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PL roundup: Man Utd best Liverpool; Newcastle safe?

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Get caught up on all seven Premier League fixtures from Saturday…

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Manchester United 2-1 LiverpoolFULL RECAP

It wasn’t pretty — is it ever with Jose Mourinho? — but Man United rode a pair of early Marcus Rashford goals to all three points and reclamation of the steering wheel in the race for second place. Rashford scored after 14 and 24 minutes, at which point United gladly handed over the vast majority of possession (Liverpool finished with 68 percent, at Old Trafford), but the Red Devils held firm outside of Eric Bailly‘s own goal in the 66th minute. With eight games still to play, United lead Liverpool by five points (Tottenham Hotspur could get back to within four with a win on Sunday).

Chelsea 2-1 Crystal PalaceFULL RECAP

Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea snapped a two-game losing skid with a narrow home victory over Crystal Palace, courtesy of a slow roller from Willian and a Martin Kelly own goal inside the first 32 minutes at Stamford Bridge. Patrick Van Aanholt brought the visitors back to 2-1 in the 90th minute, the Blues held on to win for just the second time in six PL outings. They trail Tottenham by two points, having already played one more game than Spurs.

West Ham United 0-3 BurnleyFULL RECAP

West Ham’s season has gone from bad, to worse, to this has to be the worst it can get, right? Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to seventh-place Burnley saw the London Stadium devolve into a set of truly ugly scenes, as fan violence and protests became the main storyline. Chris Wood scored twice in the second half, to go with another goal from Ashley Barnes, all in the span of 15 second-half minutes.

Newcastle United 3-0 SouthamptonFULL RECAP

Back in August — and September, and October, and probably November, too — Newcastle United seemed a surefire lock for relegation from the PL. Fast-forward to early March, and Rafa Benitez has somehow — masterfully — managed to guide the Magpies to 13th place in the league table, a full five points clear of 18th place. Southampton, on the other hand, are just one place and one point clear of the drop zone after a brace from Kenedy and a third from Matt Ritchie dropped Saints to four games without a win on Saturday.

West Bromwich Albion 1-4 Leicester CityFULL RECAP

West Brom aren’t likely to realize the same rescue from relegation that Newcastle have enjoyed, as Alan Pardew‘s side currently sits bottom of the league, eight points away from safety, after another humiliating defeat at home, this time to eighth-place Leicester. Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Kelechi Iheanacho and Vicente Iborra got the goals after Salomon Rondon had put the Baggies 1-0 up after eight minutes.

Everton 2-0 Brighton & Hove AlbionFULL RECAP

Speaking of sides who managed to rebound after a torrid start to the season, Everton have reclaimed their (apparent) birthright as a top-half side following Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Brighton. Gaetan Bong put the Seagulls behind with an own goal on the hour mark, followed by an insurance goal for the Toffees courtesy of Cenk Tosun.

Huddersfield Town 0-0 Swansea CityFULL RECAP

15th-place Huddersfield and 14th-place Swansea played to perhaps the most lopsided 0-0 draw in the history of soccer after Jordan Ayew was sent off in the 11th minute.

Sunday’s PL schedule

Arsenal vs. Watford — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Bournemouth vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12 p.m. ET, on NBCSports.com

Monday’s PL schedule

Stoke City vs. Manchester City — 4 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

International preview: What is to come over the next week

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With the 2018 World Cup less than three months away, countries are taking these last moments to see players within their selection pool and make tweaks to the squad and tactics.

This week’s international window has already kicked off with the likes of South Africa, Liechtenstein, and Andorra taking the opportunity to see the field, and World Cup countries take the field tomorrow – two, to be exact. And they play each other.

Denmark and Panama meet in a rare friendly between countries set to take part in the summer festivities, with the match taking place in Bronby at 3pm ET. The two countries chose to play knowing they cannot possibly meet in Russia 2018 until at least the quarterfinals, with their respective Groups C and G split apart across the knockout rounds.

The hosts are fantastic from set-pieces and focus their attack around Tottenham star Christian Eriksen. Panama’s midfield rock Gabriel Gomez will likely be tasked with keeping Eriksen quiet, something the Republic of Ireland was unable to do last time Denmark took the field as Eriksen bagged a hat-trick. Defender Andreas Christensen is headed towards the World Cup in fantastic form with Chelsea, having earned a starting spot with the Blues. With some injuries at the back, Christensen has also played out wide along the back line before as well, something to keep watch for.

On Friday, the heavyweights begin to see the field as Uruguay hosts Czech Republic. The South American nation received a friendly draw in World Cup Group A, but brought in a solid European side to match wits with after the Czechs finished third in their qualifying group. Japan also takes to the pitch on Friday, playing Mali on a neutral field in Belgium. The Japanese will need to be at the top of their game come summer, matched into Group H against Colombia, Poland, and Senegal.

England and Argentina have both scheduled games against European sides that disappointed by failing to make the 2018 tournament. On Friday, England travels to Amsterdam to take on a Netherlands squad in turmoil, while Argentina travels to the Etihad to meet Italy.

