PL Sunday preview: Spurs host Everton; Man City visit Sunderland

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Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City need wins to strengthen their respective positions in the top-four race, while Everton are looking to keep their hopes of such a finish a live, and Sunderland are… well, just hoping to get off the bottom of the table.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Six games — that’s all that stands between Tottenham and an unbeaten season of home fixtures in the Premier League, a most delightful send-off in 118-year-old White Hart Lane’s final season. The last time Spurs lost a league game to Everton, it was December 2012, at Goodison Park (eight PL games unbeaten — three wins, five draws). Harry Kane bagged a hat trick — his third in nine games across all competitions — in Spurs’ demolition of Stoke City, and is now level with Alexis Sanchez (17 goals) in his bid for a second straight PL Golden Boot; Everton’s Romelu Lukaku completes a three-way tie atop the goalscoring charts.

Spurs would go six points clear of fifth-place Arsenal with a victory on Sunday, setting themselves up with a surely insurmountable advantage (as if we haven’t heard that before) heading into the season’s final 11 games. Everton, meanwhile, would move to just three points back of the Gunners with a win, and just two points back of Manchester United for sixth (having played one more game than each).

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Danny Rose (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Harry Kane (knock), Toby Aldeweireld (groin), Jan Vertonghen (hamstring) | Everton — OUT: Yannick Bolasie (knee), Muhamed Besic (knee)

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — As the kids would say, it was “lit” ]

Sunderland vs. Man City — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

There existed a brief period — five whole days, as it may have been — where Sunderland looked to be on their way to yet another late-season miracle, staving off relegation from the PL in the process. A draw against Tottenham, followed by a 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace, and David Moyes‘ side look to be surging. But, back-to-back losses, to Southampton and Everton, by a combined score of 6-0, and the Black Cats are once again bottom of the league with high-flying Man City (three straight wins, by a combined score of 8-1) visiting the Stadium of Light on Sunday.

If the 2016-17 season turns out to be Sergio Aguero’s final one at the Etihad Stadium, he looks determined to go out in style. The Argentine superstar has scored twice and assisted once in each of City’s last two games (all competitions). “I have three months to give my best and, as I always said, in June it will be seen,” Aguero said, when asked about recent praise from his club and manager. “One thing is that the club officially says it and another thing is to tell me. My intention is to stay.”

INJURIES: Sunderland — OUT: Jack Rodwell (hamstring), Jan Kirchoff (knee), Victor Anichebe (knee), Paddy McNair (knee), Lee Cattermole (hip) | Man City — OUT: Gabriel Jesus (ankle), Vincent Kompany (knock), Ilkay Gundogan (knee)

FC Cincinnati adds Ajax midfielder Siem de Jong

Siem de Jong
Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images
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FC Cincinnati got a much-needed bit of good news toward the end of a rough week in Southern Ohio.

Longtime Ajax attacker Siem De Jong has joined a talented FCC attack ahead of the club’s second MLS season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

De Jong, 31, came up through Ajax’s vaunted academy before transferring to Newcastle United, where he suffered through a series of miserable injuries including two collapsed lungs in 18 months.

He’s been capped six times with two goals for the Netherlands in his career and will join a revitalized Cincinnati attack with Jurgen Locadia and Yuya Kubo.

“The system they want to play is quite similar to the Dutch system, and yeah, Ajax is probably one of the team’s that perfected it,” de Jong said. “Over the years I played there, I’ve learned a lot about this similar philosophy and trying to build up from the back in the Dutch style of play. That was one of the reasons why FC Cincinnati was a good fit for me. Hopefully I can help with the experience I’ve had over the years playing this style of football.”

De Jong scored three times in nine matches this season for Ajax, all of the goals coming in a cup match against third-tier Spakenburg. His other eight matches combined for just 118 minutes.

He may not be with FCC when the season starts as he waits on visa approval.

Man United held at Club Brugge (video)

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Man United were held to a 1-1 draw away at Club Brugge in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League Round of 32 tie as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side battled back from a sloppy start to stretch their unbeaten run to five games in all competitions.

Emmanuel Bonaventure (commonly known as Dennis) scored a beautiful opener to put Brugge ahead but United equalized through Anthony Martial and he also hit the post as the Red Devils looked more dangerous as both teams had chances in a tight, tense encounter.

The two teams met for the second leg at Old Trafford next Thursday, Feb. 27.

[ MORE: Europa League schedule

Brugge almost scored with their first attack as Dennis caused havoc behind Luke Shaw and a combination of Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic cleared the ball from danger from close range.

Andreas Pereira fired in a low shot which Simon Mignolet saved well but moments later Brugge were ahead.

Nemanja Matic thought he had won a corner kick but a goal kick was given and former Liverpool goalkeeper Mignolet caught out the entire Man United defense with a long ball over the top to find Dennis who lobbed the ball over a stranded Sergio Romero and in.

Hans Vanaken, Mats Rits and Dennis then all went close to doubling Brugge’s lead as United’s defense was all over the place.

United did draw level before half time as a loose throw-in from Brugge caused their own problems and Martial powered towards goal and calmly slotted home to make it 1-1.

Brandon Williams missed a good chance and Mignolet then pushed Martial’s shot onto the post as United came alive after their opening goal.

In the second half Man United continued to improve as Diogo Dalot‘s cross found Jesse Lingard who flicked wide, while Martial and Juan Mata then combined but Brugge managed to block the danger at the last moment.

At the other end Dennis was denied as Romero saved well down low at the near post and late on Dennis bamboozled Harry Maguire before crossing for Odilon Kossounou who somehow scuffed his shot wide.

Man United finished with a flourish as new signings Odion Ighalo and Bruno Fernandes came on off the bench to try and help the Red Devils grab a winner and although they both looked lively, United couldn’t find a late goal.

VIDEO: Martial scores for Man United v. Club Brugge

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Anthony Martial scored once again for Man United and his goal in the Europa League Round of 32 first leg against Club Brugge was a beauty.

The Frenchman is standing tall in the absence of Marcus Rashford through injury as he has now scored in back-to-back games away from home.

Martial, 24, made the most of a slight defensive mistake from Club Brugge as he powered towards goal and kept his cool to slot home, while he also hit the post in the first half after Simon Mignolet got a slight touch on his curling effort.

When he’s on form he’s a joy to watch and after his towering header against Chelsea on Monday, Martial has done it again a few days later in Belgium. It is the third time this season he has scored in back-to-back games and he has now scored 14 goals in 30 appearances for the Red Devils, his best return since he scored 17 in his opening season at United in 2015-16.

Here is Martial’s goal at Club Brugge, as United need him to kick on and take this tally for the season to at least 20 goals if they are going to be successful.

LIVE, Europa League: Arsenal, Man United, Wolves in action

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The knockout rounds of the 2019-20 UEFA Europa League campaign is here and three Premier League teams are in action on Thursday.

Everything is set up for an epic day of first legs in the Round of 32.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Arsenal travel to Olympiakos who dropped down from the Champions League, while Wolves host La Liga strugglers Espanyol and Man United travel to Club Brugge who exited the UCL at the group stage after some impressive displays.

With a Champions League spot for next season up for grabs for the Europa League winners, there is always a little extra spice in this tournament from here on out, especially as plenty of giants have dropped out of the Champions League and joined the Europa League for the Round of 32.

Glasgow Celtic and Rangers both face tricky tests as Steven Gerrard‘s side face Braga and Neil Lennon’s Celtic head to Copenhagen.

Elsewhere there are plenty of mouthwatering ties at Jesse Marsch’s RB Salzburg drop into the Europa League and travel to Eintracht Frankfurt. Antonio Conte‘s Inter Milan head to Ludogorets, while Ajax travel to Getafe after narrowly missing out on reaching the Champions League last 16.

Below is the schedule in full for Thursday’s games, while you can click on the link above to follow all the action as it happens.


Full Europa League schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Manchester United
Ludogorets v. Inter Milan
Copenhagen v. Celtic
Eintracht Frankfurt v. RB Salzburg
CFR Cluj v. Sevilla
Sporting Lisbon v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Benfica
Getafe v. Ajax

3 p.m. ET
Rangers v. Braga
Wolves v. Espanyol
Olympiacos v. Arsenal
Bayer Leverkusen v. FC Porto
AZ Alkmaar v. LASK
Roma v. Gent
APOEL Nicosia v. FC Basel
Wolfsburg v. Malmo