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Championship Sunday preview: Title showdown on Premier League finale

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After 370 games, 266 days and over nine months of grueling action, the final day of the Premier League season is almost upon us.

On “Championship Sunday” the PL title is still on the line as Manchester City and Liverpool go for the ultimate prize in English soccer.

Man City know a win at home to West Ham will seal the title, regardless of what Liverpool do against Newcastle, however if City slip up then Liverpool can pounce to win their first league title in 24 years. Is there one more twist in the tale?

MORE: Premier League TV schedule set for “Championship Sunday”

Whatever happens, we have you covered for a stunning finale in the PL as this Sunday you can watch every single game live on NBC’s family of channels as the season ends with a bang. Before all the madness begins there will be a pre-match show will you can watch on CNBC from 9-10 a.m. ET. Then after all 10 games play out you can watch a special post-match show on NBC & NBCSN from 12-2 p.m. ET To round off “Championship Sunday” in style NBCSN will have also have a 30 minute special on whichever team wins the championship from 2:00-2:30 p.m. ET.

Below are details on where to watch the game, plus a brief preview on what’s at stake for each side. Relegation, European places, PL titles, there’s still a lot to decide. Make sure you don’t miss one last exhilarating matchday before one of the most exciting PL seasons in history  comes to an end.

Enjoy the finale.

Liverpool vs. Newcastle United – live on NBCSN, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

The home fans at Anfield were hoping for much more than this on the final day, as dreams of a title procession have been replaced by nightmares of what could’ve been. Steven Gerrard’s slip in the home defeat to Chelsea two weeks ago could well prove to be the pivotal moment, while that catastrophic collapse against Crystal Palace didn’t help matters. That said, if Liverpool beat a lackluster Newcastle team and City lose, Brendan Rodgers will have delivered the Reds’ first-ever PL title.

Manchester City vs. West Ham United – live on NBC, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

City are the champions elect and only need a point at home to West Ham to seal the title in Manuel Pellegrini’s first season in the PL. City only went back to the top of the standings earlier this week and have had to play catch up for the last month due to their schedule, yet they’ve been bang in form with four wins from their last five. Sergio Aguero is back fit and only a stubborn Hammers outfit stand in the way of the PL trophy being held aloft at the Etihad on the final day of the season. City’s fans are ready to rule Manchester again, are their players ready to deliver?

Southampton vs. Manchester United – live on SyFy, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

United’s nightmare is almost over, as they head to the South Coast to play Southampton on Sunday. If Ryan Giggs’ men win and Tottenham Hotspur lose to Aston Villa, the Red Devils will have the scant consolation of finishing in sixth place and qualifying for the Europa League. Saints have equaled their best ever PL finish of eighth and have accumulated a record number of points, so they will be no pushovers for the reigning champions, as Mauricio Pochettino has a talented young squad of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw et al.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa – live on USA, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Spurs boss Tim Sherwood looks likely to be taking charge of his final game as Tottenham boss and the Londoner will want to make sure they finish in the top six. Since Andre-Villas Boas was fired earlier this season Spurs have been up and down with many of their new signings underachieving massively. Can they pull out one more good performance for Sherwood against a Villa side just happy to be safe for another season? Spurs only need a point to guarantee top six spot and European soccer next season.

Cardiff City vs. Chelsea – live on CNBC, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Chelsea stuck in the title race almost until the end but in the last few weeks defeats to Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa has cost them dear. Jose Mourinho’s side are a work in progress but  came so close to reaching a UEFA Champions League final. They come up against a Cardiff team who are already relegated as eccentric Malaysian owner Vincent Tan has a lot to answer for after firing Malky Mackay. New boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer just couldn’t turn the ship around but can Cardiff shock Chelsea to finish the season in style?

Fulham vs. Crystal Palace – live on E!, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

A London derby down by the banks of the River Thames, as Fulham have also been relegated and Crystal Palace are all but set to finish in an impressive 11th place. When these two teams met in October Fulham won 4-1 and it was the end for old Palace boss Ian Holloway. Since new man Tony Pulis has arrived, he’s worked wonders and the Eagles have soared to safety and up the standings. No pressure on either side in this match when many thought it would be a relegation battle down to the wire.

Hull City vs. Everton – live on Bravo, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

The Tigers have one eye on the club’s first-ever FA Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley on May 17, as their PL season has petered out. Hull managed to stave off relegation and now their players have a chance to audition for the cup final when Everton roll into town. Roberto Martinez has had a superb first season in charge of the Toffees and has delivered European soccer for the first time since 2009 with a fifth placed finish guaranteed. They pushed Arsenal all the way for the top four, so can Everton’s silky attackers flourish one more time this season at the KC Stadium?

