Jordi Gomez

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Sunderland

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• Victory on Sunday would be the Black Cats’ third in five Premier League games at Stamford Bridge.

• If Chelsea fail to win they will be only the second champions in the last 12 seasons to end with fewer than 86 points. Manchester United took the title with 80 points in 2011.

• The Black Cats have won just one of their 13 previous games on the final day of a Premier League season. (BBC Sport)

On Sunday, when Chelsea and Sunderland face off to conclude each’s 2014-15 Premier League season, neither squad will have much to worry about.

The last meeting between these outfits ended in a 0-0 draw back in November, Sunderland’s “parked bus” tactic working at its finest.

The Blues clinched the Premier League title weeks ago—on May 3—with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace. Since then, manager Jose Mourinho has noticed a small patch of inconsistency, as his side drew Liverpool at Stamford Bridge and lost 3-0 to mid-table dweller West Brom.

[RELATED: Premier League table | Stat leaders | Highlights ]

But aside from the latest problems, Chelsea has been at the pinnacle of English soccer for the majority of the season, and Mourinho and Co. continue to add awards to their trophy case marking the overall triumph of the past nine months.

Meanwhile, for Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat, avoiding demotion to the Championship became his main priority after the club sacked Gus Poyet in the middle of March. At that point, the Black Cats were just one point above the relegation zone and had lost to Aston Villa, 4-0, on home ground.

[RELATED: Behind the scenes at Stoke City with USMNT defender Geoff Cameron]

Advocaat was brought in to salvage what little positive action could be mustered late in the year, following weeks of disappointment for a side that should’ve never dwelled near the bottom-three for so long.

Sunderland’s draw to Arsenal last week ensured a five-game unbeaten run, an extension offer to the Dutch boss, and most importantly, survival.

Catch the action this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN, or online through Live Extra.

What they’re saying

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho reflects on personal attitude throughout season (ESPN FC): “I’m not the kind of person to regret. What you did, you did. What happened, happened. You cannot change things. Time does not go back…We had lots of mistakes against us, that’s the reality, but that’s football. Maybe ‘campaign’ is not a nice word. Maybe I would take that word out from my explanation and my comments, but that’s the reality.”

Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher on Advocaat staying on as manager (The Guardian): “It’s been a remarkable turnaround since Dick came in,” said the Sunderland striker. He’s been great. He got his style of play in place and across to us straight away and it’s reflected in the points we’ve put on the board….He’s only been here for a couple of months but you could see what survival meant to him. He’s a very passionate man. We see it in training every day.”

Match injuries/absences

Most notably, Chelsea will not have Eden Hazard on the pitch due to his recovery from wisdom teeth surgery, while Cesc Fabregas will serve his one-game ban originating from a red card against West Brom.

Young center back Kurt Zouma, Ramires, Petr Cech and Oscar are all not ready to play because of injury.

Black Cats midfielder Sebastian Larsson has recovered from a mid-week problem and should appear for Sunderland. Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon is out with a knee condition. Other Sunderland players sidelined with injury: Wes Brown, Jordi Gomez, Liam Bridcutt and Danny Graham.

Prediction

Being a game that has little significance besides entertainment value, the result will hinge on the amount of effort players on both sides are willing to put forth. Chelsea 3-2 Sunderland.

Watch Live: Sunderland vs. Leicester City (Lineups and Live Stream)

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Boy, we have ourselves a relegation six-pointer on Saturday as Sunderland host Leicester City (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra) at the Stadium of Light.

This match will also be shown on NBCSN, as part of the Breakaway Show will will focus on the three big relegation battles.

Sunderland is two points above the relegation zone with three games left, while Leicester is three points off the bottom three with two games left as both sides have been in great form to drag themselves out of the drop zone in recent weeks. Dick Advocaat’s Black Cats have won two on the spin, while the Foxes have won six of their last seven and a win on Saturday would secure survival if other results go their way.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA

Advocaat’s side finish with games against Arsenal and Chelsea, so they know a win at home to Leicester is a must if they want to stay up. Tension will be in the air.

In team news Sunderland bring in Liam Bridcutt and John O’Shea for the injured Jordi Gomez and Wes Brown, while Leicester make one change with Andy King coming in for Matty James.

LINEUPS

Sunderland: Pantilimon; Jones, Coates, O’Shea, Van Aanholt; Larsson, Cattermole, Bridcutt; Defoe, Graham, Wickham.

Leicester: Schmeichel; Wasilewski, Huth, Morgan; Albrighton, King, Cambiasso, Schlupp; Mahrez, Ulloa, Vardy.

Everton 0-2 Sunderland: Black Cats grab massive win as the “great escape” is on

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Sunderland beat Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday, as Dick Advocaat’s side breathed new life into their battle against relegation.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Two second half goals, both courtesy of lucky deflections, from Danny Graham and Jermain Defoe did the damage as Everton dominated play but came up against a Sunderland side who were resolute in defense as goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon plus Wes Brown and Lee Cattermole were rocks at the back. The Toffees had 73 percent of possession but the closest they came was James McCarthy’s shot which cannoned off the post in the second half.

With the win Sunderland moves up to 14th place on 36 points, while Everton remain in 11th on 44 points.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Early on it was all Everton as the Toffees were patient in possession and in the seventh minute Leon Osman found some space in the box but slipped just as he curled his effort wide of the far post.

Everton continued to press for the opener and Ross Barkley had an effort blocked in the 20th minute following a great surging run down the right from Seamus Coleman. Before half time Sunderland finally showed some attacking intent but both Defoe and Connor Wickham fired effort off target.

In the 41st minute the Toffees had the best chance of the first half as Osman played in Romelu Lukaku but Pantilimon smothered the ball at his feet and then saved Osman’s follow up after Aaron Lennon had put the ball back into the danger area.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Sunderland came out fighting and had a chance through Graham as he threw himself as Sebastian Larsson’s effort but side-footed over. Everton then went close as Wickham headed clear from danger as Lukaku looked to pounce and then the first goal of the game arrived. In the 53rd minute Larsson’s cross from the right found Jordi Gomez and his goalbound effort was deflected into the net by Graham as Sunderland’s fans rejoiced.

The goal was Graham’s first in 28 appearances for the Black Cats since arriving from Swansea last season and it was the first goal Everton had conceded in 434 minutes at home in the PL. Everton responded well to going behind as Seamus Coleman dribbled through Sunderland’s defense as he juggled the ball and slammed just wide, while soon after McCarthy came closest for the Toffees as he slammed a shot against the foot of the post. Late on Everton had a huge shout for a penalty kick waved away as Coleman arrived at the back post to slot home but Defoe appeared to clip the right back as he tracked back. No penalty, and moments later Defoe wrapped up the win.

In the 85th minute John Stones was caught in possession and substitute Steven Fletcher ran into the box before laying it off to Adam Johnson who hit a shot across goal that deflected in off Defoe. 2-0 to Sunderland, as the great escape is well and truly on.

LINEUPS

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines (Garbutt, 74′) , Stones, Jagielka, McCarthy, Barry (Mirallas, 62′), Lennon (McGeady, 87′), Barkley, Osman, Lukaku

Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones, van Aanholt, Brown, Coates, Cattermole, Gomez, Larsson (Bridcutt, 84′), Defoe, Wickham (Fletcher, 84′), Graham (Johnson, 74′)

Goals: Graham (53′), Defoe (85′)

VIDEO: Premier League Team of the Week — Stars of Matchweek 35

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This week’s Premier League Team of the Week (above video) is, once again, heavy on players from relegation-threatened sides, as up to eight teams find themselves still a relegation battle with three weeks still to play in the 2014-15 season.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League Playback: Can Chelsea now create a dynasty? ]

Leicester City’s continued resurgence sees the Foxes land a pair of players in the Team of the Week for Matchweek 35, while Sunderland West Bromwich Albion can make the same claim. These relegation battlers make up much of the defensive and midfield units of the team.

