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From glory to humiliation: PSG loses in dramatic style

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PARIS (AP) The man hired to lead Paris Saint-Germain to Champions League glory delivered the most embarrassing result imaginable.

PSG became the first team to throw away a 4-0 lead from the first leg in the Champions League, losing to Barcelona 6-1 in the second. The awful outcome was made worse by the calamitous way PSG conceded three late goals.

In the previous four seasons, PSG had reached the quarterfinals. That was insufficient in the eyes of Qatari owners QSI, who fired coach Laurent Blanc – despite Blanc winning back-to-back domestic trebles – and replaced him with Unai Emery.

[ MORE: Barca inspired “by the Super Bowl” ]

When PSG dismantled Barcelona at home with an electric display of attacking soccer three weeks ago, the back-slapping and congratulations were in full swing. There was a growing confidence, if not certainty, that Emery was the perfect man to lead PSG to its first European Cup. He was credited with instilling the breathtaking energy the players showed that night.

Now, he and his players will be known as the ones who threw it all away.

“We had everything in hand and we gave them the game,” PSG right back Thomas Meunier said. “We made an enormous amount of errors.”

On a disastrous night, the club’s initials could have stood for something else: Pathetic. Spineless. Gutless.

The French press let rip.

Shortly after the loss, sports daily L’Equipe’s website carried the headline “A Historic Disaster” along with a picture of midfielder Marco Verratti lying on his back with his hands covering his face. L’Equipe’s newspaper called it “Unqualifiable” – underlining the shock while delivering a scathingly sarcastic verdict on PSG’s inability to progress in the most favorable of circumstances.

“We weren’t worthy of playing for PSG,” Meunier said.

Angry fans gathered at the airport to jeer and heckle the players when they arrived back.

LACK OF LEADERS

As the exasperated Emery gesticulated wildly on the sidelines, there was no one on the field to stop the damage.

From the first minute, PSG sat far too deep, inviting Barcelona to overrun midfield and camp around the penalty area. That gave PSG the look of a small, retreating army with a massive one bearing down on it, attacks coming from all sides.

[ MORE: Ranking the greatest comebacks ]

Thiago Motta’s absence in central midfield was sorely missed. A great organizer, strong tackler and neat passer, Motta would have added steel and calmness. The hard-nosed Italian is also a relentlessly competitive character and would have got a response from his flagging teammates.

“We were a bit lost,” Meunier said. “We allowed ourselves to be victims.”

PSG also missed veteran left back Maxwell, with Layvin Kurzawa out of position all game and scoring an own-goal.

CHANGING A WINNING TEAM

When PSG routed Barcelona at Parc des Princes, observers marveled at Emery’s tactical innovation.

His three-pronged attack of Edinson Cavani, Julian Draxler and Angel Di Maria worked to perfection, while his decision to pick inexperienced center half Presnel Kimpembe paid off as he contained Lionel Messi.

Then he changed a winning team.

[ ROBERTO: I woke up wondering if it was a dream ]

Kimpembe was on the bench for the return leg. Worse, with PSG needing only to see out the last few minutes, Emery kept him there.

Di Maria was overlooked in favor of Brazilian player Lucas. When Di Maria came on, PSG looked sharper going forward and soon pulled a goal back.

If Barcelona had to defend the whole game against Cavani, Draxler and Di Maria, they might have had fewer occasions to charge forward.

SHEER COMPLACENCY

PSG’s lethargic absenteeism on the field was mirrored by a complacent approach before the game.

Two days before the match, the club released a video on YouTube called “Supper Club” with four players sitting around a table.

As they pick at their pizzas and slurp soft drinks, Blaise Matuidi and Verratti are joined in conversation by Draxler and Meunier. They are casually discussing the game ahead.

“The first 20 minutes are going to be tough, eh Marco? The field is really big,” Matuidi says. “(Barcelona) attack, attack, and they leave a lot of spaces.”

Draxler then intervenes, telling Matuidi “you will need to run a lot” and they both laugh when Matuidi retorts “I’ll need you to (run) as well.”

The players certainly appeared to taking Barcelona lightly.

BAD GOALKEEPER

When Emery took over he recalled goalkeeper Alphonse Areola from a loan spell and made him his No. 1. Then, uncertain about Areola’s level, he picked Kevin Trapp.

Against Barcelona, Trapp exposed all of his limitations: Poor composure, weak handling, erratic decision making.

