Premier League Previews

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Premier League Preview: Arsenal v. Southampton

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Two struggling sides meet Saturday at the Emirates Stadium when Unai Emery‘s Arsenal visits Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s Southampton (Watch Live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The host Gunners are winless and four and sit eight points back of the Top Four. Despite a wildly talented attack, gthey’ve scored just 16 goals in 12 matches and have a minus-1 goal differential.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Saints’ troubles are at the other end of the table, as Hasenhuttl’s men are living that Bottom Three life with just eight points from 12 matches.

Their problem has been scoring and conceding goals, though their 29 allowed markers is a bit inflated by the horrible nine-star embarrassment suffered against Leicester.


Injuries/suspensions

Arsenal: OUT — Dani Ceballos. QUESTIONABLE — Sead Kolasinac.

Southampton: OUT — None. QUESTIONABLE — Michael Obafemi.


Probable lineups

Arsenal: Leno; Tierney, Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers; Guendouzi, Torreira, Ozil; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

Southampton: McCarthy; Stephens, Bednarek, Vestergaard; Hojbjerg, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Djenepo; Ings, Redmond.


What they’re saying

Unai Emery on a possible Granit Xhaka return: “We have here some examples. For example, with Hector Bellerin. He told me two weeks ago he struggled here with the supporters sometimes when his performance was not the best. Also we have some other players who have had that situation. They come back. With Xhaka, I want to do the same. …  Also he is a good guy, a good player and he loves and respects Arsenal a lot, but knowing one day he made a mistake.”

Hasenhuttl on using the international break for good: “We had an intense week with a game against Brentford, which was a good test for us. We tried to go back to our basic fundamentals which is good for the players. We worked very hard and tried to show them how it can work. We had a good atmosphere in the sessions and in the game. The guys are following well, and that’s exactly what we need. Especially against big opponents because you have nothing to lose.


Prediction

It feels like both squads’ malaise should come to an end, but it’s only coming for one. We’re betting Xhaka has a nice return to the fold and Pepe shines to the tune of a 3-1 win for Arsenal.

Premier League Preview: Norwich City v. Watford

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Two teams more than a result away from safety hope to get a season-changing win at Carrow Road on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET, online at NBCSports.com).

Hosts Norwich City enter the match with seven points, the second worst total in the league to its visitors: basement-dwelling, winless Watford.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

“This will be like a big, big final for both teams,” said Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores.

Watford’s performances have improved dramatically, but the Hornets are six points back of 17th. Norwich has two more points, but their performances have been a far cry from the team that beat Man City and took Chelsea to the limit.


Injuries/suspensions

Norwich City: OUT — Timm Klose, Christoph Zimmermann, Grant Hanley. QUESTIONABLE — Mario Vrancic.

Watford: OUT — Domingos Quina, Danny Welbeck. QUESTIONABLE — Craig Cathcart.


Probable lineups

Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Tettey, Godfrey, Lewis, Cantwell, McLean, Buendia, Stiepermann, Hernandez, Pukki.

Watford: Foster, Masina, Kabasele, Dawson, Janmaat, Doucoure, Chalobah, Hughes, Pereyra, Deulofeu, Gray.


What they’re saying

Norwich boss Daniel Farke on the mood: “I think it’s important as a coach to face reality, you can’t make jokes and have fun, you’ve got to address the elephant in the room to help them regain confidence. I don’t punish my players, it’s about helping them improve and believe in themselves.”

The Hornets’ Flores on why this match matters: “It is not the end of the season but it is a big final for both of us and the way the game and result can change the future for both teams will be massive.”


Prediction

Troy Deeney comes off the bench to make a difference in his return from injury, and Watford wins 2-1.

Pulisic in ‘strong contention’ to start at Burnley

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Frank Lampard says Christian Pulisic is “in strong contention” for a start at Burnley after a pair of game-changing sub performances for Chelsea (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

American star Pulisic stole the ball that led to Chelsea’s winner last weekend versus Newcastle, and assisted Michy Batshuayi‘s decisive goal in the Champions League at Ajax.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Now to Turf Moor, where the bruises are as plentiful as the possession. Will Pulisic get into the XI?

“The way he’s played he deserves a starting place regularly in the last few weeks but so do others and that’s what I keep saying, it’s a nice problem that I have,” Lampard said. “It’s brilliant that he’s coming on and making the impact that he’s making and of course he’ll get his starts. It’s the reason he’s here.

“But we’ve got Callum Hudson-Odoi who’s top class against Newcastle last week at home. In terms of creation, Willian I think I kinda declared him our best player in the great patch that we had over four or five games. They are good options for me and Christian is getting stronger and more in the groove, and you keep seeing it with players, some you have to give them a bit of time, the young players. But he’s playing well so he’s certainly in strong contention.”

There could be a place for Michy Batshuayi or Reece James in the Starting XI as Lampard eyes rotation for the Blues’ third match in just over a week.

The Blues have taken advantage of a promising run of fixtures to climb into the Top Four on 17 points, and that run continues with Burnley, Watford, and Crystal Palace. Cup fixtures with Manchester United and Ajax are mixed in, so Saturday may present a prime chance to start Pulisic in a PL match and use his favored vets at midweek.

Burnley, meanwhile, saw a four-match unbeaten run end at Leicester City. The scrappy top-half Clarets are 1W-2D-1L in their last four trips to Stamford Bridge.


