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Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v. Chelsea

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Chelsea visits surprising Newcastle United in a marquee match Saturday at St. James’ Park (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The hosts have scrapped their way to 26 points, five points both clear of the drop zone and back of seventh place. A draw at Wolves last weekend snapped a three-match league losing streak.

Chelsea maintains a five-point gap over Manchester United in its bid to claim a Top Four place, with the Red Devils meeting unbeaten Liverpool this week. The Blues are seeking back-to-back league wins for the first time since Nov. 9.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Newcastle has had a fair bit of success against the big boys this season, beating Manchester United and Spurs while drawing Man City.

Christian Pulisic stole the ball en route to Marcos Alonso‘s late goal in a 1-0 win when the two sides met at Stamford Bridge in October.

Pulisic, of course, is still out injured for Chelsea and Lampard says the American could return near the club’s February break. Newcastle has electric winger Allan Saint-Maximin back in the fold after more than a month on the sidelines. Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey are also available.


Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle United: OUT — Paul Dummett, Dwight Gayle, DeAndre Yedlin, Fabian Schar, Jetro Willems, Javi Manquillo. QUESTIONABLE — DeAndre Yedlin, Yoshinori Muto.

Chelsea: OUT — Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N’Golo Kante, Pulisic. QUESTIONABLE — Marcos Alonso.


Probable lineups

Newcastle United: Dubravka; Willems, Clark, Lascelles, Fernandez, Ritchie; Hayden, Shelvey; Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Almiron.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, James; Jorginho, Willian, Mount, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi; Abraham.


What they’re saying

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce on his meeting with owner Mike Ashley: “It went very well. We showed what we are trying to do, and he was fully supportive. We have plates spinning and hope to add to the squad by the end of the month. We have said that the targets have to improve us. He has been fully supportive of the remit. He agrees we buy quality not quantity. That has to be the mantra.”

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard on Newcastle’s many injuries: “It is still an opportunity, but this is vital. Every game brings challenges, going to Newcastle, the emotion of the crowd and they are an organized side. We won’t take it lightly. We have to take every game head-on. We don’t underestimate there. Bournemouth were down to the bare bones and we lost, it can bring out a different feeling. They have done very well and I don’t look at the bare bones.


Prediction

St. James’ Park has been a tough place to play, but the Blues shake off any travel to collect a 2-1 win over the Magpies.

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.

PL Sunday preview: Man Utd travel to Watford; Mourinho’s Tottenham host Lampard’s Chelsea

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With seven Premier League fixtures on Saturday, two more remain in Matchweek 18.

Watford v. Manchester United  — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

If this had not been said already: Watford are in trouble.

The Hornets have yet to win a home match this season, with their last win at Vicarage Road dating back to April. Over 17 games this season, Watford have registered one win – a 2-0 win over Norwich City in November – conceding 32 goals along the way. At home, Watford have scored four goals this season – a Premier League-low.

With the odds definitely against him, it is tough seeing recently-appointed Nigel Pearson overturning, possibly even if club owner Gino Pozzo commits to revamping the squad over the winter transfer window.

“It’s stating the obvious – it’s clear to everybody we need to affect our fortunes as soon as possible,” the 56-year-old said ahead of Sunday’s match.

“We’ve got another difficult game and when you play against Manchester United you know they’ve got quality, they’ve got players who are very capable of being match winners, so the most important thing for us is to raise our own levels of performance and find a level of consistency that will generate a better feeling within our fan base.”

Meanwhile, over in Manchester, the aura is overwhelmingly unrecognizable. United are riding a six-game unbeaten streak in Premier League play, and are in their best shape this season.

As a result, the talk at Old Trafford has been the first team’s ascendance over the past few months, but it’s quickly becoming the January transfer window.

Is Erling Haaland reuniting with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the Theatre of Dreams? Are Paul Pogba‘s days numbered with the Red Devils? These are the type of questions that the Norwegian manager is taking on.

“As a manager, you always hope you can do something but, then again, it’s not something that’s nailed on,” he said regarding United’s potential signings over the winter transfer window.

“It has to be the right player, the right age, he’s got to fit into this squad and for the right value. We’re always looking and the transfer window will be open but it might not happen.”

Getting three points at Vicarage Road doesn’t pose as a daunting task, obviously.

