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Optimus trousers posted this 13 October 2017

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Optimus trousers posted this 13 October 2017

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Premier League predictions: Lawro v rapper and Arsenal fan Wretch 32

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Jose Mourinho parked the bus last time he took Manchester United to Anfield, but what will he do when he returns on Saturday?

BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson is expecting United to have a more ambitious approach, but not by much.

Lawro said: "United are a better team now than they were last year, and I don't see them being as negative in their outlook as they were this time last year.

"But he is never going to send them out all guns blazing. Sadio Mane is injured, but Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho will do some damage for Liverpool if United give them space, so I think Mourinho will set up his side to stop that happening."

Lawro is going for a 1-1 draw - do you agree? You can make your own predictions now, take on Lawro and other fans, create your own league and try to make it to the top of the table by playing the new-look BBC Sport Predictor game.

Lawro picked up 110 points in week seven, which saw him climb to 11,088th place out of a total of more than 225,000 users.

He will be making a prediction for all 380 top-flight games this season, against a variety of guests.

Lawro's opponent for this weekend's fixtures is rapper Wretch 32.

Tottenham-born Wretch 32 describes himself as a "proper Gooner", telling BBC Sport: "I've been an Arsenal fan for as long as I can remember.

"I've almost got too many heroes to mention, but I've got to start with Ian Wright. He is an absolute legend and the reason I supported Arsenal in the first place.

"I idolised him as a kid, wanted to play like him, wanted to meet him, wanted to know him, everything.

"Fast forward a few years and there are players like Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp... the list is endless."

Wretch 32 took part in the Grenfell Tower charity match at Loftus Road in September - the Game 4 Grenfell. And he can count on some current players as fans.

"I've met quite a few," he said. "I'm quite good mates with Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Liverpool, and Arsenal's Alex Iwobi.

"Whenever I'm doing a performance, if I am up in Liverpool or down here, then depending where the lads are they will come down and watch. It is always good fun."

You can hear more from Wretch 32 on Football Focus on BBC One and the BBC Sport website at 12:00 BST on Saturday.

A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.

Remember you can try to beat Lawro yourself by playing the BBC Sport Predictor game.

All kick-offs 15:00 BST unless otherwise stated.

I still think this fixture is the biggest game in the country because of the history behind it.

It is always a huge occasion and it is probably the type of fixture Liverpool need right now just to fire them up.

Since they beat Arsenal 4-0 at the end of August, there has not been a game in which Jurgen Klopp's side have played well for the entire 90 minutes.

Consequently they have dropped points because they have made defensive lapses after not putting games to bed.

Liverpool have conceded an average of just under two goals a game in the league this season, so I am expecting United to score, especially with the form they are in.

Both teams will be missing some key injured players - Liverpool will miss Sadio Mane as well as Adam Lallana and, although it looks like Romelu Lukaku will be fit, United will be without Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini in midfield.

But the referee, Martin Atkinson, is going to play a big part in the outcome too because there are going to be quite a few tackles flying in from both sides.

Wretch 32's prediction: I think this will be a very close game but United will take it. Liverpool have been playing well but United are on fire right now. 1-2

Both of these teams won their last game before the international break, although West Ham left it late to beat Swansea.

Yes, they should be higher up the table with the players they have got, but I think that will happen now the likes of Manuel Lanzini are returning to fitness.

The constant speculation over Slaven Bilic's future as Hammers boss is completely unhelpful, although at least that win over the Swans has stopped any talk that he would get sacked for a while.

Burnley, who won at Everton, have had some impressive results on the road this season but the only team they have beaten at Turf Moor are Crystal Palace.

It feels like playing away suits the Clarets more at the moment - they like the opposition to come on to them, so they can react to that.

Yes, they have got some good players but the key thing is they work very hard, and they find it more difficult when they have to set the tempo of the game.

That's why I think this one will end up in a draw, and I don't think either side would be too unhappy with that.

Crystal Palace are without a point or a goal in the league this season, but at least they will soon have Wilfried Zaha back in action after his knee injury, although it is unclear whether he is fit enough to start on Saturday.

Chelsea have got a couple of injury problems, with N'Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata both out, but it is still a huge ask to expect the Eagles to get anything out of this game.