As for the attacking third, well, it’s a lot of the usual suspects — Eden Hazard, Sergio Aguero and Alexis Sanchez, to name a few — who have been given TOTW needs all season long.

Thoughts? Questions? Agreements? Disagreements? (Of course not.) Leave them in the comments section, as always.

Matchweek 35

Goalkeeper: Boaz Myhill (West Bromwich Albion)

Defenders: Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland), Wes Morgan (Leicester City), James Collins (West Ham United)

Midfielders: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Jordi Gomez (Sunderland), Darren Fletcher (West Bromwich Albion), Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Forwards: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Leonardo Ulloa (Leicester City)

Premier League roundup: Big day for relegation battlers

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Seven Premier League games took place on Saturday, as plenty of teams at the bottom secured big wins to shake up the relegation picture.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays

Leicester, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Sunderland all prevailed, while poor old Burnley and QPR went down fighting away from home but their days in the top-flight looked numbered.

[ RELATED: Standings | videos | schedule ]

In the top half there were only wins for Liverpool, Swansea and West Ham as Manchester United slipped up at home to West Brom to breath new life into the top four race.

Below are recaps, reaction, videos and more from another busy day around the PL.

Aston Villa 3-2 EvertonRECAP

A double from Christian Benteke put Villa 2-0 up at half time. Romelu Lukaku scored a PK to put Everton back in the game but Tom Cleverley made it 3-1 before a late consolation from Phil Jagielka set up a tense finish. Huge win for Villa who now sit on 35 points. Everton’s six-game unbeaten run is over.

Manchester United 0-1 West Bromwich AlbionRECAP

Jonas Olsson turned out to be the hero for the Baggies, as Manchester United lost their third-straight PL  match. That’s something the Red Devils haven’t done since 2001 and their recent struggles have come at a pivotal stage of the season with the top four race now back on. Robin van Persie had a second half penalty kick saved by Boaz Myhill as West Brom won at Old Trafford for the second time in a row and are now seven points clear of the relegation zone with three games left.

Liverpool 2-1  QPRRECAP

Liverpool went ahead early on as Coutinho curled in a beauty but then QPR equalized with just over 15 minutes to go as Leroy Fer volleyed home. A crazy last 10 minutes then played out as first Steven Gerrard had a penalty kick, which Nedum Onuoha gave away, saved by Robert Green and then Onuoha was sent off for two yellows. In the 87th minute Gerrard rolled back the years and glanced home a header to make it 2-1.

Sunderland 2-1 SouthamptonRECAP

Two penalty kicks from Jordi Gomez sealed the win for the Black Cats as Dick Advocaat’s side boosted their survival chances. Sunderland still remain in the bottom three but are just one point off safety with three games to go. Saints’ lone goal came via Sadio Mane, who finished well after a defensive mix up, but Ronald Koeman’s men were lackluster and lost ground in the race for a top six finish.

Leicester City 3-0 Newcastle UnitedRECAP

The Foxes’ wonderful form continued as they raced into an early lead and never looked back. Leonardo Ulloa gave Leicester the lead after 38 seconds and Wes Morgan added another on 17 minutes. Newcastle were all over the place and Ulloa scored a penalty kick three minutes into the second half to put the game beyond doubt. The Magpies then had Daryl Janmaat and Mike Williamson sent off as they are now just two points above the drop zone with three games to go. Leicester have now won five of their last six and is one point above the bottom three.

West Ham United 1-0 BurnleyRECAP

It was a nightmare start for Burnley at Upton Park as Michael Duff was sent off and Mark Noble scored the resulting penalty kick to give the Hammers a lead after 25 minutes. The Clarets never fully recovered and despite the Hammers being wasteful, they secured their first win in five matches. Burnley is now eight points from safety with three games left. It’s time to start waving goodbye to the PL, Burnley fans.

Swansea City 2-0 Stoke CityRECAP

The Swansea scored twice late in the second half to grab all three points and keep their record-setting season going. Garry Monk’s boys took the lead through Jefferson Montero and Ki sealed the victory in the final minute. Stoke had Marc Wilson sent off late on for two yellows.