Watch Live: Crystal Palace vs. Aston Villa (Lineups and Discuss)

Leave a comment

Both sides claim to be safe from the relegation fight, but both Crystal Palace and Aston Villa would love to emerge from Selhurst Park clutching all three points (Watch live at 10:07 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).

Villa and Palace are each on 34 points after having played 32 matches. It’s the visitors that are having a tougher time of it at the moment, however. Since beating Chelsea a month ago, Villa have lost three in a row, by a combined score of 10-3. The Villa even managed to lose 2-1 to Fulham last weekend, giving the Cottagers an immense boost in their fight for safety.

Tony Pulis, meanwhile, is proving his worth as a manager that never lets his side get relegated. Now in 14th, seven points clear of the drop, Palace are looking like a side that will still be in the Premier League next year. They’re helped by losing just one of their last four – and still bolstered by beating Chelsea two weeks back.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA

Paul Lambert makes four changes to the side that lost to Fulham last weekend. Although Christian Benteke will remain sidelined until next season, the Villa manager is thrilled to have Gabby Agbonlahor, Fabian Delph and Karim El Ahmadi back to start. The other change is Ciaran Clark in to help in defense, with Lambert changing from a 4-3-3 to a fluid 3-5-2/5-3-2 against Palace.

It’s an unchanged team for Palace, with Pulis deciding that if the lineup is good enough for an emphatic win at Cardiff, it’s certainly good enough for a home victory against Aston Villa. The manager will be looking for Jason Puncheon to create another big punch, with the attacker netting twice last weekend.

LINEUPS

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Bolasie, Puncheon, Ledley, Jerome

Subs: Hennessey, Gabbidon, Parr, Ince, Gayle, Murray, Chamakh

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Clark, Bertrand, Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi, Agbonlahor, Holt

Subs: Bennett, Weimann, Albrighton, Sylla, Bowery, Tonev, Steer

De Gea signs new Man United contract

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dave stays.

David De Gea has finally signed a new contract at Manchester United.

After months of talks, the 28-year-old has agreed to a new four year contract, which also includes the option to extend by another year.

Reports suggest that De Gea could earn up to $434,000 per week, making him the best-paid goalkeeper on the planet.

Speaking to the club website about extending his stay at Old Trafford, De Gea was delighted to finally sign the deal and remain in the Premier League after reported interest from both Juventus and Real Madrid.

“It has been a privilege to spend eight years at this great club and the opportunity to continue my career at Manchester United is a genuine honor,” De Gea said. “Since I arrived here, I could never have imagined I would play over 350 games for this club. Now my future is fixed, all I want is to help this team achieve what I believe we can and win trophies again, together.

“As one of the senior players in the squad, I want to support and lead in any way that I can to assist the younger players, so they know what it means to play here. I still feel that I have so much more to achieve at the club and I truly believe that Manchester United can build on the club’s tradition of success and reward our fans for their support. I am committed to continue repaying the fans for all of the care that they’ve shown me during the good times and the bad.”

That last line is key here. De Gea and United have had plenty of wobbles over the past six months, with the Spanish goalkeeper making some big errors at the tail end of last season as they dropped out of the top four race in disappointing fashion.

There is no doubt these lengthy contract negotiations played their part in De Gea’s dip in form, but there’s also no doubting his supreme quality as one of the best goalkeepers on the planet.

Nailing him down to a new long-term deal was a necessity and United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be relieved that it’s done. To replace a goalkeeper of De Gea’s quality would’ve cost the Red Devils at least $100 million, and this is a massive reward for DDG after his years of exceptional play.

He arrived in 2011 and has become one of the best goalkeepers on the planet, as he won four of the last six club Player of the Season awards.

A fully focused De Gea is wonderful news for United, as their defense is improving with two clean sheets and just four goals conceded so far this season.

Along with Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, all of a sudden this United defense has a very settled look to it.

Mane: Feud with Salah is over

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are friends again.

Sort of.

