PL Sunday preview: Liverpool in chase mode; Arsenal v. Man Utd

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By the time Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures is complete, nearly all 20 clubs will have played 30 games in the 2018-19 season, signaling the official start of the run-in.

[ MORE: What did we learn on a wild PL Saturday? (video) ]

From the title, to the top-four, to the relegation battle, there’s still so much left to play for…

Liverpool v. Burnley — 8 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

From runaway PL title leaders and favorites, to staring a four-point deficit — with a game in hand, albeit — square in the face, the last two months have been anything but ideal for Liverpool. It’s not as if Jurgen Klopp‘s side has cratered and even lost a single game, so much as Manchester City have regained their brilliant, historic form of last season (three points dropped from their last 11 games) and managed to capitalize on the Reds drawing four of their last six. When 17th-place Burnley visit Anfield on Sunday, Klopp and Co., will have their hands full against increasingly desperate opponents who now sit just two points and one place clear of the relegation zone. There can be no looking ahead to Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League clash with Bayern Munich (0-0 after the Reds’ home leg).

As for the Clarets, Sean Dyche‘s side was the very definition of up-and-down since mid-January: three draws, followed by two wins, followed by two losses most recently. Prior to starting their potentially season-saving run just before the start of 2019, Burnley sat 19th in the PL table. After winning three straight to start the new year and eventually extending their run to eight games unbeaten (five wins), they had risen as high as 14th. Back-to-back defeats to fellow relegation battlers Newcastle United and Crystal Palace have since dropped them back into perilous danger as they head northwest to take on one of the Europe’s most prolific, irresistible sides on Sunday.

INJURIES: Liverpool —  OUT: Joe Gomez (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Dejan Lovren (hamstring) | Burnley — OUT: Aaron Lennon (knee), Steven Defour (calf), Jonathan Walters (achilles)


Chelsea v. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 10:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Maurizio Sarri‘s debut season in the PL has been one he, and many Chelsea fans alike, would like to forget. And yet, it’s the sixth-place Blues — of the three teams currently jockeying for fourth place — who control their own destiny, due to having a game in hand and trailing the Champions League places by just two points. Sunday’s opponent, sixth-place Wolves, will be anything but a pushover, which they demonstrated the first time these sides met this season: Wolves 2-1 Chelsea, in December.

Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota inspired Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side to the comeback victory at Molineux Stadium, and the prolific duo (17 goals and nine assists between them this PL campaign) will be desperate to complete the unlikely double over such a giant in their first top-flight season in eight years. Against all odds, it’s Wolves who have lost just once in their last seven league games (four wins), and the Blues who have lost three of their last six (three wins) and suffered a frustrating slide down the table. With a six-point advantage over 11th-place Everton, and Sunday’s game in hand, Wolves are merely a handful of results away from mathematically securing a top-half finish with plenty of the season still to run.

INJURIES: Chelsea —  OUT: None | Wolves — OUT: Ryan Bennett (suspension)


Arsenal v. Manchester United — 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com

The leading contestants for a top-four finish are set to face off in a titanic clash at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, with the added bonus of making a real push to catch and surpass a Tottenham Hotspur side suddenly spiraling out of control. Man United moved to within three points of Tottenham with their comeback victory over Southampton last weekend, only for those very Saints to do the Red Devils a massive favor on the back end: handing Spurs their third loss in four games.

Three points won’t come easy on Sunday, however, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side was pushed to its limits in the Champions League on Wednesday, only securing their passage to the quarterfinals in the 93rd minute against Paris Saint-Germain. Further complicating matters, United find themselves in the midst of something of an injury crisis (see below). On the bright side, Paul Pogba will be fit and fresh after missing Wednesday’s game due to suspension. On the brightest of bright sides, United remain unbeaten in 12 league games (10 wins) since Solskjaer took over for Jose Mourinho in mid-December.

Arsenal, on the other hand, will be considerably fatigued themselves after losing to Rennes in the Europa League on Thursday, and playing nearly 50 minutes with just 10 men. With dwindling hope of lifting the final trophy still in play for the Gunners, Unai Emery‘s main objective has become exceedingly clear: get the club back into the Champions League for the first time in three years. Three points would not only send Arsenal two points clear of United for fourth, but would also trim the gap between themselves and Spurs to just a single point with eight games left to play.

