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PL Sunday preview: Wenger’s last stand at Old Trafford

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Arsene Wenger‘s managerial feud with Jose Mourinho, which is well-documented all these years later, will close its Premier League chapter on Sunday when the two bosses match wits at Old Trafford. But first, Manchester City’s pursuit of history forges forward…

[ PL ROUNDUP: Saints go marching up; Chelsea close in on 4th ]

West Ham vs. Man City — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Records — that’s all that’s left to play for. Having clinched the PL title weeks ago now, Man City’s attention is solely focused on setting the single-season PL points record, which currently stands at 95 (Chelsea, 2004-05). With four games left to play, they could also become the first PL side to crack the century mark: 102 with four wins; 100 with three wins and a draw. Pep Guardiola‘s side is would tie the all-time record for away wins in a PL season (15, also by Chelsea in 2004-05) with a win at the London Stadium on Sunday, while moving to within a point of the 2004-05 Blues’ record of 48 away points (City have one more away game after Sunday).

West Ham, on the other hand, are still on high alert with regard to the relegation battle. As David Moyes‘ side sits 15th in the table, just three points clear of 18th-place Southampton, there’s still a bit of work to be done over the Hammers’ final four games. It’s been a season full of swings for West Ham, who managed a six-game unbeaten run (two wins) from Boxing Day to the end of January, only to lose four of their last seven games as the end of the season rapidly approaches. Perhaps these sides’ first meeting this season, which saw West Ham play quite well but ended 2-1 in favor of City, will provide a bit of encouragement.

INJURIES: West Ham — OUT: Joe Hart (loan agreement), James Collins (hamstring), Sam Byram (ankle), Winston Reid (knee), Michail Antonio (hamstring), Pedro Obiang (knee) | Man City — OUT: Sergio Aguero (knee), John Stones (groin)


Man United vs. Arsenal — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With his side set to visit Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semifinals second leg on Thursday, Wenger might have been tempted to field and all-reserves and -youth squad for Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford, if only Man United were managed by anyone other than Mourinho, Wenger’s longtime nemesis and foil for the last 15 years of his legendary run in the PL. Still, with no chance of a top-four finish and winning the Europa League as their last remaining avenue into next season’s Champions League — and the precarious position in which they find themselves following last week’s first leg — Wenger could very well place all priority and focus on Thursday’s trip to the Spanish capital, even if it means taking a heavy defeat in his final trip to Old Trafford (as Arsenal manager).

As for Mourinho, he’s happy to let all those years of battles and dust-ups turn to water under the bridge.

“If he respects me even 50 percent of what I respect him we can even be friends in the future,” he said this week. “I have lots of respect for him. But the reality is that he was at Arsenal, he was the champion and I came to the country in 2004 and wanted to steal his title. That’s football. But in the end I respect him a lot, I tried to show that in the past couple of years there were no problems at a different stage in my career with a different profile.”

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Sergio Romero (knee) | Arsenal — OUT: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (knee), Mohamed Elneny (ankle), Santi Cazorla (achilles)

Monday’s PL schedule

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

PL Sunday preview: Man City’s title trot; Wenger’s farewell tour

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Manchester City will play as the confirmed champions of the Premier League, though they won’t celebrate as such for a couple more weeks, on Sunday. Meanwhile, the only manager Arsenal have known for more than two decades begins saying goodbye

[ MORE: Man United come back to beat Spurs, reach FA Cup final ]

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

So begins the Arsene Wenger farewell tour, and with a London derby at that. Wenger announced on Friday that he’ll leave Arsenal at the end of the current season, which has little to no chance of seeing the Gunners finish in the PL’s top-five, let alone the top-four. Sunday’s clash with West Ham will be the first of Wenger’s three remaining games at the Emirates Stadium, including the Europa League semifinal against Atletico Madrid on Thursday. Unfortunately for Wenger, three of his final five PL games (four of seven in all competitions) will be played away from home, where his side has lost five straight in league play.

Speaking of lost and wayward seasons, 14th-place West Ham are almost mathematically clear of relegation (there’s currently three places and six points between themselves and 18th-place Southampton). It’s hardly the future they imagined upon moving to the London Stadium at the start of last season. Andy Carroll scored the late equalizer in the Hammers’ 1-1 draw with Stoke City on Monday, which rescued perhaps a perfectly timed point with all five remaining games to be played against sides currently in the top-nine (Arsenal, Man City, Leicester, Man United and Everton).

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (knee), Santi Cazorla (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Jack Wilshere (ankle) | West Ham — OUT: James Collins (hamstring), Sam Byram (ankle), Winston Reid (knee), Michail Antonio (hamstring), Pedro Obiang (knee)


Stoke City vs. Burnley — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Here’s what’s at stake at the bet365 Stadium on Sunday:

Stoke sit two places and five points adrift of safety from relegation, with four games left to play (17th-place Swansea City have a game in hand, to boot). After 10 seasons in the PL, it’s looking more and more likely that Paul Lambert (with a tip of the cap to Mark Hughes earlier in the season) will take the Potters back to the Championship for the first time since they won promotion in 2008.

Burnley trail Arsenal by just two points (though the Clarets have played one more game than the Gunners) in the race for sixth place. A sixth-place finish would be the club’s highest top-flight finish since 1966 (3rd).

INJURIES: Stoke — QUESTIONABLE: Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting (groin) | Burnley — OUT: Steven Defour (knee), Scott Arfield (calf), Robbie Brady (knee), Jonathan Walters (fitness); QUESTIONABLE: Ben Mee (knock), Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (hamstring)


Manchester City vs. Swansea City — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

While Man City won’t lift the PL trophy until their May 6 clash with Huddersfield Town, Sunday’s visit from Swansea will be Pep Guardiola‘s side’s first outing since clinching the title courtesy of Man United’s defeat to West Bromwich Albion last weekend. Guardiola’s focus has turned to breaking the all-time PL points record (95 — they currently have 87 with five games still to play).

“In the past, I won the league at Bayern and at Barca with five, six or seven games (left) but the next games were not good,” he said this week. “We have to think about how many points we can get, it can be a good argument. What we need to do is already done, the points record is not the most important thing, but maybe it can help us to be focused. It would be uncomfortable to finish in a bad way, there always has to be a target and maybe scoring the most goals and winning the most points will be a good focus.”

INJURIES: Man City — OUT: Sergio Aguero (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee); QUESTIONABLE: John Stones (thigh) | Swansea — OUT: Wilfried Bony (knee), Leroy Fer (achilles), Renato Sanches (hamstring)

West Ham 3-0 Southampton: Hammers obliterate Saints

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  • Hammers strike three times in first half
  • Saints remain in relegation zone
  • Arnautovic scores twice

West Ham battered Southampton 3-0 at the London Stadium as the Hammers came flying out of the traps in a huge relegation scrap as David Moyes got the better of Mark Hughes during his debut Premier League game in charge of Saints.

Joao Mario gave West Ham an early lead and Marko Arnautovic struck twice to make it 3-0 at the break with Southampton putting in a woeful display. This win saw the mood at the London Stadium among the home fans change drastically compared to the unrest and violent scenes during West Ham’s last home game against Burnley earlier this month.

With the win West Ham move to 33 points, five points above Saints who occupy the final relegation spot.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Southampton started well but were soon all over the place as West Ham went ahead despite losing Michail Antonio through injury.

From a Saints corner, Mario Lemina gave the ball away and West Ham broke with Cheikhou Kouyate picking out Mario on the edge of the box and the Portuguese playmaker slammed home to make it 1-0.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Soon after it should have been 2-0 to West Ham as Arnautovic went clean through but slotted wide. Soon after he did make it 2-0 as the Austrian forward headed home Mario’s cross from the right. Delirium at the London Stadium.

