Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

PL Sunday preview: Litmus test time for Spurs, Man United

Leave a comment

Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures will see a pair of top-four hopefuls do battle head-to-head, as Tottenham Hotspur host Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 22 ]

Everton v. Bournemouth — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With just one win in their last eight PL outings, Everton will be hoping that their narrow victory over League Two side Lincoln City in the FA Cup last weekend will help to right the ship once back in league play. Marco Silva‘s fingers crossed it does the trick after slipping to 11th in the league table.

“Winning matches is the best way to win confidence and to start playing at our best level,” he said this week. “The best way to show (our quality) is by the results and the wins. We achieved the main thing against Lincoln and we have to work strongly again to achieve a good result in the next match.”

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: None | Bournemouth — OUT: Lewis Cook (knee), Simon Francis (knee), Adam Smith (knee), Dan Gosling (knee), Dominic Solanke (hamstring)


Tottenham Hotspur v. Man United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Sunday’s showdown at Wembley will serve as a litmus test for both Tottenham and Man United, as well as their respective managers. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will put his unblemished record as United boss on the line against Mauricio Pochettino, who might just replace him at Old Trafford in the summer.

With all due respect to the likes of Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town, third-place Spurs will pose a challenge Solskjaer’s side has not yet seen since Jose Mourinho was fired following a humbling defeat to Liverpool last month. United didn’t fare so well the first time these sides met this season, as the Red Devils suffered a thoroughly embarrassing 3-0 defeat that home in August. While Solskjaer has restored the attacking intent at United, he will be without a number of key defensive figures on Sunday, with Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian all reportedly unavailable or left out of the squad.

Along the same lines, Spurs are enjoying their best run of results all season, despite experiencing a rash of injuries — particularly to the midfield, where Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko have, somehow, become an irreplaceable duo. Finally, Eric Dier (appendectomy) is expected to return, as is defender Jan Vertonghen (thigh), thus affording Pochettino a majority of first-choice midfield and defensive options. Son Heung-min, who has amassed seven goals and five assists in his last seven games (all competitions), will play on Sunday before departing to join up with South Korea at the Asian Cup. It was agreed between the two side that Son remain with his club until after the game against United, missing the first two group games in the process.

INJURIES: Tottenham —  OUT: Mousa Dembele (ankle), Victor Wanyama (knee) | Man United — OUT: Eric Bailly (suspension), Chris Smalling (foot), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed)

Bournemouth, Watford draw in six-goal thriller

Leave a comment
  • 5 goals scored in 13 first half minutes
  • Bournemouth fight back from 2-0 down
  • No win in three for Watford, Bournemouth

Bournemouth and Watford drew 3-3 at the Vitality Stadium Wednesday, as the Cherries and Hornets shared six goals in an incredible first half.

Watford went 2-0 up as Troy Deeney scored twice, but Bournemouth then scored twice through Nathan Ake and Callum Wilson to make it 2-2. Soon after Ken Sema put Watford 3-2 up, but then Ryan Fraser made it 3-3 with five goals scored in just 12 first half minutes.

The second half saw both teams have chances to win it, but a draw was a fair result in an entertaining encounter. With the point Bournemouth are in 12th on 27 points, while Watford climb to eighth on 29 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Jefferson Lerma lashed a shot over from the edge of the box as Bournemouth started well, but Watford were soon ahead. Abdoulaye Doucoure surged forward from midfield and found Sema on the right. His cross was attacked by Deeney who sent a header into the net.

David Brooks then went close to an equalizer as Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson combined to set him up, but Ben Foster kept out Brooks.

Watford then went 2-0 up as Dan Gosling gave it away to Gerard Deulofeu and the Spaniard then went on a rampaging 40-yard run. Eventually the ball found its way to Deeney who slotted home his and Watford’s second of the game.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Doucoure then curled a shot inches over as the Hornets dominated, but Bournemouth pulled two goals back quickly. Steve Cook‘s header across goal was headed on target by Gosling and despite Foster saving, Ake was on hand to make it 2-1. Game on.

Then Wilson nodded home another set piece to make it 2-2. But there was time for another few goals before half time, as Sema drilled in a low shot for his first PL goal to make it 3-2. But moments later Stanislas squared for Fraser to slot home and make it 3-3.

Josh King almost made it 4-3 right on half time but headed wide, as both teams looked like scoring every time they went forward. Amongst all of that Doucoure should have been sent off for lunging in on Fraser as Watford were lucky to keep 10 men on the pitch.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

In the second half the scoring inevitably slowed down, but Wilson almost scored from another set piece.

