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Premier League Preview: Manchester United v. Southampton

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  • Man United unbeaten in 11 PL games under OGS
  • United (55 points), 5th in PL
  • Southampton (27 points), 17th
  • Saints 2-2 United, in December

It was nothing but smooth sailing for Manchester United — at least, in the Premier League — beginning when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as interim manager in mid-December, and they’ve continued to roll along with relative ease despite an ongoing injury crisis ravaging the first-team squad. Solskjaer will once again be without a number of key figures for Saturday’s clash with Southampton at Old Trafford (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

After drawing PL leaders Liverpool last weekend, Man United were without injured stars Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford (all one the bench) from the start of Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace. Such are the spoils of having one of the deepest — and most expensively assembled — squads in the world, when a $97-million player like Romelu Lukaku can return to the lineup after a difficult season and bag a brace — his first goals since Jan. 5.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

On the other side, Southampton have a bit of confidence for the first time in quite some time. Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over fellow relegation battlers Fulham snapped a four-game winless skid and pulled Saints two points clear of the relegation zone and 18th-place Cardiff City. The challenge, however, of facing fifth-place United, who trail Arsenal by just one point in their bid to re-enter the top-four after a disastrous start to the season, should prove infinitely more difficult.

Injuries

Man United OUT: Jesse Lingard (hamstring), Ander Herrera (hamstring), Juan Mata (hamstring), Nemanja Matic (leg), Antonio Valencia (calf); QUESTIONABLE: Anthony Martial (groin) | Southampton — OUT: Mario Lemina (abdomen), Michael Obafemi (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Danny Ings (hamstring)

What they’re saying

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on selection options: “Rashford is fully fit now. I’ll probably start him. I don’t think there will be many changes. It’s the last session today, but we’re not going to take any risks, so maybe Anthony [Martial], but it might just be even a few more days before he’s ready, so probably the squad will look similar to what it did on Wednesday. Maybe one-third of them will be Academy kids — maybe even more — so that’s a good point to take out of it.”

Ralph Hasenhuttl, on the task of Old Trafford: “It’s a tough match, sure, but we go there with more confidence from our side. We had an important win against Fulham, and that helps us a lot, but the pressure is still on, so we will try to do everything to get points there. I know there are easier places to win than Old Trafford, especially at the moment, as the team is now completely different to two or three months ago. It’s now a team that is unbeaten in a long time and the new manager hasn’t lost a game until now, but, for us, it’s important to focus on our strengths and our qualities.”

Prediction

There’s simply too much on the line for United, who simply have too much talent and depth for Southampton on a three-game week. If the Red Devils score early, it could quickly get out of hand and wind up 4-0.

Fans who want to try their hand at predicting PL games can down the NBC Sports Predictor app, with a chance to win up to $50,000 each week. Download it on iOS or Google Play.

Bilbao’s Williams: ‘I suffered racist insults’ at Espanyol

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams says that he was a victim of racial abuse from fans while playing at Espanyol in a Spanish league game on Saturday.

Williams said after the 1-1 draw that “I suffered racist insults, something that no one wants to hear and has no place here.”

Williams, who is black, played 82 minutes of the match before being substituted.

“People should come to enjoy themselves, to help their team. This is a sport about friendship,” Williams said.

More AP soccer https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

FA Cup: Chelsea survive trip to Hull, advance to 5th round (video)

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With their 2-1 victory away to EFL Championship side Hull City, Chelsea joined Leicester City, Sheffield United and Norwich City as Premier League sides to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

[ FA CUP ROUNDUP: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance ]

Frank Lampard‘s side got off to a flying start courtesy of Michy Batshuayi‘s deflected finish in the 6th minute, and the Blues were well on their way to a first half of total dominance.

Hull looked more prepared for a fight after halftime, but it mattered very little after Fikayo Tomori was gifted a free header two yards off the goal line. Ross Barkley‘s free kick was well placed at the back post and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop it.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Hull pulled the game back to 2-1 in the 78th minute, and they were more than a little fortunate in how they managed to do so. Kamil Grosicki smacked a free kick with plenty of power and got the deflection of all deflections to wrong-foot Willy Caballero and find the back of the net.

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

FA Cup roundup: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round (early) action…

[ MORE: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

West Ham United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

West Ham were the lone Premier League side to be knocked out by a lower-division side on Saturday, as David Moyes‘ side failed to find the back of the net and were beaten 1-0 by EFL Championship leaders West Brom.

Conor Townsend scored the game’s only goal in the 9th minute, and though the Hammers controlled possession the rest of the way, they created very little in terms of scoring chances and finished the game with just three shots on target. West Brom finished the game with 10 men, but West Ham could do nothing with their 18-minute advantage following Semi Ajayi‘s second yellow card in the 72nd minute.

Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United

Sheffield United’s dream season continued with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Championship side Millwall. Both goals came inside the final half-hour, but the Blades were unquestionably the better side even before breaking the deadlock.

That came in the 62nd minute, when Muhamed Besic placed a stunning curler inside the far post for 1-0. Not long before full-time, in the 84th, Oliver Norwood drove his effort hard and low and into the corner to make it 2-0.

Burnley 1-2 Norwich City

Norwich and Burnley were largely inseparable for the majority of Saturday’s clash at Turf Moor, save for a four-minute period early in the second half in which Norwich scored twice and booked their place in the fifth round.

Grant Hanley made it 1-0 in the 53rd and Josip Drmic added to the advantage in the 57th minute. Erik Pieters pulled Burnley back to within a goal in the 73rd, but that’s as close as the Clarets would get.

FA Cup fourth-round scoreboard

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur — FULL RECAP
Newcastle United 0-0 Oxford United
Portsmouth 4-2 Barnsley
Coventry City 0-0 Birmingham City
Reading 1-1 Cardiff City

RB Leipzig beaten, Bundesliga title race thrown wide open

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BERLIN (AP) Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Bundesliga leader RB Leipzig 2-0 to throw the title race wide open on Saturday.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Frankfurt defender Almamy Toure scored a brilliant goal just after the break and Filip Kostic sealed the win in injury time to deal Leipzig its first defeat since a 2-1 loss at home to Freiburg in October.

Borussia Monchengladbach cut the gap at the top to two points with a 3-1 win at home over Mainz, thanks largely to goals in each half from French striker Alassane Plea.

Bayern Munich has the chance to cut the gap to one point with a win at home over Schalke in the late game.

[ FA CUP: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

Borussia Dortmund is just four points off the top after its 5-1 win over Cologne on Friday.

Also Saturday, Union Berlin defeated Augsburg 2-0 at home, Hertha Berlin came from behind to win 2-1 at Wolfsburg, and Paderborn moved off the bottom with a 2-0 win at Freiburg.