South African artists perform during the opening ceremony of 2013 Africa Cup of Nations at football competition at City stadium in Soweto on January 19, 2013 . AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)
Chelsea were held in check for much of Sunday’s encounter but Diego Costa‘s second-half moment of magic provided the Blues with a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues striker came up with a key dispossession of Gareth McAuley with 15 minutes remaining in regular time, before calmly slotting his chance past Ben Foster for the lead. Costa has now scored 12 goals this season, which leads the entire Premier League.
Chelsea moves three points clear of Arsenal at the top of PL once more after securing its ninth-consecutive victory on Sunday. The Blues have scored 23 goals in that span while conceded just twice.
The visitors nearly caught Chelsea napping in the 26th minute as Salomon Rondon pulled a left-footed chance just wide of Thibaut Courtois and the Blues net against the run of play.
Despite a healthy spell of possession early on, the Blues struggled to break down the West Brom backline for much of the opening stanza. Antonio Conte‘s group mustered up just one effort on target as the Baggies packed numbers behind the ball to limit the Chelsea attack.
While the opportunities were limited in the first half, Diego Costa nearly broke the deadlock on 38 minutes when Pedro provided an excellent service into the penalty area, with the cross narrowly missing the head of the Spanish striker.Follow @MattReedFutbol
Manchester United hosts Tottenham from Old Trafford (Watch live, 9:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a clash that provides both clubs the opportunity to remain in sight of the Premier League’s leaders..
Jose Mourinho’s side enters Sunday on a five-match unbeaten run in PL play, however, the Red Devils come in frustrated after dropping points in three straight draws. For Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino and co. have won two straight in all competitions, scoring eight goals in the process, following the side’s first PL defeat to Chelsea two weeks back.
For United, the squad will see many regulars on the bench to start Sunday’s encounter, including Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney. Meanwhile, Tottenham will look to Harry Kane and Son to keep the team’s attack flying on all cylinders.
Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian, Carrick (C), Herrera, Mkhitaryan, Pogba, Martial, Ibrahimovic. Subs: Romero, Bailly, Blind, Fellaini, Mata, Rashford, Rooney.
Spurs: Lloris (C); Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama, Dembele; Eriksen, Dele, Son; Kane. Subs: Vorm, Wimmer, Davies, Dier, Winks, Sissoko, Nkoudou.
Southampton hosts Middlesbrough from St. Mary’s Stadium (Watch live, 9:15 a.m. ET available online via NBCSports.com) as the Boro look to create separation between them and the league’s bottom sides.
Both sides enter Sunday winless in three of their last four PL fixtures, however, a victory for either side would push them closer to the top half of the table.
Southampton: Forster, Clasie, Fonte (C), Rodriguez, Tadic, Romeu, Martina, Ward-Prowse, Van Dijk, Boufal, McQueen. Subs: Taylor, Yoshida, Long, Davis, Reed, Bertrand, Redmond.Follow @MattReedFutbol
Despite starting 2016/17 with just one defeat in their first 14 Premier League matches, one of Tottenham’s key figures from a season ago has gotten off to a quiet start.
While Spurs currently sit fifth in the PL table, Eric Dier has been a shell of himself in the early going of the campaign for Mauricio Pochettino‘s group, and the Englishman believes it’s likely because of the long summer at EURO 2016.
The 22-year-old has been tasked with playing multiple positions thus far, as injuries forced the midfielder back into defense at times this season. However, Dier remains confident that he will pick up his play and can help Tottenham no matter which role he plays.
“It is completely up to the manager where I play. What is more important is making sure I’m feeling good mentally,” Dier said. “That is more important to me. If I get back to that, where I have a good feeling and my confidence is back, then whatever position I am playing in, I will be able to play.
“I feel that I am getting it back – last weekend and against CSKA. I am just trying to get everything back to the levels of last season.
“It has been a difficult start for me this season – it has been there for everyone to see.
“It has been tough coming back late from the Euros because I haven’t really been able to get going. Then I got injured a couple of games into the season and that halted me again. And when Toby got injured I played at the back again.
“This is football and these things happen to everyone. It has not been a catastrophe – it has just been a bit of a low start.
“I don’t think there has ever been a really low point. It is just about getting back to where I want to be.”
Dier notched three goals and two assists in the PL a season ago, however, the young midfielder has yet to hit the scoresheet in 2016 despite appearing in 13 matches.
Sunday’s test against Manchester United would be an ideal time for Dier to find the back of the net as Spurs look to build off of last weekend’s 5-0 thrashing of Swansea.Follow @MattReedFutbol
Chelsea hosts West Bromwich Albion from Stamford Bridge (Watch live, 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Blues look to extend their eight-match win streak.
The Blues make one change from last weekend’s 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Manchester City as Cesc Fabregas makes way in the starting XI for Nemanja Matic.
Antonio Conte‘s side will be opposed by a West Brom side that is unbeaten in their last four Premier League matches. The Baggies remain unchanged from last week’s 3-1 win over Watford as the side looks to move above eighth in the table.
West Brom: Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nyom; Yacob, Fletcher (c); Brunt, Morrison, Phillips; Rondon. Subs: Palmer; Olsson, Robson-Kanu, Gardner, McClean, Galloway, Chadli.Follow @MattReedFutbol