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PL Sunday preview: Man City, Spurs visit relegation favorites

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Title/top-four contenders v. relegation favorites — that’s the name of the game on Sunday, when a pair of Premier League giants visit the bottom two teams in the league table…

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 23 ]

Huddersfield v. Man City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The good news for 20th-place Huddersfield Town: the Terriers’ eight-game losing streak came to an end last weekend. The (still) bad news: a 0-0 draw against one of the other two teams currently occupying a relegation spot, Cardiff City, didn’t very little to chip away at what is now a 10-point gap between themselves and safety. Steady worse news, depending on how you look at it: manager David Wagner stepped down on Monday, leaving the club with interim boss Mark Hudson in charge. The (far) worse news: second-place, and resurgent, Manchester City are set to visit John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday.

Liverpool ground out a 4-3 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday to stretch the Reds’ lead back to seven points in the title race. Put simply, Sunday’s fixture is a must-win scenario for Pep Guardiola‘s side, no matter the opponent, but doubly — or, triply — so against a side like Huddersfield. After losing three out of four PL games in mid-December, the defending champions have regained a bit of form in their last three games, winning all three — including a season-saving victory over Liverpool — and conceding just two goals in the process. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are back amongst the goals, having between them scored five of the eight during the current run.

INJURIES: Huddersfield —  OUT: Aaron Mooy (knee), Danny Williams (knee) | Man City — OUT: Benjamin Mendy (knee), Claudio Bravo (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Vincent Kompany (undisclosed)


Fulham v. Tottenham Hotspur — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Tottenham’s latest spell without star striker Harry Kane (ankle) begins on Sunday, with a trip to Craven Cottage to take on relegation-threatened Fulham. Mauricio Pochettino‘s side will also be without Kane’s most logical replacement, Son Heung-min, as he is with the South Korea squad at the Asian Cup. Kane was lost for up to two months in last weekend’s narrow defeat to Manchester United, a result which saw Spurs fall five points back of City and their respective leads on Chelsea (one point) and Arsenal and Man United (then seven, but since reduced to four) eroded as well. Either Fernando Llorente will start up top, or Pochettino will opt for a striker-less formation and rely upon the fluidity and attacking versatility of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela.

As for Fulham, the Cottagers wish their greatest concern was as simple as losing a forward or two. Instead, Claudio Ranieri‘s side sits 19th after 22 games, now seven points (and another 17 goals in the goal-differential column) adrift of safety following Newcastle United’s emphatic victory over fellow relegation battlers Cardiff on Saturday. With just one win in their last nine league games (two in their last 19; three all season), the west London club’s return to the PL appears to be a one-season wonder before an immediate drop back down to the Championship. Having conceded 49 goals in 22 games, Fulham are on pace to give up 87 goals. The last side to concede more 80 goals in a season was — you guessed it — Fulham (85), the last time they were relegated in 2013-14.

INJURIES: Fulham —  OUT: Alfie Mawson (knee), Aboubakar Kamara (disciplinary) | Tottenham — OUT: Harry Kane (ankle), Lucas Moura (knee), Moussa Sissoko (groin), Victor Wanyama (knee)

PL Sunday preview: Litmus test time for Spurs, Man United

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures will see a pair of top-four hopefuls do battle head-to-head, as Tottenham Hotspur host Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 22 ]

Everton v. Bournemouth — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With just one win in their last eight PL outings, Everton will be hoping that their narrow victory over League Two side Lincoln City in the FA Cup last weekend will help to right the ship once back in league play. Marco Silva‘s fingers crossed it does the trick after slipping to 11th in the league table.

“Winning matches is the best way to win confidence and to start playing at our best level,” he said this week. “The best way to show (our quality) is by the results and the wins. We achieved the main thing against Lincoln and we have to work strongly again to achieve a good result in the next match.”

