Premier League Preview: Title, Champions League races in focus in Sunday derbies

Leave a comment

Two rivalries among the most heated in English soccer take center stage on Sunday, with the Premier League’s title and Champions League races serving as subtext for what would be a standout day under any circumstances. Thanks to Chelsea’s stumble at Villa Park, however, both Liverpool and Arsenal have a chance to give their title hopes a major boost, should they come away with victories in Sunday’s derbies.

At 8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN begins Premier League Sunday with coverage of the seasons’ third Manchester United-Liverpool derby. In the day’s second match (11:30 a.m. ET), Tottenham looks to recovery from a disastrous week against Arsenal, who hope to add to their rivals’ misery with a win at White Hart Lane.

With a win in Sunday’s early game, the Reds will move into second in the Premier League, only four points behind Chelsea while holding a game in hand. Win at White Hart Lane, and Arsenal will do the same, with their uneven winter potentially put behind them with a victory over Tim Sherwood’s Spurs.

For Tottenham, three points could revitalize their hopes of claiming a top-four spot, moving Spurs within three of Arsenal. While their rivals will still have a game in hand, a three-point gap would leave Tottenham one Arsenal slump away from reclaiming a Champions League spot.

And if Spurs get some help from Manchester United? They’ll be in position to take advantage of stumbles from either Arsenal or Liverpool.

Here’s more on the teams ahead of Sunday’s big doubleheader:

source: APManchester United vs. Liverpool (live, 8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN)

How Liverpool sets up will speak to the level of respect Brendan Rodgers has for this Manchester United team. Given the Red Devils’ problems in the middle, Rodgers could elect to put Phillipe Countinho in his starting XI, choosing a more attacking team against their seventh place hosts. A more reverential view might see Joe Allen start, with Liverpool electing to go with three in the middle at Old Trafford.

Manchester United will be without Jonny Evans, Javier Hernández, Nani, and Rafael De Silva, while Liverpool’s only major absence will be fullback José Enrique.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal (live, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN)

A Spurs team coming off 4-0 and 3-1 losses will be without its first choice center halves, with Vlad Chiriches and Michael Dawson both out until later this month. That means Jan Vertonghen will move inside, making Danny Rose the likely starter at left back.

Spurs’ injury problems are minor compared to Arsenal’s, though, with the Gunners expected to be without Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott. Arsenal’s depth in the middle means it can still put out a capable midfield, but with Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, and Alex Oxlade-Chmberlain expected to start behind Olivier Giroud, Arsenal won’t be at full strength.

If form truly goes out the window in derbies, Tottenham could deal a major blow to Arsenal’s title hopes. If recent results are any indication of future performance, the Gunners can find success Sunday at White Hart Lane.

World Cup’s only black coach says there should be more

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) — The only black coach at this year’s World Cup says there is a need for more in soccer.

“In European countries, in major clubs, you see lots of African players. Now we need African coaches for our continent to go ahead,” Senegal’s Aliou Cisse said through a translator on Monday, a day ahead of his nation’s World Cup opener against Poland.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The percentage of black players at this year’s tournament and with clubs in the world’s top leagues is far higher.

Cisse was captain of Senegal when it reached the 2002 quarterfinals in the nation’s only previous World Cup appearance.

“I am the only black coach in this World Cup. That is true,” Cisse said. “But really these are debates that disturb me. I think that football is a universal sport and that the color of your skin is of very little importance.”

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cisse cited Florent Ibenge, the coach of Congo’s national team, as a sign of progress.

“I think we have a new generation that is working, that is doing its utmost, and beyond being good players with a past of professional footballers,” Cisse said. “We are very good in our tactics, and we have the right to be part of the top international coaches.”

Africa’s best performance at the World Cup has been to reach the quarterfinals, accomplished by Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“I have the certainty that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup,” Cisse said. “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We have realities that are not there in other continents, but I think that the African continent is full of qualities. We are on the way, and I’m sure that Senegal, Nigeria or other African countries will be able win, just like Brazil, Germany or other European countries.”

A lack of minority managers also has been documented at the club level. The Sports People’s Think Tank said in November there were just three minority managers among the 92 English professional clubs as of Sept. 1.

World Cup: Saudi team safe after plane caught fire mid-flight

Photo credit: @SaudiNT
Leave a comment

The Saudi Arabian national team arrived alive and well in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Monday after a terrifying incident that saw their plane catch fire in the air.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The blaze was caused by “a technical failure in one of the airplane engines,” which the airline, Rossiya, claims was caused by a bird flying into the engine. Each of the planes engines were reportedly in operation upon landing at its final destination.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation posted a message on Twitter later on Monday, saying they “would like to reassure everyone that all the Saudi national team players are safe, after a technical failure in one of the airplane engines that has just landed in Rostov-on-Don airport, and now they’re heading to their residence safely.”

The Green Falcons will face Uruguay in Rostov, hoping to rebound from their tournament-opening 5-0 loss to Russia on Thursday, in each side’s second game of Group A action on Wednesday (11 a.m. ET).

Seismologists clarify Mexico fans didn’t cause earthquake

Photo by Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images
Leave a comment

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s National Seismological Service says there was seismic activity around the country’s capital Sunday, but it wasn’t linked to soccer fans celebrating their country’s game-winning goal vs. Germany at the World Cup.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The service says in a report that there were two small earthquakes at 10:24 a.m. and 12:01 p.m. The goal came around 11:35 a.m. local time.

A geological institute reported Sunday that seismic detectors had registered a false earthquake that may have been generated by “massive jumps” by fans.

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

Mexico’s Seismological Service explained Monday that the city’s normal bustle of traffic and other movement causes vibrations that are detected by sensitive instruments.

It says those vibrations notably quieted during the match as people gathered in front of TVs to watch, and rose after the goal.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 6 — Colombia vs. Japan; Salah’s debut?

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Day 6 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Tuesday — and would you believe it? — there’s another three games on the schedule. This whole “back-to-back-to-back games of soccer” thing isn’t so bad.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Up first, it’s the 2018 debut of Colombia, winners of tens hundreds of millions of hearts in 2014, as they take on Japan. In the day’s other Group H fixture, it’ll be Robert Lewandowski and Poland facing Sadio Mane and Senegal. Star power aplenty.

Then, we swing things back around to Group A, where the hosts Russia will look to continue their hot start against Egypt with Mohamed Salah expected to make his World Cup debut.

Below is Tuesday’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 – Tuesday, June 19

Group H
Colombia vs. Japan: Saransk, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Poland vs. Senegal: Moscow, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group A
Russia vs. Egypt: St. Petersburg, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE