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PL Preview: Tottenham v. Burnley

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  • Spurs have lost only one of their eight PL matches against Burnley, with that defeat coming back in May 2010 under Harry Redknapp.
  • Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is yet to draw a PL match this term, despite playing 16 fixtures. Only Manchester United, with 17 matches in 2012/13, and Bolton Wanderers, with 18 matches in 2011/12, have had longer runs without a draw from the start of a season.
  • Burnley is looking for its first away win against Spurs in any competition since January 1983, when Burnley triumphed 4-1 in a League Cup quarter-final.

Tottenham looks to carry on the momentum from its unlikely draw at Barcelona securing UEFA Champions League survival as it welcomes Burnley to Wembley Stadium, Saturday (Watch live at 10:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Despite the defeat at Arsenal, Tottenham are in decent form, and with a win against Burnley, it would be Tottenham’s sixth in the club’s last seven games. On the other side, Burnley sit just two points above the relegation zone, making it crucial they come away from Wembley Stadium with at least a point as they look to survive the busy holiday season. Burnley finally got out of the relegation zone last week with a win over Brighton and Hove Albion and are looking to build on that momentum.

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Tottenham does have several injury concerns, with Serge Aurier (groin), Mousa Dembele (ankle), Victor Wanyama (knee), Kieran Trippier (groin), Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth (both hamstring) all needing to be assessed. For Burnley, manager Sean Dyche will only have to worry about Johann Berg Gudmundsson (hamstring) and Steven Defour (calf), who both have fitness tests ahead.

What they’re saying

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino on facing Burnley: “We need to play against Burnley like we played against Barcelona, that’s the challenge. The way we are going to approach the game will be key. We need to take the game in the same way as Barcelona with the same motivation, the same energy. The three points we need to win are as important as against Barcelona or any other team.I am more motivated to play against Burnley than the previous games because we are trying to reduce the distance between Liverpool and Manchester City. We are going to play for three very important points. To be in the top four of the Premier League and to keep that position is a massive motivation. It’s such an important game.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on facing a big side in Tottenham: “Tottenham are having a fine start to the season and they had a great result the other night. I really like the way they go about their business. Their manager plays direct football but in a passing style, if they can get out quickly then they do. They’re effective. They don’t keep the ball for the sake of it. They keep the ball but try and penetrate and with that they are an effective side. We go down there with a bit more freedom, the expectation changes. Last week against Brighton when there is really heavy expectation for us to get a result.

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Prediction

Tottenham is on a high after Tuesday’s heroics and while it can be difficult to face a team farther down in the table, this experience side knows that Burnley is no pushover. That being said, the quality of Tottenham should help the club see this through. Tottenham 2-1 Burnley

PL Sunday preview: Two London derbies, plus the Merseyside

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Sunday is Derby Day in the Premier League, as a pair of sides from each of west London, north London and Merseyside will square off back-to-back-to-back, beginning at 7 a.m. ET.

[ MORE: Man City find groove in win | Man United come back for draw ]

Chelsea vs. Fulham — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the PL season — and with it, most realistic title hopes, perhaps — came to an end last weekend, as Tottenham Hotspur thrashed Maurizio Sarri’s side and handed the Italian his first defeat. Chelsea actually sit fourth in the table, despite their lone defeat — compared to Tottenham’s three — ahead of Sunday’s visit from west London rivals Fulham. Sarri will face his compatriot, newly appointed Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri, some 20 years after their first face-to-face meeting, in Florence.

“Friend is a big word, but I like him very much,” Sarri said this week. “I visited him in Florence 20 years ago. I think he doesn’t remember this meeting but it was very important for me. He visited us around 40 days ago to see our training. He spoke to me and Gianfranco (Zola).”

Since taking over at Craven Cottage, all Ranieri has done is inspire the Cottagers to one victory — their second of the season and first since August — in his one game in charge. While the three points were a welcome change after nine games without a win (and six straight defeats), the defense remains as leaky as ever, which will almost certainly be a major stumbling block against Player of the Year candidate Eden Hazard (7 goals, 4 assists in 12 appearances).

INJURIES: Chelsea — OUT: None | Fulham — OUT: Kevin McDonald (hamstring), André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (knock)


Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The season-long narratives surrounding Arsenal and Spurs couldn’t be any more different heading into Sunday’s north London derby, yet it’s Spurs — the disappointing nomads of the PL — who sit third in the table, while Arsenal — the reinvigorated giant under new manager Unai Emery — sit fifth, albeit just three points behind their bitter rivals.

Spurs have picked up their points in far less entertaining fashion — a great departure from the last two seasons under Mauricio Pochettino, when they played some of the most attractive attacking soccer in the world — and relied heavily upon makeshift defensive and midfield units, as the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele have all taken turns missing a handful of games each through injuries following a heavy workload at the 2018 World Cup. With Vertonghen only recently back in the fold, it’s Davinson Sanchez who’s set to miss the next month. Throw in the fact that Spurs signed not a single player in the summer transfer window, and it would be hard to argue against this being Pochettino’s best managerial job to date.