On the first goal, the German keeper came up to claim a looping ball with his fists bunched rather than his hands apart, reducing his own surface area.

Trapp appeared to be terrified and his inability to command his back four made sure that panic set in – and stayed throughout.

WHAT NEXT?

Emery’s future clearly hangs in the balance.

PSG trails Monaco by three points in the French league and Emery’s position will be further undermined if he does not win the title. PSG also faces Monaco in the League Cup final next month.

After the Barcelona match, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was asked if Emery was still the right man for the job.

“That’s not a question for now,” Al-Khelaifi said.

It will be soon, though.

Transfer news: Chilwell to Man United; Kante to Inter Milan

Ben Chilwell to Manchester United
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In the latest transfer news Ben Chilwell has been linked with a move to Manchester United, while N’Golo Kante could be heading to Inter Milan.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

Starting in Manchester, it appears that Ben Chilwell is wanted by both Manchester City and now Manchester United, with Chelsea still in the hunt too.

The Leicester City and England left back, 23, is reportedly a target for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as The Sun says that he is valued at $75 million and that Man United are now in pole position to sign him.

Do Man United really need a new left back? Luke Shaw is finally fit and has been very good this season, while Brandon Williams is an emerging talent at left back. Chilwell is a very, very good left back but Man City and Chelsea have a greater need to upgrade in that area. If Leicester do not make the Champions League, they will probably cash in on Chilwell.

Man United need a new center back and holding midfielder before they sign a left back but Solskjaer must think differently.

Kante to Inter Milan
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Moving down to west London, it appears that N’Golo Kante could be linking up with Antonio Conte once again at Inter Milan.

Kante, 29, has been riddled with injuries this season but when he has played it’s clear to see the stability he brings to the entire Chelsea side.

According to Gazzetto dello Sport in Italy, Chelsea are willing to listen to offers for the French World Cup winner as Frank Lampard continues his expensive overhaul of the Blues.

Kante has a contract with Chelsea until the summer of 2023 but now is probably to cash in on him, if they want to. If they can move on Kante, then bringing in Kai Havertz and several defensive players would be more possible this summer.

This is a tough one. On paper, Kante is one of the few players at Chelsea who should be guaranteed starters. However, there’s no doubting his level has dropped a little this season due to injuries and the style of play under Lampard.

Inter Milan are building something under Conte and Kante would be a huge part of their project.

Premier League odds, Prince-Wright’s picks: Matchweek 36

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EPL betting odds for the Premier League have been released but we know the bookies don’t always get it right.

Here are the latest Prince-Wright’s Premier League score predictions as the Premier League return has the EPL betting odds all over the place.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule

The Premier League score predictions below encompass the 10 games during midweek for Matchweek 36. Here we go.

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun with these Premier League games.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.

While you can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.

DOWNLOAD NBC SPORTS PREDICTOR

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.

Check out our Premier League score predictions below.


PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS

BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Man City 4-1 Bournemouth – (Wednesday, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Chelsea 4-2 Norwich – (Tuesday, 3:15 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Burnley 1-3 Wolves – (Wednesday, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Crystal Palace 0-2 Man United – (Thursday, 3:15 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]


DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool – (Wednesday, 3:15 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Southampton 1-1 Brighton – (Thursday, 3:15 p.m. ET, Gold/Peacock) – [STREAM

Newcastle 1-2 Tottenham – (Wednesday, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM


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

Leicester 1-1 Sheffield United – (Thursday, 1 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Everton 1-2 Aston Villa – (Thursday, 1 p.m. ET, Gold/Peacock) – [STREAM]

West Ham 1-2 Watford – (Friday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]


EPL ODDS – Via DraftKings

Tuesday, July 14: (-770) Chelsea v. Norwich (+1900), Tie: +800
Wednesday, July 15: (-715) Man City v. Bournemouth (+1800), Tie: +750
Wednesday, July 15: (+380) Burnley v. Wolves (-115), Tie: +225
Wednesday, July 15: (+380) Newcastle v. Tottenham (-130), Tie: +265
Wednesday, July 15: (+285) Arsenal v. Liverpool (-114), Tie: +290
Thursday, July 16: (+102) Everton v. Aston Villa (+270), Tie: +255
Thursday, July 16: (+100) Leicester v. Sheffield United (+310), Tie: +225
Thursday, July 16: (+900) Crystal Palace v. Man United (-295), Tie: +390
Thursday, July 16: (+117) Southampton v. Brighton (+255), Tie: +230
Friday, July 17: (+143) West Ham v. Watford (+235), Tie: +200

Premier League on Peacock schedule: How to watch fixtures

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Premier League on Peacock arrives this week, as NBCUniversal’s new streaming service is here and plenty of fixtures will be aired exclusively on the free service during the national launch.

