Stephen Ward

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

PL Sunday preview: Man City, Chelsea, Man Utd all in action

Leave a comment

Sunday sees four final fixtures, featuring top-four hopefuls Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, to round out the 2018 calendar year in the Premier League…

[ MORE: Liverpool go nine points clear with dismantling of Arsenal ] 

Crystal Palace v. Chelsea — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With one giant slaying already to their name in the last week, Crystal Palace now turn their attention to Sunday’s visit from Chelsea. Following their unlikely upset of Manchester City a week ago, the Eagles suffered an abrupt come-down in the form of a 0-0 draw with Cardiff City on Wednesday. Despite taking 32 shots, just five were on target and not a single one found the back of the net — an all too familiar tale for a side with just 17 goals scored this season (third-fewest in the PL).

Chelsea themselves were on the wrong side of a giant slaying of significantly lesser proportions last weekend when Leicester City turned the Blues over. It’s been relatively tough sledding for Chelsea of late, as they’ve lost three of their last seven league games after going unbeaten in the season’s first dozen.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace — OUT: Christian Benteke (knee), Martin Kelly (groin) | Chelsea — OUT: None


Southampton v. Man City — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The math is simple for Man City these days: nothing short of a victory — followed by another victory, and another victory, and lots more victories — will do, if they are to stay in the title race with current leaders Liverpool. Heading into Sunday’s trip to St. Mary’s Stadium, the defending champions trail the runaway Reds by 10 points. With defeats in three of their last four games, Pep Guardiola‘s side is reeling and needs not only a victory, but a resounding response and performance, to re-establish themselves and set the table for a chase-down in the second half of the campaign.

Southampton, on the other hand, have largely enjoyed the busy festive period thus far as they won back-to-back games last week and climbed out of the relegation zone, where they remain with a game in hand.

INJURIES: Southampton — OUT: None | Man City — OUT: Benjamin Mendy (knee), Fernandinho (thigh), Fabian Delph (suspension), Claudio Bravo (achilles)


Burnley vs. West Ham — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Speaking of the relegation zone, that’s where Burnley begin their second half of the 2018-19 season — in 19th place following Fulham’s victory on Saturday. With just one victory in their last 12 games — and just two draws during that period — it’s been a dire three months for Sean Dyche‘s relegation-threatened side.

Unfortunately for the Clarets, West Ham head into Turf Moor riding a wave of optimism and point — five wins in their last six games have seen them climb all the way to 11th place in the table. Another win on Sunday would see them go seventh. Felipe Anderson has been the danger man of late and has begun to repay a hefty chunk of the $48 million spent to bring him to the London Stadium this summer with seven goals in his last eight games.

INJURIES: Burnley — OUT: Aaron Lennon (knee), Stephen Ward (knee), Steven Defour (knee),  | West Ham — OUT: Marko Arnautovic (hamstring), Manuel Lanzini (knee), Winston Reid (knee), Andriy Yarmolenko (achilles), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Ryan Fredericks (ankle)


Man United vs. Bournemouth — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

As for clubs enjoying better days following a poor start to the season, no one has done a sharper U-turn than Man United. Since firing Jose Mourinho and installing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim manager nearly two weeks ago, the Red Devils have won both games they’ve played, victories over Cardiff and Huddersfield Town, by a combined score of 8-2. Paul Pogba, more than anyone else, is enjoying his new lease on life and turning in the type of performances expected of a former world-record signing.

As for Bournemouth, the Cherries’ season has largely moved in reverse of United’s, as their strong start has been undone by recent struggles (seven losses in their last nine games). Losing captain Simon Francis to a torn ACL — just weeks after midfielder Lewis Cook to the same injury — has left Bournemouth thin at the back and on the leadership front. Manager Eddie Howe has made no attempts at downplaying the loss.

“He’s been our leader on the pitch and a role model and a big miss in the dressing room. As a team it’s a big loss and a big gap to fill. He didn’t deserve that, but it’s happened and now we’ll do our best to support him through this process.”

INJURIES: Man United — QUESTIONABLE: Alexis Sanchez (hamstring), Chris Smalling (foot) | Bournemouth — OUT: Lewis Cook (knee), Simon Francis (knee), Adam Smith (knee), Dan Gosling (knee)

PL Sunday preview: Chelsea, Arsenal chasing title pacers

AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Leave a comment

One half of the Premier League’s “big six” will be in action, spread across three games, on Sunday.

