EPL commentator assignments on NBC, Gameweek 37

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NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the 2015-16 Premier League continues this weekend with matches across the networks of NBCUniversal.

Saturday’s live coverage on NBCSN kicks off at 7 a.m. ET with Premier League Live, immediately followed by Norwich City v. Manchester United at 7:45 a.m. ET.

Coverage continues at 10 a.m. ET, when NBCSN hosts coverage of Aston Villa v. Newcastle, and USA Network hosts coverage of Sunderland v. Chelsea. Coverage continues on USA with Premier League Live at Noon ET, immediately followed by Leicester City v. Everton at 12:30 p.m. ET. Coverage on USA wraps with Goal Zone at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Premier League coverage on Sunday begins at 7:30 a.m. ET with Premier League Live, followed by Tottenham v. Southampton at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage continues at 11 a.m. ET with a match between Manchester City and Arsenal on NBCSN. Coverage ends with Goal Zone at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Steve Bower hosts Premier League Live joined by Robbie Earle and Kyle Martino.

Here’s the schedule of commentator assignments for this weekend:

Saturday, May 7

Norwich vs. Man United, 7:45am, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra; Jim Proudfoot & Danny Mills

Aston Villa vs. Newcastle, NBCSN, NBC Universo and NBC Sports Live Extra; Gary Weaver & Andy Hinchcliffe

Sunderland vs. Chelsea, USA and NBC Sports Live Extra; Ian Crocker & Neil McCann

Bournemouth vs. West Brom, Premier League Extra Time and NBC Sports Live Extra; Joe Speight & Garry Birtles

Crystal Palace vs. Stoke, Premier League Extra Time and NBC Sports Live Extra; Gary Taphouse & Danny Higginbotham

West Ham vs. Swansea, Premier League Extra Time and NBC Sports Live Extra; Tony Jones & Tony Gale

Leicester vs. Everton, 12:30pm, USA, NBC Universo and NBC Sports Live Extra; Arlo White & Graeme Le Saux

SEE MORE: Where to find Premier League Extra Time on your cable or satellite TV system.

Sunday, May 8

Spurs vs. Southampton, 8:30am, NBCSN, Telemundo and NBC Sports Live Extra; Jon Champion & Andy Townsend

Man City vs. Arsenal, 11am, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra; Arlo White & Lee Dixon

Liverpool vs. Watford, 11am, Premier League Extra Time and NBC Sports Live Extra; Tony Jones & David Prutton

SEE MORE: Comprehensive guide to soccer commentators.

Leicester to hold Premier League title parade on May 16

London (AFP) – Leicester will hold their Premier League title parade on May 16, the newly crowned champions announced on Friday.

Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri and his players will travel on an open-top bus through the city before finishing at Victoria Park, where the squad will take to a stage in front of thousands of their adoring fans.

The team will be on stage at around 1800 GMT for an hour before the celebrations carry on around the city.

Leicester, one of the most unlikely champions in the history of English football, clinched the first top-flight title in their 132-year history on Monday after second placed Tottenham’s draw at Chelsea.

Captain Wes Morgan will be presented with the Premier League trophy following Leicester’s final home game of the season against Everton on Saturday and the midlands club conclude their fairytale season at Chelsea on May 15.

Tottenham’s Dembele hit with six-game ban over Costa clash

London (AFP) – Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele has been hit with a six-match suspension after being found guilty of violent conduct following his eye-gouge on Chelsea’s Diego Costa.

Dembele appeared to claw his fingers into Costa’s eye and down his cheek during Tottenham’s ill-tempered 2-2 draw at London rivals Chelsea on Monday.

The Belgium international wasn’t punished for the offence by referee Mark Clattenburg, but the incident was caught by television cameras and he accepted the Football Association’s charge.

“Mousa Dembele will serve a six-match suspension with immediate effect after he committed an act of violent conduct which was not seen by the match officials but caught on video,” an FA statement read on Friday.

“The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder accepted the charge but denied The FA’s claim that the standard punishment of three matches which would otherwise apply to this offence was clearly insufficient.

“An Independent Regulatory Commission upheld The FA’s claim at a hearing today and ordered that an additional three match suspension was appropriate.

“The player was involved in an incident with Chelsea’s Diego Costa in or around the 45th minute of the fixture at Stamford Bridge on Monday.”

