Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures are chock full of title and top-four implications, with three sides — Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool — harboring dreams of the top-four, or higher, in action. Their respective opponents, meanwhile, are thinking to themselves, “Let’s just not get relegated, please.”
[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]
Aston Villa vs. Arsenal — 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
Can Arsenal really challenge for and/or win the title? How much longer can Villa go without winning a game? “Yes” and “a really long time” appear to be the answers to the above questions. The Gunners enter Sunday’s showdown at Villa Park third in the league table, just two points back of leaders Manchester City and Leicester City, while Villa haven’t won a league game since the opening day of the season (that’s 14 games winless) and sit rock bottom of the league, eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Despite Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League triumph to complete the “greatest escape” from the group stage, Arsenal are far from their very best at the moment: Alexis Sanchez (hamstring), Santi Cazorla (knee), Francis Coquelin (knee), Jack Wilshere (leg), Mikel Arteta (calf), Danny Welbeck (knee) and Tomas Rosicky (knee) will all miss out through injury. For Villa, the injury news is somewhat encouraging — Micah Richards (knee) should be the only player of real consequence to be missing on Sunday — but the form remains dreadful, with just a single point to show for Remi Garde’s first three games in charge. Arsenal are unbeaten against Villa in their last four meetings (all competitions) with a staggering 14-1 advantage in goals scored.
Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
Liverpool have won just 11 of 21 possible points since Jurgen Klopp made his PL debut on Oct. 17 (they won 12 points from the first eight games, under Brendan Rodgers), which leaves the Reds only just inside the top half of the table, 10th, six points off the pace of Manchester United, who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League place. As for West Brom, they’re there. Currently sitting 13th in the league, they’re six points clear of the relegation zone, capable of finishing anywhere between ninth and 16th at the end of the season.
On the injury front, the Reds are once again without striker Daniel Sturridge, who suffered a hamstring injury last week. Elsewhere, Jordan Ibe (illness) and Mamadou Sakho (knee) will both be game-time decisions on Sunday. For West Brom, Stephane Sessegnon (hamstring) will be unavailable, as will Ben Foster, who’s still recovering from last season’s knee surgery. Liverpool have won two of their last five league meetings with West Brom, which also includes two draws and one win for the Baggies.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Newcastle United — 11 a.m. ET, on Live Extra
All Tottenham have to do to leapfrog Man United for the fourth spot is beat 18th-place Newcastle United. Easy, right? Perhaps not, given a recent uptick in form by the Magpies (two wins in their last four games, including a 2-0 victory over Liverpool last week). For Spurs, avoiding defeat on Sunday would mean their unbeaten run goes on and is extended to 15 games. No team in the PL has drawn as many games as Spurs (8). In fact, only two sides have drawn six times this season.
Clinton Njie and Mousa Dembele (foot) have both been ruled out for Spurs, as has Ryan Mason (ankle), who missed last week’s draw away to West Brom. For Newcastle, the injury list is long: Tim Krul (knee) is out for the season, while Steven Taylor (hamstring), Emmanuel Riviere (knee), Gabriel Obertan (hamstring), Massadio Haidara (knee) and Rolando Aarons (foot) are all out. Mike Williamson and Jamaal Lascelles could each return after missing last week’s victory with hamstring injuries. Newcastle won away to Spurs last season before being hammered, 4-0, at White Hart Lane in the League Cup two months later.