INJURIES: Watford —  OUT: Cleverley (calf), Holebas (ankle), Janmaat (knee), Prödl (knee), Welbeck (hamstring) | Manchester United — OUT:  Bailly (knee), Fosu-Mensah (knee), Pogba (ankle)

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

For the first team in a Premier League match, Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard will square off as managers.

And if Derby County’s win against Manchester United via penalties in the Carabao Cup last year told us anything it’s that the student learned a lot from his master.

“I am happy to go up against Jose [Mourinho], it was a big deal last year [with Derby against Manchester United],” Chelsea boss Lampard said when asked about playing against a Mourinho-led Spurs.

“I have a big respect for him,” he added. “The big thing is Chelsea versus Spurs, it is what the rivalry means to my players.”

For a second time in his storied managerial career, Mourinho will take on Chelsea – the club he managed for nearly six years – representing a different English club. For the first time ever, however, the match will be a derby.

So, is the Portuguese in any sort of emotional quandary going up against his former team and his former standout player?

“I am 100% Tottenham,” he stated. “I am 100% my club always. No space at all for my previous clubs. I gave everything to all of them, but they are my previous clubs.”

“My club is Tottenham so it’s so, so easy for me,” he said. “Not difficult from the emotional side of things.”

Now that sound like the Mourinho, who knows that there’s a clear pathway to dethrone Chelsea from the fourth position with a win.

INJURIES: Tottenham —  OUT: Lamela (hamstring), Lloris (elbow), Davies (ankle) | Chelsea  — OUT: Loftus-Cheek (achilles)

PL Preview: Chelsea v. Bournemouth

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  • Bournemouth has 2 wins over Chelsea in 9 matches across all competitions
  • Chelsea has not earned a point from a losing position this PL season
  • Chelsea has 31 goals this PL season, only 11 at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea looks to pick itself up off the turf before the festive fixtures begin as they host Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

The Blues have lost three of their last four Premier League matches, dropping them to fourth in the table. The three losses have come via a total margin of four goals, with the Blues showing an inability to fight back from deficits. Chelsea conceded a goal to Everton five minutes in, ultimately losing 2-1, while they were 2-1 down to Manchester City before halftime but couldn’t find an equalizer and fell behind against West Ham soon after the second half restart. The Blues are one of only two Premier League teams to have not registered a single point from a losing position this season, the other being Norwich City.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, is mired in an even worse stretch, having lost its last five in a row. The Cherries have conceded at least two goals in four of those five matches, with the defense completely gutted with injuries. Bournemouth saw a whopping eight players ruled out for Saturday’s match, including young defender Nathan Ake who has played every minute so far this league season until succumbing to a thigh injury 35 minutes into the defeat to Liverpool last weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Fellow center-back Steve Cook was also recently lost to a long-term injury, while Callum Wilson will also miss his first match thanks to a thigh problem of his own also suffered in the Liverpool loss.

Injuries/suspensions:

Chelsea – OUT: Fikayo Tomori (hip), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles).

Bournemouth – OUT: Nathan Ake (thigh), Callum Wilson (thigh), Lloyd Kelly (thigh), David Brooks (ankle), Adam Smith (ankle), Steve Cook (hand), Junior Stanislas (knee), Charlie Daniels (knee). QUESTIONABLE – Joshua King (thigh).


Projected Lineups

Chelsea – Kepa; Emerson, Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Kovacic, Kante, Mount, Pulisic, Willian; Abraham.

Bournemouth – Ramsdale; Rico, Simpson, Mepham, Francis; Lerma, Billing, Gosling, Fraser, Wilson; Solanke.


What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Lampard on tough recent results: “If you don’t perform at the levels, you don’t do the basics that you have been doing all season, then any team in the Premier League can beat you. Bournemouth are having a tough time but there’s no doubt that they have talent and ability in their squad to beat us if we are not at it.”

[ MORE: JPW’s PL picks ]

Bournemouth winger Harry Wilson on Chelsea boss Lampard: “I owe Frank Lampard a lot. He was fantastic for me last season [at Derby County], probably the most important one in my career so far, the one where I played regular football. To play under a legend like him, he taught me a lot. I’m in regular contact with him and it’s great to see him doing so well at Chelsea now.”


