Premier League previews 2015-16

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PL Sunday preview: Man City vs. Arsenal — one last top-four battle

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Leicester City are 2015-16 Premier League champions … now what? Even though the Foxes lifted the trophy on Saturday, much is left to be decided: second, third and fourth are all still up for grabs.

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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Southampton — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

Tottenham will be without Dele Alli (suspension) and Mousa Dembele (suspension) for the remainder of the season, but Mauricio Pochettino‘s side still has a second-place finish to secure with two games left to play. Spurs’ quest to finish second and top Arsenal, their north London rivals, for the first time in 21 years continues on Sunday when Pochettino’s former club, Southampton, make their annual visit to White Hart Lane. A win over Saints would put Spurs six points clear of Arsenal (who play later on Sunday), essentially assuring north London’s top spot in the league table given their insurmountable goal-differential advantage (+39 to +25).

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Nabil Bentaleb (knee)| Southampton — None

[ MORE: PL roundup — Leicester’s crowning day; Villa sink Newcastle ]

Manchester City vs. Arsenal — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

The last of the season’s meetings of top-four and/or top-four-aspiring sides is set for Sunday when the Gunners visit Man City at the Etihad Stadium. With City eliminated from the UEFA Champions League this week, securing a top-four finish is the Citizen’s last avenue to Champions League qualification ahead of Pep Guardiola’s arrival in Manchester this summer. City’s lead on fifth-place Manchester United currently sits at one points (Man United play their 37th game of the season on Tuesday, vs. sixth-place West Ham United), making the math extremely simple in Manuel Pellegrini‘s final days at the Etihad: win their final two games (at Swansea City next weekend), and they’ll finish third with Arsenal fourth (again).

INJURIES: Man City — OUT: Vincent Kompany (thigh), David Silva (hamstring), Pablo Zabaleta (calf) | Arsenal — OUT: Per Mertesacker (hamstring), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Carl Jenkinson (knee)

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

Whereas Tottenham, Man City and Arsenal are only concerned with where they finish in the league table this season, the focus of Jurgen Klopp is solely on Liverpool’s UEFA Europa League final (Wednesday, May 18). The German genius was more than happy to select a side half-full of youngsters last weekend, and the baby Reds were thumped by Swansea. Following an emotional night at Anfield on Thursday, expect something similar on Sunday as Liverpool are fully locked into an eighth-place finish at minimum, with a chance to climb into the top-six. As for Watford, 44 points and a 10-point gap to the relegation zone with two games remaining will do just fine for the Hornets.

INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Jordan Henderson (knee), Divock Origi (ankle), Mamadou Sakho (suspension), Danny Ings (knee), Brad Smith (suspension) | Watford — OUT: Etienne Capoue (knee), Joel Ekstrand (hamstring)

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • Chelsea leads all-time: 65W-39D-50L
  • Spurs 8 back of Leicester
  • Clubs drew 0-0 in November

If Spurs want to keep their unlikely title charge alive, they’ll need to start in a historically difficult place (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

Tottenham heads to Chelsea on Monday knowing a win at Stamford Bridge would be their first road London Derby win over the Blues since 1990.

[ MORE: Vardy wins English Player of the Year award ]

Spurs are leading the form table with 14 points from its last six matches, but hasn’t been able to gain ground on Leicester and would forfeit their title chances by losing even a single point on Monday.

Chelsea’s Diego Costa is 10th in the Premier League in goals with 11, but that’s 13 back of league leader Harry Kane. The Spurs forward has a one goal edge on Sergio Aguero and two on Jamie Vardy with two weeks left in the season.

What they’re saying

Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink on Monday’s match: “That’s almost a personal challenge, but whoever will play in defence will like that challenge with Harry Kane. He is having an admirable season. He has maintained his form [from last season] and is doing very well.”

Harry Kane on trying to topple Chelsea“Playing London rivals is always a big game for us and this is no different. With the situation that we’re in as well, I’m sure Chelsea will be wanting to try to beat us but we’ve got to be prepared for that and make sure we go out there, play the way we have been and really take the game to them.

“We try to play the same way every game – we try to attack, play good football, keep possession and press high. We’ll do the same this week. Chelsea know the way we’re going to play but hopefully if we do it well enough they won’t be able to stop it.”

Prediction

Will Leicester’s miracle run to the Premier League title be completed while the Foxes crowd around a television? It wouldn’t fit the story line, but we have a feeling Chelsea has enough in the tank to make a season-ending stop. 1-1.

PL Sunday preview: The day Leicester are crowned champions?

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The race for the 2015-16 Premier League title could be officially over by this time tomorrow. The biggest day in the history of Leicester City Football Club awaits…

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Swansea City vs. Liverpool — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

Swansea City (40 points – 15th place) are ever so close to guaranteeing their status as a Premier League club for another season, and a win over Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium would do the mathematical trick for the Swans. Three points would also vault them into 13th place with two games remaining on the season, a dream-land finish to the campaign that months ago looked destined to end in a relegation scrap.

As for Liverpool, the’re 10 points back of Manchester City for fourth place and UEFA Champions League qualification, so don’t be surprised if Jurgen rests a handful of key contributors with both eyes focused on Thursday’s UEFA Europa League semifinal second leg against Villarreal (Liverpool trail 1-0 after the first leg). Winning the UEL is the Reds’ last avenue for Champions League qualification next season, and the kind of recruiting tool Klopp will so desperately need to build his own squad in the summer transfer window.

