England

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United leaves the pitch with the match ball after scoring a hat-trick 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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FA Cup preview: Spurs, Man United face Championship opposition

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As the Premier League sides have dwindled down in this season’s FA Cup, two of England’s big boys will hope to avoid upsets on Sunday.

At the moment, six PL clubs remain in the competition after Chelsea and Middlesbrough advanced on Saturday and Manchester City was held to a draw against Huddersfield. Arsenal will meet non-league affiliated side Sutton United on Monday.

[ MORE: FA Cup Saturday wrap — Man City held against Huddersfield ]

Fulham vs. Tottenham — 9 a.m. ET

While Spurs have come away victorious in five of their six FA Cup encounters against Fulham in the past, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side will face a tough test on Sunday. Fulham is currently battling to stay in the race for promotion next season to re-join England’s top flight but the Craven Cottage side will have a legitimate chance to make some noise after knocking off Hull City and Cardiff in the past two rounds.

Meanwhile, Spurs will likely be without striker Harry Kane, who picked up an injury in Thursday’s defeat against Gent in the Europa League. Tottenham has struggled away from home as of late, having won just two of their last 14 fixtures away from White Hart Lane.

Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United — 11:15 a.m. ET

The two sides haven’t met in the FA Cup since back in the 1980s, a win for Manchester United, and Sunday’s encounter likely won’t be much a walk in the park for Rovers. Blackburn is fighting for survival in the Championship, making their performance in the FA Cup all the more critical for morale over the second half of the season. However, key suspensions to both Hope Akpan and Elliott Bennett will leave Blackburn shorthanded.

Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils will be missing several key players as well, including Wayne Rooney and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, both of whom are injured. United has done well away from home recently, only falling once in its previous nine encounters away from Old Trafford.

Championship focus: Brighton go unbeaten in four, Burton upsets Norwich

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18:  Sam Baldock of Brighton celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Amex Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Brighton, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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The race for the top six in England’s Championship continues to captivate as the regular season hits the home stretch.

[ MORE: FA Cup roundup: Man City toothless vs. Huddersfield and more ]

Barnsley 0-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

The league leaders continue to boost themselves toward promotion after extending their unbeaten streak to four matches on Saturday behind a brace from Sam Baldock. The Brighton striker netted twice after the halftime break to give his side the temporary lead at the top of the Championship, two points ahead of Newcastle. Meanwhile, Barnsley fall nine points out of the coveted sixth position in the promotion playoff following the team’s defeat.

Burton Albion 2-1 Norwich City

Michael Kightly netted in the second half to help 20th place Burton knock off Norwich on Saturday at the Pirelli Stadium. Cauley Woodrow moved Burton ahead after 25 minutes before Cameron Jerome controversially equalized seven minutes into the second stanza. The loss for Norwich moves the Canaries seven points out of sixth place, while Burton now has a bit of breathing room above the relegation zone with a four-point cushion.

Nottingham Forest 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday

Almen Abdi and Fernando Forestieri gave Wednesday a 2-0 advantage early into the second half, and while Nottingham did manage to pull one back it wasn’t enough to upset sixth-place side. Ross McCormack could have put the hosts ahead in the 27th minute when the Forest man missed a penalty kick and Abdi went down to the other end and put Wednesday in front.

Elsewhere around the Championship

Wigan 0-0 Preston North End
Ipswich Town 1-1 Leeds
Birmingham City 1-4 Queens Park Rangers
Cardiff City 5-0 Rotherham United

Conte has difficulty selecting lineups with Chelsea’s wealth of talent

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04:  Antonio Conte, manager of Chelsea reacts on the touchline  during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on February 4, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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It’s a good problem to have but Antonio Conte says he sometimes has difficulty selecting his starting team given Chelsea’s depth and level of talent.

[ MORE: Chelsea aims to extend PL lead on Sunday ]

The Italian manager has transformed the Blues this season, after finishing outside of the top four last season under Jose Mourinho.

[ MORE: Liverpool, Arsenal among big winners in Saturday’s action ]

Chelsea currently sits atop the Premier League on 59 points, 30 more than the team had a season ago at this very point. While Conte and his tactics have a lot to do with the squad’s success, the former Juventus boss attributes the form to the brilliance of his players.