Chelsea seek to remain in the PL title race; Arsenal seek to extend their winning streak to 12 games; Manchester United seek to reassert themselves and turn their season around.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 10? ]

Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

It’s been a while since Arsenal last dropped points — let alone lost a game. You have to go back to the second week of the PL season to find the most recent blemish on Unai Emery‘s otherwise sparkling record. No side in Europe can claim a better ongoing run of results (11 straight wins, by a combined score of 31-9 – all competitions). The Gunners will look to make it a dozen wins in a row on Sunday, when they visit Selhurst Park. The club’s longest-ever winning streak is 14 games — achieved in the fall of 1987. Wins over Palace, Blackpool (League Cup) and Liverpool would see Emery and Co., match the record.

Things couldn’t be going much worse for Palace at the moment. Roy Hodgson‘s Eagles have lost three straight league games (winless in four) and slipped to 15th in the PL table, now just two points clear of the relegation zone, during the slide.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace — OUT: Christian Benteke (knee), Scott Dann (knee) | Arsenal — OUT: Laurent Koscielny (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Sead Kolasinac (hamstring), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (fitness)


Burnley vs. Chelsea — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Chelsea remain one of three unbeaten PL sides (Liverpool and Manchester City) ahead of Sunday’s trip to Turf Moor. Maurizio Sarri‘s side has, however, dropped points in three of their last four games (draws with West Ham United, Liverpool and Man United). That mini-skid has seen the Blues fall five points back of leaders Liverpool (and potentially City, who play on Monday, as well). Eden Hazard has been arguably the PL’s best player through nine games, but the Belgian superstar’s status is unknown due to a lingering back injury suffered during last week’s 2-2 draw with Man United.

Speaking of Belgian centerpieces, midfielder Steven Defour is back and available for the Clarets after nine months out following knee surgery. Likewise, winger Robbie Brady is expected to be available for selection for the first time in 10 months following a knee operation of his own. The two represent a different class of players capable of delivering Burnley back into the PL’s top-half to build upon last season’s seventh-place finish.

INJURIES: Burnley — OUT: Ben Gibson (fitness), Nick Pope (shoulder), Stephen Ward (knee) | Chelsea — QUESTIONABLE: Eden Hazard (back)


Manchester United vs. Everton — 12 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com

Seven points — and five places in the table — currently separate Man United from the top-four, thanks to the Red Devils’ dreadful start to the season (just four wins, and three losses, in the first nine games). European competition hasn’t treated them much better, as they were completely outplayed and beaten by Juventus at Old Trafford this week. Jose Mourinho isn’t expected to have Alexis Sanchez or Jesse Lingard to pick from on Sunday, meaning Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford should start by default. Martial bagged a brace in the draw with Chelsea, while Rashford hasn’t scored a league goal since Sept. 29; it’s been even longer for Lukaku, whose last PL tally came on Sept. 15.

On the other side, Marco Silva has Everton playing some great soccer late: three straight wins, by a combined score of 7-1. Even better, six of the seven goals have been scored by Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Bernad, Theo Walcott or Cenk Tosun, the Toffees’ five most important attacking players. With summer signings Andre Gomes and Yerry Mina making the startling lineup and bench for last week’s victory over Palace, Silva has everyone around Goodison Park feeling exceedingly hopeful ahead of Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford.

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Alexis Sanchez (groin), Marouane Fellaini (groin), Scott McTominay (knee), Jesse Lingard (groin) | Everton — OUT: None

Burnley 1-3 Watford: Hornets buzz through Turf Moor

Leave a comment
  • Watford scores 3 mins into each half
  • Tarkowski scores for Burnley
  • Hughes bags beauty

Will Hughes put an exclamation point on Watford’s excellent start to the season as Javi Gracia‘s dynamic Hornets belted Burnley 3-1 on Sunday at Turf Moor.

Andre Gray and Troy Deeney also scored for Watford, while James Tarkowski‘s seventh minute goal for Burnley had it 1-1 early.

Burnley is off to Fulham on Aug. 26, the same day Watford attempts to go 3-0 with a match against Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Watford took the lead inside of five minutes, with Andre Gray leaving his feet to direct a pinpoint volley past Joe Hart. That ended the goalkeeper’s shutout streak at 303 minutes and gave Watford its first away league goal since January.

