Emmanuel Adebayor

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Europa League preview: Arsenal in Serbia, Everton desperate vs. Lyon

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The twelve groups of the UEFA Europa League bring forth soccer on Thursday, with a bevy of matches dotting the continent.

[ MORE: Full Europa schedule ]

Here are the top five matches to keep an eye on.

Everton vs. Lyon — 3:05 p.m. ET

If you would’ve told Ronald Koeman his Toffees would walk into this match with just one point but sit only another behind Lyon, he’d probably tell you to take a hike. But Lyon drew 1-1 at Apollon Limassol and 1-1 at home to Atalanta, opening the door for Everton to finish the day in Group E’s top two slots.

Nabil Fekir and Real Madrid loanee Mariano Diaz have seven goals each for Lyon, while ex-Premier Leaguers Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traore are also key components of the French outfit’s attack.

Red Star Belgrade vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET

Arsenal in Europa has been pretty thrilling, with 3-1 and 4-2 wins under Arsene Wenger‘s belt ahead of the first of two with the 1991 European Cup winners. It’s a nice challenge for Canadian national team backstop Milan Borjan, who should be the man to try to thwart the Gunners in Serbia.

Hoffenheim vs. Istanbul Basaksehir — 3:05 p.m. ET

The favorites to win the group are dead last in the group as they welcome the perceived group underdogs from Turkey. The Super Lig runners-up have some familiar names on the roster with Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Eljero Elia, Mevlut Erdinc, Gokhan Inler, Aurelien Chedjou, and Emre Belozoglu.

AC Milan vs. AEK Athens — 3:05 p.m. ET

Milan has been burying goals in Europa play, with five at Austria Wien and three in a home win over Rijeka. Enter Athens, which has scooped up four points in group play and will look for a win to put them ahead of the group-leading Rossoneri.

Nice vs. Lazio — 1 p.m. ET

The only group with a pair of 2-0 teams. Mario Balotelli is plenty familiar with his Roman opposition from his time in Serie A.

Crouch belittles his ultrafast red card after Spurs draw Real Madrid

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Six and a half years later, now Stoke City big man Peter Crouch finds humor in the fastest double yellow in UEFA Champions League history.

On Thursday, Spurs drew Real Madrid in the UCL group stage. Crouch was reminded of an infamous evening in Spain.

The date was April 5, 2011. Tottenham Hotspur was in the midst of its longest UCL run in history.

[ MORE: UCL congestion hammers Spurs ]

It was the first leg of the quarterfinals, and Spurs were staring down Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

Crouch had a pretty decent group stage, scoring three goals, and registered the only goal in the Round of 16 win against AC Milan.

The lanky striker was shown yellow in the eighth minute when he flipped Sergio Ramos with a slide tackle, then saw yellow for a second slide tackle of Marcelo (who may have been exaggerating the contact).

Old foe Emmanuel Adebayor had already given Real a 1-0 lead, and they went on to win the tie 4-0 and the quarterfinal 5-0.

Here’s Crouch earlier Thursday:

If you’re a Spurs supporter, does time heal all wounds or are you a little ticked with the usually funny striker for recalling his stupidity? Here’s guessing Crouch earned more laughs than cries of anger.

Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Crystal Palace

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The Eagles are on the rise but this season is huge in dictating how lofty their ascent will be in the next few years.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Alan Pardew‘s side started off like an express train last season, hovering around the Premier League’s top six around the festive period but then dropping away drastically in the second half of the campaign as they became embroiled in a relegation battle. Granted, their run to the FA Cup final played a part in that, but there’s no doubting Palace need some reinforcements to turn them into a club challenging for a top six finish.

[ MORE: Every PL season preview ]

With American investment providing funds to help renovate Selhurst Park, plus add more transfer funds to the kitty, Palace is entering a whole new era. Don’t forget, they were only promoted to the PL in 2013 but they’ve quickly cemented themselves as a solid PL outfit and are now looking to make that next step.

The Eagles will soar into the top six because… They have an experienced manager who knows the league inside out. Pardew sets his teams up to be difficult to beat and lets his wingers and full backs push on at every chance. If they can sort their home form out this season then Palace will threaten the big boys. There are few better atmospheres in the PL than the one generated down in south London.

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Most likely they’ll sit in midtable and maybe push into the top 10: Our old friend pragmatism has arrived. With Connor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell around it is unlikely Palace will score loads of goals. Pardew needs a poacher and that was the main reason for Palace’s slump last season. In defense and in midfield he’s set. Palace are willing to spend big to get a 20-goal a season man. If they fail to find him then it’s a case of midtable mediocrity.


