Britain Soccer Premier League

Premier League Preview: Manchester City vs. Southampton

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  • Saints have won five of their last 10 PL games vs. City (5-2-3)
  • City have won have won 19 of the 23 games in which they’ve scored first this season
  • Southampton have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team (18)

Manchester City host Southampton at the Etihad on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN, 7:45 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) with the Citizens eager to close the gap on league leaders Liverpool.

City are four points behind the Reds, but crucially have two games in hand. However, just one slip up would mean that Manuel Pellegrini’s side will all of a sudden lose their favorite tag. Ominously, City have won 13 of their 14 home games in the Premier League this season and according to Opta they have a 62.78 percent chance of lifting their second PL title.

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However Southampton represent a dangerous proposition for City, as Saints are in eighth place and are stacked with exciting young English talent. Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw are all surging towards the English national team and will want to put in another top performance to catch Roy Hodgson’s eye. They hammered Newcastle United 4-0 last weekend, and City only managed a 1-1 draw away to Saints earlier in the campaign.

In team news Sergio Aguero will miss out for City, while Victor Wanyama could return for Saints but Nathaniel Clyne, Kelvin Davis and Maya Yoshida are all out.

What they’re saying

James Milner on ‘relaxed Saints’ being a threat: “They’ve have had a good season and we know they are a good side from previous meetings. When we played at their place earlier in the season we didn’t play that well but came away with a draw, which in hindsight was a decent result. They are playing with freedom at the moment and because of their position in the table, there isn’t really any pressure on them.”

Mauricio Pochettino on facing City: “We are never fearful of who we are playing against, we always try to play our game, to impose our style, to be brave regardless of the opposition we are facing. We know we are going to be facing very tough opposition against Manchester City but we are still going to be trying to play our game.”

Prediction

The pressure is building on Man City and they face a potential banana skin this weekend. City love to do things the hard way, and it seems as though the title race will go down to the wire this season. Against Saints they have to start well, as the away team will try to keep the ball and out possess their opponents. The last thing City want is a draining match where they have to come from behind. I am going for a shock draw, because I think Southampton are flying towards the end of the season. City to slip up in the title race.

Hiddink on Zouma absence: “We have no fear of bringing youngsters in”

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Chelsea hosts Newcastle United this weekend, its first game since the season-ending injury to young defender Kurt Zouma.

The 21-year-old Frenchman has arguably been Chelsea’s best center back when it comes to marking and defending this season, and manager Guus Hiddink has to find an alternative for the big man.

[ MORE: Klopp updates Sturridge, Coutinho fitness; Backs owners ]

While Gary Cahill and John Terry have the familiar names of the bunch, Hiddink won’t limit himself to veteran replacements. Certainly he could slide Cesar Azpilicueta inside, though that would sacrifice about a half-foot, and Newcastle likes to use big striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.

He also has 20-year-old USMNT back Matt Miazga — who’s been given squad No. 20 — and said the following in Friday’s pre-match press conference:

“We have no fear of bringing youngsters in.”

Could we see Miazga in the fold on Saturday? Hiddink’s comments sure sound like he’d rather not, but all it takes is an injury or an inkling.

Miazga gave an interview to Chelsea’s web site last weekend where he described his play.

From ChelseaFC.com:

“I really like it, it is a higher level, the ball moves much faster but yeah, it is good. All the guys are very welcoming and I am really enjoying it.

“My game is definitely built on winning aerial challenges and tackles. As a centre-back you have to have an aerial presence and win a lot of headers, and my job is to win duels and not let opponents score, so every time I try to get a good tackle in and make my opponent know that I am there and it is not going to be an easy time trying to go by me.”

The ball moves much faster, and we’re hoping to see Miazga move with it sooner rather than later. Will it be this weekend.

Klopp says Sturridge “good” after match return; Happy at ticket resolution

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool signals during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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Fans protested their ticket prices, and Liverpool’s owners listened.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp isn’t surprised by this, and the German backed his bosses and gave an injury update as part of his prematch press conference on Friday.

[ MORE: Arsenal to play MLS All Stars in San Jose ]

Liverpool heads to Aston Villa on Sunday, and Klopp is cautiously optimistic about his stars after Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Philippe Coutinho played big roles in the Reds’ midweek FA Cup loss to West Ham.

Klopp says Origi and Coutinho need their minutes managed, but said Sturridge feels good after normal recovery from his 70-minute return against the Irons. The English striker was Liverpool’s star in the match, and looked a cut above the Reds’ recent strike options.

As for the ticket price issue, Klopp beamed with pride over the Liverpool decision.

From the BBC:

“I think the world of football it is not easy when you are the owner of a club to prove you are interested in the club,” said Klopp.

“I have been here four-and-a-half months and I know the owners as people. They really care about the club and the interests of supporters. Hopefully it is understood for what it is: proof of their real interest in this club and all the things around this club.”

No surprise that Klopp backed the men who pay his deal, but it’d be easy enough for him to ignore the issue (though that’s hardly in his DNA).

As for Sturridge, Liverpool’s in for some goals if Tuesday is any indication.

VIDEO: T&T women’s team gives away one of the most bizarre PKs

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Play until you hear the referee’s whistle. In theory, so simple. In practice, it only takes a single second of concentration lapse to become an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USWNT coverage ]

Such is life for Karyn Forbes, member of the Trinidad and Tobago women’s national soccer team. In the above video, you’ll observe Forbes, a 24-year-old midfielder, giving away perhaps the most bizarre penalty kick you’ll ever see. You’ll have to watch for yourself to believe it.

[ MORE: USWNT opens Olympic qualifying with 5-0 victory ]

Unfortunately for Forbes, though the whole of the ball might have crossed the whole of the end line, the referee did not blow her whistle… not until Forbes picked the ball up with her hands and carried it to her goalkeeper.

Bundesliga to go ahead with video replay tests over two years

FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, file photo, a Hawk-Eye camera is set up at Toyota stadium in Toyota. For the first time at a World Cup, technology will be used to determine whether a ball crosses the goal line during matches at the upcoming tournament in Brazil. With vanishing spray also being used to prevent encroachment by defenders making up a wall during free kicks, officials at the highest level of the world’s most popular sport are finally getting some assistance. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama
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BERLIN (AP) The German Football League (DFL) has given the go-ahead for the possible testing of video replays in the Bundesliga over a two-year pilot phase.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s Bundesliga coverage ]

The DFL says it will be lodging an application with FIFA to take part if the pilot phase is approved by the International Football Association Board at its next annual general meeting on March 5.

The DFL says video replays could be used by a “team of impartial match officials for the purpose of avoiding any evidently incorrect decisions” and that the pilot phase would be preceded by “intensive preparations.”

[ MORE: 17-year-old American MF Pulisic gets Bundesliga debut for Dortmund ]

These would include the settlement of costs among FIFA, the IFAB, the DFL and German football federation, as well as training for the candidates.