Premier League Sunday Preview: Chelsea host Liverpool, Newcastle and Arsenal clash

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If 26 Premier League games over the past seven days hasn’t been enough for you, don’t worry…. there’s four more coming your way on Sunday.

After Saturday’s jam-packed slate of games delivered plenty of goals, controversy and drama on and off the field, let’s take a peek at what Sunday has in store for us.

And remember, you can watch NBC Sports Network for our feature games and watch every single second of every single game live this season online via NBC Sports Live Extra and the NBC Sports Live Extra App. Via your TV you can watch the games live on Premier League Extra Time.

Let’s get to the action on Sunday, as four massive games are lined up.

Newcastle United vs. Arsenal, 8:30am ET, live on NBCSN

The Magpies are flying this season, as the French-heavy squad is finally fit and firing on all cylinders. Alan Pardew’s side have already beaten Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United this season and fancy another scalp when Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal roll into town. However the Gunners are a bit of ‘bogey team’ for Newcastle, who have won just once in their last 11 attempts versus the North London side. Arsenal will welcome Jack Wilshere back into the squad after his suspension but Aaron Ramsey is still missing through injury, while Newcastle have no new injury worries. Arsenal were knocked off the top spot by Manchester City on Saturday, only a win at St. James’ Park will send them back to the summit. They’ll have to be at their very best to get that, against a in-form Newcastle side who have won seven of their last nine.

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The Gunners are looking for more success against the Magpies to move back to the PL summit.

Everton vs. Southampton, 8:30am ET, live on Premier League Extra Time

The Toffees came unstuck against Sunderland last-time out, as USMNT ‘keeper Tim Howard took down Sunderland’s Ki, Howard was then red carded and the South Korean midfielder dispatched the game-winner from the penalty spot. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Roberto Martinez’ men who with 10-men for most of the game dominated proceedings and were unlucky to lose at home for the first time in 2013. As for Southampton, they grabbed their first win in seven games last time out as the Saints battered Cardiff 3-0 with Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert running riot. Ninth placed Southampton have only won once in 14 attempts in the PL at Goodison Park, can fifth placed Everton give them another hiding? This should be a great game between two sides who love to stroke the ball around and with the Toffees missing Howard and Gareth Barry though suspension and the Saints seeing players recalled to fitness… who knows what will happen.

Chelsea vs. Liverpool, 11am ET, live on NBCSN

source: AP
Can Mourinho’s Chelsea send a message out to the rest of the league?

This game will be massive, as Liverpool won’t want to lose two on the spin and Chelsea want to send out a message to the rest of the league that this title is theirs for the taking. In the build-up Jose Mourinho said in jest that he hoped Luis Suarez “got an injury, not a serious one, just something minor” as he asked about how good Liverpool’s top striker is. On top of his game, he’s unstoppable and Chelsea must quell the danger of Suarez if they want to win on Sunday. Last season Suarez bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, so expect special treatment from the Chelsea fans towards the Uruguayan. Like Suarez, the Blues have been in good form themselves and a win could see them go second and extend their lead over Liverpool to four points. But the Reds showed against Man City on Boxing Day that they can compete and trouble the best teams in the land, so Brendan Rodgers will fancy his chances against the club where he learned his coaching trade. Plus Chelsea have only won twice in their last 13 PL games against the Anfield club. Liverpool’s injury worries could harm them, as Mourinho’s men look to put down a marker heading into the new year. Do yourself a favor… don’t miss this match.

Tottenham vs. Stoke City, 11am ET, live on Extra Time

Tim Sherwood’s unveiling as Spurs’ new manager on a permanent basis didn’t exactly go according to plan on Boxing Day, as West Bromwich Albion came to White Hart Lane and grabbed a point. Spurs and Sherwood will be looking to dispatch Stoke City on Sunday, as the Potters head to London fresh off the back of that 5-1 thumped by Newcastle last time out. Albeit Stoke were reduced to nine-men in the first half after a crazy few minutes, but Mark Hughes’ men won’t be relishing a trip to North London so soon after being battered, bruised and bewildered. That said, this will be a rough and tumble affair as Spurs’ new physical and more direct approach is sure to clash with Stoke’s robust defensive unit. It might not be one for the purists but Spurs need a win to stay in touch with the top four, as a defeat could see them slip five or six points off top spot. It could be a rough afternoon for Stoke, as Tottenham aim to improve their already incredible record against the Potters (won 28, drawn 8, lost 2 of last 38 encounters) when this bruising encounter takes place to round of 2013.