It would not surprise me if Palace are improved at the back since their last league game - their defeat by Manchester United - because they will have had more time working under Roy Hodgson, and that is one of his strengths.

But the question still remains as to where the goals will come from. We might not find out the answer for another week.

Wretch 32's prediction: Sorry to my mate 'Punch' [Palace winger Jason Puncheon] but I am going for Chelsea, because I don't think Palace will cope with their attack. 0-2

Sergio Aguero is back in training after his car accident, which is great news for Manchester City although I am not sure they will risk him on Saturday.

Manchester City did not really miss the Argentina striker much last time out against Chelsea anyhow, and they are absolutely flying at the moment.

Stoke, who got a much-needed win against Southampton in their last game, picked up a point when they came to Etihad Stadium last season.

I don't see that happening again this time though - all over the pitch, the home side will have too much for the Potters and you have to think their front five will find a way through.

Wretch 32's prediction: I don't think anyone else in the Premier League has a set of forwards to compare with Manchester City, but I think this one will end up a draw - or at least I hope so anyway. 1-1

Neither of these sides have won for a while and they are both short of goals, which is also a big worry.

It is four games since Swansea last took three points, and they have only scored three goals in the league this season.

The big concern for Swans boss Paul Clement is they don't really look like scoring either - it is not as though they are wasting chances, more they do not seem to create many.

Swansea have clearly not replaced Fernando Llorente, who allowed them to play the ball up to him, and play off him too, and they don't seem to be able to get within shooting distance very often at all.

Huddersfield, meanwhile, have not won in five league games and have only found the net in one of those matches.

Yes, they have picked up a couple of points in draws but, after winning their first two matches, I think it is fair to say they now know what the Premier League is all about.

At the moment it looks like these two teams are going to be involved in the relegation battle, which makes the outcome even more important - especially to Swansea.

This is a game the Welsh side really do need to win, and I think they will find a way of doing that.

Tottenham are still waiting for their first Premier League win at Wembley, but I think it will soon be over because I just don't see Bournemouth holding out the way that, say, Swansea did last month.

For one thing, the Cherries concede goals quite easily, and then you consider Spurs striker Harry Kane and the kind of form he is in.

And Spurs have to win this one, really. They have already dropped points at home to the Swans and Burnley - they cannot afford another slip-up.

Wretch 32's prediction: The world will probably hate me for saying this but I have to be honest - Spurs will win. 1-0

Arsenal have a couple of defensive worries, with Laurent Koscielny facing a fitness test before this game and Shkodran Mustafi definitely out for a few weeks.

But the Gunners have built a bit of momentum since their heavy defeat by Liverpool at the end of August, and I am expecting them to carry that form on here.

Arsene Wenger's side have won six out of seven games in all competitions since the beginning of September, and the only points they dropped came against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Along with Burnley, Watford have been one of the surprise packages of the season so far, but they are actually yet to win at home under Marco Silva and I don't see that changing on Saturday.

Wretch 32's prediction: I am going for a 3-0 win - to Arsenal, of course. Arsene Wenger in or out? Wenger in for this season and then next season, we will sort it out.

It's obvious Everton are lacking a striker, so they have do the best with what they have got until January.

But Toffees manager Ronald Koeman can do something about his other attacking issue, which is the lack of balance in his side.

Koeman has got three players who want to play the number 10 role behind the striker - Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaassen.

Playing Sigurdsson on the left, which has been happening, does not get the best out of him or give Everton the width they need to be more of an attacking threat.

The challenge for Everton on Sunday will be to break Brighton down, because they are not a team that gives very much away.

Seagulls boss Chris Hughton has got a very pragmatic approach and I don't think he will have been too bothered about his side's defeat at Arsenal before the international break.

That was a game Hughton would not have expected to get anything out of, while I think he will have this one down as a match that his team should not lose.

Wretch 32's prediction: Everton will take this and Rooney will score the winner. 0-1

I thought Newcastle were decent in their draw against Liverpool, and it was another example of how good Rafael Benitez is at setting his side up for games like that.

I don't think the Magpies will fare so well on the south coast, however.

