Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Time for the underdogs to shine

Leave a comment

Week 34 of the Premier League has arrived and it is time to throw out some predictions for the 10 PL matches taking place this weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live online ]

I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out…

BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Stoke City 2-0 Sunderland – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on Premier League Extratime)

Stoke got a lot of belief from that win over Saints last weekend and are gunning for Swansea in eighth spot. I think Sunderland’s confidence is at rock bottom. Expect them to plunge deeper into the relegation mire this weekend. Home win.

Crystal Palace 3-1 Hull City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on Premier League Extratime)

The same could be said for Hull who haven’t won in seven games and Palace will be fired up after failing to break down West Brom last week and conceding from two set piece situations. They deserved at least a point but Pardew’s boys must take their chances. Murray, Zaha and Bolasie won’t be as wasteful this week…

Queens Park Rangers 2-0 West Ham United – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on Premier League Extratime)

Well, QPR’s season pretty much comes down to this game. If they win at home against the Hammers they will breath new life into their campaign and could climb as high as 16th if other results go their way. West Ham’s players seem to have their flip flops on already as Big Sam’s boys were shocking at Man City last week. A big home win.

West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Liverpool – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on Premier League Extratime)

I think Rodgers’ side will keep churning in decent performances until the end of the season and the pace of Raheem Sterling will probably prove too much for WBA’s defense. Tony Pulis’ side will sit back to soak up the pressure but the Reds have too much quality up top to not take advantage of the time they will be given.

Manchester City 3-1 Aston Villa – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

This game will be open and Villa has nothing to lose by going for it. City will want to get as many wins on the board as possible to seal a top four spot before the final few matches of the season. The Citizens are on grind mode at the moment and little Aguero will pop up with a couple.

DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Southampton 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur – (Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET, NBCSN)

Expect a feisty atmosphere down at St Mary’s as Pochettino returns with Spurs for the first time since leaving Saints. The added firepower he possesses (I’m looking at you, Harry Kane) will be the difference in this one. Narrow away win, as has often been the case for Spurs this season.

Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea – (Sunday, 11 a.m. ET, NBCSN)

It will be another tight, oppressive performance from Chelsea and I think they will do a job on Arsenal. If the Blues can win the midfield, with Matic dominating in front of the back four, then they should edge it and be one victory away from the title. Saying that, Arsenal will probably have the majority of the play and chances. But can they take their opportunities?

Everton 2-2 Manchester United – (Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN)

A lot has changed in 12 months at United. In this match last year David Moyes’ side were embarrassed and outplayed in a 2-0 win for the Toffees and that was the final straw for Moyes. Now they can solidify a top four spot with a win but I think Everton (unbeaten in five) will come out swinging in this one.

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Newcastle United 2-1 Swansea City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime)

This is it. This is the weekend Newcastle wins again. After losing six on the spin, the Magpies fans will finally have something to cheer about. Swansea aren’t the same without Wilfried Bony and his replacement Bafetimbi Gomis going down hasn’t helped matters.

Burnley 2-1 Leicester City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN)

It’s been over six hours since Burnley scored a PL goal, but I think they will get two and grab a huge win to potential climb out of the bottom three with four games to go. Leicester is on a tear with three wins from three. Now, this is what you call a relegation six-pointer. Wowza.

Toronto score 4 goals in ET to bounce DCU, Rooney (video)

Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The game in 200 words (or less): Toronto FC outplayed D.C. United by a wide margin but needed extra time — and a 13-minute explosion of goals — to book their place in the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they’ll face top-seeded New York City. The Reds led for exactly an hour, thanks to Marco Delgado’s goal just after the half-hour mark, only to throw their advantage away — after failing to convert a number of chances to go 2-0 up — in second-half stoppage time. The 1-1 scoreline lasted for all of about three minutes of game time before Toronto scored not once, not twice, not three times, but four times in the first period of extra time. Now, Greg Vanney’s side will cross its fingers and hope to get Jozy Altidore (quad) and Omar Gonzalez (hamstring), who didn’t play in this one, back for Wednesday’s game against NYCFC.

[ MORE: Lampard “pleased for Pulisic,” praises subs in Chelsea win ]

What did we learn?

  • Worst time for a goalkeeping error: You might be thinking, “Well, yes, duh, of course it is, there isn’t a good time for that.” The playoffs, however, are really not the right time, however, and United learned that the hard way when Bill Hamid failed to hold onto a simple bouncing ball in front of goal. Stefan Frei was lights out for the Seattle Sounders earlier on Saturday and Jesse Gonzalez recovered from a poor start (and was bailed out by three goals scored by FC Dallas), and Quentin Westberg was stellar for Toronto in this one.

  • Set-piece defending, once again: Earlier in the day, we saw Seattle fail to defend set pieces and let Dallas back into their game on multiple occasions. Toronto weren’t any better in the dying seconds of regular time. With under two minutes remaining, this is how they defended a United corner kick…

That’s comically bad for a regular season game in the middle of April, let alone for a dark-horse candidate in the playoffs, up a goal in stoppage time. Every chance counts tenfold in the playoffs, and set pieces are no different.

  • D.C.’s desire still in doubt: To lose in extra time, away from home, is one thing. To capitulate and concede four goals in 13 minutes — almost as if to say you didn’t want to score the late equalizer in the first place — is shameful. Wayne Rooney‘s time in MLS ends with his team down 5-1 in extra time and him being subbed off after 105 minutes.

