Manuel Lanzini

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West Ham sign Spanish midfielder on reported $30M fee

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West Ham United have given Manuel Pellegrini another weapon in attack, snaring Pablo Fornals from Villarreal for a reported $30 million.

That fee is only trumped in West Ham history by last season’s purchase of Felipe Anderson from Lazio. That moved turned out pretty well, to the tune of 10 goals and five assists.

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Fornals is twice-capped by Spain and 23 years old. He posted five goals and six assists from attacking midfield last season, two years after he moved from Malaga. His first season saw him tie for La Liga’s lead in assists with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi with 12.

West Ham had serious problems in the midfield last year, though most were injury-related with Manuel Lanzini and Jack Wilshere among the men missing plenty of minutes.

And Sky Sports has quotes from director of football Mario Husillos, who knows Fornals well:

“I personally have followed his career since he was a youth player with me at Malaga, and I know we have signed an incredible professional and an incredible character.

“To represent Spain as a full international at the age of 20, and then to have made over 150 appearances in La Liga by the age of 23, is a sign of great quality and character. He joins us a young player still with many years ahead of him, yet with strong experience and already proven at the very highest level.”

If he recaptures his magic from a season ago, the move could well take the Irons attack into the next level.

Just how wrong? Revisiting Premier League predictions

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Own it.

That’s how I look at Premier League predictions. When you’re right, be happy about your good fortune. When you’re wrong, raise your hand.

But there’s another level to it: Why was I right or wrong? Did a team let me down, or did I vastly overrate/underrate their potential?

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Twenty months ago I pegged Burnley to get relegated with an almost record-low amount of points. The Clarets qualified for the Europa League, and I ate my words (even if Sean Dyche‘s men seemingly out-performed every metric on Earth in spite of stats, like some old man claiming Man City wins because of “better chemistry, not talent”).

Cardiff City
Predicted finish: 20
Actual finish: 18

How wrong was I? Not. As much credit as the Bluebirds got for grinding every week, and as much of a difference as the late Emiliano Sala could’ve been to their fortunes, they completed passes at an almost absurdly-bad 63.9 percent rate while having just 39.1 percent of the ball. It was bad.

Huddersfield Town
Predicted finish: 19
Actual finish: 20

How wrong was I? Not. Huddersfield Town managed a league-worst .4 attempts per game from inside the six-yard box, and were one of only five teams to attempt less than six shots per game from inside the 18.

Watford
Predicted finish: 18
Actual finish: 11

How wrong was I? Pretty wrong. Javi Gracia‘s men were strong against bad teams — for the most part — but never sprung another real upset after beating Spurs to go 4-0 early in the season. Record against the Top Six? 1W-0D-11L.

Bournemouth
Predicted finish: 17
Actual finish: 14

How wrong was I? Eh. The Cherries were never really in trouble thanks to a 6-2-2 start, but man did they ride their luck.

Burnley
Predicted finish: 16
Actual finish: 15

How wrong was I? I’ve learned my lesson. Regardless of how much talent appears to be on a Sean Dyche roster, he’s a rich man’s Tony Pulis and should not be doubted.

The face Sean Dyche makes before he fist fights an entire village. Terrifying. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Southampton
Predicted finish: 15
Actual finish: 16

How wrong was I? With respect to Mark Hughes, I thought Saints’ season would come down to when he was sacked and who they identified to replace him. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s in a good place.

Brighton and Hove Albion
Predicted finish: 14
Actual finish: 17

How wrong was I? A bit wrong, and I pretty much blame Pascal Gross, who back slid from 7 goals and 8 assists in his Premier League debut to just three and three in Year No. 2. The Seagulls didn’t score a single goal from outside the 18.

Wolves
Predicted finish: 13
Actual finish: 7

How wrong was I? It’s not simply about buying players — see: Fulham — but about acquiring hungry players. Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota, and several others had points to prove, and Jimenez especially made it well.

Newcastle United
Predicted finish: 12
Actual finish: 13

How wrong was I? To be honest, this went about as I expected given the brutal fixture list to start the season. Had I known Miguel Almiron would’ve transitioned so nicely from MLS to the PL, I might’ve had them 10th.

 (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Fulham
Predicted finish: 11
Actual finish: 19

How wrong was I? Very, but to my defense so were most people. On paper, the Cottagers improved more than even Wolves.

Crystal Palace
Predicted finish: 10
Actual finish: 12

How wrong was I? The stats kinda back me up, and it may be worth noting for next season that the Palace’s results didn’t match its performances. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luka Milivojevic, and Wilfried Zaha gave them difference makers in all thirds of the field, and it’s surprising they didn’t push a bit higher on the table.

Leicester City
Predicted finish: 9
Actual finish: 9

How wrong was I? Not. The Foxes were pretty infuriating all year. Maybe Brendan Rodgers‘ ego and power will match the player power that’s run the club since they won the title. That said, the inconsistency and tumult shouldn’t be a surprise in a season the club had to deal with its owner dying on a match day.

West Ham United
Predicted finish: 8
Actual finish: 10

How wrong was I? Not really. I thought it would take Manuel Pellegrini some time to put his men together, but I didn’t predict the Irons would get a total of 37 appearances from Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, and Carlos Sanchez.

Everton
Predicted finish: 7
Actual finish: 8

How wrong was I? It took Marco Silva longer than expected to get his men humming, but think of this: If Jordan Pickford doesn’t give Divock Origi a derby winner, Everton is going to Europe. I know, I know… chaos theory. But still.

Richarlison (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur
Predicted finish: 6
Actual finish: 4

How wrong was I? Like many, I was stunned that Spurs didn’t spend this summer and thought injuries would hurt them. They did, but only to the extent that Tottenham wasn’t able to sustain a title challenge. Spurs rarely gave the ball away, and the only teams that averaged fewer “times dispossessed” than Tottenham’s 9.2 per 90 were teams that never had the ball: Brighton, Cardiff, and Burnley.

Arsenal
Predicted finish: 5
Actual finish: 5

How wrong was I? Spot-on. It was going to take time for the Gunners to come together following a first managerial change in ages, but Arsenal had the offense to challenge for the Top Four. Surprisingly for Arsenal, they averaged just eight dribbles per game, 12th in the PL. Unai Emery had them more cautious than usual.

Chelsea
Predicted finish: 4
Actual finish: 3

How wrong was I? Not. Maurizio Sarri is not for everyone, but he knows how to get results. Granted Gonzalo Higuain was his guy, but he did it without a top striker.

Liverpool
Predicted finish: 3
Actual finish: 2

How wrong was I? Well, considering the Reds had one of the best runners-up finishes of all-time, quite wrong. Mostly, I didn’t expect Mohamed Salah to deliver again and he mostly did (save for a late winter slump).

Manchester United
Predicted finish: 2
Actual finish: 6

How wrong was I? Real wrong. Almost as wrong as United looks for canning Jose Mourinho. The manager needed to leave town, but there was a reason he was playing so packed-in. Ask yourself this: If Ed Woodward gave Mourinho the use of Toby Alderweireld, would Spurs and United be flipped?

Manchester City
Predicted finish: 1
Actual finish: 1

How wrong was I? On point. How good was City? For a club that ranked No. 1 in possession, they were only dispossessed 10.3 times per match. That was the 8th fewest total in the league.

West Ham 4-1 Watford: Irons smash Watford to finish season in style (video)

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  • Noble scores twice
  • West Ham finish with 52 points
  • Holebas red card in 48th minute
  • Watford suffer major loss before cup final

On the same day his former club won its second-straight title, Manuel Pellegrini had himself a great end of the season as well. West Ham routed ten-man Watford, 4-1, at Vicarage Road, finishing the season with 52 points and securely in mid-table in the Premier League standings. It was West Ham’s third consecutive win to finish the season, following victories over Tottenham and Southampton.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

West Ham captain Mark Noble scored twice while Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini each added one of their own in the road victory. Meanwhile, Gerard Deolufeo scored the lone goal for Watford, though he had to be substituted midway through the second half on suspicion of injury. It was a rough end of the season for Watford, which now prepares for the FA Cup final a week from today.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

West Ham was in the ascendancy early in the first half, and it showed as the Irons got on the board first. Combining with Michail Antonio, Noble passed through the heart of midfield before running at Watford’s defense in the 15th minute. Noble then cut back to his left foot and slotted a strike home, past Ben Foster to put West Ham up 1-0.

Antonio again played a role in his side’s second goal, as he battled with Watford’s Craig Cathcart and Kiko before squirming free. Despite being off balance, Antonio’s strike clattered off the bar. Luckily for West Ham, it went right into the path of the wide-open Lanzini, who headed into an open net.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Javi Gracia‘s halftime team talk must have worked because Watford came out with more intensity and fight in the second half. The hosts used a bit of luck as well to cut the lead in half and for the moment, get back into the game.

A poor back pass from Pablo Zabaleta, perhaps with some of his mind on how his former Manchester City teammates were doing, put Fabian Balbuena and Lukasz Fabianski in no-mans land. Deulofeu, who had a quiet first half, ran down the ball, poked it past Fabianski and scored to make it 2-1 just 20 seconds into the second half.

However, Watford’s hopes to secure a point took a big hit two minutes later. With Antonio through on goal, Jose Holebas pulled him down just outside the box, leading to a straight red card for the denial of a goal-scoring opportunity.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

West Ham poured it on as the second half went on, with Jack Wilshere seeing minutes in the second half and Noble and Arnautovic scoring to make it a 4-1 scoreline.

PL At The Half: City owns the title advantage

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It’s all happening on Premier League Championship Sunday! Liverpool came into the day needing a win and Manchester City help to win its first Premier League title ever, and they had the lead for a bit on Sadio Mane‘s opener, and City stunningly fell behind, but Pep Guardiola‘s group has recovered to regain the advantage.

