Stephen Ireland

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PL Preview: Tuesday fixtures include Chelsea

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As the holiday season nears, the Premier League begins to ramp up. While that can be hard on Premier League managers, it’s great for you, the fan, who now has plenty of options to choose from as you make your way through the work week.

[ PL SCHEDULE: Where to watch all midweek Premier League games ]

Burnley vs. Stoke City – 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

If Burnley defeats Stoke City on Tuesday, the Clarets would jump Tottenham, Arsenal, and Liverpool en route to a place in the Premier League table’s Top 4. Just pause for a moment and soak that in.


That’s right, Sean Dyche has his Burnley side on a roll, having won five of its last seven matches. In games where they were earning draws last year, they’re picking up all three points this year. Meanwhile, they face a Potters group that sits just three points above the relegation zone, meaning the heat has turned up on Mark Hughes. What is in store for us at Turf Moor?

INJURIES: Burnley – Tom Heaton (shoulder), Robbie Brady (knee), Jonathan Walters (knee) | Stoke City – Jese (personal leave), Glen Johnson (knee), Bruno Martins Indi (shoulder), Stephen Ireland (leg).

Huddersfield vs. Chelsea – 3:00 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and

Antonio Conte, in charge of the defending champions, is suddenly on the hot seat. Already 14 points back of leaders and expected winners Manchester City, the Blues are sitting a distant third in the table.

A trip to Huddersfield could be exactly what the doctor ordered. The Terriers started the season well, but had lost four Premier League matches in a row before a 2-0 victory over Brighton turned things around.

Conte has already ruled Chelsea out of the title, with the Blues now fighting for a Champions League place. Can the boss take advantage of the poor opposition form? He will be without star striker Alvaro Morata who is dealing with both back problems and general fatigue, with Conte calling his schedule “impossible.”

INJURIES: HuddersfieldMichael Hefele (Achillies), Philip Billing (ankle), Jon Stankovic (knee), Kasey Palmer (ineligible – parent club) | Chelsea – Alvaro Morata (back), David Luiz (knee).

Crystal Palace vs. Watford – 3:00 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

The Eagles hav a chance to pull themselves not only off the bottom of the Premier League table, but out of the relegation zone completely when they host Watford at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace sits a point back of Swansea City on the bottom, but with somewhat improved performances under Roy Hodgson, three points would climb them completely out of the drop.

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how Hodgson balances a desperate need to collect points with discipline of his struggling striker Christian Benteke, who remains goalless on the year after missing a critical penalty he wasn’t supposed to take in the 2-2 draw with Bournemouth over the weekend.

Watford, meanwhile, is without a win in its last three and desperately needs a result. The Hornets sit ninth in the Premier League table but could see their advantage over the bottom half evaporate with another loss.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace – Mamadou Sakho (calf), Joel Ward, Damien Delaney, Connor Wickham (knee) | Watford – Will Hughes (hamstring), Isaac Success (knee), Nathan Chalobah (knee), Younes Kaboul (hamstring), Craig Cathcart (knee)

Premier League injury update ahead of Matchday 8

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After a busy two weeks of international games, there are plenty of injury concerns for Premier League managers ahead of Matchday 8.

[ MORE: Wenger on Bellerin ]

Below is a roundup of the major injuries at each club as the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Mousa Dembele could return after making the most of the two week break and healing quickly, while Aaron Ramsey and Harry Kane remain out and it’s not looking good for Liverpool duo Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana.

Here’s the ProSoccerTalk injury report.