Premier League action on Wednesday, July 15 will be free to all fans with our studio shows, games and analysis being aired commercial free. How about that!?

The marquee game on July 15 is Arsenal hosting Liverpool (start time, 3:15pm ET) and we will be on air from 12-6pm ET with four games, reaction, analysis and much more.

ACCESS PEACOCK FOR FREE

Our studio host Rebecca Lowe explains exactly how it will all work and how you can sign up in the video above, with more details about Peacock on the link above.

The new streaming service will give you access to all of NBC’s properties, show and live events with the Premier League action one of the key parts of the new streaming platform. Peacock is available three ways: Free (to anyone who downloads the app and watches ads), and two versions of Premium (one for Comcast Xfinity TV and broadband customers and Cox Communications’ video customers for free with ads, or ad free for $5/month — the other version for those non-customers is $10/month. Premium has 15,000 hours of content; free has about 7,500 hours. All versions of Peacock will stream in 4K/HDR.

Here are the Premier League Peacock games this week as we give you a taste of what is to come.


Premier League on Peacock schedule

Wednesday, July 15: Burnley v. Wolves, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock
Wednesday, July 15: Man City v. Bournemouth, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock
Wednesday, July 15: Newcastle v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock
Wednesday, July 15: Arsenal v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. ET, Peacock

Thursday, July 16: Southampton vs. Brighton, 3:15 pm ET

Chelsea – Norwich preview: How to watch, team news, odds, prediction

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Chelsea – Norwich takes center stage on Tuesday (start time, 3:15pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and all eyes are on the Blues as they try and take another big step towards the UEFA Champions League

CHELSEA – NORWICH STREAM

Frank Lampard has had his say on Man City’s UEFA ban being overturned as fifth place in the Premier League will no longer be a Champions League spot for next season.

Norwich were relegated from the Premier League on Saturday and will finish bottom of the table as Daniel Farke’s side have lost all six games since the Premier League restart.

[ MORE: Pulisic subbed out in loss at Blades ]

They have nothing to play for and Frank Lampard will be wary of that but also expecting a reaction from Chelsea after they were thrashed 3-0 at Sheffield United on Saturday.

Check out the Chelsea – Norwich team news and details, here.


Team news

Chelsea will be without star midfielder N’Golo Kante once again, while Andreas Christensen is fit to play after coming off injured at half time in the loss at Sheffield United.

Norwich could hand a start to Todd Cantwell, while Daniel Farke is still without Sam Byram, Christoph Zimmermann, Grant Hanley and Moritz Leitner who all have long-term injuries.


What they’re saying

Frank Lampard on respecting Norwich: “If you don’t turn up or don’t perform it doesn’t matter what momentum you feel you have, but having good home form recently is good for confidence. We have to carry on from the Watford game in particular. We have to treat Norwich with utmost respect. They have quality players; a lot of games I have seen them this season they have been unfortunate not to get results. That’s the nature of the Premier League, but we are expecting a very tough game.”

Norwich sporting director Stuart Webber on potentially selling players: “It’s a case of if somebody goes, it will be on our terms. It will be for a lot of money, but also, we have to respect what these players have done. Not only the young players but also the senior players, they’ve worked hard for this club and they’ve achieved a mini miracle by getting to the Premier League. We couldn’t quite achieve staying there but we can’t forget what these boys have done for the club so far. If there’s an offer which is right and the club is right for them, then we’ll give it the respect of listening to that.”


Odds and ends

Chelsea are the heavy favorites (-770) and a Norwich win would be a miracle (+1900) but this could be trickier than people think. Norwich are down but they have nothing to lose now. The tie at +800 could be a savvy bet. Chelsea edged Norwich 3-2 when they met earlier this season and there will be plenty of goals in this game too.


Prediction

There is no seeing past a big Chelsea win here as they need to win their final three games of the season to stay in the top four. Chelsea should score plenty of goals but can they keep them out at the other end? This will be fun. Norwich have noting to lose. I’m going for a 4-2 win to Chelsea.