Premier League Sunday Preview: Tottenham host Liverpool, Arsenal face Leicester

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After we saw one of the best Saturday’s in recent memory, Sunday’s action has a lot to live up to.

There are three superb matches, so, fingers crossed.

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Spurs and Liverpool will clash at White Hart Lane as Mario Balotelli could make his debut, Brad Guzan’s Aston Villa host Hull City, plus Arsenal face a tricky trip to Leicester City. There’s the potential for plenty more goals and drama.

You can watch all three games online via NBC Sports Live Extra, click here or the link above. Right now, here’s a glance at all three games taking place on Sunday.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool – 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Spurs have won two from two to kick off the Mauricio Pochettino era in style at White Hart Lane. However, this game will be their biggest test of the new season as Brendan Rodgers brings his Liverpool side to town, with new boy Balotelli set to make his debut for the Reds. Spurs have qualified for the Europa League knockout stages and are targeting a top four finish, while Liverpool were drawn alongside Real Madrid in the Champions League group stages this week and want to challenge for the title again. All the hype around this one surrounds ‘Super Mario’ starting his Liverpool career. Can he get off to a flier alongside Daniel Sturridge? Tottenham’s defense will have their hands full but will be out for revenge after they were pummeled 5-0 at home and 4-0 away by Liverpool last season. Can Spurs make it three wins from three? Or will Liverpool bounce back from their defeat to Manchester City last Monday? A pulsating clash awaits in North London.

source: AP
Can Arsenal kick on and cap a fine week with a win at Leicester?

Aston Villa vs. Hull City – 8:30 a.m. ET on Premier League Extratime

U.S. ‘keeper Brad Guzan is looking to make it three shutouts in a row to start the season, as Villa welcome Hull to the Midlands. Paul Lambert and his new assistant manager, Roy Keane, have turned Villa into a very tough team to beat and after Hull’s midweek disappointment of missing out on the Europa League group stages on away goals, Steve Bruce needs to pick his players up. Quickly. Both sides have four points from their opening games of the season and this should be a scrappy, brutal and rambunctious affair. One superb play or one mistake is likely to settle this tight encounter. Villa midfielder Fabian Delph was called up to the England squad for the first time this week. Can he cap his week off in style by leading the Villans to victory?

Leicester City vs. Arsenal – 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The Gunners have had a hectic last two weeks after sealing qualification to the UEFA Champions League group stage, plus two breathless PL games against Crystal Palace and Everton to start the season. Arsene Wenger’s men have snatched points late on in both their games, with four points on the board. The big focus was on getting past Besiktas to bag a cash windfall for the club, which they’ve now done, but Wenger is without Olivier Giroud until January following the Frenchman’s ankle injury. Leicester City have had a decent start to life back in the PL for the first time in a decade. The Foxes drew 2-2 with Everton on the opening day, then pushed Chelsea all the way at Stamford Bridge in a 2-0 defeat. Nigel Pearson’s side also signed Argentine legend Esteban Cambiasso this week, as the former Inter Milan midfielder arrived on a free transfer. What a coup for the Foxes. Can they stun an injury-hit and worn out Arsenal at the King Power Stadium?

Japan upsets ten-man Colombia in Group H opener

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On paper, the 61st-ranked team in the world beating the 16th-ranked team in the world is a massive upset. But considering the circumstances within the game, perhaps this wasn’t an upset after all.

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Two set pieces were the difference as Japan defeated ten-man Colombia, 2-1 on Tuesday morning in Saransk. Colombia played with ten men for nearly the entire match, after Carlos Sanchez was sent off for a handball in the box and a denial of a goal scoring opportunity.

The game took a massive turn in the third minute, as Colombia centerback Davinson Sanchez failed to control a pass and Yuya Osako found himself free on goal. His shot was parried away by Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina but Kagawa’s rebound shot was clearly blocked by Sanchez’s right arm. The referee, Damir Skomina immediately pointed to the penalty spot and went to the back pocket, sending Sanchez to the showers.

Kagawa stepped up and cooly sent Ospina the wrong way to put Japan on top.

