Nacho Monreal

AP Photo/Matt Dunham

PL Sunday preview: Spurs look to go 3rd; Arsenal holding onto 6th

Leave a comment

Following Liverpool’s loss to Manchester United on Saturday, the door to third place has been left wide open for Tottenham Hotspur. Meanwhile, can Arsenal hold off Burnley for sixth?

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Man United top Liverpool ]

Arsenal vs. Watford — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and

It’s been 23 years since Arsenal finished a season outside the Premier League’s top five places (they finished 12th in 1995), a formidable streak which set to end this season as Arsene Wenger‘s men sit sixth, 11 points back of fifth-place Chelsea, ahead of Sunday’s visit from Watford. If the Gunners aren’t careful over the season’s final nine games, they could easily find themselves in seventh, looking up at Burnley, who are only two points back.

Wenger can expect a particularly toxic atmosphere inside the Emirates Stadium on Sunday with Arsenal having lost three straight league games — by a combined score of 6-1 — though he remains unfazed and unmoved by calls for his resignation.

“It’s not the person they hate, they hate the manager who doesn’t deliver the performance,” he retorted this week. “I can make that difference. But I’m just unhappy that we lose the games. I want to win, win with style even, so it’s very ambitious. When we don’t do it of course I’m suffering like everyone else. Arsenal is 30 million people, it’s not the suffering of one person, you want to make 30 million people happy and that’s what you care about.”

Watford, on the other side, have won three of their last four (including two straight) and have risen to the top half of the table. The Hornets have won on two of their last three trips to the Emirates, including in the 2016 FA Cup quarterfinals, and would reclaim ninth place from Everton with another positive result on Sunday.

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Alexandre Lacazette (knee), Hector Bellerin (knee), Nacho Monreal (back), Santi Cazorla (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Sead Kolasinac (ankle), Calum Chambers (thigh) | Watford — OUT: Gerard Deulofeu (foot), Tom Cleverley (hamstring), Tommy Hoban (knee), Nathaniel Chalobah (knee), Younes Kaboul (foot), Jose Holebas (ankle), Christian Kabasele (hamstring)

Bournemouth vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12 p.m. ET, on

Tottenham must immediately rebound from Wednesday’s Champions League heartbreak at the hands of Juventus and finish the league season in fine form in order to secure a third straight top-four finish, and a second straight season ahead of Arsenal. Despite the defeat to Juve, Spurs enter the weekend as one of the league’s most in-form sides with not only three straight wins, but having dropped just six points during their current 11-game unbeaten run (they were unbeaten in 17 across all competitions before Wednesday).

“Last season, we complained a lot about not being able to compete in the Champions League, but this year we showed in the group stage against Dortmund, Real Madrid and then Juventus that the club is ready to compete,” Mauricio Pochettino said. “The basis is there. Now it’s to keep going and try to be clever and work hard.

“It was tough on Wednesday and the effort was massive, but we need to move on. The Champions League is in the past. Now we need to believe more and compete in the Premier League and FA Cup, two competitions in which we’re alive.”

Bournemouth, meanwhile, are winless in their last three games (two draws) and have slipped to 12th in the table, now just six points (though, still six places) clear of the relegation zone. Spurs’ congested fixture list, which includes an FA Cup quarterfinal clash away to Swansea City next weekend, could lead Pochettino to rotate his starting lineup for Sunday’s game.

“We need in our starting 11, to pick players who are capable to fight and feel fresh,” Pochettino said. “That is now a tough job for us to choose the starting XI to play at Bournemouth.”

INJURIES: Bournemouth — OUT: Tyrone Mings (back), Marc Pugh (ankle),Rhoys Wiggins (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Jordon Ibe (knock) | Tottenham — OUT: Toby Aldeweireld (hamstring)

PL Sunday Preview: Man City v. Chelsea, Brighton v. Arsenal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two Premier League games take place on Sunday, with three of the top six in action and a clash between the reigning champs and the champions elect.

[ LIVE: Stream every PLgame ]

Below we take a closer look at both games.

Brighton & Hove Albion v. Arsenal – 8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and online via

This has an upset written all over it. After Arsenal’s awful week which saw them hammered 3-0 by Man City in both the League Cup final and then four days later in the Premier League at home, Arsene Wenger is under pressure. Again.

Finishing in the top four isn’t a realistic possibility anymore (they are 13 points away from fourth), with the Gunners now surely having to go all-in on winning the UEFA Europa League to get back to the UEFA Champions League next season.

It is time for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to step up. That said, they’re traveling to a Brighton side who are in fine form in recent weeks (four games unbeaten) and are edging closer to securing their Premier League status in their debut campaign in the PL.

Glenn Murray is the man of the moment for the Seagulls with four goals in his last four games, but Chris Hughton‘s side have struggled against the big boys this season with no victories in their seven games against the current top six.

Jack Wilshere is a big doubt for Arsenal and Nacho Monreal and Alexandre Lacazette will both miss the trip to the South Coast, while Brighton have no injury concerns.

Manchester City v. Chelsea – 11 a.m. ET, NBCSN and online via

What a game this promises to be. Man City look like they’re going to beat every team they play by at least three goals right now, with Pep Guardiola‘s men knowing five more wins will secure the Premier League title.

Guardiola’s men are set for a record-breaking season in nearly every metric possible and they want to wrap up the PL title as soon as possible to focus on success in Europe. City lost at home to Chelsea in a fiery encounter last season, but they will dominate possession and can expect Chelsea to try and hit them on the counter with a solid defensive gameplan.

