Title implications, relegation consequences, middle-of-the-table mediocrity — Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures offers a little bit of everything, storyline-wise.
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After a heart-stopping Saturday which included 26 goals in eight games, Sunday’s two-game schedule sounds a much-needed respite for the faint-hearted.
Everton vs. Swansea City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
In their last three PL games, Everton and Swansea have each won just three points; the Toffees on three consecutive draws against stiff competition (Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Chelsea), while the Swans lost to Manchester United and got hammered by 19th-place Sunderland before knocking off Watford last week.
When these sides met for the first time this season, back in September, it ended a 0-0 draw at the Liberty Stadium. Everton finished the game with 10 men after Kevin Mirallas was shown straight red in the 93rd minute, two minutes after being subbed on. This time around, Everton will once again be without Seamus Coleman (hamstring), as well as long-term absentees Tyias Browning (knee) and James McCarthy (groin). Swansea boast a mostly clean bill of health, with no one currently listed on the latest injury report.
Arsenal vs. Chelsea — 11 a.m. ET, on NBSCN and Live Extra
In years past, we might have dubbed this Arsenal versus Chelsea, “the big one,” if only the Gunners were a little closer to the actual title race and posed a serious threat to the Blues’ potential reign of the land. 2015-16 is, of course, a bizarro time to be alive, thus Sunday’s meeting of the PL giants features a 3rd-place Arsenal, with a chance to go top of the league once again, hosting a 14th-place Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.
When these two sides faced off back in September, Chelsea had yet to fully implode, and notched a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge, thanks to goals scored by Kurt Zouma and Calum Chambers (own goal). Arsenal finished that game with nine men after Diego Costa goaded Gabriel Paulista into a 46th-minute red card, and two yellow cards for Santi Cazorla.
Arsenal are due a huge boost on Sunday, though, as Alexis Sanchez is expected to return to action after nearly two months on the sideline with a hamstring injury. Mesut Ozil, the PL’s leading assister (16) of goals, is also expected to be fit after missing last week’s 0-0 draw with Stoke City. Cazorla (knee) and Francis Coquelin (knee) remain unavailable, alongside long-term absentees Jack Wilshere (leg), Tomas Rosicky (knee) and Danny Welbeck (knee). For Chelsea, Costa (leg) and Eden Hazard (groin) have been declared fit. Radamel Falcao (calf) remains the Blues’ lone long-term injury.