Wilfried Zaha set for loan deal – Where might he end up?

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The Daily Mail is reporting that Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha will be sent out on loan next month after struggling to break into the Red Devils’ lineup.

Since moving to Old Trafford on a £15m deal from Crystal Palace, Zaha has made a single Premier League appearance.

The bow came as a second-half substitute in last week’s 0-1 loss to Newcastle at Old Trafford. To his credit, Zaha looked lively in the match but based upon today’s news was not impressive enough to convince manager David Moyes.

While he lacks the pragmatic approach of Antonio Valencia, the flair of Nani, the skill of Adnand Januzaj or the incisive dribbling of Ashley Young, Zaha possesses a raw power and youthful exuberance to his game that provides a nice change of pace.

His ability to bully opponents is something that Moyes apparently feels he can do without. Competitors, however, will feel otherwise.

The Mail claims two clubs are pressing to complete a Zaha loan: Everton and Newcastle.

Typically a right sided player, Zaha would compete with the likes of Kevin Mirallas and Gerard Deulofeu at Everton. Mirallas has underwhelmed this year while Deulofeu, with his goal against Arsenal, has quickly become the toast of the town. Unseating either, let alone both, would be a difficult objective for Zaha but one that’s hardly impossible.

Roberto Martinez would welcome the depth and be excited by the prospect of lining him up next to fellow physical specimens, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley. The Everton boss could even move Mirallas to the left wing for Steven Pienaar, which would then allow Deulofeu to keep his super-sub role. By no means a need for Everton, Zaha could nevertheless become a very valuable weapon.

Newcastle will be thinking the same. Yoan Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko have enjoyed brilliant seasons on the wing at St. James’ Park, meaning displacing either could prove difficult. The former has proved a knack for scoring key goals while the latter possesses immense power and game changing ability.

Perhaps the biggest compliment to Gouffran and Sissoko is the fact that their play has resulted in Alan Pardew having to sit Hatem Ben Arfa, who is arguably the Magpies most skilled and dangerous player albeit a liability on defense.

Like Martinez, Pardew would be overjoyed at acquiring Zaha. The winger’s physicality and direct nature would fit in seamlessly with Newcastle’s style.

But would Moyes really loan Zaha to a competitor like Everton or Newcastle?

It depends on the Scot’s school of thought. Old schoolers would emphatically say ‘no’ as adding to a competitor’s arsenal seems counterintuitive. The new line of thought set forth by visionaries like Jose Mourinho, however, would beg to differ.

By loaning Zaha out to a long-shot Top 4 competitor like Everton or Newcastle, there’s a greater chance these clubs will knock off the title favorites (Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City) thereby making United’s climb back into the Top 4 more likely. Plus, since the loan rules prevent a player from playing against his parent club, Zaha wouldn’t be hurting United.

Considering the conservative nature of Moyes it’s likely he would fall under the ‘old school’ category. And in the case of Everton and Newcastle, he’d be justified in adopting that approach.

Why loan Zaha out to a long-shot Top 4 competitor who may just end up claiming that 4th spot?

It would seem much more likely that if Moyes does send Zaha out on loan that he’ll go to a relegation threatened club like Sunderland, Fulham, West Ham, or, the most likely scenario, Crystal Palace.

Smalling considering full-time Roma switch: “Long may it continue”

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Manchester United loanee Chris Smalling is talking up life in Rome amidst a possible Serie A Team of the Season campaign.

Smalling had a disappointing 2018/19 season at Old Trafford, so it’s not a surprise that Solskjaer thought he could do better than the 30-year-old.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Instead, Smalling’s numbers are close to that of record-signing Harry Maguire in a Serie A league with slightly more scoring. Smalling ranks in Italy’s top ten for interceptions (2.2), clearances (4.5) and blocks (1.2).

Roma boss Paulo Fonseca wants the player to stay, as i Lupi are fifth in Serie A and Smalling when has played nearly every minute when healthy. Smalling told our friends Sky Sports that he has “an interesting decision to make.”

