Phil Jones

Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United

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  • Gunners have six-straight clean sheets at the Emirates across all competitions
  • Manchester United has taken just four of its last 12 points.
  • Arsenal hasn’t lost at home since Oct. 29 to Chelsea in the Capital One Cup

Arsenal has four matches before embarking on an absolutely-brutal stretch of matches, so points are crucial against a Manchester United team that’s down but has routinely had their number (Watch live today on NBCSN at 245pm ET or online via NBC Sports Live Extra).

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger can achieve a lot in today’s match. First, he can restore order to his squad after a brutal 5-1 defeat at the hands of Liverpool on the weekend moved them from atop the Premier League table. Arsenal can also make some moves to dismiss a Red Devils who has haunted them in the past half-decade.

Manchester United holds a 12W-3D-2L record against Arsenal in their last 17 contests, including last year’s 8-2 throttling. But the Red Devils have been down, dropping points at Old Trafford to Fulham on the weekend and sitting in an unfamiliar seventh in the table… with Southampton creeping in their rear view mirror. Oh, but good news… they’re still printing stacks on stacks of dough, even if Roy Keane is back questioning Sir Alex Ferguson (the day ends in a ‘y’, doesn’t it?).

WATCH LIVE ON NBCSN AND ONLINE VIA NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA

What they’re saying

Wenger on the match: “As well as banishing the Liverpool game from our minds, we’ll be looking to better our performance from the match at Old Trafford in November. It was a tight game but we weren’t at our best; a few of the guys weren’t very well on the day, but we weren’t dangerous enough overall and, despite our possession, didn’t threaten them enough to score.”

United winger Ashley Young on both squads facing adversity: “I’m sure if we can impose ourselves on the game as well as we have done in [other] games at different stages, we’ll go there and get the three points. But you always expect a reaction from a team that had such a defeat like that [at Liverpool]. It’s one of them where they will look back and try to put things right – especially being at home as well and playing against a United team. They will definitely want to put things right but we want to turn things around and put things right too. We want to go out there and be on the front foot, playing the way we can.”

Prediction

Ask yourself: isn’t this match simply loaded with challenges to traditional perception? In this season’s form, Arsenal bounces back and just toys with Manchester United… but that just hasn’t happened between these two clubs. In the Premier League world we know, where the Red Devils are giants and giant-killers, they knock Arsenal down a peg and continue a Gunner collapse into a European spot battleground. Here’s a call, and not a very confident one: Arsenal 2, Manchester United 2.

Pep Guardiola: “Maybe I’m not good enough”

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Pep Guardiola has admitted he “may not be good enough” for his players at Manchester City.

Ahead of City’s clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) Guardiola has been defended his squad after severe criticism from the media.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

City were hammered 4-0 at Everton last weekend, their worst league defeat since 2008 and Guardiola’s worst-ever league defeat as a manager.

With plenty pointing the finger of blame at goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and City’s defense, their manager put himself in the firing line.

“They are good players. I have respect for the guys, so why would I say the guys are not good? So I don’t understand the lack of respect for the professionals when they have been amazing players, and [people saying] they are not good enough for me. Maybe I am not good enough for them,” Guardiola said. “They are Manchester City players, top players. They have a lot of quality. They have shown that many times in the past and this season.”

Mind games.

Guardiola, 46, is no doubt facing the biggest challenge of his season as City look to at least seal a top four spot in this his debut season in England. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has already “said goodbye to the title” and if they lose against red-hot Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium then more questions will be asked of his tactics and if they can work in the Premier League.

So far the possession-based slow build up style has been hot and cold for City, with plenty of counter-attacking teams in the PL (Chelsea, Spurs, Everton, Leicester etc.) having a field day against a shaky defense.

Despite being 10 points off the pace, Guardiola is sticking by his philosophy. One thing really sticks out to me from his first few press conferences in England: “We will see if my style of play can work in the Premier League.”

So far, it’s not.

Watch Live: Liverpool vs. Swansea City (Lineups, Stream)

SWANSEA, WALES - MARCH 16:  Kyle Naughton of Swansea City is closed down by Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at Liberty Stadium on March 16, 2015 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Liverpool host Swansea City to Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Reds aiming to stretch their unbeaten run at home in the Premier League to 18 games.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Jurgen Klopp is a little concerned with the number of games his team have had to play over the past few weeks, but a victory against the struggling Swans would momentarily move his side just four points behind leaders Chelsea who play on Sunday.

As for Swansea, new manager Paul Clement knows a win would take his team out of the relegation zone and with new signings arriving that would be a massive boost. It would also be a massive ask for the Welsh side to get anything at Anfield but this may be a good time to play Liveprool after their midweek trip to Plymouth in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup semifinal second leg against Southampton coming up on Wednesday.

In team news Liverpool start with Philippe Coutinho once again, while Joel Matip is on the bench after the Reds finally settled the dispute with Cameroon. Swansea hand debuts to new signings Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Sturridge, Moreno, Lucas, Origi, Matip, Woodburn

Swansea City: Fabianski; Olsson, Mawson, Fernandez, Naughton; Cork, Carroll, Fer; Sigurdsson, Llorente, Routledge. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Amat, Fulton, Dyer, Borja, McBurnie

Viktoria Plzen set to sign midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz

Obafemi Martins, Oniel Fisher, Andreas Ivanschitz
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.

Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.

Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

No financial details were given.

The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.

Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.

FIFA allows Matip to represent Liverpool during AFCON

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Joel Matip of Liverpool heads to score his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on October 29, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
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Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.

The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.

[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]

Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.

He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.