Premier League Sunday Preview: Newcastle host Man City, Stoke take on Liverpool

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On Sunday there are two tremendous treats heading your way.

Make sure you’re up early to witness a soccer masterclass, as back-to-back matches from the Premier League is a sure-fire way to start your Sunday off right.  

Title hopefuls against top six teams, hostile atmospheres and global sueprstars galore… this Sunday has it all.

Grab some breakfast, and a big ol’ cup of tea before you settle down to watch these four teams slog it out in the harsh English winter. Expect plenty of twists and turns and plenty of pulsating action.

Let’s get to it.

Newcastle United vs. Manchester City, live on NBCSN at 9:05am ET

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Expect a powerful battle at St. James’ Park on Sunday, as two in-form teams go at it.

Early on Sunday we will be treated to a masterful game at St. James’ Park as free-flowing Man City roll into town to play Newcastle. City have scored 92 goals in their 31 games so far this campaign and the interchangeable attackers they have at their disposal means a game against the Citizens often feels like a date with clinical creativity. Newcastle are in the top eight after a marvelous spell for Alan Pardew’s men, as his strong French legion headlined by Loic Remy, Yoann Gouffran and Yohan Cabaye have blossomed. A top six finish is well in sight for the Magpies and the passionate fans in the North East will welcome City with plenty of hostility, as the Premier League’s entertainers look to go top of the table. City will be buoyed by their recent results against Newcastle, with the Manchester club winning the last eight-straight and they haven’t tasted defeat at the hands of Newcastle in 14 games.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are unstoppable at home, but have struggled away all season. Recently they’ve done better away from the Etihad but a tricky trip to in-form Newcastle should be a real test, especially without top striker Sergio Aguero who is still injured. That said they do have Edin Dzeko and Alavaro Negredo who can’t stop scoring, so they should be set for a goal threat. Get ready for this brutal battle on the North Sea coast, as Newcastle look to avenge a 4-0 hammering on the opening weekend of the season back in August.

Stoke City vs. Liverpool, live on NBCSN at 11:10am ET

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Daniel Sturridge is set to return from injury vs. Stoke on Sunday. As S.A.S. will be back together.

The Potters like playing against Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium. They like it a lot, and in fact Liverpool have not won at Stoke in the league since 1984. Last season Stoke recorded a memorable 3-1 win over the Reds and will be looking to emulate that when the Reds roll into Staffordshire on Sunday. Stoke are playing much better soccer under Mark Hughes, and in the Welshman’s first season in charge his side are developing nicely as the season progresses. The Potters have already beaten Chelsea at home and have added some creativity to their staunch defensive displays. As for Liverpool, they will welcome back Daniel Sturridge from his long-term injury as the famous S.A.S. partnership will be reunited, with Sturridge and Luis Suarez leading the line on Sunday.

Whilst captain Steven Gerrard is also back fit and ready to help Liverpool maintain their terrific season, with a top four finish the main aim for Brendan Rodgers side. If they want to do that they’ll need to go to places like Stoke, where the home side are unbeaten in seven in an intimidating atmosphere, and win. Expect a real clash of style at the Britannia as Suarez and co. aim to keep up with the chasing pack at the top of the table.

Dempsey, Sounders steal a point on wild night in Portland

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The game in 100 words (or less): An entire game can change in the blink of an eye. For the Seattle Sounders, that blink came in the 44th minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers. Up 1-0 by way of Joevin Jones’ opener in the 27th minute, the defending MLS Cup champs were poised to head into halftime with a one-goal advantage and every belief imaginable that they’d been the better team for the entire first half. Blink. Brad Evans wrapped his legs around Darlington Nagbe, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card, just like that, in the blink of an eye. Fanendo Adi stepped up to convert from the spot, but it still was to be a hard-fought 1-1 scoreline from Seattle’s perspective. Then, Dairon Asprilla got loose, completely unmarked atop the six-yard box, on a corner kick, and it was 2-1 after four minutes of first-half stoppage time. 45 more minutes pass, and the Timbers… blink. Clint Dempsey, 34 years old but fresh off the bench 40 minutes earlier, out-leaps everyone in the box and heads past Jake Gleeson to steal a point for Seattle.