A long free kick into the box found the Bournemouth striker and his powerful head was right at Foster who acrobatically pushed the ball over.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Foster then denied King brilliantly as Bournemouth pushed hard for the winner, and at the other end Cook lunged in for a wonderful last-ditch tackle as Roberto Pereyra was in on goal.

Deulofeu then curled just wide as Watford cranked up the pressure late on, as Tom Cleverely wanted a penalty kick after his the ball was handled by Ake in the box but nothing was given.

The game ended 3-3 after a thrilling first half blitz.

PL Sunday preview: Man City, Chelsea, Man Utd all in action

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sunday sees four final fixtures, featuring top-four hopefuls Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, to round out the 2018 calendar year in the Premier League…

[ MORE: Liverpool go nine points clear with dismantling of Arsenal ] 

Crystal Palace v. Chelsea — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With one giant slaying already to their name in the last week, Crystal Palace now turn their attention to Sunday’s visit from Chelsea. Following their unlikely upset of Manchester City a week ago, the Eagles suffered an abrupt come-down in the form of a 0-0 draw with Cardiff City on Wednesday. Despite taking 32 shots, just five were on target and not a single one found the back of the net — an all too familiar tale for a side with just 17 goals scored this season (third-fewest in the PL).

Chelsea themselves were on the wrong side of a giant slaying of significantly lesser proportions last weekend when Leicester City turned the Blues over. It’s been relatively tough sledding for Chelsea of late, as they’ve lost three of their last seven league games after going unbeaten in the season’s first dozen.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace — OUT: Christian Benteke (knee), Martin Kelly (groin) | Chelsea — OUT: None


Southampton v. Man City — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The math is simple for Man City these days: nothing short of a victory — followed by another victory, and another victory, and lots more victories — will do, if they are to stay in the title race with current leaders Liverpool. Heading into Sunday’s trip to St. Mary’s Stadium, the defending champions trail the runaway Reds by 10 points. With defeats in three of their last four games, Pep Guardiola‘s side is reeling and needs not only a victory, but a resounding response and performance, to re-establish themselves and set the table for a chase-down in the second half of the campaign.

Southampton, on the other hand, have largely enjoyed the busy festive period thus far as they won back-to-back games last week and climbed out of the relegation zone, where they remain with a game in hand.

INJURIES: Southampton — OUT: None | Man City — OUT: Benjamin Mendy (knee), Fernandinho (thigh), Fabian Delph (suspension), Claudio Bravo (achilles)


Burnley vs. West Ham — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Speaking of the relegation zone, that’s where Burnley begin their second half of the 2018-19 season — in 19th place following Fulham’s victory on Saturday. With just one victory in their last 12 games — and just two draws during that period — it’s been a dire three months for Sean Dyche‘s relegation-threatened side.

Unfortunately for the Clarets, West Ham head into Turf Moor riding a wave of optimism and point — five wins in their last six games have seen them climb all the way to 11th place in the table. Another win on Sunday would see them go seventh. Felipe Anderson has been the danger man of late and has begun to repay a hefty chunk of the $48 million spent to bring him to the London Stadium this summer with seven goals in his last eight games.

INJURIES: Burnley — OUT: Aaron Lennon (knee), Stephen Ward (knee), Steven Defour (knee),  | West Ham — OUT: Marko Arnautovic (hamstring), Manuel Lanzini (knee), Winston Reid (knee), Andriy Yarmolenko (achilles), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Ryan Fredericks (ankle)


Man United vs. Bournemouth — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

As for clubs enjoying better days following a poor start to the season, no one has done a sharper U-turn than Man United. Since firing Jose Mourinho and installing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim manager nearly two weeks ago, the Red Devils have won both games they’ve played, victories over Cardiff and Huddersfield Town, by a combined score of 8-2. Paul Pogba, more than anyone else, is enjoying his new lease on life and turning in the type of performances expected of a former world-record signing.

As for Bournemouth, the Cherries’ season has largely moved in reverse of United’s, as their strong start has been undone by recent struggles (seven losses in their last nine games). Losing captain Simon Francis to a torn ACL — just weeks after midfielder Lewis Cook to the same injury — has left Bournemouth thin at the back and on the leadership front. Manager Eddie Howe has made no attempts at downplaying the loss.

“He’s been our leader on the pitch and a role model and a big miss in the dressing room. As a team it’s a big loss and a big gap to fill. He didn’t deserve that, but it’s happened and now we’ll do our best to support him through this process.”

