Will Keane

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Premier League preview: Arsenal vs. Hull City

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With everything else happening in Arsenal Land, you might have forgotten the 2016-17 Premier League season is far from over. Sure, the future of Arsene Wenger is in greater doubt now than it’s ever been; sure, the Gunners have lost two in a row in league play, and fallen to fourth in the league table, 12 points back of leaders Chelsea; and yes, they suddenly find themselves closer to sixth place (just two points between Arsenal and Manchester United) than they are to second (three points back of Tottenham Hotspur).

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

But Hull City are coming to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), which means an easy, automatic three points, right? Well, actually, wrong. Marco Silva’s side shocked Liverpool just last weekend, a result which gives the Tigers points from three of four PL games (their only loss came against Chelsea) under their newly appointed Portuguese boss. Another upset this weekend would almost certainly jump Hull from 18th in the PL table, where they presently sit, to safety outside the bottom-three.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Aaron Ramsey (calf), Granit Xhaka (suspended), Santi Cazorla (achilles), Yaya Sanogo (calf); QUESTIONABLE: Hector Bellerin (concussion) | Hull City — OUT: Abel Hernandez (hamstring), Michael Dawson (calf), Curtis Davies (hamstring), Ryan Mason (head), Markus Henriksen (shoulder), Will Keane (knee), Moses Odubajo (knee)

What they’re saying

Arsene Wenger, on the support of the fans: “Our fans have been consistent and have a high level of expectation, as I have as well. But I don’t feel it is absolutely clear. You cannot be a fan until last Tuesday and not be a fan anymore and not be behind the team this Saturday, it doesn’t make sense. … I want the fans to be behind the team. But at the same time, I am not fool enough not to know that the first priority is us and our dynamic inside the team that will create and facilitate the support of our fans.”

Marco Silva, on turning one good result into two: “Of course last weekend was important because we won three points. We take those points but now we forget the game because in my mind, all we do now is prepare for the match against Arsenal. We have to continue to show our best on the pitch and prove that what we did last week in terms of the result is our real value.”

Prediction

At some point, all those injuries are going to catch up with Hull — not just the number of players unavailable, but they quality and import they carry with them as well — and if we know one thing, it’s that Arsenal bite back the hardest after they’ve been written off. Alexis Sanchez has himself a day to remember, and Arsenal are up 2-0 or 3-0 before halftime.

Watch Live: Hull City v. Everton (Lineups, Stream)

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Hull City hosts Everton on Friday from the KC Stadium (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Tigers look to climb off the bottom of the Premier League as the season hits its halfway point.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

One win in their last 16 league matches has Hull sitting bottom of the PL as the season will soon shift to the post-New Year calendar. Abel Hernandez and Will Keane remain out for the Tigers, so it will be up to Robert Snodgrass and his team-leading five PL goals to pace the attack for Mike Phelan‘s side.

Meanwhile, Everton continues to face several injuries, most notably goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and Yannick Bolasie remain sidelined. The Toffees have been inconsistent as of late, winning just two out of seven in the PL, however, Friday’s clash is a big opportunity for Ronald Koeman and co. to close the gap on a spot in the top six.

LINEUPS

Hull City: Marshall, Robertson, Maguire, Davies, Meyler, Snodgrass, Livermore, Mbokani, Diomande, Dawson, Elmohamady. Subs: Jakupovic, Huddlestone, Clucas, Maloney, Weir, Henriksen, Mason.

Everton: Robles, Baines, Williams, Jagielka, Coleman, Gueye, Barry, Barkley, Mirallas, Valencia, Lukaku. Subs: Hewelt, Lennon, Cleverley, Funes Mori, Davies, Calvert-Lewin, Holgate.

Hull City 2-1 Southampton: Snodgrass return sparks rapid Hull comeback

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Hull City had been trailing much of the first half and had little to draw confidence from. Then, in a flash, Robert Snodgrass came off the bench and single-handedly put them in front.

An early penalty had the Saints ahead, but a goal from Snodgrass and an assist on the second gave Hull City its third win of the season to pull them nearly out of the relegation zone.

Just five minutes in, Southampton had a penalty as Curtis Davies ripped down Maya Yoshida on the edge of the area, a clear penalty. Charlie Austin converted, and the visitors had an early lead at KCOM Stadium.