Arsenal, on the other hand, are scoring goals with great regularity (28 in 13 games), but it’s the narrow decline in goals conceded (16 in 13 games, 1.3 per game, compared to 1.5 per game last season) that has painted a different picture to what many had grown accustom to from the Gunners in recent years.

“Each match for me is very special,” Emery said this week. “The derby is perhaps more special because my responsibility is bigger because of every supporter. Also we need three points in the league because we want to be closer to the other teams, like Tottenham, and we have this challenge.”

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Nacho Monreal (thigh), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Laurent Koscielny (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Alexandre Lacazette (groin) | Tottenham — OUT: Davinson Sanchez (hamstring), Mousa Dembele (ankle), Kieran Trippier (groin), Danny Rose (groin)


Liverpool vs. Everton — 11:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The day’s final derby will feature a second-place Liverpool side — now five points behind Manchester City after Saturday — in desperate need of not only a win, but a performance that inspires confidence they’re up to the challenge of staying with Man City for 25 more games. With a must-win game against Napoli set for the final day of the Champions League group stage, the 2018-19 season is filling up with do-or-die fixtures far earlier than Jurgen Klopp would have liked. Goals and points have been hard to come by for Anfield visitors this season, as the Red have conceded just one goal and dropped only a pair of points, against Man City, in six league games.

Everton, on the other hand, have flown somewhat under the radar as all the headline go to City and Liverpool on another title race; Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal leapfrogging each other every week; and Manchester United hugely underperforming. Under new manager Marco Silva, the Toffees entire Sunday’s showdown in sixth place and having lost just one of their last seven league games. Alas, it’s been nearly 20 years (Sept. 27, 1999) since Everton were last victorious at Anfield.

INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Jordan Henderson (suspension), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) | Everton — OUT: James McCarthy (fitness)

Injury update: Ings, Vardy doubts, Mendy, Silva out, United’s stars return

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Ahead of the Premier League’s return on Saturday, there are plenty of injury updates around the league.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live

With the international break always causing a headache for PL managers as their stars give their all for their nations and have to travel thousands of miles around the globe, the past 24 hours has been about assessing which players are fit and ready for the weekend.

Here’s a look at some of the key players who could be missing and who may be back for their teams after a rest over the past 10 days or so.


Manchester United
Jose Mourinho has revealed that both Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba are fit to play against Crystal Palace, with the duo not linking up with France over the international break due to injuries. Romelu Lukaku is fit “with a risk” and the likes of Antonio Valencia, Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini are all available to play.


Manchester City
Pep Guardiola has confirmed that Bernardo Silva will miss City’s trip to West Ham this weekend after picking up a knock on international duty, while Benjamin Mendy had successful knee surgery but will be out for the next 12 weeks.


Tottenham Hotspur
Mousa Dembele is in Qatar having treatment on an ankle injury, while Kieran Trippier, Davinson Sanchez and Danny Rose remain out. Rose has returned to training and could be back soon, while Sanchez is unlikely to be back until January 2019 with a hamstring injury. The good news: Jan Vertonghen has recovered from his hamstring injury and could play against Chelsea this Saturday.


Leicester City
Jamie Vardy has a groin injury and is a doubt for Leicester who travel to Brighton, as Claude Puel also has to deal with Harry Maguire remaining out and James Madisson struggling with a knee injury. The English trio have been key for the Foxes this season, so this is no doubt a blow.


Everton
A big boost for Marco Silva as midfielders Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andre Gomes are both available to play against Cardiff City on Saturday. The duo have been a key part of Everton’s recent good form with Gomes linking things together in midfield and Sigurdsson creating chances and scoring goals.


Southampton
Saints’ top scorer Danny Ings is a huge doubt for their massive trip to fellow strugglers Fulham. Ings has scored over half of Southampton’s goals this season, but Mark Hughes revealed Ings is still struggling with a hamstring injury which forced him off in the first half against Watford before the break. 


Fulham
Talking about Fulham, new manager Claudio Ranieri revealed he will be without Frank Anguissa and Kevin McDonald for his first game in charge, against Southampton at Craven Cottage.


Crystal Palace
Roy Hodgson has confirmed Wilfried Zaha is fit after missing the game against Tottenham before the break. Palace will need Zaha’s power and pace on the break against his former club, as a tough trip to Old Trafford awaits the out of form Eagles.


Top Premier League storylines for Week 13

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The final international break of 2018 is in the rearview mirror, thus the Premier League takes center stage for the next three and a half months.

[ MORE: Barca’s next signing of a Liverpool player will cost extra $114M ]

Here are the five storylines we’ll be watching most closely this weekend…


Tottenham look to spoil Chelsea’s unbeaten start
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea, 12:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, on NBC [ STREAM ]

Chelsea, alongside Manchester City and Liverpool, remain undefeated to begin the 2018-19 season, but the Blues are set for a tough test on Saturday when they take on Tottenham, the only side in the PL without a draw this season, at Wembley Stadium. Maurizio Sarri‘s side might be unbeaten, but they’ve endured a largely indifferent run of results in recent weeks, as they’ve drawn more games (four) than they’ve won (three) over the last two months. Each side won away from home in their two meetings last season.

