Gaetan Bong

Premier League Tuesday: Rivalry renewed (video)

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Midweek fixtures in the Premier League break up the work week, even as they cause headaches for managers and players alike.

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Tuesday dishes up four appetizers for Wednesday’s sextet of fixtures, beginning with a tasty derby down South.

Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Crystal Palace — 2:45 p.m. ET

A heated rivalry which has been very even throughout history, the Gulls have a two-win edge on the Eagles over 104 matches. They last met in the 2013 Championship playoff, with Palace winning 2-0 over two legs; The stakes a just a tad lower this go-round given the time of year, but Palace is improving — 2-2-2 in its last six after a historically bad start — and would love to use a derby win to escape the drop zone for the first time this season.

Leicester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 2:45 p.m. ET

Mauricio Pochettino isn’t playing down Spurs’ four-match slump in form, saying the club’s title hopes would sink into desperation with another loss. Leicester is up to 12th, and will certainly recall the 6-1 spanking Spurs laid on them to end 2016-17. Erik Lamela is available for Spurs for the first time in a year.

Watford vs. Manchester United — 3 p.m. ET

United dodged a bullet when it learned Romelu Lukaku would not face a ban for a pair of kicks aimed at Brighton back Gaetan Bong. Now they’ll face a Watford side which looked quite dangerous in clobbering Newcastle away.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Newcastle United — 3 p.m. ET

It’s a relegation six-pointer at the Hawthorns, with West Brom hoping to stay unbeaten since the sacking of Tony Pulis. The Baggies’ draw at Tottenham will give them more confidence than the visitors, who have lost four straight including the aforementioned blowout against Watford. Newcastle knows it’s under-manned, but is targeting six points from its next six to keep a safety pace.

Lukaku dodges kicking ban (video)

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Intent versus result could decide Romelu Lukaku‘s status for a series of big games.

Reports say Lukaku is under investigation for aiming a pair of kicks at Brighton and Hove Albion’s Gaetan Bong on Saturday.

UPDATE: Lukaku won’t be suspended, according to Simon Peach of the Press Association.

Manchester United scored the lone goal of the match on the play in question, after Lukaku did battle with Cameroon defender Bong in front of the goal on a corner kick.

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The ball made its way outside the 18 as Lukaku maneuvered toward an onside position after swinging his right and then left leg at Bong, who appears to block a very sensitive region with his hand.

Ashley Young‘s shot then turned hard off Lewis Dunk to give United its only goal.

Lukaku could’ve received a three-match ban for violent conduct, putting a lot of pressure on new-old striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford for matches against Watford, Arsenal, and Manchester City, with an important UEFA Champions League match against CSKA Moscow mixed into the fray.

Did Lukaku’s failure to significantly land either of his kicks make a difference? It shouldn’t, but results are prioritized over intent often in sports discipline.