Swansea City

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PL Sunday preview: North London derby; clarity for the top-four?

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There’s Super Sunday, and then there’s this Sunday, when six of the top seven sides in the Premier League will be in action…

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Manchester United vs. Swansea City — 7 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Injury crisis — noun: see, also: United, Manchester

With five games to go in the PL season, and a top-four place very much within reach — as well as the Europa League trophy — Jose Mourinho is without a half-dozen players whom would have been considered automatic first-choice starters at the season’s start (see below). Fortunately for him, he’s got players like Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan beyond anxious for additional playing time.

Following a 0-0 draw with Manchester City on Thursday, Man United have climbed to within two points of third-place Liverpool (with a game in hand), and control their own destiny as far as finishing in the top-four goes. Following three straight defeats to Swansea in 2014 and 2015, order has somewhat been restored with the Red Devils winning the last two meetings between the sides. As badly as United need three points to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the Swans need them more in their bid to stave off relegation from the PL (they currently sit three points back of 17th-place Hull City, with a better goal differential).

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee), Paul Pogba (leg), Marcos Rojo (knee), Juan Mata (groin), Marouane Fellaini (suspension), Chris Smalling (knee), Phil Jones (toe) | Swansea — OUT: Angel Rangel (foot), Nathan Dyer (achilles), Wayne Routledge (hernia)

Everton vs. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park, where they are winless in their last two visits (PL and FA Cup), looks to be Chelsea’s toughest remaining fixture as Antonio Conte‘s side seeks to lift the club’s fifth PL trophy (sixth in all eras). After a pair of losses in four games’ time saw their lead cut from 10 points to four, the Blues reasserted themselves as the team to beat with an FA Cup semifinal victory over Tottenham Hotspur, their last remaining challenger, and a convincing 4-2 victory over Southampton in league play on Tuesday.

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: Seamus Coleman (leg), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), James McCarthy (hamstring), Yannick Bolasie (knee), Muhamed Besic (fitness) | Chelsea — OUT: None

[ MORE: Sunderland officially relegated to Championship ]

Middlesbrough vs. Manchester City — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSports.com

Following that 0-0 draw in the Manchester derby, Man City remain fourth in the league table, a single point back of Liverpool (with a game in hand). Given the mathematics involved, their margin for error is greater than any of the three sides fighting for the final top Champions League places. With that said, a loss away to 19th-place Boro would be horrendous, season-defining result — one that would take their destiny out of their own hands and see them rely on results elsewhere to finish top-four in Pep Guardiola‘s first season.

INJURIES: Boro — OUT: Victor Valdes (ribs); QUESTIONABLE: Grant Leadbitter (hamstring) | Man City — OUT: John Stones (knock), Ilkay Gundogan (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Sergio Aguero (back), David Silva (ankle), Gabriel Jesus (fitness)

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

It was confirmed on Friday that Sunday’s North London derby would be the very last meeting between Tottenham and Arsenal ever played at White Hart Lane, as the 118-year-old stadium will be demolished this summer as construction on Spurs’ brand new, 61,000-seat stadium continues. As fate would have it, not only can Spurs round out the White Hart Lane era with another famous derby when at the Lane, but Sunday also offers Mauricio Pochettino‘s side the chance to do something the club has failed to do in each of the last 22 seasons: clinch a finish above Arsenal in the league table.

Everything is in Spurs’ favor, too, as they’ve won eight straight league games for just the third time in club history (the first time in the PL era), by a combined score of 23-4. Following back-to-back 4-0 wins, over Watford and Bournemouth, their title hopes were kept alive by a brilliant, late strike from Christian Eriksen on Wednesday at Selhurst Park. At the same time, Arsenal were fortunate to top Leicester City courtesy of a comical own goal scored by Robert Huth. If any of those things — stadium nostalgia, form, or current standing in the league (Spurs sit second, 14 points clear of the Gunners — mattered, we’d hand Spurs the three points now. But, this is still Spurs we’re talking about, and why would we ever skip out on the North London derby?

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Erik Lamela (hip), Harry Winks (ankle), Michel Vorm (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Danny Rose (knee)| Arsenal — OUT: Santi Cazorla (achilles), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh); QUESTIONABLE: Laurent Koscielny (knee)

Hull City, Swansea bosses react to wild day in relegation race

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Marco Silva and Paul Clement both felt their hearts skip beats before pure elation on Saturday, as it’s increasingly clear the race to avoid the final relegation place is between their clubs.

Hull City boss Silva saw his side go down a man on a controversial red card to Oumar Niasse, but the 10-men Tigers won anyway.

For Clement and Swansea, their bid to keep pace with Hull was threatened when Federico Fernandez gave away a second-half penalty. But Marko Arnautovic missed his attempt and Tom Carroll scored at the other end to insure a win.

[ RECAPS: Swans 2-0 Stoke | Hull 2-0 Watford ]

It was, to say the least, emotional for both men. Here’s Clement:

“I knew at half-time it was 0-0 at Hull and they were down to 10 men. It is a terrific result for them. I did feel it would be a game they would win. We have to concentrate on our jobs. We have massive game next week at Old Trafford.

