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PL Sunday preview: Chelsea look to extend perfect start; Arsenal vs. Everton

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Life in the Europa League spells a harsh reality for Chelsea and Arsenal this season: Thursday night games followed by the quick turnaround to Premier League action on Sunday.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 6? ]

West Ham United vs. Chelsea — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Following wins by Liverpool and Manchester City on Saturday, Chelsea enter Sunday’s clash on the other side London, where they’ll take on a West Ham side that only last week picked up its first points of the season, third in the PL table. The Blues are, however — along with the Reds — one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the PL. Maurizio Sarri has stabilized Chelsea following a summer of tumult and turnover, thanks in large part to a series of dazzling performances by Eden Hazard — one of the figures at the center of the controversy this summer — as the Belgian has racked up five goals and a pair of assists in just over 300 minutes. His hat trick last weekend helped the Blues to a perfect 5-for-5 start to the season.

West Ham, on the other hand, finally have something to show for their efforts after appointing Manuel Pellegrini as manager and spending more than $100 million on transfers in the summer. All it took was one win to climb out of the bottom-three. Andriy Yarmolenko bagged a brace in the win over Everton, leaving Pellegrini more than pleased after showing faith in the Ukrainian during his first few weeks in the PL.

“I said at the start that Andriy needs a few weeks to get used to playing in the Premier League,” Pellegrini said this week. “He has a lot of quality, we know that, but in this league you can’t just play with quality.

“He demonstrated against Everton that it was the correct moment. He did it very well. After this performance, we must demand him to give more, because he’s able to be a top player for us.

INJURIES: West Ham — OUT: Manuel Lanzini (knee), Winston Reid (knee), Andy Carroll (ankle); QUESTIONABLE: Marko Arnautovic (knee) | Chelsea — QUESTIONABLE: Pedro (shoulder)

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

Another side enjoying a purple patch of results of late is Arsenal, winners of three straight after defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea to start the season. Unai Emery has worked out a decent enough formula, though the Gunners are yet to keep a clean sheet this season (their 9 goals conceded puts them in the bottom-half of the league in the goals-allowed column). Even star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang acknowledged his side’s defensive struggles following Thursday’s 4-2 victory over Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League.

“I think we played well in the first half and at the beginning of the second as well and we scored four goals, but we need to improve and fight to not concede goals like we did in the last few minutes.”

Everton’s season has also been marked by a drastic difference between the first two games and the three which followed thereafter, only in reverse of Arsenal’s turnaround. After impressing in their first two games, the Toffees have collected just two points from the last three games. Their struggles have been, in part, down to the absence of Richarlison, who scored three goals in the first two games of the season before earning a red card and a three-game ban for head-butting Adam Smith during the 2-2 draw with Bournemouth. Injuries throughout the team proved costly against West Ham last weekend, and not much has improved on that front. Defensive pillars Michael Keane and Phil Jagielka remain out, while Seamus Coleman and Yerry Mina will undergo late fitness tests ahead of Sunday’s kickoff.

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Sead Kolasinac (knee), Laurent Koscielny (achilles), Carl Jenkinson (ankle), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (ankle), Lucas Torreira (knee)| Everton — OUT: Phil Jagielka (knee), Michael Keane (head), Andre Gomes (hamstring), James McCarthy (leg); QUESTIONABLE: Yerry Mina (foot) Seamus Coleman (foot)

PL Sunday preview: West Ham chasing first point, visiting Everton

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures is all about place 11 through 20 in the league table, as a pair of early-season relegation battlers are in action against sides occupying placed they presently dream of making their own: mid-table.

[ MORE: What did we learn from PL Saturday, Week 5? ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Burnley — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Burnley finished last season seventh in the PL table, while Wolves were busy winning the Championship and securing their place in the top flight this season. Based solely on their places in the football world five months ago, Burnley should be the mid-table side while Wolves battle every second to leave the relegation zone behind. Fortunately for the Clarets — and regrettably for Wolves — we’re barely 10 percent of the way through the 2018-19 season, so there’s plenty of time to right the early-season wrongs — or, to wrong the rights.

When the two sides meet at Molineux Stadium on Sunday, Sean Dyche‘s side — no longer dealing with the possible distraction of the Europa League — will be seeking its first win of the season, and first point(s) since their opening-day draw with Southampton. Dyche isn’t panicking yet, though, because he’s been through plenty or periods just like this one before.

“When you are good you are never that good and when you are bad you are never that bad, and we have to bear that in mind. The players are close to something, but we have to tidy up at both ends.”

INJURIES: Wolves — OUT: Raul Jimenez (knock), Ivan Cavaleiro (back) | Burnley — OUT: Ben Gibson (abdomen), Steven Defour (calf), Nick Pop (shoulder), Robbie Brady (hamstring)

Everton vs. West Ham United — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Things could actually be worse for Burnley, though: they could be West Ham, who are without a single point after four games and face the typically tough task of an away trip to take on ninth-place Everton. The arrival of Manuel Pellegrini was supposed to stabilize the Hammers and turn them into a force to be reckoned with sooner than later — at least, that was the place. So far, not a single thing has gone right: just two goals scored while conceding 10. After spending well over $100 million during the summer transfer window — including a club-record fee of $45 million on mercurial attacker Felipe Anderson — the expectation was that a manager with Pellegrini’s pedigree, a Premier League winner himself, would finally lift the east London club out of years of mid-to-lower-table mediocrity.

