Will Liverpool and Everton be battling it out amongst the PL's elite for years to come?

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

Klinsmann praises Nagbe: “He knows he has to push the envelope”

FRISCO, TX - MAY 25:  Pedro Larrea #15 of Ecuador reacts as Nagbe Darlington #10 of the United States celebrates with Christian Pulisic #17 of the United States after scoring against Ecuador during an International Friendly match at Toyota Stadium on May 25, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
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Breaking into a Jurgen Klinsmann side isn’t easy, especially for an attacker.

With the United States men’s national team boss quite happy to trot out Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and — when healthy — Jozy Altidore, becoming a regular isn’t easy.

So making the most of your opportunity is key, and Darlington Nagbe has done that most times he’s hit the pitch for the USMNT.

[ USMNT-ECUADOR: Match recap | Player ratings | 3 things ]

And scoring a 90th minute winner against Ecuador, even in a 1-0 friendly win, is going to help his odds of sticking in the coach’s mind. Klinsmann said Nagbe “knows he has to push the envelope”, and lauded him for doing so while cautioning that he’s never questioned the offensive acumen of Portland Timbers’ man.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Now you also want to tell him ‘Listen, you’ve got to make an impression. You’ve got to learn to play both ways and grind it out defensively, go into 1v1s and win balls as well,’” Klinsmann said.

“And that’s just going forward. He has tremendous talent with the ball at his feet going forward. That’s what we enjoy in MLS every weekend. But the international side is both ways, and that’s what we’re working on. And he’s getting better and better at doing that.”

Nagbe was among a handful of U.S. players to shine during a dominant second half that saw the Timbers midfielder snare the decisive goal, and it’s not a stretch to say he was the brightest. Let’s hope to see him get a chance to start on Saturday against Bolivia.

Lukaku will listen to Everton but “I have my own ideas in mind

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Romelu Lukaku of Everton arrives for the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Everton at the Stadium of Light on May 11, 2016 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
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Romelu Lukaku‘s future looks to be away from Goodison Park.

The big Belgian striker authored 25 goals across all competitions this season, including 18 in the Premier League.

[ MORE: Zlatan has “taken a decision” ]

But as he prepares for the Euro 2016 tournament, Lukaku’s comments make it seem likely that even new investments from up high aren’t going to keep him on Merseyside.

From Sky Sports:

“We have a new investor at Everton and out of courtesy I will listen to what he has to say. But I have my own ideas in mind. I want to win titles.

“I have had a very good season, but it is time for me to write myself a CV. That is why I play football. I got that trophy-winning mindset from Chelsea.”

Lukaku would be a big ticket item on the transfer market, and should go for more than the $41 million price tag Everton paid to get him from Chelsea.

Ibrahimovic says he has received offers from England, Italy

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 11:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint-Germain walks out for a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium on April 11, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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STOCKHOLM (AP) Still looking for a team for next season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he has “concrete offers” from England, Italy and other countries.

The 34-year-old Sweden striker, who has said he is leaving Paris Saint-Germain, has yet to announce where he is headed after the European Championship.

[ USMNT-ECUADOR: Match recap | Player ratings | 3 things ]

Ibrahimovic says “I have taken my decision,” but he didn’t elaborate.

At Euro 2016, Sweden will play in Group E with Belgium, Italy and Ireland.

Benitez stay is huge, but Newcastle cannot be content with players

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 30:  Rafael Benitez (R) manager of Newcastle United congratulates Andros Townsend (L) after their 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Crystal Palace at St James' Park on April 30, 2016 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
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As posted yesterday, Rafa Benitez met with the media after Newcastle United confirmed that the trophy-winning manager has decided to stay with the club despite relegation, and said this is his ship now.

This is huge news for the Magpies.

The 56-year-old Spaniard couldn’t rescue the sinking ship he inherited from Steve McClaren, and is tasked with lifting Newcastle back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

[ USMNT-ECUADOR: Match recap | Player ratings | 3 things ]

For years, Newcastle’s managers have been subject to the approval of chief scouts, managing directors and owner Mike Ashley. What Benitez has now is assurances that no player is being sold without his permission, and none being bought without his approval. Which means no midseason sales of Yohan Cabaye because the iron is hot, or unrequested purchases like Xisco.

Of course that could mean we’re headed for a huge August or January bust-up when Ashley or Lee Charnley pulls the rug out from some big acquisition that could firm up Newcastle’s standing in the top flight, but we’ll stay on the sunny side for now and assume Benitez’s people made that part of his contact air tight.

It means Newcastle could line up, basically, the same as last season. There are plusses and minuses to that, of course, as the club was relegated thanks to woeful form and players who were perhaps rightfully accused of only showing up for primetime matches.

Consider:

— Newcastle took as many points from Manchester United (2) as Aston Villa.

— The Magpies went 2-0 against Tottenham Hotspur, grabbed four points from Liverpool, beat West Ham and drew both Manchester City and Chelsea.

— They also lost to relegation rivals Norwich, drew Sunderland twice and were swept by Watford.

So while Benitez holds sway to keep Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum and Daryl Janmaat despite the big money they could command on the open market, he has to be 100 percent sure they won’t mail it in.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Kevin Nolan of Newcastle United celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate Andy Carroll (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James' Park on December 11, 2010 in Newcastle, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Carroll and Nolan (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

There’s no certainty there, and one of the main things that helped Newcastle bounce right back up to the PL in 2009-10 was a crew that got its footing in the Championship by Week 13 and never looked back: the Magpies lost just once in the league from Oct. 24 onward thanks in large part to heart-and-soul players who stuck around after the drop (Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Fabricio Coloccini, Andy Carroll and others).

Among those who fit the bill for understanding the task at hand are Andros Townsend, Jonjo Shelvey, Jack Colback, Chancel Mbemba and Coloccini. Others, like Sissoko and Siem De Jong, risk poisoning the well. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be kept around, but Benitez will need to know transfer rumor and agent hijinks aren’t in the offing.

Make no mistake about it, Benitez in control is better than anything the Magpies have had in ages and Newcastle is far more likely to replicate the instant promotions of West Ham and itself than the divisional drops of Leeds United and Portsmouth.