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PL Sunday preview: North London derby; clarity for the top-four?

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There’s Super Sunday, and then there’s this Sunday, when six of the top seven sides in the Premier League will be in action…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Manchester United vs. Swansea City — 7 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Injury crisis — noun: see, also: United, Manchester

With five games to go in the PL season, and a top-four place very much within reach — as well as the Europa League trophy — Jose Mourinho is without a half-dozen players whom would have been considered automatic first-choice starters at the season’s start (see below). Fortunately for him, he’s got players like Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan beyond anxious for additional playing time.

Following a 0-0 draw with Manchester City on Thursday, Man United have climbed to within two points of third-place Liverpool (with a game in hand), and control their own destiny as far as finishing in the top-four goes. Following three straight defeats to Swansea in 2014 and 2015, order has somewhat been restored with the Red Devils winning the last two meetings between the sides. As badly as United need three points to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the Swans need them more in their bid to stave off relegation from the PL (they currently sit three points back of 17th-place Hull City, with a better goal differential).

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee), Paul Pogba (leg), Marcos Rojo (knee), Juan Mata (groin), Marouane Fellaini (suspension), Chris Smalling (knee), Phil Jones (toe) | Swansea — OUT: Angel Rangel (foot), Nathan Dyer (achilles), Wayne Routledge (hernia)

Everton vs. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park, where they are winless in their last two visits (PL and FA Cup), looks to be Chelsea’s toughest remaining fixture as Antonio Conte‘s side seeks to lift the club’s fifth PL trophy (sixth in all eras). After a pair of losses in four games’ time saw their lead cut from 10 points to four, the Blues reasserted themselves as the team to beat with an FA Cup semifinal victory over Tottenham Hotspur, their last remaining challenger, and a convincing 4-2 victory over Southampton in league play on Tuesday.

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: Seamus Coleman (leg), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), James McCarthy (hamstring), Yannick Bolasie (knee), Muhamed Besic (fitness) | Chelsea — OUT: None

[ MORE: Sunderland officially relegated to Championship ]

Middlesbrough vs. Manchester City — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSports.com

Following that 0-0 draw in the Manchester derby, Man City remain fourth in the league table, a single point back of Liverpool (with a game in hand). Given the mathematics involved, their margin for error is greater than any of the three sides fighting for the final top Champions League places. With that said, a loss away to 19th-place Boro would be horrendous, season-defining result — one that would take their destiny out of their own hands and see them rely on results elsewhere to finish top-four in Pep Guardiola‘s first season.

INJURIES: Boro — OUT: Victor Valdes (ribs); QUESTIONABLE: Grant Leadbitter (hamstring) | Man City — OUT: John Stones (knock), Ilkay Gundogan (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Sergio Aguero (back), David Silva (ankle), Gabriel Jesus (fitness)

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

It was confirmed on Friday that Sunday’s North London derby would be the very last meeting between Tottenham and Arsenal ever played at White Hart Lane, as the 118-year-old stadium will be demolished this summer as construction on Spurs’ brand new, 61,000-seat stadium continues. As fate would have it, not only can Spurs round out the White Hart Lane era with another famous derby when at the Lane, but Sunday also offers Mauricio Pochettino‘s side the chance to do something the club has failed to do in each of the last 22 seasons: clinch a finish above Arsenal in the league table.

Everything is in Spurs’ favor, too, as they’ve won eight straight league games for just the third time in club history (the first time in the PL era), by a combined score of 23-4. Following back-to-back 4-0 wins, over Watford and Bournemouth, their title hopes were kept alive by a brilliant, late strike from Christian Eriksen on Wednesday at Selhurst Park. At the same time, Arsenal were fortunate to top Leicester City courtesy of a comical own goal scored by Robert Huth. If any of those things — stadium nostalgia, form, or current standing in the league (Spurs sit second, 14 points clear of the Gunners — mattered, we’d hand Spurs the three points now. But, this is still Spurs we’re talking about, and why would we ever skip out on the North London derby?

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Erik Lamela (hip), Harry Winks (ankle), Michel Vorm (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Danny Rose (knee)| Arsenal — OUT: Santi Cazorla (achilles), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh); QUESTIONABLE: Laurent Koscielny (knee)

Farke, Tettey speak after Norwich City relegation

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Norwich City’s long road to relegation started to feel inevitable in recent weeks. It was punctuated by a 4-0 loss to Michail Antonio West Ham United on Saturday.

