Kieran Tierney

PL Sunday preview: Spurs host Man City; Burnley v. Arsenal

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Matchweek 25 of the 2019-20 Premier League season wraps up on Sunday with a pair of fixtures featuring three of the “big-six” sides, two of which have slipped to mid-table mediocrity, in action…

[ MORE: Klopp: “Really special” Liverpool group overcame rough half ]

Burnley v. Arsenal — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Fun fact: a February meeting between Burnley and Arsenal will decide which of the two sides sits higher in the table after 25 games. If you had bet any amount of money that the Clarets and Gunners would be level on points (30) heading into their matchup on Sunday, you would be in possession of one very valuable betting slip.

How, exactly, did it come to this for Arsenal?

For starters, they have just six wins from 24 PL games this season. Two teams have won fewer than six wins, and they currently sit 19th and 20th (Watford and Norwich City, respectively) in the table. The only thing keeping Mikel Arteta‘s side afloat is the 12 draws, including each of their last three games.

On the bright side, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set to return from a three-game suspension. The Gabonese international is third in the PL with 14 goals this season and has a lethal record against Burnley: seven goals in four PL meetings.

INJURIES: Burnley — OUT: Ashley Barnes (groin), Johann Gudmundsson (hamstring) | Arsenal — OUT: Calum Chambers (knee), Kieran Tierney (shoulder); QUESTIONABLE: Sead Kolasinac (thigh), Shkodran Mustafi (ankle), Reiss Nelson (hamstring), Cedric Soares (knee)

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

For the first time in nearly 15 months months, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are set to renew their longtime rivalry, doing so for the first time as the managers of Tottenham and Man City, respectively.

For Mourinho, it comes at a time of major transition within the Spurs squad. Gone are Christian Eriksen (Inter Milan) and Harry Kane (injury), leaving Mourinho with just four available attacking players for the foreseeable future, and that includes brand new signing Steven Bergwijn who arrived on Wednesday. According to Mourinho, the Dutch winger will go straight into the team out of necessity.

“We have four attacking players — Son, Lucas, Lamela and Steven — so he has to be involved,” Mourinho said ahead of Sunday. “I would like to give him more time, probably the perfect situation would be to come (in) after the winter break, but that’s not possible.

“It’s not a drama because he’s played with PSV, so he has match fitness, it’s just a question of learning how to play with us, but I don’t think it would be a problem for him to play some minutes.”

As for Guardiola, the rest of the PL campaign figures to be little more than a formality bordering on obligation. Liverpool lead the two-time defending champions by a mind-boggling 22 points with four months of the season still remaining. Finding the small joys and motivations — like beating Mourinho — will have to suffice for satisfaction, at least in league play.

INJURIES: Spurs — OUT: Harry Kane (hamstring), Moussa Sissoko (knee), Ben Davies (ankle) | Man City — QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Fernandinho (undisclosed), Benjamin Mendy (undisclosed)

Arsenal sign defender Mari on loan from Flamengo

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Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.


Amid an ongoing and injury crisis at center back, Arsenal have signed defender Pablo Mari on loan from Brazilian club Flamengo until the end of the season.

[ MORE: Spurs complete Bergwijn transfer from PSV ]

Th 26-year-old Spaniard spent three seasons on the books at Manchester City, where he never made a first-team appearance and instead was sent out on loan three times, before moving to Flamengo last summer. Flamengo won both the Brazilian league title and the Copa Libertadores during his six months at the club.

Mari’s loan agreement has an option to make the move permanent this summer.

[ MORE: Woodward’s house attacked by Man United fans with flares ]

Arsenal have been without defenders Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney, for quite some time due to injuries. Shkodran Mustafi went down with an ankle injury during Monday’s FA Cup victory over Bournemouth and will miss some time as well.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Ashley Young to Inter

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Manchester United is offloading captain Ashley Young, with multiple reports in both England and Italy claiming the 34-year-old is set for a medical at Inter Milan on Friday.

According to The Telegraph, the deal is worth $1.7 million, netting Manchester United a small sum of money before Young’s contract was set to expire this summer. Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport is also reporting the move. It was reported a few days ago that Young was nearing a deal with Inter through the summer of 2021.

Young has made 12 Premier League appearances for Manchester United this season, but it was unlikely the club would offer him a contract this summer, and he has been slowly phased out of the squad as Luke Shaw began to earn the lion’s share of time at left-back.

He will have plenty of familiar faces at Inter, with Former Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku and on-loan playmaker Alexis Sanchez both currently playing at the San Siro. It is unclear where Young fits in at the Italian side, with Antonio Conte favoring a three-CB system and Young’s skill set more defensive-minded, not exactly suited for a wing-back role.


According to The Guardian’s Nick Ames, Arsenal is paying special attention towards Paris Saint-Germain full-back Layvin Kurzawa, hoping to secure a deal this winter.

The 27-year-old has made 11 Ligue 1 appearances for PSG this season, sharing time with Juan Bernat at left-back. Kurzawa’s contract at PSG expires this summer and he has made just 90 appearances since joining from Monaco in 2015.

Kurzawa would be of special interest to Arsenal given the massive amount of injuries suffered by the Gunners along the back line this season. Kieran Tierney remains sidelined with a dislocated shoulder, with surgery keeping him out through March, while Calum Chambers begins ACL rehab, and both Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac work their way back from thigh injuries.

The Guardian report says the clubs have made contact but a deal is still “some way off.”


Tottenham is desperate to find a short-term replacement for injured talisman Harry Kane, which is proving more difficult than believed as the team looks to convince a player to join knowing they are only needed for a few months.