Perhaps the climb begins on Sunday, with Everton missing a number of key figures due to injuries and suspension. With Michael Keane, Seamus Colemand and Phil Jagielka suffering from various injuries, Marco Silva will have to piece together a makeshift defensive unit. Further up the field, Richarlison is serving the second of his three-game ban for head-butting Bournemouth’s Adam Smith.

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: Richarlison (suspension), Seamus Coleman (foot), Phil Jagielka (knee), Michael Keane (head), Andre Gomes (hamstring), James McCarthy (leg) | West Ham — OUT: Manuel Lanzini (knee), Winston Reid (knee), Andy Carroll (ankle)

Michael Keane suffers hairline skull fracture

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Everton have confirmed that center back Michael Keane suffered a small hairline skull fracture in a nasty collision at Bournemouth on Saturday.

In stoppage time of their 2-2 draw at the Vitality Stadium Keane clashed heads with his teammate Idrissa Gueye and was treated on the pitch for over six minutes before being taken to hospital.

Keane had scored Everton’s second goal to make it 2-0 and that was his first Premier League goal for the Toffees.

The England international released the following statement on his condition as he is expected to be back in full training in three to four weeks.

“Thank you to everyone for all the well wishes and support. I’m okay but suffered a small hairline fracture of the skull which will heal itself and means I won’t be able to have any head contact for three to four weeks,” Keane said. “I will be back with my team and back on the pitch as soon as I can after that. I also want to say a huge thank you to the medical staff at Everton and Bournemouth as well as all those at Poole Hospital for their excellent treatment and care.”

With Keane now out injured and new signing Yerry Mina not yet fully fit, loan signing Kurt Zouma is likely to be thrown in to start alongside Phil Jagielka on Saturday (Jagielka is returning from a three-game ban)  against Huddersfield Town.

Mason Holgate played at center back at Bournemouth with Toffees boss Marco Silva suffering a mini injury crisis in his first few months in charge of Everton.

Bournemouth fight back to draw Everton

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The twists and turns in Saturday’s match presented great drama, and the Cherries managed to pick up a point after the dust settled.

[ MORE: Man City unnerved by early-season draw ]

Bournemouth and Everton finished 2-2 at Dean Court, after a wild turn of events in the second half saw the match flip back and forth between the unbeaten sides.

After trailing 2-0 with under a quarter hour remaining, Bournemouth scored twice through Josh King and Nathan Ake to give the hosts a share of the points against Everton.

Despite having gone down a man in the first half, Everton struck twice in the second stanza to pull in front of the Cherries, with Theo Walcott and Michael Keane scoring the for the visitors.

A scary moment late on in the match saw Keane win a defensive header for Everton, however, the young defender stayed down on the pitch for a lengthy period after a collision with a teammate.

Walcott had broken the deadlock in the 56th minute after a brilliant run against the flow of play, which was the start of Everton’s move back into the match, before Keane doubled the advantage after the hour mark.

Shortly after, Bournemouth was reduced to 10 men after the Toffees went on a breakaway when Adam Smith brought down Walcott on the edge of the penalty area.

The Cherries were brought back into the match when Wilson was taken down by Leighton Baines for a penalty. That led to a Josh King conversion from the spot, cutting the deficit to 2-1.

The biggest moment of the first half came just five minutes before the break, as Richarlison was sent off for a slight headbutt on Adam Smith.

Entering Saturday’s match, the Brazilian had scored three goals in the opening two games for the Toffees.

Bournemouth nearly went ahead on the quarter hour, as Wilson found himself alone inside the penalty area, but his curling effort sailed high of the crossbar.

Meanwhile, Nathan Ake found himself with a free header from six yards out in the 40th minute, but the defender’s attempt went lame off his shoulder and lifted Everton off the hook.

Everton edge by Southampton as Richarlison stars again

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  • Richarlison has 3 goals in first 2 games
  • Southampton’s Ings scores on full debut
  • Everton’s first win under Marco Silva

Everton beat Southampton 2-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday, as the Toffees rode a fast start to victory.

Theo Walcott and Richarlison scored first half goals to set Marco Silva’s side on their way but Danny Ings scored his first Saints goal on his full debut but it wasn’t enough to grab Mark Hughes‘ men a draw.

With the win Everton remain unbeaten in the new campaign with four points on the board, while Saints have one point after two games.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Everton went close early through headers from Michael Keane and Cenk Tosun but Alex McCarthy saved easily.

Southampton should have taken the lead as Charlie Austin nodded a cross from James Ward-Prowse wide when he really should have hit the target.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Walcott then gave Everton the lead as Morgan Schneiderlin played the ball around the corner from a well-worked free kick and Walcott finished calmly against his former club to make it 1-0.

Keane and Tosun then went close again as Everton threatened to run away with things before half time. Yet Ings almost made it 1-1 as he followed up a mistake from Jordan Pickford but the latter saved superbly to deny Ings as he pushed it onto the bar.

Richarlison then scored his third goal in his first two PL games for Everton to make it 2-0 before the break. The Brazilian nodded across goal from Walcott’s cross to send Evertonians wild.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ings went close either side of half time but Everton continued to look lethal as Richarlison again went close but McCarthy denied him.

But Ings did get his goal as he poked home Mario Lemina‘s flick-on from a corner and Saints dragged themselves back into the game.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Walcott should have grabbed a third for Everton and Saints went close to an equalizer in an improved second half display as Ings’ shot was blocked by Tom Davies late on.

Pickford then caught Ings in a challenge and Southampton were calling for a red card but nothing was given.

But it was Richarlison who stole the headlines once again for Everton.