Francis Coquelin (declared fit)
Olivier Giroud (back injury, doubtful)
Aaron Ramsey (stepping up recover, not available this weekend)
Per Mertesacker (knee injury, January return)
Danny Welbeck (knee injury, January return)
Carl Jenkinson (returned in U23 game, week or so from match fitness)


Harry Arter (back in full training, in squad)
Marc Pugh (back in full training, in squad)


Tom Heaton (calf strain, should return to squad)
Ashley Barnes (hamstring injury, late October return)


Victor Moses (back in squad, available)
John Terry (back in squad, available)
John Obi Mikel (back in squad, available)
Kurt Zouma (knee injury, late October return)

Crystal Palace

Scott Dann (declared fit)
Loic Remy (thigh injury, November return)
Pape Souare (broken leg, April return)
Jordan Benteke (knee injury, late January return)


Phil Jagielka (thigh injury, out)
Romelu Lukaku (in full training after thigh injury)
Leighton Baines (in full training after hamstring injury)
James McCarthy (in full training after groin injury)
Darren Gibson (in full training after groin injury)
Mo Besic (knee injury, out until February)

Hull City

Michael Dawson (knee ligament injury, close to return)
Alex Bruce (Achilles injury, out until December)

Leicester City

Danny Drinkwater (groin injury, back in training and squad)
Matty James (ankle injury, no return date)


Georginio Wijnaldum (awaiting scan on hamstring injury, highly doubtful)
Adam Lallana (yet to train after groin injury, questionable)
Dejan Lovren (groin injury, should be in squad)
Nathaniel Clyne (knee injury, should be in squad)

Manchester City

Kevin de Bruyne (returned to full training, could return to squad)
Raheem Sterling (hamstring injury, could return to squad)
Vincent Kompany (back in training, not likely to be risked)
Fabian Delph (could return this weekend)
Bacary Sagna (hamstring injury, early November return)

Manchester United

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (thigh strain, should return to squad)
Phil Jones (knee ligament injury, late October return)


James Husband (dislocated shoulder, now available)
Grant Leadbitter (hernia, late December return)


Ryan Bertrand (hamstring injury, questionable)
Cedric (foot injury, set to return)
Matt Targett (questionable)
Shane Long (hamstring injury, questionable)
Jay Rodriguez (groin injury, set to return)
Sofiane Boufal (in full training, could make debut as part of squad)
Jeremy Pied (ACL tear, out for season)

Stoke City

Joe Allen (hamstring injury, no return date)
Glen Johnson (hamstring injury, back in squad)
Jack Butland (ankle injury, November return)
Stephen Ireland (broken leg, February return)
Ibrahim Afellay (ACL injury, February return)


Jason Denayer (groin injury, out)
Jan Kirchhoff (hamstring, late November return)
Victor Anichebe (groin, back in training)
Lee Cattermole (back injury, could return to squad)
Steve Pienaar (hamstring, could return to squad)
Adnan Januzaj (ankle injury, early November return)
Fabio Borini (groin injury, late December return)
Vito Mannone (elbow, late November return)
Sebastian Larsson (knee ligament, February return)

Swansea City

Jefferson Montero (back in training, could be in squad)
Federico Fernandez (back in training, could be in squad)
Fernando Llorente (back in training, could be in squad)
Nathan Dyer (ankle injury, mid November return)

Tottenham Hotspur

Mousa Dembele (returned to training, questionable)
Harry Kane (remains out, may return to full training late next week)


Issac Success (dead leg, back in squad)
Craig Cathcart (groin injury, back in squad)
Miguel Britos (thigh injury, back in squad)
Daryl Janmaat (shoulder injury, late October return)
Jerome Sinclair (hamstring injury, no return date)
Stefana Okaka (hamstring injury, back in squad)

West Bromwich Albion

No injuries

West Ham United

Gokhan Tore (out injured, thigh injury, mid November return)
Sam Byram (hamstring injury, no return date)
Arthur Masuaku (knee injury, no return date)
Andre Ayew (thigh strain, late October return)
Diafra Sakho (Back injury, late October return)
Aaron Cresswell (returned to full training, in squad)
Havard Nordtveit (returned to training, in squad)
Jonathan Calleri (returned to training, in squad)

Watch Live: Middlesbrough vs. Stoke City (Lineups, Live Stream)

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Middlesbrough, the favorite of the three promoted sides to extend their Premier League stay beyond a year, begins its quest for Premier League relevancy as they host Stoke City at 10am E.T. live online at

New Boro signings Alvaro Negredo and Victor Valdes both start for the hosts, with incumbent goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos making way to the bench for the former Barcelona superstar.

