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Premier League Preview: Man City v. Spurs

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The Premier League has a monumental match for the second-straight week, as champions Manchester City host Tottenham Hotspur in a tension-filled affair at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

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Both sides controlled play in opening day wins, though an early concession had Spurs facing blocks of defenders, and will be raring to meet the challenge at hand.

Mauricio Pochettino says Giovani Lo Celso will make his first match day 18 for Spurs, though he will not start; Jan Vertonghen may return to the Starting XI.

As for City, Fernandinho is fit and Bernardo Silva may also make his season debut after missing the opener with a minor injury.


Projected lineups

Man CityEderson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva; Jesus, Aguero, Sterling

Spurs: Lloris; Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Winks, Ndombele, Sissoko; Eriksen, Moura, Kane.


What they’re saying

Guardiola on whether Raheem Sterling is the top attacker in the league: “There are many and he’s one of them. Look at the top six teams and you will find many, many players. The premier League is incredible. We have many but even still. I didn’t watch all the other games but Sterling has played good from the beginning and been clinical. We want more. Everybody wants more and he wants more. It was just the first game.”

Spurs on chasing the champsWe are going to fight again this season against ourselves to try to improve our balance. If we analyze the last five years we always improve every season in different things but in the Premier League I think we decrease in our performance or in the points we got. That is our challenge, to improve ourselves. To improve our numbers in the Premier League. Of course in Europe we have improved and become more competitive and got to the final of the Champions League.


Prediction

City lost exactly one home match last season, a 3-2 thriller with Palace on Dec. 22. Take that out, and they allowed nine goals in 18 wins; Nine were clean sheets and they did not trail aside from the Palace match.

That said, Spurs have experience scoring at the Etihad from that 4-3 second-leg Champions League thriller in April.

We expect a special tactical treat, and goals: Man City 2-1.

Premier League Preview: Brighton v. Newcastle United

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  • Brighton won 1-0 at Newcastle on Oct. 20
  • Magpies haven’t scored in three versus Seagulls, but have won two-straight
  • Brighton leads all-time 10W-4D-9L

Newcastle United sees one of the Premier League’s longest away days when it hopes to spoil Brighton and Hove Albion’s hopes of firming of top-flight safety at the Amex Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Newcastle doesn’t give up a ton of chances, and Brighton hasn’t been capitalizing on theirs. The now relegation-threatened Seagulls have not scored in 701 minutes between the Premier League and FA Cup.

The Magpies have won two-straight but are without Miguel Almiron, who has unlocked defenses for Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon. Can that help Brighton get a big point or three?

What they’re saying

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez on his contract running out“I want to compete and try to win trophies, but you cannot compete in the cups when you are at the bottom and have players injured. It is so simple to understand. If we do the right things we can compete.”

Brighton captain Bruno on fighting for safety: “The key thing is to stay together, and that’s where we’re lucky. We have a strong core of a team that’s been together for a long time and that helps in this situation. We need to play our football and relax, because when you put too much responsibility on yourself, you don’t always give your best. We need to relax because we’ve got good footballers, and we need to keep a calm mind. We have to relax and believe we are good footballers.”

Prediction

This one has Glenn Murray written all over it, and the Seagulls will be able to find some magic to basically preserve their PL status with a 1-0 win.

PL Tuesday Preview: Tottenham hosts Brighton, Watford faces Southampton

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Thanks to results from Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea over the past two days, Tottenham didn’t lose any ground to its rivals despite its own loss early on Saturday.

Now, Spurs has a chance to earn points to secure another top four finish and keep one of its rivals out when it hosts relegation-threatened Brighton and Hove Albion. Watford, meanwhile, hosts a Southampton side with three wins in its last five games.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE


Brighton and Hove Albion v. Tottenham — 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

This match should have just about everything as both sides will be desperate for all three points. Tottenham can take advantage of Arsenal, Man United and Chelsea’s failure to jump ahead or catch ground with a big win on the road, especially after the big win at Man City in the UEFA Champions League. Heung-Min Son showed that Tottenham fans won’t have to miss Harry Kane too badly as he recovers from another serious ankle injury, and Son will be expected again to score and have a big impact in the attack. The team received a boost as well, with Eric Dier returning to fitness and Hugo Lloris set to return to the lineup this week, if not this weekend.

Meanwhile, down in Brighton it’s been a different story all season. The Seagulls have just 34 points after 34 games, sitting just three points above the relegation zone. Before Saturday’s draw with Wolves, Brighton had lost four straight games in the Premier League and five in all competitions, including in the FA Cup semifinals against Manchester City. Now, with only the Premier League on its mind, Brighton can focus on finding an answer to its defensive and goalscoring woes. After a strong start, Glenn Murray hasn’t scored in seven games, and club-record signing Ali Jahanbakhsh has zero Premier League goals this season. Brighton will take one step closer to Premier League survival with a massive win over Tottenham. With Cardiff City facing Fulham this weekend, it’s crucial for Brighton to receive at least a point to maintain space between it and Cardiff.

