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.

5th-place San Jose parts ways with Kinnear after 2.5 seasons

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Dominic Kinnear is out after two and a half seasons as head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes, despite leading the club to a hugely improved standing 17 games into the 2017 season.

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The move comes 17 hours after San Jose put to bed a three-game winless skid with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday, a result which propelled them into fifth place in the Western Conference, just two points off second place. After seventh- and ninth-place finishes in Kinnear’s first two seasons back in Northern California (he managed the club in 2004 and 2005 before the club was relocated to Houston, where he would remain for nine seasons, through the 2014 season), this year’s team seemed to be moving in a positive direction quicker than most had previously expected.

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The club has named Chris Leitch head coach and Alex Covelo as assistant coach. Current assistant coach Steve Ralston and goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley will remain in their current roles.

“First and foremost, we would like to thank Dominic for his hard work, professionalism and contributions to this club over the years,” Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli said in a release. “He worked hard this year and was a first-class person all the way. This decision was made after a lot of thought and evaluation. We decided that we wanted to go in a different direction as we continue to build the identity of this club.”

Kinnear is the second MLS coach to be relieved of his duties this season, suffering the same fate as RSL’s Jeff Cassar, who lasted just three games before being fired in March.

FIFA’s video-review system under scrutiny again in Russia

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OCHI, Russia (AP) FIFA’s new video review system is bringing turmoil to the Confederations Cup, with technology designed to deliver quick, clear decisions agitating players and leaving coaches and fans confused.

Perhaps even worse for FIFA, the latest controversy on Sunday – exactly one week after four goal reviews in that day’s two matches – made one of the world’s highest-rated referees look hesitant and wrong.

Wilmar Roldan sent off a Cameroon defender more than three minutes after a high tackle on a German opponent and only after his own case of mistaken identity.

The Colombian official arrived at what was arguably the correct decision following two visits to the touchline to consult video replays and first showing only a yellow card, then a red card, to the wrong Cameroon player.

“I think everyone is confused, including me,” Cameroon coach Hugo Broos said of referee Roldan after a 3-1 loss in Sochi that eliminated his team. “He and he alone can explain what happened there in that moment.”

Cameroon was also involved in two video decisions last Sunday, when possible Chile goals were reviewed for offside rulings. The first goal was disallowed, the second counted in Chile’s 2-0 victory.

Portugal had most to complain about one week ago when a potential opening goal in a 2-2 draw with Mexico was ruled out by an offside judged in an earlier phase of play.

FIFA stressed last week that all decisions proved ultimately correct, and the controversies were simply inevitable overreactions as world football gets used to a new system being put to its highest-profile tests.

Indeed, FIFA President Gianni Infantino felt confident to proclaim video review was “the future of football” and still on track to be approved by the guardians of the game’s laws before the 2018 World Cup.

Human error by Roldan seemed the biggest problem Sunday though it added to the perception that video review is capable of causing as much controversy as it solves.

FIFA has certainly pulled back from its prediction last year that game-changing decisions – goals scored, penalty kicks awarded, red cards, mistaken identity – could be reviewed and resolved in as few as six seconds.

Accuracy is more important than speed, has become the mantra in Russia.

Neither were in evidence Sunday in Sochi as Cameroon defender Ernest Mabouka eventually left the field around three minutes after his boot connected with Emre Can of Germany.

Mabouka’s teammate Sebastien Siani had sarcastically applauded the referee when he was wrongly sent from the field. Eventually Siani’s slate was wiped clean and he completed the match.

Still, the image of a top referee being openly disrespected will not please FIFA.

Roldan arrived at the Confederations Cup trying to rebuild a reputation that was damaged at the 2014 World Cup. There, he was chosen for the second game of the tournament, and incorrectly ruled out two Mexico goals. FIFA did not pick him for another refereeing duty in Brazil.

To further damage Roldan’s standing, Germany coach Joachim Loew said neither he nor Can believed the tackle merited even a yellow card.

“I didn’t have the impression that it was a mean foul with the intent to hurt the opponent. It was not intentional,” Loew said through a translator at the post-match news conference.

Loew, whose Germany team will defend its World Cup title next year, still thinks video review can benefit the game – with one condition.

“I think it can be fine-tuned over time so that decisions can be made more quickly,” the German coach said. “That would be great.”

Mario Balotelli signs new Nice contract

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Italian striker Mario Balotelli has found himself the owner of a new contract after a successful season in Ligue 1 with French club OGC Nice.

Balotelli’s one-year deal was set to expire at the end of June, but he found a career revival in what many believed would be his last chance in major European soccer. The club officially announced his new contract on Sunday, and while they did not release the length of the deal, they confirmed that Balotelli turned down deals from other clubs to stay in France.

The 26-year-old scored 15 goals in 23 league appearances last year, helping Nice to a fabulous third-place finish in Ligue 1, earning them a Champions League playoff spot.

For a player who saw trouble follow him wherever he went, the only trouble he faced last season at Nice was an erratic bout with injury issues including calf and adductor problems. However, the spells on the sidelines didn’t douse Balotelli’s form. The Italian had an incredible start and finish to the season, scoring six goals in his first five appearances of the season and bagging six goals in the last eight games of the year.

The official release by Nice said that Balotelli made “considerable financial sacrifices and chose the sporting aspect with his heart” in re-signing with the French club.

Morris, Acosta, Roldan highlight USA 23-man Gold Cup roster

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Bruce Arena has released his 23-man roster for the group stage of the 2017 Gold Cup, and it appears heavily experimental as expected, with 16 players MLS based.

The experience comes in spurts, with Brad Guzan paired with the less experienced Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid among the goalkeepers. Along the back line, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, and Jorge Villafana all make their way from the World Cup qualifiers to the Gold Cup, joined by Chelsea youngster Matt Miazga and Toronto FC’s Justin Morrow.

In midfield, Kellyn Acosta gets additional international time after positive showings in the most recent World Cup qualifiers. Dax McCarty returns to the national team along with Alejandro Bedoya, while bright 22-year-old Seattle Sounders playmaker Cristian Roldan also makes the squad. In addition, New England Revolution winger Kelyn Rowe and left-sided Kenny Saief could be set for national team debuts. Saief has appeared twice for Israel but has yet to be cap-tied by playing in a competitive match for any country and recently had his one-time switch approved.

Jordan Morris leads the way along the front line, along with 24-year-old Juan Agudelo who has not played a competitive minute for the United States since the 2011 Gold Cup. Dom Dwyer also appears, with the 26-year-old striker also hoping for an international debut. Gyasi Zardes shows up as a midfielder, but provides the United States with another versatile attacker who could play up front.

The United States will take on Panama, Martinique, and Nicaragua in the group stage of the Gold Cup, and once that is complete, Bruce Arena will be able to make changes to the roster should the United States advance as expected. At that time, Arena can swap in up to six players who appeared on the initial 40-man roster, including more experienced players like Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, Darlington Nagbe, Jozy Altidore, and Clint Dempsey.

Another name who could see time in the Gold Cup knockout round would be goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, who does not appear on the initial 25-man roster as his one-time switch paperwork has yet to be cleared by FIFA according to a number of reports. If that happens in time, he can play for the United States. The 22-year-old FC Dallas goalkeeper has played for the Mexico youth setup but has not been cap-tied by either country. After making the 40-man roster, Gonzalez confirmed he would play for the United States should he be called up. However, should he complete the one-time switch, Gonzalez wouldn’t need to be cap-tied, as completing the paperwork is enough to leave him no choice but to play for the United States.

Finally, Christian Pulisic does not appear on the 25-man roster as expected, after Bruce Arena admitted the Borussia Dortmund youngster was unlikely to play for the United States in the Gold Cup. Arena admitted getting rest and then meeting up with his club for preseason was more important for the 18-year-old than playing in the summer international tournament.

Players are set to report to training in Nashville today, with a warm-up match against Ghana scheduled for Saturday in Connecticut before Gold Cup play starts on July 8.

ROSTER

GKs: Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid.

DEFs: Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Hedges, Eric Lichaj, Matt Miazga, Justin Morrow, Jorge Villafaña, Graham Zusi.

MFs: Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Corona, Dax McCarty, Cristian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe, Kenny Saief, Gyasi Zardes.

FWDs: Jordan Morris, Juan Agudelo, Dom Dwyer.