Prediction

Chelsea has struggled of late, but their strength – attacking play – matches up well against Bournemouth’s big weakness at the moment. With Ake among the drove of injured Cherries, there will be no stopping the Blues who will put a bushel of goals past Aaron Ramsdale. A 4-1 victory will return faith in the Frank Lampard youth movement.

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 16

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The Premier League didn’t issue too many surprises at the bottom of the table this week, but two top-tier sides didn’t behave as such and shook up our rankings.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Chelsea and Man City have dipped low, and Bournemouth’s skid doesn’t have it sinking lower (yet) because of the teams beneath it.

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Watford — Liverpool and Manchester United are next, and it’s looking a long way back to safety.
Last week: 20
Season high: 17
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 0-0 v. Crystal Palace
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Liverpool

19. Norwich City — Outshot, out-passed, our possessed Sheffield United at home and still lost. Bad vibes, man.
Last week: 18
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Leicester City

18. West Ham United — Just feels like there’s something lurking below the surface here. Doesn’t smell right given the Irons talent.
Last week: 17
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-1 v. Arsenal
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Southampton

17. Bournemouth — Losing to Liverpool is no shame, but it’s almost officially time to worry.
Last week: 16
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 3-0 v. Liverpool
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Chelsea

16. Aston Villa — Tom Heaton is a heck of a goalkeeper but he can’t be expected to save four A-plus danger chances per game.
Last week: 14
Season high: 8
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 4-1 v. Leicester City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Sheffield United

15. Southampton — West Ham and Villa back-to-back have to provide four points if Saints revival is to be believed.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Newcastle United
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. West Ham United

14. Everton — Duncan Ferguson gives the Toffees board reason enough to be patient with their managerial hire, and then Napoli goes and fires Carlo Ancelotti.
Last week: 19
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Won 3-1 v. Chelsea
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Manchester United

13. Burnley — The defending against Spurs — we know, Spurs are good — was enough to drop them far lower than four spots. Abject stuff from a Sean Dyche side.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 5-0 at Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle

12. Arsenal — Freddie Ljungberg started Nicolas Pepe, and Nicholas Pepe was his best player. Stunning stuff, really. Look at the assist below.
Last week: 13
Season high: 4
Season low: 12
Last match: Won 3-1 at West Ham
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Man City

11. Crystal Palace — I want to believe, but am holding out for something more. A derby win versus Brighton would suffice.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 0-0 at Watford
Up next: 2:45 p.m. ET Monday v. Brighton

10. Newcastle United — Again, Steve Bruce‘s men are getting tremendous Fortune and he’s pushing almost all the right buttons (It takes guts to start Andy Carroll over the struggling record signing Joelinton). This could be a sign of the Geordie Apocalypse.
Last week: 11
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Southampton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Burnley

9. Sheffield United — A little wobbly lately, but still a good comeback at Carrow Road.
Last week: 10
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-1 at Norwich City
Up next: 10 a.m ET Saturday v. Aston Villa

8. Brighton and Hove Albion — Doesn’t it say something that a country who starves for young, strong English coaches had one sitting in Sweden for eight years? Graham Potter is legit.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 2-1 at Arsenal
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Wolves

7. Chelsea — Some of those young guys who’ve played so well, so early, are looking a little ragged. It’s a shame Frank Lampard is still waiting on Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will really help things take another step.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Lost 3-1 at Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

6. Manchester City — It probably has nothing to do with the system, and a lot to do with not having Aymeric Laporte, Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane… Still, it needs to be better than a home derby loss to a Paul Pogba-less United.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Manchester United
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Arsenal

5. Tottenham Hotspur — We’re gonna need multiple screens on Sunday morning, as Wolves-Spurs and Man Utd-Everton are both must-monitor.
Last week: 8
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 5-0 v. Burnley
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Wolves

4. Manchester United — Ole’s at the wheel, and still doesn’t feel like Lewis Hamilton or anything but we’re not worried about heading off a cliff.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 2-1 at Man City
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Everton

3. Wolves — Beat Spurs on Sunday and I’ll go ahead and bet on them as a Top Four finisher, even after the Brighton draw failed to deliver the goods.
Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 2-2 at Brighton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Spurs

2. Leicester City — Wow.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Won 4-1 at Aston Villa
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Norwich City

1. Liverpool — Wow, only atop the table.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 3-0 at Bournemouth
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Watford