Eddie Howe

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PL Sunday preview: Can Man United, Liverpool keep pace?

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Highly unlikely to overcome 14- and 21-point deficits in the title race, respectively, Manchester United and Liverpool — along with the rest of the Premier League’s top-six — are merely in a race for second. West Bromwich Albion and Bournemouth — their opponents on Sunday, respectively — fear relegation.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City untouchable; Chelsea, Arsenal win narrowly ]

West Brom vs. Manchester United — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Try telling Jose Mourinho, the only man in the PL still refusing to concede the title to Manchester City, that the title race is over. The performances have often been ugly and ground out until the final whistle — especially in the absence of Paul Pogba, who’ll once again be unavailable through suspension — but Mourinho’s men have won five of their last six (the only defeat coming last weekend, to Man City) as they head into Sunday’s annual trip to the Hawthorns, where they’ll face 19th-place West Brom. The Baggies haven’t won in their last 15 PL outings (eight draws), a woeful run which dates back to the second week of the 2017-18 season.

While United have been nearly impenetrable defensively (11 goals conceded in 17 games), a pair of costly errors — each committed by star striker Romelu Lukaku — cost the Red Devils dearly against City, as did their recurring inability (against the PL’s top teams) to control the game through possession and create scoring chances with consistency. The same struggles reared their ugly heads in a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth on Wednesday.

As poor as the results have been over the course of four months, West Brom can hang their hat on a decent defensive record — just 22 goals conceded in 17 games, which puts them squarely in the middle of the table. If Alan Pardew‘s side sets out to defend for 90 minutes, the Baggies might just get something out of Sunday’s clash. Pardew was quite pleased by the improvements he saw during Wednesday’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool, and he’s hoping for a repeat performance against United.

“We kept them very quiet and created on transition better moments, in the limited number that we had, than we did at Swansea,” he said. “That’s an improvement, but still an area to work on. We had some really strong performances — and if you get four or five ‘eights’ in your team that normally constitutes points.”

INJURIES: West Brom — OUT: Nacer Chadli (hip), Matt Phillips (hamstring), Craig Dawson (knee), James Morrison (achilles); RETURNING: Gareth Barry (thigh)| Man United — OUT: Paul Pogba (suspension), Eric Bailly (ankle), Marouane Fellaini (knee), Michael Carrick (heart)


Bournemouth vs. Liverpool — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Every time Liverpool take a step or two forward, they take a step or two right back to where they began. Case in point: back-to-back wins over Stoke City and Brighton & Hove Albion, by a combined score of 8-1, which briefly vaulted them ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the race for the top-four; followed by back-to-back draws against bottom-half sides Everton and West Brom.

With that side, Jurgen Klopp‘s side is unbeaten in its last eight league games and boasts one of the league’s most potent attacking records (34 goals scored in 17 games — third-most behind the two Manchester clubs).

Cherries boss Eddie Howe was encouraged by his side’s performances in that narrow loss to United, and the 40-year-old can sense that better days are on the near horizon.

“We’re disappointed because we’ve been beaten, but I’m really pleased with the performance,” he said. “I thought we were very good today and were very disciplined out of possession. We were also very good with the ball and created numerous chances. We really did establish ourselves in the game very early and there were some really good individual performances today. The team functioned very well.”

INJURIES: Bournemouth — OUT: Tyrone Mings (back), Brad Smith (hip), Adam Federici (knee) | Liverpool — OUT: Alberto Moreno (ankle), Adam Lallana (fitness), Joel Matip (thigh), Nathaniel Clyne (back), Emre Can (suspensions); QUESTIONABLE: Daniel Sturridge (hamstring)

Sunday PL preview: Man City hosts West Ham; Saints travel to Bournemouth

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A stunning display of form over the first third of the season has Manchester City well ahead of its challengers, so it’ll take something special from its opponent on Sunday to hand Pep Guardiola‘s side its first defeat of the 2017/18 season.

[ MORE: Bayern opens up six-point gap in Bundesliga ]

The Premier League leaders will play host to relegation side West Ham United in the day’s second match, which is preceded by two clubs hoping to crack the top 10.

Bournemouth will take on Southampton from the Vitality Stadium, as the Cherries and Saints currently sit within two points of one another.

Below is a more in-depth look at Sunday’s two top-flight matches.

Bournemouth vs. Southampton — 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The Cherries enter the weekend four points clear of the bottom three in England, but a victory over Southampton could potentially propel the side above their opponent.

Eddie Howe‘s squad is coming off of a 2-1 home defeat to Burnley on Wednesday, so the quick turnaround will test Bournemouth’s fortitude. Overall, the Cherries are unbeaten in three of their last five matches, with their only two losses coming to top 6 sides (Chelsea & Burnley).

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pellegrino’s team has had a rough go of things as of late with matches against Liverpool, Burnley and Man City all going in favor of the PL top dogs. The only win in Southampton’s last four came last weekend with a convincing 4-1 win over struggling Everton.

In this fixture, the Saints have had Bournemouth’s number as of late, picking up points in seven of their last eight meetings (5W, 2D, 1L).

Manchester City vs. West Ham United — 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Can anyone stop the Citizens? It seems to be a legitimate question as Guardiola’s men continue to trudge along at the top of the PL.

[ MORE: Chelsea cruises past Newcastle after Hazard brace ]

City’s form to start the season has many wondering if the Manchester side will amass Chelsea’s points record set back in 2004/05 when the Blues recorded 95 points. At the moment, the Citizens have secured 40 points out of a possible 42, and the side would acquire nearly 112 points if it kept up its current pace of 2.85 points per game.

Of course, that’s slightly unrealistic.

The numbers certainly aren’t on the side of West Ham, who lost all three fixtures to City last season by a combined scoreline of 12-1.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Andy Carroll remains out for the Hammers, while Winston Reid looks like he’ll also be on the shelf for David Moyes‘ group.

Premier League Wednesday: Intrigue throughout

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Midweek Premier League action continues Wednesday with four Top Four hopefuls aiming to increase their stock following Spurs’ surprising loss to Leicester City.

Manchester United won, too, hoping for some help from Southampton and others in a bid to chase down leaders Manchester City.

[ LIVE: Stream every Premier League game ]

That’s where we’ll begin the Wednesday preview:

Manchester City vs. Southampton — 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

The Premier League leaders’ table lead again shrank to five points, but City won’t have a problem with the onus being on them. What they may have a problem with is Southampton, who busted out from its offensive doldrums against Everton on Sunday.

Arsenal vs. Huddersfield Town — 2:45 p.m. ET

Arsene Wenger‘s like some sort of Top Four zombie; Each year many assume he hasn’t done enough in the transfer market and has lost his hold on the modern player, and each year he rebounds from the season’s early nadir. Now Arsenal can move four points clear of North London rivals Spurs, and keep pressure on Chelsea and Manchester United.

The visitors are no slouches, however, and Huddersfield Town has given a lot of good teams runs for their money this season. Circle this one, even if it is at the Emirates Stadium; Should be a beauty.

Stoke City vs. Liverpool — 3 p.m. ET

Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool is yet to lose at Anfield this season, but boasts just two wins and eight points from six Premier League away matches; Stoke scores like a top half side but has conceded more goals than anyone other than Everton. Expect goals at the bet365 Stadium (which of course bodes well for nil-nil).

Chelsea vs. Swansea City — 2:45 p.m. ET

The Blues have dropped points five times this season, and three of those occasions came at Stamford Bridge. Wednesday’s visitors are actually better away from home, but that’s about the only advantage Paul Clement‘s Swans have considering the depth of Chelsea.

(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Everton vs. West Ham United — 3 p.m. ET

Sam Allardyce is reportedly close to become Everton’s new boss, but David Unsworth‘s the man in charge of a visit from Big Sam’s former charges. Completing the bizarre landscape is the return of David Moyes to Goodison Park. A win boosts West Ham out of the drop zone and pushes Everton into it.

Bournemouth vs. Burnley — 2:45 p.m. ET

The visitors could finish as high as fifth if they can manage a road win at the Vitality Stadium; Sean Dyche is staying at Turf Moor despite interest from plenty of Premier League sides, and now looks set to compete for a place in Europe. That may sound funny, but the Clarets have picked up results against Chelsea, Liverpool, and Spurs, and could’ve had a point from Arsenal should James Tarkowski not shoved Aaron Ramsey in stoppage time. Can they avoid a slip up against Eddie Howe‘s Bournemouth?

