuses, and said on Monday that option “must be taken up before the end of the season.”

Rafinha, who was born in Sao Paulo, had been at Barcelona since 2006, when he joined its youth team. He spent the 2013-14 season on loan at Celta Vigo.

After nine months out after surgery on his right knee, he made his first appearance of the season last week as a late substitute in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey defeat at Espanyol.

“It’s an important stage in my life,” he said, “and I had a lot of desire to approach this new phase in my career.”

Inter has slipped to fourth in Serie A, 11 points behind leader Napoli.

It could slip out of the Champions League places if Roma wins its match in hand on Wednesday.

“I hope to play in as many matches as possible and help the team to reach our objective which is Champions League qualification,” Rafinha said.