Premier League Storylines

Top Premier League storylines for Championship Sunday

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Championship Sunday is less than 72 hours away, thus the end of the 2018-19 Premier League season is upon us. That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news: there’s still a few things left to be decided on Sunday, the final day of the season.

[ MORE: Spurs reach Champions League final | They’ll face Liverpool ]

All 10 games will kick off simultaneously, at 10 a.m. ET, across 10 different channels under the NBC Universal empire.

A champion will be crowned

Brighton v. Man City — on NBCSN [ STREAM ]
Liverpool v. Wolves — on NBC [ STREAM ]

After 38 games and just five losses between them (so far), one of Manchester City and Liverpool will end the PL season by lifting the trophy and spraying champagne in the locker room. The other will finish second with the third-highest points total in PL history (behind only Man City in 2018-19, and whoever wins the title on Sunday). It’s been an unbelievable title race: from City’s 15-game unbeaten run to start the season only being upstaged by Liverpool’s 20-game run, to the Reds holding a seven-point advantage at roughly the halfway mark, to City’s torrid comeback, to City’s current 13-game winning streak proving just too much for Liverpool’s eight-game run. Liverpool have lost just once all season — to City, on Jan. 3 — and they’re long shots to win the title with one game left to play. It sounds cruel, but such is reality against these defending champions.

Back-to-back Golden Boots for Salah?

Mohamed Salah has scored 10 fewer goals this season (22) than he did during his first campaign at Anfield (32), but that’s OK because so has everyone else. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the closest competition for Salah’s award — two behind the Egyptian, just as Harry Kane finished last season. Salah, by the way, is expected to play against Wolves after suffering a concussion and being stretchered off during last weekend’s victory over Newcastle United.

Champions of London up for grabs

Leicester City v. Chelsea — on CNBC [ STREAM ]
Tottenham v. Everton — on SYFY [ STREAM ]
Burnley v. Arsenal — on MSNBC [ STREAM ]

Well, someone has to finish third and fourth, even if it seems like a complete accident. Of the three London clubs still vying for a top-four place, only Chelsea have mathematically locked up Champions League qualification for next season. It’s down to the Blues and Tottenham Hotspur for the capital crown. Arsenal, meanwhile, trail Tottenham by three points — a deficit which could quite easily be overturned on the final day, especially given the emotional toll of Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal in Amsterdam — but it’ll take a gigantic rout on both ends to overturn Spurs’ eight-goal advantage in the goal differential column.

Two top-half places up for grabs

Leicester City v. Chelsea — on CNBC [ STREAM ]
Watford v. West Ham  — on Golf Channel [ STREAM ]

It might not sound like much, but to Leicester City (9th, 51 points) and Watford (10th, 50 points), finishing in the top half will go down as a satisfactory achievement. To West Ham United (11th, 49 points), however, it will have been the absolute bare minimum expectation to start the season, and it needs to be met. It just so happens that the 10th- and 11th-place sides, the Hornets and the Hammers, are set to square off at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

Top Premier League storylines for Week 36

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If you blinked and missed the first 35 weeks of the 2018-19 Premier League season — here’s hoping you didn’t — at least you’re here for what should be a thrilling sprint to the finish for each of the top-six positions, plus a desperate sprint away from the third and final relegation spot.

[ MORE: Man City win Manchester derby, inch closer to defending title ]

Liverpool look to re-apply the pressure on Man City
Liverpool v. Huddersfield, 3 p.m. ET, Friday, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]
Burnley v. Man City, 9:05 a.m. ET, Sunday, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

As Manchester City and Liverpool go back and forth in the PL title race, it’s Liverpool who’ll go first in Week 36 and look to leapfrog Man City once again before they take the field later in the weekend. Already-relegated Huddersfield Town are set to visit Anfield on Friday, which means the Reds could be two points clear of City for nearly 48 hours, until the Sky Blues visit 15th-place Burnley on Sunday. Liverpool have won six straight in league play, which would be deserving title-winning form if City hadn’t won 11 straight to not only remain top of the table, but also to get there in the first place. The title race should come down to the season’s final day, but we can’t get to Week 38 without first playing Week 36.


Red Devils’ last stand

Man United v. Chelsea, 11:30 a.m. ET, Sunday, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

This one is really quite simple: if Manchester United were to lose to Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday, they would fall six points back of the Blues — and fourth place — with just two games left to play. Given that their goal differential is already eight worse than Chelsea, their top-four dreams would be dead. On the other hand, it would be the highest remaining hurdle cleared by Chelsea who finish the season with games against Watford and Leicester City.


Bluebirds’ last stand

Fulham v. Cardiff City, 10 a.m. ET, Saturday, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Cardiff City, who currently sit 18th in the table and three points adrift of safety, will face 12th-place Crystal Palace and sixth-place Man United in their final two games of the season. It’s a tricky proposition should they need a victory in either game to avoid relegation. But first, a lifeline: a trip to Craven Cottage to take on already-relegated Fulham on Saturday. Would it be impossible for Cardiff to stay up without beating Fulham? Sure, but it doesn’t mean they should willingly go down that route.


Arsenal spiraling toward collapse

Leicester City v. Arsenal, 7 a.m. ET, Sunday, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Just a few weeks ago, Arsenal appeared the surging frontrunners to finish third. Tottenham Hotspur had blown a 10-point in a span of two weeks and the Gunners were hitting their late-season stride just in time to reinstate St. Totteringham’s Day. Now, Arsenal are the losers of three of their last four games, including a 3-1 no-show performance against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday, and no longer hold their destiny in their own hands. Unai Emery‘s side is in grave danger of not only failing to finish above Tottenham, but also of missing the Champions League, for a third straight season.

Top Premier League storylines: Week 35

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A pretty unique situation at the Etihad Stadium headlines another stop on the road to the Premier League title.


And we go again
Man City v. Tottenham Hotspur — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

As hard as it is to fathom Man City getting off the mat quickly following their Champions League exit at the hands of Spurs, it’s even more difficult to imagine the visitors traveling back to London and returning to Manchester with the same fire shown in Wednesday’s thriller.

Not only that, but how can the hosts ignore reminders of what happened against the visitors three days prior with the very same opponents staring them down, even if City is business-like? Frankly, no result would surprise us (unless someone hangs 10 goals or something truly absurd happens at the Etihad (again)).

Liverpool’s title train pulls into Wales to meet hopeful Bluebirds
Cardiff City v. Liverpool — 11 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

Cardiff City has new life in the race for Premier League survival, though Neil Warnock‘s men will hardly be expecting a point or three from Liverpool’s Anfield visit. That said, the Reds are coming back from Portugal and have been using Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah an awful lot. Here is where guys like Xherdan Shaqiri will, theoretically, need to step up.

Weary Everton seeks revenge against relatively rested Reds
Everton v. Manchester United — 8:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

You wouldn’t be stunned if Manchester United fans are having second thoughts about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Red Devils full-time boss, though they’d be over the same things — that defense — that worried Jose Mourinho. Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson will try to seize on that, and United’s midweek action versus Barcelona, at Goodison Park.

Stumbling Wolves hope to take advantage of sluggish Brighton
Wolves v. Brighton and Hove Albion — 10 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men have slipped back into their early season mold of having fine performances in big games but not fully arriving for the little guys. Brighton, now just two points clear of the drop zone, will hope that it can do as visitors what hosts Southampton and Burnley did to Wolves.

Magpies, Saints battle for assured safety at St. James’ Park
Newcastle United v. Southampton — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

The stakes here are pretty straight-forward: Win, and forget about relegation (Saints would still be mathematically alive for the drop with all three points, but it would be an extreme scenario involving fellow drop candidates running off wins over big sides).

Top Premier League storylines: Week 34

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There is plenty of intrigue as the Premier League returns beginning Friday with Newcastle United’s visit to Europa-hopeful Leicester City (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

[ PL PREVIEW: Leicester v. Newcastle ]


Weary Chelsea seeks revenge against relatively rested Reds
Liverpool v. Chelsea — 11:05 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com [ STREAM ]

With all due respect to the Reds’ remaining opponent, it’s not crazy to say this is the last match in which a logical argument could be made for the hopeful champions losing points in league play. Maurizio Sarri‘s back line is pretty calm under pressure, and the Blues have the dogs to put the Reds in unhappy places. But Liverpool has two more days rest than the Blues, who play Thursday in the Czech Republic.

