PL Sunday preview: Man City go for 11 straight

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Manchester City’s bid to run away with the Premier League title continues on Sunday with a visit to one of the feel-good stories of the still-young season. Elsewhere, Burnley host Arsenal in a battle for the top-four (yes, really), and a pair of severe underachievers do battle at St. Mary’s Stadium.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool drop points; Manchester rejoices ]

Southampton vs. Everton — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

It’s still early in the 2017-18 PL season, but no side has displayed levels of disarray capable of rivaling that of (permanent) manager-less Everton — at least, not yet. After firing Ronald Koeman on Oct. 23, David Unsworth was put in charge on an interim basis. Burnley’s Sean Dyche was coveted and unsuccessfully hired, as was Watford’s Marco Silva. Here the Toffees sit, a month later, 16th in the league table and just 12 points to their name from 12 games, with owner Farhad Moshiri publicly claiming a new appointment is imminent, and Unsworth completely in the dark.

“Look, what will be will be,” he said this week. “I’m a proud man, I’ve stood proud for the past five weeks and I will continue to do that until someone tells me otherwise. I was only made aware of this development as I came off the training pitch, and if it is the case that we are close to getting a manger, I am delighted. I just want what’s best for the club. They asked me to stand in and I was pleased to do it. There were never any guarantees.”

Sunday’s opponent, Southampton, meanwhile, have come under plenty criticism of their own these first three-plus months of the season. Same as under Claude Puel last year, Saints have struggled to create chances and score goals under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino — to the tune of nine goals in 12 games, a -5 goal differential and 14th place in the league table. A win on Sunday could vault them as high as ninth. Pellegrino insists his employment is safe.

INJURIES: Southampton — OUT: Mario Lemina (ankle) | Everton — OUT: Oumar Niasse (suspension), James McCarthy (hamstring), Ross Barkley (hamstring), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Seamus Coleman (leg), Yannick Bolasie (knee), Maarten Stekelenburg (groin); RETURNING: Morgan Schneiderlin (toe)


Burnley vs. Arsenal — 9 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

For the first time in what feels like decades, the football club known as Arsenal has an almost entirely clean bill of health — only Santi Cazorla (out since October 2016) and an ill Theo Walcott, who already lives on the periphery of the squad anyway are unavailable for Sunday’s trip to Turf Moor.

On top of their newfound fitness, are also in the midst of a particularly purple patch of results in recent weeks — last weekend’s victory over Tottenham Hotspur erased memories of the defeat away to league-leading Manchester City. In total, the Gunners (22 points) have won six of their last nine games in the PL and would leapfrog both Liverpool and Tottenham to go fourth with a win on Sunday.

The Clarets, meanwhile, are the surprise team of the season thus far. Level on points with Arsenal, Dyche’s side could also finish the weekend by occupying a top-four place. With three straight wins and just two defeats all season, it’s no wonder Burnley have been approached time and again by “bigger” clubs in an effort to lure Dyche away from Turf Moor. Dyche is pleased with Burnley’s place in the PL pecking order, but his focus remains solely on reaching the 40-point mark, at which point everything else will be a cherry on top.

“The league table is to be enjoyed and I’ll probably do that for an hour before I start thinking about the next one,” he said after last week’s win over Swansea City. “We know it’s a big challenge going forward, and 40 points is the marker, so we look to the next challenge that comes our way and that’s Arsenal.”

INJURIES: Burnley — OUT: Tom Heaton (shoulder), Jonathan Walters (knee), Dean Marney (fitness) | Arsenal — OUT: Theo Walcott (illness), Santi Cazorla (achilles)


Huddersfield Town vs. Man City — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

96 days have elapsed since Man City last dropped a point, in any competition. Since their 1-1 draw with Everton way back on Aug. 21 — game no. 2 of the 2017-18 season — Pep Guardiola‘s side has won 10 straight in the PL, as well as five straight in the UEFA Champions League, and another two in the League Cup — altogether, 17 straight victories for the runaway PL leaders.

Sunday’s trip to take on newly promoted Huddersfield affords the Sky Blues to make it 11 in a row in the PL, and re-establish their eight-point lead in the title race after Manchester United closed the gap to just five with a victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. It’s not just the results which have been so dominant for Man City, but the scorelines by which they’ve been achieved: 37-6 combined score during the 10-game winning streak; six clean sheets during the run; and, they have trailed for all of eight of a possible 900 minutes.

