LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Claudio Ranieri, manager of Leicester City speaks with his players during the break in extra-time in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round replay match between Leicester City and Derby City at The King Power Stadium on February 8, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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Top Premier League Storylines – Week 26

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Well. This weekend’s return of Premier League action was already slated to be an exciting one, but now with today’s enormous bit of breaking news, it has become even more intriguing.

[ WATCH: Previewing every match in Week 26 ]

There’s plenty to discuss at the top of the Premier League table, as Arsenal and Spurs look to heal their European wounds, but it’s what’s at the bottom that has everyone talking today.

How will Leicester City react after the firing of Claudio Ranieri?

Leicester City vs. Liverpool —  3:00 p.m. EDT Monday on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Well. The Foxes had their work cut out for them coming into this match already, but now it has a whole new flavor. Claudio Ranieri has been dismissed just nine months after winning the Premier League title, and sitting just a point off the drop coming into the weekend (and inside the relegation zone coming into the match?) Leicester City will be lead into King Power Stadium by Assistant Manager Craig Shakespeare and First Team Coach Mike Stowell.

[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies react to Ranieri sacking ]

Liverpool stopped a five-match winless streak last time out with a quality 2-0 win over Tottenham, but the Reds defense has been leaky all season, and if Leicester is to break its horrid 610-minute goalless streak, it would be here. The Foxes are without a win in five and have not scored a Premier League goal in all of the 2017 calendar year. Can they respond and begin to play for themselves rather than their former manager?

Can Dele Alli and Tottenham bounce back?

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. EDT Sunday on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs looked like they had rediscovered their Champions League form with a comprehensive smothering of Championship side Fulham in the FA Cup. Then, they welcomed KAA Gent to Wembley and promptly lost their heads. Dele Alli was sent off for one of the worst challenges you’ll see, and Spurs were vulnerable as a result, crashing out of the Europa League.

Now, Mauricio Pochettino must regroup the squad and get them ready to host Stoke, a team they clobbered 4-0 in the third match of the season. The squad is still healthy, and the loss of European play may actually help them in the long run. Here, however, it provides them with negative form and a short prep time. They need this one badly to solidify a top four place moving forward, can Poch turn it around?

Can Sunderland get a result against surging Everton?

Everton vs. Sunderland — 10:00 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSports.com

Hull City hosts Burnley. Crystal Palace welcomes Middlesbrough. With those two fellow occupants of the relegation zone playing at home against lower-half sides, the spotlight is squarely on Sunderland. The Black Cats have a tough matchup, on the road at Everton.

The Toffees haven’t lost a Premier League match since falling to Liverpool in mid-December, and have scored 19 goals in the eight matches since that blemish. With that in mind, Sunderland must get some kind of a result to pull off the bottom of the Premier League table. Can they snatch points at Goodison Park?

EFL Cup final could leave Chelsea well out in front

Chelsea vs. Swansea City — 10:00 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSports.com

Chelsea is already eight points ahead of the pack and looks to be the clear favorite to win the Premier League title. It could get even clearer after this week. Manchester United is off, Manchester City is off, and Arsenal is off. Couple that with Tottenham struggling and Liverpool facing a desperate Leicester City side, and it’s entirely conceivable that a win for Chelsea over Swansea City could leave the Blues as far as 11 points clear at the top of the table, albeit a game ahead of some. That would all but wrap things up, wouldn’t it?

La Liga & Serie A: Messi rescues Barca, Pescara earns second win

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 19: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona shoots on goal next to Martin Maximiliano Mantovani of CD Leganes during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and CD Leganes at Camp Nou stadium on February 19, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Barcelona 2-1 Leganes

The Blaugrana were just minutes away from another disappointing result but Lionel Messi rescued his side on the brink of time with an opportune penalty kick. The Argentine attacker netted a brace on Sunday, which helped keep Barcelona within a point of league leaders Real Madrid at the top of Spain’s top flight. Messi entered his name on the scoresheet in the fourth minute before Unai Lopez equalized for the visitors in the 71st minute. The loss for Leganes keeps the club just two points above the relegation zone through 23 rounds of play.

Real Sociedad 0-1 Villareal

Samu Castillejo’s stoppage time winner kept Villareal in a top six position after the team struggled to find its way in the attacking third for much of the match. The Yellow Submarine currently sit six points out of fourth place Atletico Madrid, while Sociedad holds a slim, two-point margin over Villareal.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Valencia 2-0 Athletic Bilbao
Celta Vigo 3-0 Osasuna

 


Roma 4-1 Torino

A pair of goals on both sides of halftime helped propel Roma to its 18th win of the season on Sunday, while keeping the Giallorossi within seven points of Juventus at the top of Serie A. Edin Dzeko continues to pay dividends for Luciano Spalletti’s side after scoring early for Roma, while Mohamed Salah, Leandro Paredes and Radja Nainggolan each booked their place on the scoresheet in the rout. Maxi Lopez provided the visitors with a consolation in the 84th minute, as Torino remain in ninth place.

Chievo 1-3 Napoli

Napoli’s potent attack continues to score goals at an astounding rate, and the third place side is still very much alive in the title race. The visitors jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the hour mark before Chievo finally pulled one back by way of Riccardo Meggiorini. Their three goals on Sunday move Napoli to a total of 60 for the season, which is six more than Roma.

