PL Sunday preview: Manchester derby; Chelsea, Liverpool go for 12

Leave a comment

You could say that Sunday is a big day of Premier League fixtures, but you’d be massively under-selling a six-and-a-half-hour period that see four games played, featuring five of the PL’s “big six” sides.

[ MORE: Spurs grind out another win despite mounting injuries ]

Liverpool vs. Fulham — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

In the day’s first game, Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool will seek to become the first side in the PL to reach a dozen games without a defeat. Doing so with a victory at Anfield would (temporarily) vault them ahead of Chelsea and Manchester City for top spot in the title race. A swift response will be required after a shocking defeat away to Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Tuesday. It’s not the first time the Reds have lost away on the continent this season: after losing to Napoli last month, Liverpool returned to domestic play and secured a scoreless home draw with Man City.

While Tuesday’s hiccup might seem a disaster in Liverpool’s world, last-place Fulham would beg to differ. The Cottagers haven’t won since Aug. 26, game no. 3 of the season, and have managed just two points from the eight games they’ve played since. On the bright, they sit just three points adrift of 17th place and can drag themselves clear of the relegation zone with a few decent results. Slavisa Jokanovic‘s side has had plenty of problems on both ends of the field — they’ve scored just four goals in their last seven games, simultaneously conceding 20 of the 29 they’ve given up on the season.

INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) | Fulham — OUT: None


Chelsea vs. Everton — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Very few foresaw a title challenge from Chelsea in Maurizio Sarri‘s first season in England, but the Blues sit second in the table (ahead of Liverpool on goal differential) nearly one-third of the way through the season, also yet to lose (in any competition) in 2018-19. Eden Hazard appears fully recovered from his back injury, which severely limited his minutes late last month, after playing 62 minutes in Thursday’s Europa League win away to BATE Borisov. The Belgian superstar is joint-top of the Golden Boot race with seven goals (plus four assists — tied-fourth most) and has been the best player in the PL, by a substantial margin. In comparison to City and Liverpool’s stingy number of goals conceded — four and five, respectively — Chelsea’s eight seems uninspiring, yet remains next-best by a good distance.

It’s been nearly five years (Dec. 4, 2013, against Manchester United) since Everton last won away to one of the PL’s “big six” sides. Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge is merely the Toffees’ next opportunity to break their 30-game skid (0W-9D-21L), but it’s hardly a golden one. It’s been nearly as many tries, 23, since Everton last won away to the Blues (Nov. 26, 1994). Everton’s newly crowned talisman, Richarlison, has been made available for selection after being an injury doubt all week. Marco Silva won’s be so lucky in defense, though, as first-choice center back Kurt Zouma, on loan from Chelsea, is ineligible to play against his parent club.

INJURIES: Chelsea — OUT: None | Everton — OUT: None


Man City vs. Man United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The third and final — though first in the table — unbeaten side, Man City, will host a Man United side which has (somewhat predictably) fallen on hard times in Jose Mourinho’s third season at the club. Despite winning three of their last four league games, the Red Devils enter Sunday’s Manchester derby seven points (and four places) behind fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur. However, Tuesday’s Champions League triumph away to Juventus will have United feeling full of confidence when they visit the Etihad Stadium. Mourinho has been strangely quiet this week — with regards to City, not Juve — offering few, if any, words about City’s financial fair play predicament or his side’s chances. Perhaps the red half of Manchester has begun to accept the city for its newfound blueness.

As for City, what’s to dislike about a side that has dropped just two points in its last 11 games (all competitions) and has shown no signs whatsoever of dropping off from last season’s record-setting performance? Sure, Kevin De Bruyne is set to miss a couple months due to a knee injury, for the second time this season, but he’s appeared in just three league games thus far (started none — 82 total minutes), yet City have won 29 of a possible 33 points. There’s also a small matter of avenging the home loss of last season, which prevented Pep Guardiola‘s side clinching the title against its most bitter rivals.

INJURIES: Man City — OUT: Kevin De Bruyne (knee), Claudio Bravo (achilles), Eliaquim Mangala (knee) | Man United — OUT: Antonio Valencia (undisclosed)


Arsenal vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Since suffering defeat in each of their first two games this season, Arsenal have fancied themselves as one of the unbeatens, winning 13 and drawing three of their 16 games since. The somewhat troubling part of those impressive numbers, though, is the fact that the three draws have all come in the Gunners’ last four games (two in the PL, one in the Europa League). On the plus side, one of those league draws came against Liverpool last weekend, signaling the Gunners might just be credible peers to title contenders once again.

Their opponents on Sunday, Wolves, have struggled in recent weeks after a strong start to the season. Three straight losses have dropped Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side to 11th in the table, and an inability to score from open play has been a key culprit. Wolves scored twice in last weekend’s 3-2 loss to Tottenham, but each tally came from the penalty spot, after being held scoreless by Watford and Brighton & Hove Albion — not exactly defensive world-beaters. Still, to be seven points and seven spots clear of the relegation zone right now, in the club’s first season back in the PL since 2012, has been a dream start everyone involved with the club would have taken back in August.

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Stephan Lichtsteiner (hamstring), Laurent Koscielny (achilles), Danny Welbeck (ankle) | Wolves — OUT: None

VIDEO: Rashford’s VIP Man United trip for American cancer survivor

Marcus Rashford/Twitter
Leave a comment

Marcus Rashford is one of the good guys.

We knew that even before this heart-warming gesture.

John Burk is a cancer survivor from the State of Georgia who had never been to Old Trafford to see his beloved Manchester United play.

Now he’s been to the Theater of Dreams. In style.

Last month John’s friends, led by Matt Waymont, reached out to Rashford on Twitter to ask if he could help with tickets as they had raised money to fly with John to the UK for Man United’s clash with Brighton on Nov. 10.

The power of social media did the rest, as Rashford didn’t only get them tickets but gave them a VIP experience for the 3-1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday. Rashford scored United’s third goal to cap off a sensational trip for John and his friends.

United legends Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown all got in on the act too, as Rashford and Co. rolled out the carpet for their fans from the USA. They watched the game from Rashford’s private box, ate at Rio’s restaurant, stayed at Neville’s hotel and were given a tour of Old Trafford by Brown.

Take a look at the video below to get a taste of what John and the lads got up to during their incredible trip to Old Trafford.

This is truly wonderful.

Inter Miami to host LA Galaxy in historic MLS home opener

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Circle March 14, 2020 on your calendar.

It is the day Inter Miami CF will arrive at home in Major League Soccer, which will be over six years since the Florida city was awarded an MLS expansion franchise.

This also means that Inter Miami will begin their inaugural season on the road, as the 2020 MLS campaign is scheduled to being in late February.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

On Wednesday it was announced that David Beckham’s MLS franchise will finally play their first home game as an expansion franchise, as they host LA Galaxy at Fort Lauderdale Stadium at 2:30 p.m. ET.

This will be a lovely moment for Beckham, as the team he has co-ownership of will face the MLS team he played for as a Designated Player.

“Futbol comes full circle as Inter Miami faces former MLS club of David Beckham, the LA Galaxy. As a player, the Galaxy was the MLS side of Beckham between 2007-2012. Now, as club owner of inter Miami, Beckham will be supporting alongside the 18,000 in attendance and countless tuning in from afar.”

This will also mark the second time an MLS has played in Miami, as the now defunct Miami Fusion played from 1998-2001 and called Lockhart Stadium (on the same site as Inter Miami CF’s brand new Fort Lauderdale stadium) home.

Beckham’s ownership group are in ongoing talks with the City of Miami and other parties about building their permanent 25,000 capacity stadium on the Freedom Park site close to Miami International Airport. A key vote this week saw the plans for Freedom Park stalled once again, as Beckham continues to struggle to find a permanent home for his team in and around downtown Miami.

