Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Sunderland — Toffees within reach of the top

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  • Everton two points back of first in Premier League
  • Sunderland winless in league since Nov. 10
  • Leighton Baines potentially available for Toffees

Though Sunderland won the teams’ last meeting in April, the recent history of this matchup is all Everton. Before their win at the Stadium of Light, the Black Cats’ were winless in 16-match against the Toffees, with Everton undefeated in Sunderland’s last seven trips to Goodison Park. Given where these teams sit in the Premier League, few will picking Gus Poyet’s side to replicate last April’s results.

Everton come into the match in fifth place, with their 34 points leaving them only two back of first place Liverpool. Defeated only once the season, Roberto Martínez’s team has the fewest losses in the Premier League, though building on their league-leading sevens draws will be seen as a failure against their last place guests.

Sunderland have not won on the road all season. In eight matches away from home, they’ve only scored twice. With Everton undefeated at home under Martínez, everything is stacked against the Black Cats, who will be missing Wes Brown (suspension), Carlos Cuellar (hip) and Kieran Westwood (shoulder).

Poyet has just as many problems at the other end. Sunderland’s 12 league goals are the second-worst in the Premier League. On Thursday, they’ll be going up against the league’s best defense, Everton having only conceded 16 goals in 17 games. In a game where the Toffees are likely to dominate the ball, it may prove difficult to keep midfielder Lee Cattermole (one card every 189 minutes since moving to Sunderland) out of Lee Probert’s book.

Even if Sunderland can keep all their players on the pitch, they’re struggle to match up with Gareth Barry, Jamie McCarthy, and Ross Barkley in the middle. They don’t have wide players that can keep up with Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas, particularly when they get help from Seamus Coleman and a potentially returning Leighton Baines. And with Brown out and John O’Shea doubtful (shoulder), the Black Cats’ best defenders will likely be on the sidelines while second choices try to contain Romelu Lukaku.

source: Getty Images
Roberto Martínez has lost only one of 17 league matches since being hired by Everton to replace David Moyes. (Source: Getty Images)

What they’re saying

Sunderland coach Charlie Oatway on the Black Cats’ struggles: “Life’s a fight. You either stand up and be counted in everything that you do or you sink … I want to come here and wave a magic wand around, stay up and everyone pat us on the back. Life doesn’t work like that. You have to take the rough with the smooth.”

Roberto Martínez on the importance of central defender Sylvain Distin: “Football gives you the reward that you put in as a professional. When you get in a situation like Sylvain’s, it’s not the manager making decisions, it’s football. Sylvain has been an incredible performer this season.”

Prediction

If you’re in a Premier League suicide pool, a.) why didn’t I get an invite (seriously), and b.) choose Everton. Sunderland could win, but there’s no reason beyond ‘the inherent randomness of sport’ to think they will.

 

Live, Europa League: Wolves, Celtic, Rangers all in action

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The UEFA Europa League playoff round has arrived and it is crunch time for three British teams hoping to reach the group stage of the competition.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers have negotiated the second and third qualifying rounds to reach this stage, as the Premier League side have made light work of Crusaders and Pyunik but Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men now have a really tough challenge. They play Serie A side Torino in Turin on Thursday in the first leg, and after Wolves drew against Man United on Monday they’ve had little time to rest.

Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic and Rangers are also in action, with Neil Lennon’s Celtic disappointed to crash out of the Champions League in the qualifying rounds as they now have to dust themselves off and get past Swedish side AIK.

Steven Gerrard and Rangers have had to battle through three rounds of qualifying to get to this stage and they head to Legia Warsaw knowing they will be up against it. The Polish giants finished second in their top-flight last season and Rangers will be relying heavily on top goalscorer Alfredo Morales to come up with the goods once again.

Feyenoord host Hapoel Beer-Sheva, Daniel Sturridge‘s Trabzonspor head to AEK Athens and Northern Irish side Linfield host Qarabag in some of the other intriguing clashes, as the first legs are set to be tight and tense with group stage qualification on the line.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while below is the schedule for the Europa League playoff games on Thursday. We will have you covered on Wolves’ European adventure here on Pro Soccer Talk with reaction and analysis.


