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PL Sunday preview: Liverpool to visit Watford; Swansea-West Ham

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Less than 48 hours until the big one — Arsenal versus Manchester City, on Monday. But first comes Sunday with a pair of Premier League fixtures featuring a trio of teams currently dreaming of a top-four finish this season.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]

Watford, West Ham United and Liverpool could all go, or stay, as high as 7th in the PL table, while a win would catapult Swansea City out of the relegation zone and back into safety.

Watford vs. Liverpool — 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

Liverpool are the obvious top-four dreamers set to take the field at Vicarage Road on Sunday, but let’s not forget about newly promoted Watford, who you’ll be thoroughly shocked to realize currently sit seventh in the PL, two spots and a point ahead of the Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds. The Hornets have won three straight league games ahead of Sunday’s clash, which makes them the third-most in-form side (Leicester City and Crystal Palace, obviously) in the league over the last month. Meanwhile, Liverpool are winless in their last two (Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion) after winning two in a row (Manchester City and Swansea City).

The injury list remains quite long for Klopp’s side, which will once again be without Daniel Sturridge (hamstring), James Milner (calf), Dejan Lovren (knee), Danny Ings (knee), Joe Gomez (knee) and, perhaps, Mamadou Sakho (knee). Meanwhile, Watford are mostly healthy, with their only two players listed with injuries, Valon Behrami (calf) and Sebastian Prodl (calf), hoping to return to the side on Sunday. Liverpool and Watford haven’t played in the league since 2007, when the Reds won 3-0 away from home. The last time Watford beat Liverpool in the league, the year was 1999 (four PL meetings ago).

[ MORE: Chelsea win after firing Mourinho | Man United lose to Norwich, at home ]

Swansea City vs. West Ham United — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

The side that separates Watford and Liverpool in the table, West Ham, is away to a struggling, manager-less Swansea City side on Sunday. Since Garry Monk was fired, the Swans have slipped into the relegation zone, where they currently sit 17th in the league, three points from safety. Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins has since said the club “will not rush” to appoint a new manager. The Hammers sit 8th in the league, just four points behind Tottenham Hotspur for fourth. Slaven Bilic‘s side is winless in its last six league games (four draws, two losses), a run which has dropped them from the top-three to very nearly mid-table.

On the injury front, Swansea will likely be without midfielder Jonjo Shelvey (calf), who was injured in training this week. For West Ham, the once-potent attacking quartet of Dimitri Payet (ankle), Manuel Lanzini (thigh), Victor Moses (hamstring) and Diafra Sakho (thigh) will be missing once again, as will defender Winston Reid (hamstring). The two sides drew 1-1 in this fixture last season, and West Ham are unbeaten in five PL meetings with Swansea, having last lost in 2012, 3-0, at the Liberty Stadium, site of Sunday’s clash.

Italy women’s team awarded for ’emancipating’ female game

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ROME (AP) The Italy women’s national soccer team was awarded the Foreign Press Association’s Invictus award Monday for promoting and “emancipating” the female game in the country with its run to the World Cup quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Head coach Milena Bertolini and forward Barbara Bonansea were given the award during a ceremony at the Rome-based association.

With soccer dominated by men in Italy and few opportunities for girls, Bertolini recounted how she had to dress up as a boy to play as a kid.

“Now things are changing, thanks to the Italian federation’s school programs,” Bertolini said.

Bertolini and Bonansea lamented that female players are still not considered professionals and therefore are not permitted to earn more than $33,500 per year by Italian law.

“It’s not about the money, it’s a question of rights,” said Bonansea, who also plays for Italian champion Juventus.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

While Italy’s men’s team is a four-time World Cup champion, the women had not played in a World Cup for two decades and entered as a prohibitive underdog during its opening match against Australia in France in June. But the Azzurre came back from a goal down for a 2-1 win courtesy of Bonansea’s two scores , with her second coming in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

“That goal shaped our World Cup, both in terms of results and in terms of promoting women’s soccer in Italy,” Bertolini said. “The strong emotions on the field were transmitted to everyone who was watching. I still get goosebumps now just thinking about that goal.”