“I thought we needed three wins and a draw. Hull are in the driving seat but we will chase them down until the last moment.”

So how about the man in the driving seat? Silva on the red card and the effort:

“I don’t want to talk about this situation and I respect the referee and officials, but this is not the first time that something like this has happened. Today we have achieved what we needed, but it was very hard.

“I’m really happy but we still have four games to fight. Maybe in January no one would believe in our club to survive. I don’t know what the future is.”

Neither man is committing to anything but confidence in his players and their willingness to fight. Hull leads Swans by two points, and Swans have a two-goal advantage in differential.

It should be a fun run to the end, with the teams home and away on the same weekends for each of the final four weeks. Swans will know Hull’s result once, and the flip is true once.

It should come down to the final week, and Hull will have a much stiffer test than their relegation opponents.

The run-in

Southampton vs. Hull City – April 29
Manchester United vs. Swansea City – April 30
Hull City vs. Sunderland – May 6
Swansea City vs. Everton – May 6
Sunderland vs. Swansea City – May 13
Crystal Palace vs. Hull City – May 14
Hull City vs. Tottenham Hotspur – May 21
Swansea City vs. West Bromwich Albion – May 21

Swans 2-0 Stoke: Big 3 points for Clement

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  • Llorente nabs opener
  • Stoke misses PK
  • Carroll insures win
  • Swans two points behind Hull

Swansea City’s Premier League life must’ve flashed before its eyes just before Marko Arnautovic gave them new life.

The Stoke City man sent a penalty kick over the bar moments before Tom Carroll‘s deflected goal lifted Swansea City to a 2-0 win over Stoke City at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

Fernando Llorente also scored for Swans, who keep pace with Hull City. Swans remain two points back of 17th place Hull and are now four points back of Crystal Palace, five behind Burnley, and six of Leicester City.

Stoke are 11th, eight points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Swansea started bright, and Stoke dealt well with a 7th minute threat from Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Ryan Shawcross conceded a corner kick with a chested stop of another threat, and Llorente made Stoke pay with a thumping header. A push to the back from Alfie Mawson stopped Peter Crouch from reaching the initial corner for a clearance.

Swans almost went up 2-0 when Jordan Ayew‘s tight-angled shot megged a shaky Jack Butland but skittered along the line and wide of danger.

Saido Berahino had a couple solid chances, the last of the half collected by Lukasz Fabianski.

Sigurdsson lorded over a 64th minute free kick that Butland butchered only to see Geoff Cameron bail him out by blocking a shot out for a corner.

Shortly after news of Hull’s 10-man goal would’ve reached the Liberty Stadium, Fernandez chopped down Xherdan Shaqiri for a penalty that Marko Arnautovic blazed over the bar. Woah.

Carroll then struck at the other end within a minute, hitting a deflected shot past Butland.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Premier League AT HALF: Swans lead; Boro, Hull down to 10 men

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Middlesbrough may well see their slim hopes of survival bite the dust thanks to Bournemouth and Gaston Ramirez.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Swansea City 1-0 Stoke City

You can’t fake desperation, and Fernando Llorente’s celebrations of his headed corner kick goal show that Swans are up for the fight. Stoke City keeper Jack Butland looks shaky in his return to PL action.

Bournemouth 2-0 Middlesbrough

The Cherries had goals from Benik Afobe and Joshua King before the match was 16 minutes old, and Gaston Ramirez saw yellow cards for diving and a reckless slide by the 20 minute mark. Boro looks destined for the drop.

Hull City 0-0 Watford

Watch this space, as a 25th minute red card to Oumar Niasse could cost Hull critical goal differential. As it stands, Swansea and Hull would finish the day level on points with Swans three ahead in GD.

West Ham United 0-0 Everton

Not a ton cooking at the London Stadium.

Premier League Preview: Swansea City vs. Stoke City

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  • Potters won 3-1 on Halloween
  • Stoke leads all-time 25W-21D-21L
  • 5W-3D-3L in Premier League

Swansea City’s safety fight gets a Saturday visit from a Stoke City side seeking club history (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Swans are two points back of Hull City for 17th and have been ice cold in recent weeks, failing to build on a remarkable run at the turn of the calendar. Since winning five of eight to start 2017, Swans are winless in six with just a single point gained in a visit from Middlesbrough.

Stoke hasn’t been great shakes, either, though perhaps the Potters woke up in snapping a four-match losing skid with a 3-1 win at Hull City last week. They also have the goal of finishing in the Premier League’s top half for an unprecedented fourth-straight season.

What they’re saying

Swans captain Leon Britton on the import of win“Stoke is the biggest game we have had in a long time. And whenever we have had big games in the past, our fans have always played a vital role for us. They have helped us achieve all the things we have achieved during my time at the club and we need them to do it again for us now.”

Stoke boss Mark Hughes on facing a struggling foe“We need to go to Swansea and understand their situation and capitalize on it. The key is to suck confidence from them.I’m sure Paul Clement is enjoying the experience of managing in the Premier League even if it’s a difficult situation for him.”

Prediction

Stoke has a bunch of battlers, and that character will serve it well against a desperate Swans. Expect both teams to strike in a 1-1 draw.