Who will can play for Spurs?
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea, 12:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, on NBC [ STREAM ]

Mauricio Pochettino has enough defenders and midfielder to pick a standard starting lineup on Saturday… probably. It’s been a tough season for Spurs on the injury front, but here’s a list of who’s currently unavailable: Davinson Sanchez, Mousa Dembele, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose. Jan Vertonghen has been out for two months but is one of three players, alongside Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama, who could return just in time for this London derby. And yet, Spurs have managed nine wins from their first 12 games and sit fourth in the table. They are, however, yet to beat a side currently in the top-seven (losses to Man City, Liverpool and Watford).

Man City, Liverpool take title race on the road
West Ham vs. Man City, 10 a.m. ET, Saturday, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]
Watford vs. Liverpool, 10 a.m. ET, Saturday, on NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

They look set to run neck and neck with one another all season — currently separated by just two points — and they’ll both hit the road on Saturday. Liverpool have the tougher of the two tests, as they’ll take on Javi Gracia’s seventh-place (just ahead of Manchester United) Watford at Vicarage Road. City will also be in London, taking on 12th-place West Ham at the London Stadium.

Bournemouth-Arsenal is a top-six clash
Bournemouth vs. Arsenal, 8:30 a.m. ET, Sunday, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Ever since Arsenal’s seven-game winning streak was snapped nearly a month ago, the points have been trickling in one at a time for Unai Emery‘s Gunners. Three straight draws — against Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers — have dropped Arsenal to fifth place, three points behind Spurs, and made Sunday’s trip to the south coast of England a massively important one. No one has outperformed expectations more than Bournemouth thus far, as Eddie Howe‘s Cherries sit just four points back of Arsenal in sixth place.

Ranieri takes charge at Craven Cottage
Fulham vs. Southampton, 10 a.m. ET, Saturday, on NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

The bad news for Fulham: they sit bottom of the league with just five points from 12 games. Now, the good news: they’re only three points from safety and there are 26 games still to play. Claudio Ranieri is set to make his Fulham debut when Southampton come to west London on Saturday, and nothing would do more to rally the club around the new boss than snapping the Cottagers’ six-game losing streak and securing their first victory since August..

PL Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • Spurs (24 points) sit 4th in PL table
  • Palace (8 points) in 14th
  • Spurs won both meetings 1-0 last season

Mauricio Pochettino is four months into perhaps his greatest miracle (thus far) as Tottenham Hotspur manager — keeping the club in the thick of the Premier League’s top-four race despite a series of debilitating challenges from outset. Has it been a complete departure from the last two or three seasons when Tottenham played some of the most attractive, entertaining attacking soccer in the world? It absolutely has, and perhaps that’s why they’ve been criticized for perceived regression. That’s without even mentioning the ongoing stadium situation.

Due in large part to injuries — coupled with serious fitness struggles following the World Cup — and the fact they failed to sign a single player during the summer transfer window, it becomes quite clear, quite quickly, how any start to the season would be seen as unimpressive should a single aspect of recent successes change. But — and here’s the important part — they just keep finding ways to win. Saturday’s trip to Selhurst Park (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com) — even to take on a struggling Crystal Palace side — will likely require a similar grind-it-out approach, given injuries to Jan Vertonghen (hamstring), Mousa Dembele (ankle), Eric Dier (thigh), Danny Rose (groin) and Victor Wanyama (knee), to those of recent weeks.

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Palace, on the other hand, are winless in their last six league games (two draws) and have slipped to within two points of the relegation zone. Admittedly, a run of fixtures against Arsenal, Chelsea, now Spurs, then Manchester United is going to be a tough period for any non-top-six side. The Eagles haven’t topped Spurs in a PL fixture in six tries, suffering defeat all six times — five of which came via a 1-0 scoreline.

What they’re saying

Pochettino, on unfounded criticisms of Harry Kane: “He is so obsessed with scoring that sometimes, when it is against him, he needs more freedom — not to be obsessed. But he is going to learn and he is starting to be really mature. Kane is English and sometimes you push him to the sky and paradise and then you put him on the outside. If Harry was Italian and playing for the Italian side, he would be a bit more protected because the Italian people are more protective of their players. It’s difficult to push them but when they are there, they try to keep them up there. It’s similar in Spain. Here, it is more up and down.”

Palace manage Roy Hodgson, on struggling to score goals: “I can’t in any way criticize or complain about what the players are trying to do either in training or in matches, and I’m sure that (the goals) will come when the ball goes in for us. But, as I say, we’ve scored three in the last games. “The only thing we can do is keep trying to give those performances, and hope that if there is any luck going, it goes our way”


Prediction

It’ll be something of a slog — perhaps with multiple goals for each side, given the lack of midfield options for Spurs — but they’re battle-tested and have given a fantastic account of themselves in recent weeks. At some point, the fatigue and grind will catch up to them, but not on Saturday.