It has been reported that Tottenham may contest the length of the ban, but at present Dembele, who played 36 times in all competitions this season, will now miss the last two matches of the current campaign against Southampton and Newcastle and the first four next term.

The 28-year-old’s clash with Costa was one of several ugly exchanges during the game at Stamford Bridge and both clubs have been charged by the FA for failing to control their players.

The game spiralled out of control as Tottenham blew a two-goal lead and conceded a late equaliser to end their hopes of catching Leicester, who were crowned champions as a result.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino conceded his team “crossed the line” but said he could understand their behaviour given the pressure of the title race.

“I think even if you play sometimes football with your friends, if you play for the honour, for the beers, or for the sandwiches, you want to win,” Pochettino said before the ban was announced.

“When you run and you go for the title, it is difficult sometimes to keep calm. I feel very proud of my players. I think we showed big character.

“Sometimes we crossed the line and if you cross the line you need to pay. We know the rules but I think it is a good lesson for us.”

Antoine Griezmann unfazed by criticism of Atletico Madrid’s ‘ugly’ style

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Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann doesn’t care about the criticism heaped on his side by disgruntled opponents.

Most recently, Arturo Vidal labeled Atletico’s style as “ugly football” after Bayern Munich were sent crashing out of the Champions League by the Spanish club.

Despite dominating the return fixture at the Allianz Arena – where the German side had 72.5 percent possession and 33 attempts at goal – Bayern Munich were undone by Antoine Griezmann’s away goal and Atletico Madrid’s tremendous defensive teamwork.

“We were superior,” Vidal said following the match. “We controlled the game, but we did not finish off the chances we had.

“Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

SEE MORE: Antoine Griezmann should be considered among the world’s best players

“They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

“The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.”

Most football ‘purists’ would agree with Vidal in regards to his criticism of Atletico Madrid’s tactics. However, during an interview with the Spanish publication AS, Griezmann dismissed the Chile international’s remarks and pointed towards the end result.

“We’re in the final and that’s the only thing that matters to us,” the France international said.

“Who cares what football we play? It works for us.”

Atletico Madrid have advanced to their second Champions League final in three seasons and are currently level on points with La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Griezmann went on to praise his manager, Diego Simeone, and admitted the Argentine coach changed his mentality as a player.

SEE MORE: Schedule of La Liga games on US TV and live streaming

“He always asks for more, he never wants you to slacken off – there should always be tension, in training in our games and he always seems to find the right words to say to you, so that you give everything and you’re at 100 percent,” Griezmann added.

“He has turned me into a better player, a goalscorer – before I didn’t score as many goals as I am now. I’ve also improved in training.

“Every day I learn from him – he’s turned me into a winner.”

Griezmann has scored 31 goals in all competitions this season and is now considered one of Europe’s top players.

Allegri set to sign new deal after Juve pledge

Milan (AFP) – Massimiliano Allegri is set to sign a new two-year deal with Juventus that will make him Serie A’s highest-paid coach, but only after the club agreed not to sell Paulo Dybala or Paul Pogba.

Widespread reports in Italy said Allegri, who has steered the Old Lady of Turin to successive league titles the past two seasons, will put pen to paper on Friday. 

It would see the 48-year-old Allegri, who led AC Milan to their last scudetto in 2011, increase his yearly salary from 3.5m euros to 5m per season, becoming in the process the highest paid coach in Italy’s top flight.

Allegri was being linked with a move to Chelsea or Real Madrid but a website report by La Repubblica newspaper claimed Juventus sealed the deal when they agreed to Allegri’s specific request on Argentina striker Dybala, who has hit a club-leading 16 goals, and French midfield star Pogba.

It represents an impressive turnaround for Allegri, whose career was up in the air after being sacked by Milan in January 2014 after the team let slip a 3-0 lead against Sassuolo to suffer a 4-3 defeat. 

As Milan continue to struggle, Juventus have flourished under the Italian. Last year, he led the Turin giants to their fourth consecutive league title, their first league and Cup double in 20 years and their first Champions League appearance since 2003.

Although outclassed 3-1 by Barcelona in Berlin last May and ousted from Europe’s premier club competition by Bayern Munich in a tight, last 16 tie decider earlier this season, Juventus have plenty of faith in Allegri.

