Chelsea v Manchester United - Premier League

Premier League Sunday Preview: Chelsea host Manchester United, Spurs travel to Swansea

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On Sunday we have two more massive Premier League games coming your way.

First we take a trip to South Wales as Swansea host Tottenham Hotspur with Michael Laudrup’s side on a desperate run of form as they’re searching for their first PL win in eight games. While Spurs boss Tim Sherwood looks to keep his unbeaten league record going, and will be hoping another win can keep his side within touching distance of the top four.

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Then we head on over to London, as Chelsea host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge with both teams on very different paths at the moment. United are struggling just to make the top four, as right now Champions League qualification would be like winning the PL title for David Moyes. While Jose Mourinho insists Chelsea’s main aim is to finish in the top four… but we all know the ‘Special One’ harbors ambitions of bringing the PL crown to West London to mark his homecoming in style.

A monster clash awaits as these two global heavyweights lock horns to round off Sunday’s games.

So (because it would be rude not to) let’s take a closer look at both games taking place live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra on Sunday.

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

  • Swansea are without a win in seven PL games
  • Tottenham have won their last four away PL games
  • Spurs are unbeaten against the Swans in six league games (W5, D1)
source: Getty Images
Can Spurs extend their unbeaten PL record under Tim Sherwood?

There’s been no real worry about Swansea City getting sucked into a relegation battle this season, as the Swans attractive style of soccer has won them many fans across the soccer world. However after a dreadful spell in the league — Swansea haven’t won any of their last seven games and they’re hovering just three points above the drop zone — means a few worried looks will adorn the faces of home fans at the Liberty Stadium. Meanwhile Tottenham are on the up after Andre Villas-Boas left and Tim Sherwood has taken charge with four PL wins from five to begin his reign as Spurs boss. With Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor striking up a great partnership up top, Tottenham are an extremely dangerous proposition away from home and as will be aiming to keep up with the top four by putting in a clinical and ruthless display in South Wales.

Andros Townsend could return for Tottenham, as the England international scored for Spurs’ U-21 side during the week, while Swansea could welcome back Micherl Vorm, Roland Lamah, Dwight Tiendalli, Nathan Dyer and Pablo Hernandez from injury in a welcome boost for Laudrup.

Chelsea vs. Manchester United, live on NBCSN 11am ET

  • Jose Mourinho will get his 100th PL victory with a win over United
  • United are unbeaten in their last seven PL games (W5, D2)
  • The Red Devils have only won two of 10 games vs. top-half teams this season (W2, D3, L5)
source: AP
Who will win the battle of the dugout at Stamford Bridge? Mourinho is one short of 100 PL wins for Chelsea.

Chelsea vs. Manchester United. Jose Mourinho vs. David Moyes. London vs. Manchester. Whichever way you play this game up, it’s a massive one for so many reasons. With managerial changes at both clubs over the summer, it’s safe to say Chelsea are faring a lot better with their new manager in charge, Mourinho has begun to see a real improvement from his squad as they’ve ominously clicked into place and will sit just two points off top spot with a win. While David Moyes and United haven’t been quite so fortunate as the Red Devils are currently in seventh spot and 14 points off top spot. United have not fared well against the top teams this season, but strangely they have won five of their last six and they are unbeaten away from Old Trafford in seven. Maybe playing away from that pressure-cooker atmosphere gives them hope? Then again Mourinho has never lost in 70 PL home games in charge of Chelsea, with his first-ever PL home victory coming back in August 2004 against, you guessed it, Manchester United. Surely his remarkable record won’t be broken by the same team it started off against all those years ago?

All roads lead to a home win, but if history has taught us one thing, it’s that we should never underestimate Manchester United. Mourinho has said that this week but the fact that Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are both out through injury will boost Chelsea, as the Blues aim to pile more misery on Moyes.

Klinsmann praises Nagbe: “He knows he has to push the envelope”

FRISCO, TX - MAY 25:  Pedro Larrea #15 of Ecuador reacts as Nagbe Darlington #10 of the United States celebrates with Christian Pulisic #17 of the United States after scoring against Ecuador during an International Friendly match at Toyota Stadium on May 25, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
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Breaking into a Jurgen Klinsmann side isn’t easy, especially for an attacker.

With the United States men’s national team boss quite happy to trot out Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and — when healthy — Jozy Altidore, becoming a regular isn’t easy.

So making the most of your opportunity is key, and Darlington Nagbe has done that most times he’s hit the pitch for the USMNT.

[ USMNT-ECUADOR: Match recap | Player ratings | 3 things ]

And scoring a 90th minute winner against Ecuador, even in a 1-0 friendly win, is going to help his odds of sticking in the coach’s mind. Klinsmann said Nagbe “knows he has to push the envelope”, and lauded him for doing so while cautioning that he’s never questioned the offensive acumen of Portland Timbers’ man.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Now you also want to tell him ‘Listen, you’ve got to make an impression. You’ve got to learn to play both ways and grind it out defensively, go into 1v1s and win balls as well,’” Klinsmann said.

