West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa - Premier League

Prindi’s Premier League Picks: West Brom to upset Newcastle

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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

Newcastle United v. West Bromwich Albion (Sat 12:30pm ET on NBC; St James’ Park)

Weird times at Newcastle United.

The club is playing well, hopes of European nights are creeping into fans’ minds, the rancor concerning Joe Kinnear is dying down but two of their best players, Yohan Cabaye and Fabricio Colocinni, are both rumored to want out of St. James’ Park.

West Brom, on the other hand, keep getting the short end of the stick. With a unique array of firepower between Saido Berahino, Shane Long, Stephane Sessegnon and Morgan Amalfitano, among others, they’re a side who can beat anyone.

This could be a sneaky good match. Newcastle are heavy favorites but something tells me this weekend the Baggies finally get something to go their way.

Newcastle 1 West Bromwich Albion 2

SQUEAKY BUM TIME

Aston Villa v. Sunderland (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Villa Park)

Impressive comeback by Aston Villa last Monday at West Brom but perhaps if Paul Lambert started Andi Weimann, Gabby Agbonglahor and Fabian Delph – rather than bringing them off the bench as a 57th minute triple sub – they wouldn’t have been in the hole to begin with.

This weekend expect all three men to start, which means Christian Benteke can return to his favored lead striker role, which means Sunderland’s defense will have to be in top form, which I don’t see happening.

Aston Villa 2 Sunderland 1

Everton v. Stoke City (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Goodison Park)

Last week’s derby was an emotional journey for Everton but they’ll need to put it in their rear-view if they’re to take all three points against Stoke City.

The Potters were impressive in their 2-0 win over Sunderland, even if they did benefit hugely from the ridiculous sending off of Wes Brown.

Gut-check time for the Toffees. If they have hopes of a Top 4 finish, matches like this are a must win.

Everton 2 Stoke City 1

West Ham United v. Fulham (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Upton Park)

Don’t look now but the only thing separating West Ham from the relegation zone is the five goal difference between them and Fulham. With both clubs on 10 points and desperate to separate themselves from the bottom of the table this match has the potential to be a real belter.

West Ham United 2 Fulham 1

Norwich City v. Crystal Palace (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Carrow Road)

Can’t wait to see Tony Pulis’ baseball cap, track suit and tugboat-sized sneakers on the sideline this weekend. The former Stoke boss will be installing Route 1 football at Crystal Palace and with the players gaining confidence by the week, it might just work.

But as pressing as issues are at Selhurst Park, they’re nearly as dire at Carrow Road. Chris Hughton needs to keep his job. Norwich City needs to stay clear of the relegation zone. Beat the clubs who they should beat and the Canaries should come out top bird in this match.

Norwich City 2 Crystal Palace 1

Tottenham Hotspur v. Manchester United (Sun 7:00am ET on NBCSN; White Hart Lane)

Last year Spurs had United’s number, defeating the Red Devils at Old Trafford and scrambling for a late point at White Hart Lane.

This year it’s difficult to foresee a repeat performance. Last week’s shellacking aside, Tottenham are a side that simply lack cohesion among the players. What should be an entertaining, high-flying side has become dull, unimaginative and predictable. And now, with many believing AVB’s days are numbered (an opinion I don’t agree with, by the way), question marks are omnipresent throughout North London.

It’ll be closer than you think but expect United to capitalize on their mid-week thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen.

Manchester United 1 Tottenham 0

Chelsea v. Southampton (Sun 11:10am ET on NBCSN; Stamford Bridge)

If Chelsea’s mid-week loss to Basel has you thinking they’re on the decline, think again. Jose Mourinho’s side had already qualified for the next round of the Champions League before Wednesday’s loss and while they will want to finish atop their group, that can still happen with a win over bottom-of-the-barrel Steau.

Jose Mourinho’s men were dominant in the 3-0 win over West Ham last weekend and while I expect this match to be tight, I think ‘The Special One’ keeps that precious Stamford Bridge unbeaten streak in tact.

Chelsea 2 Southampton 1

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

Cardiff City v. Arsenal (Sat 10:00am ET on NBCSN; Cardiff City Stadium)

True to form, the Bluebirds have once again made Cardiff City Stadium a fortress this year. The two Manchester sides failed to win there and Steven Caulker ensured derby success over Swansea with a towering header.

Cardiff will be thinking that with Arsenal playing three matches in one week, the Gunners will be prime for the picking as well.

Ain’t happenin’, pal.

Arsenal are too comfortable on the ball. Too mentally strong.

Cardiff City 0 Arsenal 2

Hull City v. Liverpool (Sun 9:05am ET on NBCSN; The KC Stadium)

With a lack of attacking danger and a defense on the mend, things don’t look good for Hull in this one.

Hull City 1 Liverpool 4

Manchester City v. Swansea City (Sun 11:10am ET on Live Extra; Etihad Stadium)

Manchester City at home.

Swansea City coming off a Thursday night Europa League match plus injuries to Michu and Wilfried Bony.

Enough said.

Manchester City 4 Swansea City 1

VIDEO: 70-yard run leads to incredible goal at Africa Cup of Nations

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Take a bow, Piqueti.

Guinea-Bissau took the lead against Cameroon in stunning fashion on Wednesday in group play at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

Watch the incredible clip below as Piqueti — full name Piqueti Djassi Brito Silva — controlled the ball and ran 70-yards before hammering home to put the underdogs ahead.

The winger for SC Braga in Portugal has certainly made a name for himself.

What a goal!


LIVE: Liverpool, Saints both in FA Cup replay action

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 08: Emre Can of Liverpool takes a free kick during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Liverpool and Plymouth Argyle at Anfield on January 8, 2017 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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The final three games of the FA Cup third round will take place on Wednesday and it is time for some more replays.

[ LIVE: Follow FA Cup scores here

Premier League title contenders Liverpool head down to the far south west of England to play fourth-tier Plymouth Argyle after the Pilgrims grabbed a famous 0-0 draw at Anfield to set up this replay. Jurgen Klopp will once again rest plenty of first team stars. The winner of this game will host Wolverhampton Wanderers at home. Surely we couldn’t see a massive giant-killing down at Home Park…

The other Premier League side in action is Southampton as they host Championship outfit Norwich City. Both teams will be understrength as second-tier Norwich focus on getting back into the playoff hunt in the league, while Saints have an EFL Cup semifinal second leg at Liverpool next week on thier mind plus a big Premier League game against Leicester this Sunday as they aim to stop a run of four-straight defeats in the PL. Whoever wins this clash will host Arsenal in round four.

Two big teams clash in the Championship as Newcastle United host Birmingham City at St James’ Park with Rafael Benitez’s side top of the second-tier as they chase an instant return to the Premier League. Rafa’s massive squad means he can rotate his team, while Birmingham boss Gianfranco Zola is still looking for his first win in charge of the Blues since taking over in December. The winner of this tie will travel to Oxford United in the fourth round.

Hit the link above to follow the scores from all of the FA Cup games on Wednesday, while we will have reaction to the matches right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

Here is the schedule.


Wednesday’s FA Cup third round replays

Newcastle United vs. Birmingham City – 2:45 p.m. ET
Plymouth Argyle vs. Liverpool – 2:45 p.m. ET
Southampton vs. Norwich City – 2:45 p.m. ET

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Morata to Chelsea; Ulloa, Sakho in demand

UDINE, ITALY - MARCH 24:  Alvaro Morata of Spain looks on during the international friendly match between Italy and Spain at Stadio Friuli on March 24, 2016 in Udine, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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With Diego Costa and Antonio Conte making up for now, the focus is on who could be the long-term striker at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: United need Griezmann

The Daily Telegraph believes that Conte will turn to Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata in the summer as he looks to the Spanish international to be his go-to man up top. With Costa causing problems behind the scenes at Chelsea, it is believed Conte is ready to cash in on the troublesome striker despite his 14 goals and five assists putting Chelsea top of the Premier League with five games to go go.

