Amat

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22:   Borussia Dortmund fans show their support during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Arsenal and  Borussia Dortmund at Emirates Stadium on October 22, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Dortmund investigating 61 fans after trouble at Leipzig game

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DORTMUND, Germany (AP) Borussia Dortmund has identified 61 fans suspected of being involved with offensive and defamatory banners displayed during the Bundesliga game against Leipzig.

The suspects face sanctions that could include stadium bans, club expulsion, the cancellation of season tickets and possible civil charges, depending on the seriousness of the violations, Dortmund said Friday on its website.

[ MORE: Gareth Bale back this week ]

They were identified with the help of police who opened 32 preliminary investigations against supporters caught up in the violence outside the stadium on Feb. 4. Dortmund said that could rise to 40 or 50 in the coming weeks. The individuals will also face sanctions on a case-by-case basis after a club hearing.

Dortmund’s game at home on Saturday against Wolfsburg is subject to a partial stadium closure affecting almost 25,000 fans because of the abusive banners against Leipzig and for disturbances at several other games this season. The club was also fined 100,000 euros ($106,000).

“We feel a collective punishment against Dortmund fans and its ultra scene is counterproductive and ineffective,” said Dortmund, Germany’s second biggest club with about 145,000 members.

The club had agreed on Monday to close the Westfalenstadion’s south stand despite misgivings that innocent fans were also affected.

In Friday’s statement, the club said it was aware of its social responsibility and that it remains engaged in favor of integration and against violence and discrimination.

“We assure all those who were injured, insulted and disappointed on February 4 that we will continue to do all we can to punish the culprits and prevent a repeat of such incidents,” Dortmund said.

The club welcomed the German soccer federation’s nationwide stadium ban issued against 88 Dortmund supporters found armed with fighting gear and flares in Darmstadt last Saturday.

“The BVB (Dortmund) made the case for rigorous punishment,” the club said.

Zlatan hat-trick sees Man United past St. Etienne 3-0

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United celebrates scoring his sides second goal with Jesse Lingard of Manchester United  during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg match between Manchester United and AS Saint-Etienne at Old Trafford on February 16, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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It wasn’t exactly how Zlatan Ibrahimovic – he with a flair for the dramatic – drew it up, but he’ll take it.

Zlatan scored a hat trick as Manchester United snuck by St. Etienne 3-0 in the first leg of their Europa League matchup at Old Trafford. The French side had a number of good chances in the first half, but couldn’t capitalize to draw level, and they faded in the second half as the English club pushed them.

The star Manchester United striker delivered a close-range free-kick that clipped a defender on its way through the wall and trickled into the back of the net for the opener just 15 minutes in. The initial foul was contentious, as Zlatan looked to seek out contact to earn the set-piece.

Zlatan picked out the second as well, but he didn’t have to do any of the hard work. Marcus Rashford burst down the left past numerous green shirts, and delivered a pinpoint low ball across the face of goal to an unmarked Ibrahimovic who simply tapped home the ball.

Paul Pogba was bright throughout the match, and he nearly had United’s second on the hour mark when he undressed Jordan Veretout with a brilliant spin move and ripped a shot that beat goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier but beat the post. Pogba again came close (and probably should have scored) as Daley Blind delivered an exquisite free-kick right to the head of Pogba at the far post, but he couldn’t get the header down, instead clanging the crossbar.

St. Etienne had its best chance in the 73rd minute as substitute Nolan Roux chipped a one-on-one opportunity with United goalkeeper Sergio Romero over the crossbar with nobody else to challenge the shot. Zlatan scored his second goal shortly after.

The match pitted Paul Pogba against his brother Florentin, but it was the Manchester United star who had the better of his brother on the day as Florentin was substituted off with 12 minutes to go due to injury. Zlatan’s final came late on as he was bundled over in the box softly, and he buried the chance from the spot to put the Red Devils through without a doubt.

Watch Live: Swansea City vs. Leicester City (Lineups & Live Stream)

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Demarai Gray of Leicester City celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round replay match between Leicester City and Derby City at The King Power Stadium on February 8, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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Leicester City and Swansea City play a vital relegation battle as the Foxes visit the Liberty Stadium at 11:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

The defending champions are on a four-match losing streak that has seen them drop to just a point above the drop. That has seen manager Claudio Ranieri ring the changes, as Shinji Okazaki and Ahmed Musa were dropped to the bench in favor of Demarai Gray and Mark Albrighton. Islam Slimani makes the bench as he returns from a groin injury.

Gray scored in the midweek FA Cup win, and has been slotted in with Ranieri hoping to spark something in the squad that will end the miserable run. The Foxes have been shut out a whopping five straight matches, without a goal in 520 minutes. Ranieri has stuck with Christian Fuchs in defense after a poor showing in the 3-0 defeat to Manchester United last time out.

