Premier League Weds. preview: Chasing down Chelsea?

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Only two Top Seven teams played as the Premier League kicked off its midweek matches on Tuesday, and both dropped points.

[ BUNDESLIGA: In-form Kramaric tops Bayern ]

Everton and Manchester United drew 1-1 at Old Trafford, giving Arsenal a chance to go fifth and the Top Four the opportunity to secure breathing room from both United and Arsenal.

Realistically, most eyes will be on Chelsea. The Blues fell to Crystal Palace last week and that got the wildest of imaginations running; What if the personalities that self-destructed last season are off the boil? It’s incredibly unlikely, but Spurs, Man City, and so many others are dreaming of a rot infestation at Stamford Bridge.


Chelsea vs. Manchester City
3 p.m. EDT, NBCSN – [STREAM

Of course Tottenham supporters will be pulling for Pep Guardiola‘s bunch on Tuesday, as Chelsea’s Premier League lead could be down to four points if the Blues lose and Spurs beat Swansea City.

That’s easier said than done, of course, with the Blues stung by a shocking loss to Crystal Palace and likely quite ornery. Antonio Conte will be up for a tactical battle with Guardiola, and we should all reap the benefits.

Arsenal vs. West Ham United
2:45 p.m. EDT, Premier League Extratime – [STREAM]

The Gunners welcome a reeling West Ham side which has dipped back into the relegation zone, but nothing’s a given when it comes to Arsenal these days. Arsene Wenger‘s crew will know that it can catch Manchester United with a win. The Irons would probably take a point right now.

Southampton vs. Crystal Palace
2:45 p.m. EDT, Premier League Extratime – [STREAM

Like Leicester City, Palace has leapt up the table with a series of wins. The Eagles could finish Wednesday as high as 13th if results go their way, although one would have to be a three-goal win at St. Mary’s. That seems unlikely, with Saints daydreaming of ninth by getting three points of their own.

Hull City vs. Middlesbrough
2:45 p.m. EDT, Premier League Extratime – [STREAM

This could really be it for the visitors: lose to Hull and you’re at least five points out of safety (more if Swans can steal a point from visiting Spurs). Hull’s league-worst goal differential means its tiebreaker game is weak. Is this where Boro finally finds some goals?

Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
2:45 p.m. EDT, Premier League Extratime– [STREAM

Unfortunately for Paul Clement‘s Swans, Spurs will not be caught off guard by a trip to the relegation-threatened Welsh side. The opportunity to see more than a sliver of light at the top of the table will have Hugo Lloris and Co. raring for yet another win and, at worst, a tighter grip on second place.

Liverpool vs. Bournemouth
3 p.m. EDT, Premier League Extratime – [STREAM

Both Jurgen Klopp and Eddie Howe love to play an entertaining style, so neutral viewers could do far worse than scheduling a couple of hours for Wednesday’s to-do at Anfield. Even without Sadio Mane, this one should have fireworks.

Messi scores four (4) as Barcelona hammers Eibar (video)

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
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Lionel Messi scored four times as Barcelona belted Eibar 6-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old now has 522 goals for Barca, including nine in five league matches this season. That includes two hat tricks.

[ MORE: Klopp rages at defending ]

Paulinho and Denis Suarez also scored for Barca, which is yet to lose a point in La Liga play.

Messi scored a penalty to start the scoring, then started a combination play before scooting into the 18 to score low and left.

Watch the movement from the Argentine magician.

Messi added his second when he drew the defenders and keeper to play him straight-on, then used the outside of his boot to flick a deft finish home.

He’d later dash to the doorstep to complete the 6-1 scoreline.

And how often do we see this? Messi starting and finishing a combination. When you’re an elite player who also thirsts for goals every minute on the pitch, you’ll score a few.

League Cup: Foxes oust LFC; Stoke, Burnley upset (video)

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Leicester City turned to its favorite tactics to send Liverpool out of the League Cup, while Bristol City stunned struggling Stoke City as 11 matches dotted the English tournament landscape on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Pulisic up for major award ]


Leicester City 2-0 Liverpool

Both sides were decidedly second-string, and the Reds had plenty of control over the proceedings despite a lack of goals.

But substitute Shinji Okazaki scored in traffic after Vicente Iborra headed a corner kick his way, and the Foxes took a late lead.

And Okazaki cued up Islam Slimani for a wonderful 78th minute marker (see above) to ensure the result.

Bristol City 2-0 Stoke City

The Robins were flying at Ashton Gate, getting an opener in the 50th minute through Famara Diedhiou and a 60th minute insurance tally from Matt Taylor.

Stoke left some starters on the bench in Erik Pieters, Joe Allen, Jack Butland, and Jese, but had plenty of their best in the XI (Kurt Zouma, Eric Choupo-Moting, Darren Fletcher).

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Barnsley

Spurs had a hefty edge in shots and possession, but the visitors held firm against a decent side including Dele Alli, Son Heung-min, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele.

Fernando Llorente made his first Spurs start, but it was Dele who broke the Londoners through on the side’s 17th shot of the night.

Burnley 2-2 (4-5 PKs) Leeds United

Sean Dyche‘s Premier Leaguers were nearly dismissed from the tournament by Thomas Christiansen’s high-flying Championship side.

It took penalty kicks, where Leeds GK Andy Lonergan stopped James Tarkowski to send the Clarets out of the Cup.

Hadi Sacko had an eye for the winner, assisted by Pablo Hernandez, but Chris Wood converted an 89th minute penalty to, seemingly, send the match to extra time.

Hernandez then scored a penalty of his own in stoppage time, only for Robbie Brady‘s free kick to equalize and again put the match on pace for extra time.

Elsewhere
Crystal Palace 1-0 Huddersfield Town
Aston Villa 0-2 Middlesbrough
Brentford 1-3 Norwich City
Bournemouth 1-0 (ET) Brighton
West Ham 3-0 Bolton
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 (ET) Bristol Rovers
Reading 0-2 Swansea City
Arsenal vs. Doncaster Rovers — Wednesday
Chelsea vs. Nottingham Forest — Wednesday
Everton vs. Sunderland — Wednesday
Manchester United vs. Burton Albion — Wednesday
West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City — Wednesday

Klopp “sick” of conceding bad goals after League Cup ouster

Mike Egerton/PA via AP
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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp isn’t holding back when it comes to his defense’s lapses in judgment.

The Reds boss, who it must be said did not address his center backs during the transfer window and can only blame himself, was fuming after exiting the League Cup with a 2-0 loss at Leicester City.

[ MORE: U.S. teen makes 1st Bundesliga start ]

Klopp’s men controlled the match, but allowed a pair of second half goals and then could not find a single finish let alone the two required to prolong the contest.

“We had big chances, strange situations,” Klopp said after the game. “But it’s a 90-minute game. A second ball after a corner I think, and a throw-in again. I’m sick of goals like this to be honest. You cannot play football and in this case let this Leicester team somehow survive in the game because we are not playing good enough.”

The Reds have conceded in six of eight matches this season, and haven’t kept a clean sheet since an Aug. 27 thumping of Arsenal.

Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare, meanwhile, was pleased to see Klopp substitute a certain Brazilian wizard at the break.

Groin injury costs Arsenal’s Welbeck at least three weeks

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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When Danny Welbeck landed awkwardly against Chelsea, many Arsenal fans feared another long absence from the English striker.

Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be too bad.

[ MORE: Pulisic up for major award ]

The 26-year-old forward is set for at least three weeks out with a groin injury. Arsene Wenger says his status will be reassessed after the international break ends in mid-October, which doesn’t bode well for his England availability either.

Welbeck had started all five Premier League matches for the Gunners, scoring on Opening Day against Leicester City and posting a two-goal, one-assist day versus Bournemouth.

The Gunners sit 12th with seven points after five match days.