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UEFA Champions League Weds. preview: For Arsenal, Chelsea, it’s “win and in”

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There’s a bit more drama on tap for Day Two of the group stage finales in the UEFA Champions League.

While Tuesday found just one group that hadn’t settled its entrants into the knockout stages, Wednesday does not have a single group with both slots settled.

[ UCL: Tuesday roundup sees City top, United drop ]

And while that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bit of high probability at play, there’s plenty to anticipate this day in December.

Chief among concerns for Premier League fans should be whether Manchester City is left as the only English team in the UCL after play concludes on Wednesday, with Manchester United crashing to the Europa League and both Chelsea and Arsenal very much in question.

Olympiakos vs. Arsenal
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Bayern Munich

Arsene Wenger‘s Gunners looked all-but-dead when they were staring down a pair of matches with mighty Bayern after an 0-2 start in group play. But Arsenal flipped the script on the Bavarians in one of the two matches, and dusted Zagreb en route to this decider with Olympiakos in Greece.

Still, Wenger’s group needs either a multi-goal win or a 3-2 or higher-scoring one-goal win to advance into the knockout rounds. Will they avenge their stunning 3-2 loss to Olympiakos at the Emirates? A loss for the Gunners likely sees them into the Europa League, while a draw certainly does that.

Gent vs. Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Valencia vs. Lyon

Zenit is through, seeded, and off to Belgium with little on the line besides an unbeaten, undrawn group slate (Frankly, Andre Villas-Boas’ side has looked unreal this tournament). And the hosts need a win or help to advance, holding a one-point lead over Valencia for the other knockout round slot.

The help seems unlikely. Lyon is 1D-4L in this group stage, already eliminated from contention for anything entering the day. Phil Neville‘s Valencia, however, knows a home win over the French side could boost them into the knockout rounds.

during the Chelsea ***** at the Chelsea Training Ground on December 8, 2015 in Cobham, England.
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Dynamo Kyiv vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Chelsea vs. Porto

The table reads Porto, Chelsea, Dynamo Kyiv, Maccabi Tel Aviv, but the first three could finish in any order on Wednesday.

Porto leads the fray due to its 2-1 home win over Chelsea, but the Blues can clinch Group G’s seeded berth with a 1-0, 2-1 or multi-goal win. Porto advances with a draw or win, and both are through regardless of result if Dynamo surprisingly falls to Maccabi in Ukraine.

Dynamo has to feel decent about its chances, knowing it’s “win and in”. The Ukrainian side would pass the loser of Chelsea and Porto, and hold the three-way tiebreaker if the other two draw at Stamford Bridge.

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Barcelona
AS Roma vs. BATE Borisov

Roma and Bayer have left the door open to a Belarusian side advancing to the knockout rounds. Here’s what would need to happen:

BATE beats Roma in Italy

-and-

Bayer loses or draws at home to Barcelona

That’s a big ask in both cases, if only because mighty Barca has already advanced and could field quite a weakened side in Germany. Roma is on five points with an edge on Bayer, which has the same amount of points, while BATE is last with four. How much will that change by the close of business?

Burnley – Southampton: How to watch, start time, team news, odds

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Burnley – Southampton: Two committed and hard-working clubs clash at Turf Moor on Saturday (Watch live at 3pm ET online via Peacock) as both teams are aiming for their first points of the season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Sean Dyche’s Burnley lost at Leicester in their opening game of the season last weekend, while Ralph Hasenhuttl saw his Southampton side hammered 5-2 at home by Tottenham are losing at Crystal Palace on the opening day.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

These clubs are evenly-matched as Burnley finished 10th and Saints 11th last season, but both clubs know they have increasing competition to finish in midtable.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of what should be an extremely physical early-season clash.


Team news: Burnley – Southampton (INJURY REPORT)

Dale Stephens goes right into the mix for Burnley, who are without a host of players as Jay Rodriguez suffered an injury in the midweek League Cup win at Millwall and joins Ben Mee, James Tarkowski, Robbie Brady, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jack Cork and Ashley Barnes in the treatment room.

Southampton only have one player missing through injury, Nathan Redmond, while Mohammed Salisu isn’t quite up to full speed following his arrival this summer.

 


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

With all of their injuries Burnley (+220) are the underdogs but Southampton (+135) have never fared well at Burnley and last won at Turf Moor in 2007 when both teams were in the second tier.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Burnley – Southampton prediction

This is a real clash of style as Hasenhuttl’s Saints will press high and look to force the issue, while Burnley will sit back and soak up the pressure and look to go direct. Burnley always seem to catch Saints out on the break or from set pieces and I think that will be the case here too, but with all of the Clarets’ injuries I think Southampton will come away with something. Burnley 1-1 Southampton.


How to watch Burnley – Southampton stream and start time

Kickoff: 3pm ET Saturday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Everton stays perfect in energetic win over Crystal Palace

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Crystal Palace – Everton: Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison scored as Everton won a battle of unbeatens with Crystal Palace on Saturday at Selhurst Park.

The Toffees claimed a 2-1 win to go 3-0 on the young Premier League season, handing Palace their first loss.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

Palace’s goal came from a Cheikhou Kouyate header.


3 things we learned: Crystal Palace – Everton

1. Ancelotti pushing the right buttons, especially with James: Carlo Ancelotti’s first full season guiding the Toffees could hardly be going better, with away wins at Palace and Spurs and a home blowout of 10-man West Brom. Yes, Everton got penalty luck on a similar play that was deemed not an offense when Palace took a shot, but few would argue that the visitors didn’t do enough anyway for a win. James Rodriguez remains on another level when playing under the Italian, which is reason enough to celebrate the relationship.

2. Palace a bit unlucky in losing perfect mark: Roy Hodgson’s men will feel they should’ve had a point when Calvert-Lewin’s half-torso, half-arm block in the 18 was not given to Palace as a chance to level from the spot, especially with Ward’s handball being awarded as a pen. With Guaita getting a piece of Calvert-Lewin’s opening goal and Palace having a strong late run of possession, these were fine margins even if Everton likely deserved no less than the point.

3. Is goalkeeping an issue for Everton? Jordan Pickford is being questioned again, days after a silly giveaway cost Everton a goal. Maybe we’re not talking about the goalkeeper’s inability to get a hand on Kouyate’s hammered header if not for the midweek moment, but the goal was Palace’s only shot on target. Pickford hasn’t been great since the season

Man of the Match:

Seamus Coleman. It’s difficult to choose who was better in attack between Calvert-Lewin and Rodriguez, but the Irish right back was dynamic at both ends in setting up the first goal and making three tackles, an interception, and a blocked shot.


Crystal Palace – Everton recap

The Toffees are playing really good football and the opening goal exemplified their attacking prowess as Seamus Coleman started a move with Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez which returned to the Irishman for a pass inside the box that Calvert-Lewin put off Vicente Guaita and into the goal.

Palace found a leveler off a set piece, Andros Townsend’s corner kick finding the leaping Kouyate for a header through the flailing arms of Jordan Pickford.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Joel Ward had two close-range handball penalty shouts reviewed by VAR. The second was just a bit closer to the real deal and VAR awarded Richarlison his chance from the spot. 2-1, 40′.

VAR did not give Palace a chance to level from the spot when Calvert-Lewin blocked a shot inside the box with a combination of his arm and torso, the appendage squeezed close to his side but

‘Not the bad guy’: Koeman hits back on Suarez exit at Barcelona

Koeman Messi
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman is not worried about the commitment of Lionel Messi to the team despite his ongoing conflicts with the club leadership.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

Koeman said Saturday that he cared about the efforts of Messi on the field – and not his criticisms of the board for stopping him from leaving Barcelona while pushing out teammate and friend Luis Suarez.

“It is normal that a player is sad when a friend leaves,” Koeman said in a conciliatory tone toward Messi, a day after the star forward went to social media to complain that Barcelona’s board had not given Suarez the exit he “deserved.”

“But the most important thing for me is how Leo has trained. He has been an example for the rest in practice and in the (preseason) matches,” Koeman said a day before his official debut as Barcelona’s coach against Villarreal.

Suarez learned of the club’s decision to get rid of him through a call from Koeman, who was hired after the team lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich to end last season. After probing a transfer with Juventus in Italy, Barcelona ended up sending Suarez to Spanish league rival Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Koeman, however, made clear that he did not want to be considered solely responsible for the departure of the 33-year-old Suarez, who left Barcelona as its third all-time leading scorer.

“I must say that I look like the bad guy … That is not true,” Koeman said. “It was a decision of the club. The club, before I had become its coach, took some decisions. This was not my sole decision as coach; it was also the decision of the club. It is an effort to change the team. Younger players will have more opportunities.”

Those younger players include new signings Francisco Trincao and Pedri, and 17-year-old Ansu Fati.

“Ansu is a great talent,” Koeman said about the striker who became Spain’s youngest all-time scorer on his debut earlier this month.

“There are few players who have shown they can play for Barca. He is a player of the future.”

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

West Brom – Chelsea: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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West Brom – Chelsea: The Blues are in desperate need of a strong rebound when they visit The Hawthorns on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 pm ET, on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WEST BROM – CHELSEA STREAM LIVE

The Baggies, on the other hand, are simply hoping to collect their first point of the season after suffering a 3-0 defeat to Leicester City on the opening day of the 2020-21 season and following that up with a 5-2 beatdown at the hands of Everton last weekend.

As far as favorable matchups go, facing the 20th-place side a week after losing to defending champions Liverpool is quite timely for Chelsea, who is still a week or two away from seeing Christian Pulisic in a match.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of West Brom – Chelsea this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: West Brom – Chelsea (INJURY REPORT)

Hal Robson-Kanu’s leg is not a problem after a good midweek in the League Cup and he’ll start on the bench.

Christian Pulisic is out for Chelsea but Cesar Azpilicueta is fit to see the bench.


What they’re saying: West Brom – Chelsea

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic, on struggling to sign players: “We don’t have a huge budget, that is why we are trying to be creative and lucky. That’s not easy but we are trying. … We have to do it to maintain a good chance.”

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, on Thiago Silva: “It is exciting for us because he has had just over a week training with us. It was a perfect 60 minutes for him tonight. He will show the qualities he has. Of course, he will get fitter and better. He also gave us something for me on the night in the dressing room and on the pitch of a leader with authority in terms of his demands on others. He can’t speak the language but at the minute that’s not even a problem because his presence and the way he commands people around him is already showing that to me in training and in our game tonight.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

West Brom (+750) represent one of the biggest underdogs — or, opportunities, depending on how you look at it — of the still-young PL season. There’s not much to be won by betting on Chelsea (-280). Even the draw (+400) is pretty far out there.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: West Brom – Chelsea

Barring some unforeseen circumstances — for example, a 12th-minute red card — it’s virtually impossible to see West Brom getting anything from this game. They’ve been incredibly poor defensively through two games, and they’re yet to face a side with anything close to the firepower which the Blues possess. West Brom 1-3 Chelsea.


How to watch West Brom – Chelsea stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:30 pm ET Saturday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com