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Watch Live: Man United v. Man City, Wolves v. Arsenal

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The Theatre of Dreams is ready for another round of Manchester madness.

The Manchester derby is upon us, with both teams salivating at the prospect of a full three points off their rivals aiding them in their quest for Premier League glory. Manchester City can move back atop the Premier League table with a win, while Manchester United is hoping to gain ground on Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham in the battle for the Champions League places.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has surprisingly opted for a three-at-the-back formation, handing starts at central-defense to giving Matteo Darmian his first start since December while leaving Romelu Lukaku on the bench. Pep Guardiola has countered by handing Fernandinho his second straight start after injury troubles over the past month, while Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva are preferred to young Phil Foden. John Stones doesn’t make the squad, with Nicolas Otamendi on the bench to back up starters Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte.

Meanwhile, Arsenal has a chance to stake its top four claim as well, traveling to Wolves. Unai Emery is without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who required a small sinus procedure and is out for the match, while Sokratis comes back into the defensive unit after serving his suspension. Wolves has Leander Dendoncker back into the lineup, replacing young Morgan Gibbs-White.

Both Arsenal and Manchester United currently sit outside the top four, but today represents their game in hand, and they can both gain significant ground. Arsenal can jump into the top four by leaping Chelsea with a win, while Manchester United could potentially pull level with the Blues on points, needing a six-goal margin to draw level on differential.


Wolves v. Arsenal — 2:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Wolves: Patricio, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Dendoncker, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny, Jota, Jimenez
Bench: Ruddy, Cavaleiro, Costa, Gibbs-White, Saiss, Vinagra, Traore.

Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi, Lacazette
Bench: Cech, Elneny, Mustafi, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Nketiah, Willock.


Manchester United v. Manchester City — 3:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Manchester United: De Gea, Young, Darmian, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Fred, Pereira, Pogba, Rashford, Lingard.
Bench: Romero, Dalot, Matic, Martial, Mata, Sanchez, Lukaku.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko, Gündoğan, Fernandinho, B. Silva, D. Silva, Sterling, Aguero.
Bench: Muric, Danilo, Otamendi, Foden, Mahrez, Sane, Jesus.

PL Preview: Manchester Derby, Wolves-Arsenal

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All Premier League clubs will have played 35 matches this season following the conclusion of two beautiful Wednesday outings in England.

[ MORE: Watford draws Saints ]


Manchester United v. Manchester City — 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer poked the bear, and got a response.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Manchester Derby at Old Trafford, Solskjaer claimed Man City “will snap at your ankles and heels and kick you” upon giving up the ball to opponents ready to counterattack.

City boss Pep Guardiola was not pleased with the comments. From The Manchester Evening News:

“I don’t like it. I don’t like it. No. My team is not built to think and create for that, not at all,” he said, later adding, “Maybe tomorrow in the press conference after the game you can ask him again about that.”

Solskjaer is hoping he won’t spend a second successive post-match ruminating over a grievous loss, as he did following a 4-0 beatdown from Everton on Sunday.

And if responding to its UEFA Champions League exit with a Saturday win over Tottenham Hotspur was satisfying for Guardiola, imagine how revved up he’ll be to reclaim hold on the Premier League crown while completing a season sweep of its local rivals for the first time since 2013-14.

City beat United 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season, and is looking to avoid its first league loss at Old Trafford in four tries.

Wolves v. Arsenal — 2:45 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

Unai Emery‘s Arsenal heads to the Molineux Stadium hoping its away support is better than the perceived harsh treatment handed to his Gunners in a 3-2 home loss to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

“I say to our supporters, ‘Help our players.’ Because I want every player to have big confidence,” Emery said. “I know there are reactions, and the first reaction is strong. First, when we win they are telling us we are the best, we have a record, we have a possibility to be third in the table – that is good.”

Arsenal would move into the Top Four with a win, but Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolves are fighting for a place in Europe themselves. That’s true on two fronts, though it must be said they could have sewn up seventh place with better play in recent weeks.

Wolves have claimed just five of their last 15 available points, including a draw with Brighton and losses to Burnley and Southampton. Even one more win would have them seventh heading into Tuesday.

“There’s no reference to the table, the reference is to grow, to improve game by game,” said Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo. “Every game is a chance to improve. We have a fantastic opportunity to become a better team, trying new things, but at the same time trying to make players grow on the idea that we want regarding the future. This is what we focus on until the end, there’s no thinking about the summer or next season, it’s a game by game process.”

Live, Europa League: Chelsea, Arsenal 90 mins from semis

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Eden Hazard and Chelsea enter Stamford Bridge with hopes of holding off visitors Slavia Prague and taking another step to the Europa League final in Azerbaijan.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Europa League Last 16 ]

Antonio Rudiger misses out with injury for Maurizio Sarri‘s men.

Speaking of Sarri, any hopes of meeting old side Napoli are slim thanks to the Neapolitans’ 2-0 first leg setback at Arsenal.

The Gunners will hope to handle Napoli’s threat in Italy, and Unai Emery will attack with both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette up top.

All matches kick off at 3 p.m. ET

Schedule

Chelsea v. Slavia Prague (Chelsea leads 1-0)
Napoli v. Arsenal (Arsenal leads 2-0)
Valencia v. Villarreal (Valencia leads 3-1)
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Benfica (Eintracht leads 4-2)

Emery: Torreira taken off at halftime because ‘atmosphere was against him’

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Unai Emery has defended his decision to remove Lucas Torreira at halftime, noting both the game’s environment and a possible injury worry.

“I decided to do the change of Lucas Torreira because after the red card, the atmosphere is against him and also the doctor said to me in the first half that he has a little pain for Thursday and I decided okay, it’s the moment [to take him off],” Emery said following Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Watford.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Torreira of course was the subject to Troy Deeney‘s elbow that earned Deeney a red card. The holding midfielder had a couple of fouls of his own, with the Watford supporters baying to the referee “off, off, off” asking for a red card. Emery may have felt that as the game went on, Torreira could go hard into a challenge and come out with a red card, and Arsenal needs Torreira healthy and active for future Premier League matches.

On the field, it didn’t seem that Torreira had an injury, but ahead of Arsenal’s crucial return leg against Napoli on Thursday, Emery appears to have decided it was better not to risk Torreira in the second half and instead play with Mesut Ozil in a more attacking formation. That way, Torreira should be good to go at Napoli. Ultimately, the move paid off, with Arsenal holding on to the 1-0 victory.

Since joining in July, Torreira has been a revelation, emerging as the holding midfielder that Arsenal has been missing for a decade or more. When healthy and in form, Torreira eats up opposition attacks, cutting down space all over the field. He’s even scored a goal or two, as seen in one of the North London derbies earlier this year.

Watch Live: Watford v. Arsenal

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Watford host Arsenal at Vicarage Road on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), as the teams who are based at training centers in the same street north of London are both aiming for European qualification.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

On the back of reaching the FA Cup final (for just the second time in club history) Javi Gracia‘s Watford will be flying high as they chase a top seven finish.

As for Unai Emery‘s Arsenal, they remain in the hunt for a top four finish but Emery has faced Gracia’s teams in the past and knows this will not be an easy task in a busy week for the Gunners who face Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday.

In teams news for Watford, Ben Foster, Christian Kabasele, Daryl Janmaat and Adam Masina all come into the starting lineup.

Arsenal start Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up top, while Dinos Mavropanos also starts and Granit Xhaka has recovered from injury. Mesut Ozil, Matteo Guendouzi and Alexandre Lacazette are all on the bench.


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