West Ham United youngster Ravel Morrison was released from jail on Monday, as a hearing was arranged after he allegedly assaulted two women.
Morrison, 21, has tried to clean up his act in recent months after an extremely troubled past but he has been held in custody since last Thursday. The former Manchester United player allegedly punched and slapped his former 19-year-old girlfriend and her 39-year-old mother outside a bar in Manchester last Sunday.
The Hammers midfielder, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Queens Park Rangers, was released on Monday after a judge granted him bail but Morrison is set to appear at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Thursday to learn his fate.
Morrison shone for the Hammers during the early months of the 2013-14 season and scored some stunning goals, including a slaloming wonder goal against Tottenham at White Hart Lane. He then fell out of the lineup and became despondent, that lead to a loan move to QPR who he helped get promoted from the Championship to the Premier League.
Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Morrison as one of the brightest talents to come through the Red Devils’ academy system but stated that Morrison was a “brilliant footballer who needs to get away from Manchester and start a new life.”
Despite moving to London to get away from it all in Manchester, Morrison’s past has caught up with him and could spark the end of his career not only with West Ham, but elsewhere too.
MADRID (AP) There couldn’t be a better time for Lionel Messi to end his scoring drought than in the clasico against Real Madrid.
With Barcelona struggling and desperately needing a victory to stay close to its rival in the Spanish league, Messi could help turn things around on Saturday if he can find the net again after five scoreless games against Madrid.
Barcelona enters the home game at Camp Nou six points behind Madrid, and another setback could leave it in a difficult position to fight for a third straight league title.
Messi hasn’t played badly in recent clasicos, but his last goal against Madrid came almost three years ago when he had a hat trick in a 4-3 win at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
He hasn’t scored in the four games since, not even in the stunning 4-0 win at the Bernabeu last season, when Messi came off the bench in the second half after a long injury layoff. Barcelona has won two of the last five games against Madrid, but it’s been 400 minutes since Messi last scored.
Since that hat trick in March 2014, Cristiano Ronaldo has attracted most of the headlines in the clasico, having scored three times, including the late game-winner at Camp Nou last season that ended Barcelona’s record 39-game unbeaten streak.
“They’re two exceptional players,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “Cristiano is doing exceptional, incredible things, I hope he carries on like this.”
Messi remains the all-time leading scorer in the clasico with 21 in 32 matches, but at Camp Nou it’s been Ronaldo who has thrived the most.
He has 10 goals in 12 games in Barcelona, including five in the last five matches and eight in the last nine. He failed to find the net only in four of those 12 games. Messi netted only five times in those same 12 encounters in Catalonia.
Ronaldo has scored in each of the last two league games between them at the Camp Nou. He has 16 goals in 25 clasicos, behind only Messi (21) and Alfredo Di Stefano (18).
Messi has 15 goals in the 25 clasicos in which he and Ronaldo faced each other.
Ronaldo, who recently netted a hat trick in the Madrid derby against Atletico, is the Spanish league leading scorer with 10, one more than Messi. Ronaldo has eight goals in his last four league matches.
Messi also has been playing well recently, having scored five goals in his last four games. He has netted 16 in his last 11 matches.
Barcelona is coming off three consecutive draws, two in the league and one in the Copa del Rey.
Madrid is enjoying a 32-game unbeaten streak under Zidane.
Arsenal continues its chase of a Premier League title with a tricky visit to West Ham United on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. EDT on NBC, and online at NBCSports.com).
Arsene Wenger‘s bunch opens the weekend three points behind first-place Chelsea, two back of Liverpool and Manchester City. A win could push them a space or two up the table with Chelsea hosting Man City.
The Olympic Stadium hasn’t been kind to West Ham this year, but perhaps this is just the game to flip the script on both their season and rivalry with Arsenal. The Irons had a good run versus the Gunners last season, but it’s been a while since they trumped Arsenal at home.
There are questions as to who will start up top. Perhaps it’ll be Simone Zaza, with Andy Carroll and Andre Ayew both facing fitness concerns.
Arsene Wenger on the Olympic Stadium: “Before, we knew exactly what was expected of us at West Ham. I preferred the first version of the West Ham stadium, when it was very tight. When they built a new stand the distances were a bit bigger and that probably made the first one the most intimidating stadium I knew. It’s a bit like when we moved to the Emirates. You feel a bit like you’re playing on neutral ground for a while. After that, the best way to prepare is just to focus on what we do and focus in a very strong way.”
Slaven Bilic on whether West Ham needs to be worried: “It depends how you look at it. We’re in a position we don’t want to be in. OK, it’s not after 26 games but it’s not after two or three. It’s a considerable amount, so it makes us think about it. On the other hand, with three points that are there week in, week out, we can climb up the table a lot. It’s that kind of a league – even a point can help. It’s very, very tight from mid-table to the position that we are. There’s no time to panic. But we can’t be relaxed and say it’s going to come, because it won’t just come like that.”
Arsenal hasn’t lost a Premier League match since August, though its weakened lineup did suffer an EFL Cup setback to Southampton at midweek. West Ham’s been improving but went with a strong cast in its EFL Cup loss at Manchester United. The edge goes to the Gunners, especially given West Ham’s home uncertainty. Arsenal, 3-1.
West Ham United vs. Arsenal — 12:30 p.m. EDT Saturday, NBC and NBCSports.com.
Fits and starts was not supposed to be the way for West Ham this season, but the presumed contenders remain just a point ahead of the drop zone. The Irons have just two wins from six home PL matches this season, but could there possibly be a better way to create good vibes at the Olympic Stadium than a triumph over the Gooners? West Ham can’t make its way into the Top Four mix, but it can dent Arsenal’s title hopes.
Separation day for Toffees, Red Devils
Everton vs. Manchester United — 11 a.m. EDT Sunday, NBCSN and NBCSports.com.
One point separates Ronald Koeman‘s Toffees and Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, and it’d be fair to say both thought this battle would be higher up the table as recently as one month ago. United has a one point edge on Everton for sixth, and the loser could find itself as far as 7 or 8 points off the Top Five pace.
Relegation scrap at the Riverside Stadium
Middlesbrough vs. Hull City — 3 p.m. EDT Monday, NBCSN and NBCSports.com.
The Tigers have managed just 4 of their 11 points away from the KC Stadium, but can guarantee a trip out of the drop zone by managing a win (though a draw could do the trick if Palace falls to Southampton). Aitor Karanka‘s hosts had much higher aims than a relegation battle, perhaps naively, and will be feeling the heat of the drop with anything but three points on Saturday. A large part of their struggles have come at home, which will be music to Hull’s ears; Boro is 1W-1D-4L at home.
Sunderland aims to make relegation fears deeper for champions
Sunderland vs. Leicester City — 10 a.m. EDT Saturday, Premier League Xtra Time and NBCSports.com.
The Premier League champions have one point away from home this season. That’s bad, as is their awful standing in 14th. The Foxes are two points clear of the drop, five points ahead of the last-place Black Cats. David Moyes‘ hosts have been playing much better as of late, beating Hull and Bournemouth before falling to Liverpool. That Hull win is their lone victory at the Stadium of Light this season, but Sunderland can take comfort in the fact that Leicester has four losses and a draw in matches preceding a Champions League fixture.
With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.
BASICALLY, FREE MONEY
Stoke City 2-0 Burnley – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]
Tottenham 3-1 Swansea City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]