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Premier League preview: Tottenham vs. Stoke City

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  • Stoke City defender Bruno Martins Indi could be out for up to eight weeks after suffering a groin injury against Swansea City. Geoff Cameron (concussion) is available again but Jese Rodriguez will not travel to London because of personal reasons.
  • Tottenham Hotspur will be without the suspended Davinson Sanchez, while Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) and Victor Wanyama (knee) are injured.
  • Tottenham Hotspur has won each of its last three Premier League matches against Stoke City all by a 4-0 scoreline, no side in top-flight history has won four consecutive matches by four or more goals. Tottenham has lost only one of its last seven home matches against Stoke City.

Tottenham is looking to snap out of a four-game winless skid in the Premier League when it hosts Stoke City Saturday at Wembley Stadium. (Watch live at 10:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Mauricio Pochettino‘s side hasn’t won in league action since the start of November, with the recent slide beginning with the 2-0 London Derby defeat to Arsenal. At the same time, Tottenham has been superb in the UEFA Champopns League, finishing atop the group after a 3-0 win over APOEL last Wednesday.

[READ: Premier League TV, streaming schedule]

Stoke City on the other hand is coming off its first win in five games with a 2-1 result over Swansea City last weekend. American centerback Geoff Cameron is also back in action for the Potters, which is a big lift ahead of a massive road game. Three points for Stoke City puts them into the top 10 of the Premier League.

What they’re saying

Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino on defensive options after losing Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez: “We finished at Watford with Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen (in central defence) and then we have Juan Foyth and different options. Ben Davies can play like a centre-back, Serge Aurier can play like a centre-back, he played there before for Paris St. Germain in that position, so we have plenty of options to use. I’m not concerned.”

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes on playing Tottenham at Wembley Stadium: “There is a perception that they haven’t done too well at Wembley, but they demolished Real Madrid not too long ago. Teams are setting their stall out this year against them and that has affected them. Whenever we went up against them we always thought it was the toughest game for us – for whatever reason they always cause us problems. We will be looking to address that, so we have to be better and be tougher to beat than we have done in the past. Some of the players from those previous matches aren’t with us anymore, we have a different make up of the squad now, we shape up differently, so those previous results won’t affect us this weekend. We just need to try and affect the game in a positive manner. A number of the guys have played at Wembley before and others haven’t but we are emphasizing the fact that it is a Premier league game. I will leave the guys to decide how they approach it, as long as they aren’t out there with cameras taking photos and the like, I will leave them to deal with it how they see fit.”

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Prediction: Tottenham will break its four-game slide with a powerful performance. Harry Kane and Christen Eriksen return to their best form, and Spurs leaves with a 3-1 win, despite some defensive worries. Stoke City misses a chance to move into the top 10. Tottenham 3-1 Stoke City

Serie A: Juve keep winning to remain 1 point back of Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus closed the gap on Serie A leader Napoli back to just one point as the six-time defending champion eased past Genoa 1-0 on Monday.

Douglas Costa scored in the 16th minute, the first conceded by Genoa in five league matches. It was a less than convincing performance from Juventus but it was never really troubled, as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – standing in for the still-injured Gianluigi Buffon – was little more than a spectator.

“What was important was to win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “At the end there was a bit of nervousness because we were lacking in energy a bit.

“We could have finished off the match in the first half, and again with a couple of occasions after the break. We didn’t manage to so compliments to Genoa.”

The battle for the Serie A title is shaping into a two-horse race. Juventus moved 10 points clear of third-placed Lazio, although the capital side has a match in hand.

“The season is still long and all those who are behind us can still get back into the race,” Allegri said. “It was important to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Juventus needed to win after Napoli beat Atalanta 1-0 on Sunday.

Allegri’s side started brightly and had an early chance to take the lead but Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin did well to keep out a free kick from specialist Miralem Panic.

However, it did not take much longer to strike. Douglas Costa passed out left to Mario Mandzukic, who played a delightful return ball for the Brazil midfielder to slot into the bottom left corner.

League Cup semi: Man City take 2-1 lead into 2nd leg vs. Bristol

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Manchester City can move one step closer on Tuesday to claiming their first of four potential trophies this season, when Pep Guardiola‘s men take on Bristol City in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday ]

After coming back to beat the Robins in the first leg at home, Man City must now go on the road and take care of business to reach the Feb. 25 final at Wembley Stadium. As he has done so many times — and so famously — in the sky blue of City, Sergio Aguero grabbed the late winner (91st minute — WATCH HERE) 14 days ago.

For a few not-so-insignificant periods of the game, Bristol were very much the aggressors and appeared more likely to make the score 2-0 than for City to get back to 1-1. Bobby Reid converted from the penalty spot in the 44th minute after her was brought down under John Stones‘ wild, sliding tackle. Kevin De Bruyne leveled things up 10 minutes into the second half, setting the stage for Aguero’s late heroics.

[ MORE: Alexis-for-Mkhi swap complete | De Bruyne’s new contract ]

Since the first leg on Jan. 9, City have failed in their bid to finish the PL season with an unbeaten record before bouncing back to beat Newcastle United on the weekend, courtesy of a hat trick from Aguero — Guardiola quotes, from Sport24:

“I said many times it was going to happen, we can lose, so (it is) important the reaction we have. Still we have 42 points to play (for). It is 14 games. It is a lot of games to play and difficult games like Saturday and like Liverpool. It is important to show the team is still there but I don’t have the feeling we give up.

“We want to go through to the final in the (League) Cup and the FA Cup, so (we have) a lot of games but I think the people have the desire to keep going, to keep going, to keep going.”

[ MORE: One dream January signing for each top-six side ]

Bristol, meanwhile, have fallen on hard times: it’s been nearly a month (Boxing Day, to be specific — five losses, one draw) since Lee Johnson’s side last won a game in any competition, and they’ve fallen from second to fifth in the Championship table — Johnson quotes, from the Guardian:

“We don’t want to be brave losers, we want to compete to win. It’s up to the players to be focused and tactically aware, and who knows what will happen if we can show the same quality as we have shown in the previous rounds?

“We have to make sure we’re really bold. If you’re going to deliver a corner, do it like you mean it. I’d rather fail bold than fail timid. We know we have to score. I hope Pep picks his absolute best team and we can give them a right go. I’m not sure you could go and play an under-23 side against us at the moment and I think he’ll know that.”

The winner of Arsenal versus Chelsea (0-0 after the first leg) awaits in the final.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis-Mkhitaryan Swap Becomes Reality

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe react to the Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal between Arsenal and Manchester United finally becoming reality (0:20), Swansea’s stunning 1-0 victory over Liverpool (9:20), Southampton’s much-needed draw with Spurs (22:30) and Watford’s decision to part ways with Marco Silva (36:20). The gents end the show sharing their memories of the late English striker, Cyrille Regis (39:45).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Inter Milan sign Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan completed the signing of Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

Inter can sign the Brazil international permanently for $43 million plus $3.7 million in bonuses, and said on Monday that option “must be taken up before the end of the season.”

Rafinha, who was born in Sao Paulo, had been at Barcelona since 2006, when he joined its youth team. He spent the 2013-14 season on loan at Celta Vigo.

After nine months out after surgery on his right knee, he made his first appearance of the season last week as a late substitute in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey defeat at Espanyol.

“It’s an important stage in my life,” he said, “and I had a lot of desire to approach this new phase in my career.”

Inter has slipped to fourth in Serie A, 11 points behind leader Napoli.

It could slip out of the Champions League places if Roma wins its match in hand on Wednesday.

“I hope to play in as many matches as possible and help the team to reach our objective which is Champions League qualification,” Rafinha said.