Jose Mourinho

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. Swansea City

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  • Chelsea have been reduced to 10 men in three of their last six meetings with Swansea in all competitions.
  • Chelsea took part in the highest scoring Premier League game on December 26 when they drew 4-4 with Aston Villa in 2007.
  • Frank Lampard has played more games on December 26 than any other player in Premier League history (15).

Chelsea will look to close the two point gap on league leaders Liverpool when they welcome Swansea City to Stamford Bridge on Thursday (9:45am ET live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra).

Following the 0-0 draw with Arsenal on Monday, the Blues sit fourth in the table, seven spots ahead of the Swans. Jose Mourinho’s side have dropped only two points at home all season, keeping The Special One’s home unbeaten streak at 68 games. Which doesn’t bode well for Swansea.

The fact that Michael Laudrup’s club have been inconsistent on the road this season will only complicate the issue further for the Swans, who are suffering from a rash of injuries and the rigors of playing in the Europa League. The combination of the two has made Swansea a completely unpredictable squad. Sometimes they look like world beaters, other times the look like a Championship side.

But while Swansea have never beaten Chelsea in four previous league meetings, Stamford Bridge is the venue where they secured a 2-0 victory in the semi-final of last year’s League Cup – the necessary result to help them go on and win the competition.

If they’re to win on Thursday it will have to be without Michu (ankle), Michel Vorm (knee), Nathan Dyer (ankle) and Gary Monk (knee), who are all sidelined with injury.

For Chelsea, Ryan Bertrand (knock) is out while Marco van Ginkel (knee) remains a longterm absentee with an ACL injury. Nevertheless, expect Mourinho to rotate his squad given the close temporal proximity of this match to the Arsenal match.

What They’re Saying

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: “OK, we don’t go to Christmas as leaders, but we go with evolution because last season the championship was already lost by this point. Now, we are there.”

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup: “We are talking about one of the favourites for the title, but other teams have gone there and done well and I still think we have a chance. We have fond memories of that pitch.”

Prediction

Normally, I’d say Swansea could give Chelsea a game in this one. They’re a great footballing side and one that’s capable of shocking anyone. Except when Vorm is out because for my money, Gerhard Tremmel is the worst goal-keeper in the league. A bit harsh but true. The Blues will roll.

West Ham extend Payet’s contract in “enormous show of faith”

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring while soap bubbles are blown during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Newcastle at Boleyn Ground in London, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.

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Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.

“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”

Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.

VIDEO: Dele Alli’s magnificent juggling goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon

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Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?

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How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal

Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.

Watch Live: Guatemala vs. T&T; Canada vs. Guyana in Olympic qualifying

Canadian players wave to fans after a 2-1 loss to England in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Group B is set to kick off Thursday night at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, as Canada, third-place finishers at the 2012 Olympics, begin their quest to qualify for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago is up first (6 p.m. ET) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex, followed by the Canadians, who will take on Guyana (8:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap.

[ WATCH LIVE: Guatemala vs. T&T live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

[ WATCH LIVE: Canada vs. Guyana live on line on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The U.S. women’s national began its Olympic qualifying campaign in impressive fashion on Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Costa Rica, while Mexico jumped to the top of Group A with a 6-0 victory over Puerto Rico.

Sunderland terminate Adam Johnson’s contract after guilty pleas in sex case

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court, England, Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. Johnson has pleaded guilty in court to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old Johnson, who has made 12 appearances for England, denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
Peter Byrne/PA via AP
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SUNDERLAND, England (AP) Sunderland has fired winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at the start of his trial.

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Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sunderland dismissed Johnson ahead of his trial resuming on Friday at Bradford Crown Court.

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In a statement, Sunderland announced Thursday that “in light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

The former Manchester City player joined Sunderland in 2012 for 10 million pounds (now about $14.5 million).