Prindi’s Premier League Picks: Trouble lurking for United and Tottenham

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Only eight weeks of Premier League left so it’s time to get your predictions game Trump-tight. Here, I do my best to steer you in all the right directions… and fail miserably.

UPSET CITY

West Ham United v. Manchester United (Sat 1:00pm ET on NBCSN; Upton Park)

What a relief for David Moyes, the players and the fans that United pulled out that 3-0 victory over Olympiacos in midweek! Perfectly sets up the devastation and #MoyesOut tweets we’ll see when West Ham beat them on Saturday!

West Ham 1 Manchester United 0

Newcastle United v. Crystal Palace (Sat 11:00am ET on Live Extra; St James’ Park)

As Alan Pardew serves the second of his three match stadium ban can’t you just see the Newcastle manager on the couch, in his pajamas, throwing cookies at the television in disgust?

Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 1

Tottenham Hotspur v. Southampton (Sun 9:00am ET on NBCSN; White Hart Lane)

It’s been a tough go of it lately for Tim Sherwood – getting hammered by Chelsea, chucking his blazer in anger during the loss to Arsenal, whining about Jorge Jesus’ hand gestures in the loss to Benfica… It’s hard time something good came his way.

But I don’t see it happening here. In fact, I see Spurs, beat up and depleted from Thursday night Europa League, getting done dirty in their own pad by those tricky Saints.

Tottenham 1 Southampton 2

SQUEAKY BUM TIME

Chelsea v. Arsenal (Sat 8:45am ET on NBCSN; Stamford Bridge)

Ohhhh you beautyyyyy!!! What a way to start the morning! A little coffee, maybe an apple fritter and one massive title-race matchup!

Two major points to consider in this one: 1) It’s Arsene Wenger’s 1,000th competitive match as manager of Arsenal, and 2) Jose Mourinho has never lost against Wenger as an opposition manager.

So where does that leave us? Well, normally with a draw. But with the key injuries Arsenal is currently carrying (Ozil, Wilshere, Walcott, Ramsey), with a Chelsea victory.

Chelsea 1 Arsenal 0

Hull City v. West Bromwich Albion (Sat 11:00am ET on Live Extra; The KC Stadium)

For as much praise as Hull City has earned this season and as much flak as West Brom have been handed — it’s mind-boggling to think that the Baggies could leapfrog the Tigers in the table with a win on Saturday.

Not that it’ll happen.

Hull City 2 West Brom 2

Norwich City v. Sunderland (Sat 11:00am ET on Live Extra; Carrow Road)

Vito Mannone, fastest pizza-hands in all of England. Coincidentally, also a very good goal-keeper.

Norwich City 0 Sunderland 1

Aston Villa v. Stoke City (Sun 11:30am ET on NBCSN; Villa Park)

Villa is a tough side to figure out. Equally capable of beating giants as they are succumbing to minnows, Stoke City presents an interesting, even-keeled matchup for Paul Lambert’s side.

Do I even have to write it?

Aston Villa 1 Stoke City 1

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

Manchester City v. Fulham (Sat 10:45am ET on NBCSN; Etihad Stadium)

Goal porn.

Manchester City 7 Fulham 0

Cardiff City v. Liverpool (Sat 10:45am ET on Live Extra; Cardiff City Stadium)

Cardiff fans, I have good news and bad news.

The good news: The Bluebirds have won their last five home league games against Liverpool.

The bad news: The last of those victories came in August 1959.

Cardiff City 1 Liverpool 4

Everton v. Swansea City (Sat 11:00am ET on Live Extra; Goodison Park)

Everton doesn’t lose to Swansea City. Simple as that. It’s been 19 occasions without the Swans winning and there’s nothing to suggest this weekend will be any different.

It’s not cocky if you back it up.

Everton 3 Swansea City 1

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

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The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

Forbes ranks the top supporters in Major League Soccer

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Forbes claims the shared honor will give two Cascadia Cup rivals one less thing to argue about, but we completely disagree.

The celebrated magazine says their metrics show the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders tied for the honor of who has the best fans in Major League Soccer.

The post says the determination was made through four factors: attendance, local TV ratings, merchandise sales, and social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attendance was weighted heaviest, which certainly gives Atlanta United hope to go charging up the rankings in the future. For now, the “Five Stripes” are not included in the list.

The Galaxy finish third in the rankings, while the sixth-place New York Red Bulls edge New York City FC by one spot.

For the report and full explanation, head here.

Europa League preview: Everton, Milan, Marseille take next steps

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The UEFA Europa League playoff round takes full flight Thursday, a day after Utrecht struck a blow for the Eredivisie with a 1-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg in a Wednesday first leg.

Premier League participants Everton will be seeking a result at home against Hajduk Split, the third-place team from Croatia’s top flight.

Gylfi Sigurdsson passed his medical at Goodison Park but will not be available for Everton on Thursday.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

As for the match, manager Ronald Koeman knows the Thursday matchdays for the UEL will try his club’s endurance and depth. From EvertonFC.com:

“We know English teams have some problems. I think it is more mental than physical because if you play in the Champions League – so Wednesday and Saturday – you have the same amount of days to recover. I try to put out the strongest team to start the game. That will take into account the tactical aspects of each game. That will mean different players start and different options in terms of substitutions.”

Captained by Zoran Nizic and managed by Joan Carrillo, Hajduk has a young star in the making in the form of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic, but Everton is heavily favored at home with Hajduk given 12:1 odds by bookmakers.

[ MORE: Barca GM says Coutinho, Dembele “close” ]

Those numbers are a relative sure thing compared to AC Milan’s visitors. Macedonia club Shkendija are a 33:1 underdog for its trip to Italy.

Elsewhere, Slovenian side Domzale is a longshot at home to visiting Marseille.

Speaking of bookmakers, Arsenal won’t enter the competition until the group stage but is considered the favorite to win the UEL by a hair over Milan. Everton, Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao are level with third-best odds.

UEFA Europa League playoff first legs
Utrecht 1-0 Zenit — Weds.
BATE Borisov vs. Oleksandriya — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Apollon Limassol vs. Midtjylland — 1 p.m.
Krasnodar vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu — 1 p.m.
FH vs. Braga — 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday
PAOK vs. Ostersund — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vardar vs. Fenerbahce — 2 p.m.
Plzen vs. AEK Lamaca — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Altach vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Suduva — 2:30 p.m.
Panathinaikos vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:30 p.m.
Domzale vs. Marseille — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Osijek vs. Austria Wien — 2:45 p.m.
Viitorul vs. Red Bull Salzburg — 2:45 p.m.
Ajax vs. Rosenborg — 2:45 p.m.
Legia Warsaw vs. Sheriff — 2:45 p.m.
AC Milan vs. Shkendija — 2:45 p.m.
Club Brugge vs. AEK — 2:45 p.m.
Partizan vs. Videoton — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Everton vs. Hajduk Split — 3:05 p.m. ET Thursday
Maritimo vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday