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PL Sunday preview: Chelsea, Arsenal chasing title pacers

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One half of the Premier League’s “big six” will be in action, spread across three games, on Sunday.

Chelsea seek to remain in the PL title race; Arsenal seek to extend their winning streak to 12 games; Manchester United seek to reassert themselves and turn their season around.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 10? ]

Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

It’s been a while since Arsenal last dropped points — let alone lost a game. You have to go back to the second week of the PL season to find the most recent blemish on Unai Emery‘s otherwise sparkling record. No side in Europe can claim a better ongoing run of results (11 straight wins, by a combined score of 31-9 – all competitions). The Gunners will look to make it a dozen wins in a row on Sunday, when they visit Selhurst Park. The club’s longest-ever winning streak is 14 games — achieved in the fall of 1987. Wins over Palace, Blackpool (League Cup) and Liverpool would see Emery and Co., match the record.

Things couldn’t be going much worse for Palace at the moment. Roy Hodgson‘s Eagles have lost three straight league games (winless in four) and slipped to 15th in the PL table, now just two points clear of the relegation zone, during the slide.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace — OUT: Christian Benteke (knee), Scott Dann (knee) | Arsenal — OUT: Laurent Koscielny (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Sead Kolasinac (hamstring), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (fitness)


Burnley vs. Chelsea — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Chelsea remain one of three unbeaten PL sides (Liverpool and Manchester City) ahead of Sunday’s trip to Turf Moor. Maurizio Sarri‘s side has, however, dropped points in three of their last four games (draws with West Ham United, Liverpool and Man United). That mini-skid has seen the Blues fall five points back of leaders Liverpool (and potentially City, who play on Monday, as well). Eden Hazard has been arguably the PL’s best player through nine games, but the Belgian superstar’s status is unknown due to a lingering back injury suffered during last week’s 2-2 draw with Man United.

Speaking of Belgian centerpieces, midfielder Steven Defour is back and available for the Clarets after nine months out following knee surgery. Likewise, winger Robbie Brady is expected to be available for selection for the first time in 10 months following a knee operation of his own. The two represent a different class of players capable of delivering Burnley back into the PL’s top-half to build upon last season’s seventh-place finish.

INJURIES: Burnley — OUT: Ben Gibson (fitness), Nick Pope (shoulder), Stephen Ward (knee) | Chelsea — QUESTIONABLE: Eden Hazard (back)


Manchester United vs. Everton — 12 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com

Seven points — and five places in the table — currently separate Man United from the top-four, thanks to the Red Devils’ dreadful start to the season (just four wins, and three losses, in the first nine games). European competition hasn’t treated them much better, as they were completely outplayed and beaten by Juventus at Old Trafford this week. Jose Mourinho isn’t expected to have Alexis Sanchez or Jesse Lingard to pick from on Sunday, meaning Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford should start by default. Martial bagged a brace in the draw with Chelsea, while Rashford hasn’t scored a league goal since Sept. 29; it’s been even longer for Lukaku, whose last PL tally came on Sept. 15.

On the other side, Marco Silva has Everton playing some great soccer late: three straight wins, by a combined score of 7-1. Even better, six of the seven goals have been scored by Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Bernad, Theo Walcott or Cenk Tosun, the Toffees’ five most important attacking players. With summer signings Andre Gomes and Yerry Mina making the startling lineup and bench for last week’s victory over Palace, Silva has everyone around Goodison Park feeling exceedingly hopeful ahead of Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford.

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Alexis Sanchez (groin), Marouane Fellaini (groin), Scott McTominay (knee), Jesse Lingard (groin) | Everton — OUT: None

Everton strike late to snatch all three points against Palace

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  • Zaha wins PK; Pickford denies Milivojevic
  • Calvert-Lewin wins it in 87′
  • Tosun adds on the insurance in 89′

Everton received — and responded to — a wake-up call on Sunday, as Marco Silva‘s side struck twice in the final minutes of their 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Goodison Park to extend their ongoing winning streak to three games.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Neither side offered much of anything in the first half, as the best scoring chances were confined to speculative efforts from long-range free kicks and botched headers on set pieces.

Gylfi Sigurdsson entered Sunday’s game in a purple patch of goal-scoring form (four goals in his last four games), but could conjure up very little with his four first-half shots (juts one on target).

James Tomkins had Palace’s best chance of the opening period, as he rose above the crowd to get a head on Andros Townsend‘s floated ball toward an unmarked Tomkins at the back post. Unfortunately for Tomkins, his contact wasn’t solid and the ball sailed five feet wide of the post.

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Finally, in the 59th minute, a moment of real consequence, but still not a goal.

Wilfried Zaha went down in the penalty area after contact from Seamus Coleman and won a penalty kick. Luka Milivojevic stepped up with a sterling record from the spot, but the Serb hit his effort straight down the middle and Jordan Pickford was able to stretch his trailing right leg to make the kick-save and keep the score 0-0.

Minutes later, the game appeared to have opened up a bit, thus came Everton’s best chance thus far. Sigurdsson played Theo Walcott in behind for a one-on-one chance against Wayne Hennessey, but the pacy winger fired straight at the Welsh goalkeeper and came away empty-handed.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

There was still plenty of time left for some late drama — and a pair of goals — though. Following a sleepy start to the game, Everton had finally awoken and seized the three points the deserved.

First came Dominic Calvert-Lewin‘s header to send Ademola Lookman‘s cross into the back of the net in the 87th minute, followed in short order by Cenk Tosun‘s cool finish past Hennessey two minutes later.