As for Huddersfield, this first season in the PL has been a stomach-churning roller-coaster ride for David Wagner‘s side. After winning their opening two games of the season, the Terriers went winless in their next six (three draws), followed by alternating wins and losses each of the last four weeks, including the shocking slaying of Man United, destruction at the hands of Liverpool and even worse from Bournemouth. For all the peaks and valleys, they’ll gladly accept their 10th-place standing a dozen games into the campaign, while remaining cognizant of the fact there’s still a million miles to travel in their bid to stave off relegation.

INJURIES: Huddersfield — OUT: Michael Hefele (achilles), Philip Billing (ankle), Kasey Palmer (fitness), Jon Gorenc-Stankovic (knee) | Man City — OUT: John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (knee)

Swansea 1-0 Everton: Spirited Swans out of drop zone

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  • Llorente powers win
  • Swansea a point ahead of Hull
  • Everton remains 7th on 58 points

Swansea City picked up a gutsy 1-0 win over visiting Everton at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday to move out of the drop zone for the first time in a month.

Fernando Llorente’s first half goal was enough for Swansea to take advantage of Hull City’s loss to Sunderland.

Everton is goalless in three-straight Premier League matches.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A Swansea City counter snapped the match to life as Jordan Ayew led the rush and Tom Davies chopped him down. Lined up centrally about 35 yards out, Gylfi Sigurdsson chipped the ball directly to Joel Robles.

Sigurdsson thought he’d won a penalty in the 29th minute, but Martin Atkinson resisted the home shouts. That was fine for Swansea, as Llorente used that famous head to make it 1-0 within moments.

Alfie Mawson thought he’d made it 2-0 at the back door when young Mason Holgate made a terrific back post tackle to keep the deficit at one.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Everton looked a little brighter in the second half, but Swansea still produced the better chances. Ayew hit a ball off the post in the 55th minute that would’ve sent the Liberty Stadium to the moon.

Llorente headed a corner toward the back post, but Maarten Stekelenburg dove right to catch it.

Everton had a chance to make it 1-1 when Davies sent a bar to Mirallas that Swansea battled to clear.

Another chance came from substitute Leroy Fer, who raced onto Tom Carroll‘s left-footed cross to fire a fine shot that Stekelenburg knocked out for a corner.

The final 10-15 minutes were all about Everton, but desperate Swansea was in on every block, tackle, and loose ball. Substitute Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas were especially dangerous without finish, while Romelu Lukaku belted a ball off the outside of the netting.

Everton 0-3 Chelsea: Pedro stunner downs sleepy Everton

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Neither side looked up for the game, until Pedro was.

This game was billed as potentially Chelsea’s toughest test left as they march towards the title. With both teams struggling to produce anything on goal, the Spaniard stepped up in the 66th minute and ripped a fantastic strike past Maarten Stekelenburg and into the top-left corner to put Chelsea through at Goodison Park.

Everton was off to a flyer as 20-year-old Dominic Calvert-Lewin cut into the box and fired off a shot from a tight angle that wrong-footed Thibaut Courtois and cannoned off the post. The Blues also missed a good chance as Eden Hazard got around Maarten Stekelenburg to his right, but despite the open net to shoot at, the extremely tight angle forced Hazard into the side-netting.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

That was it though, as the first 45 minutes devolved into a brutal midfield battle, with neither side truly asserting its dominance. One of the only good efforts on net for either side in the first half came in the 23rd minute as Romelu Lukaku chested down a long ball and rifled a low shot on net from a long way out, and with Courtois just off line, the ball skittered agonizingly wide.

Everton looked to foul Hazard every time he got on the ball, so Chelsea hoped to work through the middle with Diego Costa and Pedro, but they did not produce a good chance before the halftime whistle.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

The second half began where the first half left off, with little in the game. Diego Costa was eventually given his customary booking for a studs-up challenge on Stekelenburg as the ball came through and the Everton goalkeeper went to boot it away.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Finally, the moment of the game arrived as Pedro cut to his left outside the top of the box and lashed a shot that scorched into the top corner and put Chelsea through.

