Mamadou Sakho

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PL Sunday preview: Man City go for 19; WBA-Arsenal

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How much longer can Manchester City keep up to their winning ways in the Premier League? Their latest test comes on Sunday…

[ PL ROUNDUP: Chelsea leapfrog Man United for 2nd ]

Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

At some point, one would presume, Man City will lose a PL game again. Whether or not it happens this season is the storyline on everyone’s mind: they’re 20 games through the 38-game campaign, and yet to taste domestic defeat. Sunday’s trip to Selhurst Park will afford Pep Guardiola‘s side the opportunity to make it 19 straight wins, thus extending their own English top-flight record. After winning three straight by a combined score of 12-1, Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over Newcastle United felt uncharacteristically laborious for the Citizens, but they held on to turn Raheem Sterling‘s 31st-minute goal (his team-leading 13th of the PL season) into the winner.

“I don’t think anyone is really thinking about records,” Sterling said this week. “They’re nice to have on your CV but we have to keep winning and getting three points. Records only stand for a certain amount of time. Three points add to the table.

After a dreadful start to the season (they didn’t win a point — or score a goal — until game no. 8), Crystal Palace put together a seven-game unbeaten run starting in mid-November, only to see all their hard work go up in flames in Thursday’s 3-2 home defeat to Arsenal. Sunday’s clash with a record-setting City side is, to put it lightly, hardly an ideal opportunity for Roy Hodgson‘s to get back to winning ways.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace — OUT: Mamadou Sakho (calf), Connor Wickham (knee), Chung-Young Lee (hamstring) | Man City — OUT: Vincent Kompany (calf), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (knee)

West Brom vs. Arsenal — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

It’s no 18-game winning streak, but Arsenal do enter Sunday’s trip to The Hawthorns with a five-game unbeaten run in tow — that’s the positive spin. Here’s the negative from the other side: the Gunners have won just two of those five games and have fallen behind Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur while slipping to sixth place (from fourth) in the PL table. The victory over Palace did see Arsene Wenger‘s side overcome a bit of adversity, as they were pegged back to 1-1 after taking an early lead. Alexis Sanchez responded with a second-half brace just four minutes apart. Palace finished the game with a second goal a furious fight for an equalizer, and Wenger was largely pleased with the result.

“Overall, I think it was a very good, positive performance. We were fluid going forward and controlled the game well,” he said. “At half-time it was 1-0, but it should have been more and then of course at some stage the home team who fights against relegation will come at you. I thought we had two good chances and after it was just down to 1-1, then we showed resources and character, were leading 3-1 and controlled the game quite well, but at 3-2 we became quite nervy again and we finished in a bit of a less controlled way, but overall it was a good team performance.”

West Bromwich Albion are currently the anti-Man City: having won their first two games of the season, the Baggies are without a win in their last 18 PL games and have fallen into 20th place, currently three points behind Palace who sit just outside the relegation zone. Similar to the Eagles, West Brom have a genuine mountain to climb if they’re to reverse fortunes on Sunday.

INJURIES: West Brom — OUT: Salomon Rondon (hamstring), Nacer Chadli (thigh), James Morrison (calf) | Arsenal — OUT: Olivier Giroud (hamstring), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Nacho Monreal (ankle), Santi Cazorla (achilles)

PL Preview: Tuesday fixtures include Chelsea

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As the holiday season nears, the Premier League begins to ramp up. While that can be hard on Premier League managers, it’s great for you, the fan, who now has plenty of options to choose from as you make your way through the work week.

[ PL SCHEDULE: Where to watch all midweek Premier League games ]


Burnley vs. Stoke City – 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

If Burnley defeats Stoke City on Tuesday, the Clarets would jump Tottenham, Arsenal, and Liverpool en route to a place in the Premier League table’s Top 4. Just pause for a moment and soak that in.

Better?

That’s right, Sean Dyche has his Burnley side on a roll, having won five of its last seven matches. In games where they were earning draws last year, they’re picking up all three points this year. Meanwhile, they face a Potters group that sits just three points above the relegation zone, meaning the heat has turned up on Mark Hughes. What is in store for us at Turf Moor?

INJURIES: Burnley – Tom Heaton (shoulder), Robbie Brady (knee), Jonathan Walters (knee) | Stoke City – Jese (personal leave), Glen Johnson (knee), Bruno Martins Indi (shoulder), Stephen Ireland (leg).


Huddersfield vs. Chelsea – 3:00 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Antonio Conte, in charge of the defending champions, is suddenly on the hot seat. Already 14 points back of leaders and expected winners Manchester City, the Blues are sitting a distant third in the table.

A trip to Huddersfield could be exactly what the doctor ordered. The Terriers started the season well, but had lost four Premier League matches in a row before a 2-0 victory over Brighton turned things around.

Conte has already ruled Chelsea out of the title, with the Blues now fighting for a Champions League place. Can the boss take advantage of the poor opposition form? He will be without star striker Alvaro Morata who is dealing with both back problems and general fatigue, with Conte calling his schedule “impossible.”

INJURIES: HuddersfieldMichael Hefele (Achillies), Philip Billing (ankle), Jon Stankovic (knee), Kasey Palmer (ineligible – parent club) | Chelsea – Alvaro Morata (back), David Luiz (knee).