Late in the first half, after both teams had chances on target, Colombia came back and evened the scoreline.

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Juan Fernando Quintero, starting in place of the recovering James Rodriguez, smartly took a free kick and fired it low, under the wall as it jumped. Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima reacted late and although he arrived as the ball was crossing the line, he couldn’t keep it from going over, tying the game in the 39th minute.

Ultimately, despite its efforts, Colombia began to tire and on a corner kick, the Blue Samurai took back the lead and control of their destiny in Group H. A corner kick from Keisuke Honda was re-directed past Ospina by Osako, who jumped well over Santiago Arias, to give Japan a 2-1 lead in the 75th minute.

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Rodriguez was introduced in the 57th minute but try as he did, Colombia was unable to find the final pass in the box, and Japan held on for the unexpected victory.

With the win, Japan top Group H ahead of a meeting with Senegal, while Colombia will have to regroup to face Poland.

In a World Cup full of unexpected results, Tuesday brought yet another memorable win for an underdog.

New Zealand women footballers rebel against national coach

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) Only weeks after New Zealand Football made headlines by signing a revolutionary equal pay deal with its female players, the organization is facing a mutiny by members of its women’s team against the national coach.

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New Zealand Football confirmed on Tuesday it had received a letter signed by a number of New Zealand players complaining about the methods and tactics employed by Austria-born coach Andreas Heraf.

The complaints follow the New Zealand team’s recent 3-1 loss at home to Japan. Heraf angered his players, and fans of the Football Ferns national team, by taking an entirely defensive game plan into the rare home international.

Heraf then further angered his players with comments defending his approach.

He said there was “a big difference in quality” between the New Zealand and Japanese players and that New Zealand “will never have that quality” to compete with top teams like Japan. He said the scoreline might have been 8-0 if New Zealand had not adopted a defensive approach.

One of New Zealand’s leading players, United States-based Abby Erceg, retired after playing 132 matches for New Zealand, citing Heraf’s approach in previous international matches.

She later told New Zealand media: “I couldn’t stand to wear that (national symbol) on my chest any more when his vision was to cower in a corner and not get beat by too much.”

New Zealand Football defended Heraf against the media and public criticism but admitted his comments were “strange” and “wrong” and did not accurately reflect his views. Heraf later apologized and said he had not expressed himself clearly.

But efforts to dampen the controversy have failed. New Zealand Football said in a statement it had “received a letter from the NZ Professional Footballers Association (NZPFA) last night with a number of complaints from the players of the Football Ferns.”

The mutiny comes only weeks after New Zealand gained international headlines for a deal which gives female pay parity with their male counterparts.

New Zealand Football signed the deal which provided female players with equal match payments, travel arrangements and prize money.

At the time, New Zealand women’s captain Ali Riley said the deal meant New Zealand would “be able to compete against the top teams, to be able to do well at a World Cup and the Olympics – this is what we needed.”

VIDEO: Colombia sees red, Japan takes early lead

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The first red card of the World Cup came just moments after fans took their seats in Saransk.

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After David Ospina blocked a breakaway opportunity from Yuya Osako in the third minute of the match, Japan star and former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa fired the rebound on goal. But his shot was blocked by the arm of Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez, which earned him a straight red card from referee Damir Skomina and an early trip to the locker room.

Kagawa then stepped up to the spot and calmly sent Ospina the wrong way to give Japan the shock early lead.

Colombia will play the rest of the match with ten men and no James Rodriguez, who was named to the bench for this match as he recovers from a reported calf injury.

Rodriguez out of Colombia starting XI

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Taking a page out of Egypt’s book, Colombia will be without its talismanic playmaker for its first match, Tuesday morning against Japan.

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Juan Fernando Quintero replaced James Rodriguez in Colombia’s starting Xi to take on Japan in Saransk as Colombia coach Jose Pekerman clearly hopes a few extra days of recovery for the injured Rodriguez will help him return to 100 percent fitness. Rodriguez is battling a reported calf injury.

Rodriguez scored six goals and had two assists in five games at the last World Cup in Brazil, helping guide Los Cafeteros to their first World Cup quarterfinals appearance.