CCL wrap: Stoppage-time GK goal saves Tigres; Henry’s Montreal grinds it out

Goalie goal
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Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League nearly featured an upset for the ages.

It will have to be content with a finish for all time.

El Salvador’s Alianza came back from a 4-2 aggregate deficit to nearly knock UANL Tigres out of the CCL, but Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman provided a stoppage time goal to eliminate the upstarts.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Tigres will now meet Ronny Delia’s New York City FC, who had little trouble holding up its first-leg lead over San Carlos.

Thierry Henry’s Montreal had to sweat out a scoreless draw with Saprissa, but rode its two away goals to a date with either Seattle or Olimpia.

Guatemala’s Comunicaciones and Club America are the final match of Wednesday, kicking off at 10 a.m. ET.

UANL Tigres 4-2 (5-4 agg.) Alianza

What a match. Down 2-1 after one leg, Tigres scored thrice in the first 23 minutes. Ex-West Ham man Enner Valencia struck first before Andre-Pierre Gignac score in the 17th and 23rd.

But Juan Carlos Portillo scored twice in nine minutes before halftime to put the away goals advantage in the Salvadorans’ corner.

Tigres out-attempted Alianza 19-6 but couldn’t get it done, and my goodness did it need shot No. 19 from its Argentine international backstop.

Great header for a goalie.

Montreal Impact 0-0 (2-2 agg.) Deportivo Saprissa

This was a dreadful match, but it won’t bother Titi too much; Henry’s men had just 31 percent of the ball and nearly scored anyway through Shamit Shome.

The Impact showed a lot of guts and discipline in frustrating the Costa Ricans, who were disappointed when Clement Diop made an incredible save in the 89th minute.

NYCFC 1-0 (6-3 agg.) San Carlos

Alexander Callens scored the lone goal of the contest, the damage done in Costa Rica last week.

Speaking of damage done, Delia had a “Welcome to CONCACAF officiating” moment.

 

Rankings the comeback potential of Champions League sides

UEFA Champions League
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Maybe Group H of the UEFA Champions League was very soft.

Chelsea and Valencia are in massive holes after 90 minutes of the Round of 16, and third-place Ajax is a 2-0 hole in its Europa League tie.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The other six teams’ disadvantages after one leg range from tricky to barely existent.

Let’s rate which teams have the best chances to climb back and earn a spot in the quarterfinals.

8. Chelsea (down 3-0 to Bayern Munich after home leg)

Robert Lewandowski’s injury hurts the Bavarians, but not three goals worth of hurt. And Serge Gnabry has been the one sounding death knells for London clubs.

7. Valencia (down 4-1 to Atalanta after away leg)

The away goal combined with the Serie A side’s relative inexperience in the competition gives Valencia a bit more hope than Chelsea.

6. Napoli (level at 1 with Barcelona after home leg)

On the plus side, Gennaro Gattuso’s men are level. That said, they allowed an away goal to Barca and have to go to the Camp Nou against a side yearning to make better UCL memories.

5. Real Madrid (down 2-1 to Man City after home leg)

Who knows what Pep Guardiola will launch at the Etihad Stadium, but giving him two away goals and a lead opens up his playbook? As for Zinedine Zidane, it was all so one dimensional at the Bernabeu. What’s he have cooking?

4. Tottenham Hotspur (down 1-0 to RB Leipzig after home leg)

Spurs have better UEL experience than their second leg hosts, though the striker problems looms over Jose Mourinho’s plans.

3. Liverpool (down 1-0 to Atletico Madrid after away leg)

It’s easy to imagine the Reds’ rebounding, and even Atleti will doubt its potential to keep Liverpool off the scoreboard at Anfield.

2. Paris Saint-Germain (down 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund after away leg)

Dortmund’s allowed plenty of goals this season, and PSG’s attack is stacked.

1. Juventus (down 1-0 to Lyon after away leg)

It’s difficult to imagine Juve playing as poor as they did Wednesday when they head back to Turin. The Old Lady knew something was wrong in warm-ups. They’ll address it, but can they keep Lyon off the board?

