Premier League Sunday Preview: Chelsea host Liverpool, Newcastle and Arsenal clash

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If 26 Premier League games over the past seven days hasn’t been enough for you, don’t worry…. there’s four more coming your way on Sunday.

After Saturday’s jam-packed slate of games delivered plenty of goals, controversy and drama on and off the field, let’s take a peek at what Sunday has in store for us.

And remember, you can watch NBC Sports Network for our feature games and watch every single second of every single game live this season online via NBC Sports Live Extra and the NBC Sports Live Extra App. Via your TV you can watch the games live on Premier League Extra Time.

Let’s get to the action on Sunday, as four massive games are lined up.

Newcastle United vs. Arsenal, 8:30am ET, live on NBCSN

The Magpies are flying this season, as the French-heavy squad is finally fit and firing on all cylinders. Alan Pardew’s side have already beaten Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United this season and fancy another scalp when Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal roll into town. However the Gunners are a bit of ‘bogey team’ for Newcastle, who have won just once in their last 11 attempts versus the North London side. Arsenal will welcome Jack Wilshere back into the squad after his suspension but Aaron Ramsey is still missing through injury, while Newcastle have no new injury worries. Arsenal were knocked off the top spot by Manchester City on Saturday, only a win at St. James’ Park will send them back to the summit. They’ll have to be at their very best to get that, against a in-form Newcastle side who have won seven of their last nine.

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The Gunners are looking for more success against the Magpies to move back to the PL summit.

Everton vs. Southampton, 8:30am ET, live on Premier League Extra Time

The Toffees came unstuck against Sunderland last-time out, as USMNT ‘keeper Tim Howard took down Sunderland’s Ki, Howard was then red carded and the South Korean midfielder dispatched the game-winner from the penalty spot. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Roberto Martinez’ men who with 10-men for most of the game dominated proceedings and were unlucky to lose at home for the first time in 2013. As for Southampton, they grabbed their first win in seven games last time out as the Saints battered Cardiff 3-0 with Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert running riot. Ninth placed Southampton have only won once in 14 attempts in the PL at Goodison Park, can fifth placed Everton give them another hiding? This should be a great game between two sides who love to stroke the ball around and with the Toffees missing Howard and Gareth Barry though suspension and the Saints seeing players recalled to fitness… who knows what will happen.

Chelsea vs. Liverpool, 11am ET, live on NBCSN

source: AP
Can Mourinho’s Chelsea send a message out to the rest of the league?

This game will be massive, as Liverpool won’t want to lose two on the spin and Chelsea want to send out a message to the rest of the league that this title is theirs for the taking. In the build-up Jose Mourinho said in jest that he hoped Luis Suarez “got an injury, not a serious one, just something minor” as he asked about how good Liverpool’s top striker is. On top of his game, he’s unstoppable and Chelsea must quell the danger of Suarez if they want to win on Sunday. Last season Suarez bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, so expect special treatment from the Chelsea fans towards the Uruguayan. Like Suarez, the Blues have been in good form themselves and a win could see them go second and extend their lead over Liverpool to four points. But the Reds showed against Man City on Boxing Day that they can compete and trouble the best teams in the land, so Brendan Rodgers will fancy his chances against the club where he learned his coaching trade. Plus Chelsea have only won twice in their last 13 PL games against the Anfield club. Liverpool’s injury worries could harm them, as Mourinho’s men look to put down a marker heading into the new year. Do yourself a favor… don’t miss this match.

Tottenham vs. Stoke City, 11am ET, live on Extra Time

Tim Sherwood’s unveiling as Spurs’ new manager on a permanent basis didn’t exactly go according to plan on Boxing Day, as West Bromwich Albion came to White Hart Lane and grabbed a point. Spurs and Sherwood will be looking to dispatch Stoke City on Sunday, as the Potters head to London fresh off the back of that 5-1 thumped by Newcastle last time out. Albeit Stoke were reduced to nine-men in the first half after a crazy few minutes, but Mark Hughes’ men won’t be relishing a trip to North London so soon after being battered, bruised and bewildered. That said, this will be a rough and tumble affair as Spurs’ new physical and more direct approach is sure to clash with Stoke’s robust defensive unit. It might not be one for the purists but Spurs need a win to stay in touch with the top four, as a defeat could see them slip five or six points off top spot. It could be a rough afternoon for Stoke, as Tottenham aim to improve their already incredible record against the Potters (won 28, drawn 8, lost 2 of last 38 encounters) when this bruising encounter takes place to round of 2013.

