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Premier League Preview: Title, Champions League races in focus in Sunday derbies

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Two rivalries among the most heated in English soccer take center stage on Sunday, with the Premier League’s title and Champions League races serving as subtext for what would be a standout day under any circumstances. Thanks to Chelsea’s stumble at Villa Park, however, both Liverpool and Arsenal have a chance to give their title hopes a major boost, should they come away with victories in Sunday’s derbies.

At 8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN begins Premier League Sunday with coverage of the seasons’ third Manchester United-Liverpool derby. In the day’s second match (11:30 a.m. ET), Tottenham looks to recovery from a disastrous week against Arsenal, who hope to add to their rivals’ misery with a win at White Hart Lane.

With a win in Sunday’s early game, the Reds will move into second in the Premier League, only four points behind Chelsea while holding a game in hand. Win at White Hart Lane, and Arsenal will do the same, with their uneven winter potentially put behind them with a victory over Tim Sherwood’s Spurs.

For Tottenham, three points could revitalize their hopes of claiming a top-four spot, moving Spurs within three of Arsenal. While their rivals will still have a game in hand, a three-point gap would leave Tottenham one Arsenal slump away from reclaiming a Champions League spot.

And if Spurs get some help from Manchester United? They’ll be in position to take advantage of stumbles from either Arsenal or Liverpool.

Here’s more on the teams ahead of Sunday’s big doubleheader:

source: APManchester United vs. Liverpool (live, 8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN)

How Liverpool sets up will speak to the level of respect Brendan Rodgers has for this Manchester United team. Given the Red Devils’ problems in the middle, Rodgers could elect to put Phillipe Countinho in his starting XI, choosing a more attacking team against their seventh place hosts. A more reverential view might see Joe Allen start, with Liverpool electing to go with three in the middle at Old Trafford.

Manchester United will be without Jonny Evans, Javier Hernández, Nani, and Rafael De Silva, while Liverpool’s only major absence will be fullback José Enrique.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal (live, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN)

A Spurs team coming off 4-0 and 3-1 losses will be without its first choice center halves, with Vlad Chiriches and Michael Dawson both out until later this month. That means Jan Vertonghen will move inside, making Danny Rose the likely starter at left back.

Spurs’ injury problems are minor compared to Arsenal’s, though, with the Gunners expected to be without Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott. Arsenal’s depth in the middle means it can still put out a capable midfield, but with Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, and Alex Oxlade-Chmberlain expected to start behind Olivier Giroud, Arsenal won’t be at full strength.

If form truly goes out the window in derbies, Tottenham could deal a major blow to Arsenal’s title hopes. If recent results are any indication of future performance, the Gunners can find success Sunday at White Hart Lane.

Manchester United said to be offering $12 million bonus to Zlatan Ibrahimovic

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 12:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint-Germain beats Eliaquim Mangala (20) and Joe Hart of Manchester City to score, but his goal is disallowed during the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg match between Manchester City FC and Paris Saint-Germain at the Etihad Stadium on April 12, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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The Premier League sometimes seems to deal in funny money, and it might take just that to bring Zlatan Ibrahimovic across the English Channel.

The Swedish superstar, 34, is leaving Paris Saint-Germain this summer and is reportedly being targeted by several Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: LVG issues statement ]

With his old pal Jose Mourinho expected to take over at Manchester United, there’s been a natural batch of gossip linking the pair. Goal.com has claims of extraordinary dollar signs for the trophy-collecting Ibrahimovic.

Goal’s French site claims that Ibrahimovic would get close to a $12 million signing bonus to go with a huge weekly salary of approximately $363,000. Add that up, and you’re talking more than $560,000 a week.

The report spreads rumors of a $400,000-per-week offer from Major League Soccer for Zlatan, and that acquisition would certainly quell the minor storm caused by China’s acquisition of many big names.

We’ve always thought Ibrahimovic was more an Arsenal-style player, but imagine Mourinho running the Swede with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford? Bonkers.

Ajax hires Peter Bosz as new coach to replace Frank de Boer

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 30:  Peter Bosz manager of Vitesse looks on ahead of the UEFA Europa League Third Qualifying Round 1st Leg match between Southampton and Vitesse at St Mary's Stadium on July 30, 2015 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
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AMSTERDAM (AP) Ajax has signed Peter Bosz as its new coach, replacing Frank de Boer who announced earlier this month he was leaving the club after nearly six years in which he won four Dutch league titles.

Bosz, a former player and technical director at Ajax’s arch rival Feyenoord, is leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv to join the Amsterdam club on a three-year contract.

[ MORE: USMNT-Ecuador preview | Klinsmann eyes semis ]

In a statement late Tuesday, Bosz says it is an honor to join Ajax. He says, “I am very ambitious and so is Ajax.”

Ajax director Edwin van der Sar says that in Bosz, Ajax has hired a coach “who can make our talented squad even better.”

Ajax finished second behind PSV Eindhoven in the top flight Eredivisie season that has just ended.

WATCH: Neymar caught a bit offguard in first look at his wax figure

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 22:  Neymar of FC Barcelona celebrates aftr scoring Barcelona's 2nd goal during the Copa del Rey Final between Barcelona and Sevilla at Vicente Calderon Stadium    on May 22, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
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I remember the first time I saw the first of many life size wax replications of my body.

That is a sentence I am unlikely to ever utter, but Neymar is a different story.

[ MORE: USMNT-Ecuador preview | Klinsmann eyes semis ]

The 24-year-old Brazilian superstar was caught on camera witnessing his wax figure for the first time, and we can watch it thanks to FC Barcelona.

Look at this guy, looking at that guy. The most interesting part for me is his fascination with how well they did with his tattoos, which of course are easier to duplicate than, you know, a face:

Morris “completely respects” Klinsmann’s keeping him off USMNT roster

SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 20:  Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris speaks on stage during We Day at KeyArena on April 20, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for We Day)
Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for We Day
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Seattle Sounders striker and USMNT star-in-waiting Jordan Morris struck a mature note when asked about his exclusion from Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23-man roster for this summer’s Copa America Centenario.

Some will have considered the youngster a lock for the roster, with Morris already boasting rarefied air as a college player to become something close to a national team regular while still in school.

[ MORE: USMNT-Ecuador preview | Klinsmann eyes semis ]

But Klinsmann opted for in-form San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski, and it has become old hat for MLS players to gripe when their name is not called by the German boss (See: Benny Feilhaber, Brad Evans and Landon Donovan).

Don’t count Morris in that group. Of course the youngster doesn’t have the tenure to rally against the man who gave him his shot in the first place, but that hasn’t stopped others from acting entitled to a roster spot.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“[Klinsmann] told me not take it too hard and that there was a lot of competition,” Morris said. “I completely respect his decision. There were a lot of good forwards playing and they’re all playing really well. I wish those guys all the best. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch this summer.”

Morris can still end up on the roster through injury, and it’s easy to see him as the next name up should an attack-minded player take a knock. Stefan Frei told us last week that Morris is remarkably professional, and this is no exception.

The youngster did admit increased motivation from his omission, stating that “it gives you fuel to your fire to try and get back in the mix a little bit”. We have a feeling he won’t be out of that mix for long.