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Premier League Preview: West Brom v. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • West Brom has just one win in last 16 against Spurs
  • Tottenham has scored at least once in last 23 league matches
  • Baggies winless in previous six home games (2D, 4L)

West Bromwich Albion hosts Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Baggies aim to stay afloat in the Premier League.

Anything outside of a victory in their final two matches will see West Brom drop to the Championship, as the Baggies sit on 28 points — five out of 17th place.

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The Baggies are unbeaten in their last four matches, which gives the club genuine hope heading into their last two fixtures, however, only one game has resulted in three points.

Key injuries for both sides could leave them in a bit of a pickle, as Gareth Barry and James Morrison remain sidelined for the Baggies, while Moussa Dembele, Danny Rose and Harry Winks won’t feature for Spurs.

What they’re saying

West Brom boss Darren Moore named Manager of the Month: “It’s great to be nominated with those calibre of managers, it really, really is – I am honoured. But I will share that nomination with everybody here at West Brom. The reason I can sit up here and talk about it is because of the tremendous work everybody has done behind the scenes.”

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino on West Brom’s recent form: “West Brom are showing great character in their last few games – the capacity to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and draw with Liverpool. They are doing fantastic in the last few months and of course they have the belief still [that they can stay up]. We are playing to be in the top four and try to play Champions League next season. I think it will be a massive battle for them, but also for us.”

Prediction

The task is anything but simple for the Baggies, particularly against a Spurs side with so much quality. Darren Moore’s side has performed admirably over the last month, but the team needed at least another victory during that span to have a legitimate shot at safety. Even with two wins down the stretch, which isn’t likely, survival isn’t a certainty for the West Midlands side. West Brom 1-3 Tottenham

PL Sunday preview: Man Utd to delay City’s party another week?

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Manchester United are the last hurdle standing between Manchester City and the Premier League title, a race which could come to its rather anti-climactic end on Sunday, while Arsenal continue battling for Champions League Europa League qualification…

[ MORE: Man City on the brink of PL title ]

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

10th-place Newcastle entered the weekend every bit as hot as sixth-place Arsenal, with both sides having won three straight PL games ahead of Sunday’s clash at St. James’ Park. The Magpies have clawed their way back following a disastrous start to the season (just four wins from their first 18 games, including a run of one point from nine games from October to December) and are all but mathematically safe from relegation after knocking off fellow relegation battlers Southampton and Huddersfield Town, as well as eighth-place Leicester City. Rafa Benitez will surely feel this is one of the best coaching jobs of his illustrious career, given the (lack of) resources at his disposal in the summer.

For Arsenal, the top-four is no longer a possibility (they sit 13 points behind north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur), and even fifth appears a big ask with just five games to go (six points separate them from Chelsea). In short, Arsene Wenger is all-in on the Europa League, which will see them face Atletico Madrid in the semifinals beginning next week. Similarly to Newcastle, their three-game streak has come against sides all currently 12th or lower in the table (12th, 18th and 19th). After a late scare away to CSKA Moscow in Thursday’s quarterfinals second leg, expect a heavily rotated lineup on Sunday.

INJURIES: Newcastle — OUT: Jesus Gamez (ankle) | Arsenal — OUT: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (knee), David Ospina (ankle), Santi Cazorla (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Granit Xhaka (flu)

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Man City’s win over Spurs ]

Manchester United vs. West Brom — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Jose Mourinho’s Man United already delayed Man City’s PL title-winning party one week, and they have the chance to do it again on Sunday. City breezed past Tottenham on Saturday, leaving them three points from the title, which could also be achieved by a United loss to last-place West Brom at Old Trafford — an unlikely outcome, in all honesty.

“During the week I was trying to fight that result (the win over Man City) by working hard and trying to make the players understand that it’s not enough to deserve to finish second, we need the points to finish second,” Mourinho said this week. “Obviously to finish top-four we need four or five points, but to finish second we need much more than that and after three important points last weekend, we have to try to … be closer to the second position, which is, in this moment, our ambition.”

As for West Brom, their fate as a Championship side next season could be sealed as soon as next weekend. A loss on Sunday would mean the only way to avoid relegation is to win their final four games and Swansea City would have to lose all of their final five while overturning a minor goal-differential disadvantage (-19 to -26). An even more unlikely sequence of extraordinary events.

