Prindi’s Premier League Picks: Chelsea and City to stumble

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A week off from the Premier League was far too long.

But don’t despair, the world’s greatest league is back this weekend and there are some dandy fixtures on the slate.

So as always I sat down, crunched the numbers and figured out exactly how every match will turn out. Sort of.

UPSET CITY

Hull City v. Chelsea (Sat 7:45am ET on NBCSN; KC Stadium)

When these two sides last met it was the first match of the season and Chelsea were sensational . . . for the first half. Then they took their foot off the gas and nearly got tiger-balmed. Well, not quite. But Hull have been mighty impressive at home and wouldn’t it be so Chelsea to drop points as soon as everyone thinks they’re clicking?

Paint me orange and call me Roary.

Hull City 2 Chelsea 2

Southampton v. West Bromwich Albion (Sat 10:00 ET on Live Extra; St Mary’s Stadium)

Remember in the beginning of the season when Southampton were Top 4 and all the Premier League newbys were adopting the Saints as their team? Ahhhh, good times.

But I’m not gonna beat up Southampton too much – I think they’re still a quality club with a lot of talent. West Brom, however . . . West Brom is weird. Real weird.

Southampton 1 West Bromwich Albion 2

Newcastle United v. Manchester City (Sun 9:05 ET on NBCSN; St James’ Park)

Newcastle are a frisky bunch of dudes. Cabaye, Santon, Tiote, Sissoko, Gouffran. These guys all have that edge —  a bit of half-punk that makes them think it might just be possible to beat City.

But then you factor in that Tim Krul is out injured and a victory gets to be pretty far fetched. A draw, however, is entirely possible.

Newcastle 2 Manchester City 2

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

Cardiff City v. West Ham United (Sat 10:00 ET on Live Extra; Cardiff City Stadium)

Gotta admit, I’m a big fan of the Ole Gunnar hire. Who knew Vincent Tan had it in him? (Sanity, that is.)

Solskjaer led his side to an impressive 2-1 FA Cup win at Newcastle United on Saturday and has already signed the glorious Norweigian playmaker Magnus Wolff Eikrem. Fear the Wolff.

Cardiff City 2 West Ham United 0

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

Bobby Martinez has concerns over Barkley, Distin, Jagielka and Baines. Evertonians have concerns over losing to crap teams. No offense, Norwich. But you know . . . you’re kinda crap.

Everton 3 Norwich 2

Stoke City v. Liverpool (Sun 11:10 ET on NBCSN; Britannia Stadium)

Injuries to Agger, Sakho, Enrique, Flanagan present some problems for Liverpool but who do they need to contain? Big daddy Crouch? Yeah, I think they’ll be ok.

Stoke 0 Liverpool 2

Aston Villa v. Arsenal (Mon 3:00 ET on NBSN; Villa Park)

Tasty little Monday evening fixture here and if Aston Villa could at least pretend like playing at home gave them even a slight advantage they might be able to compete. But they don’t and they won’t.

Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 4

SQUEAKY BUM TIME

Fulham v. Sunderland (Sat 10:00 ET on Live Extra; Craven Cottage)

Dempsey + Altidore + 6 point relegation battle = American soccer fans dream. Fire up that Live Extra!!!

Fulham 1  Sunderland 0

Tottenham Hotspur v. Crystal Palace (Sat 10:00 ET on NBCSN; White Hart Lane)

Half of Tottenham’s team is injured but c’mon man! I refuse to believe they’re going to lose a derby match at home to Palace. No way, no how.

Tottenham 1 Palace 0

Manchester United v. Swansea City (Sat 12:30 ET on NBC; Old Trafford)

‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.’

After losing 2-1 to Swansea at Old Trafford last weekend, that has to be United’s mentality going into Saturday’s match. No Rooney. No Van Persie. No problem (well, sort of).

Manchester United 2 Swansea City 1

UCL wrap: Napoli, Celtic win big; Nwakaeme volleys beauty (video)

Cesare Abbate/ANSA Via AP
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A day after three of five road sides felt good with their work in first legs of the UEFA Champions League playoff round, it was the hosts time to celebrate good results.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s UCL first legs ]

Home sides in Italy, Scotland, Greece, and Israel posted wins. Spanish side Sevilla did manage a road win.

Napoli 2-0 Nice

Chances and even possession was at a premium for the visitors, and Napoli found its breakthrough from one of the more overlooked gems in the world. Dries Mertens scored in the first half, his sixth career UCL goal, and Jorginho converted a second half penalty to give Napoli a foot in the group stage.

