Premier League Sunday Preview: Tottenham host Liverpool, Arsenal face Leicester

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After we saw one of the best Saturday’s in recent memory, Sunday’s action has a lot to live up to.

There are three superb matches, so, fingers crossed.

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Spurs and Liverpool will clash at White Hart Lane as Mario Balotelli could make his debut, Brad Guzan’s Aston Villa host Hull City, plus Arsenal face a tricky trip to Leicester City. There’s the potential for plenty more goals and drama.

You can watch all three games online via NBC Sports Live Extra, click here or the link above. Right now, here’s a glance at all three games taking place on Sunday.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool – 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Spurs have won two from two to kick off the Mauricio Pochettino era in style at White Hart Lane. However, this game will be their biggest test of the new season as Brendan Rodgers brings his Liverpool side to town, with new boy Balotelli set to make his debut for the Reds. Spurs have qualified for the Europa League knockout stages and are targeting a top four finish, while Liverpool were drawn alongside Real Madrid in the Champions League group stages this week and want to challenge for the title again. All the hype around this one surrounds ‘Super Mario’ starting his Liverpool career. Can he get off to a flier alongside Daniel Sturridge? Tottenham’s defense will have their hands full but will be out for revenge after they were pummeled 5-0 at home and 4-0 away by Liverpool last season. Can Spurs make it three wins from three? Or will Liverpool bounce back from their defeat to Manchester City last Monday? A pulsating clash awaits in North London.

source: AP
Can Arsenal kick on and cap a fine week with a win at Leicester?

Aston Villa vs. Hull City – 8:30 a.m. ET on Premier League Extratime

U.S. ‘keeper Brad Guzan is looking to make it three shutouts in a row to start the season, as Villa welcome Hull to the Midlands. Paul Lambert and his new assistant manager, Roy Keane, have turned Villa into a very tough team to beat and after Hull’s midweek disappointment of missing out on the Europa League group stages on away goals, Steve Bruce needs to pick his players up. Quickly. Both sides have four points from their opening games of the season and this should be a scrappy, brutal and rambunctious affair. One superb play or one mistake is likely to settle this tight encounter. Villa midfielder Fabian Delph was called up to the England squad for the first time this week. Can he cap his week off in style by leading the Villans to victory?

Leicester City vs. Arsenal – 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The Gunners have had a hectic last two weeks after sealing qualification to the UEFA Champions League group stage, plus two breathless PL games against Crystal Palace and Everton to start the season. Arsene Wenger’s men have snatched points late on in both their games, with four points on the board. The big focus was on getting past Besiktas to bag a cash windfall for the club, which they’ve now done, but Wenger is without Olivier Giroud until January following the Frenchman’s ankle injury. Leicester City have had a decent start to life back in the PL for the first time in a decade. The Foxes drew 2-2 with Everton on the opening day, then pushed Chelsea all the way at Stamford Bridge in a 2-0 defeat. Nigel Pearson’s side also signed Argentine legend Esteban Cambiasso this week, as the former Inter Milan midfielder arrived on a free transfer. What a coup for the Foxes. Can they stun an injury-hit and worn out Arsenal at the King Power Stadium?

Report: Arsenal interested in Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel

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According to a report by The Sun, Arsenal is monitoring the progress of Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

The rumor does make sense. With Petr Cech at 34 years old and having a poor season in front of net and backup David Ospina failing to challenge him for the starting job, the Gunners are looking elsewhere to bring in a potential future starter.

Schmeichel has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League the past two seasons. Last season he led the Foxes to the Premier League title, organizing a stunningly good defensive line of patchwork players. This season, the defense has largely regressed and let Schmeichel down, but he has still performed well and has the metrics to remain one of the league’s top shot-stoppers.

The Danish keeper is 30 years old himself, but that puts him in his prime for a goalkeeper. He has been with Leicester City since 2011, and he will tick 250 appearances for the club with his next match. Schmeichel was rumored to be a member of the secret player delegation that worked hard to see Claudio Ranieri pushed out of the club, a sentiment which he and the other players have strongly denied.

