Premier League Sunday Preview: Arsenal host Everton, Aston Villa travel to Fulham

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After plenty of big sides slipped up on Saturday in the Premier League, Arsenal have the perfect chance to extend their lead at the top of the table on Sunday.

But it won’t be easy.

Everton are the opponents for Arsene Wenger’s side and the Toffees have already beaten Chelsea and Manchester United this season, as they look to make it into the top four in Roberto Martinez’ first season charge at Goodison Park.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup – Upsets galore as Manchester United, Chelsea lose)

Elsewhere in England’s capital on Sunday, Fulham host Aston Villa at Craven Cottage with Rene Meulensteen looking for his first win since taking charge from Martin Jol.

Let’s break down both games, which you can watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra.

source: Getty Images
Fulham have had a nightmare season… can a win vs. Villa help turn that around?

Fulham vs. Aston Villa – 8:30am ET, live on NBCSN

after six-straight defeats in the league, Fulham are second from bottom and sit three points from safety after sacking manager Martin Jol last weekend. New boss Rene Meulensteen has one heck of a job on his hands if he’s going to plug the holes and stop the Cottagers sinking ship as they battle relegation. After tough tests against the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United, this game presents a real chance for Fulham to not only stop their losing streak but also grab a massively important three points.

Paul Lambert’s Villa are on a roll though and haven’t lost in five games with their plethora of talented strikers — Gabriel Agbonlahor, Libor Kozak, Andreas Weimann — helping them to beat Southampton 3-2 on Wednesday. Will Dimitar Berbatov and Fulham’s other talented stars finally roll their sleeves up and dig themselves out of trouble? A big win on Sunday against Villa could be the catalyst for an upturn in fortunes… but it won’t be easy.

Arsenal vs. Everton – 11am ET, live on NBCSN

source: Getty Images
Can the Gunners extend their lead at the top? Or will they come unstuck against the Toffees?

The Gunners now a win would extend their lead to seven points at the top of the table and put them 15 points clear of Manchester United. Do they need any more motivation than that? Arsene Wenger’s side have been in dazzling form the entire season but Everton will stretch them to their limit, as Roberto Martinez’ side turn up full of swagger after wining at Old Trafford for the first time in 21 years on Wednesday. The Toffees love to get the ball down and play, a style Arsenal are the masters of, but their direct approach may hurt Arsenal as Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku could give Per Mertsesacker and Laurent Koscielny a terrible afternoon at the back for the Gunners.

But Arsenal are flying-high for a reason, with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere they possess midfielder who can unlock any defense. Plus Olivier Giroud is as clinical as they come in the box. An intriguing battle between two teams who love to attack and entertain awaits, make sure you don’t miss this one.

Independiente and Flamengo meet for South American trophy

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund wins in Stoger’s managerial debut

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For the first time since late September, Borussia Dortmund has won a league match, while Leipzig’s slip up opens the door for Bayern Munich to extend its lead in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, level on points with Man United ]

Here’s a brief look at all of Tuesday’s Bundesliga action.

Mainz 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

10 points separates Dortmund from league leaders Bayern Munich, who also have a match in hand, but for the moment, the bleeding his stopped. BVB picked up a crucial win on Tuesday to end its domestic woes upon manager Peter Stoger’s debut. The side’s drought stretched over an eight-match winless period. Second-half goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa moved Dortmund into the top four, while Mainz remains 15th in the league table.

 

Wolfsburg 1-1 Red Bull Leipzig

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s form continues to slide downward after the second-place side dropped points in its fourth straight match across all competitions. The road side’s fortunes were dampened early on when Paul Verhaegh converted from the penalty spot, however, Marcel Halstenberg did manage to pull a goal back for Leipzig in the 52nd minute. Leipzig’s misfortunes carried on in stoppage time though when Dayot Upamecano was sent off after picking up his second yellow card of the day.


The rest of Tuesday’s scores

Hamburg 1-2 Frankfurt
Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Inter beats 3rd-division Pordenone 5-4 on penalties in Cup

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, moves level on points with Man United ]

Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.

But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.

Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.

[ MORE: Burnley moves into top four after win over Stoke ]

However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi.

Report: Cosmos coach Savarese to be named new Timbers manager

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In a time where NASL’s status moving forward is hanging in the balance, one of the league’s top managers is set to make the jump to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan ]

According to ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese is set to be named the next Portland Timbers manager.

Savarese will take over for the recently departed Caleb Porter, who stepped down from his head coaching role with the Timbers in November.

The former professional player spent five seasons in MLS during his career, including stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), as well as the New England Revolution and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 46-year-old has managed the Cosmos from 2013 to present, and guided the NASL side to three Soccer Bowl titles in that span.