INJURIES: Man United — QUESTIONABLE: Alexis Sanchez (hamstring), Chris Smalling (foot) | Bournemouth — OUT: Lewis Cook (knee), Simon Francis (knee), Adam Smith (knee), Dan Gosling (knee)

Newcastle tops Bournemouth behind Rondon brace

Leave a comment
  • Rondon scores twice in 1st half
  • Lerma pulls one back before break
  • Magpies win second-straight

Salomon Rondon scored a pair of goals as Newcastle United won its second-straight match, this one a 2-1 win over Bournemouth at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Newcastle has won seven of its nine points in its last three matches, the last two wins, as the Magpies rise 14th with nine points.

Bournemouth sits sixth with 20 points. Jefferson Lerma scored the Cherries’ goal.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Bournemouth wasn’t shy to start the match, with Jordon Ibe’s promising chance thwarted by a sliding Federico Fernandez.

But Newcastle opened the scoring when DeAndre Yedlin raced onto the end of a Mohamed Diame cross, cutting back for Rondon to score on the second of two bids on Asmir Begovic.

The Magpies were very much under siege for the next 20 minutes, with goalkeeper Martin Dubravka very busy.

Bournemouth’s Adam Smith pulled up with a non-contact injury in the run-up to a free kick, and needed a stretcher.

But Rondon struck again, rising high to latch onto a Kenedy cross and deliver a trademark goal.

Begovic stopped a point-blank shot from Kenedy just before halftime, and was called into action again when a Ki Sung-yeung free kick was nearly headed in by Fabian Schar.

Lerma headed a close-range effort home to make it 2-1 before the break, and Ayoze Perez almost answered toward the end of 8 minutes of first half stoppage.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Perez cued up a sliding Ritchie effort that spun wide of the far post in the 63rd minute.

Ibe missed a bid to level the score in the 73rd minute.

Newcastle tested Begovic through substitute Christian Atsu in the 81st minute.

Ex-Magpie midfielder Dan Gosling thought he’d scored when Dubravka pawed a hard shot onto his path, but the Bournemouth man was offside.

Rondon came close to completing his hat trick in the 89th, but Begovic kicked it aside.

Bournemouth strike last in back-and-forth battle with Palace

Leave a comment
  • Brooks opened the scoring after 5′
  • Van Aanholt stole one back in 55′
  • Stanislas won it from the spot in 87′
  • Cherries rise to 7th; Eagles stuck in 13th

Bournemouth raced out to an early lead, watched it slowly but surely slipped away, then roared back to life during the game’s final 10 minutes to top Crystal Palace, 2-1, at the Vitality Stadium on Monday.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

The Cherries sent the south-coast faithful into raptures and took their lead after just five minutes, courtesy of David Brooks‘ first Premier League goal.

It started with quick build-up down the left side before Callum Wilson found himself on the ball near the top of the box. Laying it off for Brooks, to his right, was the easiest and most obvious play. The 21-year-old swung his left foot through the ball and banged it off the underside of the crossbar to make it 1-0.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Bournemouth’s lead help up for 50 minutes — though it should have been longer than that. Patrick Van Aanholt brought Palace level in the 55th minute with an unstoppable strike into the ceiling of Asmir Begovic‘s net, but the Dutchman was more than a yard offside when Wilfried Zaha played the through ball. The assistant referee kept his flag down by his side, and the Eagles had a goal to show for all of their possession and pressure.

Bournemouth offered very little over the next half-hour and it was generally Palace who pushed hardest for a winner.

Palace’s rapid unraveling began in the 83rd minute, though, when Wilson went agonizingly close with a one-on-one chance, but Wayne Hennessey made a fine kick-save to deny him at the end of a breathless counter-attack. Hennessey was called into action barely 60 seconds later, as Wilson raced down the left side and served in a cross to Dan Gosling near the penalty spot. Gosling’s header was goal-bound, but Hennessey wouldn’t be beaten at full-stretch.

Seconds later, Bournemouth won a free kick nearly 40 yards from goal. Referee Mike Dean spotted Mamadou Sakho‘s forearm making contact with the head of Jefferson Lerma. Junior Stanislas, who had only entered the game as a substitute three minutes earlier, stepped up to the penalty spot and sent the ball down the middle as Hennessey dove to his left.

The result sees Bournemouth (13 points) reach seventh in the PL table, while Palace (7 points) remain stuck in 13th.