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Premier League Preview: Bournemouth vs. Manchester United

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  • AFC Bournemouth striker Joshua King has been ruled out with an ankle injury. Eddie Howe says he is “quietly confident” Simon Francis will be passed fit after the defender suffered an injury in the EFL Cup tie against Norwich. 
  • Manchester United has Jesse Lingard and Alexis Sanchez (both groin) available again. Marouane Fellaini (groin), Diogo Dalot and Antonio Valencia (knee) remain sidelined. 
  • AFC Bournemouth, who has kept a clean sheet in its last three Premier League matches, can now make it four in a row in the top flight for the first time.
  • Anthony Martial has scored in his last three PL matches, hitting four goals in total. He can now register in a fourth consecutive fixture in the competition for the first time. 

Bournemouth looks to win its fourth game out of its last five Premier League matches as it hosts Jose Mourinho and Manchester United (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Eddie Howe’s side has scored nine goals in its last three Premier League victories, including three goals from Callum Wilson and David Brooks each. However, Bournemouth will be without star forward Joshua King and Man United appear to be finding its feet in the Premier League. The club nearly left Stamford Bridge with a win against Chelsea and the Red Devils held on to a 2-1 win last weekend against Everton.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Paul Pogba seems to be back to his best (even with his loooooong penalty kick run-up), and Anthony Martial has scored in his last three games. Can he make it four in a row?

What they’re saying?

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe on being underdogs against Man United: “Players need to know to get anything out of the game, they are going to have to excel, perhaps even above what we have done this season, to get a positive result. That’s my message to the players. Whenever you play the elite teams, the big guns, you have to outperform your levels. You have to hit your very top to get a result. We have found that before, you can’t play below your best and expect to win. The challenge is to win and go harder.”

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on keeping his team focused on themselves and not the rest of the table: “I think in this moment we have to focus on ourselves and do better, or get better results. I think it’s very difficult, for example, to go to Stamford Bridge and do better than what we did in terms of performance. We had three points in our pocket but we left with only one. In other matches, we could have had and we should have had better results than we did. So, until the end of December, we have to focus on ourselves and the potential we have and the problems we have and the qualities we have and try to go because at the moment we are outside the top four. We have to push hard and work hard to improve and try and get into the top four positions.“

Video Preview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGNVAOfI6JU

Prediction

We think this can be a pretty exciting match, though both teams will have to share the spoils. Paul Pogba actually scores a penalty kick on Saturday but Bournemouth’s Wilson scraps one home on a set piece. Bournemouth 1-1 Man United. 

Court date for USWNT’s law suit versus U.S. Soccer delayed

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A court case that has dragged U.S. Soccer’s administration through the mud and led to a change of leadership may drag into the summer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A judge in California has delayed the May 5 trial of gender discrimination against the USSF until June 16 due in part to the coronavirus pandemic. A pretrial conference was also moved to June 1.

The federation is being sued by members of the two-time reigning World Cup champion USWNT under the Equal Pay Act.

The women are requesting more than $66 million in damages.

The extra month gives both parties more time to reach a settlement which could keep this ugly case away from trial. Given the uncertainty in our world, it could of course be delayed again.

The USSF has a new CEO in Will Wilson, who can make a major statement of change by stopping the trial from reaching court.

Handicapping the Final Four of Premier League March Madness

Premier League March Madness
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Our Premier League March Madness results have been as topsy-turvy as the 2019/20 on-field campaign before coronavirus halted it last month.

Yes, the runaway No. 1 seed is alive, but the second, third, fourth, and fifth seeds have been expelled from the tournament within the first two rounds.

Voting in the semifinal round begins Thursday.

[ RESULTS: March Madness Round of 16 ]

Before we go any further, if you’re unfamiliar: To make sure you’re not missing out on either March Madness or the business end of the PL season, we’ve gone ahead and merged the two competitions. The March Madness Final Four and Championship game were due to take place this weekend in Atlanta but now you will be voting on Tottenham v. Arsenal instead of Duke v. Kansas.

Teams are seeded from 1-16 based on their current spot in the table, with Aston Villa winning the relegation playoffs on Monday to remain in the Premier League.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Before we handicap the semifinal matches, let’s take a look at where the field sits after your Wednesday voting.

No. 1 Liverpool v. No. 12 Everton
No. 6 Wolves v. No. 7 Sheffield United

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Look, all bets are off for the derby. The Everton faithful has shown up in a big way during voting, dispatching Manchester United and Chelsea.

That’s big time stuff, though Liverpool ended the dreams of our presumptive sleeping giant favorite Arsenal after beating West Ham in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Reds are going to have to not just been upstart Everton but overcome the legions of rival supporters who would happily click the Toffees’ box rather than see Liverpool gain the crown.

The other side of the bracket sees No. 7 Sheffield United looking to continue its surprising run in both the PL season and our voting.

The Blades knocked off Man City, potentially aided by the same phenomenon Everton hopes to see on Thursday.

Now they meet Wolves, who may be riding a crest of North American momentum in the form of affinity for El Tri hero Raul Jimenez.

Our prediction: Everton and Wolves in the Final.

RESULTS: Premier League March Madness Elite Eight

Premier League March Madness
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Everton continued its upset path toward in our Premier League March Madness voting, showing its sensational support and setting up a fantastic eMerseyside Derby in the Final Four.

Thousands of votes were cast Wednesday, and the Toffees upset isn’t even the top underdog story.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Chris Wilder’s Blades of Sheffield United won a back-and-forth affair with No. 2 seed Manchester City to move into the semifinals.

That’s where they’ll meet No. 6 seed Wolves, who powered past Leicester City as if it wasn’t a challenge.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final – Aston Villa prevailed, Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford relegated
TuesdaySweet 16 results in full
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

IFAB: New handball rule can be adopted when games resume

Handball rule
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The International Football Association Board (IFAB) issued a letter from secretary Lukas Brud on Wednesday, outlining several changes to the game.

The “tee shirt line” handball rule may be coming to club football quicker than expected due to the coronavirus suspension of the 2019/20 season.

IFAB will allow leagues the choice to use the new handball rule when matches resume this season, also making changes to VAR protocol and vowing to review the offside rule.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The new handball rule states that the shoulder goes to the end of the shirt sleeve or the bottom of the armpit (though obviously not in the case of a long-sleeve jersey).

For the purposes of determining handball offences, the ‘arm’ stops at the bottom of the armpit

So… get ready for baggy, longer jersey sleeves, or the increased recruitment of players with the longest armpits.

Kidding aside, the handball rule desperately needed clarification and we’ll see if this gives enough to fans and players alike.

Referees will now be “expected” to go to the screen on the field when a call is subjective, forcing the official to either uphold or overrule his initial call.

This same post says IFAB will now allow accidental handballs in the run-up to a goal in certain situations.

“Accidental handball by an attacking player should only be penalized if it ‘immediately’ results in a goal or an obvious opportunity for the player and/or their team to score a goal (i.e. following the handball, the ball travels only a short distance and/or there are very few passes).”

Well, that needs some clarification.

Back to the timing issue for the new handball rule, it seems logical that leagues would want to introduce new laws with a new season but stand-by for the decision of your favorite league.

As for the offside rule, “The members agreed that the fundamental philosophy of offside is underpinned by a desire to encourage attacking football and the scoring of goals. It was further agreed, therefore, that Law 11 – Offside should be analyzed and reviewed with a view to potentially proposing changes reflecting this philosophy.”

It’s a lot to unpack, and we’ll surely here from proponents and opponents of the changes soon. As always, implementation will make the biggest difference in how these changes are received.