Prindi’s Premier League Picks: Liverpool seek revenge on Arsenal

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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 CITY

Liverpool v. Arsenal (Sat 7:45 ET on USA; Anfield)

When these two sides met last fall many a pundit had Liverpool pegged as the club to take down high-flying Arsenal. Didn’t happen. In fact, they were given a comprehensive whooping.

But that was at the Emirates. Now the Reds get a second crack at the Gunner apple on their home turf in front of the Kop. Will it make a difference?

Does Brendan Rodgers show up on game days looking like Lucifer lost his Blistex?!?

You’re darn right he does.

Liverpool 2 Arsenal 1

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

Everything was going so well for West Ham against Swansea last weekend. They were up 2-0 and cruising before the donkey side of Andy Carroll decided to show up and give Chico Flores a no-look flailing elbow. The Spaniard’s dramatic fall to the ground had Howard Webb fooled and the ref promptly sent the donkey to his stable.

With no donkey and no Mo Diame, West Ham’s attack is hugely weakened side and I’m not sure I see Adrian providing super-human saves for a second straight week.

You picking up what I’m putting down? I like me some Villa.

Aston Villa 1 West Ham 0

SQUEAKY BUM TIME

Crystal Palace v. West Bromwich Albion (Sat 10:00 ET on Live Extra; Selhurst Park)

I want to take Selhurst Park, cut it into pieces, insert processed chicken bones, lightly fry it, toss it with a nice buffalo sauce and eat myself the best tasting wings in the world.

That’s right, I just compared soccer stadium to my love for buffalo wings. Best compliment I could pay a club.

Crystal Palace 2 West Brom 1

Southampton v. Stoke City (Sat 10:00 ET on Live Extra; St Mary’s Stadium)

Southampton brought out the magic stick in last week’s 3-0 destruction of Fulham. It was a performance of pure class but one that will be very difficult to duplicate against a Stoke side capable of beating anyone, as they proved last week against Manchester United.

This one will be close but ultimately the Saints should see it out.

Southampton 3 Stoke City 2

Sunderland v. Hull City (Sat 10:00 ET on Live Extra; Stadium of Light)

I’m saying it, Sunderland is pretty good. Especially on the garbage-strewn turf at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland 1 Hull City 0

Swansea City v. Cardiff City (Sat 12:30 ET on NBCSN; Liberty Stadium)

Appointing Gary Monk in the place of Michael Laudrup is – assuming something happened to Roberto Martinez – basically the equivalent of Everton hiring Tony Hibbert.

Sesame Street characters are the best.

Swansea City 1 Cardiff City 0

Tottenham Hotspur v. Everton (Sun 8:30 ET on USA; White Hart Lane)

With a win, Spurs can leapfrog Everton and could go even on points with Liverpool. If the Toffees take all three points, they could leapfrog Liverpool into the Top 4. It’s all to play for so naturally we’re headed for a draw.

Tottenham 1 Everton 1

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

Chelsea v. Newcastle United (Sat 10:00 ET on USA; Stamford Bridge)

Normally I’d be hyping Chelsea/Newcastle as one of the matches of the week but after watching the Magpies pathetic display last weekend I just don’t see this one being the least bit a contest.

When Newcastle sold Yohan Cabaye they sold their soul. There is zero creativity in the center of the park and making matters worse, injuries are piling up with Tiote, Gouffran, Coloccini and Cisse all out.

If Chelsea messes this up I’ll be shocked.

Chelsea 4 Newcastle 1

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

Tons of pity for Norwich City. There will be blood.

Norwich City 0 Manchester City 4

Manchester United v. Fulham (Sun 11:00 ET on USA; Old Trafford)

Finally, a home fixture United can definitely win. Right? Right… I think.

Manchester United 2 Fulham 0

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga