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Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Crystal Palace

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The Eagles are on the rise but this season is huge in dictating how lofty their ascent will be in the next few years.

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Alan Pardew‘s side started off like an express train last season, hovering around the Premier League’s top six around the festive period but then dropping away drastically in the second half of the campaign as they became embroiled in a relegation battle. Granted, their run to the FA Cup final played a part in that, but there’s no doubting Palace need some reinforcements to turn them into a club challenging for a top six finish.

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With American investment providing funds to help renovate Selhurst Park, plus add more transfer funds to the kitty, Palace is entering a whole new era. Don’t forget, they were only promoted to the PL in 2013 but they’ve quickly cemented themselves as a solid PL outfit and are now looking to make that next step.

The Eagles will soar into the top six because… They have an experienced manager who knows the league inside out. Pardew sets his teams up to be difficult to beat and lets his wingers and full backs push on at every chance. If they can sort their home form out this season then Palace will threaten the big boys. There are few better atmospheres in the PL than the one generated down in south London.

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Most likely they’ll sit in midtable and maybe push into the top 10: Our old friend pragmatism has arrived. With Connor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell around it is unlikely Palace will score loads of goals. Pardew needs a poacher and that was the main reason for Palace’s slump last season. In defense and in midfield he’s set. Palace are willing to spend big to get a 20-goal a season man. If they fail to find him then it’s a case of midtable mediocrity.


Best Possible XI

— Hennessey —

— Ward — Dann — Tomkins — Souare —

— Ledley — Cabaye —

—–  Zaha —– Bolasie —– Townsend

— Wickham —


Transfers In: Steve Mandanda ($2 million, Marseille), James Tomkins ($13 million, West Ham United), Andros Townsend ($18 million, Newcastle United)

Transfers Out: Emmanuel Adebayor, Reise Allassani, Andreas Breimyr, Marouane Chamakh, Connor Dymond, Brede Hangeland, William Hoare, Chris Kettings, Adrian Mariappa, Paddy McCarthy, Oliver Pain, Christian Scales (All released), Dwight Gayle ($13 million, Newcastle United), David Gregory (Free, Cambridge United), Jake Gray (Free, Luton Town), Alex McCarthy (Undisclosed, Southampton), Jerome Binnom-Williams (Free, Peterborough United)

Last Season: After winning just two PL games in 2016 Palace’s season ended poorly and they finished in 15th place. Pardew’s side reached the FA Cup final where they eventually lost to Manchester United 2-1 after extra time despite leading 1-0 with 12 minutes to go. A certain premature victory dance from Mr. Pardew will live long in the memory…

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 16: Andros Townsend #17 of Crystal Palace FC controls the ball during the match against FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium on July 16, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Crystal Palace FC defeated FC Cincinnati 2-0. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Star Player: Andros Townsend – This man had a sensational finish to the season with Newcastle United and did everything to try and keep the Magpies up following his January move from Tottenham Hotspur. A pure out-and-out winger, Townsend will cut in from the flank and fire shots at goal. Has the potential to be Palace’s leading scorer and will push Bolasie and Zaha all the way in the fight for the three attacking midfield positions. Yohan Cabaye, technically, is Palace’s most gifted player but injury and a severe loss of form hampered his impact last season.

Coach’s Corner: Pardew is back at home at Palace and the former Eagles player is now entering his second full season in charge of the club. He has cut the deadwood from his squad and brought in three experienced campaigners so far with Townsend and James Tomkins having plenty of PL nous. You know what you will get with a Pardew team. They’ll be committed, dangerous from set pieces and tight defensively. Palace will scrap for every point but if the Eagles have another season of failing to crack the top 10 then it could be quite delicate for Pardew at the end of this campaign. He really needs to sign a top-class finisher this summer.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 09:  Alan Pardew (R) Manager of Crystal Palace and Yohan Cabaye (L) applaud home supporters after their 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Norwich City at Selhurst Park on April 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

PST Predicts: Best case scenario for Palace is finishing in 8-10 place in the table. They won’t challenge the big boys who have spent big this summer but they will dish out plenty of shocks along the way. Expect another good cup run and a big push for a top 10 finish under Pardiola.

Champions League score predictions: Round of 16

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is finally back as the Round of 16 kicks off this week and two of the four Premier League clubs are in action.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, the two finalists from last season, are first up and both will be happy enough with their draws in the last 16.

That said, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool know that Diego Simeone’s Atleti are a very dangerous team to play as they will scrap and battle for every ball against the reigning European champions. As for Spurs and Jose Mourinho, the news that Heung-min Son has broken his arm and could be out for the rest of the season is a huge blow but they host an inconsistent RB Leipzig.

Borussia Dortmund host Paris Saint-Germain and Atalanta host Valencia in the other last 16 ties this week and both should be cracking encounters between two very evenly-matched teams.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

Next week the other four last 16 first legs take place as Man City and Chelsea are in action against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. Out of the four Premier League teams still in the competition, Liverpool and Spurs will be the most confident of advancing.

Below we predict the scores for the UCL round of 16 games taking place over the next two days. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below, too.


Tuesday
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Liverpool
Borussia Dortmund 3-2 PSG

Wednesday
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 RB Leipzig
Atalanta 2-1 Valencia

Lampard issues Chelsea injury update; Pulisic remains out

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard issued a lengthy injury update after their 2-0 defeat against Man United and USMNT fans will not be happy to hear that Christian Pulisic remains out.