Russia and Brazil meet in Moscow on Friday, with over 50,000 tickets already reportedly sold for the match at Luzhniki Stadium. The hosts will then get another stiff test as they take on France four days later on Tuesday. If Russia’s squad has lots of work to do before hosting the World Cup, we’ll know in a week.

The main event on Friday will be Germany and Spain meeting in Dusseldorf in a matchup of the last two World Cup winners. Germany will be without Manuel Neuer and Marco Reus, but still fields one of the deepest squads in the entire world. The Germans don’t then get the week off, having to meet Brazil on Tuesday. If Jogi Low’s side comes out of those matches on top, they could cement their status as favorites headed into the summer.

France has a stiff test as well, meeting Colombia on Friday. Like Denmark and Panama, the two countries reside in Groups C and H, meaning they could not rematch in the World Cup until at least the quarterfinals. The French then go to take on Russia next week.


Denmark vs. Panama
Slovakia vs. UAE
China vs. Wales
Algeria vs. Tanzania
Malta vs. Luxembourg

Germany vs. Spain
Italy vs. Argentina
Russia vs. Brazil
Netherlands vs. England
France vs. Colombia
Portugal vs. Egypt
Uruguay vs. Czech Republic
Mexico vs. Ireland
Poland vs. Nigeria
Austria vs. Slovenia
Peru vs. Croatia
Austria vs. Slovenia
Greece vs. Switzerland
Norway vs. Australia
Mali vs. Japan

Sweden vs. Chile

Kuwait vs. Cameroon
Nicaragua vs. Cuba

Portugal vs. Netherlands
Bulgaria vs. Kazakhstan

Russia vs. France
Germany vs. Brazil
England vs. Italy
Spain vs. Argentina
United States vs. Paraguay
Tunisia vs. Costa Rica
Colombia vs. Australia
Belgium vs. Saudi Arabia
Egypt vs. Greece
Denmark vs. Chile
Japan vs. Ukraine

Alexis Sanchez says he “expected better” from himself at Manchester United

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Alexis Sanchez isn’t happy with his performance so far at Manchester United.

The Chilean superstar has scored just one goal for the Red Devils in 10 appearances since joining from Arsenal, and the club has lost three of those games and has been knocked out of the Champions League by Sevilla.

Speaking with Chilean media on national team duty in Sweden, Sanchez said he expects more of himself and that he’s so far let himself down. “As I am self-demanding, I expected something better,” Sanchez said. “After my arrival at United, it was hard to change everything very quickly. I even hesitated to come here [to join the national team].”

Chile missed out on World Cup qualification, and has friendlies with Sweden and Denmark scheduled over the next week. With so little at stake, Sanchez was poised to take time off from the national team, but says he was convinced by Manchester City goalkeeper and Chilean captain Claudio Bravo to stick it out.

“The change of club was something that was very abrupt – it was the first time I’ve changed clubs in January – but many things have happened in my life that are difficult,” Sanchez said. “I had asked permission to miss these games, but then I thought better and spoke with Claudio and told him that we should all be united.”

Once the international break is over, Manchester United resumes Premier League play against Swansea at the end of March before an April 7th derby meeting with Manchester City.

James Collins injured in West Ham friendly

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West Ham defender James Collins hobbled off the field in the 29th minute of the Hammers’ friendly against Dagenham & Redbridge on Wednesday, a big blow to the club’s already paper-thin back line.

With the league on an international break, West Ham agreed to play a friendly against Dagenham & Redbridge to help raise money for National League club that could be in serious financial trouble. However, it could be detrimental to the short-term future of the Hammers, who are hoping to stave off relegation, sitting just two points above the drop.

The 34-year-old defender has missed significant time this season due to injury, with an ankle injury keeping Collins out for nearly three months in 2017. West Ham has lost just four of the 12 Premier League matches Collins has appeared in this season, with three clean sheets. However, two of those have come in the club’s last three games, thrashed by a combined 7-1 scoreline between 90 minutes against Liverpool and Burnley.

The injury comes at the worst possible time, with West Ham set to play Southampton in a critical relegation matchup between teams in the in 17th and 18th in the Premier League table. The Hammers are already without defender Winston Reid who remains out for the season with a knee injury, while the club sold center-back Jose Fonte to Chinese club Dalian Yifang F.C. in late February.

West Ham was hoping to do its part to help save the London club. Former director Glyn Hopkin abruptly resigned and pulled all financial backing in early February, leaving the club fearing for its immediate future. They reportedly need $353,000 just to stay afloat the rest of the season, even with zero club debt.

Men In Blazers podcast: Mohamed Salah continues to shine

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo marvel at Mo Salah’s four goal, one dime haul in Liverpool’s 5-0 beatdown of Watford, analyze Jose Mourinho’s recent rants about football heritage at Manchester United, and recap Rog’s family trip to Stoke vs. Everton.

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