Premier League Roundup: Chelsea, Man United, Tottenham and West Ham all win

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On another dramatic day of Premier League action, we had a dazzling set of matches around the PL on Saturday in Week 21.

The big boys excelled, as Manchester United beat Swansea, Chelsea eased to victory away at Hull, Tottenham labored to all three points over Palace and Everton easily dispatched Norwich.

Aside from routine wins for the big boys, West Ham and Sunderland both picked up massive wins on the road against Cardiff City and Fulham respectively. Those basement boys badly needed a win as the relegation battle is heating up wonderfully, as plenty more teams have been sucked into the battle to survive.

MORE: Latest Premier League Standings

We have an action packed slate of matches coming your way on Sunday, so make sure you stay tuned to NBC Sports Network.

But right now, let’s run the rule over the seven PL games that took place on Saturday. Here are all the recaps, analysis and video highlights to unravel at your leisure.

Let’s get to it.

Cardiff City 0-2 West Ham United

There’s big wins… and then there’s this. A truly monumental victory for the Hammers, as Big Sam can breath a little easier tonight as West Ham scored in each half to bag a 2-0 win. Carlton Cole opened the scoring and a late Mark Noble strike compounded new Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer to defeat on his managerial debut in the PL.

Everton 2-0 Norwich City

The Toffees continue their impressive form as they sit fourth and are now just five points off leaders Arsenal. A stunning long-range effort from Gareth Barry in the first half opened the scoring, then Kevin Mirallas curled in a beautiful free kick to make it 2-0. The Canaries were well off the pace as Chris Hughton’s side sit perilously close to the relegation zone.

Fulham 1-4 Sunderland

Adam Johnson was the man of the moment for the Black Cats, as the tricky winger scored a hat trick at Craven Cottage to help Sunderland to their biggest win of the season. Sunderland raced into a 2-0 lead as Johnson and Ki scored in the first  half, Steve Sidwell pulled one back for Fulham (who had USMNT captain Clint Dempsey playing his first PL game since May 2013) to make it interesting but Johnson scored two more to seal a massive win for the Mackems.

Hull City 0-2 Chelsea

A composed and clinical display from Jose Mourinho’s side, as second half goals from Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres finished off a lively yet one-dimensional Hull City. Chelsea are top of the PL, with an easy victory proving just how solid they are as the Tigers never really looked like scoring.

Manchester United 2-0 Swansea City

Exhale… United fans. After losing three-straight games for the first time since 2001 to start off 2014, David Moyes’ men were back to winning ways with a relatively comfortable victory over Swansea at Old Trafford. In a nervy first half both teams cancelled each other out, but after the break strikes from Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck put United 2-0 up. The Red Devils were rampant and could’ve extended their lead, but the three points were the most important thing.

Southampton 1-0 West Bromwich Albion

The Saints huffed and puffed the entire game and finally broke through in the second half thanks to a delightful Adam Lallana strike. In the 66th minute the England international latched onto a fine reverse pass from Uruguayan Gaston Ramirez and finished superbly. Shane Long was stopped by Artur Boruc late on but the Baggies didn’t really deserve anything.

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Crystal Palace

Spurs struggled for most of the opening stages of this game, as Crystal Palace bossed the first half and Jason Puncheon missed a penalty with perhaps one of the worst PKs ever taken… No joke. A fired up Tottenham came out in the second half, as a verbal volley from Tim Sherwood got them going. Christian Eriksen opened the scoring with a blaster at the near post, then Toronto FC bound Jermain Defoe grabbed the second with a typically clinical finish. Spurs unbeaten in five and sit fifth in the league. AVB who?

England squad reconnects with fans with image makeover

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VOLGOGRAD, England (AP) — Whatever happens to England at the World Cup, at least the reception facing the squad should be less brutal than it was in 2014 after its exit following the group stage.’

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For once, the players can’t be accused of hiding away, retreating behind their headphones. The hallmark of England’s preparations for Russia has been shedding the past reticence to engage with the public, a calculated move by the team leadership to reconnect with a public disaffected by years of failure at tournaments and uninspiring performances.

“They appear more relaxed. They appear more normal,” supporter Gavin Hughes said, overlooking the Volgograd Arena where England opens its World Cup campaign against Tunisia on Monday. “They appear human. They are just lads playing football at the end of the day. That’s been the problem in the past. There’s more of a togetherness.”

A defining clip of the 2010 World Cup was Wayne Rooney bellowing down the barrel of a camera after a 0-0 draw with Algeria: “Nice to see your home fans booing you, that’s what loyal support is.”

That disconnect with the public has been bridged by the 23-man squad facing the media in a 45-minute, Super Bowl-style session before leaving for Russia. The English Football Association’s approach is in a marked contrast to club duty where they are largely closeted away, save for appearances with paying broadcasters or often in controlled appearances.