Adding insult was a pair of red cards in the 80th minute, the first to Vincent Koziello for a dangerous tackle (it was a harsh call) and Alassane Plea was given a second yellow for protesting the sending off.

Mertens’ goal was smooth as silk:

Celtic 5-0 Astana

A pair of Scott Sinclair goals joined an Astana own goal as the Bhoys went a long way towards avoiding the tight tie that made the last round tricky.

Olympiacos 2-1 Rijeka

Heber gave the visitors a halftime lead in the 42nd minute, but Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe equalized in the 66th minute to minimize the damage for Olympiacos, who would go on to win.

Istanbul Basaksehir 1-2 Sevilla

Remember Eljero Elia? The Dutchman’s on his eighth club and third since leaving Southampton after just a half season, but he’s given his Turkish side hope against mighty Sevilla after Sergio Escudero gave the Spanish side an early lead and Wissam Ben Yedder nabbed the winner.

Hapoel Be’er Sheva 2-1 Maribor

Goals from Anthony Nwakaeme and Shir Tzedek boosted the Israeli hosts to a come-from-behind win.

In the case of the former, it was a beauty:

Brighton breaks transfer record (again) with Izquierdo (video)

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Brighton and Hove Albion have broken its transfer record.

A week after setting a new club standard with the signing of Davy Propper from PSV Eindhoven, the Gulls have signed electric Colombian attacker Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge for over $15 million.

[ MORE: Matuidi medical at Juve ]

Izquierdo averaged a goal every other match for Brugge last season and broke through to the Colombian national team with two caps this summer, scoring in a friendly against Cameroon.

With Propper and Izquierdo, manager Chris Hughton has two more playmakers who can better set the table for a strike corps that has been questioned at the Premier League level.

Brighton lost to Man City 2-0 on Saturday and next faces Leicester City at King Power Stadium.

Matuidi having a medical at Juventus ahead of move from PSG

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi was having a medical at Juventus on Wednesday ahead of a potential move to the Serie A club.

Juventus said that Matuidi arrived at Turin airport in the afternoon and was undergoing tests.

Juventus will reportedly pay PSG 20 million euros ($23 million) plus bonuses for the 30-year-old Matuidi, who had a year left on his contract with the French club.

[ MORE: Wenger issues updates on Alexis, Ox, Wilshere ]

PSG, which is also trying to balance the books after buying Neymar for 222 million euros, could not afford to lose Matuidi on a free transfer.

Matuidi played nearly 300 games for PSG in all competitions after joining from Saint-Etienne in 2011.

After a difficult first season, he quickly became an integral part of the team for successive managers, Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc.

He flourished from a largely defensive midfielder to a robust, tireless runner with an eye for goal and an enormous work-rate.

Overcoming some technical deficiencies in his game, Matuidi gradually earned himself a place in the France lineup and became a key player at the 2014 World Cup and last year’s European Championship.

At the beginning of last season, after Blanc was fired and replaced by Unai Emery, he expressed a desire to leave PSG and already wanted to join Juventus. But the club blocked his move, considering him too important to leave, and he stayed for another season.

Altogether, Matuidi has scored 33 goals for PSG in 295 appearances, becoming a well-respected player among fans and teammates alike, often taking a public stance when others would not and when tensions arose within the club.

In all, Matuidi has won four league titles, three French Cups and four League Cups with PSG.

This story has been corrected to show that Neymar’s fee was 222 million euros, not 220 million euros.

Furious Cristiano Ronaldo responds to five-game ban

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Cristiano Ronaldo has hit out at the Spanish soccer federation after his five game ban for pushing a referee in the back was upheld.

Ronaldo, 32, pushed the ref after he was shown a second yellow card in Real Madrid’s 3-1 win in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup at Barcelona on Sunday.

It capped an eventful El Clasico for Ronaldo who arrived in the second half as a sub, then scored a stunner to put Real 2-1 up.

He received his first yellow for taking off his shirt and holding it up to the Nou Camp crowd to mock Lionel Messi for doing the same in a goal celebration in April at the Santiago Bernabeu. Ronaldo then received a second yellow for going down in the box under a challenge.

In an Instagram post the Real Madrid forward had the following to say about the decision which sees him banned for the second leg ag the Bernabeu on Wednesday as well as Real’s next four games.

“It seems to me exaggerated and ridiculous, this is called persecution.”