Best Possible XI

— Hennessey —

— Ward — Dann — Tomkins — Souare —

— Ledley — Cabaye —

—–  Zaha —– Bolasie —– Townsend

— Wickham —


Transfers In: Steve Mandanda ($2 million, Marseille), James Tomkins ($13 million, West Ham United), Andros Townsend ($18 million, Newcastle United)

Transfers Out: Emmanuel Adebayor, Reise Allassani, Andreas Breimyr, Marouane Chamakh, Connor Dymond, Brede Hangeland, William Hoare, Chris Kettings, Adrian Mariappa, Paddy McCarthy, Oliver Pain, Christian Scales (All released), Dwight Gayle ($13 million, Newcastle United), David Gregory (Free, Cambridge United), Jake Gray (Free, Luton Town), Alex McCarthy (Undisclosed, Southampton), Jerome Binnom-Williams (Free, Peterborough United)

Last Season: After winning just two PL games in 2016 Palace’s season ended poorly and they finished in 15th place. Pardew’s side reached the FA Cup final where they eventually lost to Manchester United 2-1 after extra time despite leading 1-0 with 12 minutes to go. A certain premature victory dance from Mr. Pardew will live long in the memory…

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 16: Andros Townsend #17 of Crystal Palace FC controls the ball during the match against FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium on July 16, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Crystal Palace FC defeated FC Cincinnati 2-0. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Star Player: Andros Townsend – This man had a sensational finish to the season with Newcastle United and did everything to try and keep the Magpies up following his January move from Tottenham Hotspur. A pure out-and-out winger, Townsend will cut in from the flank and fire shots at goal. Has the potential to be Palace’s leading scorer and will push Bolasie and Zaha all the way in the fight for the three attacking midfield positions. Yohan Cabaye, technically, is Palace’s most gifted player but injury and a severe loss of form hampered his impact last season.

Coach’s Corner: Pardew is back at home at Palace and the former Eagles player is now entering his second full season in charge of the club. He has cut the deadwood from his squad and brought in three experienced campaigners so far with Townsend and James Tomkins having plenty of PL nous. You know what you will get with a Pardew team. They’ll be committed, dangerous from set pieces and tight defensively. Palace will scrap for every point but if the Eagles have another season of failing to crack the top 10 then it could be quite delicate for Pardew at the end of this campaign. He really needs to sign a top-class finisher this summer.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 09:  Alan Pardew (R) Manager of Crystal Palace and Yohan Cabaye (L) applaud home supporters after their 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Norwich City at Selhurst Park on April 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

PST Predicts: Best case scenario for Palace is finishing in 8-10 place in the table. They won’t challenge the big boys who have spent big this summer but they will dish out plenty of shocks along the way. Expect another good cup run and a big push for a top 10 finish under Pardiola.

Palace prepared to up bid for Benteke in mutually beneficial transfer

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When Crystal Palace added Emmanuel Adebayor last January, it hoped that it had found the talisman that could turn Yannick Bolasie and Yohan Cabaye passes into sheer gold.

But Adebayor, like Connor Wickham before him, wasn’t able to do the trick.

And now Palace may have an excellent upgrade coming in the form of Belgian striker Christian Benteke.

[ MORE: Will Iceland continue to succeed? ]

The 25-year-old striker wants to play, and Liverpool has already rejected one bid for him. But Palace is said to be willing to make another bid that would rise to $41 million if all bonuses are met.

Liverpool would almost certainly accept that bid, knowing it stands a chance to recoup most of what it spent to land Benteke from Aston Villa one year ago. Benteke scored 23 goals in his first full season at Villa, but hasn’t scored more than 15 in any of three seasons since.

That said, Palace would’ve been thrilled to have a 15-goal scorer in any of its three seasons since returning to the Premier League. Dwight Gayle, now at Newcastle, led the Eagles in scoring with 8, 10, and 7 goals in the past three years, respectively.

Jurgen Klopp is rarely going to play the sort of style that benefits a big hold-up man like Benteke, and could take two or even three risks on strikers with the money coming back for the Belgian. This one should happen for both sides.

Arsenal 1-1 Crystal Palace: Out of nothing, Bolasie snares a point

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  • Sanchez scores before halftime
  • Bolasie nabs one late
  • Arsenal attempts 20 shots
  • Palace puts three on goal

Yannick Bolasie‘s late goal helped Crystal Palace steal a point from Emirates Stadium despite near complete dominance from Arsenal in a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

Alexis Sanchez scored the Gunners’ only goal to give Arsenal a lead just before halftime, but the club’s second goal never arrived at the Emirates.

The draw puts Arsenal in fourth place, four ahead of fifth place Manchester United and level with Manchester City. The Gunners’ goal differential is six goals inferior to City.

Palace sits 16th with 39 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Quite simply, there wasn’t much to like about the opening half hour. Manager Alan Pardew set Palace up to clutter their own third, and Arsenal had little success in finding a way through the Eagles.

At one point near the end of the first 20 minutes, Arsenal was carrying a remarkable 86 percent of possession. Yet aside from a few set piece chances, including a deflected Alexis Sanchez shot, there wasn’t much to entertain until quite close to halftime. That’s when Wayne Hennessey made a pair of in-tight saves.

The goal came in the first minute of stoppage, and it was Sanchez. The forward headed a wonderfully-scooped pass from Danny Welbeck past Hennessey to make it 1-0.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The second half was more Arsenal, opening up a bit after Mile Jedinak came off for Bakary Sako. Ozil sailed another free kick just wide in the 59th minute.

It all seemed on cruise control for Arsenal, even as Palace sub Emmanuel Adebayor dribbled down the left flank. When the ball came to Yannick Bolasie, it was still ho-hum.

Then Bolasie hit the low ball, near post, past Petr Cech. That’s not what you expect from the legendary keeper, but things were shockingly level.