The Hammers should have been out of sight by half time as Arnautovic was denied by Alex McCarthy and then lashed his follow up wide from an offside position. But it was 3-0 at the break as Saints were hit with yet another counter. Arthur Masuaku drove forward down the left and his cross was volleyed home by Arnautovic. Game over.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

In the second half it was a case of damage limitation for Saints as Charlie Austin had a shot deflected over the bar.

Southampton improved with West Ham going through the motions to see out a comfortable win as Austin had another effort deflected out for a corner.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Mario flashed a shot just over for West Ham and Arnautovic curled a shot just wide as he went in search of his hat trick.

Aaron Cresswell clipped the crossbar with an audacious volley late on as West Ham eased to victory to lift themselves away from the relegation zone, while Southampton remain in trouble in the bottom three.

Moyes “embarrassed” in Wales, updates scary Reid injury

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David Moyes is bitterly disappointed in his players as West Ham United dipped closer to the relegation zone with a 4-1 hammering in Wales.

[ RECAP: Swans 4-1 West Ham ]

Swansea scored early and often, and the Irons could only manage a Michail Antonio consolation marker in the 78th minute.

The loss has the Irons just three points above the drop zone, and Moyes doesn’t need X’s and O’s or a tactics board to break down the loss, taking the blame for his players’ poor performance.

From the BBC:

“We played so bad. I couldn’t assess it, it was that poor.

“The fans travelled through the snow to get here and we let them down badly. That was the poorest performance since I came here. I’m embarrassed.”

There’s reason to be concerned, as West Ham’s run-in is dastardly: Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City are all on the docket, and Leicester, Everton, and Burnley aren’t walkovers. Southampton and Stoke City at home are must-win for Moyes’ men.

West Ham also had a scary injury to Winston Reid, in which the New Zealand defender was stretchered off with his neck in a brace after his knee bent in grotesque fashion.

Moyes admitted the knee is a bigger concern than the head, which is good considering the player was knocked unconscious.

“Winston Reid is conscious, he was knocked out, we are more worried about the injury to his knee than the knock to his head. He’s an important player for us so we hope it’s not too bad.”

Swansea 4-1 West Ham: Swans soar again

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  • 7 wins in a row at home for Swansea for the first time since 2004
  • Swansea have won four PL home games in a row
  • Hammers who have one win in their last six

Swansea City continued their fine form as they hammered West Ham 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday to ease their relegation fears.

The Swans surged into a 2-0 lead as Ki drilled home and Mike Van der Hoorn headed in a second, while Andy King and Jordan Ayew piled on the misery for West Ham in the second half.

With the win Swansea moved up to 13th place and have 30 points, while West Ham drop to 14th on 30 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

The Swans started brightly and were rewarded as Ki’s low shot from distance beat Adrian but West Ham’s goalkeeper will have been disappointed to have been beaten from that range.

A corner from Swansea then caused chaos as Declan Rice eventually cleared off the line to deny Federico Fernandez amid a mad scramble.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

There was then a lengthy delay as Winston Reid twisted under his under weight and appeared to hurt his left knee badly. The Hammers center back was eventually stretchered off as Mark Noble and Swansea’s Andre Ayew (formerly of West Ham) squared up in the aftermath.

Van der Hoorn then put Swansea 2-0 up just before half time as he nodded home from a corner to give the Swans a deserved two-goal lead.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Swansea made it 3-0 soon after half time as King prodded home following Andre Ayew’s header being saved. Game over.

On the break Marko Arnautovic looked like he would pull one back but he dinked his shot straight at Lukasz Fabianski and that effort summed up the Hammers’ afternoon in South Wales.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

It got worse for West Ham as Andre Ayew was brought down in the box by Cheikhou Kouyate and his brother Jordan stepped up to finish off a mercurial display from Swansea.

Michail Antonio, on as a half time sub, scored a consolation goal for the second game running as he spun in the box and hammered home a low shot.