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Premier League 2017-18 preview – Crystal Palace

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Crystal Palace are at a crossroads heading into the new Premier League season.

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Sam Allardyce stepped down as boss following a successful relegation battle last season and now the Eagles have plumped for a bright young manager in Frank De Boer, with the Dutch legend experiencing English soccer for the first time. He will be tasked with creating a new playing identity for a young, hungry squad who have been dragged into too many relegation battles for their talent levels over the past few seasons.

[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

The Eagles have yet to win a major trophy in their 111-year history but backed by American ownership they have big plans to extend Selhurst Park and kick on to become one of London’s big boys. The self-proclaimed “Pride of South London” have a passionate fanbase who generate a fantastic atmosphere down in SE25 and they’re one of the trendier teams to support with the sense of hipster strong.

Can they finally push for a European spot and win a cup competition?

Best, worst case scenario: Everything clicks and Palace push for seventh spot and a place in Europe, but on the other hand if they can’t sort out their defensive issues than they must prepare for another relegation battle.

Best possible XI is…


—– Hennessey —–

—- Ward —- Dann —- Reidewald —- Van Aanholt —-

—- Zaha —- Milivojevic —- Puncheon —- Schlupp —-

—– Cabaye —–

—– Benteke —–


Transfers in: Jairo Riedewald ($10.4 million, Ajax), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Loan, Chelsea)

Transfers out: Steve Mandanda ($3.9 million, Marseille), Mathieu Flamini (Released), Jonathan Benteke (Released), Joe Ledley (Released), Frazier Campbell (Free, Hull City), Zeki Fryers (Free, Barnsley)

Last season
– 14th in the Premier League
– FA Cup 4th round
– EFL Cup 3rd round

Star player: Wilfried Zaha – It may be Christian Benteke who grabs the goals but Zaha epitomizes what Palace is trying to do. The local lad has pace to burn and his direct style of play terrifies opposition defenders, with his crossing and shooting ability improving all the time. He will be handed the keys to Palace’s offense and after signing a new long-term deal, he’s proved he is Palace through and through. Now he needs to add more goals to his game to become the complete package. Don’t be surprised if he floats just behind Benteke rather than spending all of his time out wide this season.

Coaches’ Corner: Frank de Boer enters his first season in England in an interesting predicament. Palace want to become a club who are known for an attractive style of play rather than a club full of good pros battling relegation. The only issue is that most of the defense-minded team put together by Sam Allardyce last season remains and FDB has to mold them subtly into something a little different. It has to be said, he’s not going for an all-out ‘Total Football’ approach and his Ajax teams were at times more robust than many would like to believe, but it will still be tough for the former Ajax, Barcelona and Glasgow Rangers defender to make his mark in the Premier League. After a tricky, and short, spell at Inter Milan last season, de Boer seems ready to prove he had what it takes to succeed. Palace haven’t backed him in the transfer market and the Dutchman will need a fast start to the season.

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PST predicts: Another relegation battle beckons if they don’t get off to a flying start. If they win four of their first five games all will be well and confidence will grow. If not, they have a horrendous run of games coming up in late September (Liverpool, Man City and Man United in a row) which could define their season. The Eagles will be hovering just about the drop zone.

Four-star Manchester United wins Europa League group

Manchester United Mata Greenwood
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Manchester United is in fine feather and showing it, smashing AZ Alkmaar in a stylish 4-0 win at Old Trafford in Europa League play on Thursday.

Juan Mata had a goal and set up two others, while Mason Greenwood scored twice after Ashley Young opened the scoring in a group-claiming victory.

[ MORE: Saka leads Arsenal comeback ]

United wins the group with 13 points, conceding just twice in six matches.

The Red Devils have won three-straight matches, as AZ joins Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in the loss column. Up next is a Sunday visit from Everton in the Premier League before Wednesday’s League Cup quarterfinal visit from Colchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed starts to James Garner, Brandon Williams, and Axel Tuanzebe, bringing youngsters Ethan Laird and Tahith Chong off the bench.

Greenwood, 18, now has six goals in 22 senior appearances, while Mata, 31, gets on the score sheet for the first time this season.

For his career, the award-winning Spaniard is doing okay, though: 125 goals and 149 assists in 542 senior appearances.

Ljungberg hails ‘amazing’ teen Saka after game-changing performance

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Arsenal phenom Bukayo Saka‘s big day spurred the Gunners to a top seed in the Europa League knockout rounds.

Arsenal went behind on two deflected goals in the second half’s first 25 minutes, but Saka answered with a goal and an assist in three minutes to take a point from Belgium in a 2-2 draw at Standard Liege.

[ RECAP, VIDEO: Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal ]

Saka was at the heart of it of all good things Arsenal, the 18-year-old handed plenty of responsibility. despite his tender age.

“He was amazing,” said interim manager Freddie Ljungberg. “He was a bit upset with me before the game that he had to play wing-back and full-back. He’s a tremendous talent.”

Saka had four key passes to go with his goal and assist, winning six of eight duels while producing two tackles and an interception.

Ljungberg said Arsenal hasn’t sent its young players on loan enough, though that hardly applies to Saka given he was 17 until September.

The injured Gunners used Konstantinos Mavropanos, Emile Smith-Rowe, Joe Willock, and Reiss Nelson in the Starting XI, and brought Gabriel Martinelli off the bench.

“I feel sorry for our young players,” he said. “A lot of them haven’t been on loan, they’ve not had that exposure to men’s football. Some of them made mistakes but they’ll learn from those mistakes and won’t do them again.”

Smith-Rowe was loaned to RB Leipzig last season and Nelson starred on loan at Hoffenheim. Mavropanos played first team football for Greek Super League side PAS Giannina in his late teens.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Arsenal uses thrilling comeback to win Europa League group

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Nothing Arsenal-related is allowed to be easy, it seems.

The Gunners used a goal and an assist from Bukayo Saka to come back from a two-goal deficit and draw Standard Liege 2-2 in Belgium on Thursday, winning its Europa League group when Vitoria came back to beat Eintracht Frankfurt on a wild afternoon of soccer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Arsenal trailed on second half goals from Samuel Bastien and Selim Amallah, but rallied behind Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette to score a second-straight win for interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.

Saka sent in a laser cross in the 78th minute and Lacazette did quite well to power it under the bar.

He’s loving this competition, having made a serious entrance earlier in the tournament versus Eintracht Frankfurt. The 18-year-old now has two goals and five assists across all competitions this season.

The Gunners needed just three more minutes to tie the score on a day they outshot the hosts 15-11.

Saka showed his nose for goal to tie the score five minutes later with a dribble to the top of the 18 and a sly finish to the keeper’s left.

This was all happening around the same time Vitoria scored twice in three minutes to take a 3-2 lead on Eintracht Frankfurt.

Standard Liege goes from the knockout rounds to nothing in a blink, while Eintracht goes from winning the group to second.

The field for the Europa League is looking fierce, with Inter Milan, Benfica, Ajax, Club Brugge, Olympiacos, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, and Red Bull Salzburg joining the competition via transfer from the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks

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Matchweek 17 is here in the Premier League as the games continue to come thick and fast during the festive season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

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.

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.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Liverpool 3-1 Watford – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM] 

Crystal Palace 3-1 Brighton – (Monday, 2:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Leicester 3-0 Norwich – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]


DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Southampton 1-1 West Ham – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

Sheffield United 2-1 Aston Villa – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM

Man United 2-1 Everton – (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM


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

Arsenal 3-3 Man City – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Wolves 1-2 Tottenham – (Sunday 9 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM