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PL Preview: Chelsea vs Manchester City

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  • Man City has won the last 3 meetings 4-0
  • Chelsea has won 2 of its last 5 PL matches
  • Eden Hazard on an 11-match scoreless streak

Maurizio Sarri has problems to solve for the first time this season, and any lingering issues will be under siege as Chelsea hosts Manchester City on Saturday. (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues need Eden Hazard to return to his best, now without a goal in 11 straight matches for club and country. Hazard does have three assists in his last five Premier League matches, but has not found the back of the net since early October in a 3-0 win over Southampton. In addition, it’s likely that Jorginho and David Luiz will both return to the Blues starting lineup, as they were rested in the midweek match against Wolves, which led to a second loss in three matches.

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On the other side, Leroy Sane is rounding into form after a tumultuous offseason. The 22-year-old has four goals in his last five matches, and has re-emerged as a starting option for Pep Guardiola. He’s likely to retain his starting spot as Kevin De Bruyne is not expected to return from injury.

Man City sits two points above Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table, while Chelsea is level with Arsenal on points, but sits in fourth, ahead of the Gunners on goal differential.

What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on facing recent difficulties“I knew very well that sooner or later we have to face difficulties. When you change the way of playing, the way of football, you need to change the mentality. We have a problem to manage the match at the moment. In the last two matches we played well for 55, 60 minutes, then the first difficulty we went in blackout. We didn’t react as a team, but as 11 players – in 11 different ways. So it’s a big problem.”

Man City boss Pep Guardiola on beating Chelsea last season: “Last season, winning there was more than three points. It showed we could do it. It was an important step for last season, the first important game away against the last champion. In that moment, it was important to say, ‘We can go anywhere and deliver a good performance – winning and with a good performance.”

Prediction

If any team can smell fear in an opponent, it’s Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has trained his side to take advantage of any slight imperfection in the opposition, and with Chelsea in a bad way of late, the pre-match narrative carries weight here. Manchester City pulls off a 3-1 win over the Blues, leaving Chelsea with another reminder that Sarri needs time to truly turn them into title contenders.

Watford chasing Rennes, Senegal star Sarr

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Watford may capture one of the rising stars of the game.

Ismaila Sarr would cost the Hornets a club transfer record fee, and Sky Sports says that Watford and Rennes are about $10 million apart.

The Ligue 1 side reportedly wants $34 million for the Senegal national team right wing.

[ VIDEO: Nketiah leads Arsenal win ]

Sarr, 21, scored a goal and an assist in Senegal’s run to the Africa Cup of Nations final, playing opposite Sadio Mane of Liverpool.

He posted 13 goals with 14 assists last season between Ligue 1, the French Cup, and the Europa League. He was the lone Rennes player to score against Arsenal in the UEL Round of 16.

Watford has held onto Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dodi Lukebakio this offseason. Lukebakio is also a 21-year-old right wing, and had a sensational loan season with Fortuna Dusseldorf in 2019-20.

Nketiah leads Arsenal past Fiorentina (video)

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Eddie Nketiah scored twice as Arsenal beat Fiorentina 3-0 in Charlotte on Saturday.

Joe Willock also scored for the Gunners, which beat Colorado Rapids and Bayern Munich in their first two matches of the preseason and meet Real Madrid in Maryland on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]

Fiorentina took 18 of the match’s 30 shots, though Arsenal had nearly 60 percent of the ball.

Nketiah, 20, scored against Burnley in last season’s Premier League finale and then late against Bayern Munich earlier this week.

He was deft in a high-pressure spot for this one.

Premier League friendlies: Watford beats Bayer, Man Utd over Inter

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Arsenal and Fiorentina are set to kickoff in Charlotte tonight, with the Gunners the last of a bevy of Premier League sides to engage in preseason friendlies this muggy Saturday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]


Girona 1-2 Bournemouth

Juanpe’s late header pushed La Liga’s hosts past Eddie Howe and his 10-man Cherries, playing down after VAR deemed Jack Simpson‘s foul worthy of a sending off. Ryan Fraser scored Bournemouth’s goal, assisted by Jordon Ibe.

Northampton Town 0-4 Sheffield United

Oliver Norwood converted two penalties in an easy win for Chris Wilder in his return to a club he played for and managed.

Fulham 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion

Pascal Gross scored with an early free kick — a Megan Rapinoe special — but Tom Cairney scored twice after halftime for the Championship side.

Cheltenham Town 1-2 Leicester City

The Foxes collected a second win over a lower league side this week, with Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton on the board.

Newcastle United 1-0 West Ham United (Shanghai)

New manager Steve Bruce watched from the crowd as the Magpies made amends for a 4-0 loss to Wolves by blanking West Ham. Jamie Sterry‘s cross for Yoshinori Muto was delightful, and the Japanese striker’s finish was well-taken.

Port Vale 1-3 Burnley; Crewe Alexandra 0-1 Burnley

Chris Wood, Matej Vydra and Robbie Brady scored as the Clarets overcame an early Nick Pope goal to beat Port Vale, but the Premier League side couldn’t do much in a simultaneous friendly at Crewe.

Inter Milan 0-1 Manchester United (Singapore)

Substitute forward Mason Greenwood, just 17, scored the late goal in a match United controlled, outshooting Inter 21-8.

Preston North End 1-3 Southampton

Brace-bagging Danny Ings doesn’t usually have a problem with finish, so passing the ball directly to him is not something we’d recommend to goalkeepers. Jake Vokins also scored for Saints at Deepdale.

Watford 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)

Will Hughes and Andre Gray scored as the Hornets collected a win over Champions League competition.

Man City (0-0, 2-3 pens) Wolves (Shanghai)

Rui Patricio was very good over 90 minutes, and stopped City’s first two penalty attempts as Wolves continue to perplex the PL champions.

WATCH: Marco Fabian smashes set piece goal

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Marco Fabian sent a missile toward goal, and perhaps it’s good the goalkeeper didn’t get to the hand-breaking shot.

Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead over Chicago on Saturday in Chester, Pennsylvania, thanks to the Mexican midfielder.

[ REPORT: Man Utd locks up De Gea ]

It was a pretty set piece from Jim Curtin’s men, a backwards played free kick was laid off to Fabian for his audacious rip.

Fabian hasn’t had a wonderful 2019 season, but his fourth goal of the season will give Union supporters hope that he’ll pick up his form and make the already East-leading side all the more dangerous.