Arsenal v Sunderland - Premier League

Premier League Roundup: Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United grab wins

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On Saturday three of the Premier League title contenders were in action, and they were all embroiled in late drama, battling displays and most importantly… crucial wins.

Chelsea beat Everton with a late, late winner at Stamford Bridge, Manchester City edged out Stoke with a workmanlike display, Manchester United’s star duo of RVP and Wayne Rooney saw off Palace and Arsenal battered Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium.

Elsewhere there were big wins for Hull City and West Ham United, while relegation battlers West Brom and Fulham drew.

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So, in case you missed any of the mesmeric action from the PL on Saturday, below are the recaps, analysis and some video highlights to give you everything you need to catch up.

Drink it in, my friends.

Arsenal 4-1 Sunderland

The Gunners blew Sunderland away early on, as Olivier Giroud bagged two goals before half time and Thomas Rosicky, who was praised by Arsene Wenger, got another to make it 3-0 to the home side at the break. After the interval Laurent Koscielny headed home to make it 4-0, before Italian midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini scored a beauty to make it 4-1. Arsenal kept up with Chelsea, as the Gunners are just one-point back in second place.

Cardiff City 0-4 Hull City

Oh dear. This is not the way Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer would have envisaged his opening few months as a PL manager. With just one win so far, the Norwegian boss saw his side torn apart by relegation rivals Hull after Nikica Jelavic scored twice and both Tum Huddlestone and Jake Livermore bagged a goal. Desperate time for the Bluebirds… What can Vincent Tan do now?

Chelsea 1-0 Everton

Stamford Bridge erupted when John Terry crashed in towards the goal and the ball somehow nestled into the back of the net in the 92nd minute on Saturday. Chelsea beat Everton 1-0 thanks to that late, late goal and Jose Mourinho’s men ensured they will stay top of the standings for yet another week. Afterwards Mourinho lauded his teams defensive display, as yet another clean sheet gave the Blues a shot at winning.

Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United

After signing his massive $500,000 a week contract on Friday, Wayne Rooney celebrated by smashing in an absolute beauty to add to Robin van Persie’s penalty in United 2-0 win over Palace. The Red Devils looked sharp after their warm weather break but didn’t open the scoring until the final 30 minutes, when RVP’s penalty was followed up by Rooney’s stunner to send United into the top six. David Moyes will enjoy tonight.

Manchester City 1-0 Stoke City

They huffed and puffed the entire game, and finally Man City broke through against Stoke in a patient display at the Etihad. The game-winning moment arrived in the 70th minute as Yaya Toure stormed into the box and finished superbly under pressure. City made hard work of this but Stoke set their side up for the draw. A good end to a difficult week for the Citizens who stay in the title hunt.

West Brom 1-1 Fulham

Same old Fulham. Just when you think they’ve turned the corner they are knocked back, as the Cottagers led through Ashkan Dejagah’s opener but late on they let three vital points slip when Matej Vydra equalized for West Brom. The Baggies needed goal-line technology to confirm their equalizer but it was probably the fair result as Fulham’s bright start faded considerably. A decent stat for new boss Felix Magath but it could’ve been so much better for Fulham.

West Ham 3-1 Southampton

Saints took an early lead at Upton Park as Maya Yoshida bagged his first-ever Premier League goal. But it was all downhill from there. West Ham turned the game on its head as Matt Jarvis and Carlton Cole scored twice in three minutes to put the Hammers 2-1 up at the break. Then after Saints squandered several good chances, Kevin Nolan sealed West Ham’s fourth-straight win.

Watford “Behind The Badge” airs third installment; Catch up on Episode 2 here

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Catch up on Watford’s look “Behind The Badge” ahead of Sunday’s third episode of the four-part glimpse into one of the Premier League’s promoted sides.

The Hornets sit 11th, currently 7 points clear of relegation danger, and are giving fans a better idea of what’s been going on at Vicarage Road.

[ MORE: Behind the Badge archive

In an exclusive series, NBC Sports followed around the Hornets in a very similar fashion to HBO’s Hard Knocks which joins the preseason camp of one NFL team each summer.

Below is the schedule for the three remaining episodes on Watford, which you can watch on NBCSN and live online via NBCSports.com in the coming weeks, plus a link to watch episode one in full from last week.


First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Embedded above
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN

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MLS Cup Final preview: Seattle, Toronto battle subzero temps for first Cup

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley walks off the field after a training session, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in Toronto, for the MLS Cup soccer championship. Toronto hosts the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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  • First MLS Cup Final for both
  • Sounders all-time 7W-2L-2T
  • TFC joined in 2007, Seattle 2009

It’ll be in the high twenties (-1 Celsius) when Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders kick off the MLS Cup Final on Saturday night in Ontario (Kickoff is Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT).