 

Europa League preview: Arsenal, Wolves, Man Utd look to advance

Europa League
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Fifteen places remain up for grabs in the Europa League’s Round of 16 after Steven Gerrard’s Rangers handled Braga in Wednesday’s lone second leg.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Notable names Porto, Benfica, and Ajax enter their second legs with hills to climb, while the three Premier League teams have varying degrees of advantage.

Manchester United v. Club Brugge

United enters the second leg at Old Trafford with an away goal advantage after the 1-1 draw in Belgium.

Luke Shaw says the Red Devils are driven by a desire to play for silverware, and the UEL joins the FA Cup as their lone opportunities to claim trophies this year.

“It is a massive ambition for me,” said Shaw, via The Manchester Evening News. “I was there for the Europa League final, and the feeling, even though I wasn’t on the pitch, was a feeling I have not felt and I wanted more of. I wasn’t involved and that is what is pushing me on even more to get into this final, and others. We should be in finals and we should be in all competitions until the end. We are very confident at the moment.”

Arsenal v. Olympiacos

The Gunners claimed a 1-0 result in Greece, and know a draw will be enough to bring Mikel Arteta‘s men to the Round of 16.

The manager was asked what’s different about his Gunners, now back in contention to qualify for Europe via the Premier League table.

“I think the team is progressing well, the club is in a better place,” Arteta said, via Football.London. “We are getting much more unity on the sections of the club and as well a great energy back from the fans every time we play at the Emirates and away from the Emirates. There are a lot of positive things but there are still things to improve individually, collectively and as a club and we are in that process at the moment.”

Espanyol v. Wolves

Wolves rang up a four-goal advantage at the Molineux, and that may give Nuno Espirito Santo a chance to use his depth for a rare time this season.

The boss has counted on players like Conor Coady, Rui Patricio, and Raul Jimenez in all tournaments, and he admits that it’s worn on the squad.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve not suffered,” said Espirito Santo via Wolves’ site. “It’s been tough with a tight schedule, very demanding on the players and I think the credit is on them – the way they compete, the way they prepare themselves to compete, but it’s tough, very tough. … The credit is for the players, it’s for the staff, but the players buying, believing and working very hard, is what makes things go well.”

Look out for Diogo Jota if he plays; The Wolves star has five goals in his past two matches.

Thursday’s second legs

12:55 p.m. ET kickoffs
Istanbul Basaksehir (1-3) v. Sporting Lisbon
Gent (0-1) v. Roma
Malmo (1-2) v. Wolfsburg
LASK (1-1) v. AZ Alkmaar
Porto (1-2) v. Bayer Leverkusen
Espanyol (0-4) v. Wolves
Basel (3-0) v. APOEL Nicosia

3 p.m. ET
Manchester United (1-1) v. Club Brugge
Celtic (1-1) v. Copenhagen
Benfica (1-2) v. Shakhtar Donetsk
Red Bull Salzburg (1-4) v. Eintracht Frankfurt
Inter Milan (2-0) v. Ludogorets Razgrad
Ajax (0-2) v. Getafe
Sevilla (1-1) v. CFR Cluj
Arsenal (1-0) v. Olympiacos

Juventus ‘could tell something wasn’t switched on’ in Lyon

Juventus
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Juventus’ obsession with winning another European Cup has the club on edge after a 1-0 first leg loss to Lyon on Wednesday in the first leg of the Round of 16.

Stalwart defender Leonardo Bonucci, defender Danilo, and manager Maurizio Sarri were less than pleased with the performance.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Bonucci was spotted yelling at substitute midfielder Blaise Matuidi in warm-ups, and that was a prelude to a poor performance from most of the team.

“I didn’t tell Matuidi off, I told him the team includes those who are on the bench and we must all be ready to contribute,” Bonucci said, via Football-Italia. “I could tell something wasn’t switched on with the XI starters either. We’ve got to sort this out, as these are the things that make the difference.”

Sarri, the system man, is quite upset with his players after what he said was a lightning-fast training session on Tuesday.

“I don’t know why, I cannot get the players to understand the importance of moving the ball quickly,” said the flummoxed ex-Chelsea man. “This is fundamental, we’ll keep working on it and sooner or later this concept will get into their heads.”

Sarri was happier with the ball movement in the second half, and will expect Juve to do the same in its home second leg.

Danilo had a decent day in the loss. He didn’t sugar coat the performance.

“We cannot just gift the first half to the opposition in such an important tournament. We are aware that we did that and need to work harder,” Danilo said.