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Ahead of Chelsea’s pivotal top four clash at home against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Lampard could be without as many as five key players.

Andreas Christensen broke his nose and came off at half time against United, while N’Golo Kante was subbed off early after yet another leg injury for the French superstar.

“Callum, no. Pulisic, no. N’Golo, no, from that today. Tammy is a maybe. It is not going our way with injuries at the moment but the players who come in they have to show that. That is what the squad is there for. It is frustrating,” Lampard told Chelsea TV when asked about availability for Saturday.

Lampard then gave an extra update on Kante, who walked through the mixed zone after the game looking okay and told the French journalists who were assembled that it wasn’t too bad.

“It is an adductor injury,” Lampard confirmed. “We will have to assess it and scan it. It doesn’t look great. It is on the same leg [as he injured before].”

With four wins in their last 14 Premier League games Chelsea are not in good form and are just one point ahead of fifth-place Tottenham ahead of their game this weekend.

They also have a nasty habit of dominating matches but are failing to put multiple chances away and with these injuries piling up it certainly makes Chelsea’s decision to not spend in the January window to strengthen their squad, especially in terms of strikers, very surprising.

With Bayern Munich coming up in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie next week, Lampard will hope Chelsea’s luck turns and plenty of players return from injury.

FC Cincinnati coach Jans resigns amid investigation over remarks

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CINCINNATI — FC Cincinnati coach Ron Jans resigned amid an investigation by Major League Soccer of his use of a racial slur in the locker room.

Jans resigned late Monday, FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding said: “The club had suspended Jans pending the investigation, which was prompted by a complaint from the MLS Players Association.

“As Major League Soccer’s investigation unfolded and some themes emerged, Ron offered his resignation and we agreed that it was the best course of action for everyone involved with FC Cincinnati,” Berding said.

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The club designated Yoann Damet as interim head coach while the team conducts a search. Cincinnati is training in Florida for its second season in MLS.

Cincinnati has been through two head coaches during its brief stay in the league. It fired Alan Koch after its 11th first-tier match, which left the expansion club with two wins, seven losses and two draws.

Damet also was the interim head coach while the team conducted a search that resulted in Jans’ hiring last August.

Cincinnati finished with the worst record in MLS in its inaugural season, with six wins, six draws and 22 losses. It scored a league-low 31 goals in 34 matches.

Cincinnati gained entry into MLS after a successful debut under Koch, who led the team to the semifinals of the United Soccer League’s playoffs in both 2017 and 2018.

German fans turn on fellow supporter for racist abuse

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BERLIN — The fans of German soccer club Preußen Münster showed how racist abuse can be handled, shouting “Nazis out! Nazis out!” after one of their own fans targeted a visiting player with monkey chants.

The perpetrator was a 29-year-old man who was forced out of the stadium. And the player, Würzburger Kickers defender Leroy Kwadwo, thanked the opposing fans their “exemplary” reaction.

“I was racially abused by one single spectator. It just makes me sad,” Kwadwo wrote on Saturday, a day after the match. “I indeed have a different skin color, but I was born here in this wonderful land that has given my family and I so much and made so much possible. I am one of you. I live here and can live my calling as a professional with the Würzburger Kickers.

“Something like yesterday just makes me sad and angry because everyone has to know, racism does not belong in OUR world. We all have the opportunity to oppose it and stop it if it happens.”

The incident occurred during a third-division match in Münster.

On Monday, Münster said it would seek to ban the suspect from all German stadiums for three years, the toughest possible sanction permitted under current regulations.

“The least we an do is ensure that this person is no longer allowed in our stadium,” Münster president Christoph Strässer said. “We will not tolerate racism or any form of discrimination. The issue of integration is naturally important to us as a sports club, and Article 1 of the constitution applies primarily, namely: Human dignity is sacrosanct. That goes for everyone in this country.”

The perpetrator also faces legal consequences. Local police said the man would be charged with incitement, which can lead to financial penalties and a jail term of three months to five years if convicted.

Referee Katrin Rafalski stopped the 0-0 draw in the 88th minute after being informed of the racist abuse by Kwadwo. It was followed by a stadium announcement against the abuse and the “Nazis out!” chants from the fans.

The German soccer federation praised the fans’ reaction on Twitter on Saturday.

“So sad and shameful as the racist incident against Leroy Kwadwo was, so exemplary was the immediate reaction to it,” the federation said. “The third division stands together and says, no to racism and discrimination!”

The incident occurred only days after Bundesliga club Schalke was fined 50,000 euros ($54,600) after some of its fans subjected Hertha Berlin player Jordan Torunarigha to racist abuse during a German Cup game on Feb. 4.

Torunarigha, the son of former Nigerian player Ojokojo Torunarigha, was targeted with monkey chants and was eventually sent off in extra time when he picked up a second yellow card after appearing increasingly upset as the game went on. The 22-year-old German defender was consoled by Schalke’s Amine Harit.

Numerous other racist incidents have tarnished European soccer this season.

On Sunday in Portugal, Porto striker Moussa Marega was visibly angered by monkey noises targeting him after he scored his team’s second goal in a 2-1 win at Guimarães. Several Porto and opposition players attempted to dissuade him from walking off the field in the 71st minute, when he demanded to be substituted.