VIDEO: JPW predicts Chelsea-Liverpool, lays out Top Four prognoses

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It’s not too often that both Liverpool and Chelsea are well-rested coming off a UEFA Champions League or Europa break, but that’s the case this Friday.

The Reds and Blues will do battle at Stamford Bridge at 3 p.m. EDT, with the visitors hoping to join second-place Chelsea on 10 points.

[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]

Our own Joe Prince-Wright is here to speculate on the Match Day 5 encounter, giving his prediction for the game and explaining why he thinks both teams will finish in the Top Four.

SportsWorld: Living in Leicester on the day of a crowning

Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
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Leicester City’s title run was marvelous and, while technically not over yet, the coup de grace was last week’s rollicking win and trophy-raising day at King Power Stadium.

Our own Joe Prince-Wright was there, and penned a long-form piece on his, and Leicester’s, experiences.

[ PODCAST: Billy Beane relates Leicester to “Moneyball” with MiB ]

We implore you to read the whole thing, but here’s one story that really works for us.

From NBC’s SportsWorld:

Outside The Globe pub, which has been around since 1720, one man stood on his own, in the local club’s shirt, holding a pint as he leaned against a lamppost. Groups of fans were laughing and joking and this one guy was just stood there taking it all in.

His name was John Reading, and the 64-year-old man was overcome with emotion when asked about his feelings.

“It is just a dream. I’ve not stopped pinching himself, because nobody expected this. I’ve seen them lose four FA Cup finals, knocked out of the playoffs. And this is, it’s not… it’s not real. It is not real,” Reading said, shaking his head as his voice quivered. “I know how this story is going all over the world which is amazing. I’m getting choked up thinking about it.”

The great stories in this run continue to mount up, and JPW was at the epicenter.

SportsWorld: Exclusive talk with Courtois shows Chelsea’s young keeper has deep experience

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It’s difficult to find goalkeeping resumes on par with Thibaut Courtois, period. But toss in the fact that he’s done what he’s done by the age of 23, and you have the potential for cross-era greatness.

So what makes this guy tick? Competition and improvement for one thing, and our own Joe Prince-Wright spoke with the Belgian backstop and his longtime mentor at Genk to talk about Courtois’ career.

[ SPORTSWORLD: On Courtois | Clark talks NCAA soccer ]

The mentor in question, Genk goalkeeping guru Guy Martens, says the club was trying to make youth versions of a Dutch goalkeeping great, which is convenient because that Manchester United model was also one of Courtois’ heroes.

From NBC’s SportsWorld:

How did a young goalkeeper growing up in Belgium learn so much, so soon? Courtois watched and learned from the greats of the previous generation. Edwin van der Sar and Iker Casillas were his favorites, particularly the latter, from whom he drew inspiration after seeing Casillas start and star for Spanish giants Real Madrid at a young age.

“For him to be playing in goal at the age of 18, it was an inspiration that there was a goalkeeper around at such a young age and he was already important at a big team,” said Courtois. “As well, Edwin van der Sar. When he was playing at Manchester United he was a role model because I think I have quite a similar style to him. Obviously, you would try to see with your eyes and try to learn from things he did in the game and analyze how he reacted to certain situations. For me, you look at every goalkeeper and you try to learn what they do.”

The van der Sar comparison is a particularly interesting one, as Courtois’ former coach Martens reveals their plan was to always produce miniature van der Sars. Genk’s impressive youth academy — which has also produced Christian Benteke, Kevin De Bruyne, Steven Defour, Divock Origi and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, among others — churned out a team full of youngsters that won the league in 2011 with a 19-year-old Courtois in goal.

The long-form piece is a must-read, as the “relaxed” Courtois shares a batch of exclusive quotes with JPW. Check it out here.

VIDEO: PST Extra asks whether Chelsea owes its fans more entertainment


Chelsea has gone from an early season high-flying, big-goal scoring team to one methodically working a defensive system to clinch its Premier League title.

[ MLS: Power Rankings, Vol. II see ‘Caps in charge ]

ProSoccerTalk’s Joe Prince-Wright takes a look at Jose Mourinho’s philosophy of grinding games to a halt with Chelsea’s defense and if fans of Chelsea should be asking for more entertainment down the stretch.