Getty Images

PL Sunday preview: Arsenal’s last stand; Swansea-Boro a relegation battle

Leave a comment

This is it for Arsenal: one last crack, with a clear path, at finishing in the Premier League’s top-four. As for Swansea City and Middlesbrough, fighting relegation is their reality…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Swansea City vs. Middlesbrough — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With nearly 100 percent certainty, one of Swansea and Middlesbrough will finish in the bottom-three and be relegated at season’s end, if not both. Ahead of Sunday’s six-pointer at the Liberty Stadium, Paul Clement‘s Swans sit 17th, clear of 18th-place Hull City on goal differential. Boro, meanwhile, are 19th, five points back of Swansea after firing manager Aitor Karanka two weeks ago.

Boro are without a win in their last 11 PL games (four draws, seven losses). Coincidentally, their most recent victory came against Swansea, 3-0 on Dec. 17.

INJURIES: Swansea — OUT: Nathan Dyer (achilles), Angel Rangel (foot) | Boro — OUT: Calum Chambers (foot); QUESTIONABLE: George Friend (calf), Daniel Ayala (hamstring)

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Title race back on after Chelsea lose? ]

Arsenal vs. Manchester City — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

For as disastrous and dysfunctional as Arsenal’s 2016-17 season has been thus far, they’re far from out of contention for yet another top-four finish — but make no mistake: they won’t get there with a loss on Sunday. Heading into this weekend’s monumental clash with fourth-place Man City, Arsene Wenger‘s sixth-place Gunners sit seven points behind Pep Guardiola‘s side with a game in hand. A win at home on Sunday, coupled with three points from that game in hand, would see that gap shrink to a single point.

Arsenal lost their final two league games before the recent international break, a pair of 3-1 defeats to Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion, while City are unbeaten in their last seven league games (four wins in that span), though they enter Sunday’s clash at the Emirates Stadium riding two straight draws. Wenger’s future is as uncertain as it’s ever been, as he claims not even he knows what will happen this summer.

“I’ve always been very clear in my mind,” Wenger said. “I will remain like that. I think it’s a subject that at the moment is not sorted completely out. I have nothing more to add to that. … But anyway, do I stay two months or two years? My commitment will be exactly the same. The time I spent here does not influence my attitude at all.”

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Petr Cech (calf), Santi Cazorla (achilles), Kieran Gibbs (knock) | Man City — OUT: Gabriel Jesus (ankle), Vincent Kompany (knock), Ilkay Gundogan (knee surgery); RETURNING: Kevin De Bruyne (groin)

WATCH: Zlatan stunner answers Vela’s opener in El Trafico

Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images
1 Comment

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is walking it like he talks it, not that that’s anything new.

A few days after claiming superiority over LAFC superstar Carlos Vela, Ibrahimovic and his Galaxy trailed early in El Trafico via a Vela penalty.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Naturally, Zlatan took it upon himself to answer the bell with his 14th goal in 17 games.

Ibrahimovic chests a long ball onto his right foot, cooking Eduard Atuesta by pushing it into position for a tremendous lash into the LAFC goal.

And if you haven’t been following LAFC’s amazing season, Atuesta’s probably been the side’s best player after Vela, who now has 20 goals in 20 games.

Wizard stuff.

Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame

Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune via AP
Leave a comment

A half-hour of the big guns wasn’t enough to get Jurgen Klopp a result against his former team.

Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster scored for Liverpool in a 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund at the University of Notre Dame on Friday.

Paco Alcacer, Thomas Delaney, and Jacob Bruun Larsen scored for the Black Yellow, who led 3-1 when mass changes began with Virgil Van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, and Andrew Robertson entering the match.

Liverpool faces Sevilla on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Alcacer with the ball in the box is a bad idea, and the Spaniard took advantage of Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip to smash home from a yard outside the six.

Wilson leveled the score before halftime, but Delaney made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute when a long diagonal ball beat the Reds line and a low pass across the box went undetected.

It was 3-1 via a clever Bruun Larsen touch to wrong foot James Milner, but Brewster brought the Reds back to within one when he converted a 75th minute penalty won by Ben Woodburn.

Liverpool was without Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, who are on break after deep summer tournament runs.

Eriksen offered big Spurs wages, but Atletico Madrid lurks

Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Christian Eriksen may trade London for Madrid after all, but Marca claims it’ll be Real Madrid’s rivals who earn the services of Tottenham’s Danish playmaker.

Eriksen, 27, scored 10 goals with 17 assists for Spurs in all competitions last season, and was reportedly ready to spread his wings for Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Kean to Everton? ]

But pro-Real site Marca says Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Eriksen at the Bernabeu, and that Diego Simeone feels differently… should Atletico Madrid fail at landing his prime option.

That’s James Rodriguez, who remains property of Real and that’s a problem.

So Eriksen to Atleti, helping to replace Antoine Griezmann? It’s possible.

From Marca.com:

Just last November, the London club put a 250 million euro price tag on his head, but now appear keen to move him on. The next few days will likely reveal a lot about what’s to come.

So we may get an idea of whether this report has any guts to it by next week. There could be some sense to it, but Metro claims that Spurs are offering Eriksen an “enormous” contract to keep him in North London.

Enormous means a doubling of Eriksen’s wages, and the Dane is said to be happy in England. Might Spurs hold off the finest of La Liga and Serie A after all.

Report: Everton could land Juventus’ Kean after all

Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Everton could end up with one of the hottest prospects in world soccer.

Moise Kean may wind up leaving Juventus due to the club’s failure to offload fellow strikers Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.

And Kean, 19, was poised for a breakthrough to the first team, to the extent that Juve reportedly turned down a $33 million bid from Everton.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The Toffees, however, may have new life due to the Higuain/Mandzukic problem, and Sky Sports Italia reports that Kean may indeed be an option for Marco Silva‘s club. He could join Michael Keane, if he’s keen.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Kean elected to leave Italy given the racial abuse he’s suffered in Serie A (Though racism is everywhere, of course).

The same report says Kean turned down a Barcelona offer because he would’ve headed on loan, while Arsenal is also said to be in the mix.

Kean scored six Serie A goals with an assist in just 13 matches for Juventus last season after scoring four times for Hellas Verona on loan.