The rest of the table is lit as well, with Tottenham reclaiming third in the table thanks to Eric Dier‘s early goal with Chelsea held goalless at Leicester City. There’s still 45 minutes left to play!

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Here’s a quick look at what’s happening around the English top flight with all games at the halfway break.

Brighton 1-2 Man City

The unthinkable happened early on when Brighton took the lead when Glenn Murray got a touch from a corner. Sergio Aguero was on hand to immediately nullify the opener, flicking in through the legs of Matt Ryan on a David Silva feed, and Aymeric Laporte restored order and put City back on top of the Premier League table.

Liverpool 1-0 Wolves

Sadio Mane is the man to give Liverpool hope, scoring 17 minutes in to put the Reds on top of the league as it stood, before being pegged back in the table by Manchester City’s double. Wolves hit the bar before the break to give Reds fans a scare.

Leicester City 0-0 Chelsea

Chelsea has been relatively tame so far, with Ross Barkley and Gonzalo Higuain coming close but no breakthrough just yet, with the latter putting forth a candidate for Miss of the Season as he bundled an opportunity on the doorstep as the halftime buzzer sounded.

Tottenham 1-0 Everton

Eric Dier got things started just three minutes into the match as he pinged a loose ball into the back of the net on a corner with Everton failing to immediately clear.

Burnley 0-0 Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the crossbar in the opening minutes but Arsenal has not yet found a way through. Mateo Guendouzi had a pinpoint tackle to deny Burnley its biggest opportunity.

Manchester United 0-1 Cardiff City

The nightmare continues for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with Cardiff opening the scoring on a penalty by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, despite Diego Dalot’s foul proving soft on replay.

Watford 0-2 West Ham

Mark Noble struck 15 minutes in with a stunning solo goal, weaving through the defense straight down the middle to complete a sliding finish. Manuel Lanzini doubled the lead eight minutes before the break.

Crystal Palace 3-1 Bournemouth

Michy Batshuayi was the man to kick off the scoring 24 minutes in, striking on a deflected Wilfried Zaha cross that fell to his feet. He struck again less than 10 minutes later, and Jack Simpson‘s own goal marked Palace’s third. Jefferson Lerma scored for Bournemouth right on the stroke of halftime.

Fulham 0-2 Newcastle

The Magpies opened the match with a quickfire double to silence the Craven Cottage faithful, with Jonjo Shelvey striking an absolute stunner of a volley, followed by a scrappy goal from Ayoze Perez.

Southampton 1-0 Huddersfield Town

Nathan Redmond hit a blistering strike four minutes before the break to put Saints up at the half.

Preview: Tottenham v. West Ham

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  • Spurs have 4-straight wins at new stadium, with 0 conceded 
  • West Ham have 1 point from last 8 away games
  • Injuries piling up for Tottenham

Tottenham host West Ham United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as Mauricio Pochettino‘s men aim to take another huge stride towards a top four finish with a big win in a London derby.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

With their massive UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against Ajax coming up on Tuesday, Pochettino could well rest a few of his key players considering the swathe of injuries Spurs have suffered in recent weeks. And given they now have a four point cushion to Arsenal and Man United outside of the top four, Spurs have a little more breathing room than they did a few weeks ago.

As for West Ham, this season has been all about transition for Manuel Pellegrini with the Chilean boss guiding them to a steady midtable finish although the Hammers will be wondering ‘what if’ as seventh place seemed well within their grasps this season.

In team news Spurs are without Harry Kane, Harry Winks, Erik Lamela, Moussa Sissoko and Serge Aurier, but Danny Rose and Dele Alli could return.

West Ham will be without Samir Nasri again and Jack Wilshere is likely to be on the bench, while Javier Hernandez, Manuel Lanzini and Aaron Cresswell are all being looked at ahead of the game as they recover from recent knocks.


What they’re saying…

Pochettino on Ajax having their league game moved for more rest ahead of the UCL semifinal: “I know the Premier League and FA helped us prepare for the semi-final but it’s true, the Premier League is completely different to the Dutch league. Football in Europe is completely different to England. The reality is they are going to have more time to prepare and avoid risk. When you play Saturday and Tuesday, and the game on Saturday is a derby, playing for big things, the concentration and effort is massive. You can have some problems.”

Pellegrini on how West Ham can reach the next level: “First it’s a big game because it’s a derby, of course. You have that motivation also. After that you must try to play well, as a big team, as a consistent team. Maybe you play away a little bit less attacking and have more players defending and you don’t have the mentality to believe you can win, maybe you have more draws. But it’s better to have just one mentality against every team, the way we played against Manchester United, and now I hope we repeat that against Tottenham, thinking as a big team and playing as a big team.”

Prediction

Spurs’ injuries are mounting up and although West Ham have made it tough for their London rivals in recent seasons, it’s tough to see them getting anything out of this. This should be an open, entertaining game and I think Tottenham will just edge it. 3-2 to Spurs.