Souleymane Bamba

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Premier League Sunday preview: Arsenal, Man United, Liverpool all in play

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The battles at the summit of the Premier League table continue as three of the top six teams take the field on Sunday.

The title race is still white hot, with both Manchester City and Liverpool swinging back and forth with every positive result. City jumped back into the lead with the win on Saturday over Tottenham, a point in front with four matches remaining on both the dockets.

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The fight for the Champions League places also looks a good one, with four teams battling for just two places. Tottenham sits precariously in third on 67 points, while Arsenal and Chelsea are level on 66 with the Gunners holding the goal differential tiebreaker by five. Manchester United is in sixth on 64 points, still in the mix.


Everton v. Manchester United — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The Red Devils are the first of the Champions League contenders to take the field as they visit Goodison Park. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s honeymoon period in charge of Manchester United is over and it’s time for him to prove he belongs. The Norwegian boss was given the permanent position after a record start to his interim tenure, but the timing was still odd and as the season winds down, the Red Devils could be left out of the mix for Europe’s biggest competition. Luke Shaw is suspended for the match for yellow card accumulation, but otherwise the injury news is good with Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, and Alexis Sanchez all reportedly available.

Everton, meanwhile, sits in a similar position as Manchester United, battling for a European place but bringing up the rear. The Toffees sit in 10th, back of the pack among a crowded fight for the last Europa League place. Everton is still just three points back of Watford who currently holds that spot, and while they can break everyone’s hearts by upsetting Manchester City in the FA Cup final, a loss would give the Europa League position to whoever finishes seventh.

INJURIES: Everton —  OUT: Yerry Mina (hamstring), Andre Gomes (suspension). | Manchester United — OUT: Luke Shaw (suspension).


Cardiff City v. Liverpool — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Liverpool yet again has to put pressure on Manchester City to have any hope in the Premier League title race. Ahead of the midweek Manchester derby, the Reds have the opportunity not just to take the lead but to stay there should City slip up at all against the Red Devils with their game in hand.

They’ll need a result against a team fighting for its life. Cardiff City is in 17th in the Premier League table, three points shy of safety. A shocking win would put Cardiff in much better position, while a loss would see them potentially fall two games out. They’ve lost three straight and haven’t scored in their last two, so Liverpool will be licking its chops.

INJURIES: Cardiff City —  OUT: Souleymane Bamba (knee), Callum Paterson (ankle), Matthew Connolly (ankle), Harry Arter (calf), . QUESTIONABLE: Aron Gunnarsson (back). | Liverpool — OUT: none. QUESTIONABLE: Dejan Lovren (illness), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee).


Arsenal v. Crystal Palace — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSports.com

The Gunners will know Manchester United’s result before taking the field, to see whether they will be looking to strengthen their Champions League position or hoping to recapture it. Arsenal is currently in fourth, clinging barely to its spot in the top European competition, but they have been strong of late and have a soft schedule to finish the season, so there is no reason not to lock the spot down. Still, the injuries are rampant and there are fears that Aaron Ramsey‘s Arsenal career will end with the thigh injury he picked up midweek in Europa League play. Coupled with the three long-term injuries to Bellerin, Welbeck, and Holding plus Sokratis’ suspension, the Gunners are thin.

Crystal Palace has little to play for at this point, sitting in 14th on 39 points but unlikely to be sucked into the relegation battle. Roy Hodgson has led the squad to five wins since the start of February, good enough form to keep them out of the maelstrom at the bottom of the table. They put up a decent fight against title leaders Manchester City last time out, and kept two straight clean sheets in the matches before that. However, they lost two important players recently in James Tomkins and Jeffrey Schlupp who both will miss the rest of the season after long-term injuries.

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Aaron Ramsey (thigh), Hector Bellerin (knee), Rob Holding (knee), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Sokratis (suspended). QUESTIONABLE: Granit Xhaka (groin). | Crystal Palace — OUT: James Tomkins (groin), Jeffrey Schlupp (ankle), Mamadou Sakho (knee).

PL Sunday preview: Spurs at Anfield; Chelsea visit Cardiff

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Liverpool have two major tests — both at home — remaining in the Premier League title race, beginning with a fellow top-three side on Sunday. Elsewhere, Chelsea are clinging to top-four dreams, while Cardiff City just want to stay in the PL…

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Cardiff City v. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

From one of three PL title chasers early in the season, to quickly falling away from the top-four race, it’s been a season mostly to forget for Chelsea. Sunday’s visit to Cardiff sees Maurizio Sarri‘s side in full-on desperation mode in their bid to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League. Now sitting in sixth place, four points back of red-hot Manchester United in fourth, the Blues’ best path into Europe’s premier competition might just be through the Europa League where they’ll face Slavia Praha in the quarterfinals next week.

It’ll be a tricky trip to south Wales, though, as Cardiff currently sit 18th in the table, five points adrift of safety, desperate for their PL lives. Their advantage, however, is the two games they now have in hand. Only once this season, in early February, have the Bluebirds won back-to-back league games. After beating West Ham United before the recently completed international break, Sunday would be the best possible time to replicate that feat and move to within two points of 17th-place Burnley.

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

Liverpool’s pursuit of the PL title resumes on Sunday, when third-place Tottenham visits Anfield in a virtual must-win game for the Reds. Given that Jurgen Klopp‘s side will have played one game more than leaders Manchester City by Sunday’s end, anything short of three points could prove the final nail in the coffin. As far as random stoppages in the middle of the season go, the recent international break couldn’t have come at a better time for Liverpool, who in the two weeks since they last played have seen Trent Alexander-Arnold and Xherdan Shaqiri return to full fitness following minor injuries. On the not-so-fortunate side of injury news, Naby Keita reportedly suffered an injury this week in training and will miss Sunday’s game.

Likewise, Spurs couldn’t have been happier to break from a particularly tough stretch of results (winless in four games, including three defeats) which has seen their hold on a Champions League place hacked down from 10 points to one. On top of that, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is so nearly fully fit after being down to a bare-bones crew for much of the season, though Eric Dier picked up an(other) injury while on England duty. On the plus side, Harry Kane appears likely to score a goal every time he takes the field after bagging at least one in each of his last five games (for Spurs and England), not to mention the fact he’s scored three in his four career appearances at Anfield.