Championship Sunday preview: Title showdown on Premier League finale

Leave a comment

.

After 370 games, 266 days and over nine months of grueling action, the final day of the Premier League season is almost upon us.

On “Championship Sunday” the PL title is still on the line as Manchester City and Liverpool go for the ultimate prize in English soccer.

Man City know a win at home to West Ham will seal the title, regardless of what Liverpool do against Newcastle, however if City slip up then Liverpool can pounce to win their first league title in 24 years. Is there one more twist in the tale?

MORE: Premier League TV schedule set for “Championship Sunday”

Whatever happens, we have you covered for a stunning finale in the PL as this Sunday you can watch every single game live on NBC’s family of channels as the season ends with a bang. Before all the madness begins there will be a pre-match show will you can watch on CNBC from 9-10 a.m. ET. Then after all 10 games play out you can watch a special post-match show on NBC & NBCSN from 12-2 p.m. ET To round off “Championship Sunday” in style NBCSN will have also have a 30 minute special on whichever team wins the championship from 2:00-2:30 p.m. ET.

Below are details on where to watch the game, plus a brief preview on what’s at stake for each side. Relegation, European places, PL titles, there’s still a lot to decide. Make sure you don’t miss one last exhilarating matchday before one of the most exciting PL seasons in history  comes to an end.

Enjoy the finale.

Liverpool vs. Newcastle United – live on NBCSN, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

The home fans at Anfield were hoping for much more than this on the final day, as dreams of a title procession have been replaced by nightmares of what could’ve been. Steven Gerrard’s slip in the home defeat to Chelsea two weeks ago could well prove to be the pivotal moment, while that catastrophic collapse against Crystal Palace didn’t help matters. That said, if Liverpool beat a lackluster Newcastle team and City lose, Brendan Rodgers will have delivered the Reds’ first-ever PL title.

Manchester City vs. West Ham United – live on NBC, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

City are the champions elect and only need a point at home to West Ham to seal the title in Manuel Pellegrini’s first season in the PL. City only went back to the top of the standings earlier this week and have had to play catch up for the last month due to their schedule, yet they’ve been bang in form with four wins from their last five. Sergio Aguero is back fit and only a stubborn Hammers outfit stand in the way of the PL trophy being held aloft at the Etihad on the final day of the season. City’s fans are ready to rule Manchester again, are their players ready to deliver?

Southampton vs. Manchester United – live on SyFy, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

United’s nightmare is almost over, as they head to the South Coast to play Southampton on Sunday. If Ryan Giggs’ men win and Tottenham Hotspur lose to Aston Villa, the Red Devils will have the scant consolation of finishing in sixth place and qualifying for the Europa League. Saints have equaled their best ever PL finish of eighth and have accumulated a record number of points, so they will be no pushovers for the reigning champions, as Mauricio Pochettino has a talented young squad of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw et al.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa – live on USA, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Spurs boss Tim Sherwood looks likely to be taking charge of his final game as Tottenham boss and the Londoner will want to make sure they finish in the top six. Since Andre-Villas Boas was fired earlier this season Spurs have been up and down with many of their new signings underachieving massively. Can they pull out one more good performance for Sherwood against a Villa side just happy to be safe for another season? Spurs only need a point to guarantee top six spot and European soccer next season.

Cardiff City vs. Chelsea – live on CNBC, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Chelsea stuck in the title race almost until the end but in the last few weeks defeats to Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa has cost them dear. Jose Mourinho’s side are a work in progress but  came so close to reaching a UEFA Champions League final. They come up against a Cardiff team who are already relegated as eccentric Malaysian owner Vincent Tan has a lot to answer for after firing Malky Mackay. New boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer just couldn’t turn the ship around but can Cardiff shock Chelsea to finish the season in style?

Fulham vs. Crystal Palace – live on E!, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

A London derby down by the banks of the River Thames, as Fulham have also been relegated and Crystal Palace are all but set to finish in an impressive 11th place. When these two teams met in October Fulham won 4-1 and it was the end for old Palace boss Ian Holloway. Since new man Tony Pulis has arrived, he’s worked wonders and the Eagles have soared to safety and up the standings. No pressure on either side in this match when many thought it would be a relegation battle down to the wire.

