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.

Seven unheralded stars of this Premier League season

during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
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Look, it’s been a crazy year in the Premier League. Leicester City is top by five points, Chelsea is a bottom-half side, and not one of the league’s top three scorers hails from a team in last season’s Top Four.

So it follows that among the league’s other statistical leaders — advanced and traditional — are some surprisingly shining stars.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Or at least they aren’t mentioned a ton. We plan to rectify that here. By no means do we claim these statistical leaders without fault this season, but hats off to the good they’ve done (or, in some cases, the pain they’ve felt).

Most saves in a starring role

You wouldn’t know it from the goal totals these past few weeks, but Stoke City’s Jack Butland has been playing otherworldly between the sticks. His 87 saves lead the Premier League, and the Potters would be in the thick of a relegation battle if he hadn’t shone as brightly.

Ironman

Eleven players have played every minute of their side’s Premier League campaign this season (a 12th, Gareth Barry, has played all but one). Four of those 11 are goalkeepers, and six more are defenders. The only midfielder? Bournemouth’s South African standout Andrew Surman (above).

Top thief, too

Surman is also the league leader in interceptions with 92. The next seven players on the list, headed by Chris Smalling, are all defenders.

The most under-appreciated of the underdogs

Kante (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Leicester City has been fantastic, and people are quick to name Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as big parts of the table-topping effort at King Power Stadium. Then, perhaps they’ll say something about goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel or defender Wes Morgan.

But how about the Premier League’s leader in tackles. Midfielder N'Golo Kante (right) has 115 tackles, 12 more than second-best Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace.

An all-expense paid journey to the massage parlor for…

Five players have been fouled more than 50 times this year, and you need to be around the ball a lot for that to happen. The four also-rans are Southampton’s Sadio Mane, Swansea City’s Andre Ayew, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Mahrez, but the man who deserved to skip to the head of the ice bath line is from Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha has been fouled 59 times. And that’s the amount of times the foulers were caught in the act.

Let Newcastle United’s captain climb in second, though; Fabricio Coloccini‘s 47 blocked shots are eight more than runners-up Neil Taylor (Swans) and Christian Fuchs (Leicester).

A man possessed

He hasn’t been heralded like a year ago, and most witnesses would tell you the midfielder’s been playing much worse. No, touches don’t equal success, but Cesc Fabregas‘ 2,027 credited touches are 74 more than the next player despite the fact that he’s the only player in the top four to have started less than 25 matches. He’s also completed 83 more passes than the closest competitor (Surman).

All-around stars

Advanced stats site Squawka uses an algorithm to generate statistics on who just might be the most complete player in the Premier League.

It’s certainly not foolproof, but the best player per-90 minutes would likely surprise you: Mousa Dembele of Spurs (Minimum 15 matches).

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As for who’s produced the most when numbers are averaged out over the entire game, one man rises to the top: Ross Barkley.

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Oft-targeted in the Premier League, Carvalho extends deal at Lisbon

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William Carvalho has been running through the rumor mill for ages, and Sporting Lisbon has made sure they’ll get their due if he ever stops somewhere else.

The Angola-born Portuguese defensive midfielder with 15 caps has extended his contract with Sporting through 2020, a date that carries him through his 28th birthday.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Carvalho is 23 now, and has been linked with loads of big name clubs from Manchester United to Chelsea, Arsenal to PSG.

His new buyout clause is said to be as high as $53 million, and Carvalho hopes his commitment calms his supporters.

“Sportinguistas, I say to you that I am very happy with the deal which I signed up to 2020 and that you will have total effort on my part to be champions.”

Sporting is tied with Benfica atop the Portuguese table, second on goal differential. The club leads third-place Porto by six points, and is still alive in the Europa League. Bayer Leverkusen is up next.

Klinsmann hints at Euro-heavy roster for World Cup qualifiers

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Danny Williams #14 of the United States looks on before an international friendly against Brazil at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images
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If your favorite Major League Soccer players don’t make the cut for Jurgen Klinsmann’s next roster, don’t think you won’t see them in the red, white and blue this summer.

[ JPW: What’s the best XI for USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers? ]

Perhaps it’ll be different for the players who were a part of January camp — stars Lee Nguyen and Steve Birnbaum chief among them — but Klinsmann says the late start of the MLS season can affect fitness for the critical qualifiers home and away to Guatemala.

That means there’s a better chance to see in-form Championship midfielder Danny Williams (above) or Pachuca’s Omar Gonzalez then, say, Orlando City’s Brek Shea or Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.

From USSoccer.com:

“We are basically looking all over the place. We monitor all the players in Europe. We monitor all the players in Mexico, and obviously we can’t wait until MLS starts as well. It’s really kind of crucial that we see everybody getting in the best shape possible, everybody getting into a rhythm and making statements.

“Then you say, ‘Is the roster you see at the end of March the same one as Copa America?’ Probably not. The end of March comes early for MLS players. The European players are in the full swing, and also Mexican players because they started already a month ago with Liga MX. So we’ll be monitoring everyone.”

We’ve already covered the obstacle that is the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying playoff occurring at the same time as the Guatemala matches, but this is still good news for players in England, Germany and other European locales seeking caps in March.

Klopp on struggling Benteke: “He wants to score and we need him to score”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Christian Benteke of Liverpool reacts as he foiled by goalkeeper Darren Randolph of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
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Jurgen Klopp had his appendix removed this weekend, but it’s doubtful he’s feeling as sore as his big Belgian striker.

Christian Benteke had the opportunity to put himself in the good graces of Liverpool fans with a number of decent chances in Tuesday’s FA Cup loss to West Ham, but couldn’t get the job done.

[ MORE: Match recap | Watch Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

In one case, Benteke put himself in a prime spot only to lash his shot wide of the post. Instead, he’s now at 11 appearances without a goal (despite ripping nine shots against the Irons).

From the BBC:

“I don’t believe in the easy goal. He has to carry on like this. It’s not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard. He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months.”

Klopp maintained that Liverpool was “the better team” on the night — counterpart Slaven Bilic disagreed — despite conceding a pair of very similar looking goals.

The game could’ve avoided extra time through Benteke’s boots and body, but he couldn’t find his finish again.

The 25-year-old has seen his goal production drop by nearly half since joining from Aston Villa in the summer, and it’s sure to return… just maybe not under Klopp.