WATCH LIVE: Middlesbrough vs. Stoke City live online

The hosts have struggled out of the gates historically, having won their first Premier League game of a season just twice in 14 tries.

For Stoke City, a pair of long-term injuries have marred the opening to their new campaign. Ibrahim Afellay and Stephen Ireland will both miss significant time with leg injuries suffered late last season. Afellay especially will be a big miss, having performed admirably in his first season in the Premier League before tearing his ACL in training in April. Ireland broke his leg in May and will likely be out for a number of months.

With the two unavailable, Marko Arnautovic takes center stage in the Stoke City attack along with Xherdan Shaqiri, both in the starting lineup to start things out. American Geoff Cameron is on the bench to start the season.

Each side won the home leg during the only season both these teams faced off in the top flight, the 2008/09 campaign.


Middlesbrough – Valdés; Nsue, Barragán, Gibson, Friend; Clayton, de Roon; Adomah, Ramírez, Downing; Negredo.
Bench – Konstantopoulos, Rhodes, Fischer, Baptiste, Stuani, Forshaw, Nugent.

Stoke City – Given; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Imbula; Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Diouf
Bench – Allen, Muniesa, Adam, Walters, Cameron, Crouch, Haugaard.

Premier League preview: Europa League on the line on final day of the season

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With the final day nearly upon us, the only battle left to contest is the contest for fourth. Manchester United and Manchester City duke it out on separate grounds against Bournemouth and Swansea City, with a win or draw sending Manchester City through, while Manchester United is ready to pounce should the Citizens botch things up.

[ RELATED: Preview for Manchester City vs. Swansea, Manchester United vs. Bournemouth ]

Aside from those two matches, there is still a pair of Europa League spots to sort out, plus final positioning matters to many clubs for both payouts and pride, most notably the two North London clubs fighting for second.

Finally, there’s the chance a playoff will be needed to determine the final Europa league spot. Before we preview the matches, here are the Europa League scenarios:

West Ham secures Europa League play WITH: a win or draw vs. Stoke City OR Southampton loss AND Liverpool loss
Southampton secures Europa League play WITH: a win vs. Crystal Palace AND a West Ham loss OR a draw vs. Crystal Palace AND a Liverpool loss or draw AND Manchester United win in the FA Cup final OR a Liverpool loss AND Manchester United win in the FA Cup final
Liverpool secures Europa League play WITH: a win vs. West Brom AND a Southampton draw or loss AND a West Ham loss OR a win vs. West Brom AND a Southampton draw or loss AND Manchester United win in the FA Cup final

A playoff would be needed IF: Southampton loss or draw vs. Crystal Palace AND West Ham lose to Stoke City AND Liverpool beats West Brom AND Liverpool outscores West Ham by a goal AND the West Ham and Liverpool scorelines are both one-goal margins AND Liverpool lose the Europa League final AND Manchester United win in the FA Cup final. This would leave Liverpool and West Ham both virtually tied in 7th and level on both goal differential and goals scored.

On to the matches:

West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool

Currently in eighth, Liverpool can finish this campaign with Champions League on the horizon, or it can finish with nothing. All of that has yet to be determined, but the Reds can still assure themselves of some European play next season should they win on the road at the Hawthornes on Sunday plus have help. Danny Ings may potentially get a return from his ACL injury just before the close of the season, while Jordan Henderson could also return. West Brom has no new injury problems, and could get James Morrison back.

Stoke City vs. West Ham

West Ham holds the upper hand for the final guaranteed Europa League spot, in sixth and two points above Southampton. Should the Hammers lose at Stoke, things would get very, very messy, as seen above. West Ham will be missing its goalkeeper Adrian yet again, while Stoke City’s Stephen Ireland has a long offseason on its way after breaking his leg in training.