Injuries: Swansea — OUT: Leroy Fer (hamstring), Alberto Paloschi (hamstring) | Liverpool — OUT: Divock Origi (ankle), Emre Can (ankle), Jordan Henderson (knee), Mamadou Sakho (suspension); QUESTIONABLE: Philippe Coutinho (illness)

[ MORE: PL roundup — Newcastle get massive win in relegation fight ]

Manchester United vs. Leicester City — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

The last nine months have merely been building up to this day, this game, for this team — the soon-to-be Premier League champions, Manchester United Leicester City. Are you prepared to live in a world where, for 12 full months, the tag of “defending Premier League champions” will precede any mention of the Foxes? You better be, because it’s happening, perhaps on Sunday.

Louis Van Gaal has challenged his Man United side to not be the foes against which Leicester win the title, but that’ll be easier said than done against the side with the best points tally from away games (37 points from 17 games) in the league this season, including away triumphs over Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and West Ham United already. When these sides met back in November, it was United who grabbed a second-half equalizer for a 1-1 draw, canceling out Jamie Vardy‘s opener which set a new Premier League record for consecutive games with a game (11). The math is simple: a win for Leicester, and they’re PL champions; a draw for Leicester and a draw or loss for Tottenham at Chelsea on Monday, and Leicester are champions; a loss for Leicester and a loss for Tottenham, and Leicester are champions.

Injuries: Man United — OUT: Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), Luke Shaw (leg)| Leicester — OUT: Jamie Vardy (suspension); QUESTIONABLE: Leonardo Ulloa (back)

[ MORE: PHOTOS — Arsenal fans hold another protest of club, Wenger ]

Southampton vs. Manchester City — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

West Ham’s thrashing of West Bromwich Albion on Saturday (plus a possible result for Man United on Sunday) at least makes the race for a top-four finish interesting for Man City, inasmuch as they need to win away to Southampton in order to maintain a five point gap between themselves and fifth place (a win would see them go back above Arsenal for third, based on goal differential).

As for Southampton, a win would secure their third straight top-eight finish in the PL, with a decent shot at leapfrogging Liverpool for seventh. When Saints and City met back in November, it was the latter side who took all three points in a 3-1 home victory.

Injuries: Southampton — QUESTIONABLE: Charlie Austin (knee) | Man City — OUT: David Silva (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Yaya Toure (thigh), Samir Nasri (hamstring)

PL Sunday preview: Can Leicester keep their nerve? Arsenal vs. Sunderland

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Leicester City’s first of four judgment days, in which they’ll either secure of let slip away the 2015-16 Premier League title, is upon us. But first, a Sunday clash with both top-four and relegation implications…

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Sunderland vs. Arsenal — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

There are no three points more financially valuable to two clubs this weekend than the three on the line between relegation battlers Sunderland and UEFA Champions League chasers Arsenal. With four games to go, Sunderland are a point from exiting the relegation zone, while Arsenal have a four-point lead on Manchester United in the race for fourth — otherwise known as the Arsene Wenger trophy.

When these sides first met this season, back in December, it was the Gunners who enjoyed a 3-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium. Just over a month later, it was the Gunners with another 3-1 home victory over the Black Cats in the FA Cup third round. Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six PL games (three wins), while Sunderland have won just once during that time (four draws).

INJURIES: Sunderland — Emmanuel Eboue (suspension) | Arsenal — OUT: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Santi Cazorla (achilles), Carl Jenkinson (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Jack Wilsere (leg)

[ MORE: Saturday — Man City, Chelsea score 4; Liverpool draw Newcastle ]

Leicester City vs. Swansea City — 11:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra

For the first time all season, Claudio Ranieri has acknowledged Leicester’s PL title chances and ambitions. Is it a sign that the pressure is finally getting to the Italian “tinkerman” and his players, or an inevitable byproduct of the four remaining games on the fixture list? It’s without a doubt the latter, but perhaps a bit of the former, as well.

The big story this week has been Jamie Vardy’s status, and whether or not his suspension will ultimately cost Leicester the title. It shouldn’t matter too terribly much against lowly Swansea, though, should it? Now on 40 points, 10 clear of the relegation zone, what do the Swans have left to play for … other than the “greatest spoilers of all time” crown? If Swansea can pull it off, Tottenham Hotspur will be frothing at the mouth ahead of their Monday kickoff versus West Bromwich Albion.

INJURIES: Leicester — OUT: Jamie Vardy (suspension) | Swansea — None

Premier League preview: Merseyside Derby and two matches with Top Five implications

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We’ve already had one surprise this Premier League midweek, as Newcastle held its ground against Manchester City for what could be a big Tuesday point.

[ MORE: Newcastle-Man City recap | Townsend, Anita on goal ]

Now, will City’s stumble be the only points dropped by a trio of clubs playing Wednesday and harboring hopes of European play next season?

Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace — 3 p.m. ET (Premier League ExtraTime)

Louis Van Gaal‘s Red Army rebounded from his tactically errant second half against Spurs, at least in a sense, and will look to make it two wins on the bounce against a Palace team that has quietly gone unbeaten in four. A win would put United two points behind Man City while putting pressure on Arsenal ahead of their Thursday match.

The Eagles have also drawn three-straight road contests, and will look for their first road win of 2016.

Liverpool vs. Everton3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

The Merseyside Derby is one of the best and most fierce rivalries around, and Anfield is the home for this edition. Under fire Roberto Martinez could really use some momentum for his Toffees — and his job — while Jurgen Klopp has Liverpool thriving in the Premier League and the Europa League. Only Leicester and Spurs are in better form than Klopp’s crew, while Everton has just three points from its last six matches. Momentum is red.

West Ham United vs. Watford — 2:45 p.m. ET (Premier League ExtraTime)

The Hammers haven’t lost in a while, but they also have won in four. Frankly, Slaven Bilic‘s boys need a win against the visitors Hornets to stay in the race of Europe. A loss and a Liverpool win could leave the Hammers seventh. Throw in a Man United win, and the Irons would be six shy of fifth.