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

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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

‘The Workers Cup’ sheds light on migrant workers in Qatar

DOHA, QATAR - APRIL 09: Migrant workers play football on an area of wasteland beneath the sky scrapers of Doha's West Bank on April 09, 2016 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
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PARK CITY, Utah (AP) Director Adam Sobel never intended to end up in Qatar, but it was 2010, jobs were scarce in the U.S. and his longtime girlfriend – now his wife – had just been offered a job teaching at a Northwestern University Qatar. So they went.

[ MORE: Man City, Spurs draw and more in Saturday’s PL action ]

While there, Sobel found work with a local production company that did news stories and documentaries for outlets like BBC, CNN, and HBO. One particular story was requested frequently: That of the migrant workers who were building the facilities for the 2022 Qatar World Cup. He didn’t know it at the time, but the assignment would ultimately provide the foundation for his documentary, “The Workers Cup,” which premiered Thursday night at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Because the subject is so sensitive and because media restrictions were so significant, we either had to hide people’s identities or work undercover. The human touch was lost,” Sobel said. “We wanted to do something that went much deeper than that and really honored the workers for their sacrifices and their hopes and their dreams rather than doing something that just saw them as victims … I wanted to build empathy for the workers instead of sympathy.”

The film centers on the multinational men, from Kenya, Ghana, India and the Philippines, who have given their lives over to slavery-like contracts and dangerous conditions to build the stadiums from the ground up. One man, Kenneth, who was a soccer player in Ghana, shares his story about how a recruiter had told him that if he came to Qatar, he’d get a club soccer contract. It was a lie, and now he’s stuck in Qatar under horrific circumstances.

“We’ve had a lot of context about how the recruiting agents are selling a false bill of goods but certainly I didn’t expect that to be wrapped up in a professional soccer contract,” Sobel said.

The title of the documentary refers to the FIFA-sponsored “workers cup” whereby teams from different construction companies play against one another in a tournament. For men like Kenneth, it takes on a greater poignancy. Yes, it’s a welcome distraction from the conditions, but the fact remains that they are still stuck there.

“We saw (the tournament) as an opportunity because we knew they were interested in promoting this and showing to the world that workers welfare standards were improving,” Sobel said. “There was a definite PR angle there that we took advantage of and we somehow managed to stick around and keep shooting in the camps. We were able to actually get pretty close to the story.”

Sobel worked on the documentary for three years, and kept it completely secret for two due to the sensitive nature of what he planned to show and the strict media standards in the country. He’s excited that his subjects are getting their voices heard at Sundance.

“It’s a story about these guys whose lives have been sacrificed in some way for our own entertainment and that in and of itself reveals that we’re all complicit in the system,” Sobel said. “This is a story of globalization.”

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ldbahr

French league responds after Mario Balotelli racially abused

FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 file photo, Nice's Mario Balotelli controls the ball during the Europa League group I soccer match between OGC Nice and FC Salzburg, at the Nice stadium, southeastern France. Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura says he will talk to forward Mario Balotelli before the Azzurri's next set of matches in March. Balotelli has revived his career in France, scoring eight goals in as many matches for Nice, but has not played for Italy since the 2014 World Cup. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)
AP Photo/Claude Paris
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PARIS (AP) The French league will open an investigation after Nice striker Mario Balotelli spoke out against Bastia fans he said made monkey noises during a match on Friday night.

[ MORE: City, Spurs draw, Reds fall to Swansea in Saturday’s PL action ]

In a brief statement Saturday afternoon, the French League said it “deplored all of the incidents” that happened on Friday. Before the match, Nice’s team bus had been pelted by stones as it arrived at the stadium.

[ MORE: Saturday’s results from around the Bundesliga ]

The LFP’s disciplinary committee will start looking into the matters when it convenes on Thursday and once it has received further information from officials and both clubs.

Balotelli wrote a message on his Instagram and Twitter pages earlier on Saturday, describing the abuse he heard during the 1-1 draw at the 20,000-capacity Armand Cesari stadium in Corsica and complaining that the French league had not acted swiftly enough.

“Is it normal that Bastia supporters make monkey noise (and) `uh’ `uh’ for the whole game and no one of the `commissions discipline’ say nothing?” Balotelli wrote, referencing the French league’s disciplinary committee. “So is racism legal in France? Or only in Bastia? Football is an amazing sport. Those people like Bastia supporters make it horrible!”

Balotelli, 26, the son of Ghanaian immigrants to Italy, concluded his post by writing in French that what happened was “une vrai honte,” or a total disgrace.

Nice’s official Twitter account shared Balotelli’s message. On its website, the French Riviera club threw its support behind Balotelli.

“Nice, which already had stones thrown at its bus before the game, is outraged by what happened to its players on Friday night, and in particular to Mario Balotelli,” a statement read.