Following Mane’s angry reaction to not being passed the ball by Salah in their win at Burnley before the international break, there were concerns that the relationship between the two star forwards would impact their play on the pitch.

But speaking to French outlet Canal+ after their 3-1 win against Newcastle United on Saturday, Mane put a lid on the matter.

“With Salah? It’s forgotten,” Mane said. “Sometimes you have to say things face to face. These are things that happen in football, sometimes it happens that I am not given the pass. But we have reconciled and become the good friends we were before.”

That’s that then.

Salah posted the following video ahead of the weekend, which says it all.

Mane scored twice on Saturday to continue his stunning start to the season, so it hasn’t impacted his form. But Salah, the Egyptian King and darling of Anfield, has come out of this worse.

Liverpool fans, generally, were on Mane’s side in this disagreement and the Senegalese attacker has been applauded for his response.

Will this impact Salah’s confidence and the fluidity of Liverpool front three? Probably not.

As Mane said, these things happen in football but it does prove that despite all of the success something has been brewing behind-the-scenes at Liverpool.

Arsenal “too scared” of Watford in collapse

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka admitted the Gunners were “too scared” of Watford as they collapsed in the second half.

Leading 2-0 at half time thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal were totally outplayed in the second half as Watford roared back to draw 2-2 at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

Speaking after the game, Xhaka said the Arsenal players were not confident enough to see out the game.

“No-one wanted the ball. In the end we are happy to take a point,” Xhaka said. “We didn’t show our game in the second half, we were too scared… Every team in the Premier League is strong enough to score but you have to keep calm, to show good character, to be mentally strong. We weren’t today.”

If only this was a rare occurrence for Arsenal.

Under Unai Emery their defensive collapses have been frequent, and this issue even dates back to Arsene Wenger‘s final few seasons in charge.

Arsenal were their own worst enemies on Sunday.

Instead of playing the ball out of dangerous areas they tried to play short goal kicks time and time again and were caught in possession on several occasions. David Luiz gave away a penalty kick, Xhaka and Mateo Guendouzi were overrun in central midfield in the second half and in the end they were lucky to grab a point.

Trying the same things time and time again and expecting different results is just bonkers, and that is what this Arsenal squad is going.

Luiz, Bernd Leno, Sokratis and Xhaka are players Arsenal have built their defensive core around, and the same issues keep cropping up when they are in the team. Adding Luiz to the mix after losing Laurent Koscielny was a risk and it seems like a move which will backfire for the Gunners.

It is true that defenders Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are all close to returning from injury, so when that happens perhaps we will see a newfound defensive solidity and things will improve.

Then again, it’s likely neutral everywhere will be grabbing their popcorn whenever Arsenal play this season because you’re guaranteed entertainment at both ends of the pitch.

Galaxy hammer Sporting KC; Zlatan: “I’m the best ever in MLS”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LA Galaxy smashed Sporting Kansas City 7-2 on Sunday, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat trick then called himself the best player in MLS history.

Just a casual Sunday for Zlatan, then…

Ibrahimovic, 37, scored a hat trick as LA raced into a 7-1 lead after falling 1-0 behind early on as Felipe Gutierrez scored both of Sporting’s goals.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Ibrahimovic was typically humble after his hat trick which means he now holds the record for the highest scoring season in Galaxy history with 26 goals.

“I think I am the best ever to play in MLS. And that’s without joking,” Ibrahimovic said. “Scoring goals is easy, you just have to be like Zlatan and it’s coming.”

Zlatan is now two goals behind Carlos Vela in the race for the Golden Boot in MLS with four games remaining, and he’s now scored 48 goals in 52 games since arriving in MLS.

Joe Corona, Uriel Antuna and Sebastian Lletget grabbed the Galaxy’s other goals as they won for the first time in five MLS games to boost their chances of making the playoffs in the congested Western Conference.

With the defeat Sporting KC’s hopes of reaching the playoffs is all but over.

Check out the highlights in full below. It will take quite a while to sort through the nine goals, so set down and soak in Zlatan’s brilliance.