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: None | Bournemouth — OUT: Lewis Cook (knee), Simon Francis (knee), Adam Smith (knee), Dan Gosling (knee), Dominic Solanke (hamstring)


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

Sunday’s showdown at Wembley will serve as a litmus test for both Tottenham and Man United, as well as their respective managers. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will put his unblemished record as United boss on the line against Mauricio Pochettino, who might just replace him at Old Trafford in the summer.

With all due respect to the likes of Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town, third-place Spurs will pose a challenge Solskjaer’s side has not yet seen since Jose Mourinho was fired following a humbling defeat to Liverpool last month. United didn’t fare so well the first time these sides met this season, as the Red Devils suffered a thoroughly embarrassing 3-0 defeat that home in August. While Solskjaer has restored the attacking intent at United, he will be without a number of key defensive figures on Sunday, with Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian all reportedly unavailable or left out of the squad.

Along the same lines, Spurs are enjoying their best run of results all season, despite experiencing a rash of injuries — particularly to the midfield, where Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko have, somehow, become an irreplaceable duo. Finally, Eric Dier (appendectomy) is expected to return, as is defender Jan Vertonghen (thigh), thus affording Pochettino a majority of first-choice midfield and defensive options. Son Heung-min, who has amassed seven goals and five assists in his last seven games (all competitions), will play on Sunday before departing to join up with South Korea at the Asian Cup. It was agreed between the two side that Son remain with his club until after the game against United, missing the first two group games in the process.

INJURIES: Tottenham —  OUT: Mousa Dembele (ankle), Victor Wanyama (knee) | Man United — OUT: Eric Bailly (suspension), Chris Smalling (foot), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed)

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 21

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It’s been just 16 days since our last check-in with the Premier League club power rankings, but three more matches have been played and the title race is open again (which technically means it was never closed, but whatever).

[ MORE: Title odds for Top Five leagues ]

All this ahead of a weekend which could see big shake-ups at the bottom of the PL table and our power rankings, as Burnley hosts Fulham and Huddersfield Town heads to Cardiff City.


20. Huddersfield Town — Steve Mounie scored his first goal of the season in the 2-1 loss to Burnley, which is not good considering he’s their $15 million striker, had played almost 1000 minutes at that point, and the season started in August.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — Flunked its Arsenal test to the tune of 4-1 (it wasn’t that bad), but all will be forgiven with a win at Burnley.
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Newcastle United — If owner Mike Ashley doesn’t give spend significant money this month, he’s going to lose Rafa Benitez and his spot in the Premier League. That’ll make a club’s price tag on the takeover market sink something fierce.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

17. Burnley — Sean Dyche has his men bag above the red line, and will be looking to truly exhale by beating Fulham at Turf Moor.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

16. Southampton — Getting a point at Leicester on Saturday would say something big about manager Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s Saints revolution.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

15. Cardiff City — The Bluebirds can essentially vanquish a relegation rival from their rear view mirrors by handling miserable Huddersfield Town this weekend.
Last week: 17
Season high: 15
Season low: 20

14. Bournemouth — Cherries versus the Top Six? 0-7, 0 points. Cherries versus everyone else? 8-3-3. This, perhaps, is why Eddie Howe is always linked with clubs that have a bigger budget; He doesn’t quite have the ponies to run with the best, even for 90 minutes.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

13. Crystal Palace — Roy Hodgson‘s men are back in time for another second half run. This is what they do.
Last week: 14
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

12. Everton — They’ll have to be addressed in a longer post, but I have serious questions about Marco Silva that I’d ask loudly if I wasn’t terrified for Evertonians sake that it would mean Big Sam or some other demon of bad football would be back. Richarlison needs to bail out his benefactor, and soon.
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

11. Watford — I kinda hate this team — not the club, Watford supporters — for clearly being capable of contending for the Top Seven but not putting in consistent performances. Just one win from its last three matches would’ve had them in seventh.
Last week: 9
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

10. West Ham United — Manuel Pellegrini‘s men have hit a rough patch, but are showing heart and you wouldn’t bet against them getting something from Arsenal this weekend.
Last week: 7
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

