Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures is short — just two games — but packs a serious punch, whether you’re looking for a fierce rivalry between two of England’s most historic clubs, or massive implications in the current season’s title race.
[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]
A preview of Sunday’s pair of games — Liverpool versus Manchester United, and Stoke City versus Arsenal…
Liverpool vs. Manchester United — 8 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
Sunday will mark the 194th time (all competitions) Liverpool and Man United have faced off in their northwestern derby, one of the most storied and bitter rivalries in the world. United hold the all-time lead in wins with 78 (66 in league play), to Liverpool’s 64 (55), and 51 draws (44). The last time these illustrious clubs met, it was United who walked off the field at Old Trafford with all three points (United 3-1 Liverpool) in September.
This time around, each side finds itself in danger of falling away rom the race for a top-four place this season as Sunday’s clash at Anfield arrives; Liverpool sit ninth in the league on 31 points, while United (34 points) are two spots and five points back of fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur.
Between Liverpool and United, a starting 11 capable of challenging for the PL title could be constructed from the players who will miss Sunday’s showdown due to injuries. Philippe Coutinho (hamstring), Daniel Sturridge (hamstring), Divock Origi (knee), Martin Skrtel (hamstring) and Dejan Lovren (hamstring) could all miss out, to go along with Danny Ings (knee), Joe Gomez (knee) and Jon Flanagan (knee), who are all out long-term. For United, Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), Phil Jones (ankle) and Marcos Rojo (shoulder) could all be unavailable, as are Antonio Valencia (foot) and Luke Shaw (leg) with long-term injuries.
Stoke City vs. Arsenal — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
With Manchester City’s victory and Leicester City’s draw on Saturday, Arsenal (43 points) suddenly find themselves third in the league table, but can reclaim the top spot with just a draw at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday. When these two sides met for the first time this season, back in September, it was Arsenal who cruised to a 2-0 victory (goals scored by Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud) at the Emirates Stadium.
Stoke actually enter Sunday’s meeting the slight more in-form side, having won nine of 12 points from their last four league games, while Arsenal have dropped five points during the same period. Man City and Leicester have surged back into the title race as a result.
On the injury front, Stoke will be without Geoff Cameron (ankle), Xherdan Shaqiri (hamstring) and Stephen Ireland (hamstring), while Santi Cazorla (knee) Francis Coquelin (knee) remain unavailable for the Gunners. Also unavailable through long-term injuries: Jack Wilshere (leg), Danny Welbeck (knee) and Tomas Rosciky (knee). Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) is expected to return to action for Arsenal after missing the entire month of December and the first half of January.