 

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Jonathan Osorio

Goalscorers: Delgado (32′), Rodriguez (90’+3), Laryea (93′), Osorio (95′, 103′) DeLeon (105’+1)

Serie A: Juventus win 5th straight; Napoli cruise past Verona (video)

Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ LA LIGA: Real Madrid lose to Mallorca; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann send Barca top ]

Juventus 2-1 Bologna

Juve were made to work a bit — but not too much — en route to a 2-1 victory over Bologna. It’s their fifth straight win in league play and again puts them four points clear of Inter Milan, who are yet to play this weekend.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with a pinpoint finish from a tight angle in the 19th minute, but Bologna hit back just seven minutes later when Danilo smashed home a half-volley after Juve failed to clear a corner kick. It was 1-1 at halftime, but not much longer than that. Miralem Pjanic picked out the near post and slotted home past the goalkeeper in the 54th minute to give Juve their deserved winner.

Napoli 2-0 Verona

Napoli, on the other hand, had their backs against the wall early when Verona visited the San Paolo Stadium. Goalkeeper Alex Meret was the hero early on with a fantastic double-save before Carlo Ancelotti’s side settled in and took control of the game.

Arkadiusz Milik got on the end of Fabian Ruiz’s cross right in front of goal, leaving the Polish forward with the simplest of tap-ins to make it 1-0 in the 37 minute. Milik made it 2-0 when he got a glancing touch on a sensation free kick from Lorenzo Insigne in the 67th.

The victory sees Napoli hang onto fourth in the league table and move to within two points of second-place Inter.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Lazio 3-3 Atalanta

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Sassuolo v. Inter Milan — 6:30 a.m. ET
Sampdoria v. Roma — 9 a.m. ET
Udinese v. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Cagliari v. SPAL — 9 a.m. ET
Parma v. Genoa — 12 p.m. ET
AC Milan v. Lecce — 2:45 p.m. ET

Sounders top Dallas in all-time, extra-time playoffs classic (video)

Andy Bao/The Seattle Times via AP
1 Comment

The game in 200 words (or less): How about one word? Insanity. Simply put, an all-time classic in MLS Cup Playoffs history. It’s a small sample size, no doubt about it, but MLS’s new single-elimination playoff format appears to have solved the problem of uninspiring early-round action. Seattle advanced to the Western Conference semifinals, where they’ll face the winner of Real Salt Lake versus Portland Timbers, with a 4-3 extra-time victory, but it wasn’t without 120 minutes of nonstop drama. Seattle went from 2-0 up inside the first 25 minutes, to level at 2-2 inside 65, to 3-2 up 10 minutes later, to level again with under 10 minutes of regular time remaining. They needed 113 minutes to do it, but Seattle broke the deadlock for the final time when Jordan Morris completed the first hat trick of his career.

[ MORE: Lampard “pleased for Pulisic,” praises subs in Chelsea win ]

What did we learn?

  • Sounders making magic out wide: No matter how many times they saw it, Dallas simply couldn’t slow down the Sounders wide attackers and full backs from creating superb scoring chances from out wide. This has been one of the Sounders’ greatest strengths for a couple seasons now, yet Dallas seemed wholly unprepared for it. The speed and crossing ability they have out wide is a huge problem for a lot of teams, especially when Morris and Raul Ruidiaz are moving around freely in the box.

  • Sounders’ defensive struggles unsolved: For all the chances they created on one end, Seattle couldn’t control the game or even slow it down in middle and defensive thirds. Whether it was on the counter-attack, through sustained possession by Dallas or set pieces, Seattle struggled in the worst way. Even after going ahead in extra time, Seattle stood idly by as Dallas created a couple of golden scoring chances and were so close to finding themselves level again at 4-4. They won’t have (m)any more “get out of jail free” cards to play as they advance to the latter rounds.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Jordan Morris

Goalscorers: Ruidiaz (18′), Morris (22′, 74′, 113′), Cannon (39′), Hedges (64′), Acosta (82′)

La Liga: Real Madrid shocked by Mallorca; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann send Barca top

AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Lampard “pleased for Pulisic,” praises subs in Chelsea win ]

Eibar 0-3 Barcelona

Lionel Messi goal – check; Luis Suarez goal – check; Antoine Griezmann goal – check; clean sheet – check. If there exists a perfect recipe for a Barcelona victory this season, the Blaugrana put it to good use en route to a fourth straight La Liga victory and top spot in the league table on Saturday.

Griezmann opened the scoring in the 13th minute, followed by Messi in the 58th and Suarez in the 66th. Marc-Andre ter Stegen didn’t have to make a single save as Eibar managed just five shots in the game.

Mallorca 1-0 Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s unbeaten start to the season was snapped at eight games on Saturday, when Los Blancos went to Mallorca and suffered a hugely underwhelming 1-0 defeat. Zinedine Zidane’s side — already without the likes of Gareth Bale (calf), Luka Modric (bruise), Toni Kroos (adductor) and Marco Ascensio (knee), among others — finished the game with 10 men after Alvaro Odriozola earned his second yellow card in the 74th minute. The defeat sees Madrid fall off the top spot, now sitting second behind Barca.

Lago Junior scored the game’s only goal in the 7th minute and Mallorca held on for 83 more, allowing just four shots on target (12 in total). The early goal was Mallorca’s only shot on target over 90 minutes.

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Valencia

Atleti coughed up a late lead and settled for a 1-1 draw with Valencia, but the worst news of the day comes in the form of an injury suffered by Joao Felix. The 19-year-old’s ankle buckled underneath him late in the second half. Atleti finished with 10 men after their $140-million superstar was forced off.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Getafe 2-0 Leganes

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Alaves v. Celta Vigo — 6 a.m. ET
Real Sociedad v. Real Betis — 8 a.m. ET
Espanyol v. Villarreal — 10 a.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao v. Real Valladolid — 12:30 p.m. ET
Sevilla v. Levante — 3 p.m. ET