Prindi’s Premier League Picks: Sunderland and Hull City to impress

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Picking Premier League matches is hard work and frankly, I’m crap at it.

But I love the banter and figure at the very least I can provide you with some fodder to tear me up with in the comments.

So let’s get it on.

UPSET SPECIALS

West Ham United v. Sunderland (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; Upton Park)

A bottom-of-the-barrel barn-burner with both sides desperate for a win. With Kevin Nolan suspended, Guy Demel and James Collins sick, and a number of key injuries for West Ham (James Tomkins, Stewart Downing, Winston Reid, Andy Carroll, Ricardo Vaz Te) I think Sunderland gets its first away league win of the season.

West Ham United 0 Sunderland 1

Hull City v. Stoke City (Sat 12:30pm ET on NBC; KC Stadium)  

As the two former Manchester United managers battle it out on the pitch keep your eye on what happens around the ground and in the stadium as Hull City fans are distraught about their owner changing the name to ‘Hull Tiger.’ Could be interesting scenes at the KC Stadium.

Hull City 2 Stoke City 1

SQUEAKY BUM TIME

Manchester City v. Arsenal (Sat 7:45am ET on NBCSN; Etihad Stadium)  

The league’s highest scoring offense (City, 41 goals scored) meets the best defense (Arsenal, 11 goals conceded). Combine this with City’s stunning home form (having won all seven matches played at the Etihad) and the extra day of rest the Citizens have following their Tuesday night victory against Bayern Munich and the writing is on the wall: City wins.

Manchester City 2 Arsenal 1

Cardiff City v. West Bromwich Albion (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; Cardiff City Stadium)

One point separates 15th place West Brom from 16th Cardiff City meaning this match should prove more exciting than first blush may prove.

Cardiff City 2 West Bromwich Albion 2

Newcastle United v. Southampton (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; St. James’ Park)

Despite injuries to a number of key players at Southampton (Artur Boruc, Morgan Schneiderlin, Victor Wanyama, Nathaniel Clyne) the Saints gave City of full-blooded thriller last week.

Can they do it again this week at Newcastle? It won’t be easy but with Yohan Cabaye serving a suspension, I think they can snap a point.

Newcastle 1 Southampton 1

Norwich City v. Swansea City (Sun 8:30am ET on Extra Time; Carrow Road)

The sleeper match. Literally.

Norwich City 1 Swansea City 2

Tottenham Hotspur v. Liverpool (Sun 11:00am ET on NBCSN; White Hart Lane)

The Luis Suarez Show makes its way to White Hart Lane. The man’s been on fire lately and with injuries to Jan Vertonghen and Vlad Chiriches, I’m not sure the Spurs defense will have an answer. Then again, with Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge also sidelined with injury, it should all balance out.

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Liverpool 2

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

Chelsea v. Crystal Palace (Sat 10:00am ET on NBCSN; Stamford Bridge)

Who’s more likely to continue their streak: Crystal Palace winning their third straight or Jose Mourinho extending his league unbeaten at the Bridge to 68 league matches?

Bit of a disparity, there.

Chelsea 4 Crystal Palace 0

Everton v. Fulham (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; Craven Cottage)

A surprisingly telling match for this Everton side. After beating Manchester United and drawing with Arsenal last week, the Toffees will need to dig deep to avoid a letdown. But the motivation should be there as earlier this year it was Fulham who knocked Roberto Martinez’ men out of the League Cup.

Everton 3 Fulham 2

Aston Villa v. Manchester United (Sun 8:30am ET on NBCSN; Villa Park)

Fortunately for United this match being at Villa Park is essentially a home match for the Red Devils.

Aston Villa 1 Manchester United 3

Coronavirus: Italy may lift ban on sporting events by Monday

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MILAN (AP) The Italian government could lift its ban on sporting events by Monday in areas affected by the coronavirus if the number of cases stabilizes.

The outbreak forced a number of sporting events to be called off throughout the country this past weekend, including four Serie A matches in the north of Italy.

This week, the ban on sporting events was extended from Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont – the areas hardest hit by the outbreak – to also include the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia Romagna and Liguria, until March 1.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“If, as I hope, the statistics don’t give us different signs then maybe already by Monday these measures won’t be continued,” Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said. “But it’s only Tuesday today and we have to wait and see what happens over the next few days. The health of the Italian citizens is the most important thing.”

Italy reported a 45% increase in the number of coronavirus cases Tuesday, from 222 to 300. Ten people have died, all of them elderly or suffering from other ailments.

“Obviously, I can’t say I’m not worried because I don’t want anyone to think we’re underestimating this emergency,” Premier Giuseppe Conte said before meeting with visiting World Health Organization representatives. “But we trust that with the measures we have implemented, there will be a containing effect in the coming days.”

Italy has closed schools, museums and theaters in the two regions where clusters have formed and troops are enforcing quarantines around 10 towns in Lombardy and the epicenter of the Veneto cluster, Vo’Euganeo.

