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Top Premier League storylines: Week 33

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Manchester City has regained the top spot in the Premier League table, and with a one-point differential, Liverpool must now do the catching up. The Reds aren’t the only team this weekend in action with a chance to grab an enormous three points, however.

Four teams sit within three points of each other in the race for the Champions League spots, with just two spots between them. And additionally, there are three teams tied at 33 points all just above the relegation zone hoping to pull away and avoid being sucked into the drop.

[ MORE: Mourinho to Inter or Roma? ]

So who will come away with three valuable points, and who will leave the pitch disappointed this weekend? Here are the big storylines from the fixtures to come.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 


Liverpool battles to keep pace
Friday, 3:00 p.m. ET: Southampton v. Liverpool – NBCSN STREAM ]

Liverpool can’t gain an advantage on Manchester City, but they sure can put the pressure on. With City moving into the lead and in Cup action over the weekend, the Reds are poised to take back the top spot should they secure a positive result against 16th placed Southampton.

Yet, they cannot take their opponents lightly. With Manchester City in peak form, Liverpool has absolutely no room for error. Their opponents are on a roll, winning three of their last four in league play and pulling themselves five points above relegation. Should Liverpool drop points, it would give Manchester City the chance to pull three points ahead with four to play, which seems more unsurmountable than it actually is given City’s recent dominance.

Arsenal, Chelsea look for Champions League advantage
Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET: Everton v. Arsenal – NBCSN STREAM ]
Monday, 3:00 p.m. ET: Chelsea v. West Ham – NBCSN STREAM ]

Arsenal and Chelsea are sandwiched in the middle of a heated Champions League race. While Tottenham leads with 64 points, Spurs’ poor form has seen them slide into the muck, with both the Gunners and Blues just a point back. Arsenal has a five-goal differential advantage, but that could change if they drop points on the road and Chelsea takes control.

Everton has put a terrible stretch behind them with two wins in two, and the Toffees could end up having a significant impact on this race, having already beaten Chelsea just two weeks ago. West Ham can’t seem to put results together, but beat Arsenal back in January and three wins in their last six. Who will grab the advantage?

Newcastle, Burnley play for Premier League future
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET: Newcastle v. Crystal Palace – NBCSN STREAM ]
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET: Bournemouth v. Burnley – NBCSN STREAM ]

While it appears that Cardiff City is the clubhouse leader to be the third team relegated, there are a host of teams in the mix should Cardiff make a late-season push. Nobody wants to be in that pack. Both Newcastle and Burnley can all but secure their safety with a victory on Saturday as they take the field at the same time.

A strong finish to the season not only would help seal their Premier League security, but also give the club a good feeling heading into the offseason. Often late-season success or failure can be a good harbinger of how a team will begin the following season. For Newcastle especially, with speculation swirling about Rafa Benitez‘s future, a strong finish would be enormous towards convincing him to stay longer. Burnley, meanwhile, sits among the three teams tied on 33 points – just five above 18th placed Cardiff City – and is fresh off a four-game losing streak and staring down a brutal finish to the season that includes Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester City among its final four matches. Now is the time for both these teams to secure results.

Watch Live: Liverpool v. Arsenal

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2-0 to start the season, Liverpool and Arsenal are both bidding for their first marquee three points when they tangle at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Alexandre Lacazette is on the bench for Arsenal as record signing Nicolas Pepe starts for the Gunners, who have beaten Burnley and Newcastle United.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Liverpool’s wins have come against Norwich City and Southampton, and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is deploying his very best to face the Gunners.

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Liverpool:

Arsenal:

AT HALF: Manchester United trails, 10-man Brighton loses goal to VAR

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We’ve got goals. We’ve got red cards. We’ve got fun.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

All four Premier League 10 a.m. ET Saturday kickoffs have reached halftime. Here’s your primer to select which second half to stream live.

Watford 1-1 West Ham United

Chances and entertainment for days at Vicarage Road, where Mark Noble‘s early penalty was quickly offset by Andre Gray‘s emphatic finish of a Will Hughes through ball.

Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Southampton

Florin Andone has been sent off for the hosts after a gnarly challenge on Yan Valery, and further insult for Brighton came when VAR spotted a clear foul on Lewis Dunk‘s headed goal.

Sheffield United 0-1 Leicester City

Jamie Vardy may not tire of throwing parties, and James Maddison sure designs delightful invitations.

Manchester United 0-1 Crystal Palace

Possession doesn’t matter much if you can’t handle a 70-yard goalkeeper pass, and Victor Lindelof‘s lost header to Jeff Schlupp allowed Jordan Ayew as much time as he needed to slot past David De Gea.

United probably should be up a man after Gary Cahill chopped down Anthony Martial, but only a yellow arrived at Old Trafford.

Lampard, Abraham react to first Chelsea win, goal

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Frank Lampard was all business in being asked about his first Premier League win as Chelsea boss.

Coming on the heels of a loss and draw heading into Saturday’s 3-2 defeat of Norwich City, Lampard was ready to talk about the big picture (especially considering the Blues dealt with a pre-match injury to Pedro).

[ MORE: How did Pulisic perform? ] 

With a lot of young players and a tricky transfer ban, Lampard has to walk a fine line between the expectations of Chelsea and the reality of working with a side he hasn’t been able to improve through the transfer window. From the BBC:

“We want to compete. We know this year is difficult on different levels. We’ve had a tough start, and yep, we needed a win. It helps confidence.”

On the other end of the spectrum is Tammy Abraham, who has no qualms whatsoever with his first Chelsea goal in the Premier League.

“I didn’t even know how to celebrate so I just ran over to the management and the staff. It always gives confidence to me and the young boys when the coach believes in you.”

Sheffield United is next, a real chance for the Blues to round into form even if the Blades have been plucky early in their Premier League return.

Watch Live: Four Premier League games at 10am ET

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Four Premier League games kick off at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, as Matchweek 3 is in full swing.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Man United host Crystal Palace, Southampton head to Brighton, Watford and West Ham do battle and Leicester travel to Sheffield United.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for all four games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Man United v. Crystal Palace – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Brighton v. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Sheffield United v. Leicester – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Watford v. West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]