Bournemouth 4-0 Huddersfield: Wilson the hat trick hero

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  • 3 PL wins in 4 for Bournemouth
  • Wilson bags hat trick, first PL goals since Jan. 3
  • Huddersfield without a away goal since opening day

10-man Bournemouth hammered Huddersfield Town 4-0 on Saturday at the Vitality Stadium as the Cherries played the entire second half without their captain Simon Francis.

Injury-plagued Callum Wilson scored a hat trick and Harry Arter added another as Eddie Howe‘s continue their rise up the table, while Huddersfield’s poor away form continues with no wins or goals away from home since their opening day win at Crystal Palace.

David Wagner‘s men had 70 percent of the possession and 20 shots but couldn’t find a way past Asmir Begovic on the South Coast.

With the win Bournemouth rise to 13th place in the table on 13 points, while Huddersfield stay in 10th place on 15 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Cherries did most of the pressing early on but hardly threatened Huddersfield who hung on until midway through the first half.

Wilson then struck twice in a five-minute period, with his first Premier League goals of the season following his recovery from another long injury layoff.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

His first (his first PL goal since Jan. 3) came from a corner as he flicked home a header after beating Aaron Mooy in the air. Huddersfield’s Florent Hadergjonaj was off the pitch during that corner after a heavy tackle which will sure to have angered David Wagner.

Wilson then made it 2-0 soon after and Wagner will have been unhappy with his defense as a free kick caught out the Terriers who were looking for offside and the English striker finsihed superbly to double his and Bournemouth’s tally.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

Despite their two-goal lead, right on half time Bournemouth’s skipper Francis was sent off for a second yellow card after his late tackle on Rajiv Van la Parra as the Cherries faced the daunting prospect of playing the entire second half with 10 men.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Huddersfield threw everything at the hosts in their quest to get back into the game with Tom Ince denied by a wonderful block from Adam Smith, but the Terriers were vulnerable on the break and that’s how Bournemouth grabbed their third goal of the game.

Arter caught Scott Malone in possession and drilled home to give the Cherries all three points, a 3-0 lead and sealed a third Premier League win in their last four games.

And to put a bow on a fine display, Wilson completed is hat trick after great hold up play from Josh King. 4-0. Job done.

PST Survey results: Who should be the next USMNT coach?

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The results of PST’s Big American Soccer Survey are in, and our staff will be walking through the results of thousands of votes in a series of posts this week.

We didn’t realize you could acronymize it to BASS, or else we would’ve done it sooner. Our next BASS post deals with who should coach the USMNT.

[ MORE: All Big American Soccer Survey posts ]

We asked thousands of voters who should helm the U.S. men’s national team after October’s horrifying World Cup qualifying collapse, and there were plenty of write-ins apart from a very even vote.

David Wagner earned the most write-ins, but the variety of names mentioned was varied and wild: Caleb Porter, Thomas Tuchel, Slaven Bilic, Gregg Berhalter, Dominic Kinnear, Eddie Howe, Nick Mendola (not kidding, smart alecks).

Guus Hiddink, Rafa Benitez, Miguel Herrera, Oscar Pareja, Mike Petke, Berti Vogts, Tim Howard, Geno Auriemma (not kidding again).

But here are the four top vote getters:

4) Sam Allardyce — 13 percent — Please, no. No. For everyone who thinks his down-home English structure will get the job done, please remember that there are probably 10-15 guys just like him who are less abrasive and haven’t been fired in disgrace from a national team. Want to hate someone’s perception of your league, MLS fellas? Wait til you get a load of him.

3) Laurent Blanc — 14 percent — Late of PSG, the 51-year-old Blanc has experience in cleaning up a mess; When he took over France, the FFF suspended all 23 of the players who bombed out of the 2010 World Cup.

2) Tata Martino — 19 percent — Atlanta United’s guru is best known for leading Barcelona between 2013-14, but has wide international experience with Paraguay and Argentina.

1) Tab Ramos — 20 percent — Call it the Gareth Southgate corollary, albeit by a slim margin. The 51-year-old Ramos has 81 caps for the USMNT and plenty of background in leading the U-20s for several years. He also played in both MLS and abroad, with Segunda Division experience for two teams in Spain.