Until then the 18,000 capacity temporary stadium in Fort Lauderdale will be home, and when they finally move into a more permanent venue its capacity will be reduced to house their reserve side, while Inter Miami CF’s training ground will be located on the same site.

Many refused to believe Beckham’s Inter Miami CF would ever arrive in Major League Soccer, but he is now their Director of Soccer operations and work on their home in Fort Lauderdale is well under way.

Now that their first home game is scheduled and it is just four months away, it all seems very real.

Danny Rose: I will run down my Tottenham contract

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Oh, good, just what Tottenham needed. Another contract rebel.

Danny Rose, 29, has told the London Evening Standard he will run down the remaining 18 months of his contract.

In an open and ruthlessly honest interview, Rose revealed that Spurs wanted him to leave in the summer but he wants to leave on his own terms.

Rose didn’t travel with the team for their preseason tour of the Far East and he revealed exactly why that was the case.

“It’s pretty obvious what happened [in the summer]. People upstairs at Tottenham were trying to do what they were trying to do. I’ve said [to them] I’ve got 18 months left on my contract and I’m not going anywhere until my contract has ­finished,” Rose said. “In January, you’re probably going to hear something [about my future]. I’m telling you right now that I’m not going anywhere until my contract is finished. [Tottenham chairman] Daniel Levy told me in the summer there was no new contract for me at Tottenham, which is fine. I respect that. We move on.

“My contract is up in 18 months’ time and I’ll leave the football club then. People [in the media] can save their time ­trying to get stuff ready for January about me being sold. Because I can tell you now: it ain’t happening. I know what people were trying to do in the summer… There were no bids — that was rubbish.”

Wow.

Rose has not held back, at all.

He has started 11 of Spurs’ 16 games in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League this season and although he admitted he has made some big mistakes so far, he said he is very happy playing for Mauricio Pochettino and the two have a very good relationship.

However, this situation adds to the growing unrest in the dressing room with Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld all out of contract next summer, it appears that Pochettino has a growing player revolt on his hands.

It’s not all his fault though, as Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is a stickler for a bargain and was unlikely to let any of the aforementioned players leave on the cheap this summer.

But the product of keeping players against their will and not offering new contracts is that Spurs now have a large chunk of their first team who know they are a) not wanted and b) won’t be able to move until May.

Even though Rose and others know they will be moving on soon, they will of course try and give their all for Spurs. But with an eye on a move, you can certainly understand why Tottenham’s players have dropped their levels by a few percent.

That is all it takes to stop being title and top four contenders to being in 14th place and hoping for a top six finish.

Bernardo Silva banned over Benjamin Mendy tweet

Getty Images
1 Comment

Manchester City winger Bernardo Silva has been banned for one-game after being found guilty of breaching FA Rule E3(1).

Silva posted a message on his Twitter account on September 22 with a photo of close friend and City teammate Benjamin Mendy next to a mascot for Spanish confectionery brand Conguitos.

He posted the message “Guess who?” above the photos before deleting it and then saying “Can’t even joke with a friend these days… You Guys…”

Along with the one-game ban, Silva was also fined $64,000 and must complete face-to-face education after admitting the charge.

Below is the FA’s statement in full:

Bernardo Silva has been suspended for one first team competitive fixture, fined £50,000 and must complete face-to-face education after admitting a breach of FA Rule E3.

“The Manchester City midfielder’s social media activity on 22 September 2019 breached FA Rule E3(1), as it was insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute, and constituted an “Aggravated Breach”, which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included reference, whether expressed or implied, to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin.”

The ban will see Silva miss Man City’s home game against Chelsea on Saturday, Nov. 23 (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) and this ban seems more lenient than many were expecting as all parties agreed to the sanctions and Silva’s previous good behavior was taken into account.

Also, here is a look at some of their mitigating circumstances when it came to investigating the situation and handing out the sanctions.