Thursday’s Europa League playoff round first legs

Astana 3-0 BATE Borisov
Avan Academy v. Dudelange — 11 a.m. ET
FK Suduva v. Ferencvaros — 1 p.m. ET
Malmo v. Bnei Yehuda — 1 p.m. ET
Feyenoord v. Hapoel Beer-Sheva — 1:30 p.m. ET
Ludogorets v. Maribor — 1:30 p.m. ET
Copenhagen v. Riga — 1:45 p.m. ET

AEK Athens v. Trabzonspor — 2 p.m. ET
Legia Warsaw v. Rangers — 2 p.m. ET
FCSB v. Vitoria — 2:30 p.m. ET
Gent v. Rijeka — 2:30 p.m. ET
PSV Eindhoven v. Apollon Limassol — 2:30 p.m. ET
Strasbourg v. Eintracht Frankfurt — 2:30 p.m. ET
AZ Alkmaar v. Antwerp — 2:30 p.m. ET
Celtic v. AIK — 2:45 p.m. ET
Linfield v. Qarabag — 2:45 p.m. ET
Braga v. Spartak Moscow — 2:45 p.m. ET
Espanyol v. Zorya — 3 p.m. ET
Torino v. Wolves — 3 p.m. ET
Partizan v. Molde — 3 p.m. ET
Slovan Bratislava v. PAOK — 3 p.m. ET

Premier League TV, streaming schedule

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Matchweek 3 of the 2019-20 Premier League season is here, with a massive encounter at Anfield headlining the games and a chance for the new boys to cause some upsets.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ]

The full TV schedule for the games this weekend are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today, Sky Sports News, NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” for all the goals as they go in around the grounds. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.

[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days.


FULL TV SCHEDULE

Friday
3 p.m. ET: Aston Villa v. Everton – NBCSN [STREAM]

Saturday
7:30 a.m. ET: Norwich v. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Man United v. Crystal Palace – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Brighton v. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Sheffield United v. Leicester – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Watford v. West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Liverpool v. Arsenal – NBC [STREAM]

Sunday
9 a.m. ET: Bournemouth v. Man City – NBCSN [STREAM]
11:30 a.m. ET: Tottenham v. Newcastle – NBCSN [STREAM]
11:30 a.m. ET: Wolves v. Burnley – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

How will Liverpool, Arsenal line up?

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The big game of the weekend is at Anfield as Liverpool host Arsenal on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) as the Premier League’s only teams who remain perfect collide.

[ MORE: Biggest surprise PL players

Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool have beaten Norwich and Southampton to start the season, while Unai Emery‘s Arsenal beat Newcastle and Burnley but both have had some defensive issues to deal with early in the campaign.

If previous battles between these two giants are anything to go by (see the video above for more on that) we are in for a real treat on Saturday.

Here’s a look at our projected lineups for both teams, with some analysis on why we think Klopp and Emery will start off this way.


Liverpool

—– Adrian —–

—- Alexander-Arnold —- Matip —- Van Dijk —- Robertson —-

—- Henderson —- Fabinho —- Wijnaldum —- 

—- Mane —- Firmino —- Salah —-


Arsenal

—– Leno —–

—- Maitland-Niles —- Sokratis —- Luiz —- Monreal —-

—– Guendouzi —– Torreira —–

—– Ceballos —–

—- Pepe —- Lacazette —- Aubameyang —-


Analysis

Adrian will continue in goal for Liverpool with Alisson out injured and after his howler against Saints last week, plus several other shaky moments and a wonderful save to deny Maya Yoshida, you just don’t know what you’re going to get from the Spanish goalkeeper. Arsenal will look to press him high early and often. Liverpool’s back four should revert back to what it looked like for most of last season with Joel Matip alongside Virgil Van Dijk at center back, with Joe Gomez missing out. In midfield it wouldn’t be surprising if Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started but in big games against top six rivals, Klopp has gone a little more conservative over the past 12 months and it is likely Wijnaldum, Henderson and Fabinho will start with Milner coming off the bench as needed. Up top, the famed trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino will look to rip the Gunners apart just like they did at Anfield last season.

Arsenal’s back four is a work in progress, with Monreal and Kolasinac fighting for the left back spot, while Holding is back in training but not yet fit enough to battle with Sokratis and David Luiz for a starting spot. Maitland-Niles is playing well at right back but Hector Bellerin will soon return to give Emery yet another option. Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock both started against Burnley last week but the youngsters could be replaced in the lineup. Lucas Torreira will add extra bite in midfield, while Nicolas Pepe looks ready to make his first start out wide but he could come off the bench in favor of playing Nelson who is more defensive minded. Dani Ceballos will look to build on his early promise in an Arsenal shirt, while Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka are both fit again but this game may come too soon for them to feature.

Junior Agogo dies aged 40

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Ghanian striker Junior Agogo has died at the age of 40.

The former Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Colorado Rapids striker played for over 15 teams across the globe in his career and represented Ghana 27 times and scored 12 goals.

Agogo suffered a stroke in 2015 which impacted his speech and he revealed to the BBC how he was suffering from anxiety over not being able to express himself.

It was announced that he died in London, England on Thursday.

Several of Agogo’s former clubs have paid tribute to the striker, as he played for Colorado, the San Jose Earthquakes and the Chicago Fire in MLS.