Premier League Previews

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Premier League Preview: Fulham v. Cardiff City

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  • Bluebirds need points to keep PL status alive
  • Cardiff won 4-2 on Oct. 20
  • All-time series tied 25-12-25

Cardiff City’s hopes of a surprising run to Premier League safety could take a huge step on Saturday against Fulham at Craven Cottage (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Bluebirds would pull level on points with 17th place Brighton and Hove Albion with a Saturday morning win, a dollop of pressure added to the Seagulls’ minds before the marquee match-up with Newcastle United at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Fulham has won two-straight, toppling Everton and Bournemouth in performances fueled in part by Ryan Babel and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Babel has scored four goals and three assists during his half-season in London.

Cardiff has scored just three goals in its last five matches, three of which were 2-0 losses.

What they’re saying

Fulham interim boss Scott Parker on keeping up form: “For me personally as a little nugget it would be pleasing to win three in a row, but ultimately for the football club and as a team, that’s what pleases us most. … I often say that the starting XI are the face of the football club, but behind the scenes there are a lot of people who work tremendously hard up to that point on a Saturday to try and get three points so that they come in Monday morning with a smile on their face.”

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock on the prolonged relegation battle“In the situation we’ve been in from day one we knew it was going to be difficult,  but we’ve overcome all the doom and gloom and all the predictions and we’ve enjoyed it. We’ve still got our biggest challenge ahead and it’s an opportunity for the lads to put their names into the history books.”

Prediction

Cardiff keeps hope alive, but not with a three-point boost. Fulham finds the net, too, in a 1-1 draw.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. Burnley

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Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea can climb third in the Premier League with a defeat of improved Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues are the first team to play their 35th match in the group of four Premier League clubs vying for third- and fourth-place this season.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Burnley meanwhile knows a win would seal its already-likely place in the Premier League for 2019-20. Even a draw would probably do the trick given Cardiff City’s immense disadvantage in goal differential.

It’s really a must-win for the Blues’ Top Four hopes, because Chelsea will want cushion given a four-match PL, Europa League run of Manchester United, Eintracht Frankfurt, Watford, and Eintracht Frankfurt again.

What they’re saying

Chelsea boss Sarri on the Europa-PL schedule congestion: “It’s not easy for us, we have to play only four matches but we have to try. I think in the last four matches it will be difficult for every team involved in fighting for the top four, not only for us. And so we can see some very strange results in the last part of the season; we have to fight and to see at the end.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on transfer rumors for young star Dwight McNeil: “His worth to the team I’m more interested in, and that’s the way he’s delivering performances. I like his assuredness, he’s quiet, he’s calm, but there’s a toughness in there, particularly to have the ball. That’s something that can come and go with players, but he’s certainly got that desire to grip a game with the ball, ‘give me the ball, I want to do something’. That’s a powerful thing.”

Prediction

The Clarets will put up a good fight, but the extra day’s rest will be plenty for Chelsea, who may just claim a Top Four place and the Europa League… if it can deal with a tricky finish to the season. The tough run of fixtures means the Blues know at home to Burnley is a must-win. Chelsea, 3-0.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. Spurs

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  • Spurs won 3-1 at Wembley in PL
  • Chelsea won over 2 legs in League Cup semis
  • Chelsea leads all-time 69W-40D-54L

Two managers embroiled in weekend controversy look to put a positive spin on the drama when Chelsea hosts Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri was already under fire before goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga openly defied his substitution call late in the League Cup Final on Sunday, and the Blues were denied silverware when Man City won in penalty kicks.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

And Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino went bonkers on referee Mike Dean after Burnley beat his Spurs 2-1, an upset that put his side six points back of the table lead instead of three.

So it’s a big day for both men on Wednesday, with Spurs hoping to keep their feet in the title race and Chelsea keeping its eyes trained on the Top Four. The Blues are three points back of fourth place Arsenal.

What they’re saying

Kepa Arrizabalaga on his bizarre refusal to sub off in the League Cup Final: “Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation. I wanted to take the time today to apologise fully and in person to the coach, to Willy, my team-mates and to the club. I have done this and now I want to offer the same apology to the fans.”