Southampton are another team that have been short of goals but they deserved to get something against Stoke in their last game, and I think they will edge this one.

Both of these teams went the whole of September without a league win, although it is Leicester who are in more trouble near the bottom.

It is a boost for the Foxes that Jamie Vardy is fit after missing England duty last week with a hip injury because they need him firing on all cylinders.

I am sure Leicester's results will improve soon, and I am not too worried about West Brom under Tony Pulis either.

It is never panic stations with Pulis in charge, and the only thing he has to worry about is keeping the Baggies' Chinese owner Guochuan Lai happy.

When you have any manager who, like Pulis, was not appointed by the current owner then I always feel they are under a bit more pressure from the top when their team is on a bad run.

Wretch 32's prediction: Jamie Vardy will get at least one goal, and Leicester will win. 2-0

In the round of fixtures before the international break, Lawro got five correct results, including two perfect scores, from 10 matches, for a total of 110 points.

He lost out to Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett, who got seven results correct with two perfect scores, for a total of 160 points.

*Foster and Cram both provided predictions on week one, but only Foster's score contributes to the guest total.

Lawro's best score: 120 points (week one v Foster and Cram)

Lawro's worst score: 40 points (week four v Umenyiora and Bell, and week five v Non Stanford)

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Optimus trousers posted this 13 October 2017

Sourced from A tweet by SouthamptonFC tweet

@SouthamptonFC - Southampton FC

#OnThisDay in 1996...

Another world-class strike from @mattletiss7! 😮 #saintsfc

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Optimus trousers posted this 13 October 2017

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@SouthamptonFC - Southampton FC

🎥 🎙

We'll be live from Staplewood this afternoon, as Mauricio Pellegrino speaks to the media ahead of #SaintsFC's… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/918764246527229952

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Optimus trousers posted this 13 October 2017

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 13/10/2017 10:03:02

Barcelona Transfer News: Latest on Paco Alcacer's January Exit Rumours BLEACHERREPORT

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Optimus trousers posted this 13 October 2017

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DEFAULTVideo: On this day in 1996: Coventry 1-1 Southampton

Optimus trousers posted this 13 October 2017

Sourced from Sky Sports article

Premier League research reveals average ticket price to be £32 during 2017-18 season

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Premier League research has revealed the average ticket price across the league this season to be £32.

Analysis compiled by the league and professional services company Ernst & Young, using data collected from all 20 clubs, shows more than half of all attending fans are paying £30 or less per match during the 2017-18 campaign.

It also claims that 34 per cent of all available Premier League season tickets have been sold below full price, owing to early-bird offers and loyalty discounts, saving fans a total of £10m across the season.

After clubs introduced a three-season £30 cap on away ticket prices last season, the research shows the average away ticket price will be £26, with 33 per cent of away tickets sold at a price below the cap.

Premier League Executive Chairman, Richard Scudamore, said: "The loyal and passionate support of attending fans is hugely appreciated by clubs, their managers and players, and the Premier League.

"This research shows the excellent value clubs are offering across the League and the impressive commitment of their fans. I hope it will challenge commonly held perceptions about the cost of attending Premier League football, and encourage even more people to consider going to a match."

The research includes all parts of Premier League stadiums except hospitality areas, and includes all ticket prices include booking fees or admin charges.

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Optimus trousers posted this 13 October 2017

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Matt Le Tissier's Newcastle double remembered ahead of Southampton's Super Sunday clash

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Southampton have been struggling for goals this season but a meeting with Newcastle should bring plenty of inspiration...

Saints legend Matt Le Tissier has a catalogue of memorable strikes - but two of his most famous came in the space of 27 minutes at The Dell in 1993.

Newcastle, who travel to Southampton live on Sky Sports Premier League on Nissan Super Sunday, were the opponents that October day.

Twenty four years on, we take a look back at Le Tissier's memorable double against the Magpies…

Southampton's "genius" couldn't even get into the team. The Saints had lost eight of their opening 11 league matches to start the 1993/94 season and manager Ian Branfoot had done the unthinkable, dropping the club's star man for Paul Moody.

"Ian threw Matty back to me and said, 'I'm not happy, he's not working hard enough," then reserve team manager Dave Merrington told the Telegraph in 2014.

