Southampton

Premier League 2014-15 preview: Southampton

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Southampton’s summer has been riddled with uncertainty as one of the largest and most shocking fire sale’s in Premier League history has taken place at St. Mary’s. Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Calum Chambers and Rickie Lambert have all left the South Coast club, as they followed manager Mauricio Pochettino out of the exit door. Those incredible sales raised over $175 million and the rebuild is well and truly underway.

A new era is on the horizon for Saints with Dutch legend Ronald Koeman their new manager and the the club will once again look to its famed academy to churn out players for the future. Southampton’s odds to be relegated have been slashed from 40-1 to 4-1 by the bookmakers and there is a real sense of doom and gloom when it comes to how Saints have been ruthlessly broken up. One of the PL’s most attractive teams in 2013-14 may be fighting for survival this season.

[RELATED: Full PL season preview]

Transfers In: Dusan Tadic (FC Twente, $19 million), Graziano Pelle (Feyenoord, $14 million), Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea, Loan), Saphir Taider (Inter Milan, Loan)

Transfers Out: Luke Shaw (Manchester United, $55 million), Adam Lallana (Liverpool, $45 million), Rickie Lambert (Liverpool, $9 million), Calum Chambers (Arsenal, $19 million), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool, $35 million), Dani Osvaldo (Inter Milan, Loan)

Full PL schedule | Watch Saints live via Live Extra | BPL on NBC schedule |

Last season: The Saints enjoyed their best-ever finish in the Premier League in eighth place and recorded their best ever points tally. Under former boss Pochettino they played a high-pressure game and talented English youngsters such as Shaw, Lallana and Jay Rodriguez stole the show. The South Coast club were third after the first few months of the season and there was serious talk about a top-six finish however a spate of injuries around the festive period but that to bed. Overall, one of the most successful seasons in club history, hence why so many of their players were cherry picked by England’s top clubs.

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Source: Southampton FC

Star player: Dusan Tadic

Tadic, 25, has been signed from Twente with big boots to fill but the Serbian international is more than capable of doing so. With Lallana off to Liverpool, Tadic is tasked with being Saints’ chief creator from midfield and he’s already has a promising preseason under his belt. He has scored 16 goals in each of his last two seasons in Holland and also led the Eredivisie in assists last year. If Saints deal with the players they’ve lost smoothly, Tadic’s play will be a big reason for that. If Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin remain at Saints, they will also be hugely important.

Coaches’ Corner: Ronald Koeman

Getting Koeman to leave Dutch giants Feyenoord was something of a coup for the ambitious club as the former FC Barcelona star has ushered in “Ronald’s Revolution” with wholesale changes. Koeman led Feyenoord to Champions League qualification last season and turned the Rotterdam club around after their were left in financial ruin. His status as one of the most respected defenders in European soccer during his playing days is undoubted and his high-profile should see plenty more new signings arrive between now and the end of August at St. Mary’s. Plus, his new assistant coach is his brother, Erwin, so there’s that. And he loves to Tweet.

PST predictsIt what has been an offseason of turmoil for the Saints it is very hard to predict how this will go. In many people’s eyes the dramatic exodus sees the club as one of the favorites for relegation but in truth they still have plenty of top class internationals on the books. If players like Schneiderlin and Rodriguez stick around and the $175 million they raised by selling players is spent wisely, they should be midtable at worst. That said, the dreaded “R” word is being whispered at St. Mary’s.

Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Stoke City

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02:  Stephen Ireland of Stoke City shoots a volley during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on February 2, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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  • Arsenal has won last 14 matches against Stoke
  • Gunners are currently unbeaten in last 13 PL fixtures
  • Stoke has gone unbeaten in eight of last nine matches

Arsenal looks to remain hot on Saturday as the Gunners host Stoke City (10 a.m. ET, NBCSN and streaming via NBC Sports Live) from the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners remain in contention at the summit of the Premier League as Arsene Wenger‘s side sits second behind league leaders Chelsea on 31 points. In addition to Arsenal’s recent success in the PL, the Gunners have progressed to the final 16 in the UEFA Champions League as well, making 2016/17 a potentially strong year for the London side.

Alexis Sanchez continues to lead the way for the Gunners attack, with the Chilean international notching 11 goals so far this season. In his last 25 PL matches for the club, Sanchez has either scored or assisted on as many goals for the Gunners.

[ MORE: Everton heads to Vicarage Road to face Watford ]

Stoke remains without several top pieces in its lineup, including U.S. Men’s National Team defender/midfielder Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shawcross, however, Bruno Martins Indi and Marko Arnautovic are expected to play for the Potters.

The Emirates has not been friendly to Stoke though in recent years, with the Potters only scoring three goals in their last eight visits while conceding on 19 occasions.

What they’re saying

Arsene Wenger on Arsenal’s progression throughout the season: “We have a good team dynamic, we have a very strong team spirit and we have more maturity, definitely. Unfortunately, the teams around us have more as well. You can assess the Premier League as very open and very interesting… December is a very important month and for us even more because we have some big games. Stoke is another challenge for us [to show] that we can reset, refocus and continue our development and take the points.”