INJURIES: Brighton and Hove Albion —  OUT: Davy Propper (hamstring), Anthony Knockaert (suspension). | Tottenham — OUT: Moussa Sissoko (groin), Harry Kane (ankle); DOUBTFUL: Harry Winks (groin); PROBABLE: Hugo Lloris (muscle), Eric Dier (illness)


Watford v. Southampton — 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSports.com/Gold

While much of the Premier League drama focuses on the top four and the bottom three of the table, there’s quietly a very dramatic race for seventh place, which could still end up with a Europa League berth should Manchester City beat Watford to win the FA Cup (if Watford wins, only the fifth and sixth-placed teams would earn Europa League berths).

Watford is among a small group of four teams all within one point of another that could finish anywhere from seventh to tenth by the end of the season. Watford currently sits tied with Everton in seventh place and is looking for a third win in four Premier League games, though its last two wins were over Fulham and Huddersfield. One aspect Watford will have to work on in this match against Southampton is recording a clean sheet. Watford have conceded a goal in eight straight Premier League matches, their longest run this season without a shutout.

Southampton on the other hand are looking to bounce back from a 3-1 defeat against Newcastle. Like Brighton, Southampton is currently safe but still in a precarious situation, just five points clear of Cardiff and the relegation zone. Ralph Hassenhuttl has done a decent job in securing some breathing room for the Saints in his half-season at the club so far. If Southampton can replicate its form from its April 13 3-1 win over Wolves, in which Nathan Redmond scored a pair and even Shane Long found the back of the net, it will surely help towards Premier League survival. Also working in Southampton’s favor is that it has five wins, five draws and one loss in its last 11 matches against Watford.

INJURIES: Watford —  OUT: Troy Deeney (suspension), Jose Holebas, Tom Cleverley, Domingos Quina and Sebastian Prodl (all knee). | Southampton — QUESTIONABLE: Jannik Vestergaard (injury), Yan Valery (illness), Mario Lemina

PL Preview: Manchester United v. West Ham

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  • Irons won 3-1 at Old Trafford
  • United defense is suspension-, injury-hit
  • Man Utd leads all-time 65W-31D-44L

West Ham United seeks its first league sweep of Manchester United since 2006-07 when the Irons visit Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

How bad is Manchester United’s injury and suspension status out wide? Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said, “We don’t have full-backs this week.”

So that’s music to the ears of Felipe Anderson and the West Ham attackers, as Manuel Pellegrini‘s side hopes to make an unlikely climb into the Europa League.

Meanwhile, United has to balance its desire to finish Top Four — they enter the weekend three points back of fourth-place Spurs — with preparation and freshness for its UEFA Champions League second leg at Barcelona next week.

What th ey’re saying

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “We don’t have fullbacks this week. Not too many as we’ve lost Luke and Ashley through suspension. Antonio Valencia is still not fit. Maybe Matteo Darmian will be available for the bench and Marcos Rojo has been training for a while. He’s available and we’ve got Jonah (Phil Jones), who could also play there. Rojo needed to get out on the big pitch (in the Under-23s, against West Brom last Friday) so he could have that game but we’ve had a couple of practice matches so let’s see what we decide.“

West Ham captain Mark Noble: “We’re looking forward to going to Manchester United on Saturday. We were encouraged by our second-half performance at Stamford Bridge, it’s our last away game outside London and if we can reproduce the sort of performance we produced at home back in September, when we beat them 3-1, then no one will be more delighted than me. Our main worry is that, away from home, we’ve scored just one goal since this year.”

Prediction

Goals on both sides of a 2-2 draw which leaves both sides a bit perturbed with their performances.

Premier League Preview: Leicester City v. Newcastle United

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  • Leicester won 2-0 at Newcastle
  • Foxes have won 6 of last 7 v. Magpies
  • Newcastle leads all-time 51W-27D-44L

Two former Liverpool bosses meet with very different aims when Newcastle United visits Leicester City on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Brendan Rodgers and Leicester City are targeting seventh place and a place in the Europa League, while Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez wants another win or two to clinch Premier League safety.

The Foxes lost to Watford in their first match under Rodgers, but have beaten four bottom half sides to put together a fine winning streak and climb into seventh; Leicester is level on points with Wolves and a point ahead of Watford, though both have played one fewer match.

What they’re saying

Leicester City’s Rodgers“I expect a very, very tough game. Rafa is a top class manager who organizes his teams exceptionally well. They play in a 5-4-1 structure when they haven’t got the ball. They don’t give away many goals, so we know we will have to have that patience, but we have a lot of exciting players in the team who can be good in one-on-one situations, and who can manipulate the ball.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez: “Now we have five games and we have to think of every one like a final, as we have said many times. We must approach every game with confidence, calm, and the belief that we can do it. Leicester are a very good team. They are playing with more confidence now, and it will be tough for us, for sure.”

Prediction

Leicester’s attackers may be a bit too much for Rafa’s imposing defense, especially with Florian Lejeune and Sean Longstaff out of the lineup, but the chemistry between Miguel Almiron, Ayoze Perez, and Salomon Rondon has given the Magpies another dimension. 1-1.