9. Brighton and Hove Albion — Unbeaten in three and a sexy pick to steal a point from Liverpool?
Last week: 13
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

8. Wolves — Has there ever been a team to have a winning record against the Top Six but a losing record against the rest of the field? Their results are the Moussa Sissoko of results. That’s really unfair to Raul Jimenez, who runs his shorts off, but we’re talking about results not performances.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

7. Leicester City — They’re doing it again, luring me into the belief that the Foxes are the clear favorite to finish seventh. This all but guarantees a weekend loss to Southampton at the King Power Stadium.
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

6. Arsenal — Just eh. A 4-1 win over Fulham flattered the Gunners, and the club’s clear focus on the future is healthy but uninspiring when it comes to the season.
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

5. Manchester United — Still haven’t played much of anyone in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era, but that changes this week with Spurs.
Last week: 6
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

4. Chelsea — A new center forward or fully functioning Alvaro Morata could inspire a charge, but right now the Blues look an Eden Hazard injury from dropping out of the Top Four and needing to lean on the Europa League for UCL qualification.
Last week: 5
Season high: 1
Season low: 5

3. Spurs — Tottenham still has all five of its Top Six rivals left on its schedule, with three of those away from Wembley/White Hart Lane. It will be difficult to rise above third.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

2. Man City — More games like the 2-1 win over Liverpool please. Not because City won, but because it was so much fun. Now can they run through the final 17 matches without dropping more than a point or two?
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

1. Liverpool — Even with the loss to City, the schedule says Liverpool would need to choke in a big way in order to fail in its bid for a first top-flight title of the Premier League era.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

Spurs knock Arsenal out of League Cup

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Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli scored classy goals as Tottenham Hotspur recorded a measure of North London Derby revenge with a 2-0 defeat of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in League Cup quarterfinal play on Wednesday.

Spurs last won the League Cup in 2008, finishing as runners-up in 2009 and 2015.

Dele was struck with a bottle late in the game, and reacted by flashing a 2-0 sign to the crowd (and hearkening back to Theo Walcott celebrating with a similar derby gesture while being taken off the field on a stretcher).

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs opened the scoring with a team goal coming out of the back, as goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga‘s goal kick was soon at the feet of Dele Alli. His pass found Son for a neat finish and an early lead.

Lucas Moura‘s sliding intervention near the top his own 18 cued up Spurs for a counter attack, and Moussa Sissoko blazed the business end of a 1-2 over the Arsenal goal.

Dele got a deserved marker with a terrific finish around the hour mark. Another play that began with Gazzaniga, Harry Kane played Dele over the top of the Arsenal back line and Dele made amends for a slight mis-touch with a quick flick of the ball with the outside of his right boot. It

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Spurs beat Burnley in stoppage time

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  • Spurs stay third
  • Eriksen, Dele, Kane team up for winner
  • Hart hard done by in loss
  • Burnley 17th

Christian Eriksen‘s stoppage time goal finally gave Tottenham Hotspur an avenue past Joe Hart, as Spurs beat Burnley 1-0 on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham’s 39 points are five behind leaders Man City, while Burnley’s 12 points have them 17th.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs had most of the ball as expected, but needed 17 minutes to get a good chance through Lucas Moura.

Some delightful, creative play from Spurs saw Erik Lamela unable to convert a Moussa Sissoko set-up in the 31st minute thanks a Joe Hart intervention.

The hosts maintained control, but Ashley Barnes couldn’t properly reach a Phil Bardsley cross after Spurs backstop Hugo Lloris gave the ball away to Burnley.

Hart stopped a Lamela back post effort with fine low stop, as Burnley moved to within 15 minutes of getting a point at Wembley.

And substitute Heung-Min Son dragged a fine chance across goal but just wide of the far post in the 86th.

Dele Alli was inches from making it 1-0 on a Son cross, but got a reprieve when Eriksen scored in the first minute of stoppage time. Dele knocked the ball down for Kane, who slid the Dane on goal for his first of the season.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

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