"People would say Matt didn't work hard enough but they would overlook one thing: he was a genius."

The south coast club was used to relegation battles but the start of this campaign was particularly bleak.

They were held scoreless in five of their first nine games and had a nasty habit of throwing away leads. The decision to drop Le Tissier was supposed to spark the team into life.

But two late goals by Jostein Flo earned Sheffield United an unlikely 3-3 draw in early October before Phil Babb's 87th-minute equaliser denied Southampton a precious win at Coventry a week later.

Le Tissier's absence had failed to improve results so Branfoot swallowed his pride and recalled the forward for the visit of Kevin Keegan's Newcastle.

Southampton, now second bottom, were sinking fast and the Sky Sports cameras were coming to town to document the misery.

With an hour gone and the score goalless, Branfoot called for Moody to warm up. The journeyman forward, who later became a hero at Oxford United and Millwall, had failed to fire when given the chance to replace Le Tissier in games prior. He looked set to get another opportunity.

"I'd been dropped for Moody for the five games before and I was brought back in for Newcastle," Le Tissier recalls. "I remember seeing Paul warming up after 60 minutes and just thinking it would be for me."

What came next was one of the great Premier League goals, a stunning individual run, a cheeky chip and a composed finish. Three years later Paul Gascoigne would pull off a similar trick against Scotland, a strike voted the best ever at the old Wembley.

"When I scored the goal the camera panned to Branfoot and I lip-read him saying, 'Sit down Moods'. It was probably the second best goal in my career behind the Blackburn one," Le Tissier added.

"It was a bit surreal because you don't have time to think, you just react to defenders and the ball just kept landing in the right place for me to nudge it away from them.

"The finish wasn't exactly what I wanted as it came off the bottom of my boot a bit but it was enough to wrong-foot their goalkeeper."

Southampton predictably conceded 10 minutes later when Andy Cole equalised but that simply set the stage for Le Tissier's decisive intervention.

There was less than three minutes left when he collected the ball from Neil Maddison, brought it under control on his thigh and blasted home past goalkeeper Mike Hooper from 25 yards.

"Looking back that was a huge turning point in my career because under Branfoot my career wasn't really going anywhere," Le Tissier said.

"I'm not sure he said anything to me after the game but I certainly didn't need to say anything after that."

The beleaguered Saints boss restored Le Tissier to prominence after the Newcastle game, even giving him the captain's armband.

"I went on to score a couple against Aston Villa and then a couple more against Liverpool and strangely enough, given that had all happened at the end of October, by the middle of December I was made captain at Goodison Park, all in the space of six weeks," said Le Tissier.

But it was not enough to save Branfoot, who was dismissed in early January and replaced by fan favourite Alan Ball.

Results immediately improved as the Saints rattled off four wins from five games, including a 2-1 away victory at St James' Park, and they eventually survived by a single point.

Le Tissier would finish as the club's top scorer with 25 Premier League goals, the highest league tally of his distinguished career. He was, in an otherwise forgettable campaign for the Saints, their genius.

Watch Southampton v Newcastle live on Sky Sports Premier League with Nissan Super Sunday coverage starting from 3.30pm

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Optimus trousers posted this 13 October 2017

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COMMENT: Saints set for season defining period

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Games against Newcastle, West Brom, Brighton and Burnley might not sound particularly glamourous or exciting, but for Saints they represent a season defining period.

It has been a stop-start opening couple of months to the campaign thanks to two international breaks, but the four fixtures that come before November’s fortnight off are crucial for Mauricio Pellegrino and his side.

If Saints have ambitions to achieve anything more than a season bumbling around in midtable, then they have to get points on the board, and probably around ten of them.

So far it has felt a fairly middling beginning to the campaign.

You wouldn’t say that Saints have done poorly, but you also would be hard pushed to make a case that they have done particularly well.

The early League Cup exit has certainly added a feeling of tedium to the season already, with much excitement sucked out, which is never a good thing.

Saints have struggled for a real feeling of momentum, or a sense of collective purpose as they try and fight the odds for a lofty aim.

And with no European football this season, it leaves just the Premier League campaign and, possibly, the FA Cup to provide the excitement that really is needed.