“From my discussions with the owners already, I know there is a genuine desire to build a team with greater goal power and attacking threat which can capture the fans’ imagination,” chief executive Mark Jenkins said this week. “In the event of our losing Premier League status, it will be a squad we will want to compete strongly for promotion back to the top tier.”

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Phil Jones (fitness), Daley Blind (fitness), Sergio Romero (knee) | West Brom — OUT: Gareth Barry (knee), Hal Robson-Kanu (concussion), James Morrison (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Daniel Sturridge (hamstring), Nacer Chadli (thigh), Jonny Evans (knee)

Pardew ‘furious’ after four WBA players steal taxi in Spain

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At least when you’re bottom of the Premier League table and appear headed for relegation, as West Bromwich Albion now find themselves, you can take the positive approach that “the only way to go from here is up.”

[ FA CUP: Man United advance, drawn against PL opposition in QF ]

Alternatively, four of your most senior players — Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill, in this case — might have other ideas and elect to steal a cab during a late-season training camp in Barcelona. That’s the current state of affairs for the Baggies and manager Alan Pardew, who openly admits he was “furious” and felt “let down” — quotes from the Guardian:

“This is obviously not ideal. They broke the curfew and that’s unacceptable and I feel a bit let down by that.”

“It’s difficult for managers. Obviously, I was furious with what happened but at the same time I’ve got to stay faithful to the players and give them a chance to remedy the situation.”

The night’s timeline reads something like this: the quartet wanted to go out in the city center, but everything was closed late at night; they got a taxi to a McDonald’s by the Barcelona port; the driver left the car, at which point the players decided to drive back to the team hotel around 5:30 a.m.; the care was returned to the cab driver around 8 a.m.

Evans was stripped of his captaincy for Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-round defeat to Southampton. The players have since released the following statement through the club’s website:

“We felt it important we identify ourselves as the players involved in an incident which occurred during the training camp in Spain this week out of respect for team-mates who otherwise could be implicated by association. We freely acknowledge and apologize for the break of curfew which we accept represented a breach of the standards of professionalism required of us as representatives of West Bromwich Albion.

“The club has informed us that it will now conduct its own inquiry into the incident and we will cooperate fully. In the meantime, we would like to assure our supporters that this incident does not reflect the determination and resolve we possess to do all we can to recover a difficult season.”

With 11 games left to play, West Brom currently sit seven points adrift of safety; Pardew’s position grows more and more tenuous with each point dropped; and three of their final 11 games are against Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

Evans, Barry, two others release apology for incident in Spain

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The quartet of West Brom players accused of stealing a taxi while breaking curfew in Spain has apologized to its team, fans, and bosses.

[ MORE: Chelsea loanees shining ]

Club captain (!!) Jonny Evans of Northern Ireland, backup goalkeeper Boaz Myhill (Wales) and English midfielders Jake Livermore and Gareth Barry are the players in question, and they released a statement on West Brom’s web site.

Saying they needed to claim responsibility for the incident so speculation could stop over which four players were in trouble, the four said (from wba.co.uk):

We freely acknowledge and apologise for the break of curfew which we accept represented a breach of the standards of professionalism required of us as representatives of West Bromwich Albion FC.

The Club has informed us that it will now conduct its own inquiry into the incident and we will co-operate fully.

In the meantime, we would like to assure our supporters that this incident does not reflect the determination and resolve we possess to do all we can to recover a difficult season.

It’s an incredibly stupid standard, especially considering not one of the four is a young buck, but it’s also not an indictment on their focus in the relegation race. The Spanish camp is a break for the players to come together; These four just chose to do something illegal (allegedly).

West Brom investigating four players after Spain incident

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[UPDATE: The four players involved have been identified and released a statement on the West Bromwich website apolgizing for their actions. The players are Johnny Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill.]

It’s gone from bad to ugly for West Bromwich Albion this season.

Sitting in dead last in the Premier League standings, the club announced it has launched an internal investigation to determine what happened on Thursday evening during the team’s winter training trip to Barcelona.

According to multiple reports, four undisclosed players – later identified as Johnny Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill – allegedly stole a taxi cab to return to the hotel the club were staying at. Local police allegedly followed up last night and pulled the four out of their rooms to interview them about what reportedly happened.

West Bromwich stated the players “will be subject to the full rigours of our internal disciplinary procedures.”

The club return home to the Hawthornes tomorrow to face Southampton in the FA Cup.