BPL

Watch Live: Chelsea vs. Norwich City (Lineups and Discuss)

1 Comment

The Premier League title won’t be decided until Championship Sunday, but if Chelsea drop points against Norwich, they’ll almost certainly find themselves out of the running (Watch live on NBCSN at 11 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra).

After beating Everton on Saturday, Manchester City are top of the table, but Liverpool will regain the lead if they beat Crystal Palace on Monday. But if Chelsea beat Norwich, they’ll take top of the table – and spend tomorrow rooting hard for the Eagles. If the Blues fail to win, however, and Liverpool grab three points, there will be no trophy in José Mourinho’s first year back in charge.

The visitors, far from fighting for a title, will be fighting for their very lives. Without at least a point, Norwich are essentially relegated. Sure, they could make up the 13 goal gap on goal difference between themselves and Sunderland, but the Black Cats have a game in hand – and Norwich have the lowest number of goals scored in the league, with just 28 from 36 games.

Yeah, it’s not looking good for the Canaries.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA

After last week’s disastrous 4-0 loss to Manchester United, a few changes had to be made to the Norwich side. Martin Olsson, Leroy Fer and Nathan Redmond are out, while Alex Tettey, Johan Elmander and Ryan Bennett are in.

Demba Ba gets the start for Chelsea after getting the first goal in the 2-0 win over Liverpool last week. Mourinho does make a few changes, however, from that match, bringing back John Terry, Ashley Cole, and Willian, who got the second last weekend. Eden Hazard begins on the bench – will we see the Belgian?

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Schwarzer; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Lampard, Matic; Salah, Willian, Schurrle; Ba

Subs: Hilario, Kalas, D Luiz, Van Ginkel, Hazard, Torres, Eto’o

Norwich City: Ruddy; Martin, R Bennett, Turner, Whittaker; Tettey; Snodgrass, Johnson, Howson, Olsson; Elmander

Subs: Bunn, Bassong, van Wolfswinkel, Fer, Hooper, E Bennett, Redmond

Watch Live: Arsenal vs. West Bromwich Albion (Lineups and Discuss)

Leave a comment

With Everton’s loss to Manchester City on Saturday, Arsenal have already qualified for the Champions League – so will they go easy on West Brom when they visit the Emirates today? (Watch live on NBCSN at 8:30 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra).

The Albion likely wouldn’t object to an easy three points. After picking up seven points from their last three matches, they’ve moved up to 16th, four points above the drop. Relegation doesn’t look likely, as West Brom still have a game in hand, but beating Arsenal would guarantee the Baggies’ safety. Plus, it would lift them over rivals Aston Villa once more, which is always important in the Midlands.

But Arsenal still have a (very) slim chance of reaching third. The Gunners are certain of Champions League play, but if they overtake Chelsea, they’ll skip qualifying and go straight to the group stages. This hope will only be realized if Arsenal win their final two matches and Chelsea lose to both Norwich and Cardiff, but hey, it’s fun to dream, right, Gunners fans?

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA

After last week’s 1-0 victory over West Ham, Pepe Mel makes just two changes to the Albion side. Steven Reid, injured last weekend, is out, as is Billy Jones. Diego Lugano comes in to reinforce the defense, while James Morrison steps into midfield. It looks like Mel’s chosen to go with a back three – are the Baggies aiming for just a point at the Emirates?

Abou Diaby makes his return to Arsenal after thirteen months out, starting the match on the bench. After last week’s 3-0 victory over Newcastle, there’s just one change for Arsène Wenger. Mathieu Flamini steps in for Aaron Ramsey, who was fantastic in his return last week after four months out with injury. Looks like Wenger wants to make sure the midfielder stays fit for the FA Cup final.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Arteta, Cazorla, Ozil, Podolski, Giroud

Subs: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Kallstrom, Rosicky, Diaby, Sanogo

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Dawson, Lugano, Olsson, Brunt, Amalfitano, Mulumbu, Morrison, Dorrans, Sessegnon, Berahino

Subs: Myhill, Anichebe, O’Neil, Sinclair, Vydra, McAuley, Yacob

Rodgers says Liverpool will sign six top players for next season

1 Comment

Liverpool may end up missing out on the Premier League title, but they’re destined for Champions League play next season. As such, the Reds will need more depth, with Brendan Rodgers estimating the club needs to bring in about six players.

Playing in Europe’s top competition will require Liverpool to spend a little to plump up their numbers, but the Champions League brings significant benefits – mainly, the ability to attract star players to the club.

“We will need to bring in players over the summer, and the great plus about being in the Champions League is that it makes it easier to attract the top ones,” says Rodgers.

But it’s not just the tournament that will bring in the best signings. According to the manager:

[Liverpool] have developed a style of football over this past year that is already being recognised. We have a way of working and a way of playing that recommends itself to leading players. We have established a reputation as a creative, attacking team that wants to win games and that should stand us in good stead.

Rodgers certainly has a point. With 96 goals scored in 36 games played, the Reds, alongside Manchester City, lead the league on that particular stat. Where Liverpool might consider investing, however, is in defense, or perhaps by bringing in a central midfielder of the destroyer-type. So far this season they’ve conceded 46 goals. That’s not the worst in the league, but it’s worse than seven other sides.

And the defense could cost Liverpool the title. Should they wind up even on points with Manchester City, it’s goal difference, not goals scored, that breaks the tie. Currently, City have a +9 advantage in that area. The outcome of the final three matches just might determine which players – and which positions – Rodgers targets over the summer.