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Lucas Torreira (suspension), Hector Bellerin (knee), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Rob Holding (knee) | Man United — OUT: Alexis Sanchez (knee), Jesse Lingard (hamstring), Juan Mata (hamstring), Antonio Valencia (calf); QUESTIONABLE: Anthony Martial (groin), Nemanja Matic (leg), Ander Herrera (hamstring), Phil Jones (illness), Matteo Darmian (undisclosed)

Schar stars as Newcastle sends Cardiff into 18th (video)

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  • Schar scores 1st two NUFC goals
  • Rondon, Perez team up for third
  • Cardiff dips into Bottom Three

Fabian Schar scored twice as Newcastle United picked up a 3-0 win over Cardiff City in a relegation six-pointer at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Ayoze Perez also scored for the Magpies, whose 21 points are two more than their now-18th place visitors.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge slapped an Ayoze Perez header off the cross bar in the 13th minute off a corner kick.

If you had defender Fabian Schar dribbling through the heart of the Cardiff box to put Newcastle ahead, feel free to buy us a couple lottery tickets in your local place of wagers. The Swiss 27-year-old cut inside and swung a sweet 12-yard ball past Etheridge for 1-0.

A rare opportunity for Cardiff saw Victor Camarasa lash a knuckling effort over the goal just before halftime.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Perez could’ve easily won a penalty by hitting the deck under a Ryan Bennett challenge in the 58th minute, but stayed up. Bennett then got hit in the face with a full-fledged rip from Salomon Rondon.

Karma smiled on the Magpies as Schar struck again! Jamaal Lascelles‘ flick took a turn off the Swiss man for a less impressive but just as important marker.

Rondon got a deserved assist on Perez’s stoppage time insurance marker.

Wolves edge Leicester, win seven-goal thriller (video)

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  • Jota, Bennett score early, Wolves led 2-0
  • Leicester fought back to make it 2-2
  • Jota made it 3-2, then Morgan equalized late on
  • Jota seals hat trick in stoppage time
  • Leicester suffer fourth-straight defeat in all competitions

Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Leicester City 4-3 in a classic Premier League encounter Saturday, as the game flowed back and forth in a thrilling encounter at Molinuex.

Diogo Jota and Ryan Bennett scored to put Wolves 2-0 up early, but Leicester fought back at the start of the second half with a Demarai Gray striker and an own goal from Conor Coady. Jota popped up to make it 3-2 in a pulsating, end-to-end clash which both teams couldn’t control. Wes Morgan popped up to head home a late equalizer for Leicester, but then Jota struck in stoppage time to seal an incredible win.

With the win Wolves move up to eighth place on 32 points and leapfrog Leicester, who remain on 31 points. Foxes boss Claude Puel is certainly under pressure as his team suffered their fourth-straight defeat in all competitions.

Nuno Espirito Santo was sent off in stoppage time for running on the pitch and celebrating with his players, but the Portuguese coach will not care as Wolves’ European dreams remain alive.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Wolves came flying out of the traps as Nampalys Mendy picked up an early booking and the Foxes couldn’t recover. First Kasper Schmeichel denied Ruben Neves with a fantastic save, then Jota gave Wolves the lead as he prodded home Joao Moutinho‘s perfect cross. 1-0.

At the other end Leicester almost hit back right away as Rui Patricio dallied on the ball and Jamie Vardy nipped in to steal it, but Wolves’ goalkeeper recovered to save and the hosts eventually cleared.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The game failed to calm down as Wolves then scored a second from a corner. Moutinho whipped in the set piece to the back post and Bennett towered above Harry Maguire to nod home a second for Wolves and leave Puel fuming on the sidelines.

Leicester tried to battle their way back into the game as Patricio pushed away Demarai Gray’s effort, saved another from Gray and Ricardo Pereira dragged as shot wide. At the other end Jota came close to finishing off Jimenez’s superb cross but Schmeichel saved, and Jimenez was then denied as Wolves ended the first half as they started it. Well on top.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Right at the start of the second half Leicester were back in the game as Gray dances through the Wolves defense and finished to make it 2-1, and moments later Barnes smashed an effort on goal which Patricio pushed over.

Barnes played a big hand in making it 2-2, as a mix-up in the box saw the ball drop kindly to him and the 21-year-old smashed home, via a deflection off Coady, what he thought was his first Premier League goal on his first start (the goal later went down as a Coady own goal) to spark wild celebrations among the Leicester fans. Game on.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Wolves went back ahead midway through the second half as Neves played a beautiful ball over the top and Jota drilled a low shot home to make it 3-2.

