Premier League Preview: Norwich City vs. West Ham United

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  • Norwich are unbeaten in 15 home league games against West Ham
  • The Canaries have conceded 18 goals in their last five matches
  • West Ham have recorded four 0-0 draws this season, most in the PL

Both sides have one thought on their mind heading in to this game…. score goals.

Two of the leanest attacks in the PL will meet at Carrow Road on Saturday as Norwich host West Ham United (watch live on NBC, 12:30pm ET and watch live online at NBC Sports Live Extra) with both teams desperate for a win.

Norwich City are the lowest scoring side in the PL with just six goals for this season, while West Ham haven’t fared much better as they’ve only scored eight.

But don’t let the low-scoring figures put you off, this one has all the makings to be a pulsating clash on a chilly evening in Norfolk.

Plus Norwich manager Chris Hughton is reportedly fighting for his job after a poor run of form, including that 7-0 demolition from Manchester City last weekend, has seen the Canaries drop into the relegation zone despite spending big to bring the likes of Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel this summer. But have missed out through injury to date, but the goals and creativity going forward just isn’t clicking for Norwich and now they’re leaking goals at the back.

(WATCH – PST Extra: Talking Manchester United vs. Arsenal, Chelsea’s struggles and the South Wales derby)

That’s worrying as Norwich were always so sound defensively in their last two PL campaigns, but in their opening 10 matches this season they’ve let in 20 goals already.

Sam Allardyce’s West Ham side are incredibly resolute in defense after keeping six clean sheets in 10 games and have Jussi Jaaskelainen to thank for that with some terrific displays. However the Hammer manager has been hampered with injuries to star striker Andy Carroll and many other attackers and Allardyce has already described this match as “six-pointer.” This is serious.

(MORE: Preview – Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion)

In terms of injuries, Robert Snodgrass will return for Norwich but summer signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel will miss out with a toe injury. West Ham are still struggling to have any fit strikers to call upon, as long-term absentees Carroll and Ricardo Vaz Te are joined by Mladen Petric on the treatment table.

What they’re saying

Sam Allardyce plays up importance of Norwich game: “It’s a six-pointer I would say already. They played very well in their last home game against Cardiff. Irrespective of recent results I was listening to the commentary of that game about how many chances they created and how many chances they missed. We have to make sure that we frustrate them in that area again on Saturday.”

Chris Hughton on his sides responding following their 7-0 loss at Man City: “We’re on the back of a negative at the moment with the Manchester City result, but it was only two games before that we were on the back of some really good performances. It’s our responsibility now to make sure that we get the right reaction from that game, and the great thing about this game is that you always get another opportunity. It’s a home game against West Ham and we need to make sure we get the right result. If we win on Saturday, it will give us back a good feel and we will go above West Ham in the table.”

Prediction

Despite West Ham’s poor run of form away at Norwich in the league, they’ve actually picked up some good results on the road this season and Big Sam sets them up as difficult to beat. The Canaries can’t get that lucky break they need and it’s going to be a long hard season unless the likes of Hooper, Elmander and van Wolfswinkel start scoring. West Ham will sit back and soak up the pressure, and expect them to hit the Canaries on the break to devastating effect. An away win is the smart bet here, I fear for Hughton’s future.

Preview: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final

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There will be plenty of 2005 U-17 World Cup final shades at Estadio Bezerrão on Sunday.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

On that clear night in Lima, Peru, the likes of Carlos Vela and Giovani dos Santos wrote history for Mexico, as they powered El Tri to its first-ever World Cup title over a favorite Brazilian side, who was composed of Marcelo, Renato Augusto, and Anderson, in a 3-0 win.

14 years and some change later, both youth powerhouses meet again in the same tournament, for the same silverware, and with the same pressure looming over them from entire nations who expect nothing but excellence from their respective teams.

But of course, to the Brazilians, there is a sense of added pressure given the fact that they’re on home soil.

“We’re familiar with Mexico’s quality,” Brazilian forward, Veron, said ahead of the final. We know they are a great team. But we’re Brazil, and we have five stars on our chest. We intend to play our best match and get the result that makes history.”

As it stands, Mexico is the clear-cut underdog, having barely crept into the knockout stages and being composed of players with far less notoriety to its Brazilian counterpart, who boast three players with three goals or more in the tournament.

That said, Mexico pose as a balanced, reliable, and pragmatic team under coach Marco “Chima” Ruiz. Throughout the six games this tournament, El Tri have found the back of the net 14 times and have conceded a mere three goals (two of which came against Italy). With four goals and two assists in only 344 minutes, Los Angeles Galaxy’s Efrain Alvarez has proven to be the team’s most productive player going forward.

Asked who he would rather take between France or Brazil in the final, the Mexican American answered with the same confidence that has made him one of the most exciting players in the tournament.

