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Premier League Preview: Man City vs. West Ham

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  • Teams split last season’s series (home wins)
  • West Ham winless at City since 2006
  • City leads all-time 48W-16D-36L

Manchester City’s perfect Premier League mark will have to deal with injuries and an in-form West Ham United on Saturday afternoon at the Etihad Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

[ MORE: PL Preview — Chelsea vs. Arsenal ]

City hasn’t conceded a goal or a point in Premier League play this season, but will be without Vincent Kompany in addition to Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy. Into the fray is big-money signing Nicolas Otamendi, who will line up in front of Joe Hart.

West Ham is up to fifth, another solid Premier League start to a season. Dimitri Payet scored a pair of goals in Monday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle. Though the Irons didn’t carry the play, they limited the Magpies to few chances of any quality.

What they’re saying

City’s Manuel Pellegrini on Otamendi“It’s important for Otamendi to show why he’s here and for Demichelis to play again after doing so well. Otamendi has been working with our team the last three weeks maybe not so many times as we would have liked but he’s an experienced player and he must have an option in this moment. I hope he will have a good performance.”

West Ham’s James Collins on Payet“Everyone is talking about Dimitri Payet and I have seen it from the first couple of days he came into the Club. I first played with him at Southend and he was by far the best player on the pitch by a mile. Some of the stuff he was doing was tremendous.He has kicked on since then and is showing great form. He has settled in very quickly and has got involved in all the banter in the changing room and gets on with it. We are reaping the rewards of a great player.”

Prediction

Is this the day City sacrifices its season-long clean sheet? Kompany has been a big part of that run, and injected a new center back is a big move (even considering the quality of Otamendi… and how about Pellegrini’s tone on the Argentine’s form?). I’d think West Ham can punch in a goal, and I’d like to see Andy Carroll have the chance to do it, but Aguero back to fitness makes the case for our prediction: City 3-1.

Southgate, England players sound off on racist abuse

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England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.

Kane, Sterling star as England rout Bulgaria

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On a night where racist abuse from the stands in Bulgaria marred the overall spectacle, England’s players produced an incredible result and spectacle for the visiting fans, with all things considered.

Harry Kane scored once and assisted on three others as England rolled over Bulgaria, winning 6-0 on Monday evening in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria. Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley both scored a brace for the Three Lions and Marcus Rashford’s thunderbolt from a tight angle gave England the opening goal it needed.

The blowout result was the perfect response after England had suffered its first loss in qualifying for a decade, losing on Friday, 2-1 at the Czech Republic. The six goals England put past Bulgaria was also the fourth time out of six games that England had scored at least five goals in a match. The only other time, aside from the defeat, was a 4-0 win last month at Wembley Stadium over Bulgaria.

This story will be updated.

 

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

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With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.