Premier League Sunday Preview: Liverpool, Everton look to continue late season surges

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Merseyside is in focus on Sunday in the Premier League, with Everton and Liverpool in action in the day’s two games. The Toffees start that day at Craven Cottage looking to close the gap on fourth place Arsenal while Liverpool, with a chance to go top of the league, hosts Tottenham Hotspur.

The doubleheader begins at 8:30 a.m. Eastern on NBCSN, with both games available to stream via NBC Sports Live Extra.

Everton enters the day with an opportunity to gain more ground on Arsenal ahead of the teams’ meeting next week. After drawing Saturday with Manchester City, the Gunners sit on 64 points, seven ahead of the Toffees.

Liverpool has a chance to take advantage of Chelsea’s upset loss at Crystal Palace, with a Spurs team that’s lost two of its last three in league making the trip to Anfield. That game kicks off at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

Here’s a closer look at the day’s action:

Fulham vs. Everton, 8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra

  • Cottagers six points away from safety with seven matches to go
  • Everton carries a four-game winning streak into Craven Cottage
  • Toffees’ five losses tied for fewest in Premier League

It’d be an exaggeration to call Sunday’s game a must-win for Everton, but it is a golden opportunity. Though Arsenal played well Saturday against City, the Gunners still dropped points, giving the Toffees a chance to narrow the gap between themselves and the team they’re trying to overtake for fourth. Between Sunday’s fixture, next week’s meeting with Arsenal, and the team’s game-in-hand, a Champions League spot is a realistic goal for Everton.

For Fulham, times are more desperate. Though the Cottagers are five points from safety, their terrible goal difference means they’ll need to gain six points on West Bromwich Albion (currently in 17th) to stay up. They’ll also need to out-perform Cardiff City (18th) and Sunderland (19th) while doing so. While Sunday’s game is not a must win, it’s unclear Fulham can afford to waste a chance to pick up points at home, where they’ve only won four times all season.

Liverpool vs. Tottenham, 11:00 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra

  • Liverpool leads the league with 84 goals scored
  • Spurs ended a two-match league losing streak last weekend against Southampton
  • Liverpool has taken 32 of a possible 36 points in 2014

Saturday couldn’t have done better for Liverpool, who saw Chelsea lose while City and Arsenal drew, keeping the Gunners on the fringe of the title race while costing the Citizens points. Now it’s a matter of taking advantage of the opportunity. A win or a draw will leave them first, with a victory over sixth place Spurs giving Liverpool a two-point lead on Chelsea.

If Tottenham’s going to slow them down, they’ll have to figure out a way to stop Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge, a task that will rely on defenders Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen. The duo will need help from the midfield, with Nabil Bentalib and Paulinho potentially tasked with cutting off the supply from Coutinho and Steven Gerrard.

In attack, Tottenham will hope the form Christen Eriksen flashed in last weekend’s two-goal performance will persist, though foot injury may keep leading scorer Emmanuel Adebayor on the sidelines. If the Togo international misses out, Roberto Soldado will get the call up top.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

Photo credit: Liverpool FC / Twiter: @LFC
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It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million, and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.

Alexis sets the record, but Germany come back for draw

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Alexis Sanchez became Chile’s all-time leading goalscorer (38) on Thursday, and La Roja inched ever closer to progression at the 2017 Confederations Cup with a 1-1 draw against Germany.

[ MORE: VAR steps in to help Aussies draw Cameroon, 1-1 ]

Sanchez moved past Marcelo Salas with his 6th-minute opener (above video) to capitalize on a poor turnover and complete a quick one-two atop Germany’s 18-yard box. Arturo Vidal put a foot in to disrupt Germany’s attempt to play out of the back, and the ball fell to Sanchez who quickly played it back to Vidal, who played Sanchez into the box for a left-footed finish inside the near post.

[ MORE: Latest 2017 Confederations Cup news

Chile’s lead wouldn’t quite last until halftime, though, as Lars Stindl got on the end of Jonas Hector’s cross in the 41st minute to bring the reigning World Cup champions back to level terms and all but secure their place in the next round.

With the result, Chile and Germany remain tied on top of Group B (4 points) with one game to play. Given the distance between themselves and Australia and Cameron (1 point each) in third and fourth, a draw in their final group games would be more than enough to go through to the semifinals. One-goal defeats would even do the trick.

Kenny Saief approved for one-time switch from Israel to USMNT

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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Kenny Saief has been officially cleared by FIFA to make his one-time switch of international allegiance from Israel to the United States, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Thursday.

Saief, 23, was born in Panama City, Fla., to Druze-Israeli parents and began his youth career with Maccabi Haifa in 2005, at the age of 11. After a handful of first-team appearances for various Israeli clubs between 2010 and 2013, Saief earned a regular place in Ironi Nir Ramat HaSharon’s first team during the 2013-14 season. In the summer of 2014, he moved to Belgian side Gent, where he’s played in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. U.S. men’s national team head coach Bruce Arena included Saief on his 40-man preliminary roster for next month’s 2017 Gold Cup.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

He appeared for Israeli youth national teams at just about every level, but having grown frustrated at the lack of a call-up to the senior team, Saief made it known many months ago he would consider a switch to the USMNT if the omission continued.

Saief figures to serve as something of a utility-man for the USMNT, at least from the start. He’s a left-footed midfielder who’s played extensively on both the left and right wings, and even a bit at left back. It’s the latter that should most intrigued USMNT fans, considering the dearth of options available at the position.

Geiger, Marrufo, Villarreal picked as Gold Cup referees

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) Mark Geiger, who three years ago became the first American to referee a knockout stage match at the World Cup, is among 17 referees picked for next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Americans Jair Marrufo and Armando Villarreal also were announced Thursday for the 12-nation tournament, which runs from July 7-26 in various U.S. cities.

[ MORE: Latest 2017 Confederations Cup news

Geiger, who is from New Jersey, was a referee for France’s 2-0 win over Nigeria in the round of 16.

Three each were picked from Mexico (Roberto Garcia, Fernando Guerrero and Cesar Ramos) and Honduras (Melvin Matamoros, Oscar Moncada and Hector Rodriguez).

Two will come from Costa Rica: Henry Bejarano and Ricardo Montero.

Others picked for the tournament are Joel Aguilar (El Salvador), Drew Fischer (Canada), Walter Lopez (Guatemala), Yadel Martinez (Cuba), John Pitti (Panama) and Kimbell Ward (St. Kitts and Nevis).