Injuries/suspensions

Burnley: OUT —  Danny Drinkwater, Johann Berg Gudmundsson. QUESTIONABLE — Chris Wood. PROBABLE —Ashley Barnes, Jack Cork.

Chelsea: OUT — Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Antonio Rudiger, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley, Andreas Christensen. QUESTIONABLE — None.


Probable lineups

Burnley: Pope, Pieters, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton, Brady, Westwood, Hendrick, McNeil, Wood, Barnes.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Alonso, Tomori, Zouma, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi, Mount, Pulisic, Batshuayi.


What they’re saying

Sean Dyche on Lampard’s performance at Chelsea: “A lot is made of the young players and they are doing really well but there is some really good players around them. If you look at that squad on paper. It is not like he went into a group of novice hurdlers, but he is adding to that and adding his own way as to how he wants the team to perform. You could see the pressing lines and the energy and the sharpness.”

Lampard on the Turf Moor challenge: “It’s a tough place to go. They have a strong way of playing, they are well drilled. They can give you big problems. It is a tough match. You have to respect the teams you play, it will be a physical battle.”


Prediction

Another tough, contested, but ultimately victorious days for the in-form Blues. There will be a scare at some point, but Chelsea finds a 2-1 win at Turf Moor.

Premier League Preview: Man Utd v. Liverpool

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It’s been a while since a Liverpool trip to Manchester United felt like such a heavy lift for the home team, but that’s precisely the case when Old Trafford is our scene for one of the biggest rivalries in the Premier League (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

United sits 15 points behind the unblemished visitors, and will be without Paul Pogba and David De Gea for the event.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Still, all is not lost; The Red Devils’ poor attack may see the return of Anthony Martial, who had a goal or an assist in all three of his PL matches this season before a hamstring injury cost him six weeks.

And Liverpool will be tasked with breaking down a United defense which has only allowed multiple goals twice this season (Crystal Palace, West Ham).

They’ll be confident of doing that, especially knowing that a win would match two Premier League records:

  • Most consecutive matches unbeaten in league play (18)
  • Most wins to start a PL season (9)

Those numbers also mean the Reds have won a remarkable nine-consecutive away matches in the Premier League. Not bad.


Injuries/suspensions

Manchester United: OUT — Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, David De Gea, Diogo Dalot. QUESTIONABLE — Anthony Martial, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard

Liverpool: OUT — Nathaniel Clyne. QUESTIONABLE — Mohamed Salah, Alisson Becker, Joel Matip


Probable lineups

Manchester United: Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; Fred, McTominay; Pereira, James, Martial; Rashford.

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Mane, Firmino, Salah.


What they’re saying

United’s Daniel James on his regular playing time: “When I joined that’s what I wanted to do. I wasn’t coming here just to be a squad player, but for the gaffer to believe in me and play me from the start, that’s something I want to continue to do.”

Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool’s status as heavy favorites“Sky made a combined line-up and had 11 Liverpool players. That’s like a joke, like building a banana skin. The world in the moment is a circus, and we are at the center: a couple of people want us to win, a couple want us to lose. I’m not influenced by it.”


Prediction

The ball is in Liverpool’s court here, though the possible but unlikely absence of Salah would loom large. The Pogba loss won’t be as glaring if Martial is able to return. Still, this has big Liverpool win written all over it, and asks the question of how much heart the Red Devils will show on behalf of its embattled manager? Even if it’s a lot, we expect something like 2-0 to Liverpool.

Premier League Preview: Southampton v. Liverpool

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Whoever is in goal for Liverpool, Southampton has a mighty task ahead of itself at St. Mary’s on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Liverpool was already without Alisson Becker when Adrian was injured in a freak accident after the UEFA Super Cup Final, though the Spaniard may be set to play. If he cannot go, it’ll be a Premier League debut for 35-year-old Danny Lonergan.

Let’s face it: It’s more rational for Southampton to hope the Reds are just a little weary after a busy week.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Kevin “Futty” Danso looks set to debut at center back against Liverpool, the youngster arriving from Augsburg at the end of the transfer window.

That’s quite a challenge against a front three while may well be Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah.

Thing is, the score line may not be as bad as Saints’ first outing. Southampton was dominated by Burnley in a 3-0 nightmare at Turf Moor.


Projected lineups

Southampton: Gunn; Valery, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Danso, Bertrand, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Ings, Adams.

Liverpool: Alisson, Robertson, Gomez, Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keita, Mane, Firmino, Salah


What they’re saying

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl after canceling a day off: “To invest time in my job is normal because we are in the Premier League where we play against the best teams in the world and the only chance to be successful against these teams is to do more than they do. If you do more than they do then you have the chance to be successful.”

Liverpool’s James Milner on playing under exuberant Klopp“He’s on the side and he’s bouncing around; he wants to be out there. That energy’s big for us when we’re down. He seems to judge it right in terms of when to put an arm round the shoulder after a game, if we haven’t played well or something. He knows what to say at half-time, of if you need a rocket he’ll give you that as well.”


Prediction

Danso is a bit of a wild card here. The 20-year-old Austrian is a remarkable talent, but it’s baptism-by-fire against Liverpool. Something tells us the Saints surprise, especially with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg returning to action. That surprise is just a tight game, though, with Liverpool emerging with a 2-1 win.