Southampton vs. Crystal Palace

Saido Mane is likely back for Southampton, who have won three straight and are unbeaten in five. That form has them serious contenders for those last Europa League places. Alan Pardew could rest players with the FA Cup final coming up.

Arsenal vs. Aston Villa

The Gunners’ last target is finishing second above bitter rivals Tottenham. Danny Welbeck is out, but Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere could be back for the Gunners, who need a win plus a Spurs loss to jump into second.

Newcastle vs. Tottenham

Spurs need just a draw to fend off Arsenal, and they’ll also get a relegated club. Dele Alli and Moussa Dembele are both suspended, while Newcastle could rotate players as Rafa Benitez prepares for the possibility of guiding the club through the Championship.

Chelsea vs. Leicester City

The champions finish the season on the road, and nobody thought this match would have so little riding on it at this point. The Blues can only drop positions at this stage, 10 points back of Liverpool in 8th. Leicester, meanwhile, will certainly be looking for their maximum point total of 83.

Everton vs. Norwich City

With the Toffees searching for a new manager, Joe Royle and David Unsworth will team up to navigate Everton through the final match of the season. Norwich City, meanwhile, looks for some positives as they head to the lower division.

Watford vs. Sunderland

With the Black Cats safe, they cannot finish anywhere but 17th, while Watford will gun for a spot as high as 11th.

PL Sunday preview: Liverpool-Man United rivalry, Stoke vs. Arsenal


Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures is short — just two games — but packs a serious punch, whether you’re looking for a fierce rivalry between two of England’s most historic clubs, or massive implications in the current season’s title race.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]

A preview of Sunday’s pair of games — Liverpool versus Manchester United, and Stoke City versus Arsenal…

Liverpool vs. Manchester United — 8 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

Sunday will mark the 194th time (all competitions) Liverpool and Man United have faced off in their northwestern derby, one of the most storied and bitter rivalries in the world. United hold the all-time lead in wins with 78 (66 in league play), to Liverpool’s 64 (55), and 51 draws (44). The last time these illustrious clubs met, it was United who walked off the field at Old Trafford with all three points (United 3-1 Liverpool) in September.

This time around, each side finds itself in danger of falling away rom the race for a top-four place this season as Sunday’s clash at Anfield arrives; Liverpool sit ninth in the league on 31 points, while United (34 points) are two spots and five points back of fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur.

Between Liverpool and United, a starting 11 capable of challenging for the PL title could be constructed from the players who will miss Sunday’s showdown due to injuries. Philippe Coutinho (hamstring), Daniel Sturridge (hamstring), Divock Origi (knee), Martin Skrtel (hamstring) and Dejan Lovren (hamstring) could all miss out, to go along with Danny Ings (knee), Joe Gomez (knee) and Jon Flanagan (knee), who are all out long-term. For United, Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), Phil Jones (ankle) and Marcos Rojo (shoulder) could all be unavailable, as are Antonio Valencia (foot) and Luke Shaw (leg) with long-term injuries.

[ MORE: Chelsea equalize in 98th minuteMartinez slams “diabolical” ref ]

Stoke City vs. Arsenal — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

With Manchester City’s victory and Leicester City’s draw on Saturday, Arsenal (43 points) suddenly find themselves third in the league table, but can reclaim the top spot with just a draw at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday. When these two sides met for the first time this season, back in September, it was Arsenal who cruised to a 2-0 victory (goals scored by Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud) at the Emirates Stadium.

Stoke actually enter Sunday’s meeting the slight more in-form side, having won nine of 12 points from their last four league games, while Arsenal have dropped five points during the same period. Man City and Leicester have surged back into the title race as a result.

On the injury front, Stoke will be without Geoff Cameron (ankle), Xherdan Shaqiri (hamstring) and Stephen Ireland (hamstring), while Santi Cazorla (knee) Francis Coquelin (knee) remain unavailable for the Gunners. Also unavailable through long-term injuries: Jack Wilshere (leg), Danny Welbeck (knee) and Tomas Rosciky (knee). Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) is expected to return to action for Arsenal after missing the entire month of December and the first half of January.