Serie A matches this weekend are set to be played behind closed doors, including Juventus’ key match against Inter Milan. That game is not only potentially crucial to the title race but also sees the return of former Juventus coach Antonio Conte.

Inter’s Europa League match at home to Ludogorets on Thursday will also take place without any fans allowed in.

Serie C canceled all games in two leagues which have teams in the north. Volleyball and rugby games were also suspended nationwide through next weekend.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation suspended all of its events throughout the country for an entire week, although it said that “for now” next weekend’s World Cup ski races in La Thuile in the Valle d’Aosta region were still set to go ahead. Those races are operated by the International Ski Federation, which has already canceled races this season in China that were slated to test the course for the 2022 Beijing Games.

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

El Tri winger Jurgen Damm headed for MLS this summer

Jurgen Damm
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This season’s Liga MX invasion of MLS continues with Jurgen Damm announcing that he’ll leave UANL Tigres this summer after five years with the club.

TUDN has the destination as Atlanta, though previous reports have linked Damm to the LA Galaxy is the spot.

And MLSSoccer.com scribe Tom Bogert says the Houston Dynamo have his “discovery rights” (which remains the worst concept in the entire league).

Reports emerged over the past 48 hours that the El Tri man was headed for an MLS club.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 12-times capped winger has one goal for Mexico, but has not been capped since Oct. 2018. He has spent his entire career in Liga MX.

Damm spent the early part of his career with Tecos and Pachuca, but has been with UANL Tigres since 2015.

He won four league titles with UANL, as well as the 2018 Campeones Cup.

Ex-Arsenal man Gnabry: “London’s still red” after Bayern beats Chelsea

Serge Gnabry
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Ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry still has love for the club.

Gnabry tweeted that “London is still red” after he scored twice for Bayern Munich in a 3-0 beating of Chelsea on Tuesday in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

This after scoring four times against Spurs in a previous Champions League group stage match and Tweeting that “North London is Red.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

So what’s with the London form?

“I’ve got a lot of friends here,” Gnabry said after the game. “A lot of them were in the stands tonight, and it seems they give me a lot of good power.”

Gnabry only scored once during his time in England with Arsenal and West Brom but is a bona fide star in the Bundesliga.

With a three-goal advantage over Chelsea heading to Munich for a second leg, however, he’s not got his head in the clouds.

“Three goals ahead gives us a little bit of confidence, but we need to be prepared for the second leg. We can’t take it not seriously enough. … We’ve seen it last year with Liverpool beating Barcelona, so we have to be careful. We have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.”

Gnabry now has 51 goals and 29 assists in four seasons since returning to Germany from Arsenal. Not terrible production for a player the Gunners offloaded to Werder Bremen for under $6 million in 2016.

What color will London be when Chelsea buys him next year? We kid, we kid…

Champions League preview: Real Madrid renews rivalry with Pep; Lyon hosts Juve

UEFA Champions League preview
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The final two ties of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 begin Wednesday when Manchester City and Juventus head to Spain and France.

The focus for many will be on the former, as City continues to weather UEFA drama while its manager prepares for his fiercest foe as a player and manager.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Pep Guardiola has managed against Real Madrid 17 times and boasts a 9-4-4 record between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Catalan wizard has lost his last three versus Real, two with Bayern and once in his final El Clasico as Barca boss.

Even as Guardiola stresses preparation and plan, he knows there will be bounces and that both teams will have to cope with them.

“We have to be strong, have quality and need to have luck,” he said, via The Manchester Evening News. “At this stage, it’s important but we cannot control that. We can control what we can control and we will see. This competition, last season, against Liverpool, there are decisions. You have to overcome. You need incredible concentration in our game and game plan plus try to be a little lucky.”

Real Madrid living legend Sergio Ramos has earned the ire of Guardiola on plenty of occasions, one of the few things Liverpool and City fans have in common.

Ramos wouldn’t get drawn into rivalry talk, sying the stage somewhat negates the opponent.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Ramos said via the club’s web site. “I think he’s a fantastic coach, with loads of experience, and his numbers speak for themselves. We’re motivated by the Champions League, regardless of the players or coaches who may have been rivals in the past. We’re up for the Champions League and our next task is to beat City. From a personal point of view, I’m just focused on making the next round.”

[ MORE: Key battles for Real-Man City ]

Wednesday’s other match sees a club long linked with Guardiola, as Juventus will play the role of heavy favorites against Lyon.

Maurizio Sarri‘s side is to bidding to win what’s eluded all Juve bosses since Marcello Lippi beat Ajax in 1996. If they succeed, it will be by going down a different path than it’s traveled in recent years.

Here’s Leonardo Bonucci, via Football-Italia:

“What the coach asks of us now is basically the opposite of what the previous coach did,” Bonucci mused. “It was usually individual against individual, now it’s more about organized team movements. Obviously, you need to train consistently to get that down and playing every three days makes it difficult. But we started this journey well aware of the positives it could bring and the difficulties of getting there.”

Lyon has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, sitting seventh in the Ligue 1 table, but has the tools to surprise if Juve doesn’t bring its best. That starts in France on Wednesday.