“Some of the other players said if you really hit the ground running, the love that you can have in this city is unbelievable. That’s really what I’ve felt and so have my family. Long may it continue.”

His age makes it tricky, but the advanced stats show that Smalling has been a very effective Premier League center back for four of his last six seasons.

Smalling may want to leave if Solskjaer isn’t prepared to hand him regular football, which would be a given in Rome. Now what’s the price tag?

According to WhoScored’s player comparison tool:

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Watch Live: Liverpool v. West Ham

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Liverpool v West Ham takes center stage at Anfield on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Reds aim to reclaim their 22-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

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Jurgen Klopp‘s side remain unbeaten this season and with five more wins needed to guarantee the Premier League title, the finishing line is in sight. They are aiming for an 18th consecutive Premier League win which would equal Man City’s record for the most victories on the trot in top-flight history.

As for David Moyes and the Hammers, they are scrapping for their lives at the other end of the table and their daunting run of fixtures makes them one of the favorites for relegation.

Last season the Hammers did draw at home against Liverpool in the PL which was a key factor in the Reds not winning the title last time out but West Ham look extremely far from the team they were last season.

Liverpool v West Ham is first against 18th and all signs point to a big win for the home side as their unbeaten season continues with 25 victories from 26 games so far.

In team news Liverpool are without captain Jordan Henderson who has suffered a hamstring injury and will be out for the next three weeks.

Naby Keita comes in for Henderson in midfield as the rest of the Liverpool team is what you expect.

West Ham are without the injured Ryan Fredericks who suffered a shoulder injury in the 2-0 defeat at Man City on Wednesday.

Teenager Jeremy Ngakia comes in to replace Fredericks, while Felipe Anderson also comes into the lineup.

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Kids under 12 banned from heading in UK

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LONDON (AP) Children up to the age of 12 will be banned from heading a soccer ball in practice sessions in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland as authorities look to address the potential long-term impact on health of head injuries.

[ MORE: US Soccer bans heading ]

The governing bodies of the three regions announced the new heading guidelines on Monday, months after a Scottish study found former professional players there were less likely to die of common causes such as heart disease and cancer compared with the general population but more likely to die with dementia.

The guidelines say there will be a “graduated approach” to heading in practice for kids from 12-15, while the heading will be restricted to one practice session per week for kids 16 and 17.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

There will be no change in terms of heading in matches, taking into consideration the extremely limited number of headers which actually occur in youth matches.

The Scottish study did not state that heading a ball was the cause of the increased prevalence of neurodegenerative conditions among soccer players, but the decision to update the guidelines was taken to “mitigate against any potential risks”, the English Football Association said in a statement.

“This guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said, “without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game.”

The associations said the guidance had been produced in parallel with the UEFA medical committee, which is seeking to produce Europe-wide guidance later this year.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Champions League score predictions: Round of 16

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is finally back as the Round of 16 kicks off this week and two of the four Premier League clubs are in action.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Man City and Chelsea face Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively and both know they face tough tasks to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals as they do battle with two European heavyweights.

Glory in the Champions League is now the main focus for Pep Guardiola and Man City following their two-season European ban from UEFA which they are appealing. Frank Lampard‘s young Chelsea side host the Bundesliga leaders and hugely experienced Bayern, with the German giants the favorites to advance.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

The Premier League sides are up against it but both teams are extremely capable of scoring goals for fun but it is at the other end of the pitch where they struggle as both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will be hoping their star attackers shine on the big stage once again.

In the other two last 16 clashes this week Napoli host Barcelona as Lionel Messi warmed up very nicely with four goals against Eibar, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus head to Lyon for the first leg as the Italian giants are expected to advance with ease.

Both Messi and Ronaldo badly want another Champions League title to their name but Lyon and Napoli are more than capable of picking up big first leg wins at home.

Below we predict the scores for the UCL round of 16 games taking place over the next two days. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below, too.


Tuesday
Napoli 1-1 Barcelona
Chelsea 1-2 Bayern Munich

Wednesday
Lyon 1-3 Juventus
Real Madrid 2-3 Man City