Combine the visible breath and slight chance of snow with a BMO Field which has been relentlessly loud throughut TFC’s playoff run, and we have the makings of an all-timer.

[ MORE: PST’s MLS Cup roundtable ]

Toronto and Seattle met up at the same venue on July 2, the 1-1 draw perhaps a bit deflated by the absence of Clint Dempsey for Seattle and TFC’s American duo of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.

Seattle superstar Nicolas Lodeiro wasn’t there, either, still weeks away from arriving from Boca Juniors.

This is the second MLS Cup Final at BMO Field, after Colorado defeated FC Dallas in 2010. TFC men Drew Moor and Clint Irwin were part of the championship-winning Rapids in that one.

Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris greets fans who gathered to send off the team after MLS soccer training, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Tukwila, Wash. The Sounders were scheduled to travel to Toronto later Wednesday to prepare to face Toronto FC in the MLS Cup Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle’s Jordan Morris (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

[ MORE: PST’s Michael Bradley interview ]

Toronto will bring star power to go with a challenging formation; While accolades rightly go to Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Sebastian Giovinco, the Reds’ 3-5-2 under Greg Vanney features versatile wide men in Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow.

Seattle is powered through Nicolas Lodeiro, the ex-Boca Juniors playmaker who has been nearly as effective as Giovinco (albeit with a smaller MLS sample size). Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, the ex-TFC man, has been very good at the back, but can the Sounders’ back line handle Altidore and Giovinco?

The metronomes could be the difference. Bradley’s been good for TFC, but Osvaldo Alonso gave an MLS MVP caliber performance this season.

[ MORE: PST talks with Ozzie Alonso ]

What they’re saying

Toronto FC keeper Irwin on the weather: “It’s probably the most difficult part. As a field player, you can move around. You’re warmer, more active. At this point, there’s not much we can do other than bundle up, and I’ll stay moving back there.”

Seattle forward Jordan Morris on Lodeiro“The first thing Lodeiro said to me is, ‘When I get the ball, you just run.’ I think of him like a quarterback.”

Prediction

Look to the engine rooms here. Alonso is a handful and a magnificent passer of the ball. On his day, Bradley is even better. Will it be? Neither player will shirk from pressure. We’re thinking extra time after a 1-1 match. And Toronto’s depth and home field will propel it to a 2-1 win.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Manchester City

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Bacary Sagna of Manchester City clears the ball from Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester City at The King Power Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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  • Man City leads all-time 53W-29D-28L
  • Leicester took 4 of 6 pts last season
  • MCFC won previous four

To cure what ails, Leicester City has to knock off one of the top contenders to its Premier League throne: Manchester City (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on NBC and NBCSports.com).

There are some advantages for Leicester, though, as Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero are suspended for their red cards picked up the loss to Chelsea. Pep Guardiola used Pablo Zabaleta next to Fernando in the UCL draw with Celtic, and looks set for the same come Saturday.

Leicester rested the majority of its starters in a 5-0 loss at Porto this week, following up a 2-1 setback at Sunderland that left the champs just two points ahead of the 18th and 19th placed clubs in the PL.

What they’re saying

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri on the task at hand: “I was waiting for a period like this. Now it’s important to react with a big effort together from the team. That is my focus now. We have to be focused on these matches until Christmas Day. We have to get points. We need points and we have to fight. This part of the season is our key moment. I think every match gives us an opportunity. We have to fight. I repeat, we have to fight.”

Man City’s Pep Guardiola on Zabaleta’s positional change“But I think Pablo Zabaleta can play in the middle – he is very experienced and he can play there as he did very well against Celtic. I think in the last years of his career he’ll play more in the middle and it gives us another option.”

Prediction

As much as the injuries hurt Man City, there’s certain harm in the wounded unit that fell 3-1 to Chelsea. We believe the Foxes will strike, but Kelechi Iheanacho has proven more than a suitable fill-in for Aguero. Man City 2-1.

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Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks – Week 15

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Week 15 of the Premier League is here.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live ] 

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Click play on the videos below to hear my score prediction and preview of each game.

[ VIDEO: Previews of every PL game – Week 15 ]

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Chelsea 3-0 West Brom – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Liverpool 4-1 West Ham – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Leicester City 1-3 Man City – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS… 

Swansea City 2-3 Sunderland – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, CNBC) – [STREAM]

Watford 0-1 Everton – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Burnley 1-2 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Southampton 1-1 Middlesbrough – (Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Man United 1-2 Tottenham – (Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Hull City 2-1 Crystal Palace – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]