Substitute James Maddison missed a glorious chance to level things, but he then whipped in a wonderful cross for Morgan to head home an equalizer late on. But the drama wasn’t done. A mistake from Leicester allowed Jimenez to tee up Jota and he completed his hat trick to make it 4-3 and hand Wolves a dramatic late victory as Nuno Espirito Santo ran on the pitch in jubilation.

That goal capped off an instant Premier League classic rather nicely.

Man City comfortable in win over 10-man Wolves (video)

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  • Jesus scores inside 10 minutes
  • Wolves’ Willy Boly sent off in the 19th minute
  • Sterling won penalty kick in first half
  • Own goal in second half puts the game on ice

Gabriel Jesus scored a brace and Kevin De Bruyne made his Premier League return for the first time this calendar year as Manchester City comfortably swept aside 10-man Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0. After allowing an early goal, Wolves evening went from bad to worse when centerback Willy Boly was sent off in the 19th minute.

It was Wolves’ first red card of the season in any competition.

With the win, Manchester City moves to within four points of Liverpool’s lead at the top of the table, as the title race heats up this frosty January.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Controlling the tempo early, Manchester City showed that the club’s recent form, with 16 goals scored in the last two cup matches, could carry over into the Premier League. In the 10th minute, it only took three touches for Man City to go from the backline to the back of the net.

Aymeric Laporte split the Wolves backline with a brilliant pass down the left channel, right into the run of Leroy Sane. Sane played a one-time pass across the face of goal, providing Jesus with a perfect pass that he re-directed home sliding towards the goal.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

While Wolves had a pair of half-chances following the goal, the match became just about out of hand in the 19th minute. Boly, in trying to win the ball off Bernardo Silva, slid in with his studs up, going through Silva in the process. Boly was quickly shown a red card, putting his team in a real hole.

Manchester City continued to attack in the first half as time went by, and in the 39th minute, the Cityzens got their just rewards. Silva played Sterling into the box, and after beating his defender, Ryan Bennett, the latter pulled down Sterling to set up a penalty kick. Jesus stepped up and sent Rui Patricio the wrong way for a 2-0 lead.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The second half was more of the same, with Man City dominating possession, holding the ball for 75 percent of the time while looking for another goal. Once de Bruyne was brought on for David Silva, a new attacking dimension was added. It ended up leading to Man City’s third goal of the night, as defender Conor Coady turned in a darting cross from de Bruyne in the 78th minute.

Crystal Palace snatch late win at Wolves

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  • Ayew scores controversial winner
  • Third win in five for Palace
  • Milivojevic scores stoppage time penalty
  • One win in four for Wolves 

Crystal Palace beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 at Molinuex Wednesday as Jordan Ayew and Luka Milivojevic struck late on to give the Eagles another valuable three points.

Roy Hodgson‘s side looked the more dangerous throughout and their opener finally arrived as Ayew, who seemed to have strayed just offside, controlled and finished calmly late on. In stoppage time Milivojevic then scored a penalty kick to seal the victory.

With the win Palace are in 14th place on 22 points and six points above the relegation zone, while Wolves slip to ninth on 29 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Palace dominated early proceedings as Andros Townsend stole the ball in a dangerous position, then fed Milivojevic who had a shot tipped over by Rui Patricio.

From the resulting corner James Tomkins went close with a header as the away side looked very comfortable.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Townsend then dribbled past several Wolves players and fired over, as Wolves barely got going in the first half but they did have the best chance to score. A corner from the left found Willy Boly completely unmarked but he didn’t get enough on his header and then Matt Doherty nodded over.

However, Palace then had a great chance to take the lead as a ball to the back post found Mamadou Sakho unmarked but he somehow completely missed the ball as he had a free header on goal.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

In the second half Wolves looked more likely to score with a few chances, but Palace were comfortable enough to sit back and try and hit the hosts on the counter.

Wolves were trying to do the same but Palace looked more dangerous on the counter and eventually they scored.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Wilfried Zaha‘s shot was blocked, then Patrick Van Aanholt‘s shot across goal found Ayew who looked to be just offside but the Ghanian forward slotted home to put Palace ahead.

Ruben Neves then forced Vicente Guaita into a low save but Zaha won a penalty kick in stoppage time as Ryan Bennett brought him down.

Milivojevic stepped up and slammed home the penalty to make it 2-0 and seal the win for Palace.