Without further adieu, let’s crack on with a brief preview of both games.
Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur, Watch live on CNBC at 8:30am ET
Both the teams have the chance to climb into second spot with a win, do they need anymore motivation than that? The Toffees have been terrific since Roberto Martinez took charge and look dangerous going forward and steady as a rock at the back. Romelu Lukau has scored four goals so far and looks a real bargain on loan from Chelsea. As for Spurs, manager Andre Villas-Boas hit out at fans for negative comments following his sides 1-0 win against Hull last weekend. Tottenham have won four games 1-0 and striker Roberto Soldado has scored PK winners in three of them, so you can see why Spurs fans are frustrated. They won’t more panache, cutting edge and spark going forward… will that get that at Goodison Park? What a game we have in store, as two teams pushing to make it into the top four this season clash in a high-tempo affair.
Cardiff City vs. Swansea City, Watch live on NBCSN at 11am ET
Well, this rivalry needs no introduction. The South Wales derby will be making it’s first-ever appearance in the Premier League on Sunday, it’s going to be boisterous, ferocious and a gruesome battle… and that’s just in the stands! All joking aside, ProSoccerTalk spent some time in both cities earlier this week and got the lowdown on the intense rivalry on and off the pitch. Cardiff have made a decent start to their first-ever season in the PL and with a win they can leapfrog over their successful neighbors to the West. As for the Swans, they’re excelling in the Europa League and have had a tough fixture list to start. That said, the free-flowing attractive soccer they play is still a joy to watch and it’ll be very interesting to see it clash with Cardiff’s psychical approach and see who prevails amongst a mighty crescendo of noise, passion and rivalry at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Manchester United’s uphill battle for a top-four finish continues on Saturday when the Red Devils travel to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
Sunderland sit 19th on the table four points from safety as the time has come for Sam Allardyce‘s side to start getting results. Without a win in their last four matches, the Black Cats must turn things around if they want to stay up in the Premier League. Jermain Defoe scored last time out in a draw at Liverpool, and he’ll once again be tasked with finding the back of the net if Sunderland are to win.
For Manchester United, the pressure is still on Louis Van Gaal as rumors and reports circle linking Jose Mourinho to the job. Fifth on the table and six points behind Manchester City, a top-four finish is slipping away from United if they don’t rattle off a few wins. A late goal at Chelsea last weekend cost the Red Devils all three points, but they’ll look at this matchup against Sunderland as a good opportunity to get a positive result.
What they’re saying
Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce: “Providing chances for Jermain Defoe is critical for us. But our first major problem is that we haven’t kept a clean sheet in nine matches. We need to start putting a zero against us in games and if we start doing that we’ll win more matches. If we win more matches, we’ll get out of trouble.”
United manager Louis van Gaal: “We had lost four matches in a row in December and you see us now. You can only say that we are mentally very strong and that we can cope with the pressure. That is not enough as we have to improve our results and consistency to win a lot of matches in a row. We have to minimize the gap to our competitors.”
Sunderland need all the points they can get to try and stay up, but United always seem to cause the Black Cats problems. Jermain Defoe is kept off the board as Louis van Gaal takes the win. Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United.
Chelsea striker Diego Costa broke his nose in training after a clash of heads, but should be fit to play in Saturday’s match against Newcastle (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
Costa has six goals in his past seven Premier League games as Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 11 in all competitions.
Manager Guus Hiddink spoke about the injury in his press conference on Friday, saying Costa collided with an Academy player in training. Hiddink said he believes Costa will be ready to play this weekend for his “Zorro team” as Costa joins Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic, and Cesar Azpilicueta as Chelsea players to wear a mask this season.
It was not a tough duel but he put his nose on the back of the head of one of the youngsters from the Academy that we like to participate in our training games. He was very unlucky.
They are putting a mask on Diego as well, we are the team with a lot of masks, a Zorro team, and he will come back do some light training this afternoon as he must experience how he is dealing with the form and the fitting of the mask.
Costa scored a stoppage-time equalizer against Manchester United last weekend as Chelsea continue to get results under Guus Hiddink. The Blues are up to 13th on the table, just three points outside the top half.
It’s hard to believe, but somehow the Barcelona superstar had never won this honor before. Despite winning a record five Ballon D’or trophies as the best player in the world, this trophy had eluded Messi since its inception in 2013.
Messi scored six goals in six January matches as Barcelona sit atop the La Liga table, currently holding a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.
Despite their dominance in La Liga, this is only the second time a Barcelona player has won this monthly award, as Neymar took home the honor in November of 2015.