Crystal Palace vs. Watford – 3:00 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

The Eagles hav a chance to pull themselves not only off the bottom of the Premier League table, but out of the relegation zone completely when they host Watford at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace sits a point back of Swansea City on the bottom, but with somewhat improved performances under Roy Hodgson, three points would climb them completely out of the drop.

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how Hodgson balances a desperate need to collect points with discipline of his struggling striker Christian Benteke, who remains goalless on the year after missing a critical penalty he wasn’t supposed to take in the 2-2 draw with Bournemouth over the weekend.

Watford, meanwhile, is without a win in its last three and desperately needs a result. The Hornets sit ninth in the Premier League table but could see their advantage over the bottom half evaporate with another loss.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace – Mamadou Sakho (calf), Joel Ward, Damien Delaney, Connor Wickham (knee) | Watford – Will Hughes (hamstring), Isaac Success (knee), Nathan Chalobah (knee), Younes Kaboul (hamstring), Craig Cathcart (knee)

Premier League notes: Wanyama, Bolasie return after long layoffs, Sakho injured

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Two Premier League clubs saw a pair of players return to the field after long spells on the sidelines.

Tottenham revealed that Victor Wanyama took part in training on Monday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in late August, which has kept him off the field since then. Wanyama started in both of Tottenham’s first two fixtures of the season before the injury.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

At the same time in the northwest of England, Yannick Bolasie returned to the field for Everton’s reserves for the first time since suffering a torn ACL last December against Manchester United. Everton manager Sam Allardyce hinted recently that Bolasie could even make the first team subs bench before the end of the calendar year as he continues his rehab.

(more…)

Crystal Palace 2-2 Bournemouth: Defoe scores beauty brace

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  • Defoe opens, closes first half scoring
  • Milivojevic, Dann score
  • Key saves from Begovic, Speroni

Christian Benteke missed a stoppage time penalty kick and Bournemouth held on for a point at Selhurst Park in a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Jermain Defoe‘s brace included a gorgeous finish, making amends for Luka Milivojevic and Scott Dann goals.

Palace remains 20th with 11 points, while Bournemouth is 14th with 16.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A clever short corner caught Palace looking poor, with Defoe sprung all alone — by an illegal pick — near the penalty spot to bury a side-footed offering.

Palace was immediately ready to level, but a timely intervention stopped Mamadou Sakho at the goal line following fine work from Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

The Eagles leveled when Wilfried Zaha was chopped down in the box, and Milivojevic had no problem with his penalty attempt.

Dann used a Yohan Cabaye cross to make it 2-1, but only briefly as Defoe scored this wonder goal (top).

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jordon Ibe snapped the game back into life in the 70th minute when he forced Julian Speroni into a diving parry.

And it was a hard foul that brought a different kind of vigor to the match, with Lewis Cook‘s sliding challenge on Zaha leading both players into yellow cards.

Asmir Begovic made a great reaction stop when Loftus-Cheek’s deflected effort teased the near post. An ensuing corner was toe-poked wide of the goal by Milivojevic.

Charlie Daniels then cut down Zaha, but Benteke remained ice cold with a poor penalty attempt which was saved by Begovic.

PL roundup: Reds, Blues, Spurs draw

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Manchester City didn’t play Saturday, but sure must’ve felt like it won.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Only one Top Four contender found a win on Saturday — second place Manchester United — as Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur all drew.

Not one will feel like a winner (though the Blues will be pleased to have equalized at Anfield).

Liverpool 1-1 ChelseaRECAP

Jurgen Klopp rolled the dice by keeping Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino out of his Starting XI, and Chelsea obliged him by letting a fairly dominant first half end without a Blues goal. Liverpool went ahead through red-hot Mohamed Salah, but Willian‘s late cross drifted over Simon Mignolet and gave the Blues a share of the points.

Newcastle United 0-3 WatfordRECAP

Marco Silva‘s Watford is dedicated from end line to end line, and Newcastle badly needs a finisher atop its attack. Joselu, Dwight Gayle, and substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic could not find the goal, while Watford struck through Andre Gray, Richarlison, and a DeAndre Yedlin own goal. Is it January yet, Newcastle supporters?

Swansea City 0-0 BournemouthRECAP

Embattled Swans boss Paul Clement hasn’t seen his team score in three matches, and hasn’t won in six after a scoreless draw at the Liberty Stadium. Wilfried Bony had a goal disallowed for Swans, who sit just a point ahead of victorious 20th place side Crystal Palace.

Manchester United 1-0 Brighton and Hove AlbionRECAP

The visiting Gulls were quite good on Saturday, and this one could’ve gone either way. It turned on a wrongly-awarded corner kick to the hosts, and Ashley Young‘s shot from outside the 18 took a wicked turn off Lewis Dunk for an own goal that gave United all three points.

Crystal Palace 2-1 Stoke CityRECAP

Roy Hodgson’s Eagles are 2-2-2 in their last six to go from zero to eight points and give themselves a look at Premier League safety. Stoke took a lead on a Xherdan Shaqiri goal, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek quickly answered for Palace. Mamadou Sakho claimed the winner at the death to boost Palace within three points (and a swing in goal differential) of 17th.

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 West Bromwich AlbionRECAP

Caretaker boss Gary Megson looked to have unleashed the dogs when Salomon Rondon gave West Brom a stunning fourth minute lead, but the Baggies got real stingy real quick against Spurs. Harry Kane could only rescue a point for Tottenham, and West Brom remains winless since August.