PL title & FA Cup in sight, Conte says Chelsea still rebuilding

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Antonio Conte might be just seven games away from guiding Chelsea to a Premier League and FA Cup double this season, but the Blues’ first-year Italian manager insists his squad is nowhere near being a finished product.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking after Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal triumph over Tottenham Hotspur, Conte insisted that the team he inherited last summer, after a disastrous 10th-place finish in the PL, is “in a period of transition” and that “[they] need time” as the club moves on from an accomplished, foundational generation — quotes from Sky Sports:

“I think that now at Chelsea we are in a period of transition. In this season, we have lost (Branislav) Ivanovic, (John Obi) Mikel and next season we lose John Terry.

“We are talking about players who wrote the history of this club. They won a lot. Now we have to find the right substitutes for these players and then work to put these players at the same level.

“I think that in the period with Carlo (Ancelotti) — and Carlo is the best Italian coach, I have great respect for him — he arrived at Chelsea when they had a really strong squad. Now we are building. We are building something important. We need time.”

[ MORE: Kante takes home PFA Player of the Year | Dele wins Young Player ]

Conte is doing two things with the above comments: 1) he’s tempering expectations for next season, when Chelsea will be back in the UEFA Champions League and automatically expected to repeat as PL champions — not to mention, taking a bit of pressure off in these final two months of the 2016-17 season; and, 2) pointing out just how impressive his work to date has been, the fact he’s potentially seven games away from lifting two trophies in seven days’ time next month.

Ligue 1: Mbappe, Falcao fire Monaco top again

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PARIS (AP) Strikers Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe continued their fine form with a goal each to help Monaco secure a 2-1 win at Lyon and reclaim top spot in the French league on Sunday.

Monaco moves above defending champion Paris Saint-Germain on goal difference, with Monaco having played a game less. PSG has four games left.

“It wasn’t easy and it was a big win for us tonight,” Monaco center half Andrea Raggi said. “We all play for each other and it’s now or never.”

It has been an astonishing season for Monaco, which has now scored 143 goals in all competitions and remains on course for the treble. Monaco faces PSG in the French Cup semifinals next Wednesday.

Falcao and Mbappe scored in midweek when Monaco beat German side Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in the return leg of their Champions League quarterfinal to reach the last four 6-3 on aggregate.

Lyon also did well in Europe, going through on penalty kicks away to Turkish club Besiktas to reach the last four in the Europa League.

Falcao and the 18-year-old Mbappe have combined for 51 goals.

Falcao put Monaco ahead in the 36th minute with a header from close range – his 28th goal of the season – and Mbappe made it 2-0 just before halftime with a trademark surging run and cool finish for his 23rd.

“I just try and give my best whenever I play,” said Mbappe, who has recently been called into the France team. “I wasn’t playing much at the start of the season, so I’m still quite fresh and I hope I can help us win the remaining games.”

PSG beat Montpellier 2-0 at home on Saturday with Edinson Cavani scoring his 31st league goal of the season and 44th overall.

Nice has already guaranteed third place and a spot in the qualifying round for next season’s Champions League.

But with four games remaining, it is six points behind Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain. Nice hosts PSG next Sunday.

Striker Corentin Jean gave mid-table Toulouse the lead in the 57th minute. Midfielder Valentin Eysseric continued his fine form with the equalizer three minutes later.

The game was briefly halted early in the first half after a group of Saint-Etienne supporters forced themselves into the stadium.

The match was supposed to be played behind closed doors as a punishment for unruly supporters during Saint-Etienne’s local derby against Lyon.

After a brief delay for police to remove the fans, Slovakia striker Robert Beric put the home side ahead in the 39th and center half Edson Mexer leveled just before the break.

Saint-Etienne is in seventh place, while Rennes is ninth.

Serie A: Napoli waste chance to go 2nd; Juve win big (again)

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MILAN (AP) Arkadiusz Milik scored his first goal since his lengthy injury layoff but it wasn’t enough to prevent Napoli from drawing 2-2 at Sassuolo on Sunday and missing the chance to move second in Serie A.

Milik scored two minutes after coming off the bench to rescue a point for Napoli and move it to within one point of second-placed Roma, which visits bottom club Pescara on Monday.

Second spot in Serie A secures automatic entry into the Champions League group stage, while the team that finishes third has to go through a playoff.

“The road to second spot has got more difficult, we have to hope our rivals slip up,” Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said. “We have a point more than last season, even though we played in the Champions League, even though we lost (Gonzalo) Higuain at the beginning of the season and Milik for four months, so I think the team has had an extraordinary season until now.”

After an even first half, Napoli broke the deadlock seven minutes after the break thanks to a rare header from Dries Mertens. It was the diminutive Belgian’s 22nd league goal of the season – as many as he had scored in total in his three previous seasons at Napoli.

