Prindi’s Premier League Picks: Southampton and Chelsea to rise

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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

Sunderland v. Norwich City (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Stadium of Light)

Sunderland enter this match flying high having knocked off Chelsea 2-1 in midweek League Cup action. Now, they’ll look to get it done in the league where they haven’t won since the 1-0 victory over Manchester City on November 10th.

It won’t come easy, with Norwich taking seven of a possible 12 points in their last four matches and looking a bit more dangerous with the appointment of Gary Hooper as lead striker.

Huge match for the Black Cats to keep the relegation race tight.

Sunderland 2 Norwich City 1

Southampton v. Tottenham Hotspur (Sun 8:30am ET on NBCSN; St Mary’s Stadium)

Tottenham are a shambles. AVB is out, Tim Sherwood (pictured) is deputizing and so far it doesn’t seem to be making a difference as Spurs blew a one goal lead to concede twice in the last ten minutes and lose to West Ham in the League Cup. Not good.

The Saints have their issues as well, namely injuries as Victor Wanyama, Artur Boruc and (possibly) Nathaniel Clyne are all out. That said, the Saints have managed their injury issues impressively over the last few weeks and I expect the same on Sunday.

Southampton 2 Tottenham 1

Arsenal v. Chelsea (Mon 3:00pm ET on NBCSN; Emirates Stadium)

Both teams are in a weird space.

Looking a bit ragged, Monday’s match marks the end of a ridiculous 12 match span for the Gunners. Not having won in three matches and at risk of relinquishing their hold on first place, Arsenal will be desperate to win.

Although he’s not a threat to lose his job, Jose Mourinho’s misunderstanding of his midfield is strikingly similar to that of the recently fired Andre Villas-Boas. How long does it take to figure it out?

This one could go either way but the Blues owned Arsenal when they beat them 2-0 in the Capital One Cup back in October. That tips the scales for me.

Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1

SQUEAKY BUM TIME

Crystal Palace v. Newcastle United (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Selhurst Park)

Four matches into Tony Pulis’ managerial reign at Selhurst Park and things have improved drastically. The Eagles have moved up two spots to 18th in the table, one point from safety, but even more impressive is they haven’t lost or conceded a home goal in three matches.

It’s a run of form that Newcastle won’t be too bothered by. The Magpies enter the match winners of five of their last seven, with the only loss a throw-away game at Swansea. Alan Pardew’s side are healthy, mentally sharp and dreaming of contending from the outside.

Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle United 2

Manchester United v. West Ham United (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Old Trafford)

United’s 2-0 away win at Stoke in the League Cup was telling of this team’s transformation. Without Rooney and Van Persie, they showed a courage and attitude that I have yet to see from them this season. The weather was awful – wind, driving rain and hail – and Stoke looked up for it but Moyes’ men were fearless in their approach. Could be a turning point for United.

Manchester United 3 West Ham United 2

Stoke City v. Aston Villa (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Britannia Stadium)

It’s an American party going down in the Midlands this week with Stoke’s Geoff Cameron – possibly the most improved player in the Premier League this year – taking on one of the league’s most sought after netminders, Villa’s Brad Guzan. This one will entice.

Stoke City 3 Aston Villa 2

West Bromwich Albion v. Hull City (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; The Hawthorns)

Following Steve Clarke’s sacking, caretaker head coach Keith Downing will take charge of Albion for visit of Hull. Fortunately for Downing he’ll be able to call on Ben Foster, who returns from injury to help boost the Baggies.

Hull are a quality home side unfortunately they’ve won only once away, and have lost four of their last five games on the road.

Albion rise.

West Brom 3 Hull City 2

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

Liverpool v. Cardiff City (Sat 7:45 ET on NBCSN; Anfield)

Seeing how this Malky Mackay/Vincent Tan situation will pan out is like watching a car accident in slow motion. I feel for Cardiff fans. How could you not? My hope is that the turmoil will motivate the Bluebirds to come out firing but I fear for them against this in-form Liverpool side.

Liverpool 3 Cardiff City 1

Fulham v. Manchester City (Sat 10:00am ET on NBCSN; Craven Cottage)

With eight-straight unbeaten, the road worries of Manchester City appear to be well in the rearview.

Fulham 0 Manchester City 4

Swansea City v. Everton (Sun 11:00am ET on NBCSN; Liberty Stadium)

As Everton continues to lurk in the shadows of the title favorites they travel to Swansea City on Saturday where they’ve never lost. It’s a favorable match-up for the Toffees but it’s hardly a foregone conclusion. Roberto Martinez’ side needs to continue to prove that it can dispose of lesser competition, especially when a few of their best players (Michel Vorm, Nathan Dyer and Michu) are out injured.

Everton has character. They’ll get this done.

Swansea City 0 Everton 2

Arsenal bests Eintracht Frankfurt behind teen hero Saka

Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images
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Arsenal got its Europa League campaign off to a pleasant if uneasy start, riding a deflected first half goal and solid goalkeeping before breaking out late for 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the Commerzbank-Arena on Thursday.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Joe Willock scored the early marker, while newly-minted 18-year-old Bukayo Saka capped a strong performance with a late insurance marker and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put it to bed.

American defender Timothy Chandler was a second half sub for the Bundesliga hosts.


Three things we learned

1. Goalkeeper matters huge: Even as underrated Bernd Leno got a night off, Arsenal got a big performance from its goalkeeper. Eintracht took double the shots of its visitors over the first hour of play. Emiliano Martinez made his season debut and was very, very good for the Gunners. He played just one Europa League match last season and spent half the year with Reading on loan, but the 27-year-old looks in line for more experience this season and even played a role in Arsenal’s second goal.

