Duncan Watmore

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PL Sunday preview: Sunderland-Man United; surging Foxes visit Everton

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Dreams of a top-four finish are quickly slipping away from Manchester United, just as Premier League status has (finally) done for Sunderland; Everton reside in no man’s land, between the top-six miles clear of eighth place, while Leicester City have finally shaken their PL title hangover.

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Sunderland vs. Manchester United — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The objective was clear: Jose Mourinho was expected to return Man United to the PL’s top-four in his first season at Old Trafford. Reality is equally clear, and harsh: with two games in hand, and a seven-point deficit to fourth-place Manchester City to overcome, the Red Devils need their points three at a time from here on out; no side in the PL has drawn more games this season (12 — tied with Middlesbrough). While Mourinho’s men are unbeaten in their last 20 league games, dating all the way back Oct. 29, they’ve won just half of those games, dropping a season-killing 20 points in the process.

Sunderland, on the other hand, have finally run out of lives. After escaping near certain relegation (doing so in stunning fashion each time) in each of the last four seasons, David Moyes will almost certainly (we think) take the Black Cats down to the Championship this summer. 10 points currently stand between last-place Sunderland and Hull City in 17th; even a win on Sunday wouldn’t move them off the bottom of the table. Sunderland have just one win in their last 13 PL games played. One potential silver lining: they did beat United at home last season.

INJURIES: Sunderland — OUT: Jan Kirchoff (knee), Paddy McNair (knee), Duncan Watmore (knee) | Man United — OUT: Juan Mata (groin), Chris Smalling (knee), Phil Jones (toe); QUESTIONABLE: Wayne Rooney (ankle), Ashley Young (knock)

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Spurs apply pressure, Chelsea unfazed ]

Everton vs. Leicester City — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

From relegation-threatened defending champions, to totally clear of the drop zone and safely enjoying mid-table obscurity, all in six weeks’ time — the 2016-17 season has been an emotional roller coaster for Leicester. Harkening back to last season’s title-winning fairytale is Jamie Vardy‘s timely return to form, as the reigning Player of the Season has bagged five goals in his last five PL games to match his tally from his first 22 league appearances this season. After 25 games, the point at which Claudio Ranieri was fired, the Foxes sat 18th in the league table. Five straight wins have seen Craig Shakespeare’s side rise all the way up to 11th with a chance to climb into the top half on Sunday.

As for Everton, a derby defeat at the hands of Liverpool, followed by a 1-1 draw with Manchester United three days later, brought to a screeching halt all momentum created by a stretch of just one loss in 12 games (eight wins) from Boxing Day to St. Patrick’s Day. Romelu Lukaku (21 goals) remains top of the Golden Boot race, two clear of Harry Kane, though the big Belgian failed to find the back of the net in each of the last week’s disappointing results. Prior to last weekend, the 23-year-old had scored nine goals in five PL games.

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Seamus Coleman (leg), James McCarthy (hamstring), Yannick Bolasie (knee), Muhamed Besic (knee); RETURNING: Morgan Schneiderlin (calf) | Leicester — OUT: Wes Morgan (back); QUESTIONABLE: Nampalys Mendy (ankle)

Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland: Origi, Milner lead win; Coutinho hurt

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  • Coutinho stretchered off
  • Origi breaks through
  • Milner adds PK

Liverpool was always going to prevail on the scoreboard but the Reds will be sweating a scary Philippe Coutinho after a 2-0 win over Sunderland at Anfield on Saturday.

A tackle from Didier Ndong sent Coutinho off the field on a stretcher, his right leg braced.

Substitute Divock Origi put the Reds ahead with a second half goal, and James Milner converted a Sadio Mane-won penalty to ice the three points.

The two-goal win sends Liverpool ahead of Man City on goal differential, two points about Chelsea before the Blues face Spurs.

Sunderland is back in the Premier League basement thanks to the loss and Swansea’s win.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Liverpool won a corner just outside the first minute, but Jordan Pickford collected Philippe Coutinho’s offering and we were already moving.

Pickford later dove to catch a turn-and-fire from Georginio Wijnaldum, as the Reds settled into their attack.

Sunderland did its best to hit on the counter, and Loris Karius was available on the pair of early occasions that required his intervention.

Coutinho spent several minutes on the turf after a scary ankle injury, and had to be stretchered off following a spell with trainers. Divock Origi replaced him.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

James Milner couldn’t reach Wijnaldum’s 53rd minute pass across the six despite a sliding attempt, and it remained 0-0.

Emre Can came very close in the 65th minute, opening the play with a outside of the foot pass before slicing his low shot wide of the far post from 15 yards.

The Black Cats had a rare period of danger in the Reds’ end with 23 minutes to play, but Karius was able to stop Duncan Watmore‘s effort.

Firmino then played a ball across the six to no receiver, as the Reds were back at it.

Origi finally found the finish in the 75th minute. The Belgian curled a shot from the right edge of the 18 that nestled inside the far post to make it 1-0.

Sadio Mane then won a penalty kick from an Ndong takedown, and James Milner stepped up to do what he does: convert PKs.

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Bournemouth 1-2 Sunderland: 10-man, Moyes-less Black Cats grab first win

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  • Defoe scores winner with PK
  • Pienaar sent off
  • Bournemouth lead early
  • Sunderland grab first win of season

Sunderland secured their first Premier League win of the season at the eleventh attempt as they battled back from a goal down, and being reduced down to 10-men, to win 2-1 at Bournemouth on Saturday.

Dan Gosling gave Bournemouth the early lead at the Vitality Stadium with David Moyes watching on nervously from the stands following his touchline ban.