However, Napoli gifted Sassuolo the equalizer seven minutes later as Marek Hamsik’s terrible headed backpass to Pepe Reina was intercepted by Domenico Berardi, who fired home from close range.

Mertens almost immediately restored his side’s lead but saw his free kick come off the crossbar, while Lorenzo Insigne’s effort also hit the inside of the post for Napoli.

Sassuolo took the lead 10 minutes from time following a superb save from Reina to deny former Napoli hero Paolo Cannavaro, but Antonino Ragusa hooked the ball back in from the byline for Luca Mazzitelli to drive into the bottom right corner.

Milik was brought on in the 82nd and immediately leveled. Jose Callejon’s corner was knocked down by Raul Albiol and the Poland international spun to fire in from close range for his first goal since he was injured on World Cup duty in October.

AC Milan missed a penalty as the new era at the famous Italian club continued without a win.

Milan drew 2-2 at city rival Inter Milan last weekend in the first match since the $800 million takeover of Milan by Chinese-led Rossoneri Sport Luxembourg ended Silvio Berlusconi’s 31-year reign.

Sunday’s defeat saw Milan remain in the last qualifying spot for the Europa League, two points above Inter.

“If we relate everything to the result, it didn’t go well but I shouldn’t do that,” Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said. “We created 15 chances, it’s difficult to create more in Serie A.”

Empoli took a surprise lead five minutes from halftime when Levan Mchedlidze headed in a corner.

Milan should have leveled shortly before the hour, after Lukasz Skorupski pushed over Mario Pasalic, but the Empoli goalkeeper made up for his error by keeping out Suso’s penalty and then parrying a follow-up effort from Gianluca Lapadula.

Empoli doubled its lead in the 67th when Massimo Maccarone nodded on the ball for Mame Thiam to score his first goal in Italian football.

Lapadula reduced the deficit five minutes later, curling into the bottom corner and Milan had a good chance to level when it was awarded an indirect free kick six yards out from goal after Skorupski got the ball, put it down and picked it back up again.

However, with all the Empoli players on the line, Milan couldn’t equalize.

Milan’s teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma kept his side in the match with a fantastic one-handed save to deny Maccarone and it almost proved decisive as Lucas Ocampos volleyed off the crossbar at the other end.

Keita Balde Diao notched a five-minute hat trick as Lazio crushed Palermo to move back into fourth in Serie A.

Ciro Immobile scored two in as many minutes to put Lazio 2-0 up inside 10 minutes, before Keita’s quickfire treble – including a penalty – ensured the match was all but over with less than half an hour played.

Lazio relaxed and Palermo threatened an unexpected comeback with two goals from Andrea Rispoli in five minutes at the start of the second half.

But Luca Crecco extended Lazio’s lead in the final minute with his first ever senior goal.

Juventus continued its march to an unprecedented sixth successive Serie A title by routing Genoa 4-0 to move 11 points clear of Roma.

Ezequiel Munoz scored an own-goal in the 17th and magnificent strikes from Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic put the hosts 3-0 up at the break. Leonardo Bonucci scored another stunning goal in the 64th after sprinting forward from inside his own half. Juventus also hit the woodwork three times.

Crotone kept its faint hopes of survival alive with a surprise 2-1 win at Sampdoria.

The result left it five points behind 17th-placed Empoli and safety with five matches remaining.

Elsewhere, Torino won 3-1 at Chievo Verona, while Udinese beat Cagliari 2-1.

MLS Snapshot: Sounders cruise, 3-0, as Galaxy struggles continue

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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy’s midfield remains… nonexistent, to put it very nicely. It was a problem in 2015; it was a major problem in 2016; and it remains a problem early in 2017. On Sunday, Curt Onalfo’s side (as a quick aside, no, his seat isn’t yet getting hot) sat by and watched — almost literally — as the Seattle Sounders found the back of the net three times in the first half at StubHub Center.

Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris scored the goals for Seattle, to go with an own goal from Ashley Cole. It’s LA’s fifth loss in seven games, while Seattle have their second win of the season and put to bed a three-game winless skid.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS roundup — FCD win battle of unbeatens ]

Three moments that mattered

29′ — Dempsey heads into an open net for 1-0 — Nicolas Lodeiro floated the cross toward the back post, and Dempsey made extremely easy work of it with Brian Rowe scrambling through no man’s land.

35′ — Cole applies the finish into his own net — If it happened at the other end of the field, we’d have said it was a cool, calm, composed finish. Alas…

44′ — Morris fires past Rowe for 3-0 — The counter-attack was quick, what with no one stepping to the ball as Seattle covered two-thirds of the field. The finish wasn’t so simple for Morris.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Clint Dempsey

Goalscorers: Dempsey (29′), Cole (OG – 35′), Morris (44′)