PL Sunday preview: Liverpool v. Man United at Anfield

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Premier League fixtures don’t get any bigger — or more heated — than Liverpool versus Manchester United, longtime rivals who’ll renew pleasantries at Anfield on Sunday…

[ MORE: Spurs grab stoppage-time win vs. Burnley | Man City go top again ]

Southampton v. Arsenal — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

Heading into Sunday’s meeting at St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton haven’t won in 14 games (all competitions — after 90 minutes), while Arsenal haven’t lost in just as many games, in the PL alone (unbeaten in 22 games in all competitions). Predictably, Saints find themselves stuck in the relegation zone, with the halfway point of the season looming ever so large, and a new manager hoping to make his mark and a major impact on a club quickly spiraling out of control. Ralph Hasenhuttl made his debut as Southampton manager last weekend, but suffered a 1-0 defeat to fellow relegation battlers Cardiff City.

As for Arsenal, the unbeaten run has earned new manager Unai Emery a long leash with Gunners fans, but his side enters the week in fifth place, behind Chelsea on goal differential. Sunday could see the return of defender and captain Laurent Koscielny in league play after the 33-year-old Frenchman made his first appearance in seven months during Thursday’s Europa League victory over Qarabag.

INJURIES: Southampton — QUESTIONABLE: Ryan Bertrand (back), Danny Ings (hamstring), Shane Long (ankle), Cedirc Soares (calf) | Arsenal — OUT: Sokratis Papastathopoulos (suspension), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Shkodran Mustafi (suspension), Rob Holding (knee)

Brighton & Hove Albion v. Chelsea — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Chelsea’s recent form has been a rollercoaster of results, alternating losses and wins in their last four league games. They did, however, put together perhaps the best performance of any side in the PL all season last time out, handing Manchester City their first defeat in a 2-0 conquering at Stamford Bridge. Maurizio Sarri‘s side came back down to earth on Thursday, though, as the Blues struggled to secure a 2-2 draw away to Hungarian side MOL Vidi FC in the Europa League, and the club’s fans were accused of spewing anti-Semitic chants and slurs just days after the very public incident involving four Chelsea fans and Man City star Raheem Sterling.

Brighton won’t be a pushover at Falmer Stadium, where the Seagulls have compiled and impressive 4W-2D-1L record this season. Chris Hughton‘s side has managed to knock off a handful of mid-table sides at home thus far, but a scalp the size of Chelsea would be easily the most impressive outing to date. Brighton dropped both league meetings with the Blues last season, losing 4-0 at home and 2-0 away.

INJURIES: Brighton — OUT: Shane Duffy (suspension) | Chelsea — OUT: Mateo Kovacic (thigh)

Liverpool v. Manchester United — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

For all that Jurgen Klopp has achieved since taking the Liverpool job in October 2015 — and he has done a great deal of good to re-establish the club, both domestically and on the continent — the second-most notable failure of Klopp’s tenure, behind only “winning a trophy,” remains his 0W-3D-2L record against Man United in league play. While the Reds have surpassed the Red Devils and long left them behind in the PL’s hierarchy, a victory over the bitter rivals from Manchester has remained elusive, including a 0W-2D-1L record at Anfield, site of Sunday’s showdown, with a grand total of one goal scored in the three games.

The tables have clearly turned from the days of United dominating the PL and winning 13 of 21 league titles from 1992 to 2013, period in which Liverpool managed a trio of second-place finishes — coming second to United once, and besting them twice. A win on Sunday would not only see Klopp knock off his bogey team for the first time, but would lift Liverpool back ahead of Man City in the title race; a win for United, meanwhile, would help them to hold off newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers for sixth place.

United, all but the forgotten side of the top-six, have endured hard times at both ends of the field this season — their 28 goals scored are the fewest of the PL’s elite, while their 26 goals conceded are the most of the six sides expected to compete for four UEFA Champions League places; Liverpool, in the same number of games, have conceded just six times, including just once during their current five-game winning streak.

INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Joel Matip (shoulder), Joe Gomez (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Trent Alexander-Arnold (knock) | Man United — OUT: Alexis Sanchez (hamstring), Victor Lindelof (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Anthony Martial (hamstring), Scott McTominay (undisclosed), Luke Shaw (undisclosed)

Koscielny nearing return for Arsenal

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Unai Emery‘s backline could receive a massive boost this weekend.

Arsenal provided a fitness update for defender Laurent Koscielny, who is nearing a comeback from a devastating Achilles injury last May. The club said that Koscielny played 85 minutes for Arsenal’s reserve side in a 2-1 defeat to Portsmouth, following a 45-minute showing a week earlier against Derby.

While Koscielny has been ruled out of tonight’s Arsenal match against Manchester United, the Gunners website said he would be reassessed before Saturday’s game against Huddersfield.

[READ: Former Man United, Chelsea CEO leading Newcastle takeover talks]

Koscielny’s earlier-than-anticipated return comes at an important time for the Gunners. Unai Emery’s side has broken back into the top four, but defensively the squad still has some struggles. Shkodran Mustafi was subbed off at halftime in Arsenal’s 4-2 derby day win over Tottenham, while Rob Holding was whistled for a foul in the box on Heung-Min Son.