Victor Anichebe equalized in the first half but Moyes was soon grimacing once again as Steven Pienaar was shown a second yellow card in the second half and Sunderland had to play the last half an hour with 10-men.

That didn’t matter though, because Anichebe was brought down in the box and Jermain Defoe scored from the penalty spot to make it 2-1.

Sunderland held on for a vital win and moved on to five points for the season, while Bournemouth remain on 12 points after losing two-straight games.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Cherries took an early lead as a beautiful flowing move ended in Brad Smith‘s fine cross from the right which was guided home by Gosling. 1-0.

Bournemouth had all the play early on with Eddie Howe‘s team pushing hard for a second but Jordan Pickford denied Junior Stanislas.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

A rare break forward from Sunderland saw Duncan Watmore steam ahead down the right but his dangerous cross didn’t find a teammate.

Sunderland were level before half time as the ball was played into Anichebe and he turned brilliantly before rifling home. 1-1. Game on.

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Just before half time Sunderland thought they’d gone ahead when a patient team move found Billy Jones and his cross into the box was tucked home by Watmore… but the offside flag was up.

Buoyed by their equalizer Sunderland impressed early in the second half as Didier N’dong forced Artur Boruc to beat away an effort from the edge of the box.

Jack Wilshere had an effort saved by Pickford and then a game-changing moment arrived. Pienaar lunged in on Stanislas and he caught the Bournemouth striker high and referee Mike Dean had no option other than to give him a second yellow card. Sunderland down to 10-men and Moyes’ face up in the stand was a picture of misery.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Stanislas came inches away from giving Bournemouth the lead but his shot hit the far post and bounced out as the Cherries piled on the pressure late on.

Wilshere and Stanislas linked up well but the latter saw his shot go just wide but then the game took another unexpected twist.

Anichebe was played in by Watmore and Smith got his tackle all wrong as Dean awarded a penalty kick. Defoe stepped up and dispatched the spot kick to send the traveling fans wild.

Sunderland battened down the hatches late on as Benik Afobe forced an effort just wide and Pickford brilliantly denied Josh King and then Lys Mousset put another effort wide as Sunderland held on.

A huge win and potentially a turning point for the Black Cats.

Premier League at half: Clarets, Man City in the lead

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Four Premier League matches are serving as appetizers for the big battle between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge later in the day.

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Burnley 2-0 Crystal Palace

Sam Vokes has a goal and an assist as Burnley caught Palace’s disorganized defense twice in the first 15 minutes. Johann Berg Gudmundsson scored the other Clarets goal.

Bournemouth 1-1 Sunderland

Dan Gosling darted between two Sunderland defenders to belt a redirect an Adam Smith shot beyond Black Cats keeper Jordan Pickford. But the visitors leveled through Victor Anichebe‘s first Premier League goal in 18 months. Sunderland’s Duncan Watmore had a goal called back for offside just before the break.

West Ham United 0-0 Stoke City

No Geoff Cameron for the Potters, and not much action at the Olympic Stadium.

Manchester City 1-0 Middlesbrough

Pep Guardiola‘s crew has doubtless control of the match, but Boro keeper Victor Valdes has limited the damage. The only goal came through Sergio Aguero, whose well-timed run met Kevin De Bruyne‘s cross just outside the six.

Jesus Navas caught Valdes with a wayward cleat before the end of the half, opening up a nasty wound that delayed the game.

Sunderland 1-4 Arsenal: Gunners battle back to go top

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  • Giroud scores twice
  • Sanchez opened scoring
  • Defoe equalized with PK
  • Arsenal go top
  • No wins in 10 for Sunderland 

Arsenal powered past a woeful Sunderland to win 4-1 at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and momentarily move top of the Premier League table.

The brilliant Alexis Sanchez headed them into the lead and despite Jermain Defoe equalizing for the Black Cats to give them hope, two quickfire goals from substitute Olivier Giroud (with his first two touches) and another from Sanchez piled on the misery for David Moyes.

With the win Arsenal moves on to 23 points for the season as they’ve now gone eight games unbeaten, while Sunderland remains without a win in any of their opening 10 games of the season and has just two points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal dominated the early proceedings and deservedly took the lead after 19 minutes. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain‘s fantastic right wing cross was met by Sanchez as he headed home his fifth PL goal of the season.

Sunderland responded well with Patrick Van Aanholt whipping a free kick just wide and Defoe having a goal disallowed for offside but Arsenal always looked the more comfortable.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Alex Iwobi curled an effort just over and a long ball forward found Ozil before the break but he couldn’t get his lob right and Jordan Pickford plucked the ball out of the air. Wenger’s men were controlling the game and led 1-0 at the break.

Sunderland started the second half with plenty of promise as Wahbi Khazri, Defoe and Duncan Watmore made more in-roads going forward.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]  

Then came a few minutes which changed the outcome of the game. First Kone looked to have hauled back Sanchez in the box but no penalty kick was awarded and moments later Sunderland were awarded a spot kick as Watmore raced through and Petr Cech took him down with Laurent Koscielny covering. Defoe stroked the spot kick home for his fifth PL goal of the season and made it 1-1. Game well and truly on.

The mood shifted after that equalizer for Sunderland but it was soon 2-1 to Arsenal as Sanchez played in Kieran Gibbs down the left and his cross was volleyed home by substitute Giroud who made an instant impact.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Giroud added another five minutes later as he glanced home a header at the near post from a corner to make it 3-1. Then Sanchez tapped home from close range after some shocking Sunderland defending as Wenger’s men ran riot in a seven-minute purple patch and ran out comfortable 4-1 winners at the Stadium of Light.