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Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Tottenham

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  • Tottenham has not conceded in PL in 438 minutes
  • West Ham won at home last year 1-0
  • Hammers have not scored in 223 PL minutes

It’s crazy to say that Spurs, after nine wins in a row, has to win a game. Nevertheless, that is the current situation. With Chelsea’s soft schedule down the stretch and a four point gap at the top of the table, Tottenham likely has to win out the season to have a shot at the title. Dropped points on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) – or anywhere else, for that matter, likely ends the race altogether.

So, here we sit, with Spurs needing a win at a place they lost last season. Travel is light, having played a home London derby last week and now playing another on the road.  Mauricio Pochettino will likely have Danny Rose and Kyle Walker to choose from, with the former out since the end of January.

The Hammers, meanwhile, seem to have turned their misfortunes around somewhat as they sit unbeaten in four, but a closer inspection reveals all may not be well. A pair of 0-0 draws against Everton and struggling Stoke earned two points, they failed to beat the bottom team, and pipped Swansea by a single goal.

West Ham has struggled with injuries all season long, and that’s no different here, as Andy Carroll and Arthur Makuatsu are doubts, while Michail Antonio is out for sure. Slaven Bilic will have Manuel Lanzini at his disposal, a big boost as eight of his 13 goals this Premier League season have come within the confines of the English capital.

What they’re saying

Slaven Bilic on his job security: “It is not about individuals, it is about the club. I am calm and totally focused on the game. The only thing I am thinking about is the match against Spurs. This is a big match anyway,” Bilic said. “It is a derby, whether you need the points or not; it’s a derby game against Spurs at our stadium. They need points, we need points, so it is a massive game for us and a massive game for them.”

Mauricio Pochettino on West Ham stadium: “I have a very good relationship with [Bilic] and he is a great guy as well as a very good manager. It is always difficult when you move stadiums and you saw that with us and Wembley — we tried to make Wembley our home but it is just so difficult. So I think he is doing a really good job and it will be good to see him on Friday.”

Prediction

Sure, West Ham would like to secure its mathematical safety, but Tottenham needs the points here far more. Mauricio Pochettino is one of the best at preparing his teams for a particular challenge, and he will do that here. Spurs wins comfortably 2-0 against a Hammers side struggling for every single point.

Day Four: All the action from the U20 World Cup

Hong Hae-in/Yonhap via AP
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South Korea and Venezuela clinched berths in the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup on Tuesday, while Germany and Argentina have surprising work to do after two matches in South Korea.

[ MORE: Allardyce steps down at Palace ]

South Korea 2-1 Argentina

Barcelona B man Lee Seung-woo helped South Korea take a 2-0 lead, then hold on for the win and group lead over England.

England 1-1 Guinea

Chelsea youngster Fikayo Tomori scored a wild long range own goal to cost England the three points, but the Blues are still well-positioned to advance out of the group stage. Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook scored for England, and it was a beaut.

Venezuela 7-0 Vanuatu

Seven different Venezuelans have scored through a pair of shutout wins, with Caracas’ Sergio Cordova the only one to bag a pair.

Mexico 0-0 Germany

Germany has just one point through two matches, thanks largely to Pachuca’s Abraham Romero’s seven saves. Mexico was outshot 12-6.

Porto, Watford, Hull? Marco Silva in demand

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Marco Silva is one of the hottest properties in management, months after eliciting cries of “Who?” following his appointment at Hull City.

While those cries may have been a tiny bit myopic given his time at Sporting CP and Olympiacos, the 39-year-old is now visible to the world despite Hull’s relegation.

[ MORE: Real Madrid nabs $50m teen ]

Silva will be back in England to meet with Hull on Wednesday, but a clause in his contract that said he could leave if the club was relegated gives the Tigers very little hope.

Rumors have him wanted at Watford, and he’s also been linked with a number of other jobs including Southampton (should the club part ways with Claude Puel).

However, the former right back is also reportedly a target of one of the biggest clubs in his home country: Champions League side Porto.

UEFA Europa League Final preview: Manchester United vs. Ajax

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Jose Mourinho’s big European gamble takes center stage on Wednesday in Sweden, when Manchester United attempts to topple young Ajax in the UEFA Europa League Final.

United’s chances for UEFA Champions League qualification, a magnificent opportunity, are overshadowed by the pall cast over Manchester by sinister terrorist attacks at a pop concert that killed and injured many on Monday night.

Alas, there’s soccer to be played, and Mourinho is looking to make it a trio of shiny items in his first year on the job. United beat Leicester City for the Community Shield, then topped Southampton in the EFL Cup Final en route to Sweden.

United’s well-documented dearth of healthy defenders will march out one more time on Wednesday, with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones tasked with manning the center of the back line. Expect Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian out wide.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

Despite the injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mourinho’s attack is going to give Ajax fits. Marcus Rashford has been next level for most of the second half of the season, and United will also likely feature Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba atop Ander Herrera.

If someone is going to break United down, it could be midfield wizards Davy Klaassen and Lasse Schone. The creative middle men have a variety of options to find with the ball, including on-loan Chelsea man Bertrand Traore and Danish teenager Kasper Dolberg.

But how will they deal with United’s attack? Sure Ajax has stopped Lyon, Schalke, Copenhagen, and Legia Warsaw, but United and Mourinho? That’s another challenge for Peter Bosz and his men.

Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup, and this is United’s first ever trip to this particular final. The Red Devils are heavy favorites, and we expect United to prevail. Don’t sleep on Juan Mata heroics. Call it 3-1.

Allardyce resigns, opening up intriguing vacancy at Palace

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Sam Allardyce is walking away on top outside the relegation zone.

The veteran Premier League manager, 62, resigned his post as Crystal Palace on Tuesday, weeks after leading another team to safety.

The move ends a tumultuous eight months for Allardyce, who was fired as England manager after an undercover sting exposed unethical dealings with agents.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

It also comes about an hour after somebody wrote that Crystal Palace should move on from Allardyce. What a jerk, that somebody.

Rarely at a loss for words, here’s Big Sam from cpfc.co.uk:

I want to be able to savour life while I’m still relatively young and when I’m still relatively healthy enough to do all the things I want to do, like travel, spend more time with my family and grandchildren without the huge pressure that comes with being a football manager.

This is the right time for me. I have no ambitions to take another job, I simply want to be able to enjoy all the things you cannot really enjoy with the 24/7 demands of managing any football club, let alone one in the Premier League.”

All kidding aside — and I’m far from a Big Sam fan — congrats to the man on walking away to enjoy the finer things in life. He had a heck of a run, and we’ll see how long he can resist being away from the fray. Cheers, Sam.