[ MORE: Where to watch Monday’s games, feat. England and Belgium ]

“We’ve done a lot for the fans on social media so they can see what we are up to, which has not always been the case,” captain Harry Kane said Sunday. “It’s important while we have free time is to try to let the fans know what we are up to.”

The public is seeing a new side of the players. Not only are they more relatable but painted in a more sympathetic light, beyond the caricatures of millionaire mercenaries just chasing more money.

“That connection with the supporters is really important,” coach Gareth Southgate said. “There have been perceptions about our players for a long time … so it’s been really good for our public to see how much it means to the players to play, to see a different side of their personality.”

In a move unthinkable in years gone by, when a since-departed FA official blocked Rooney talking about his Christianity, defender Danny Rose recently opened up on his problems dealing with depression. Publicly praised by Prince William for raising awareness of health issues, Rose realizes how players can use their new platform to show their human side and inspire others.

“A lot of people messaged me to say thank you, that they know someone who is going through this or has been through that and that I’ve helped them and given them the confidence to express themselves,” Rose said. “We have a lot of down time and I’m going to think of something to help others when I get back. I’ve got time to think while I’m here and when I get back from the World Cup about how I can go forward and help people.”

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It’s not just about the players feeding a voracious traveling media pack with material. Kieran Trippier, who is also Rose’s club teammate at Tottenham, told the left back he appeared no longer burdened by a private plight in England’s last World Cup warm-up game.

“I was playing with a bit of freedom,” Rose said of the victory against Costa Rica. “I think he’s got a point.”

Southgate is credited with encouraging the warmer environment, far removed from the controlling regimes under Fabio Capello and Gary Neville, who was Roy Hodgson’s assistant for the dismal 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championship last-16 humbling to Iceland. A bemusing, running theme in the British papers at Euro 2016 in France was the players’ refusal to divulge any details of a darts tournament. The squad has been overhauled by Southgate and it has even been playing darts with the media at the World Cup base near St. Petersburg.

Southgate has been playing his part, going to fan forums in the buildup to the tournament to recognize the commitment and cost involved watching England abroad.

“Sometimes those really good people who follow us are overlooked at the expense of some who have caused problems in the past,” Southgate said.

Ultimately, results dictate the public mood and England hasn’t won a knockout game at any tournament since 2006.

“It’s about how we perform,” Southgate said, “but there’s a bigger picture.”

WATCH: World Cup, Day 5 — England, Belgium enter the fray

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The weekend might be all but over, but that doesn’t mean that 2018 World Cup action is slowing down anytime soon.

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Monday, in fact, will be quite the opposite, as Group G giants — and a pair of popular dark horse picks — Belgium and England make their debut in Russia, taking on Panama and Tunisia, respectively.

Following Germany’s 1-0 loss to Mexico on Sunday, Group F is currently turned upside down on its head. Sweden and South Korea, who’ll face off in the day’s opener, are even more hopeful now than prior to the start of the tournament.

Below is Monday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Monday, June 18

Group F
Sweden vs. South Korea: Nizhny Novgorod, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group G
Belgium vs. Panama: Sochi, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Tunisia vs. England: Volgograd, 2 p.m. ET –LIVE COVERAGE

Petkovic: Time to “take Switzerland seriously” after Brazil draw

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While much of the talk about Sunday’s 1-1 draw between Brazil and Switzerland will focus on the former, the Swiss would like their share of credit for frustrating — and matching — one of a handful of favorites to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic is chief among those who believe it’s time those on the outside “start taking notice of us and taking us seriously.” As for the insinuations that his side roughed up Neymar, who suffered 10 of the 19 fouls committed by Switzerland, most of them were “very clean” — quotes from the BBC:

“Sometimes if there is a lack of recognition that is a pity because we have played very well. We showed and demonstrated that this team always believes in itself and can achieve results.

“Most of the duels (with Neymar) were won in a very clean way. It was one of the key ingredients to neutralize Neymar.”

“I’m very proud and pleased with the discipline with the way we played. We worked collectively and cohesively.”

“When we are able to play forward and press higher up we were able to do it well and it is an excellent starting position for the rest of our group matches.

“We had real difficulties in the first 40 minutes, I said ‘let’s remain calm, focused and believe in ourselves, push up higher up the pitch and create opportunities to score.'”

Having secured a point in far and away their toughest group game, Switzerland now have eminently winnable games against Serbia (Friday) and Costa Rica (Wednesday, June 27) remaining. Four points from those two games would just about guarantee progression to the knockout rounds.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 2

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Layla Anna-Lee has a new show and, well, it’s unbiased. At least occasionally…

In the second episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, Layla Anna-Lee looks at the best moments from the first set of matches in the 2018 World Cup.

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There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.