Bastia did not immediately respond to an email from the AP seeking a response to Balotelli’s claim.

Balotelli joined from Liverpool on a free transfer in August and has scored eight league goals in 10 games to help Nice challenge for the title.

He did not say in his message whether or not he had informed referee Clement Turpin, who had the authority to stop the game, of the crowd’s actions. Commentators from broadcaster Canal Plus, which covered the game, made no mention of any racist abuse during the match.

In May 2013, when playing for Italian side AC Milan, Balotelli was subject to racist abuse from visiting Roma fans, causing the Serie A game to be briefly halted by the referee during the second half after warnings to stop the abuse were made throughout the stadium. Massimiliano Allegri, Milan’s coach at the time, made stinging comments against those who had racially abused Balotelli.

Bastia was docked two points by the LFP in the 2007-08 season after its fans racially abused Burkina Faso forward Boubacar Kebe by holding up a banner during a second-division home game against Libourne. The kickoff was delayed by a few minutes until the banner aimed at Kebe was removed.

PL Sunday preview: Chelsea looks to extend lead, Gunners host Burnley

HULL, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  Diego Costa of Chelsea (2L) celebrates with Filipe Luis (L) and Cesc Fabregas (2R) as he scores their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Chelsea at KC Stadium on March 22, 2015 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea received everything they wished for on Saturday after several of the Premier League’s big boys all dropped points in crushing fashion.

Now, the Blues have the opportunity to extend their gap at the top of England on Sunday while two other matches are slated on the day.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Southampton vs. Leicester City — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The Saints will have to make do without one of its most important defensive figures following the sale of Jose Fonte, however, Claude Puel‘s men won’t have to deal with several of Leicester’s attacking threats as the African Cup of Nations rolls on. Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Daniel Amartey will each be absent for the Foxes as they play for their respective sides at the tournament.

Southampton has taken points against Leicester in four straight PL fixtures (1 W, 3 D), however both sides have been vastly inconsistent in form throughout the campaign. Leicester striker Jamie Vardy and his side continue to struggle, with the Englishman having posted just five goals this season after netting 24 in league play a season ago.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Man City, Spurs finish level ]


Arsenal vs. Burnley — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The Gunners are unbeaten in five straight matches against Burnley, and Sunday presents the chance for Arsene Wenger‘s side to win its fifth consecutive fixture against the Clarets. Wenger’s men currently sit eight points behind league leaders Chelsea, and after the rest of the the PL’s title contenders slipped up on Saturday the Gunners will be looking to avoid any stumble at the Emirates Stadium.

Olivier Giroud is expected to be back for Arsenal, while Hector Bellerin, Kieran Gibbs and Francis Coquelin are also healthy once more. Meanwhile, the Clarets are said to be expecting Dean Marney, Ashley Barnes and Johann Berg Gudmundsson back in the squad after missing the team’s FA Cup victory during the midweek.

[ MORE: WATCH — Wayne Rooney’s top Man United goals ]


Chelsea vs. Hull City — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The Blues will be expected to take advantage of this match but all eyes will be on Antonio Conte’s team sheet, particularly with close attention on Diego Costa. The Spaniard was said to have missed the team’s last PL match due to a back injury, although reports have also suggested interest from China. Chelsea has yet to lose to Hull in nine PL fixtures, having won seven encounters and drawn the other two matches.

Meanwhile, Hull could have some of its reinforcements available on Sunday, including Olympiakos defender Omar Elabdellaoui. The Tigers will have a massive task at hand against the Blues, who have won 14 of their last 15 league matches. Marco Silva’s side currently sits in the relegation zone, however, a victory could propel the team above both Crystal Palace and Swansea City.

Watch: USMNT midfielder Hyndman provides assist in Rangers debut win

United States midfielder Emerson Hyndman (8) gets past Cuba defender Adrian Arturo Diz Pe during the first half of a CONCACAF men's Olympic qualifying soccer match Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Kansas City, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Well, it didn’t take long for Emerson Hyndman to make an impression at his new club.

[ MORE: Man City, Spurs finish level in Saturday’s PL action ]

The U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder provided the game-winning assist for Scottish side Rangers in Saturday’s 2-1 Scottish Cup win over Motherwell after picking out Kenny Miller for his second goal of the match.

[ MORE: Ghana books place in AFCON quarterfinals, Egypt edges Uganda ]

Hyndman, 20, joined the Scottish giants in January after coming over on loan from Premier League side Bournemouth. The rising USMNT attacker only made three appearances for the Cherries prior to completing the loan move to Rangers.

The former FC Dallas academy product has risen through the USMNT set up over recent years, appearing for the Under-17, U-20 and U-23 sides before Hyndman earning his first cap with the senior team in 2014.

Check out Hyndman’s game-winning assist below.