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PL Sunday preview: Arsenal, United and Everton all in action

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While many of the Premier League’s big boys took care of their business on Saturday, Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton will all have an opportunity to remain in the spotlight in Sunday’s slate of matches.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Watford vs. Stoke City — 7 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Two of the league’s least talked about sides, Watford and Stoke will both have an opportunity gain the PL’s attention with a victory on Sunday. The Hornets currently sit eighth in the table, and a victory could potentially propel the side up to sixth if other results go their way. Following a dismantling at the hands of Liverpool two weeks back, Watford bounced back nicely last weekend with a 2-1 win against defending champions Leicester City.

Stoke City finally had its unbeaten streak snapped against Bournemouth last Saturday, so Mark Hughes and co. will be looking to come back quickly after the result. Stoke has been marred by injury as of late, with American defender Geoff Cameron, Jack Butland and Phil Bardsley among the absentees for the club.

Arsenal vs. Bournemouth — 9:15 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Three consecutive draws has Arsenal in a bit of a funk, particularly following the club’s midweek 2-2 affair against Paris Saint-Germain at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger and co. have dropped to fourth in PL, and Sunday’s test against Bournemouth won’t be a cake walk. The Gunners continue to play without Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck, while Lucas Perez and Hector Bellerin are also sidelined.

Bournemouth is up to 10th in table and is currently playing good soccer at the moment. The Cherries are fresh off of defeating Stoke a week ago, while they have also gained results against Hull City and Tottenham dating back to last month. Manager Eddie Howe could get Jordan Ibe back for Sunday’s encounter with the Gunners, while Andrew Surman and Artur Boruc‘s statuses are also in question.

[ MORE: Bradley secures first Swansea win in nine-goal thriller ]

Manchester United vs. West Ham — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Jose Mourinho’s side has had its share of its ups and downs in 2016, but United’s midweek Europa League win against Feyenoord will surely lift the team’s spirits ahead of the upcoming PL schedule. The Red Devils are currently thin at the back, with Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling both sidelined, and Sunday will pose a test as United has deal with Dimitri Payet and the West Ham attack.

The Hammers are winless in their last three league matches, leaving the team in a cluster at the bottom of the PL table. West Ham has posted just 13 goals this season, making it quite difficult to nick results on a consistent basis.

Southampton vs. Everton — 11:30 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Southampton could miss out on several key figures on Sunday when the club faces off against Everton, including Jose Fonte, Matt Targett and Dusan Tadic. The Saints have won one match in November, leaving the club in 11th place through 12 matches.

The Toffees have won just once in their last six fixtures, leaving Ronald Koeman‘s men in seventh place after a hot start to the PL calendar. Romelu Lukaku continues to lead the way for Everton in 2016, providing seven goals and three assists.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.

Report: USMNT’s Arriola drawing transfer interest abroad, in MLS

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Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.

There’s a snag, though.

[ MORE: Everton wins Europa opener ]

Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what Goal.com describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.

As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it is peak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:

“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.

“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”

But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:

“It’s a little disappointing,” Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. “He went through our system, we offered him a contract and he decided to move on and go somewhere else. But that’s going to happen. It’s something that has happened before, and it’s something that will happen again.”

Arriola’s response in the same article? “I thank the Galaxy for giving me a wonderful opportunity to train with their first team and be a part of their first team which really taught me a lot.” That doesn’t read as much like he “went through their system.” He played in at least one U-18 game, debuting in October 2012, did more training with TJ in December 2012, and signed for the Mexican side in May 2013.

Should that qualify him as Homegrown?

https://www.transfermarkt.com/paul-arriola/leistungsdaten/spieler/189876

Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.

Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.

Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.

In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).