Red Devils aim for response to poor midweek attacking
Manchester United v. West Ham United — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com [ STREAM ]

West Ham has lost three of four, all by 2-0 score lines, and now visit a wounded Manchester United seeking to regain its form ahead of a big trip to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

Man City seeks form rebound in visit to Selhurst Park
Crystal Palace v. Manchester City — 9 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com [ STREAM ]

Roy Hodgson‘s Palace men have challenged Man City before, and the reigning Premier League champions have not been in top form for some time. Can Hodgson help his former side Liverpool inch closer to a first Premier League crown?

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Away-challenged Arsenal meets confident Watford
Watford v. Arsenal — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com [ STREAM ]

Every few steps forward seem to meet a step back for Arsenal, who will have to deal with Europa League play in trying to overcome last week’s loss to Everton. The Hornets, for their part, are brimming with confidence in their bid to win the PL’s seventh place.

Cardiff City takes its safety hopes to Turf Moor
Burnley v. Cardiff City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com [ STREAM ]

Sean Dyche‘s improving Clarets can clinch Premier League safety with a victory against desperate Cardiff City, who would’ve circled this match as a prime chance to surge toward a great escape.

Top Premier League midweek storylines

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Five matches, three days, three match days.

Wild stuff; Yes, only in the Premier League can you get Chelsea’s Matchday 27 game on the same day Spurs play its Matchday 31, and Man City starts Matchday 33.

[ MORE: Arsenal tops Newcastle ]

The Premier League provides plenty of entertainment at midweek thanks to rescheduled matches from cup play, and each will put its own spin on the chase for places in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League.

Will Fulham join Huddersfield Town in the Championship?
Watford v. Fulham, 2:45 p.m. ET Tuesday on NBC Sports Gold, online via NBCSports.com

The second of three relegation spots could be sealed if the visitors cannot claim all three points (though even one would be close to enough given Fulham’s dreadful minus-43 goal differential). And its hosts won’t be sleepwalking, as Watford knows it can lay a solid claim to 7th should it win and Wolves not manage full points against Manchester United.

Red Devils, Wolves chase season goals
Wolves v. Manchester United, 2:45 p.m. ET Tuesday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com

It’s fifth versus seventh, though 17 points separate the Red Devils from host Wolves. Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men have wasted several chances to put a stranglehold on 7th, and may well be looking up at Watford by the close of business Tuesday. As for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United, they’ll want to reclaim third place before Spurs and Chelsea play 22 hours later.

Spurs FINALLY open their new stadium with a London Derby
Tottenham Hotspur v. Crystal Palace, 2:45 p.m. ET Wednesday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com

First the U-18s got their chance under Mauricio Pochettino‘s watchful eye, then the alums led by Robbie Keane and Jurgen Klinsmann. Now Spurs first teamers get their first 90 minutes on the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium turf with a visit from a Crystal Palace team which likes to entertain.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Can Man City clinch the goal differential tiebreaker on Wednesday?
Manchester City v. Cardiff City, 2:45 p.m. ET Wednesday on NBC Sports Gold, online via NBCSports.com

After getting hosed by a lack of VAR at the weekend, Neil Warnock‘s Cardiff City gets the reward of a visit to the Etihad Stadium. Warnock has hinted that he could go youth heavy, and Pep Guardiola will be licking his lips at the thought of using the club’s match-in-hand on Liverpool to expand City’s 7-goal advantage in differential should the title chase come down to tiebreakers. A win puts City back atop the PL table with six matches each to play.

Chelsea hopes for season sweep of Brighton, Top Four jump
Chelsea v. Brighton and Hove Albion, 2:45 p.m. ET Wednesday on NBC Sports Gold, online via NBCSports.com

Brighton beat Chelsea 2-1 in the sides’ first meeting… back in the 1933 FA Cup. A 1-1 draw followed in the 1967 versions of the same tournament, and it’s since been all Chelsea. Desperate Brighton will hope it’s overdue for a second win when it meets the Blues for the 12th time and makes up its match-in-hand on 18th place Cardiff City.