Stoke City 4-1 Fulham: Fulham are relegated (video)

Leave a comment

Fulham are officially relegated after losing to Stoke City on Saturday. A late goal from Kieran Richardson was not enough to save the side, whose defense looked shaky throughout the match, and whose attack was unable to muster more than two shots on target.

It was the visitors that were fighting for their Premier League lives, yet it was Stoke that very nearly took the lead inside five minutes. A cross from Steven N’Zonzi fell kindly to Oussama Assaidi, but he managed to put his shot both wide and well high.

Fulham did their best to hang on, soaking up any pressure, possibly thinking that a point just might save them from relegation. But Stoke managed to break through in the 38th minute. Stephen Ireland hit the crossbar, but Peter Odemwingie was on hand to mop up the damage. Dan Burn very nearly cleared away Odemwingie’s shot, but fell down instead – possibly a good anecdote to sum up the Fulham season.

Despite an early change from Felix Magath – Ashkhan Dejagah replaced Lewis Holtby in the 34th minute – Fulham just couldn’t muster anything resembling a quality attack. Scott Parker’s shot early in the second half was only their third, and it was the first that required a save from Asmir Begović.

So Stoke’s second came as little surprise. The hosts hit poor, beleaguered Fulham on the break. Almost before the Cottagers knew what was happening, Odemwingie slipped the ball across the face of goal, setting up Marko Arnautović to knock in for Stoke.

Fulham were dead and buried – and they knew it. Sure enough, another Stoke goal came almost too easily for the hosts. Another counterattack saw Arnautović as the provider this time, putting the ball in for Assaidi to tap home.

Up 3-0, Mark Hughes thought it ok to make a couple changes, removing Odemwingie and Assiadi for Jonathan Walters and Matthew Etherington. Shortly after, Fulham managed to score. Darren Bent, getting a rare start, put one in for Kieran Richardson, who dutifully knocked in a low shot. But with the side all but down, there was barely any celebration.

Nor defense, for that matter. Just two minutes later, Walters restored the Stoke lead. Charlie Adam easily slipped a through ball inside the Fulham defense, practically giggling as he did so. It was all too easy for Walters to get on the end of it, easily beating David Stockdale with his low shot.

LINEUPS

Stoke City: Begovic; Pieters, Muniesa, Wilson, Cameron; Arnautovic, Nzonzi, Whelan, Assaidi (Etherington 75); Ireland (Adam 70), Odemwingie (Walters 78)

Goals: Odemwingie 39′; Arnautović 54′; Assaidi 73′; Walters 82′

Fulham: Stockdale; Heitinga, Hangeland, Burn (Mitroglou 58), Riise; Holtby (Dejagah 34), Parker, Sidwell, Diarra (Kasami 73), Richardson; Bent

Goals: Richardson 80′

West Ham 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur: Irons secure Premier League safety (video)

Leave a comment

West Ham’s win over 10-man Tottenham means that they’ve secured a third straight season in the Premier League – and, most likely, quieted fans’ protests over the tactics employed by Sam Allardyce. Spurs, meanwhile, may have just lost out on European play next season. If Manchester United win out, they can swoop in and steal sixth place.

Had Tottenham taken the lead within the first minute, this game may have gone very differently. West Ham goalkeeper Adrian provided the perfect opportunity, dawdling on a backpass and allowing Harry Kane to snatch the ball away. The young forward skewed his shot just wide, but it still looked like an omen of sorts for the hosts.

Instead, in the 24th minute, Spurs changed the course of their own destiny. Stewart Downing slipped through the Tottenham defense to burst through on goal. Younes Kaboul caught up, tackling the wide man just outside the area. Phil Dowd ruled that Kabul had denied a goal scoring opportunity, showed the defender a straight red and left Tottenham to continue with ten men.

West Ham didn’t get a penalty, but they certainly took advantage of the resulting free kick. Andy Carroll forced Hugo Lloris to beat his shot away, giving the hosts a corner. Carroll then got on the end of Mark Noble’s delivery, heading on toward goal. The ball bounced off Kane and into the back of the net, giving the unlucky Spur an own-goal.

Things got worse for Spurs just before the break. Again a rash challenge, this time Michael Dawson bringing down Noble, brought a free kick for West Ham. Downing waved away Carroll to take the kick. It wasn’t the best strike from Downing, but Emmanuel Adebayor and Paulinho were quite accommodating, parting like the Red Sea to allow the ball to sail through. The shot wound up in the bottom corner, giving Downing his first goal in a West Ham shirt.

West Ham weren’t about to back down, starting the second half by hunting out a third goal. A fantastic scissor-kick from Mohamed Diamé produced an even better low save from Lloris. The rebound fell to Matt Taylor, but he was only able to put his shot wide. Then came a chance from Kevin Nolan, with Lloris using his body to block the strike.

With the Irons’ man advantage, they looked nothing but comfortable for the majority of the match. Spurs had a late penalty shout when a West Ham arm blocked a ball from Sandro, but it went ignored by Dowd. Perhaps the visitors’ best chance came in injury time, when Danny Rose forced a fine save from Adrian – a goal that would’ve been nothing but a consolation.

LINEUPS

West Ham United: Adrian, Demel, Tomkins, Reid, McCartney; Diame, Noble; Downing, Nolan (Jarvis 88), Taylor; Carroll (C. Cole 84)

Goals: Kane o.g. 27′; Downing 44′

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Naughton, Dawson, Kaboul, Rose; Lennon, Paulinho (Sandro 65), Sigurdsson (Soldado 66), Eriksen; Adebayor, Kane (Chiriches 28)