Premier League Sunday Preview: Saints host Spurs, Swansea take on Everton

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With a festive feast of Premier League action heading your way over the next 12 days, Sunday sees two top clashes which will have major implications on the top half of the standings.

Four teams who love to get the ball down and stroke it around will face off, with managerless Tottenham facing a tough task against young upstarts Southampton.

Can the Saints pile the misery on the North London side after AVB’s departure and two straight-defeats?

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Ex-Swansea manager Roberto Martinez takes his hugely talented Everton side down to South Wales for a battle of tactical nous and wit, as both teams will be looking to keep their recent good form going.

Let’s take a look at what we can expect from both games on a busy Sunday before the Boxing Day madness begins.

Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur, live on NBCSN, 8:30am ET

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Can Sherwood really turn things around at Tottenham? Saints will push his side to their limits on Sunday, 8:30am ET live on NBCSN

A real treat awaits at St. Mary’s on Sunday as Southampton host Tottenham in their first PL game since Andre Villas-Boas was sacked. Saints are without a win in five games, after such a promising start to the season, but will see this as the perfect time to face Spurs with interim boss

Tim Sherwood in charge and the North London team reeling. Mauricio Pochettino’s men have drawn against Man City and Newcastle in their last two matches, while Spurs were slaughtered 5-0 by Liverpool and lost late on to West Ham in a League Cup quarterfinal on Wednesday. Both sides are desperate for a win, so expect Saints’ usual high-pressure approach to be more ferocious than usual and Sherwood to set Spurs out in a solid 4-4-2 formation with Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor up front.

A rousing clash will take place down on the South Coast, as Saints have a terrific home record vs. Spurs after winning five of their last six and Spurs have only scored on one occasion.

Swansea City vs. Everton, live on NBCSN, 11am ET

The Swans and Toffees are easy on the eye, so expect a real free-flowing affair down at the Liberty Stadium. Swansea have been getting better as the season has gone on, while Everton are real contenders for the top four after Robert Martinez has performed a masterful transition from the David Moyes era.

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Everton will look to keep the pressure on those teams above them with a win in South Wales

The Toffees have kept their solid base but have added a shed load of goals with Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas and goals from all over the pitch pushing them into the upper echelons of the table and looking the real deal. Swansea have lost just one of their last six games and with the likes of Michu back fit and raring to go, expect a passionate crowd in South Wales to spur their team on.

The Swans will also be welcoming back former manager Martinez, and worryingly for him, he’s never beaten his old side in four previous attempts as a manger.

AT HALF: Watch Willian, Lukaku goals as Chelsea, Man Utd level

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It’s been a good one so far at Old Trafford, where Willian and Romelu Lukaku traded first half goals for Chelsea and Manchester United.

Both players started and finished their goals, though plenty more time elapsed between the beginning and end of Chelsea’s opener.

[ MORE: Watch the second half live, online ]

Willian broke up a United cross and Chelsea nearly went the length of the pitch on their goal. David De Gea will want to have done better on the Brazilian’s rocket finish, but a fine goal nonetheless (above).

As for Lukaku, he went head-to-head with Andreas Christensen and the Chelsea man hit the deck while the Belgian striker was merely stunned before getting on the end of terrific one touch work between Nemanja Matic, Alexis Sanchez, and Anthony Martial.

Off-kilter Kane saves sloppy Spurs at Palace

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  • Tottenham goes fourth
  • Spurs with 76 percent possession
  • Kane scores 150th Spurs goal

Harry Kane made amends for an atypical day of sloppy finishing with an 89th minute winner as Tottenham Hotspur persisted to beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

The win gives Spurs 55 points, good for fourth in the Premier League before Chelsea faces Manchester United.

Palace remains 17th, behind Saints but ahead of Swans on goal differential. The Eagles are sorely missing Wilfried Zaha.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ben Davies was fouled in a bid to meet a back post free kick in the eighth minute, but no penalty was given and Palace cleared the corner as Spurs provided the first true scoring chance of the match.

Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey was at his left post for a fine save on Harry Kane in the 10th, as Patrick Van Aanholt lost the English superstar.

At the other end, Luka Milivojevic‘s free kick was headed into the arms of Hugo Lloris by James Tomkins. Lloris would deprive Christian Benteke of a finishing bid in the 16th minute, too.

A penalty was coming for Kane before the referee noticed the linesman’s raised flag and saved Timothy Fosu-Mensah from conceded the opportunity.

Palace made it to the locker room at 0-0, with Townsend hitting a low ball to Lloris before the break.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The second half began, and Spurs worked some chances to score that were lacking the appropriate finish. Both Kane and Christian Eriksen shanked attempts in the first five minutes.

A pair of gorgeous flicks from Serge Aurier and Eriksen met Kane near the back post, but the striker atypically missed what should’ve been an easy opener.

Palace thought Alexander Sorloth might’ve earned a penalty from Davinson Sanchez, but Spurs escaped punishment in the 63rd minute.

Hennessey continued to play his role, stopping from Aurier before extending fully to palm away Davies’ offering in the 73rd.

Dele Alli dove in a bid to win a penalty soon after the Davies denial, but had no success.

Kane found a moment of brilliance in the 83rd minute, but Benteke of all players slid to block the shot and Hennessey collected the ball.

Davies should’ve had an assist moments later, but Aurier tripped on the ball.

Kane dragged an 86th minute shot inches wide of the goal, and it just seemed unlikely to be Spurs day despite dominance on the ball.

Of course, that meant an off-balance Hennessey couldn’t get a hold of Kane’s header off an Eriksen free kick with 90 seconds remaining before stoppage time.

Watch Live: Manchester United vs. Chelsea

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It’s a big one, you know: Manchester United hosts Chelsea in a battle for table positioning on Sunday at Old Trafford (Watch live at 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Scrutinized summer signings Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata start at center forward for their respective sides.

Morata scored the lone goal when Chelsea beat United 1-0 in November.

Jose Mourinho has opted for Scott McTominay over Michael Carrick and Juan Mata in the midfield, while Anthony Martial gets the call over Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard.

Chelsea will have Pedro and Olivier Giroud on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young, McTominay, Matic, Pogba, Alexis, Lukaku, Martial. Subs: Pereira, Bailly, Shaw, Carrick, Mata, Lingard, Rashford.

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Drinkwater, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Morata, Hazard. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Emerson, Fabregas, Pedro, Giroud.

Aubameyang says off-field criticism “goes over my head”

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The Daily Mirror posted a profile on Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang late Saturday, speaking with the Gabonese striker as well as a number of people in his life.

[ MORE: PL Saturday roundup ]

Most of the talk dealt with his obsession with soccer, which started as an admirer of his internationally-capped father, but the quotes getting attention come from Aubameyang and deal with his comfort as a flashy personality.

So for those wondering whether the 27-year-old is going to tame his off-field activities now that he’s moved to London, well, it’s unlikely.

Aubameyang has a bit of David Beckham in him, cognizant of his background and relishing his place in life.

“The clothes, the cars and all that are a bonus. I enjoy living this way. I like who I am and it doesn’t matter if other people can’t ­accept that – it goes over my head.

“As they say ‘you only live once’. It’s important to know where you come from and where your roots are – the rest is a big bonus.”

Any number of players, from Andy Carroll to Cristiano Ronaldo, have appreciated the very same things.

It’s not a big deal.

As long as on-field performances accompany them, any criticism is driven by envy or a need to attract a similar form of attention as the player himself.