As for the team they’ll be taking the title from, Chelsea have been struggling of late. Antonio Conte has once again questioned the hierarchy and their ambition, with the Italian coach not expected to remain at Stamford Bridge beyond this season.

Finishing in the top four is what it’s all about for the Blues (they’re five points off fourth place heading into this game) but they aren’t in great form with three defeats in their last four PL games.

In team news Chelsea will be without Tiemoue Bakayoko, Ethan Ampadu and David Luiz, while Ross Barkley will be available after missing the defeat at Manchester United last Sunday. Fernandinho (injury) and Fabian Delph (suspension) are definitely out, while Raheem Sterling is a doubt and Kyle Walker could miss out.

Man City cruises to League Cup title

Leave a comment
  • City wins fifth League Cup
  • Arsenal 2-6 in League Cup Finals
  • Kompany stars at both ends

Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, and David Silva scored as Manchester City made itself a Wembley home with a 3-0 win over Arsenal in the League Cup Final on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola has his first major trophy as Manchester City boss, and Man City has now won the last three even-year League Cups (2014, 2016, 2018), while Arsene Wenger has yet to win a League Cup.

The two sides meet in the Premier League on Thursday at the Emirates Stadium.

[ MORE: Box score, lineups, play-by-play ]

Man City had a lot of the ball, but it was Arsenal who first properly challenged a keeper. Mesut Ozil’s cross was met before it got to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by a sliding Kyle Walker, and Bravo had to act quickly to stop an own goal.

The Sky Blue side went direct to go ahead with Aguero’s 30th goal of the campaign. Aguero was behind his mark Shkrodan Mustafi but just onside by Nacho Monreal on the left as he ran onto Claudio Bravo‘s long kick and chipped David Ospina before the match was 19 minutes old.

Sead Kolasinac entered the match for injured Monreal in the 26th minute.

Aaron Ramsey was fortunate not to be sent off after catching David Silva with a high boot, and was only shown a yellow card.

Man City made a terrific physical tackle on Aubameyang in the 36th minute to win back a ball in the 18.

Fernandinho was given a yellow moments later, and Jack Wilshere nearly drew a second off Brazilian before halftime.

Magic-healing Leroy Sane curled a ball into Ospina’s hands before half, and Kevin De Bruyne won a free kick with plenty of potential in the 45th.

Could the below stat give Arsenal hope?

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Kompany got a cutback from Sane and saw his shot deflected out for a corner as Man City started the second half well.

Bravo came out to meet a long ball before Aubameyang and mishit it, but the Arsenal striker couldn’t capitalize on the error and fouled the Man City goalkeeper.

Kompany continued his fine match with a redirection of Aguero’s shot off a training ground corner kick started by De Bruyne.

Silva then bodied off Calum Chambers to meet a Danilo through ball and make it 3-0.

Arsenal’s Wenger played to his advantages in Swedish blowout

Robert Henriksson/TT News Agency via AP
Leave a comment

You know that argument we make on behalf of preseason MLS teams when they face Liga MX sides in the CONCACAF Champions League?

[ RECAP: Ostersunds 0-3 Arsenal ]

Imagine you’re a Swedish club and instead of Pachuca, it’s Arsenal on the other side.

Ostersunds staged its second match since Dec. 7, and was overwhelmed by the speed and press of Arsenal from moment one as the Gunners claimed a 3-0 first leg win in the Europa League’s Round of 32.

“Overall we played a serious game, so job done,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “They looked very nervous and we took advantage of it.”

Ostersunds’ only other competitive match of 2018 was a Swedish Cup game on Feb. 9.

Nacho Monreal and an Ostersunds goal had it 2-0 by halftime, and Mesut Ozil put the finishing touch on the scoreline in the second half.

Ostersunds’ 2017 Allsvenskan schedule wrapped up in November, leaving only the Europa League group stage fixtures and the aforementioned Cup game to keep them sharp for the Europa League Round of 32.

The club won’t play outside the UEL until after the Arsenal tie is over, and doesn’t begin the 2018 Allsvenskan schedule until April 1.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan forced the own goal with a hard cross, and says Arsenal was prepped to pressure the out-of-sync hosts.

“It was their first game after a while, because we are in the league and keep playing maybe we are more practiced,” Mkhitaryan said. “They are a good team, tried to play, but we scored two in the beginning.”

Mkhitaryan said, “Why not?” when asked if Arsenal could win the whole thing.

“We have to focus on every game regardless of this result to ensure more success. Even with the League Cup final, I think we have to play with the same team and win at home.”

Ostersunds 0-3 Arsenal: Gunners too much in first leg

Robert Henriksson/TT News Agency via AP
Leave a comment

Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil joined an Ostersunds own goal on the score sheet as Arsenal cruised past their Swedish hosts in the first leg of a UEFA Europa League Round of 32 tie on Thursday.

[ MORE: PL Player Power Rankings

David Ospina stopped a stoppage time penalty kick to preserve the clean sheet and deny the Swedish hosts the lifeline provided by a poorly-timed Hector Bellerin tackle.

Arsenal didn’t need to do too much to get a lead thanks to an Ostersunds side which had knocked off some strong sides but looked uncomfortable with the Gunners speed of play.

The second goal came when Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s hard cross took a turn off Sotirios Papagiannopoulos and into the Ostersunds goal.

Ozil rounded off the scoring with this run into the box to tap the ball over the sliding keeper.