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PL roundup: Chelsea go 9 points clear; in-form Man Utd win again

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in the Premier League…

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Crystal Palace 0-1 ChelseaFULL RECAP

Have Chelsea already won the PL? It’s a question which Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Mustoe and Kyle Martino tackled (below video) even before the Blues moved to 11 league games without dropping a point with another dominant defensive display, away to Crystal Palace. Diego Costa scored the game’s only goal, his PL-leading 13th of the season, two minutes before halftime, and that was all Antonio Conte‘s side would require. In those 11 wins, Chelsea have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 25-2, including three straight 1-0 victories since last conceding a goal to Manchester City on Dec. 3.

West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Manchester UnitedFULL RECAP

Speaking of winning streaks — albeit of the significantly shorter variety — Zlatan Ibrahimovic fired Man United to their third straight victory, away to West Brom, with a goal early in each of the first and second halves. Jesse Lingard set up the first with a delightful cross from the right wing after five minutes (WATCH HERE), and Wayne Rooney fed the big Swede for his second of the game, his 11th of the season, 11 minutes into the second half. The Red Devils are now level with Tottenham Hotspur (who play on Sunday) on 30 points for fifth in the league table, just four and three back of Arsenal and Manchester City (who play each other on Sunday) for third and fourth, respectively.

Stoke City 2-2 Leicester CityFULL RECAP

Jamie Vardy was sent off after 28 minutes for a lunging challenge on Mame Biram Diouf, and the Foxes duly fell 2-0 behind before the halftime interval, thanks to Bojan Krkic‘s penalty kick in the 39th minute and Joe Allen‘s fifth goal of the season two minutes into stoppage time. Then, it all came crashing down for the Potters, who conceded twice in 14 minutes at the tail end of the second half, first to Leonardo Ulloa and finally, in the 88th minute, to Daniel Amartey, in settling for a 2-2 home draw against the defending champions.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 17: Jamie Vardy of Leicester City (L) is shown a red card by referee Craig Pawson during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Leicester City at Bet365 Stadium on December 17, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Middlesbrough 3-0 Swansea CityFULL RECAP

Another game, another putrid defensive display from Swansea, who have now conceded 11 goals in their last four league games (three losses, one win). Alvaro Negredo finished from near the penalty spot after 18 minutes, and directly from the penalty spot just before the halftime hour. Marten De Roon completed the rout on 58 minutes, and just like that, Bob Bradley‘s Swans suddenly find themselves back in 19th place, only clear of 20th on goal differential.

West Ham United 1-0 Hull CityFULL RECAP

West Ham are another side suddenly streaking, having won two league games in a row for the second time this season, and the first time since Oct. 22. Saturday’s home triumph over Hull, in which Mark Noble scored the game’s only goal from the penalty spot in the 76th minute, propels Slaven Bilic‘s side to the dizzying heights of 13th place in the league table.

Sunderland 1-0 WatfordFULL RECAP

Patrick Van Aanholt, ever the goal-scoring threat at left back, put Sunderland ahead of Watford in the 49th minute, and that’s how proceedings would finish at the Stadium of Light. With their fourth win of the season (and third in six games), David Moyes‘ Black Cats are up to 18th and now just a single point behind Crystal Palace one place outside the relegation zone.

Sunday’s PL schedule

Bournemouth vs. Southampton — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Manchester City vs. Arsenal — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Burnley — 11 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Southgate, England players sound off on racist abuse

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England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.

Kane, Sterling star as England rout Bulgaria

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On a night where racist abuse from the stands in Bulgaria marred the overall spectacle, England’s players produced an incredible result and spectacle for the visiting fans, with all things considered.

Harry Kane scored once and assisted on three others as England rolled over Bulgaria, winning 6-0 on Monday evening in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria. Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley both scored a brace for the Three Lions and Marcus Rashford’s thunderbolt from a tight angle gave England the opening goal it needed.

The blowout result was the perfect response after England had suffered its first loss in qualifying for a decade, losing on Friday, 2-1 at the Czech Republic. The six goals England put past Bulgaria was also the fourth time out of six games that England had scored at least five goals in a match. The only other time, aside from the defeat, was a 4-0 win last month at Wembley Stadium over Bulgaria.

This story will be updated.

 

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

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With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.