“And that’s just going forward. He has tremendous talent with the ball at his feet going forward. That’s what we enjoy in MLS every weekend. But the international side is both ways, and that’s what we’re working on. And he’s getting better and better at doing that.”

Nagbe was among a handful of U.S. players to shine during a dominant second half that saw the Timbers midfielder snare the decisive goal, and it’s not a stretch to say he was the brightest. Let’s hope to see him get a chance to start on Saturday against Bolivia.

Lukaku will listen to Everton but “I have my own ideas in mind

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Romelu Lukaku of Everton arrives for the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Everton at the Stadium of Light on May 11, 2016 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
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Romelu Lukaku‘s future looks to be away from Goodison Park.

The big Belgian striker authored 25 goals across all competitions this season, including 18 in the Premier League.

[ MORE: Zlatan has “taken a decision” ]

But as he prepares for the Euro 2016 tournament, Lukaku’s comments make it seem likely that even new investments from up high aren’t going to keep him on Merseyside.

From Sky Sports:

“We have a new investor at Everton and out of courtesy I will listen to what he has to say. But I have my own ideas in mind. I want to win titles.

“I have had a very good season, but it is time for me to write myself a CV. That is why I play football. I got that trophy-winning mindset from Chelsea.”

Lukaku would be a big ticket item on the transfer market, and should go for more than the $41 million price tag Everton paid to get him from Chelsea.

Ibrahimovic says he has received offers from England, Italy

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 11:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint-Germain walks out for a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium on April 11, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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STOCKHOLM (AP) Still looking for a team for next season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he has “concrete offers” from England, Italy and other countries.

The 34-year-old Sweden striker, who has said he is leaving Paris Saint-Germain, has yet to announce where he is headed after the European Championship.

[ USMNT-ECUADOR: Match recap | Player ratings | 3 things ]

Ibrahimovic says “I have taken my decision,” but he didn’t elaborate.

At Euro 2016, Sweden will play in Group E with Belgium, Italy and Ireland.

Benitez stay is huge, but Newcastle cannot be content with players

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 30:  Rafael Benitez (R) manager of Newcastle United congratulates Andros Townsend (L) after their 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Crystal Palace at St James' Park on April 30, 2016 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
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As posted yesterday, Rafa Benitez met with the media after Newcastle United confirmed that the trophy-winning manager has decided to stay with the club despite relegation, and said this is his ship now.

This is huge news for the Magpies.

The 56-year-old Spaniard couldn’t rescue the sinking ship he inherited from Steve McClaren, and is tasked with lifting Newcastle back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

[ USMNT-ECUADOR: Match recap | Player ratings | 3 things ]

For years, Newcastle’s managers have been subject to the approval of chief scouts, managing directors and owner Mike Ashley. What Benitez has now is assurances that no player is being sold without his permission, and none being bought without his approval. Which means no midseason sales of Yohan Cabaye because the iron is hot, or unrequested purchases like Xisco.

Of course that could mean we’re headed for a huge August or January bust-up when Ashley or Lee Charnley pulls the rug out from some big acquisition that could firm up Newcastle’s standing in the top flight, but we’ll stay on the sunny side for now and assume Benitez’s people made that part of his contact air tight.

It means Newcastle could line up, basically, the same as last season. There are plusses and minuses to that, of course, as the club was relegated thanks to woeful form and players who were perhaps rightfully accused of only showing up for primetime matches.

Consider:

— Newcastle took as many points from Manchester United (2) as Aston Villa.

— The Magpies went 2-0 against Tottenham Hotspur, grabbed four points from Liverpool, beat West Ham and drew both Manchester City and Chelsea.

— They also lost to relegation rivals Norwich, drew Sunderland twice and were swept by Watford.

So while Benitez holds sway to keep Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum and Daryl Janmaat despite the big money they could command on the open market, he has to be 100 percent sure they won’t mail it in.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Kevin Nolan of Newcastle United celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate Andy Carroll (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James' Park on December 11, 2010 in Newcastle, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Carroll and Nolan (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

There’s no certainty there, and one of the main things that helped Newcastle bounce right back up to the PL in 2009-10 was a crew that got its footing in the Championship by Week 13 and never looked back: the Magpies lost just once in the league from Oct. 24 onward thanks in large part to heart-and-soul players who stuck around after the drop (Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Fabricio Coloccini, Andy Carroll and others).

Among those who fit the bill for understanding the task at hand are Andros Townsend, Jonjo Shelvey, Jack Colback, Chancel Mbemba and Coloccini. Others, like Sissoko and Siem De Jong, risk poisoning the well. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be kept around, but Benitez will need to know transfer rumor and agent hijinks aren’t in the offing.

Make no mistake about it, Benitez in control is better than anything the Magpies have had in ages and Newcastle is far more likely to replicate the instant promotions of West Ham and itself than the divisional drops of Leeds United and Portsmouth.