With Snodgrass available for Hull City after a long injury layoff, he was forced off the bench after 26 minutes following a non-contact injury to Will Keane, who went down clutching his knee. Bringing Snodgrass on so early was probably not in Mike Phelan‘s plans, but once he was introduced, the hosts began to hold better possession.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Still, Southampton had the more dangerous opportunities, earmarked by one just before the break as Austin ended up on the ball at the near post, but he was smothered by David Marshall.

Following the break, Jordy Clasie was booked after running through the back of Ryan Mason, and Hull would suddenly go not just level but in front in a blink just past the hour mark, with Snodgrass doing it all.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The Scotsman, having made all the difference since being forced on, scorched one from outside the box, evening things up. The goal is the fourth of the season for Snodgrass and the ninth for the club this season. Hull wasn’t finished, as moments later Snodgrass sent in a free-kick from well outside the top of the box, and it met the head of captain Michael Dawson, who looped it in past the near post for the lead.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

After going behind, Southampton began to pour pressure forward, looking to get back even. They would get one big chance to pull back level, as Austin was wide open near the penalty area and Ward-Prowse found him, but he took too long on the shot, and under pressure, the weak effort was saved well by Marshall. The 31-year-old goalkeeper stopped another in added time before a ball was cleared off the line off a corner.

Hull’s win draws them level with West Brom on points, although the Tigers remain barely in the relegation zone thanks to a very poor goal differential. For the Saints, they remain stuck in 10th on 13 points, even with Stoke City and one back of Burnley.

Transfer grades: How did Premier League teams do this summer?

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The summer transfer window is shut.

That was fun.

[ MORE: Every Deadline Day deal ]  

A record $1.5 billion was spent on new players by all 20 Premier League teams this summer as stars like Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Luiz, Islam Slimani, Sofiane Boufal and Jack Wilshere were on the move.

Let’s take a look at the deals and give each PL team a grade based on the business they did this summer.


TEAM GRADE
source:  A Man United: The Red Devils went big and did their business early as Jose Mourinho just beat Pep Guardiola to win the summer window. A world record fee for Paul Pogba, plus Zlatan on a free, Bailly is a beast in defense and Mkhitaryan will deliver assists. Mourinho cut out plenty of bit-part players and has a tight squad who are already being as ruthless on the pitch as their manager is off it. Box office rebuild from United.
source:  A Man City: A huge overhaul for City. Hart, Bony, Mangala and Nasri left, as Sane, Gundogan, Nolito, Stones and Bravo arrived for almost $200 million. Guardiola has been ruthless in his recruitment but you can already see his clear style of play flowing through this team. When you hire Guardiola, you let him rip the team apart and start again. He has done that this summer and City look much better for it. Great window.
source:  A- Chelsea: What a Deadline Day for Chelsea. David Luiz arrived in a sensational deal from PSG and he will give Antonio Conte the option of playing a three-man defense and he’s a huge character. Marcos Alonso is a solid buy, plus N'Golo Kante has slotted in seamlessly and Batshuayi is already contributing. Conte hasn’t changed much but the players he has signed will contribute massively. No big names left either. Bellissimo.
source:  B+ Leicester City: The Foxes focused on keeping all of their stars this summer and the only one they lost was N’Golo Kante. Signing Vardy and Mahrez to new deals was massive but then adding Slimani for a club record deal plus Musa was the icing on the cake. Mendy and several depth players will also help them in their UCL quest. Brilliant business, once again, from Leicester.
source:  B Bournemouth: Jack Wilshere arrived on Deadline Day on loan from Arsenal. Incredible signing and the biggest in club history by far. Eddie Howe has pulled of a masterstroke but his side did start the season poorly after he put all his trust in youngster Jordon Ibe and others. That said, getting in Wilshere and beating the likes of Roma and AC Milan to his signing is a major coup. Wilshere will suit the Cherries’ style and as a leader he will make their young team tick.
burnley fc crest  B Burnley: The Clarets broke their transfer record twice during the window as Defour and Hendrick arrived in midfield and suddenly Burnley look much better suited to staying up this season than they did two years ago. With Gray and Vokes up top, they can score goals. Now they need to stay tight and let Hendrick and Defour build a partnership. Well done, Sean Dyche.
source:  B Stoke City: Strong Deadline Day saved Stoke’s window. Wilfried Bony is perhaps the missing piece of the jigsaw, as he joined on loan from Man City. The Ivorian striker is the clinical finisher they’ve been searching for. Martins Indi was also a good buy, as was Joe Allen. All in all, very good business from a very well run club.
source:  C+ Arsenal: Arsene Wenger spent a record amount for a summer window as Xhaka, Perez and Mustafi arrived for a combined total of $115 million. Some Arsenal fans still won’t be happy but the Gunners added a striker and center back, plus shipped out some squad players on loan. Overall, a decent window.
source:  C+ Crystal Palace: The Eagles saved themselves late in the window after signing Christian Benteke for a club record fee and then adding Loic Remy on loan. Alan Pardew sold Bolasie for big money and missed out on Jack Wilshere, which was disappointing, but overall Palace addressed their needs with two international strikers.
source:  C+ Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp still has plenty of issues in defense, especially at left back. The signing of Sadio Mane was expensive but already looks like good business and Klopp has cut so much deadwood he could be a lumberjack in his spare time. Seriously though, the jury is out on Wijnaldum, Klavan and Matip although the latter has showed signs of promise. All in all, good outs but could’ve done with two marquee defenders arriving.
source:  C Everton: A solid summer of business for Ronald Koeman, who was the biggest signing by far, but you get the sense Everton’s fans were a little underwhelmed. They sold Stones for a huge fee which covered the costs for Bolasie and Williams. Lukaku is staying around but they missed out on Sissoko and Lucas Perez late in the window. Close, but no cigar. This squad is stronger than last May, though.
source:  C West Ham: The Hammers had a rough summer with injuries and we have to remember that, but Slaven Bilic had plenty of deals fall down after their early Europa League exit. Feghouli, Zaza and Arbeloa will become starters but you worry about their strikers staying fit, especially after letting Valencia leave.
200px-Middlesbrough_crest  C Middlesbrough: Some very shrewd signings from Aitor Karanka as newly-promoted Boro added firepower with Alvaro Negredo and Gaston Ramirez plus added depth all over the pitch. They didn’t spend a huge amount of money but they did enough business to give their fans plenty of hope they will survive this season.
source:  C Southampton: Sofiane Boufal was a fine pickup for Saints for a club record fee and Claude Puel‘s other arrivals are also young but Redmond and Hojbjerg have shown promise. Losing Mane, Pelle and Wanyama was a big blow but Saints should be okay and they kept hold of captain Jose Fonte. They needed one more striker in the window to make it a success.
source:  C Tottenham: Spurs somewhat salvaged their transfer window by snapping up Moussa Sissoko but he’s still a temperamental character. Let’s see how this goes. Vincent Janssen will take time to settle and Wanyama is a midfield destroyer but they already had that in Dier. After qualifying for the UCL and having a great campaign last season, Spurs missed a chance to go big and solidify their title credentials. That said, they do have a new stadium to pay for…
source:  D Swansea City: The Swans have lost Ashley Williams and Andre Ayew, their talismanic captain and top scorer from last season. Guidolin didn’t really replace them. Swansea are really lacking up top with Llorente experienced but unproven in the PL, while you also worry about them in central defense. New American owners may have to pump money in during the January window.
New Hull City Club Crest  D Hull City: It has been a turbulent offseason for the Tigers and although they tried incredibly hard in the latter days of the window to rectify their sluggishness, there wasn’t much quality let for them to hoover up. Ryan Mason, Will Keane and Mbokani have arrived but Mike Phelan will feel like it was too little too late. More strengthening was needed to save them from a relegation battle but with a takeover deal close, it was a difficult situation.
source:  D Watford: New manager Walter Mazzarri has done plenty of business this summer but you have to argue if many of the signings strengthen the Hornets at all. It will largely be the same starting lineup which faded badly last season and after a shaky start this season, it could be a long campaign at Vicarage Road.
source:  D- West Brom: The Baggies signed Hal Robson-Kanu on Deadline Day but will he really add more than 5-6 goals? Nacer Chadli was a decent signing but it feels like the Baggies have got so many central midfielders. A poor window for West Brom, especially with new owners in charge. Pulis won’t be happy.
source:  F Sunderland: There’s no two ways about this. It was a shocking window for Sunderland. David Moyes came in late after Sam Allardyce left for England and he managed to keep hold of Kone but signed a handful of Man United youngsters and a DM in Didier Ndong. With no experienced goalkeeper, holes in central defense and a lack of firepower, Moyes and the Black Cats are struggling.