“It doesn’t matter which of the two it is, we’ll beat them,” he said.

It’s 90 minutes for either team to make history, again. A win for Brazil will raise the number of U-17 stars to four, while Mexico can claim its third with another historic performance. Will Brazil’s high-flying attack crack Mexico’s solid defense? If Alvarez starts, will he rise to the occasion and guide Mexico to another U-17 title?

That has yet to be seen; the second final between two, routine winners awaits the first whistle.

Report: Man City considering Kingsley Coman as Leroy Sane replacement

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Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are considering Bayern Munich’s Kinglsey Coman as a replacement for injured Leroy Sane if he were to leave for the defending German champions over the summer, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sane, who is projected to be out until February or March with an ACL injury, was the subject of a $176 million move to Bayern Munich over the summer, but a move never came to fruition, largely due to the aforementioned injury. If negotiations between Sane’s camp and the defending Bundesliga champions pick up again this summer, City have a replacement in mind: 23-year-old Coman.

Coman, who has played in 10 league games for the Bavarian club this season, was managed by Guardiola during his time with the club and flourished during the title-winning 2015-2016 season. In 2017, the Frenchman revealed that the Spaniard’s departure was tough on him, saying, “I found life easier at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola.”

As expected, Coman is not the only option City are exploring.

Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, who has a reported $82 million release clause, is also on the Premier League giant’s shortlist. Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, has strong ties to La Reala that goes back to his first day in the sport.

At the Etihad, the general feeling from Guardiola’s players is that the German winger is one foot out of England, and is instead focused on a move to Bayern and a return back home. With his contract in the final 12 months this summer, it is expected that the release clause for Sane will not be as lucrative as before. 

In 134 appearances for City, Sane has scored 39 goals, while Coman has scored on 28 different occasions in 139 appearances.

Abidal: Barcelona, Messi negotiating a new deal

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Lionel Messi and his representatives are in talks with Barcelona over a new contract, the defending champion’s sporting director Eric Abidal confirmed  to Mundo Deportivo in an exclusive interview.

“They are already talking,” Abidal, the former Barcelona defender, said. “I do not know if we will have news soon because the decision will depend on the player, but for us as a club I hope it is sorted as soon as possible.”

Messi – a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer – joined the club’s well-known academy, La Masia, at the age of 13 and is under contract until 2021 but was recently questioned about his future after Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed that the Argentine can leave Camp Nou on a free transfer due to a clause in his contract.

Asked when he expects an announcement to be made on a new and improved contract, Abidal made it clear he’s unsure but hopes it happens: “It will be known when it is known, but I am positive.”

Throughout seven games in La Liga this season, Messi has scored eight goals and assisted in four occasions. In his latest appearance for the Catalonian side – a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo – the No. 10 scored a first-half hat-trick.

Abidal also confirmed that Barcelona are in talks with breakout teenage starlet Ansu Fati and his camp on a new deal.

“We are also talking to him,” Abidal said. “He is a young player that we have to protect. We have to talk to his family and representatives.”

Earlier this year, the 17-year-old became the youngest player in the league’s history to score and assist in the same game.

EURO qualifying wrap: Germany, Austria, Croatia join Netherlands in qualifying

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Like the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Croatia qualified for EURO 2020 after wins on Saturday.

[ READ: Netherlands qualify to first EURO since 2012 ]


Germany 4-0 Belarus

With goals from Matthias Ginter, Leon Goretska, and a second-half brace from Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, Germany routed an uncompetitive Belarus side 4-0 at Borussia-Park. The scoreline, however, should have been more lopsided, as the home side easily won the possession battle and outshot the visitor’s with a total of 31 shots (10 on target). Leaders of Group C, Germany is an early favorite for next summer’s tournament. Not hard to believe that, right? 

Austria 2-1 North Macedonia

Qualifying for Europe’s main tournament is becoming a norm for Austria.

Bayern Munich’s David Alaba scored early while Stefan Lainer added his own three minutes into the second half, as Austria edged North Macedonia 2-1 at Ernst Happel Stadion. Das Team, who stand second in Group G with 19 points after nine games, have now clinched a berth for the EURO on back-to-back occasions.

Croatia 3-1 Slovakia

When all was said and done, Croatia was too much for a 10-man Slovakia, who, initially, broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute.

Bayern Munich’s Ivan Perisic scored the home side’s third and final goal of the match, which punched Croatia’s ticket in next summer’s tournament. Nikola Vlasic and Bruno Petkovic also contributed goals in the second half for Croatia.

Elsewhere

Russia 1-4 Belgium

Azerbaijan 0-2 Wales

Cyprus 1-2 Scotland

Israel 1-2 Poland

Armenia 0-1 Greec