Hull City vs. Everton – live on Bravo, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

The Tigers have one eye on the club’s first-ever FA Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley on May 17, as their PL season has petered out. Hull managed to stave off relegation and now their players have a chance to audition for the cup final when Everton roll into town. Roberto Martinez has had a superb first season in charge of the Toffees and has delivered European soccer for the first time since 2009 with a fifth placed finish guaranteed. They pushed Arsenal all the way for the top four, so can Everton’s silky attackers flourish one more time this season at the KC Stadium?

Norwich City vs. Arsenal – live on MSNBC, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Mathematically the Canaries are not relegated… but they might as well be. Three points from safety and a 17 goals worse off than West Brom above them they would need a bizarre set of results, and to beat Arsenal heavily at Carrow Road, to stand any chance of staying up. A poor season from the PL’s lowest scorers who fired Chris Hughton and never recovered. As for Arsenal, their focus is also on the FA Cup final as they search for their first piece of silverware in nine years. Arsene Wenger has delivered a top four spot again but they were top of the standings for so long. That blip after the festive period hit them hard.

Sunderland vs. Swansea City – live on Esquire, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Gus Poyet’s side have delivered a miracle in the final weeks of the season as the Black Cats looked dead and buried. Four wins on the spin to head into the final game has secured Sunderland’s safety as away wins at Chelsea and Manchester United have surprised everyone. Swansea are safe under young manager Garry Monk who took over midseason, as the shackles will be off and both teams aim to express themselves at the Stadium of Light.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Stoke City – live on Oxygen, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

As we mentioned, a mad swing in the goal differential could see the Baggies go down and Norwich stay up, but that isn’t going to happen. Stoke travel down the M6 having all but secured their first-ever top 10 finish in the PL, while West Brom are just grateful to be in the top-flight for another season. Two Midlands clubs will square off at the Hawthorns with both teams aiming to finish the campaign off on a high.

Who can Premier League clubs draw in Europa League?

Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Group winners Arsenal and Manchester United will avoid a loaded batch of seeded teams, while runners-up Wolves can draw a bevy of powerful teams in the Europa League Round of 32.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo can find himself drawn against former club Porto, but also could have to match wits with Ajax’s Erik ten Hag, Inter Milan’s Antonio Conte, or Red Bull Salzburg’s Jesse Marsch.

[ MORE: Man Utd pounds AZ ]

Speaking of Marsch, the Salzburg boss could go from meeting Liverpool to squaring off with Steven Gerrard and Rangers.

Gerrard could also, of course, go up against hated playing days’ rival Manchester United.

Seeded teams
Ajax
Arsenal
Basel
Benfica
Braga
Celtic
Espanyol
Gent
Inter Milan
Istanbul Basaksehir
LASK
Malmo
Manchester United
Porto
Red Bull Salzburg
Sevilla

Unseeded teams
APOEL Nicosia
AZ Alkmaar
Bayer Leverkusen
Club Brugge
Copenhagen
CFR Cluj
Eintracht Frankfurt
Ludogorets Razgrad
Olympiacos
Rangers
Roma
Wolfsburg
Wolves
Shakhtar Donetsk
Sporting Lisbon

Who can Premier League teams draw in the Round of 32?

Arsenal: APOEL Nicosia, AZ Alkmaar, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge, Copenhagen, CFR Cluj, Ludogorets Razgrad, Olympiacos, Rangers, Roma, Wolfsburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sporting Lisbon

Manchester United: APOEL Nicosia, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge, Copenhagen, CFR Cluj, Eintracht Frankfurt, Ludogorets Razgrad, Olympiacos, Rangers, Roma, Wolfsburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sporting Lisbon

Wolves: Ajax, Basel, Benfica, Celtic, Espanyol, Gent, Inter Milan, Istanbul Basaksehir, LASK, Malmo, Porto, Red Bull Salzburg, Sevilla

Four-star Manchester United wins Europa League group

Manchester United Mata Greenwood
Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester United is in fine feather and showing it, smashing AZ Alkmaar in a stylish 4-0 win at Old Trafford in Europa League play on Thursday.