[ MORE: San Jose fire Kinnear after 2.5 seasons ]

Three Four moments that mattered

27′ — Jones gets two chances, puts the second away — It’s a classic case of “I dropped my controller” from Alvas Powell, who just stops as Jones cuts across the penalty area. There’s no reason Jones should get a second look on this one.

44′ — Evans brings down Nagbe in the box, sees red — Goodbye, lead. Goodbye 11 versus 11. Things would unravel very quickly for Seattle.

45+4′ — Asprilla rises above to make it 2-1 — Seattle’s marking of Asprilla was nonexistent, and the Colombian showed off some serious hops to get his head to David Guzman’s corner kick.

90+4′ — Dempsey heads home deep in stoppage time — A costly turnover by Asprilla, a hit-it-and-pray cross by Roman Torres, and Dempsey snatches a point at the death.

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

Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Jones (27′), Adi (45′ – PK), Asprilla (45+4′), Dempsey (90+4′)

Russia has reasons for optimism despite Confed Cup exit

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MOSCOW (AP) When the anger subsides after another group stage exit and another goalkeeping blunder, Russian fans might find they can be proud of their team at the Confederations Cup.

Russia failed to reach the knockout rounds of a fourth major tournament in a row, but there’s no shame in losing by one goal to European champion Portugal and North American champion Mexico.

“We will move on,” coach Stanislav Cherchesov said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico. “We have won (the fans’) hearts and minds to a certain extent in this month that we have been together … I think that we have given some reasons to feel optimistic about us.”

If Russia’s fans agreed with Cherchesov that Russia had done well to limit Portugal to a single Cristiano Ronaldo goal, there was frustration that Russia hadn’t done better against a poor Mexican side.

Russia wasted chances to exploit Mexico’s ragged defending and add to Alexander Samedov’s opener, while goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev performed an inexplicable lunge which allowed Hirving Lozano to head in the winner. Akinfeev was lucky not to be red-carded, too, after his foot caught Lozano in the chest.

Akinfeev was the immediate scapegoat for Russia’s exit, with fans and newspapers calling for his removal.

The most-capped player in the squad – the Mexico game was his 101st international appearance – Akinfeev’s bulletproof consistency in the Russian Premier League has kept him the undisputed national-team No. 1 for years.

When the world is watching, though, he gets flustered and makes mistakes.

Against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup, an innocuous long shot slipped from his grasp and went in, paving the way for another early Russian exit from the tournament. There have been more than a few blunders in the 43 games since Akinfeev last kept a clean sheet for CSKA in the Champions League, too.

But it’s hard to see who could replace him. The naturalized Brazilian reserve keeper Guilheme is agile but injury prone, while Vladimir Gabulov is a solid but unspectacular veteran. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Yuri Lodygin challenged Akinfeev for a while, but was brought low by his own tendency for embarrassing errors.

On the positive side for Russia, defender Georgy Dzhikiya was solid in all three group games after having only made his debut on June 5, and Cherchesov’s three-man back line was mostly reliable.

Less successful was Cherchesov’s attempt to bolster the midfield by starting Roman Shishkin – usually a defender – in a defensive midfield role against Portugal and Mexico, while 33-year-old ex-Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov did his World Cup hopes no favors with a red card Saturday.

Russia’s run of injuries before the tournament weakened the midfield in particular, with Alan Dzagoev and the promising Roman Zobnin both missing out. Forward Artyom Dzyuba’s absence left Cherchesov relying heavily on Fyodor Smolov, who showed touches of class but missed a good chance against Portugal.

Perhaps the biggest damage from Russia’s Confederations Cup exit will be to Russian pride.

Officials have often bragged that the home advantage for next year’s World Cup could drive Russia to new heights, perhaps a repeat of South Korea’s charge to the semifinals in 2002. Those expectations are now being reviewed.

Just one World Cup host in history – South Africa in 2010 – has failed to get out of the group stage. Avoiding a repeat may be the most Russia can hope for.

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

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They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

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Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.