Bringing Koscielny in can provide extra depth to a fatigued backline, as well as put more pressure on the starters so far this season to play better, otherwise they’ll be watching the match from the bench.

Crystal Palace battle back, end Arsenal win streak

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  • Arsenal’s win streak ends at 11
  • Xhaka, Aubameyang scored for Gunners
  • Luka Milivojevic scores two penalty kicks 

Arsenal’s run of wins ended at 11 games in all competitions, as the Gunners drew 2-2 at Crystal Palace, on Sunday.

Unai Emery‘s men launched yet another second half comeback after Luka Milivojevic’s penalty kick gave Palace the lead right on half time.

Granit Xhaka‘s fine free kick and a controversial effort from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the space of five second half minutes looked to have given Arsenal yet another win. But Xhaka’s foul on Wilfried Zaha late on gave Palace another spot kick and Milivojevic grabbed the Eagles a point.

With the draw the Gunners have 22 points for the season, while Roy Hodgson‘s Palace remain without a win at home (but at least scored their first home goals of the season) and have moved onto eight points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Palace looked lively early on and Zaha was causing plenty of problems.

Zaha hit the post after a mazy run, then moments later Patrick Van Aanholt surged into the box and found Andros Townsend but he lashed his shot wide.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

At the other end Arsenal had two chances in quick succession as Lacazette shot wide and then Hector Bellerin had a shot blocked. Before the break Jordan Ayew went down in the box after a tackle from Shkodran Mustafi but no penalty kick was given.

Moments later Palace were awarded a penalty as Mustafi lunged in on Cheikhou Kouyate and Milivojevic stepped up to score and put the Eagles 1-0 up in first half stoppage time.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

At the start of the second half Arsenal drew level as Xhaka thundered home a fabulous free kick from a tight angle to make it 1-1.

Five minutes later the Gunners were 2-1 up in controversial fashion. A corner was flicked on by Lacazette at the near post, but he appeared to flick the ball with his hand as he was shoved by a Palace defender. The ball then found Aubameyang at the back post and he prodded home to make it 2-1.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Max Meyer hit the outside of the post and fired another effort over after coming on as a sub, as Palace pushed hard to find an equalizer and eventually it arrived.

Xhaka challenged Zaha in the box and although the Palace winger went down a little easily, a penalty kick was given and Milivojevic slammed home to make it 2-2 and end Arsenal’s winning run.

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Leicester City

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Arsenal host Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Gunners aim for a tenth-straight win in all competitions.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Leicester have never won at Arsenal in the Premier League with the Gunners winning each of their last 11 encounters at home against the Foxes.

Unai Emery‘s men have been flying in recent weeks with six wins on the spin in the PL and the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring goals galore in attack.

In team news Arsenal bring in Shkodran Mustafi for the injured Sokratis Papastathopoulos with Stephane Lichtsteiner in at left back.

Leicester make one change with Jonny Evans coming in for the suspended Wes Morgan in central defense.


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Germany boss Low claims Ozil snubbed him during Arsenal visit

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Germany head coach Joachim Low claims that Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil did not join the rest of his German teammates in greeting Low at the Arsenal training ground during his visit on Monday.

Low visited the training ground to meet with former German defender and current Arsenal academy chief Per Mertesacker, and was greeted by fellow German internationals Bernd Leno and Shkodran Mustafi. However, Low claims that Ozil refused to join his former international teammates following his fiery retirement from international duty.

“We were there for 3 or 4 hours, and it goes without saying that I would have liked the opportunity to speak to Mesut Ozil,” Low told reporters. “Like before, I wanted to with all my heart. But he wasn’t there. All the German players [who play for Arsenal] were there, and we chatted and ate together. But Mesut wasn’t there and we have to accept that for the time being he doesn’t want to speak to us. I don’t know the reasons why he doesn’t want to.”

Earlier in the week, German reports claimed Arsenal manager Unai Emery blocked Low from meeting Ozil, but Sky Sports refuted that claim, and the Gunners boss denied that himself. Low’s quotes seem to dispute that as well, as the Germany head coach claimed he alerted the club he was coming ahead of time, so Ozil had the opportunity to greet his former coach.

“We didn’t show up at Arsenal uninvited,” Low said. “It goes without saying that as the manager of Germany I always inform clubs that I would like to visit beforehand. We did this ahead of time with Arsenal. We therefore arrived at 11 a.m. on Monday and stayed for three, three and a half hours. That’s what we did and they all knew we were coming.”

“It’s logical that I would have loved and hoped that a player who has played for me for so long would have returned to the national team, but also that he would call me personally, even for one minute because up until now this has happened for every player who has decided not to play for the national team anymore, they have always told me personally. I expected that from him.”

Ozil abruptly retired from international duty following Germany’s disappointing exit at the 2018 World Cup, claiming he was treated with “racism and disrespect.” The saga has caused a highly publicized rift between Ozil and much of the coaching staff, front office, and squad of players.