Allardyce pulls no punches taking Nolan to task for red card at Fulham

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Before Kevin Nolan was dismissed for kicking Fernando Amorebieta in the 44th minute at Craven Cottage, West Ham had a chance to reverse a slide that’s seen them fall to 19th place. Though the teams started the second half even, Steve Sidwell’s equalizer pulling back Mohamed Diamé’s seventh minute opener, a 10-man West Ham were bombarded in the second half, Fulham racking up 30 shots as the Hammers fell 2-1.

[MORE: Fulham 2-1 West Ham: Kevin Nolan red card allows Fulham to ease by (video)]

For a team without a league win since Nov. 30, Nolan’s red card was more than a bad break. According to West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, Nolan’s action was inexcusable, particularly given it’s the second time this year his captain has seen a straight red card.

“Kevin is an experienced player and I’m surprised because he had a silly challenge at Liverpool,” Allardyce said after Wednesday’s loss.

“That’s two in the space of the month now,” he said, alluding to Nolan’s Dec. 7 red card at Liverpool. “It’s not something I will allow to happen.”

If that’s a threat, it’s an ill-timed one, though Allardyce may see himself as out of options with a player whose drawn two red cards in six weeks. Against Liverpool, West Ham were always unlikely to get a result, eventually falling 4-1. But against Fulham, the Hammers had a chance to end a six-match winless run, with the Cottagers coming of a 6-0 drubbing at the boots of Hull City. Nolan’s impertinence, however, opened the door for the Cottagers to claim full points, keeping West Ham in 19th place.

Unfortunately for Allardyce, Mark Noble is now hurt, the midfield linchpin forced to come off Fulham. Ravel Morrison is also hampered by injury, suddenly thinning out a position what should be a strength for the Hammers. Whereas Nolan’s presence would normally allow Allardyce to manage minutes between his captain, Diamé, and Alou Diarra, the absence of him and Noble leave the West Ham boss hamstrung, further highlighting the ill-advised nature of Nolan’s red card.

“Our captain was irresponsible. Not just today but for the future because he is suspended,” Allardyce explained.

“We have to rally round now. We only have a few players to select from so losing Kevin and Mark Noble injured is a massive blow.”

But in the moments after Wednesday’s disappointing loss, most of Allardyce’s focus was on Nolan’s actions at Craven Cottage, the West Ham manager unrestrained in his criticism of his captain.

“He’s let everyone down and himself. I just don’t quite understand where he’s lost his cool and why it’s happened.”

With his second red card of the year, Nolan will be suspended for the next four games, a ban that will sidelines him for matches against Nottingham Forest (FA Cup), Manchester City, Cardiff City, and Newcastle.

VIDEO: Pedro scores stunning goal for Chelsea

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Not a bad way to start the Premier League weekend…

12 minutes into the first game of Matchweek 9, Chelsea’s Pedro curled home a stunning effort into the far corner and off the far post after a corner was played short to him.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A simply stunning goal from the Spaniard which you can watch in the video above.

Watch Live: Chelsea v. Watford in top five clash

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Chelsea host Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as fifth and fourth clash.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea are without a win in three games in all competitions and some pressure is starting to build on the Blues as they’ve fallen further behind the two Manchester clubs atop the PL table.

As for Watford, Marco Silva‘s men are in fourth place and aiming to keep up their impressive away form in the PL this season with three of their four wins coming on the road.

In team news Chelsea’s injuries are piling up with Victor Moses and N'Golo Kante missing but Alvaro Morata does start after recovering from his hamstring injury, while Watford start Troy Deeney up top after his impressive cameo against Arsenal last week.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Courtois; Rudiger, David Luiz, Cahill; Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Alonso; Pedro, Morata, Hazard. Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Ampadu, Zappacosta, Musonda, Willian, Batshuayi

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenia, Cleverley, Doucoure, Holebas; Pereyra, Deeney, Richarlison. Subs:

Sky Blue’s Sam Kerr named NWSL league MVP for 2017

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CHICAGO (AP) Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr has been named the National Women’s Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player for this season.

Kerr, a standout on the Australian national team, had a league-record 17 goals and became the league’s fifth Golden Boot winner to also be named MVP.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

She became the first NWSL player to score four goals in a game on Aug. 19 against the Seattle Reign. Kerr rallied Sky Blue from a 3-goal deficit to beat the Reign 5-4.

Kerr’s award was announced Friday. The league had earlier announced the season’s other award winners: North Carolina’s Abby Dahlkemper was named Defender of the Year, teammate Ashley Hatch was named Rookie of the Year, Portland’s Adrianna Franch was named Goalkeeper of the Year and the Thorns’ Mark Parsons was named Coach of the Year.

The Mendy Effect: Pep praises injured back

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Full back Benjamin Mendy cost Pep Guardiola and Manchester City $68 million, but perhaps he’ll be just as valuable as a very expensive sports psychologist.

The “Shark Team” member was amusing on social media even before his ACL injury sent him to the sidelines until at least April, but he’s become a must-follow Twitter fixture with his in-game messages (See some of his work below).

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

City faces Burnley at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s fairly clear his act has translated in private, too, as apparently Mendy is just as good in group messages (Let us in, Pep. We won’t tell anyone). From ManCity.com:

“Usually, players who are out for a long time with injury are sad. They sometimes train apart and feel isolated.

“Mendy decided to be present. He is communicating on social media, WhatsApp and he calls his teammates and messages me. He is going to be so important outside the pitch because people like him make the atmosphere much better.”

It’s not surprising for anyone who’s been following the former Le Havre, Marseille and Monaco man.

Keep in mind, these Tweets below are from the last few days alone!