Juan Mata had a goal and set up two others, while Mason Greenwood scored twice after Ashley Young opened the scoring in a group-claiming victory.

[ MORE: Saka leads Arsenal comeback ]

United wins the group with 13 points, conceding just twice in six matches.

The Red Devils have won three-straight matches, as AZ joins Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in the loss column. Up next is a Sunday visit from Everton in the Premier League before Wednesday’s League Cup quarterfinal visit from Colchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed starts to James Garner, Brandon Williams, and Axel Tuanzebe, bringing youngsters Ethan Laird and Tahith Chong off the bench.

Greenwood, 18, now has six goals in 22 senior appearances, while Mata, 31, gets on the score sheet for the first time this season.

For his career, the award-winning Spaniard is doing okay, though: 125 goals and 149 assists in 542 senior appearances.

Ljungberg hails ‘amazing’ teen Saka after game-changing performance

Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal phenom Bukayo Saka‘s big day spurred the Gunners to a top seed in the Europa League knockout rounds.

Arsenal went behind on two deflected goals in the second half’s first 25 minutes, but Saka answered with a goal and an assist in three minutes to take a point from Belgium in a 2-2 draw at Standard Liege.

[ RECAP, VIDEO: Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal ]

Saka was at the heart of it of all good things Arsenal, the 18-year-old handed plenty of responsibility. despite his tender age.

“He was amazing,” said interim manager Freddie Ljungberg. “He was a bit upset with me before the game that he had to play wing-back and full-back. He’s a tremendous talent.”

Saka had four key passes to go with his goal and assist, winning six of eight duels while producing two tackles and an interception.

Ljungberg said Arsenal hasn’t sent its young players on loan enough, though that hardly applies to Saka given he was 17 until September.

The injured Gunners used Konstantinos Mavropanos, Emile Smith-Rowe, Joe Willock, and Reiss Nelson in the Starting XI, and brought Gabriel Martinelli off the bench.

“I feel sorry for our young players,” he said. “A lot of them haven’t been on loan, they’ve not had that exposure to men’s football. Some of them made mistakes but they’ll learn from those mistakes and won’t do them again.”

Smith-Rowe was loaned to RB Leipzig last season and Nelson starred on loan at Hoffenheim. Mavropanos played first team football for Greek Super League side PAS Giannina in his late teens.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Arsenal uses thrilling comeback to win Europa League group

Leave a comment

Nothing Arsenal-related is allowed to be easy, it seems.

The Gunners used a goal and an assist from Bukayo Saka to come back from a two-goal deficit and draw Standard Liege 2-2 in Belgium on Thursday, winning its Europa League group when Vitoria came back to beat Eintracht Frankfurt on a wild afternoon of soccer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Arsenal trailed on second half goals from Samuel Bastien and Selim Amallah, but rallied behind Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette to score a second-straight win for interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.

Saka sent in a laser cross in the 78th minute and Lacazette did quite well to power it under the bar.

He’s loving this competition, having made a serious entrance earlier in the tournament versus Eintracht Frankfurt. The 18-year-old now has two goals and five assists across all competitions this season.

The Gunners needed just three more minutes to tie the score on a day they outshot the hosts 15-11.

Saka showed his nose for goal to tie the score five minutes later with a dribble to the top of the 18 and a sly finish to the keeper’s left.

This was all happening around the same time Vitoria scored twice in three minutes to take a 3-2 lead on Eintracht Frankfurt.

Standard Liege goes from the knockout rounds to nothing in a blink, while Eintracht goes from winning the group to second.

The field for the Europa League is looking fierce, with Inter Milan, Benfica, Ajax, Club Brugge, Olympiacos, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, and Red Bull Salzburg joining the competition via transfer from the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.