Mark Noble, Andy Carroll

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

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Matchweek 22 in the Premier League will soon be upon us and with it comes another sensational slate of matches to keep you glued to your flat-screen.

As I do every Thursday, here is my best effort at predicting the outcomes.

UPSET CITY

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

Expect Big Sam to be one jolly fat man this weekend when Ravel Morrison, Guy Demel, Joey O’Brien and James Collins all receive clean bills of health to play in this game. They looked strong last week when Andy Carroll returned, he should start this Saturday and don’t be surprised if the Hammers nab a season-turning win.

West Ham United 3 Newcastle United 2

West Bromwich Albion v. Everton (Mon 3:00 ET on NBCSN; The Hawthorns)

Three points from the drop and the Baggies need a win, bad. Enter Pepe Mel into the fold. The former Real Betis manager is savvier than pundits give him credit for and I expect his new squad to all be out to impress. Could be a tough one for the Toffees.

West Brom 1 Everton 1

SQUEAKY-BUM TIME

Sunderland v. Southampton (Sat 7:45 ET on NBCSN; Stadium of Light)

With all the upheaval at Southampton this week after chairman Nicola Cortese’s resignation, it’s impossible to predict how the Saints will respond. The good thing is, their manager seems intent on remaining at the club and with Pochettino remaining on board, the squad should keep its head.

Sunderland 0 Southampton 1

Crystal Palace v. Stoke City (Sat 10:00 ET on Live Extra; Selhurst Park)

Should be a sneaky good match as Palace play with fire in their bellies at home, much like Stoke do everytime they’re out for a stroll. 95% chance there’s a red card in this game.

Crystal Palace 1 Stoke City 1

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

Just two points from the drop Norwich City are falling down, down, down, down. The Canaries took a major kick in the teeth earlier this week when they lost 3-0 to Fulham. If a similar result goes down Saturday – and Hull is looking quite strong these days – it might be curtains for Chris Hughton.

Norwich City 1 Hull City 2

Chelsea v. Manchester United (Sun 11:00 ET on NBCSN; Stamford Bridge)

No Rooney, no RVP, no Evra, no way United are winning this match.

Chelsea 3 Manchester United 1

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

Arsenal v. Fulham (Sat 10:00 ET on Live Extra; Emirates Stadium)

Fulham will be cursing themselves for failing in their bid for Ravel Morrison but will look to build on their dominant 3-0 FA Cup replay win over Norwich on Tuesday. No easy feat against this Arsenal side.

Arsenal 3 Fulham 1

Manchester City v. Cardiff City (Sat 10:00 ET on Live Extra; Etihad Stadium)

Poor Ole Gunnar Solskjær, first he has to deal with Vincent Tan, now he has to get smoked by his old rivals.

Manchester City 4 Cardiff City 1

Liverpool v. Aston Villa (Sat 12:30 ET on NBC; Anfield)

What a dream it was to see SAS back together and firing on all cylinders last weekend. What a nightmare it will be for Brad Guzan this weekend.

Liverpool 4 Aston Villa 2

Swansea City v. Tottenham Hotspur (Sun 8:30 ET on NBCSN; Liberty Stadium)

If Spurs are to keep pace with the Top 5 they absolutely must win away games like this. And it shouldn’t be a problem because at 7W-1D-2L, Tottenham have the 2nd best road form in the league.

Swansea City 0 Tottenham 2

Mourinho: Leicester home should be Claudio Ranieri Stadium

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City shows his frustration as Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on September 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho cannot quite get his head around Leicester City’s firing of Claudio Ranieri.

The story is on the tips of the tongues of many in the Premier League, and Manchester United’s boss is no exception.

[ MORE: UEL draw | Who is Rostov? ]

Speaking Friday ahead of United’s EFL Cup Final against Southampton, here’s what Mourinho had to say.

From the BBC:

“He deserves the Leicester stadium to be named ‘Claudio Ranieri Stadium’. The most beautiful thing in the Premier League and one of most beautiful in football history.

“Now Leicester are in the highlights again with a decision that has everyone in football united. It’s very difficult to accept. It’s important to realize how football is and we need to react. I was sacked as a champion [by Chelsea], a giant negative as I thought – peanuts compared to Claudio.

“I don’t think he needs more. Nobody can do what he did. If some of the stories have just a little bit of truth, it is difficult to find words to justify but we have to be able to cope.”

Mourinho is giving voice to what many feel, this writer included. Ranieri is in a relegation fight, yes, but to fire him days after the Foxes stole a road goal against Sevilla that gives them reasonable odds to advance in the UEFA Champions League? It’s an odd one, and smacks a bit of, “Well, we can’t fire him if he beats Liverpool or Sevilla”.

Liverpool visits the King Power Stadium this weekend, and the Foxes will need an incredible response at home to topple the rested Reds. Sure the Premier League is win now, but add me to the chorus who thinks the new manager will have the same odds to fix Leicester as Ranieri.

Roma’s American president losing patience over stadium delay

James Pallotta, AS Roma
AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
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ROME (AP) Roma’s American president is starting to lose patience with city officials over long-delayed plans for a new stadium.

Ahead of a meeting between municipal authorities and club officials Friday, James Pallotta issued a statement saying the team expects “a massively positive result” from the encounter.

Pallotta adds “the alternative would be catastrophic for the future of AS Roma, Italian football, the city of Rome, and quite frankly for future business in Italy.”

[ MORE: PST feature on Pallotta ]

The mostly privately financed 1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) project received another setback this week when cultural authorities announced plans to declare the proposed stadium site – an abandoned hippodrome – as a site of “particularly important interest.”

The project in Tor di Valle, halfway between downtown and Leonardo Da Vinci Airport, also includes three office towers.

Who is Manchester United’s UEL opponent Rostov?

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 15: Jano Ananidze (L) of FC Spartak Moscow is challenged by Alexandru Gatcan of FC Rostov during the Russian Premier League match between FC Spartak Moscow v FC Rostov at Otkrytie Arena Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)
Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho and Manchester United have learned their fate for the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The Red Devils face Russian side FC Rostov in the next round of the tournament, four victorious ties from claiming an automatic spot in the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Spurs sent packing | Full UEL draw ]

So who is Rostov? Seventh in the Russian Premier League standings, Selmashi finished second last season and won the league in 1994 and 2008.

Rostov entered the Europa League after a run through the Champions League which saw the club knock out Anderlecht and Ajax, both still alive in the UEL, before finishing third behind Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich in the group stage. Rostov beat Sparta Prague in the Round of 32 of the UEL.

The club is led by former Moldova boss Ivan Daniliants. Its leading scorer is left wing Dmitri Poloz with 11 goals, and Ecuadorian national teamer Christian Noboa and Moldova veteran Alexandru Gațcan among its mainstays.

While some will make the case that a rough pitch, long trip, and stingy team makes this draw a bad one for United, Mourinho’s crew should triumph. How worse could it have been? This one won’t be easy, but consider Roma, Schalke, Borussia Monchengladbach… even a reunion with Memphis Depay and Lyon would bring more of a challenge than Rostov.

Europa League draw: Man Utd learns fate

Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan, center back to camera, celebrates scoring the opening goal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 2nd right, and other teammates during a Europa League round of 32 second leg soccer match between Saint Etienne and Manchester United at Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint Etienne, France, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani
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The travel is tricky, but Manchester United’s draw for the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 could’ve been much worse.

The Red Devils are off to Russia to face FC Rostov in the next round of the UEL competition.

[ MORE: Spurs out | Who is Rostov? ]

In another draw that leads you to question whether there’s anything random about it all, United and lone La Liga representative Celta Vigo drew winnable matches against Russian clubs, Roma has a tantalizing match against Lyon, and an all-Bundesliga match hits the docket.

Heck, we’ll even see an all-Belgian tie between Gent vs. Genk.

And in a draw which will have many glued to their sets, USMNT left-sided man Fabian Johnson will help Borussia Monchengladbach against German rivals Schalke. The first leg comes five days after the pair face off in Bundesliga play.

The Round of 16 legs will be played March 9 and 16.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16

Rostov vs. Manchester United
Celta Vigo vs. Krasnodar
Copenhagen vs. Ajax
Olympiacos vs. Besiktas
Lyon vs. Roma
Schalke vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
APOEL Nicosia vs. Anderlecht
Gent vs. Genk