Still, with an improbable Premier League title in hand and an appearance in the Champions League quarterfinals now on the cards, there probably isn’t much else for him at Leicester City. It’s possible Schmeichel could look to bank on his past performances and secure a move to a bigger club this summer.

Should Arsene Wenger stay with Arsenal past this season, a possibility that looks more and more likely, he could look to move on from Cech despite signing the former Chelsea goalkeeper just two summers ago.

Diego Costa injured, but will stay with Spain squad for friendly

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Chelsea striker Diego Costa pulled up in Spain training on Sunday, and with the Blues in first in the Premier League and Costa in great form, there were obvious concerns.

With Costa struggling with leg and ankle injuries, the RFEF informed Chelsea that there was an issue, and Costa was pulled from training and sent for tests. X-Rays at the local hospital in Madrid were negative, and he’s rejoined the squad.

According to the RFEF, doctors will continue to monitor the 28-year-old and he will continue with the national team for the rest of the international break. With a World Cup qualification win over Israel already in the books and just a friendly against France to go on Tuesday, it’s odd that Spain would risk Costa moving forward, but they will continue to keep him around.

Costa has scored 18 goals this season to lead the Blues, and he scored in the win over Israel. Spain takes on France in Saint-Denis on Tuesday, with both teams leading their World Cup qualification groups. Spain has a goal-differential lead on Italy with both teams miles above the rest of the Group G, and France is ahead of Sweden by three points in Group A, with the Netherlands back in fourth.

Foul or flop? Player “headbutts” referee, is sent off

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Well, there must be something in the water down in Brasilia, because things got a little weird this evening.

Flamengo drew with Vasco da Gama 2-2, but that was just the start.

In the 54th minute, with Vasco da Gama leading 1-0 at Estadio Nacional Mané Garrincha, 36-year-old Luis Fabiano was sent off for “headbutting” the referee. Headbutting is in quotes because looking at the video, it certainly appears there was little to no contact, and the referee flops.

Yes, the referee flopped. Take a look:

To be fair, Fabiano was already on a yellow, so getting in the referee’s face even without the headbutt/pelvic thrust would likely still have seen him sent to an early shower.

So the former Porto and Sevilla man was sent off, and Vasco da Gama was down to 10 men. Immediately after the red card, Flamengo took advantage, powering in a pair of goals via Willian Arao and Orlando Berrio to take the lead 2-1. But Vasco wouldn’t quit, and they earned a penalty five minutes into stoppage time, which Nene buried for the 2-2 draw.

To top things off, a player named Yago Pikachu scored the opener for Vasco da Gama, which was followed by a delay in the game seven minutes later after a power surge in the stadium. Go figure.

Lletget diagnosed with foot sprain, escaping further damage

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Word has arrived from the LA Galaxy camp that will see USMNT fans feel relieved as Sebastian Lletget has escaped the news many feared.

The young attacker was impressive in the first 18 minutes of the United States’ 6-0 win over Honduras, but was injured minutes after scoring the opening goal and could not continue. Replays showed that Lletget got his foot caught underneath a defender in the process of a hard challenge on the right wing.

There was concern that Lletget would be out for a significant amount of time, but the Galaxy announced that after testing over the weekend, Lletget did not suffer any structural damage and was diagnosed with a left foot sprain.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Paul Arreola to roster, drops Lletget, Brooks, Morris ]

Lletget will visit a specialist on Monday to determine a plan for recovery, and it’s possible that he will still have to miss some time in the near future. The Galaxy visit Vancouver on Saturday, and his status for that match has to be considered up in the air. They then host Montreal on April 7.

While Lletget obviously misses out on the next USMNT game at Panama on Tuesday having already been dumped from the roster, he will most definitely be available for the June games against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico, and will likely be an option for Bruce Arena given the manager’s history with Lletget at Los Angeles.

The United States have been struck with a collection of injuries that all occurred just before the international break, hampering the squad significantly. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, and Fabian Johnson all went down in the days before reporting for international duty, and the team lost Lletget and John Brooks in the Honduras win. Lletget’s departure could see Alejandro Bedoya into the starting lineup on Tuesday, with the Union midfielder having replaced Lletget in the Honduras match. Also in contention is Jermaine Jones, who could come in after his suspension and push Darlington Nagbe onto the wing.