Top Premier League storylines: Week 7

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The Premier League weekend includes a match-up of two of the biggest clubs in the league, as well as two closely positioned upstarts aiming for a possible Top Four place.

It’ll be a good one, sandwiched between the League Cup and UEFA Champions League.


Revamped Man City back line meets stiffer away test

  • Everton v. Man City, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

The blowouts of Watford and Shakhtar Donetsk were nice, but the challenge presented by Everton’s group is a much trickier one for, presumably, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi. The Toffees give up the second-fewest shots per game in the Premier League. First is City. Someone will give at Goodison, and many would bet on that being inconsistent Everton. That might be too easy of an assumption.


Alarmed Arsenal meets finish-lacking Manchester United

  • Manchester United v. Arsenal, Monday, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Arsenal is out-scoring folks in three competitions now, but the Gunners haven’t been able to keep the door closed at the back in Premier League play. Manchester United has generated chances without finish for several games, and Arsenal is integrating a number of now-fit defenders. That’s good, but there could be growing pains for the Gunners. If there are not, United will likely find itself bottom half after seven match days.


Can Chelsea begin a soft stretch of schedule in style?

  • Chelsea v. Brighton and Hove Albion, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The numbers say Chelsea has been very unlucky over the course of its 2-2-2 start, while Brighton has scored two goals in five matches since clobbering Watford on Opening Day. The Blues are coming off a 7-goal show from their backups, and ornery after an unlucky loss to Liverpool. Can Frank Lampard‘s men make a statement of intent?


Liverpool must be wary of Chris Wilder‘s gnarly, unfazed Blades

  • Sheffield United v. Liverpool, Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Sheffield United has been in every match its played this season, beating Everton, drawing Chelsea, and staging tight contests with upstarts Bournemouth and Leicester City. Liverpool has been a bit open at the back, and the Blades have been opportunistic. The Reds should ease past this one, but can’t be caught looking ahead to Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League.


Low-key litmus test on the South Coast

  • Bournemouth v. West Ham United, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

Weakened lineups cost both sides in the League Cup, as Eddie Howe and Manuel Pellegrini are clearly focused on Saturday’s match at the Vitality Stadium. As they should! This one has all the signs of a beauty, with the winner sitting fifth or higher after seven weeks. That’s a decent prize.

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.