[ WATCH LIVE: Swansea City vs. Leicester City live online at NBCSports.com ]

For Swansea City, January signing Jordan Ayew still has not yet made his club debut after returning from the African Cup of Nations. Ki Sung-Yeung and Jefferson Montero are out injured, but Gylfi Sigurdsson continues in the attack, one of the most in-form forwards in the Premier League.

Leicester City has won four straight matches against Swansea City, with 11 goals for and just one conceded over that time. No defending champion has lost five straight in English top flight play since Chelsea in 1956.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson; Carroll, Fer, Cork; Dyer, Llorente, Sigurdsson.
Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Kingsley, Amat, Routledge, Narsingh, Ayew.

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton; Gray, Vardy.
Subs: Zieler, Chilwell, King, Amartey, Musa, Slimani, Okazaki.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 25

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There’s only one big battle for the Top Four sides this week, but don’t let the match-ups fool you into thinking there won’t be table tumult.

[ VIDEO: Previewing every Week 25 match ]

Struggling Arsenal and Liverpool are amongst the clubs hoping to stop the bleeding in a brutal couple of weeks (for the Reds, even longer).

Spurs next step and Reds last stand?

Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on NBC and NBCSports.com

Thirteen points is a big gap, and that’s what former title darling Liverpool are staring down with 14 matches left in the season. The distance to second-place Spurs is a lot closer, as the Reds are four points behind Mauricio Pochettino‘s bunch.

Liverpool — and we can’t stop finding this stat hard to believe — has only won one match since the calendar hit 2017. Sure a couple of those matches were Cup games with weakened lineups, but it’s still a bad run.

Spurs are still harboring title hopes, but will be taking it one match at a time en route to a hopeful end to their 21-year run of finishing below rivals Arsenal.

Can Arsenal handle the giant killers?

Arsenal vs. Hull City — 7:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The visitors have beaten Liverpool in league play and Manchester United in an EFL Cup semifinal leg in the last two weeks, and now take aim at another big boy in struggling Arsenal.

The Gunners have now lost back-to-back PL matches, home to Watford and away to Chelsea. Arsenal hasn’t lost three-consecutive league matches since January 2012, when the Gunners were beaten by Fulham, Swansea City, and Manchester United.

Can Hull knock off another giant?

Relegation six-pointer No. 1

Swansea City vs. Leicester City — 11 a.m. EDT Sunday on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Paul Clement‘s resurgent Swans would love to put another team in their rear view mirror, especially given that the team in question is the reigning Premier League champions. Both teams have 21 points, though the Foxes enter the day with eight goals’ better differential.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Jamie Vardy of Leicester City holds off Jordi Amat of Swansea City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Swansea City at The King Power Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Relegation six-pointer No. 2

Sunderland vs. Southampton — 10 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSports.com

It reads kinda odd: Saints as relegation candidates. But Claude Puel‘s Southampton is 7 points clear of the drop zone and a tough handful of matches ahead. Sunderland will be buoyed by its battering of Crystal Palace, and primed to leap out of the drop zone.

West of Reality

West Ham United vs. West Bromwich Albion — 10 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSports.com

Both the Irons and Baggies aren’t yet out of the race for European action, especially if Manchester United wins the EFL Cup and another big boy takes the FA Cup. Slaven Bilic and Tony Pulis square off in a match of wits that may be decided by giant strikers Andy Carroll and Salomon Rondon.

Watch Live: Manchester City vs. Swansea City (Lineups & Live Stream)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28:  Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City in action at during the The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park on January 28, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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With Liverpool and Arsenal slipping on Saturday, Manchester City has a chance to capitalize on their mistakes and jump into third place with a win on Sunday. Unfortunately, they’ll have to do so against one of the hotter Premier League teams not named Chelsea as they host Swansea City at the Etihad at 8:30 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

[ WATCH LIVE: Manchester City vs. Swansea City live online at NBCSports.com ]

The Swans have won three of their last four league games and have lifted themselves out of the relegation zone, revived under Paul Clement. Despite the good form, there’s some pressure on today, with Swansea knowing two of the three teams below them won the day before.

With his new signing coming out swinging, Man City boss Pep Guardiola has selected Gabriel Jesus ahead of Sergio Aguero up front for the second straight match. In addition, Guardiola has left struggling goalkeeper Claudio Bravo on the bench, starting Willy Caballero for the second straight game.

Fernandinho returns to the starting lineup for the first time since his straight red card over a month ago, while Vincent Kompany is left on the bench yet again as he struggles through an injury-plagued campaign.

Swansea City is unchanged from its win last time out over Southampton, the third consecutive match Clement has decided against any changes. He could eventually be forced into a move, with captain Leon Britton back on the bench after finding himself injured on New Year’s Eve.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Caballero; Stones, Kolarov, Clichy; Fernandinho, Toure; Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva, Sane; Jesus.
Subs: Bravo, Kompany, Zabaleta, Fernando, Delph, Navas, Aguero.

Swansea City: Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson; Carroll, Cork, Fer; Routledge, Sigurdsson, Llorente.
Subs: Nordfeldt, Kingsley, Amat, Britton, Narsingh, Dyer, Borja.