Of course a continued lack of goals has not helped the situation, but Saints have the chance to turn things around here and now.

Other than Man United, they have yet to really play a team of any great note this season, and have won just two out of seven top flight fixtures.

Once this run of four games is complete, and the November international break has come and gone, then the season really picks up some much needed steam as the fixtures start to flow quickly.

But Saints will be all too aware that on the horizon are multiple matches against teams established in the top six, who are not dropping a whole heap of points at the moment.

Getting the points on the board that will be required to maintain some kind of sustained push higher up the table at that time will be incredibly difficult.

Some argue that Saints may have already dropped too many points against non-top six rivals to do that.

However, the nature of the division means that outside of the top six there is likely to be a lack of consistency, and so all is not lost.

But it simply has to happen in these next four fixtures, or Saints will fall a long way behind facing a run of matches where consistently getting wins is very unlikely.

The club and the team could do with something to chase. It feels like things are drifting at Saints at the moment.

It is hard when you have achieved a lot over a number of seasons, perhaps over the odds in some ways, to keep a feeling of momentum. Eventually you do hit the glass ceiling and the only way from there is standing still, which is amazing but feels comparatively uninspiring, or downwards, which seems even worse.

Maybe Saints are just naturally levelling out, and getting through this period feels a little painful now but is required.

But with seventh place looking surprisingly wide open after Everton’s poor start to the season, there is no reason Saints should not be targeting it.

If Everton don’t suddenly get it together, then seventh, and potentially European football, will go to a club like Watford, Newcastle, West Brom.

And if they are going to challenge for it then why not Saints?

Indeed, given the fact they have finished sixth, seventh and eight over the last three years, Saints should, by rights, be strong favourites to do it.

Should they fail to put themselves in a position to seriously challenge for it when clubs like those listed above are then the season really will fall very flat indeed and there will be serious questions to answer.

There is still the chance to make it happen though.

For all the talk of the start to the season and the lack of goals, Saints do not need their whole year to be defined by it. They still have the opportunity to do something about it.

Of the next batch of fixtures, three are at home.

We know the goalscoring problems have been worse at St Mary’s, so what better time to put it right?

Saints have a great home record against Newcastle, and a good win on Sunday would set the tone.

You know West Brom and Burnley will visit St Mary’s and do exactly what Saints don’t like – namely defend deep and in numbers – but there is the challenge for Saints to overcome.

The only away game, at Brighton, is a derby match, but it’s hardly one that Saints should be fearing.

The moment really is there to be seized.

Whether Saints can do it is up to the manager and the players.

With so many of his squad disappearing away on international duty, Pellegrino will have spent a lot of time mulling over his options in the last two weeks.

Now is also the moment for him too, to be creative, to be bold, to try something different.

The same old, same old, has not yielded dividends, and while it is not time to panic, trying to change things slowly, though on the face of it a sensible plan, has really resulted in little change at all.

Do not, therefore, be surprised to see a change in formation this weekend. It could happen.

Pellegrino knows he needs to try and help his players overcome the mental block they seem to be running into at the moment, and that is one of the tools at his disposal.

As we saw with Ronald Koeman, it doesn’t need to be a permanent change. Just enough to try and find some momentum and confidence.

While there shouldn’t be desperation, there needs to be a recognition that the next four games are going to shape the season.

Do well and this could yet be a cracking year. If it goes averagely or worse then injecting any sense of enthusiasm or excitement into the campaign looks a forlorn hope, and that is bad news for Saints as a club.

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Optimus trousers posted this 13 October 2017

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@SouthamptonFC - Southampton FC

Who would you choose in your greatest ever #SaintsFC line-up?

It's time to vote for the Fans' Ultimate XI...

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Optimus trousers posted this 13 October 2017

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@SouthamptonFC - Southampton FC

Vote for the Fans' Ultimate XI, which will form part of a major exhibition on #SaintsFC at @SeaCityMuseum in 2018: http://sfcne.ws/SFCUltimateXI

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@SouthamptonFC - Southampton FC

#OnThisDay in 1999, #SaintsFC came from behind to earn a last-gasp win over #LFC in the League Cup, at The Dell! 😇

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