The club’s fifth Premier League tenure will end after just one season after the club’s typical defensive shortcoming were on full display at Carrow Road.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

“We are unbelievably disappointed,” said manager Daniel Farke, via the BBC. “When I came here we needed to develop young players and sell them to keep the club going. We were able to do this. Then the second season no-one expected anything but we were able to stage a miracle that no-one expected. We won the Championship title with a special brand of football. We were not able to add a third miracle in-a-row against all odds.

“I’m really disappointed for this and for all our supporters. We wanted to beat the odds again but when the dust settles the outcome is more or less what was expected. …  That’s what I expected.”

Farke hopes he can stay with the club and bring it back into the Premier League.

“Our situation as a club is quite comfortable because we don’t have any financial pressure at all and our young players are under long-term contracts. We can invest a bit more into the squad. Hopefully in the medium or long-term future we are an established Premier League club and we will need all our key players to do that.”

Norwich veteran Alexander Tettey found it difficult to label his emotions, even if the result was long coming to Carrow Road.

The Norwegian mainstay has been with the Canaries since 2012, enduring promotion and relegation with the club.

“It’s very hard for me to talk,” Tettey said. “That was a tough game for us. We came out trying to be positive but when we don’t do what we have to do on the pitch we are punished. … We’ve been in games sometimes but we don’t have the mentality or character to get those wins. It’s been a tough journey, it’s a young group but they will now have that experience.”

A bitter day at Carrow Road, even if it was long in front of the club.

Pair of Deeney penalties lead Watford comeback win

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Troy Deeney converted two penalties as Watford surged closer to Premier League safety with a 2-1 comeback win over Newcastle United at Vicarage Road.

Down 1-0 on a Dwight Gayle goal, the Hornets scored twice in the second half to move six points clear of 18th-place Bournemouth.

STREAM WATFORD – NEWCASTLE LIVE

Newcastle remains 13th with 44 points.


Three things we learned

1. (Of course) Deeney delivers: Watford captain Deeney has had a remarkable run at Vicarage Road and this season had plenty of storylines. But it was Deeney who had to go to the penalty spot twice to (possibly) seal his beloved club’s status in the Premier League. The two goals will feel good but not as good as another season in the top flight.

2. Magpies architect of own demise: The Magpies looked very good in the first half but their defending in the second half was abject, right down to two silly penalties. Matt Ritchie put himself in a bad spot to allow Kiko Femenia to win an early second half penalty and Javi Manquillo’s takedown of Ismaila Sarr 30 minutes later was laughable. The Magpies didn’t deserve the points based on the second half chances conceded anyway.

3. Newcastle worn out: Steve Bruce rested Miguel Almiron last match and Allan Saint-Maximin is probably looking upon that with greedy eyes. Newcastle’s best players have had to go and go again, and they just look a bit off it. A visit from Spurs on Wednesday is next.

Man of the Match

There were a few candidates for the Hornets, but we’ll go with the “Deeney of the defense” in Craig Dawson. He broke up a number of Newcastle opportunities.


Watford – Newcastle recap

Miguel Almiron came close to getting a leg on Allan Saint-Maximin’s fourth-minute cross.

A corner led to another Almiron shot, this one stopped well by Ben Foster.

Watford nearly had it 1-0 in the 17th. when Danny Welbeck’s shot was pushed off the near post by Martin Dubravka and saved off the line by Jamaal Lascelles.

Newcastle kept knocking, though, and took the lead through in-form Gayle, who showed up at the back post to poke in Federico Fernandez’s redirected corner kick.

Foster denied a breaking Saint-Maximin in the 35th minute as the Magpies looked good money for another goal.

That’s not to say Watford didn’t manufacture some chances, including a few quality set piece chances in the final few minutes of the first half.

The Magpies cleared an unholy goal mouth scramble off a 42nd-minute set piece and Almiron broke up the pressure with a long dribble into the Watford half.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Kiko Femenia hit the deck under Matt Ritchie’s challenge to win a 52nd-minute penalty, Deeney dispatching it past Dubravka to make it 1-1. His seventh goal is also his 130th in a Watford shirt.

