Premier League Preview: Newcastle United vs. Southampton

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  • Newcastle in PL’s best form (5W-0D-1L)
  • Saints have just one point from four matches since electric start
  • NUFC’s Cabaye suspended for yellow card accumulation

(Watch live and online at 10am ET Saturday via NBC Sports Live Extra)

The last time these two teams met at St. James Park, both teams were staring at relegation and produced a six-goal bonanza.

The goals may still come and the table place battle is still exciting, but fortunes have changed for both Alan Pardew’s and Mauricio Pochettino’s sides. Newcastle’s 26 points have them two points out of Europe while Southampton sits just three points behind.

The Magpies are decidedly hotter. Winners of five of six matches, the stretch boasts victories over Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United, the latter two away from St. James Park. Meanwhile, the Saints impressive start has cooled a bit with just one point from their last four fixtures.

Southampton is coming off a 1-1 home draw against Manchester City and is sure to feel its fortunes on the rise as they look to avenge a 4-2 loss up North in February. It was a brilliant day for goals, as Newcastle avenged 1-0 and 2-0 deficits before a penalty and own goal spurred them to all three points.

Newcastle will be wary of Adam Lallana, as Pardew admitted his admiration and fear of the English international he tried to bring to Newcastle. Lallana has drawn a team-high 33 fouls to go with his three goals and two assists.

The Saints haven’t won at Newcastle since 1997, with the Magpies outscoring them 24-8 in the top flight. That doesn’t include a 1-0 FA Cup ouster in 2006.

While the two teams have played just twice since, splitting last year’s points, goals have long been a part of the pairing. Of the last 28 matches between the two sides, there have been only 10 clean sheets.

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What They’re Saying

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew on facing the side that axed him: “It does add spice because I felt it was an injustice losing my job there but I won’t be the first manager to say that. I’m looking forward to seeing my old players because I loved working with them. I’m over the moon they have done so well but on a personal level, this is a match I really want to win.”

Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez on visiting St. James Park: “The table reflects how well you’re doing, so fair play to Newcastle, they’re there on credit which is what we’re looking at and what we’re looking forward to and hopefully we can get the three points from up there. It’s an amazing stadium. The atmosphere is great as well, so it’s a great place to go and visit. It’s that experience which may help us and hopefully it does, but it’s one to look forward to.”

Prediction

Newcastle has been in fine form and Pardew is always riled up to face the team that sacked him after a 4-0 win, which as fate had it preceded his appointment to the NUFC gig after Chris Hughton was stripped of managerial duties. The absence of Cabaye will cause some problems in the engine room and the Saints should capitalize. Look for more goals and a 2-2 draw.

Antoine Griezmann reveals desire to play in MLS

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Antoine Griezmann is being chased by the biggest clubs in Europe and is the main attacking talent for the French national team.

He just signed a new deal with La Liga giants Atletico Madrid through the 2022 season and despite Manchester United and Barcelona, among others, linked with a move for the predatory striker, nobody really knows where the Frenchman will be beyond this season.

But which league does he want to play in, for sure? Major League Soccer. Yep. That’s right.

In his new book titled “Behind a Smile: The life of the Little Prince” Griezmann says that he wants to follow in the footsteps of his idol, David Beckham, and finish his career in MLS. Griezmann also stated his love for NBA star Derrick Rose and his admiration for David Villa, captain of NYCFC.

Given the fact that Griezmann is 26 years old, it could be some time before he arrives in MLS but maybe he will do so in time to become one of Beckham’s first handful of Designated Players at his long-awaited Miami franchise?

Given the fact that whenever he discusses a potential move to Man United he cites the cold weather as an issue against the transfer, it’s likely Griezmann would want to be in a warmer climate in MLS. His good friend from their time together at Real Sociedad, Carlos Vela, is swapping Spain for Los Angeles in a few months as LAFC’s first DP.

Take your pick, Antoine. LAFC? Miami? NYCFC? LA Galaxy? Atlanta United?

I’m sure anyone would want to sign in a few years on DP-level money if you keep scoring goals like this one last night against AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League…

USMNT move up in latest FIFA rankings

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The latest batch of FIFA World Rankings arrived on Thanksgiving Day and the U.S. men’s national team can be thankful for moving up three places.

Despite their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the managerless USMNT rose three spots to 24th in the latest rankings and are the fifth-highest ranked nation to not qualify for the World Cup.

Mexico remain the top team in CONCACAF and stay in 16th place, while the U.S. has jumped ahead of Costa Rica who fell four places to 26th.

Germany remain in top spot in the rankings, while there were no other movers in the top five with Brazil in second, Portugal third, Argentina fourth and Belgium fifth. Spain moved up two spots to sixth, while Chile is back in the top 10 despite failing to make the World Cup and Switzerland moves into eighth place.

In total, four teams in the top 20, Chile, Italy,Wales and the Netherlands, failed to reach the World Cup. Senegal are the big climbers after their World Cup qualification as they rose nine places to 23, while Sweden moved up seven spots to 18th.

Below is a look at the top 25 nations on the planet, according to FIFA, as the 2017 international season comes to a close.


1. Germany
2. Brazil
3. Portugal
4. Argentina
5. Belgium
6. Spain
7. Poland
8. Switzerland
9. France
10. Chile
11. Peru
12. Denmark
13. Colombia
14. Italy
15. England
16. Mexico
17. Croatia
18. Sweden
19. Wales
20. Netherlands
21. Uruguay
22. Iceland
23. Senegal
= 24. USA
= 24. Northern Ireland

Wigan player races off for son’s birth after scoring 2 goals

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WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.

A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.

[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]

A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.

“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”

Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.