Everton had no response, and the Blues would double the lead with 11 minutes left as a free-kick came off Romelu Lukaku and fell to Gary Cahill at point-blank range, turned in for a 2-0 lead. There was a moment of concern for Chelsea fans down the stretch as David Luiz sat on the pitch multiple times seemingly massaging his groin, replaced eventually by Nathan Ake.

It all fell apart for the Toffees, as Chelsea added a third with minutes remaining. Diego Costa released substitute Cesc Fabregas, and his cutback to fellow sub Willian near the six-yard box left the Brazilian with a clean finish.

The three points for the Blues see them seven points clear at the top of the table, while Everton remains in seventh, with no danger below them but failing to take the chance to jump Arsenal before the North London derby.

West Ham 0-0 Everton: Stalemate at London Stadium

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  • West Ham’s second clean sheet in three games
  • Everton up to sixth place
  • Hammers move on to 38 points
  • Toffees unbeaten in four

West Ham United and Everton battled it out in an uneventful 0-0 draw at the London Stadium on Saturday.

The Hammers had the better chances, especially in the first half, while Everton couldn’t get any service to their star man Romelu Lukaku in a disappointing display.

With the point West Ham move on to 38 for the season, while Everton have 58 and momentarily move into sixth place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

A cagey start saw West Ham almost shoot themselves in the foot with a throw back to goalkeeper Adrian poorly controlled and his clearance hit Lukaku and almost fell to Kevin Mirallas to tap home. Crisis averted.

West Ham went close with two chances as Cheikou Kouyate drilled just wide, then Havard Nordtveit had an effort blocked and the follow up was saved by Maarten Stekelenburg.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Before half time West Ham again went close when James Collins headed wide while under pressure from Ashley Williams, then West Ham almost forced the ball in at the back post as Everton failed to get going.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

At half time Ademola Lookman and Gareth Barry came on for Idrissa Gueye and Tom Davies as Koeman looked to spark his team into life.

Manuel Lanzini then went close with his shot brilliantly blocked by Phil Jagialka as the Hammers carved out the better chances with Jose Fonte having his header saved by Stekelenburg.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Both teams struggled to create clear cut chances in the sun in east London as a tame encounter petered out into a 0-0 draw with Everton’s only reach chance an effort dragged wide by Lookman.

Watch Live: Tottenham vs. Everton (Lineups & Live Stream)

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Two of the Premier League’s hottest strikers meet as Tottenham and Everton lock horns at White Hart Lane live at 8:30 a.m. on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

Harry Kane does start despite suffering a slight injury problem against Stoke last weekend. The England international has 13 goals in his last 10 matches across all competitions, including three hat-tricks in that span. He meets Everton’s Romelu Lukaku who has registered eight goals over his last nine Premier League games, including a whopping four-goal game earlier this month.

[ WATCH LIVE: Tottenham vs. Everton live online at NBCSports.com ]

Spurs comes into this game in second in the table, with the chance to close the gap at the top to a single-digit deficit, but they’re banged up. Toby Alderweireld isn’t fully fit after a groin injury against Stoke City, but he finds himself in the starting lineup anyways. Erik Lamela is still out injured, along with Danny Rose. Despite these issues, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been a constant during his Spurs career, making his 24th appearance of the Premier League season and 200th appearance for Tottenham in his career.

The Toffees have fewer injury problems, and have named a nearly unchanged side for the third straight match, although manager Ronald Koeman has made one change with Gareth Barry coming in for Ademola Lookman. Joel Robles continues to start in front of Maarten Stekelenburg in goal, and new signing Morgan Schneiderlin has carved out himself a position in midfield for him.

Everton has not won in its last eight matches against Tottenham, with three losses and five draws in that span, including three straight draws most recently. They’ve all been close affairs, with the last ten meetings between these teams ending in either a draw or a one-goal margin of difference.

Spurs is going for a club-record nine straight wins in league play.

LINEUPS

Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Dele, Kane.
Bench: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Sissoko, Winks, Son, Janssen.

Everton: Robles, Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Barry, Davies, Barkley, Lukaku.
Bench: Stekelenburg, Jagielka, Mirallas, McCarthy, Valencia, Holgate, Lookman.