Mark Hughes on Stoke’s solid play against PL’s top sides“In the past as a club we’ve struggled to get results at places like Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge but we’ve been able to do that in recent times. This is the only one left standing so it would be great to get it out of the way. Our recent form is good and we’re in good heart so confidence is high, that is huge in football, so we’ll be able to benefit from that. It’s up to us to restrict them to minimal chances and make sure we’re creating chances when going the other way.”

Prediction

The Gunners can make it 14 straight matches unbeaten on Saturday, and while Stoke has done well to start the season, it’s highly likely that Arsenal will continue its winning ways. Alexis Sanchez is a Golden Boot contender in England, while the backline has improved every match for the Gunners. While the club has received its deserved criticisms in the past for faltering at critical junctures of the season, 2016/17 could be the year that Arsene Wenger and co. break through in the PL. Arsenal 3-1 Stoke

Premier League Preview: Watford vs. Everton

WATFORD, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 09:  Jose Holebas (1st R) of Watford scores his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on April 9, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
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  • Everton are unbeaten in 11 straight matches vs. Watford (all comps)
  • Troy Deeney is one goal shy of 100 in Hornets kit
  • Toffees have won just one of last nine in PL

Watford hosts Everton on Saturday (7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and streaming via NBC Sports Live) from Vicarage Road as the two clubs look to keep pace in the running with the Premier League’s top six.

The Hornets have lost three of four in the PL and currently sit 11th in the table on 18 points. In that span, Watford has been outscored 11-4, including the team’s brutal 6-1 defeat at Liverpool in early November.

Etienne Capoue leads the way for Watford in the goals department, with five on the season, while Troy Deeney has three of his own and sits just one away from notching his 100th for the club. Defending his been a bit of an issue though for the Hornets — who have conceded 24 in 14 matches — with only four teams allowing more goals this season.

[ MORE: Swansea remain committed to Bob Bradley despite struggles ]

Everton could potentially have to deal without Yannick Bolasie for the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury, while Seamus Coleman is expected to play after sustaining a head injury a week ago.

The Toffees enter Saturday with just one win out of their last nine, and while one point separates Ronald Koeman‘s side from sixth place Manchester United, a victory is very much needed for the Merseyside club. While Romelu Lukaku continues to carry the load up front for Everton with seven goals thus far, the Toffees rank mid table in terms of goals scored this season (17).

What they’re saying

Walter Mazzarri on importance of upcoming fixtures for Watford: “It’s very important. The next six games will probably decide our future and decide if we are going to be in the Premier League. It will decide in a certain way, if we are going to be up or playing in a different way and struggling more. These games will decide this. We have been unlucky on injuries and have been in a bit of an emergency for a couple of months.”

Ronald Koeman on Everton striker Romelu Lukaku’s form: “You can have a good run of scoring goals and then have a bit of time where you don’t really get big chances to score. The players around him need to create more and he can improve in his movements – it’s a team question to create more chances. But if he gets the chances, we always know he will score goals.”

Prediction

Both sides enter Saturday’s encounter in desperate need of a victory, but Everton’s last time out against Manchester United was a bit more encouraging. It won’t be an easy task to take points at Vicarage, however, I expect the Toffees to come away with something against the struggling Hornets. Watford 2-2 Everton

Strootman has 2-match ban for Rome derby melee lifted

ROME, ITALY - DECEMBER 04:  Kevin Strootman of AS Roma celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between SS Lazio and AS Roma at Stadio Olimpico on December 4, 2016 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
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ROME (AP) Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman has had a two-match ban lifted on appeal, clearing him to play key matches against AC Milan and Juventus.

Strootman had been banned for instigating a melee after scoring during Sunday’s Rome derby.

After the goal and an extended celebration, words appeared to be exchanged as Roma’s players walked back onto the field alongside Lazio’s bench.

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Strootman appeared to toss water from a bottle at Lazio’s Danilo Cataldi, who reacted by tugging the neck of Strootman’s shirt as the Netherlands midfielder walked away.

That prompted both benches to get involved.

Cataldi, who had been on the bench, was given a red card while Strootman was shown a yellow.

The two-match ban was decided on Monday, with league officials deciding that Strootman simulated falling to the ground after Cataldi grabbed his shirt.

However, the football federation’s appeals court determined that the simulation could not be proven.

Besides a one-match ban for the red card, Cataldi’s full punishment has not been announced yet.

Roma won the derby 2-0.

The second-place Giallorossi host Milan on Monday and then visit Serie A leader Juventus.

Watford “Behind The Badge” airs third installment; Catch up on Episode 2 here

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Catch up on Watford’s look “Behind The Badge” ahead of Sunday’s third episode of the four-part glimpse into one of the Premier League’s promoted sides.

The Hornets sit 11th, currently 7 points clear of relegation danger, and are giving fans a better idea of what’s been going on at Vicarage Road.

[ MORE: Behind the Badge archive

In an exclusive series, NBC Sports followed around the Hornets in a very similar fashion to HBO’s Hard Knocks which joins the preseason camp of one NFL team each summer.

Below is the schedule for the three remaining episodes on Watford, which you can watch on NBCSN and live online via NBCSports.com in the coming weeks, plus a link to watch episode one in full from last week.


First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Embedded above
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN

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