 

PL Sunday preview: Title chasers Leicester, Spurs face Sunderland, Man United

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures sees the last two remaining title chasers, leaders Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur, back in action after Arsenal dropped points and all but fell out of the title race on Saturday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Leicester City vs. Sunderland — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

With a victory over Sunderland in Sunday’s early game, Leicester will be 10 points clear of Tottenham by the time they kick off their Round 33 fixture at White Hart Lane, at which point the first royal blue ribbons are to be attached to the handles either side of the PL trophy in advance of the Foxes’ impending coronation (the white accent ribbons come next week, if/when the beat West Ham United to restore their 10-point advantage).

When Leicester visited the Stadium of Light on the opening day of the season, it was the visitors and eventual champions-elect who kicked off the campaign with three points, thanks to a trio of first-half goals scored by Riyad Mahrez (twice) and Jamie Vardy. Mahrez and Vardy, along with everyone else at the East Midlands club, haven’t looked back since. After a dry spell either side of the New Year, both Mahrez (5 combined goals and assists in his last eight PL games played) and Vardy (7 combined in his last 10 games played) are back amongst the goals as Leicester grind out 1-0 win after 1-0 win (each of their last four PL games have finished 1-0 in favor of the Foxes).

INJURIES: Leicester — None | Sunderland — OUT: Emmanuel Eboue (suspension), Duncan Watmore (ankle)

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Man City close gap to 3rd-place Arsenal ]

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

When Spurs visited Old Trafford on the season’s opening day, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side made their intentions for the season mighty clear from the word “go” — they were to be taken seriously this time around, and no side would outwork them — even in their 1-0 defeat courtesy of Kyle Walker‘s own goal. That ethos has paid off in spades this season, as the north London side has gone on to concede the fewest goals in the PL (25 in 32 games) and piece together the league’s best goal differential (+32) to boot.

Following in the path of their stinginess, you’ll find Man United, the side with the league’s second fewest goals allowed (27), but a vastly inferior attacking record (39 goals scored, to Spurs’ 57, for a goal differential of +12). United have scored multiple goals in just two of their last 10 league games (six wins), while Spurs have achieved the feat seven times in the same period (seven wins). Harry Kane (22 goals) currently sits three clear in the race for the Golden Boot (Jamie Vardy has 19, followed by Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero on 18).

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Nabil Bentaleb (knee), Clinton Njie (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Jan Vertonghen (knee) | Man United — OUT: Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), Luke Shaw (leg), Will Keane (groin); DOUBTFUL: Wayne Rooney (knee), Daley Blind (undisclosed)

[ MORE: The Run-In — Analyzing the situation for all 20 teams ]

Liverpool vs. Stoke City — 11 a.m. ET, on Live Extra

The dogfight for eight place in the PL is on, and getting hot between Liverpool and Stoke. Ahead of Sunday’s meeting at Anfield, it’s the visitors who hold a slim one-point on the hosts in either side’s bid for mid-table superiority and perhaps avoidance of the UEFA Europa League. Following Thursday’s 2-2 draw away to Borussia Dortmund in that very competition, Jurgen Klopp simply has to survive his partial first season in the PL before his first summer transfer window, at which point he can begin building a squad in his own image.

When the two sides met back in August, Liverpool kicked their season off with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at the Britannia Stadium (they also faced off in the League Cup semifinals with the Reds scraping through over two legs, on penalties).

INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Jordan Henderson (knee), Emre Can (suspension), Christian Benteke (knee), Jordan Rossiter (hamstring), Danny Ings (knee), Joe Gomez (knee); RETURNING: Lucas Leiva (thigh) | Stoke — OUT: Jonathan Walters (knee), Jack Butland (ankle), Glen Johnson (knee) DOUBTFUL: Marko Arnautovic (knee)