Pescara 5-0 Genoa

The last place side picked up its second win of the season on Sunday after scoring three goals inside of the opening 45 minutes. An own goal from Lucas Orban in the fifth minute kickstarted Genoa’s misfortunes, and Pescara continued to pile it on from that point.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Bologna 0-1 Inter Milan
Sampdoria 1-1 Cagliari
Udinese 1-2 Sassuolo
AC Milan 2-1 Fiorentina

PL Saturday roundup: Mane stars against Spurs; Arsenal, United win

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino of Liverpool break through to score their team's second goal 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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Many of the Premier League’s elite came away with victories on Saturday, however, one side saw its title hopes stomped on. Five teams currently sit within two points of another for the second spot in England’s top flight.

Meanwhile, the relegation battle continues to be a heated one, with six teams currently separated by three points at the bottom.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Here, we take a look back at Saturday’s action from around England’s top flight.

Arsenal 2-0 Hull City — RECAP

Controversy was the name of the game at the Emirates Stadium, however, the Gunners managed to come away with a critical three points against relegation side Hull City. Alexis Sanchez was at the center of the drama, after having scored the game’s opener by knocking the ball over the line with his hand in classic Diego Maradona fashion. The Chilean added a second in stoppage time after converting from the penalty spot to move the Gunners into third in the PL.

Liverpool 2-0 TottenhamRECAP

Sadio Mane was dearly missed for the Reds while he was away on African Cup duty but Liverpool is surely grateful for his return. The speedy attacker tallied twice in the opening stanza at Anfield, and that was enough for the Reds to make the top of the league all the more congested. Spurs struggled to break down the Liverpool back line for much of the afternoon, and now Mauricio Pochettino‘s side has its hands full for the second spot.

[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies discuss Liverpool’s win ]

Manchester United 2-0 Watford — RECAP

Jose Mourinho’s side has now gone unbeaten in 16 matches. 16. Juan Mata and Anthony Martial booked their names on the scoresheet at Old Trafford as United now sits 11 points out of the top spot in the PL. Watford sits on 30 points and in 12th place in England’s top flight.

Middlesbrough 0-0 Everton — RECAP

The scoreline was certainly at least somewhat positive for the Boro, but it won’t draws won’t be enough to keep them comfortable in the relegation race after staying winless in their last eight fixtures. Meanwhile, Everton remains unbeaten in its last eight, but Ronald Koeman‘s side currently sits 18 points out of the top spot in the PL.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Southampton players celebrate their win in the Premier League match between Sunderland and Southampton at Stadium of Light on February 11, 2017 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Sunderland 0-4 Southampton — RECAP

It was a less than ideal performance from the hosts at the Stadium of Light, and the Black Cats remain at the bottom of the PL because of the result. Manolo Gabbiadini netted a brace in the opening half before Shane Long and an own goal finished off the lopsided scoreline for Southampton. The Saints moved into 11th place following the victory.

Stoke City 1-0 Crystal Palace — RECAP

Joe Allen continues to prove to be one of the most-underrated signings of the season after the Welshman netted his sixth goal of the campaign on Saturday. While Palace’s run in the PL looks to be nearing an end with each passing defeat, Stoke currently sits in ninth place.

West Ham 2-2 West Brom — RECAP

Jonny Evans played hero for West Brom with a stoppage-time equalizer at the London Stadium after West Ham appeared to have the points in the bag. Goals from Sofiane Feghouli and Manuel Lanzini gave the Hammers a lift after Nacer Chadli had given the Baggies an early advantage. The draw keeps the two sides in the top half of the table, with West Brom ahead by five points and in eight place.

Stoke City 1-0 Crystal Palace: Allen keeps Allardyce’s Eagles down

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  • Allen nets sixth of season
  • Palace still in drop zone
  • Stoke in top half

Joe Allen heaped misery on Sam Allardyce and Crystal Palace, as Stoke City handed the reeling Eagles a 1-0 loss at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday.

Stoke is ninth with 32 points, while Palace is 19th with 19 points. The Eagles are two points shy of safety.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Peter Crouch flicked a ball to Marko Arnautovic for early danger, but Wayne Hennessey made a nice save on the Austrian attacker.

There wasn’t much to like in the first half for Palace, but Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend helped inject threatening moments into the early stages of the second half.

Stoke finally broke through courtesy of Allen, the Welshman hooking home after Ramadan Sobhi did a masterful job of holding up Arnautovic’s terrific cross.

James Tomkins mishit a scoring chance in a bad way in the 72nd minute, belting a ball wide off the side of his shin.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

STREAM: 5 Premier League games; “Goal Rush” 10am ET

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United (front) celebrates with team mates as he scores their first and equalising goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on January 15, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Five Premier League games are coming your way at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday and you can watch them all live online.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Manchester United host Watford, Crystal Palace head to Stoke, West Ham and West Brom clash, while Sunderland welcome Southampton and Everton head to Middlesbrough.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being very similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window.

The feature game this weekend on “Goal Rush” will be Hull City vs. Liverpool and as goals and incidents occur around the league, you will be transported to the action as it happens.

More info is available here, plus the schedule for all six games at 10 a.m. ET is below. You can stream each game live by clicking on the links below or above.


10 a.m. ET: Man United vs. Watford– NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Middlesbrough vs. Everton – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Stoke City vs. Crystal Palace – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Ham vs. West Brom – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Sunderland vs. Southampton – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]