It was 1-1 within minutes, as James Tarkowski leapt to pop a header past the reach of Ben Foster.

Jeff Hendrick has a penalty shout go unheard after deciding not to take a first touch shot near the penalty spot.

Burnley came close to producing 2-1 before halftime, as Stephen Ward slipped Hendrick into the box but Watford cleared the ball before Aaron Lennon could latch onto a back post pass.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Deeney made it 2-1 with a classy settling of a Abdoulaye Doucoure effort into the box, sliding his shot around a splayed Joe Hart.

Hughes’ goal was magnificent, albeit given plenty of room to operate from Burnley.

Sam Vokes headed wide of the far post in the 70th minute.

Burnley 1-2 Bournemouth: Substitute Wilson grabs late winner

Leave a comment

Burnley, so defensively sound all season long, slipped up – literally – at the death of the campaign as they lost a lead and fell to Bournemouth 2-1 at Turf Moor. Kevin Long slipped, allowing substitute Callum Wilson to score in second-half stoppage time, giving a great Burnley season a sour finish.

The best early chance fell to Bournemouth as they worked a shot for Lys Mousset in the 22nd minute, but Burnley keeper Nick Pope was best to it, sprawling to his right to keep out the low effort.

Despite slight possessional domination for the visitors through the opening 45 minutes, it was Burnley who picked out more shots, and they grabbed the opener six minutes before halftime on a sloppy strike. A cross from the left baseline looped in from Stephen Ward, and it fell to Chris Wood in all kinds of space on the penalty spot. The Burnley striker popped his shot and it deflected hard off Tyrone Mings to wrong-foot goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and the shot bounded in for the game’s first goal.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Bournemouth started the second half brightly, and had a header by Steve Cook go just wide moments after the break. Their initial spell was stymied by the solid Burnley defense, but the visitors would find an equalizer with 16 minutes to go on a rare mistake at the back by the hosts.

Jermain Defoe came off the bench and immediately had a solid effort, sliding to meet a cross at point-blank range, but Pope was there to impressively parry the effort. However, the home side couldn’t get the ball clear, and Bournemouth latched back onto possession, eventually finding Josh King who delivered a looping shot that tucked inside the top-right corner with no chance for Pope to make another stop.

[ MORE: Final Premier League standings ]

Burnley had one more chance to grab the three points on 87 minutes, but Jack Cork‘s ball in for Sam Vokes was just inches too far, and Begovic could collect easily. Down the other end, Bournemouth had one more chance as well, as substitute Callum Wilson fired low to the left corner, but his shot skittered agonizingly wide.

It seemed wrapped up as the four minutes of stoppage time ticked down, but the Cherries had one more moment to savor at the end of the season as Bournemouth broke. Burnley defender Kevin Long slipped on the ball, and coughed it up to Defoe, and on the two-on-one, Defoe slipped in Wilson for the tap-in with a minute remaining in stoppage time.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The three points for Bournemouth moves them into a 12th-placed finish, holding off West Ham behind them with 44 points. Burnley will end the year in seventh, five points above Everton with 54 on the year, a fantastic finish despite the late hiccup.

Crystal Palace 5-0 Leicester City: Eagles chew up 10-man Foxes

Leave a comment
  • Goal, assist for Zaha
  • Draws red from Albrighton
  • Palace goes 12th

Wilfried Zaha was the star of the show as Crystal Palace battered Leicester City 5-0 at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Zaha had a goal, an assist, and drew a second-half red card, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek, James McArthur, Christian Benteke, and Patrick Van Aanholt also scored for the Eagles.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

James Tomkins almost put Palace ahead, but Kelechi Iheanacho reacted well to clear off the line.

The Eagles returned the goal line clearance pain with Stephen Ward blocking Jamie Vardy‘s bid to stay hot.

Zaha put Palace in front on the back end of three terrific passes from Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Yohan Cabaye, then Andros Townsend to Zaha for a slick finish.

Ben Hamer made a low left-handed save in the 29th minute to deny Zaha a second.

McArthur made it 2-0 in the 38th minute, turning Zaha’s pass to slide a smooth finish behind Hamer.

Mike Dean effectively ended any comeback hopes with an easy red card to Marc Albrighton, who took down Zaha as last man back.

Loftus-Cheek got a deserved goal, Patrick van Aanholt netted, and a Christian Benteke penalty rounded out the scoring in the final 10 minutes.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]