However, with Gedson Fernandes having already signe don, asking a player to agree to a switch is not the only problem they have reportedly faced. 28-year-old Porto striker Ze Luis is a target for the club according to a number of reports, including the Evening Standard. Unfortunately, it appears work permit issues are at the heart of the holdup.

Portuguese publication Record reports that Ze Luis does not possess a European passport, and as a Cape Verde international, it would seem unlikely that he would be set to earn a British work permit. Cape Verde was ranked 75th in world by the latest FIFA release, and the Premier League usually only considers players from top 50 countries.

After joining this past summer from Spartak Moscow, Ze Luis has scored seven Liga NOS goals in 12 appearances for Porto this season, earning the majority of minutes to this point before sitting the last two games in favor of Brazilian striker Tiquinho Soares.


According to The Guardian reporters Ed Aarons and Paul Doyle, Aston Villa is “close” to a deal for Genk striker Mbwana Samatta in a deal worth $11.1 million.

The deal was likely spurred on by an injury to Villa striker Wesley who suffered a knee injury that is set to keep him out the rest of the season.

Mbwana, a 27-year-old Tanzania international, has seven goals in 20 Jupiler Pro League games this season – although he has just two since the start of September – plus three more in Champions League play. He was the top scorer in the league last season, with 20 goals in 28 appearances, including a streak where he scored 10 goals in nine games through the winter.

He will also need a work permit to complete the switch, which could be an issue given Tanzania is ranked 134th in the world by FIFA, but he has 51 international caps and could be eligible for a special exemption. His status as top scorer last season, earning him the Soulier d’Ébène award as the best African player in Belgium, could be enough to trigger that exemption.

FA Cup Preview: Arsenal v. Leeds United

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Mikael Arteta and Marcelo Bielsa will square off for the first time as Arsenal host Leeds United at Emirates Stadium on Monday in the third round of the FA Cup.

 [ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

The Spaniard and the Gunners kicked off 2020 in grand fashion, edging Manchester United 2-0, but their debut in this year’s FA Cup doesn’t project to be a walk in the park. Leeds are currently the Championship’s top-of-the-table side, with only four losses to their name.

That said, there is a significant chance Bielsa – the man who Arteta’s teacher, Pep Guardiola, has referred to as the “best manager in the world” – will not focus on the tournament, and instead will double down on promotion. 


Injuries/suspensions

Arsenal: OUT — Calum Chambers, Kieran Tierney QUESTIONABLE — Dani Ceballos, Hector Bellerin, Gabriel Martinelli

Leeds: OUT — Pablo Hernandez, Adam Forshaw  QUESTIONABLE — Jamie Shackleton


Probable lineups

Arsenal: Martinez; Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Holding, Saka; Willock, Guendouzi; Pepe, Ceballos, Nelson; Aubameyang​

Leeds: Meslier; Ayling, White, Cooper, Alioski; Phillips; Helder Costa, Gotts, Klich, Harrison; Bamford


What they’re saying

Arteta on Bielsa: “When you talk to players that had him as a coach, the words that they have for him are always positive.” 

Bielsa on the importance of playing against Arsenal: “Of course it is a big challenge for us. It is enough to see the players and the prestige and level they have. When people think that we are the favorite in one match, we don’t consider things like that, neither with the opposite, which is in this case. Every time we compete we trust in our resources and respect our opponent’s resources.We will always do this with the wish to impose our style and we will try to do this on Monday.”


Prediction

Arsenal will go for blood from the start and probably until the end, while Leeds day dreams about promotion. Arsenal, 3-1.

PL Preview: Arsenal v. Chelsea

Premier League preview Arsenal v. Chelsea
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Two longtime Premier League midfield generals meet for the first time as managers when Arsenal and Chelsea tangle in a Sunday morning London Derby (Watch Live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea and Mikel Arteta‘s Arsenal need wins in a bad way ahead of a meeting at the Emirates Stadium.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Arsenal has one win and eight draws in its last 16 matches, the most recent result a 1-1 draw in Arteta’s first match in charge of the Gunners.

That draw came while Chelsea was losing 2-0 to Southampton at Stamford Bridge, giving the Blues two wins from their last seven league outings.

An Arsenal win would open the door for either Sheffield United or Tottenham Hotspur to move into the Top Four. The Gunners open the day in 11th place on 24 points.


Injuries/suspensions

Arsenal: OUT —  Kieran Tierney, Sead Kolasinac. QUESTIONABLE — Dani Ceballos, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Gabriel Martinelli.

Chelsea: OUT — Ruben Loftus-Cheek . QUESTIONABLE — Ross Barkley, Olivier Giroud.


Probable lineups

Arsenal: Leno, Saka, Mustafi, Luiz, Bellerin, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Christensen, Tomori, Zouma, Emerson, Jorginho, Kante, James, Pulisic, Pedro, Abraham.


What they’re saying 

Arteta on starting Mesut Ozil versus Bournemouth: “To be fair, his attitude in training since the day that I walked in the building has been incredible. I’ve seen this and I said I would give a clean slate to everybody and that was for him too. When we were preparing and watching where we could hurt the opponent, we believed he could be a key point. Like this, he responded, did what he had to do and we could have put two or three goals in the net because of him.”

Lampard on Chelsea’s poor run: “Teams are making it difficult here. We are not making enough chances, we were at the beginning of the season. We are being asked a different question at home. At the moment we are not answering them. We do not manage to pick up that final pass,” Lampard said. “Against Tottenham we had space to make runs and today we had none. It changes things. We did not do it right today. I think If at the start of the season we would have been happy where we are. We are good away but we have to make it difficult to come here.”


Prediction

It’s the same old story for Arsenal: Goals will come, but will the defending? Injuries seem to tilt the scales for Chelsea, but the home stadium will be buzzing for Arteta and we think the new bounce might be enough for a 2-2 thriller.