PL Sunday Preview: North London Derby; Liverpool, Foxes also in action

2 Comments

Manchester City’s draw on Saturday opens the door for both Liverpool and Arsenal to leap over Pep Guardiola‘s side, while Tottenham looks to remain in the race at the top and stay unbeaten.

Bob Bradley searches for his first Premier League victory on Sunday as Swansea hosts Manchester United, who is coming off of a disappointing loss in the UEFA Europa League to Fenerbahce.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Arsenal vs. Tottenham — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs has dropped its share of points in the opening 10 matches, but Mauricio Pochettino‘s side has the opportunity to remain unbeaten on Sunday against the Gunners, who look to go atop to the Premier League. Tottenham failed to pick up a win midweek in the UEFA Champions League, falling 1-0 to Bayer Leverkusen, but Sunday’s North London Derby will have to bring out the best in Spurs.

The two clubs have each won once and drawn three times in their last five meetings, leaving very little separating the teams. Arsenal will be led by Alexis Sanchez, who has posted six goals and three assists in the team’s opening 10 matches, while the expected return of Harry Kane could give Spurs a much needed bounce in its step.

Hull City vs. Southampton — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSports.com

After its hot start, Hull has fallen heavily into the relegation zone. Sunday’s task against Southampton won’t be an easy one, particularly considering the Saints’ dominance against Hull over recent seasons. Since 2013, Southampton has defeated Hull by a combined 8-1 scoreline in their four PL matches, all of which have been Saints victories.

Robert Snodgrass is the only current Hull player with more than one goal and Mike Phelan‘s side will definitely need his production if they are to take a result from Southampton.

Liverpool vs. Watford — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The Reds have really begun to click under Jurgen Klopp, and a victory over Watford could potentially put Liverpool at the top of the PL. With the league’s top five sides separated by five points heading into Sunday, every point matters for Klopp’s group, who have won four of its last five fixtures against the Hornets.

Watford will have a lot to handle at Anfield with the talented Liverpool attack to deal with. Phillippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firminho are among the strong attacking core for the Reds, all of whom have notched four goals each in the PL this campaign.

Swansea City vs. Manchester United — 10 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Criticisms are beginning to surround Jose Mourinho and Manchester United, and a failed result on Sunday would certainly put the heat on the Portuguese manager once more. Bob Bradley comes into the weekend without a victory since taking over at Swansea, but a win against United would surely change the team’s mentality.

Swansea has won three of the last five times the two teams have faced one another, which could give Bradley and co. some hope as they face Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the host of United talent. That said, the Swans have had difficulty in front of goal this season, with Leroy Fer largely being held to the goalscoring duties for the club. Meanwhile, Ibrahimovic has cooled off significantly for United after notching five goals in his first five matches for the team.

Leicester City vs. West Brom — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The Foxes have dropped off significantly from a season ago, currently sitting 13th in the table, but a meeting with West Brom could be exactly what Claudio Ranieri‘s boys need to get their mojo back. Leicester is unbeaten in its last three meetings with West Brom, with the club having scored eight goals in those matches.

Jamie Vardy has been far from the man that was in the conversation for PL Player of the Year in 2015/16, and his two goals through 10 games must change quickly if Leicester is to mount a comeback this season.

Josef Martinez scores 2 more in win, including sensational solo work

AP Photo/John Minchillo
Leave a comment

Josef Martinez scored his 25th and 26th goals of the MLS season, and if he challenges his MLS record of 31, he may also stare down soccer royalty.

The Venezuelan striker scored two more on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati in Ohio to give him goals in 15-straight league contests.

He now has 76 goals in 80 MLS games, which is good.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

On the season, he’s six goals shy of matching the Major League Soccer record he set with last season’s 31 regular season goals.

According to MLSSoccer.com, he’s six games shy of tying Lionel Messi’s world record for consecutive league matches with a goal.

Even that’s a little tricky: Messi scored in 21-straight games in which he was eligible for selection, but 19-straight before missing two matches for injury. In that remarkable run of 21, he also had a run of six-straight braces.

It’s not really worth it to attempt to compare the two streaks: If Martinez gets to 21 (or even 19), it’s amazing stuff and worth celebrating on a worldwide level. Everyone has a bad game every now and again, but Martinez still finds the score sheet in ’em.

Look at the magician’s tricks he used for this one, including a back heel first touch and two freeze-frame cut moves. That’s not even mentioning the finish.

USWNT announces final matches of World Cup-winning year

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team will wrap up 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the U.S. will face Sweden in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7 and Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The team is wrapping up its World Cup victory tour next month with matches against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

Coach Jill Ellis is stepping down following the match in Chicago after leading the team to a pair of consecutive World Cup titles.

The United States is 15-1-2 this year and currently riding a 14-game winning streak.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Mane to get big raise, Liverpool contract through 2025

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool’s Senegalese sensation looks set to stay at Anfield deep into his 30s.

Sadio Mane is in talks with the Reds hierarchy over a new deal that will run through 2024-25, and pay him more than $15 million per season.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Mane, 27, currently has a deal through 2023, but surely wouldn’t mind a raise. And Liverpool will be happy to tie him down on Merseyside a bit longer.

He’s scored six times in seven matches this season, also grabbing an assist. That’s on a better pace than his 26 goals and five assists over 50 appearances in 2018/19.

Mane has 70 Premier League goals at the moment. Do you tip him to eclipse 100 while still at Anfield? 125?

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in Portugal to meet Braga, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow