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Premier League Saturday roundup: Drama central

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What. A. Day. Late winners, red cards, controversy, upsets.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The seven Premier League games on Saturday produced just about everything.

[ MORE: PL standings |  Schedule

Below is a look back at all the action from Saturday’s seven games in the PL.


Manchester United 1-1 BournemouthRECAP

1-1 doesn’t even go close to telling the story of this game. United led through Marcos Rojo‘s first Premier League goal but Bournemouth scored a penalty kick via Joshua King. Then, things got tasty. Tyrone Mings and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were going at it the whole game and the former looked to stamp on Zlatan’s head while he was on the floor, then Zlatan connected with an elbow on Mings’ head moments later. In the melee which ensued Andrew Surman was shown a second yellow card as Bournemouth played the entire second half with 10 men.

[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies on Saturday’s action ] 

Zlatan had the chance to the be the hero, once again, but his penalty kick was saved by Artur Boruc and United were held to a seventh draw in their last 11 PL home games. Frustration for Jose Mourinho as his men lost ground in the top four race, while Ibrahimovic and Mings could well get retrospective bans.


Liverpool 3-1 ArsenalRECAP

Alexis Sanchez was left on the bench and it backfired badly for Arsene Wenger as Liverpool secured victory. First half goals from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane set Jurgen Klopp‘s side on their way and even though Sanchez jumped off the bench at half time to spark life into Arsenal and set up Danny Welbeck‘s strike, Wenger’s men lost for the third time in four games as Georginio Wijnaldum scored late on.

Liverpool again rose to the occasion against a top four rival as they remain unbeaten against the top six this season, while Arsenal’s top four hopes are in real jeopardy with Liverpool leapfrogging them in the table.


Watford 3-4 SouthamptonRECAP

What. A. Game. Watford took the lead through Troy Deeney early on but Saints came roaring back as Dusan Tadic first scored and then set up Nathan Redmond to make it 2-1. Then Stefano Okaka equalized late on but Manolo Gabbiadini made it 3-2 (he’s now scored six goals in four games for Saints) and Redmond added another to make it 4-2 before Abdoulaye Doucoure scored a late consolation for the Hornets. Claude Puel‘s Saints have now scored 10 goals in their last three games and have put their EFL Cup final heartbreak firmly behind them.


Leicester City 3-1 Hull CityRECAP

What a difference one week makes. Leicester have won back-to-back PL games for the first time this season as they continue to prove life is just fine after Claudio Ranieri. Caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare has overseen two-straight 3-1 wins against Liverpool and now Hull but the Foxes had to fight back from 1-0 down. In fact, it’s the first time this season that Leicester have won after going behind as Sam Clucas put Hull ahead. However, Christian Fuchs made it 1-1 at half time and then second half goals from Riyad Mahrez and a late own goal from Tom Huddlestone sealed the win. The reigning champs are finally pulling away from the relegation zone.


Swansea City 3-2 BurnleyRECAP

Another thriller took place at the Liberty Stadium as Paul Clement celebrated wildly thanks to Fernando Llorente’s late winner. The Swans went ahead through a Llorente header but then a controversial penalty kick was awarded to Burnley (Clarets striker Ashley Barnes handled the ball but referee Anthony Taylor gave a spot kick) and Andre Gray made it 1-1 before adding another in the second half to make it 2-1. Martin Olsson made it 2-2 with 20 minutes to go and then Llorente popped up in stoppage time to hand Swansea a fifth win in nine games under Clement. Swansea now have 27 points and some breathing space from the bottom three.


West Brom 0-2 Crystal PalaceRECAP

A simply massive away win for Palace as Sam Allardyce‘s men are out out of the drop zone. A goal in each half from Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend proved the difference for the Eagles against a West Brom side who had an off day after reaching 40 points after just 26 games. For Palace, they’re on 25 points and have given themselves hope ahead of a tough run of games.


Stoke City 2-0 MiddlesbroughRECAP

Routine win for the Potters as two first half goals from Marko Arnautovic saw them past goal-shy Middlesbrough. The Potters dominated from start to finish and Aitor Karanka‘s Boro, the lowest scorers in the PL, have now slipped into the relegation zone and are just three points off the bottom. As for Stoke, they’re up to ninth place and just five points behind West Brom in eighth.