As for Morata, the 24-year-old is stuck behind the likes of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo once again after returning to Real Madrid in the summer following two years at Juventus. Real exercised the buy-back clause in Morata’s deal in the summer and refused to sell him to Chelsea. Morata has started just six La Liga games this season but has scored five goals and Conte was the man who signed him for Juventus before he moved on to manage the Italian national team.

If Chelsea sell 28-year-old Costa to China for a big profit and then bring in Morata, that would seem like a decent deal. Conte gets rid of a wantaway player and adds a talented and hungry striker who is four years younger and ready to prove himself at the top level. What could go wrong?


The Liverpool Echo is reporting that Liverpool’s central defender Mamadou Sakho is interesting Crystal Palace.

Sakho, 25, hasn’t played for the Reds all season after a fall out with manager Jurgen Klopp in the summer. Sakho rejected a loan move to Stoke City in the summer but has only played for Liverpool’s U-23 side since. The former Paris Saint-Germain defender has also been linked with a move to Southampton in the January window but with Liverpool said to be intent on selling Sakho rather than loaning him, that considerably cuts down his options.

Palace are in need of defensive help with new manager Sam Allardyce gaining just one point from his first four games in charge. Palace also have the third worst defensive record in the PL but it would be interesting to see if the Eagles would splash out nearly $20 million on Sakho and if he would likely take a pay cut to join a team which is outside the relegation zone only on goal difference.

Allardyce is known for building his teams around a solid defense and Sakho could certainly land in worse place than south London if the Eagles manage to stay up.


Leicester City striker Leonardo Ulloa is a man in demand.

Ulloa, 30, has come off the bench time and time again this season for the Foxes but has struggled to hold down a regular spot in the team and the Uruguayan forward reportedly wants a move away from the King Power Stadium. Ulloa played the bit-part superbly last season in Leicester’s title-wining campaign, scoring valuable goals off the bench and often replacing Shinji Okazaki for the final 30 minutes of games to batter opposition defenses.

This season Ulloa has scored just once in 18 appearances in all competitions, starting just two games.

Sky Sports claim that Spanish side Alaves have placed a bid with Leicester but that has reportedly been rejected, while the Daily Express states that a quartet of Premier League clubs are sniffing around the powerful striker with West Brom plus strugglers Hull City, Swansea City and Sunderland all interested.

With Okazaki, Islam Slimani, Ahmed Musa and Jamie Vardy around, it is unlikely Ulloa will get any significant minutes for Leicester for the rest of the season. Will the Foxes really sell him to a potential rival in the battle against PL relegation though?

USMNT snub: No US players in CONCACAF Best XI of 2016

HARRISON, NJ - JUNE 01:  John Brooks #6 of United States and teammates Clint Dempsey #8,Michael Bradley #4,Geoff Cameron #20 and Julian Green #16 wait for the corner kick in the second half against Turkey during an international friendly match at Red Bull Arena on June 1, 2014 in Harrison, New Jersey.The United States defeated Turkey 2-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Well, this is a little surprising.

[ MORE: Griezmann needed at United ]

CONCACAF released its Best XI from 2016 on Wednesday and there were zero U.S. national team players in the list of 11.

Zero.

Players from Mexico and Costa Rica dominate, while Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson, Jamaican defender Wes Morgan and French forward Andre-Pierre Gignac were also included. The top 11 players were selected after either playing for a national team or club team in the CONCACAF region.

Only one player from Major League Soccer made the list, Ronald Mataritta of New York City FC.

Still, the fact that USMNT defenders Geoff Cameron and John Brooks didn’t get in the Best XI of 2016 after their heroics at the Copa America Centenario is quite mind-boggling. No offense against Morgan or Mexico’s Rafael Marquez, but come on. Also, surely Christian Pulisic or Jozy Altidore would have been worthy additions to this team?

Then again, when you see the highlight video below, most of the winners are shown scoring or playing well against the USMNT. That could go a little way to explain why there are no U.S. players on this list…

Below is the team in full. Intrigued to hear your comments in the section below.