“Sometimes you must make the decision and look at the balance of the team,” he added. “Sometimes you must make different decisions. Cesc is an important player and I always try to put him in the best condition to give us his best for the team.

“I’m very pleased with him. Don’t forget N'Golo Kante is playing in his place and a lot of people say that he is the best player in the league. Then there is Nemanja Matic, who I think is playing in an outstanding way.

“When you have two players playing so well it’s not easy. It’s the same for Willian and Pedro. For me, sometimes it’s difficult to sleep and to make the best decision. I prefer to have this type of problem.

“The most important thing is these players are totally involved in the team. Cesc is playing with us and is very important for the team and I’m pleased about this.”

Conte has found a ton of success this season with many of the same staples that were in the team a season ago. Chelsea made very few signings over the summer and no major adjustments during the January transfer window, which has made Conte’s turnaround all the more impressive.

The manager’s well-noted move to a three-back system has opened up the team’s attacking flow and presented a more stout defensive front sitting ahead of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

One player that has found great form under Conte is midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who has found the back of the net four times in all competitions for the Blues.

Conte’s relates Fabregas’ style of play to an Italian that the manager is quite familiar with from his days at Juventus and with the Italy national team.

“Cesc is a top player and is a genius at football,” he said. “I can talk in the same way about Andrea Pirlo. We are talking about a genius of football.

“Cesc doesn’t run 100 metres in 10 seconds, but I can allow him this because he’s a genius with the ball. His velocity is in his mind. With Cesc we are working on tactical aspects and to improve his position.”

Klopp pleased by Liverpool response after recent struggles in form

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool celebrates with Emre Can after the Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on February 11, 2017 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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While a Premier League title may be out of the team’s grasp, Liverpool got back to winning ways on Saturday.

And the club’s manager was very pleased with his side’s resiliency.

[ MORE: Liverpool victory creates tight race for second spot ]

Prior to Saturday’s 2-0 win over second-place Tottenham, the Reds had fallen into a rough spell of form, going winless in five straight Premier League matches and dropping out of both the FA and EFL Cups.

“I had no idea that first half would happen but the boys are serious,” Klopp said. “They were not happy with their own performance and knew they needed to show a reaction. Of course the atmosphere at training was not like it is before a friendly game this week. Everything was more on the angry side.

“Today the pressure was on us but we dealt with it. We had a really bad period. We are still around, not with Chelsea but with the rest.

“It shows we are able to do some good things. To qualify for the Champions League has top be our aim. We need this performance consistently.”

The Reds currently sit in fourth place in the PL, just one point behind both Spurs and Arsenal.

Klopp and co. face Arsenal and Manchester City in two of their next four PL fixtures, both of which could ultimately determine the club’s Champions League fate for next season.

Liverpool victory creates tight race for second place

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11:  Sadio Mane (2nd R) of Liverpool celebrates scoring his side's second goal with his team mate Philippe Coutinho (1st R) during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on February 11, 2017 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images for Tottenham Hotspur FC)
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It had been a rough spell of results for Jurgen Klopp‘s side heading into Saturday, but Liverpool picked up a much needed victory against one of the Premier League’s elite.

[ MORE: PL Saturday roundup — Liverpool, Arsenal & United all win ]

The Reds entered Saturday’s clash against Tottenham winless in their last five matches across all competitions, and with the PL title slowly getting further and further away, three points was exactly what the doctor ordered for Klopp and co.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Liverpool’s win over Spurs ]

After missing time while away at the African Cup of Nations, Sadio Mane quickly proved his value once more to the Reds after netting a first-half brace for the home side, which ultimately proved to be the difference at Anfield.

The Senegalese attacker scored twice in three minutes to put Liverpool within one point of second place in England’s top flight.

“What is important is the team. We have had a difficult few weeks but that can happen in football,” Mane said. “We are all going in the same direction. We deserved to win. We controlled the game from beginning to end.”

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson reiterated Mane’s sentiments, stating that the win over Spurs could jump start the team’s spirits as the season heads into its most critical juncture.

“I thought we played well, even without the ball we were still in control,” the Liverpool captain said. “We were much better in terms of performance and the result. It’s a start in the right direction and we need to keep going like that until the end of season.

“Tonight you could see a lot of good things in our play. We have been frustrated in recent games. Today it was nice to have good performance.”