The USMNT player pool in Europe is as promising as ever

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It would be a challenge to put together a Best XI from Americans performing in Europe this Saturday.

That’s for two reasons, not one of them because there aren’t 11 players worthy of the honor.

One is goalkeepers: Zack Steffen is hurt and Ethan Horvath backing up Simon Mignolet.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

The other is pretty great: There are many more than 11 players thriving in Europe even with Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Zack Steffen, and Timothy Weah not available for selection.

It’s a weekly thing now. Gregg Berhalter trains a strong and mostly-MLS squad for January friendlies, The Americans Abroad round-ups on our site have shown plenty of progress for those eligible for the USMNT.

There was a time when Haji Wright coming off the bench for VVV-Venlo in the Netherlands had a shot at being the highlight of the weekend.

Now it’s a footnote. The 21-year-old is a regular for the relegation-threatened side after a transfer from Schalke. If anything, the discussion is about two in-a-row off the bench after a run of 10-straight league starts.

Consider this list of players, now that Aston Villa’s Indiana Vassilev and Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna made league debuts in the same weekend.

First team players in top tier leagues

Zack Steffen (Man City, on loan to Dusseldorf)
Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)
DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Tyler Boyd (Besiktas)
Indiana Vassilev (Aston Villa)
Haji Wright (VVV Venlo)
Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)
Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Tim Weah (Lille)

Dig deeper and there’s more: Matt Miazga (Reading), Tim Ream (Fulham), Geoff Cameron (QPR), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), and Duane Holmes (Derby County) have been regulars in the English Championship. Same for Julian Green (Greuther Furth) in 2.Bundesliga and in-form Lynden Gooch at League One’s Sunderland. Niko Hamalainen (Kilmarnock) is a regular starter in the Scottish Premiership.

Then there are heralded U-20 and U-17 prospects Chris Gloster (Jong PSV), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Alex Mendez (Ajax), Sebastian Soto (Hannover 96), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Ulysses Lainez (Wolfsburg II). Some have taken first team bows while others have made the bench or ar eon the verge.

And we’re just talking Europe here, as the U.S. still has a bevy of reliable international players playing domestically like Jordan Morris, Miles Robinson, and Jozy Altidore amongst others. That’s leaving alone the caliber of Homegrown players being produced by Major League Soccer academies, Paxton Pomykal and Djordje Mihailovic among them (Reyna and Richards, too).

In terms of potential, American soccer is at a golden age. This makes Brian McBride’s new role as USMNT general manager even more important, as he teams up with Gregg Berhalter to put the best possible American team together for qualifying.

One thing’s for sure, the player pool is deep and no longer an excuse. Game on.

Watch Live: Burnley v. Leicester City

Watch Live: Burnley v. Leicester City (Lineups and stream link)
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Leicester City looks to build a nine-point cushion on fourth-place Chelsea with a win over Burnley at Turf . Moor on Sunday (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Brendan Rodgers‘ Foxes can go level on points with second-place Manchester City by beating the hosts.

[ STREAM: Burnley v. Leicester City ]

Fifteenth-place Burnley opens the day two points clear of the Bottom Three, losers of four-straight matches.

Jay Rodriguez and Chris Wood start up top for the Clarets against the second-stingiest back line in the Premier League.

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Burnley

Leicester City

PL Sunday Preview: Leicester travel to Burnley; Liverpool put perfect record on the line against Man Utd

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With eight Premier League fixtures on Saturday, two more remain in Matchweek 23.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Burnley v. Leicester City  — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Burnley are free falling and there doesn’t seem to be a safety net in sight.

The Clarets, who are two points removed from the relegation zone, head into a tough three-match window without striker Ashley Barnes. Recuperating from a hernia surgery, the 30-year-old is set to miss bouts against Leicester, Manchester United and Arsenal – to name some.

But quite possibly more alarming than that is the team’s recent form. Losing seven out of their last nine, just two points divide Burnley from the drop zone. Sean Dyche‘s team are clueless in the box, scoring one goal in four league bouts. Trouble looms over Turf Moor.

But even then, Dyche, who has made Burnley a force to be reckoned with in the past, believes his side are still a threat.

“They are a good side,” Dyche said about Leicester. “We are on a tough run of form, but I don’t think they are naive enough to think it is turn up and get the business done. We are not a million miles away.”

Can Burnley pull a Southampton and stun a top-four bound Leicester?

“We weren’t at our best [against Southampton] and we didn’t have the energy and intensity that we would have liked,” Brendan Rodgers said ahead of Sunday’s early match.

“We work twice as hard and that’s what we’ve done after every setback. We still have a lot to improve on.”

The Foxes had a rare full week to train, so one can bet that Rodgers is serious about his word.

INJURIES: Burnley —  OUT: Barnes (hernia), Gudmundsson (hamstring) | Leicester City — OUT: Ndidi (knee), Amartey (ankle), James (match fitness)

Liverpool v. Manchester United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Manchester United are a part of the exclusive anti-Liverpool club for more than the obvious reason.

Yes, the North West Derby is one of the league’s most heated rivalries, with countless flashbacks in its 203 meetings during its over 100 years of history.

But these two, star-studded squads led by Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, respectively, also have a permeating rivalry of their own. The Reds, who have yet to taste defeat this season, have dropped points to only United.

It can be argued that Sunday’s bout may be Liverpool’s most complicated and least favorable, despite maintaining an immaculate record at home. This is the “big one” that many didn’t particularly circle on the calendar.

“It’s a very, very important football game,” Klopp said. “Very important. We have to learn how to deal with games like this in the right manner. We haven’t done bad in the past but we can still improve.

“Old Trafford [a 1-1 draw in October] was a good example, [we were] not at our best because of their quality. We have to make it more likely we’re at our best.”

Solskjaer had his tactics in place last time around; a small injection of final quality and the team would have crushed Liverpool’s aspirations of matching the Iinvincibles or Manchester City’s points record.

“The last two performances [against Liverpool] at Old Trafford we have drawn twice and been close to winning both games, so we’ve got some games to look back at and that will give us loads of belief… if we perform to our best we have a chance to win,” Solskjaer said.

Sunday presents itself as the final chance for United to pull the upset, and reaffirm why they’re a part of the exclusive club to begin with. But Liverpool are slowing becoming invincible themselves.

INJURIES: Liverpool —  OUT: Lovren (hamstring), Clyne (knee), Keïta (groin), Milner (hamstring) | Manchester United  — OUT: Tuanzebe (hamstring), McTominay (knee), Pogba (ankle)

Serie A roundup: Immobile nets hat-trick, Lazio runs over Sampdoria (video)

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Lazio’s record-extending 11th straight Serie A win highlights Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Lazio 5-1 Sampdoria  

Like Lazio’s season, Ciro Immobile continues to make strides with each passing day.

The 29-year-old’s hat-trick powered Simone Inzaghi’s side past Sampdoria 5-1, extending his goal count to 23, nine more than Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaka.

 

Lazio, who are three points behind top-of-the-table Juventus and one behind second-place Inter Milan, were up three goals by the 20-minute mark. By the 65th minute, Immobile reached the three goal mark, converting from the spot.

“We would need too much time to count his records,” coach Simone Inzaghi said on Immobile’s magnificent run of form. “We are talking about an extraordinary team player. He has shown that so many times. Immobile has been doing extraordinary things for four years, I’m not surprised.”

Full of confidence, Lazio turn one of the most challenging corners of the season, as they take on rivals AS Roma defend the Italian Cup against Napoli.

“We’ll enjoy this 11th win but we have to already be thinking about the next matches,” Inzaghi said. “We know what a derby means but I can’t allow myself to think about Roma.

“We play Napoli on Tuesday, we know what the Italian Cup means for us, what it meant last year, we have it on our shirts and we will fight for it again.”

When it comes to Sampdoria, things are going from bad to ugly, quick.

“Tonight I’ll add salt and pepper and I’ll eat them alive,” Sampdoria coach Claudio Ranieri said of his players.

“Lazio was too good for us, you could clearly see the difference between the two teams, but it was without doubt the worst Samp performance since I’ve been here.”

Elsewhere

Sassuolo 2-1 Torino

Napoli 0-2 Fiorentina