2. Young stars shine: Willock was very good in the win, and produced several nice chances, but it’s fair to say that his goal was a good deal of Fortune. Saka’s big day was even brighter. The 18-year-old was a menace for most of the day, and scored a deserved goal late off a Nicolas Pepe feed. Saka then forced the turnover that led to Aubameyang’s goal, Arsenal’s third.

What a hit for his goal, too.

3. Emery deploys star subs: Unai Emery knows a bit about winning this competition, and he took out Willock and Smith-Rowe in order to protect the lead late (He also put in Ainsley Maitland-Niles for Sead Kolasinac, who was on a yellow card). He deployed fire power in Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos, which was unlikely a welcome site for the hosts.


Martinez was exceptional in posting his clean sheet, needing many big moments in the first half to allow Arsenal its 0-0 score line before fortune smiled upon the Gunners.

Willock’s shot took a mean turn off Eintracht mainstay center back David Abraham to produce a halftime lead (see video below Thing No. 3).

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

The floodgates opened late, doubtlessly aided by a second yellow card dished out to Eintracht’s Dominic Kohr.

Martinez’s day went to the wire, tipping a Danny da Costa ball away before denying Filip Kostic with less than 10 minutes on the clock.

He then started the play that led to Arsenal’s second goal, finding Pepe for a long dribble en route to Saka’s career milestone. He turned 18 just two weeks ago.

It was a day to remember for Saka and one to forget for Abraham, as the teen stripped the Eintracht captain of the ball before making a silky pass to Aubameyang.

UEL, LIVE — Man Utd, Wolves face Kazakh, Portuguese opposition

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The Europa League group stage begins play on Thursday, with Arsenal in Germany and taking care of 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt.

A younger Arsenal took the lead on a deflected shot from Man of the Match candidate Joe Willock, before Bukayo Saka took the MOTM mantle with a late goal and assist.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Manchester United and Wolves are set to kick-off their respective matches against Astana and Braga at 3 p.m. ET.

Lineups are out for both sides. United will be very young against Kazakh side Astana ahead of a Sunday visit to West Ham United, while Wolves start Raul Jimenez and Patrick Cutrone up top versus Braga.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow

Top Premier League storylines: Week 6

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Of the seven Premier League sides to handle midweek Europeans challenges, only two face-off and that predictably is the hallmark of the weekend in England.

[ MORE: Silva to Inter Miami? ]

What else is cooking? Smell the aromas of the weekend ahead, below.


How will Frank Lampard attack Liverpool?

  • Chelsea v. Liverpool, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The Blues’ 5-2 defeat at Wolves last week did not help spin a win over Valencia in the Champions League, and Frank Lampard’s next chance to make a statement comes against a team that is perfect in PL play and finds itself licking its wounds from a subpar performance at Napoli. Can a very fresh Christian Pulisic make the difference for Chelsea? Will Callum Hudson-Odoi take the positive vibes from his new contract and solid PL2 appearance into the fray?


Will Fernandinho help stabilize Man City against improving Watford?

  • Man City v. Watford, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

City went to Ukraine and blanked Shakhtar Donetsk with Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho at center back, and the Brazilian center midfielder says he’s been preparing for his possibility for some time. If Watford looks anything like it looked in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal, we could see a very decent test for City’s back line.


Weary Spurs get top-half test from Leicester City

  • Leicester City v. Tottenham Hotspur, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Inconsistent Tottenham meets a Leicester City side with Top Six ambitions, licking its wounds from a 1-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford which probably deserved a point. Spurs aren’t feeling great following another blown 2-0 lead in a big spot away from home. How will they react in Leicester?


Will Solskjaer’s midweek rest risk reap rewards on Sunday?

  • West Ham United v. Manchester United, Sunday, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to hand heavy minutes to youngsters and second-choice players against Kazakh side Astana on Thursday at Old Trafford. Will that pay off when trying to stop Sebastien Haller, Felipe Anderson, and Manuel Pellegrini‘s Irons on Sunday morning?


Early season six-pointer at St. James’ Park

  • Newcastle United v. Brighton and Hove Albion, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Look, it’s Week Six and normally we’d say anything can happen in a Premier League season, but let’s be reasonable: If you’re looking at the teams for Newcastle and Brighton, this result will matter as many as any down the stretch in determining Premier League status for 2019/20.

Hudson-Odoi signs new deal with Chelsea

Photo by Clive Howes - Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
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Man, is Bayern Munich gonna feel like it wasted its time.

Chelsea starlet Callum Hudson-Odoi has re-upped with the Premier League side to the tune of five more years, inking a deal through at least the 2023-24 season.

[ MORE: Silva to Inter Miami? ]

Hudson-Odoi, 18, made his breakthrough with Chelsea last season and was heavily recruited by the German giants.

He joins Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic as young wingers committed to the club for the long-term, but is still away from the Blues first team after an achilles tear late last season. He registered an assist in 61 minutes for Chelsea’s PL2 side last week.

Here’s manager Frank Lampard, via ChelseaFC.com:

“I have seen Callum come through and he’s a fantastic talent. He is going to be central for us on the pitch and that is the opportunity in front of him now. There are things as a young player that he will want to improve but he can be central to this team and for England. I want to work with him, I want to drive him forward and I want to improve him as a player.”

Hudson-Odoi has five goals and five assists in 28 appearances for the Blues and isn’t 19 until November.

American eyes can’t help but wonder how this will affect Christian Pulisic, himself a big investment for Chelsea. One thing’s for sure: Chelsea has depth on the wings.