Fernandez nearly gave the game to Watford with a miserable pass, but Dubravka stopped Deeney’s wasted direct shot.

Saint-Maximin forced an own goal out of Watford but the linesman’s flag was raised in the 67th.

The Magpies conceded the inevitable second goal when Manquillo wrapped up Sarr with a dozen minutes to play.

Norwich City relegated

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Norwich City’s fifth Premier League journey is a one-and-done.

The Canaries were well-beaten 4-0 by a Michail Antonio haul for West Ham United at Carrow Road on Saturday and will head to the Championship after one season.

[ MORE: Farke, Tettey react to relegation ]

Norwich’s 21 points are 10 back of 17th-place Watford with only three matches and nine points left for the Canaries.

The win conversely puts West Ham United on pretty safe footing, six points clear of the bottom three. The 16th place-Irons have a three-point edge on Watford.

WATCH. NORWICH CITY – WEST HAM FULL MATCH REPLAY


Three things we learned

1. Norwich’s tortured season unredeemable: So many injuries at the back end and too many unlucky moments to count combined to make the Canaries the first and least surprising of three relegated teams. Grant Hanley and Christoph Zimmerman missed 20-plus games over two stretches including the final weeks of the season, and Timm Klose has had to play nearly every minute since returning from a long-term injury.

Founding members of the Premier League in 1992, Norwich was first relegated in 1995 before rejoining the top flight a decade later. The club went back to the Championship after one year and sunk as low as League One in 2009-10.

This season was the Canaries’ third promotion of the decade and there were wonderful moments, many authored by Teemu Pukki and the electric Emiliano Buendia. Those two will join Todd Cantwell, Max Aarons, and Ben Godfrey as hotly-tracked transfer targets this summer.

2. The defense, fittingly, is the problem: Norwich City has been so bad at the back this year, some of it not their fault due to the injuries detailed above. The Canaries allowed six “big chances” according to SofaScore and it was just in the cards this season. The win over Man City feels ages ago.

3. Noble very good in return: West Ham’s captain returned to the starting lineup and was the proverbial straw that stirs the drink. He was economical in his challenges but won almost all of them and showed an array of passes while producing a terrific “hockey assist” to Fredericks on Antonio’s fourth.

Man of the Match:

Antonio — The hat trick hero has been out-working back line almost from the moment the Premier League returned to the pitch, and his goals were well-deserved. Mark Noble might be the club’s emotional guts, but Antonio’s been its heart and motor. Four goals? Come on. Antonio now has 36 career PL goals and is one away from his single-season best.


Norwich City – West Ham United recap

Tomas Soucek was lively early and drove a pass from Michail Antonio wide in the first eight minutes.

It was Antonio who put the Irons ahead with a firm back post finish of Issa Diop’s flicked corner.

Onel Hernandez clipped a Norwich chance wide but West Ham had most of the danger and Jarrod Bowen asked a big save of Tim Krul.

The Irons put Norwich effectively in the Championship when Antonio turned Mark Noble’s free kick home.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Krul stopped Antonio’s 54th-minute charge past Godfrey but Antonio leapt to head the rebound into the open net for 3-0.

The final goal came off a nice Noble ball to spring Ryan Fredericks into the right of the box, and the defender spotted Antonio for a slick backheeled finish.

Liverpool – Burnley stream: How to watch, start time, prediction, odds

Liverpool - Burnley stream
Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images
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Premier League champions Liverpool continue their pursuit of history with a visit from Europa League-chasing Burnley at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live at 10am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

STREAM LIVERPOOL – BURNLEY LIVE

Liverpool looks for win No. 31 in 35 tries this league season, the hosts opening the day with 92 points and a 23-point lead on second-place Man City.

Burnley is in 10th with 49 points and can go eighth with a draw or seventh with a win.

Team news

Jurgen Klopp hands starts to youngsters Neco Williams and Curtis Jones.

Chris Wood is back in the lineup for Burnley, who moves Jay Brownhill inside to face the champions.

 

How to Watch Liverpool – Burnley

Start time: 10am ET
TV Channel: NBCSN
Stream Online: NBCSports.com