Mauricio Pochettino on his post-match confrontation of referee Mike Dean“I hope I don’t repeat this type of situation. It’s not going to help my team, my club, the job of the referees and, of course, myself. I think I’m a very smart person who cannot repeat the same mistake. I was so frustrated after the game, so disappointed with the result. I didn’t want to justify the defeat and complain with the referee. It’s only that when you start to talk, your heart-rate starts to push.”

Prediction

Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son hits their stride, and Chelsea is just a bit too gassed after 120 minutes and a silverware setback on Sunday. Spurs 2-0.

Fans who want to try their hand at predicting PL games can down the NBC Sports Predictor app, with a chance to win up to $50,000 each week. Download it on iOS or Google Play.

Premier League Preview: Swansea City vs. Southampton

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  • Sides drew 0-0 Aug. 12 at St. Mary’s
  • West Brom relegated by non-draw
  • Saints lead all-time 33W-16D-20L

There’s gamesmanship afoot as Southampton prepares to visit Swansea City in a massive relegation six-pointer Tuesday at the Liberty Stadium (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online on NBCSports.com).

The Daily Mail claims that Southampton was denied its hotel reservations ahead of the crucial clash with claims of a virus in the building, only to learn that the hotel was accepting guests.

[ MORE: JPW on the $230m match ]

That’s ironic given Swans’ status as gracious hosts: Only Stoke has lost more home league matches than Swansea’s eight, though four of their six wins have come since Jan. 22

Southampton has shown a knack for getting points away from home, with eight draws and two wins amongst their 18 results.

But Saints will know three points are huge with a visit from Man City its final match of the season while Swans at home to already relegated Stoke City.

What they’re saying

Swans’ Jordan Ayew is counting on home field advantage“Time is running out, but we are confident when we play at home. With the support of the fans, we can beat any team. We’re not scared of anyone and we can get a lot of points at home. We know that we have two more tough games, but we can only take one at a time. Everything is in our hands and we need to win the games.”

Southampton’s Hughes on Saturday hero Redmond’s season struggles“Sometimes he was being too sure, rather than being the natural player he is but I thought he was excellent when he came on, clearly understood what was required of him and when we made the change, that shows he is engaged and focused on what is happening on the pitch.”

Prediction

Saints have more quality in attack, and that could be enough. Neither of these teams are particularly good at defending, and Swans will know it needs a win even more than their visitors. Call it 3-2 to Southampton in a thriller.

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Southampton

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  • Foxes won 4-1 on Dec. 13 at St. Mary’s
  • Southampton five points back of 17th
  • Saints lead all-time 32W-27D-26L

Southampton is running out of time to save its Premier League status, and makes up its match-in-hand on several clubs with a visit to Leicester City at King Power Stadium on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET, online via NBC Sports Gold).

Saints are five points back of 17th place Swansea City, though the Welsh side has also played 33 matches. They are six points behind Crystal Palace and seven back of Huddersfield Town and West Ham United.

Leicester is eighth after losing to Burnley, its Europa League hopes dashed with Everton and Newcastle nipping at their heels.

What they’re saying

Leicester City’s Claude Puel on finishing strong: “The right way, it is important to keep this momentum until the end and we will see when the players start in the game. [They must] give their best and maintain a good level in the team. We keep a serious ambition and we need to secure our place in the top half of the table. A lot of teams are close behind us so we need to continue.”

Saints’ Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on life in the relegation fight“The next few weeks is life-changing. Wherever our paths go, and wherever all our ways go, whether it’s short-term or long-term, this will all change our lives, this will all change our way of looking on football. I promise you, I promise to the fans, and I promise to the people standing outside, there is not one single person inside here who wants to be in this situation. There is not one person who actually thinks ‘Oh, this may be good for me in a way.’ Everyone is suffering.

Prediction

Claude Puel will be further motivated to get over on his old side, but Saints have a lot of firepower for what should be a wide-open game against sometimes-dicey back lines (often dicey in the case of Southampton). 2-2.