Norwich City vs. Arsenal – live on MSNBC, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Mathematically the Canaries are not relegated… but they might as well be. Three points from safety and a 17 goals worse off than West Brom above them they would need a bizarre set of results, and to beat Arsenal heavily at Carrow Road, to stand any chance of staying up. A poor season from the PL’s lowest scorers who fired Chris Hughton and never recovered. As for Arsenal, their focus is also on the FA Cup final as they search for their first piece of silverware in nine years. Arsene Wenger has delivered a top four spot again but they were top of the standings for so long. That blip after the festive period hit them hard.

Sunderland vs. Swansea City – live on Esquire, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Gus Poyet’s side have delivered a miracle in the final weeks of the season as the Black Cats looked dead and buried. Four wins on the spin to head into the final game has secured Sunderland’s safety as away wins at Chelsea and Manchester United have surprised everyone. Swansea are safe under young manager Garry Monk who took over midseason, as the shackles will be off and both teams aim to express themselves at the Stadium of Light.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Stoke City – live on Oxygen, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

As we mentioned, a mad swing in the goal differential could see the Baggies go down and Norwich stay up, but that isn’t going to happen. Stoke travel down the M6 having all but secured their first-ever top 10 finish in the PL, while West Brom are just grateful to be in the top-flight for another season. Two Midlands clubs will square off at the Hawthorns with both teams aiming to finish the campaign off on a high.

Barcelona invites Chapecoense to play friendly

CHAPECO, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 22: Supporters of Chapecoense cheer their team during the match between Chapecoense and Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Series A 2014 at Arena Conda on October 22, 2014 in Chapeco, Brazil. (Photo by Alan Pedro/Getty Images)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says it has extended an invitation to host a friendly match against the Brazilian soccer club involved in last week’s plane crash.

Chapecoense was on its way to the final of the Copa Sudamericana, one of South America’s most prestigious club tournaments, when its flight went down in Colombia, killing all but six of the 77 players, officials and journalists on board.

The match would be played in August. The friendly, called the Joan Gamper trophy, is used as Barcelona’s traditional curtain raiser for the new season.

Barcelona says it sent a formal invitation to Chapecoense on Thursday.

Barcelona says it wants to “pay homage to the 71 people who died in the accident as well as their families.”

Wenger discusses future of Sanchez, Ozil at Arsenal

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With just 18 months left on their current contracts, the futures of both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil at Arsenal is becoming a daily topic.

[ MORE: Ranking the PL superstars ]

This week alone Sanchez has been linked with a move to China on Wednesday, plus Real Madrid and Chelsea on Thursday, while another report from the Telegraph suggest the Gunners are willing to listen to offers for 28-year-old Ozil who isn’t willing to back down on his hopes of getting a $487,000 week contract at Arsenal where he is currently the top earner on $180,000.

To try and clear up any of the speculation Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger, who only has a contract at the Emirates until the end of the current season, has been speaking to the media about the reports.

Asked if Arsenal was willing to break their transfer structure, he said they’ll “do the maximum of what we can for every single player” to remain at the club.

He then reinforced the notion that Sanchez and Ozil would remain at Arsenal for at least 18 months, and hopefully much longer.

“Eighteen months is quite long in football. They have 18 months on their contracts and are completely committed to do well as long as they are here,” Wenger said. “Beyond that we will try to extend their contracts but I can’t make that a subject of every press conference as that is normal. These players have 18 months, they will be staying 18 months and hopefully much longer. I don’t believe that it is a problem.”

“A contract is between two parties and on my side the best position is to achieve it early. You have to accept that negotiations are private and secret and we don’t have to explain what we do with negotiations.”

Asked about the astronomical sums of cash reportedly being offered to Sanchez to go and play in the Chinese Super League — reports state the Chilean star has offers of $505,000 per week on the table — Wenger believed it was true but questioned why either would leave England.

“Why should you go to China when you are playing in England? We live in a world where the great players like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil earn a lot of money and have the privilege to choose where they want to play,” Wenger said. “The commitment of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil is absolute total and I’m very pleased with that. We are professionals and the first quality is to give 100 percent, it is here and now, that is what it means to be professional and to be fully committed to the cause.”

So, Wenger is confident the superstar duo will stay. Should he be?

With Paul Pogba earning over $368,000 as the current top earner in the Premier League, it’s easy to see why Ozil and Sanchez believe they’re worth more than Pogba is currently earning at Manchester United.

Sanchez, 27, has been ripping it up this season, scoring 11 times in 14 PL outings and Ozil has already matched his goal tally from last season with eight strikes in all competitions.

Arsenal’s wage structure is said to be set at $250,000 per week, with an insistence on no player earning more than Wenger does.

Unless they change that stance it’s difficult to see how Sanchez and Ozil will remain at the Emirates Stadium with so many suitors from across the Premier League, Europe and worldwide willing to double, or even treble, their current wages.

Of course the Premier League is the most-watched in the world and there are many advantages to playing in it for Sanchez, Ozil and other superstars but money talks. If these huge offers from the Chinese Super League are true, why wouldn’t players move there to cash in on their relatively short playing careers?

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

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