The result sees Everton (15 points) climb from 11th to 8th in the Premier League table, while Palace (7 points) sink to 15th.

Everton 3-0 Fulham: Toffees dominate second half

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  • Everton wins its 2nd of the year
  • Fulham concedes two again
  • The Whites remain without a win at Goodison Park

The two sides traded small blows in the first 45 minutes, but a dominating second half saw Everton skate past a missed penalty and defend home field against Fulham for a 2-0 win on goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Cenk Tosun.

Sigurdsson missed a spot-kick soon after the break, but he would atone with the game’s first goal minutes later, while the Fulham defense broke down to allow Everton in for a second.

As both teams looked to feel out the game, Fulham was forced into a very early change as Timothy Fosu-Mensah went down holding his right arm, in lots of pain, and the Manchester United loanee was withdrawn for Cyrus Christie just seven minutes in.

Despite the early change, Fulham had the game’s first half-chance with Alexander Mitrovic blazing over from long-range. Everton responded with a set-piece opportunity on 15 minutes, but Marcus Bettinelli was there to parry a short-range pop and the offside flag went up. Theo Walcott had a long-range effort deflected on 19 minutes but Bettinelli ranged to his right to make the stop.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Fulham struggled to produce its usual brand of possessional play early on, and the frustration manifested in persistent fouling. The home fans at Goodison Park begged for a yellow card to be shown, and it eventually came for substitute Christie in the 29th minute.

The visitors finally began to build onto the ball as halftime neared, and they had a monstrous chance on 41 minutes. Jean-Michael Seri found an opening through the middle and poked it left for young Ryan Sessegnon with the Whites suddenly seeing three attackers free on net. Sessegnon took the shot from a tight angle, and it rang off the crossbar and deflected back out to the other side of the pitch.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

After the break, Everton came close to its first goal of the season from a corner, but with Richarlison at the far post, the ball bounced a bit high in front of him, and the Brazilian missed with his awkwardly acrobatic attempt to make contact. Everton’s chance came minutes later on a breakaway for Sigurdsson, and despite Bettinelli coming to collect under little pressure, a penalty was given by the assistant referee for a slight shove in the back from Denis Odoi chasing. The referee had initially waved away the penalty claims, but sheepishly gave it once the assistant waved his flag. Unfortunately for the Toffees, the Icelandic playmaker looped a poor penalty effort off the crossbar and the scoreline remained unblemished.

Sigurdsson would atone minutes later, however, as he unlocked the back line with a ball for Jonjoe Kenny, and while his cross was blocked out by Odoi, Sigurdsson was there to collect the loose ball and curl a fabulous effort into the far corner past a helpless Bettinelli.

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Fulham had a glorious chance to get back level on a three-on-one break, but a horrid first touch from Luciano Vietto ruined the opportunity, allowing Jordan Pickford to collect despite acres of space. That would loom large as the home side doubled its lead on 65 minutes, all too easily. Theo Walcott whipped in a cross past Americand defender Tim Ream, and Cenk Tosun somehow managed to earn 10 yards of separation from the rest of the Fulham defense for the easiest backdoor header of his life.

Sigurdsson added his second and Everton’s third with just a minute left in regulation as substitute Bernard had no trouble marauding down the left, and he cut back for Sigurdsson in all kinds of space at the top of the box for a powerful low finish.

All told, Everton finished with 19 shots, six of them on target, while Fulham failed to register even a single effort on net to trouble Pickford. The win pushes Everton up to 11th with nine points, while Fulham drops to 16th in a crowd with five points. Fulham also sports the league’s worst goals conceded total, up to 16 now with the trio from Everton.

Watch Live: Arsenal vs. Everton

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
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Richarlison returns for Everton as the Toffees head to North London for a match against Unai Emery‘s Arsenal (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Cenk Tosun is on the bench for Everton at the Emirates Stadium, while Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both start for Arsenal.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Torreira, Ramsey, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang. Subs: Leno, Elneny, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Iwobi, Guendouzi, Welbeck.

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Zouma, Keane, Digne, Gana, Davies, Walcott, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin. Subs: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Baines, Tosun, Schneiderlin, Bernard, Lookman.

West Ham stops the rot at Everton

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  • West Ham nabs first win
  • Yarmolenko with brace
  • Two assists for Arnautovic
  • Obiang shines

Andriy Yarmolenko‘s first half brace was enough as West Ham earned Manuel Pellegrini the first PL win of his tenure with a 3-1 defeat of previously unbeaten Everton at Goodison Park.

The three wins boost the Irons out of the Bottom Three, sending Huddersfield Town to join Newcastle United and Burnley.

Everton is 10th, with six points.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Everton controlled the early stages, but the start of the second stanza belonged to West Ham on the counter. Pedro Obiang and Marko Arnautovic provided pretty interplay before the Austrian laid off for Yarmolenko to finish.

The Toffees nearly found an answer via a classy connection in the 25th minute, with Lucas Digne dancing down the left to cross for Cenk Tosun. The Turkish striker’s header was stopped by Lukasz Fabianski.

Arthur Masuaku‘s leaping challenge saw his cleat on top of Tosun’s head, but it was somehow just a yellow to the West Ham man.

A lively first half was capped by Sigurdsson’s picturesque header in stoppage time, as Everton came within one.

The next goal came from West Ham, and it was a deserved one for the industrious Arnautovic. Obiang was again provider, and the goal flew in the face of near relentless, urgent attack from the hosts.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]