The Azzurre went on to win their group then beat China in the first knockout round before losing to eventual finalist the Netherlands.

In a country of 60 million people, a total of more than 20 million spectators watched Italy’s five matches on RAI state TV, setting audience records for women’s soccer game after game.

The Invictus award is dedicated to “promoting the positive effects of sports in terms of integration and emancipation by the vulnerable sections of society.”

UCL preview: Spurs desperate for a win; Man City host Atalanta

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By the end of the week, we’ll be at the halfway point of the UEFA Champions League group stage, and while some Premier League clubs (Manchester City and Liverpool) are currently in rather strong positions, a couple others (Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea) have some serious work to do to rescue their respective campaigns.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Tottenham’s start to the group stage has gone about as poorly as it could have done, considering the positions in which they’ve found themselves early in games. Going from 2-0 up to a 2-2 draw away to Olympiacos was bad enough, but going from 1-0 up to a 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich was the real demoralizer.

Now, last year’s UCL runners-up find themselves third in the group with just one point. However, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is set for a back-to-back home-and-away with (presumed) doormat Red Star Belgrade, beginning Tuesday when the Serbian side visits the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Spurs will continue to be without goalkeeper Hugo Lloris following his dislocated elbow, while midfielders Christian Eriksen and Giovani Lo Celso are back in full training and expected to be available for selection. Tanguay Ndombele was only involved as a second-half sub during Spurs’ draw with last-place Watford over the weekend, so he is likely to return to the starting lineup.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

Man City, meanwhile, are coming off a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace and feeling a renewed sense of PL title contention after Liverpool dropped their first points of the season. While a domestic three-peat is undoubtedly high on the list of priorities for Pep Guardiola‘s side, it’s probably safe to assume that breaking though in the UCL is the main objective for 2019-20. Since Guardiola took over at the Etihad Stadium, City have reached the quarterfinals twice and the round of 16 once. Under the direction of Manuel Pellegrini, City reached the semifinals the season before Guardiola’s arrival.

Outside of long-term knees injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane, City have a clean bill of health.

Tuesday’s full UEFA Champions League schedule

Atletico Madrid v. Bayer Leverkusen — 12:55 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Dinamo Zagreb — 12:55 p.m. ET

Tottenham Hotspur v. Red Star Belgrade — 3 p.m. ET
Manchester City v. Atalanta — 3 p.m. ET
Galatasaray v. Real Madrid — 3 p.m. ET
Juventus v. Lokomotive Moscow — 3 p.m. ET
Brugge v. Paris Saint-Germain — 3 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Bayern Munich

The 2 Robbies podcast: Man United 1-1 Liverpool; Struggles in North London

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe review the key results from Matchweek 9 in the Premier League focusing on Manchester United and Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford (0:50). The chaps also discuss Manchester City’s win at Crystal Palace (16:50), Arsenal’s defeat at Sheffield United (23:25), Tottenham’s draw at home to Watford (35:25) and debate who currently is the 3rd best team in the Premier League (42:05). Finally, the guys name their under-appreciated performances of the weekend (50:50).

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

FA Cup qualifier to be replayed after team walks off for racist abuse

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LONDON (AP) The FA Cup qualifying match between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town that was abandoned following racist abuse will be replayed next week.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

The Football Association said Monday that the match will be replayed from the start on Oct. 29 at Haringey’s home ground.

Saturday’s game saw the players walk off in the 64th minute, shortly after Yeovil had gone 1-0 up via a penalty. Haringey officials said after the game that its Cameroonian goalkeeper Valery Pajetat and defender Coby Rowe had both been targeted by racial abuse by visiting fans.

London police said they had arrested two men, age 23 and 26, on Monday on suspicion of racially aggravated common assault in connection with the incident.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

The FA said: “Following the incident in the original tie and the two arrests already made, the FA’s investigation is ongoing. We are continuing to work with the relevant authorities on our investigation into the matter.”

The winner of the game will advance to the first round of the FA Cup.