John Elkann — the chairman and CEO of Exor, an investment company owned by the Agnelli family which owns Juventus — told media: “Last year was a very important one for us under Allegri and this year has confirmed that he is a great coach. Our future lies with him.”

Juve’s league triumph this season means they equalled their 1935 feat of winning five consecutive titles, and Elkann added: “We’ve achieved a very important feat of winning five successive titles.

“Even in the difficult times, we believed we could do it. The team showed amazing character and had an extraordinary season.”

Allegri has the chance to secure a second consecutive domestic double when Juventus play AC Milan in the final of the Italian Cup on May 21 in Rome.

Top clubs ready to pounce as Raphael Varane grows unsettled at Real Madrid

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Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane is unhappy with his current role at Real Madrid and is reportedly ready to leave the Spanish capital this summer unless he is given assurances from the club.

The 23-year-old France international has been the subject of speculation in the past. However, the young center-back would instantly quell those rumors by professing his desire to remain in Spain.

But recent developments have led to Varane questioning his long term future with the club.

Zinedine Zidane left the defender on the bench for Real Madrid’s last three Champions League matches (the quarter-final return leg against VfL Wolfsburg and both legs of the semi-final versus Manchester City).

In all likelihood, the manager simply preferred the defensive partnership of veterans Sergio Ramos and Pepe in the crucial European encounters. However, Varane’s omission has left him unsettled and the defender (and his representation) are now seeking assurances in regards to his role at the club.

Varane has featured regularly in Real Madrid’s lineup during a recent stretch of La Liga fixtures – which has seen Los Blancos gain ground on league leaders, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. But the 23-year-old has not been able to hide his disappointment at being benched during the club’s most important European fixtures of the season.

Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, and Manchester United are ready to capitalize on this breaking situation. The European giants have previously contacted Real Madrid officials regarding the player. However, at the time, they were informed the player was happy in Spain and was not for sale.

But recent developments have apparently unsettled the France international.

If Varane were to leave, a likely destination would be alongside his former manager Carlo Ancelotti, who will take control of Bayern Munich next season. The Italian tactician enjoyed a good relationship with the young defender during his time with Real Madrid and a reunion with his former boss in Germany would surprise no one.

SEE MORE: Schedule of La Liga games on US TV and live streaming

The future of Jose Mourinho could also determine the player’s destination. The Portuguese manager favored Varane during his time with Real Madrid and continues to be a huge admirer of the defender.

Should Mourinho resurface with Manchester United or Paris Saint-Germain (or another European club), it can be expected that his side would make a run towards signing the talented, young centre-back.

This will be a situation to keep an eye on over the coming weeks.

Oxlade-Chamberlain out of Euro 2016 – Wenger

London (AFP) – England’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss the Euro 2016 finals in France after Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Friday the Gunners winger has suffered a new knee injury which will sideline him for up to two months.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has not played since injuring a knee in the Champions League defeat by Barcelona on February 23.

He was due to play for Arsenal’s Under-21 team earlier in the week but has now sustained a second knee problem.

“There is no chance,” Wenger said when asked if Oxlade-Chamberlain could make the European Championship after confirming he faces six to eight weeks out.

“I had a conversation with Alex and with our medical team and they told me he will back in July. He was out for a while and was not overloaded with games.

“You want a guy of 22 years of age to go to the European Championships so it is very sad.”

“It’s very bad. He’s an impact player as well so he could have had a great contribution to England’s success.

“England had quite a few problems up front so I think it’s bad news.”

Injured Gundogan to miss Euro 2016

Berlin (AFP) – Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan will miss Euro 2016 after suffering a dislocated kneecap in training with Borussia Dortmund, his club announced on Friday.

“Season — and European Championship — finished!…Get well soon, Illy,” said Dortmund on their official twitter feed, revealing the news of the serious injury suffered by the 25-year-old.

The former Nuremberg player has been capped 16 times by Germany but already missed his country’s triumph at the 2014 World Cup because of a long-term back injury.

He previously went to Euro 2012 but did not feature at all during the tournament.

Stoke City unveil home and away jerseys for 2016/17 season

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Stoke City have unveiled their new home and away jerseys for the 2016/17 season, designed and manufactured by Italian company Macron.

The Potters will wear the new home kit for the first time when they meet West Ham at the Britannia Stadium in their final game of this season on Sunday, May 15.

The home kit shows a classic red and white stripe, while the blue away kit draws inspiration from the strips worn in the late 1970s and early ‘80s and which figured in the promotion winning season of 1978/79.

As well as the fully embroidered Stoke City crest and the Potters back neck branding, the away shirt features an embossed S which adorned the first ever Stoke Kit back in 1882, as well as red press studs at the collar and a red and white tab to the back neck.

A small collar on the home shirt with red and white stripe underside underlines Macron’s Italian flair and craftsmanship.

Browse the latest Stoke City jerseys and merchandise.

Stoke City home jersey 2016/17

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Stoke City away jersey 2016/17

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Leicester City unveil home jersey for 2016/17 season

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Premier League champions Leicester City have unveiled their new home jersey for the 2016/17 season.

The new Leicester home jersey is a bolder design, featuring collars as well as a gold trim down the sleeves. If you look closely, you can also see that the front of the shirt includes subtle, textured blue stripes running vertically down the jersey.

While it’s not revolutionary, the Leicester home jersey from Puma is unmistakably Leicester City through and through.

Browse the latest Leicester City jerseys and merchandise.

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New Guardiola clash with medical staff

Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola’s already tense relations with the club’s medical staff have worsened over insinuations by the Spaniard that they take too long to rehabilitate injured players, Bild reported Friday.

The claims came after Bayern crashed out of the Champions League semi-finals at the hands of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

According to Bild, Guardiola turned on his medical staff, asking how Atletico had managed to get Uruguayan Diego Godin back on the pitch for Wednesday’s game after the key defender had missed the first leg through injury.

“At Atletico, Godin quickly came back to fitness. Why can’t you lot manage that? Why do injuries last so long for us?” Guardiola said.

Bild said one of the medical staff retorted: “He can’t say that, you don’t have the right to say that! You have all the players at your disposition. All except (Arjen) Robben and (Holger) Badstuber!”

The newspaper reported that witnesses saw France international Frank Ribery intervene “to avoid the worse”.

Guardiola, who joins Manchester City next season, has often had run-ins with the club’s medical staff. Noted doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt left the club in April 2015 after almost 40 years after relations with the Spanish coach cooled.

Sevilla down Shakhtar to reach another Europa final

Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla remained on course for a third consecutive Europa League title as Kevin Gameiro struck twice to down Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 and progress to a final meeting with Liverpool 5-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The Andalusians have won the competition four times in the last 10 years and can secure their place in next season’s Champions League with victory over Jurgen Klopp’s men in Basel on May 18.

Already holding the cushion of two away goals from the first leg last week, Gameiro gave Sevilla the perfect start when he fired into the far corner after just nine minutes.

Former Arsenal striker Eduardo briefly gave the Ukrainians hope when he levelled on the night with a calm finish a minute before half-time.

However, Sevilla quickly reasserted their stranglehold on the tie with a fine team goal finished off by Gameiro two minutes into the second-half for his 28th goal of the season.

Brazilian right-back Mariano handed Sevilla a two-goal advantage they never looked like relinquishing when he smashed home a stunning third just before the hour mark from outside the box.

Daniel Sturridge sends Liverpool into Europa League final

Photo credit: AFP

Photo credit: AFP

Daniel Sturridge was involved in all three goals as Liverpool impressively beat Villarreal 3-0 at Anfield on Thursday to set up a Europa League final date with holders Sevilla.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Liverpool leveled the tie when Bruno Soriano put through his own goal under pressure from Sturridge, who scored the second goal in the 63rd minute before helping to tee up Adam Lallana for a late strike that completed a 3-1 aggregate win.

It took Liverpool into their first continental final since the 2006-07 Champions League, preserving Jurgen Klopp’s hopes of finishing his first season as manager with both a trophy and a place in Europe’s elite competition next season.

“Wonderful night, brilliant game from my side. What a performance,” Klopp told BT Sport.

“Everyone spoke a lot about this team before I came here. It was all about quality and not good transfers. I came here because I thought they had a nice squad, but now we are in the final. Basel. A longer season!”

Villarreal, for whom center-back Victor Ruiz was sent off, had been bidding to reach their first ever major final.

But they could console themselves with the knowledge that following Sunday’s 2-0 win at Valencia in La Liga, their place in next season’s Champions League play-offs is already secure.

“The early goal was a hammer blow,” said beaten coach Marcelino. “We tried hard after that, but it was tough against an opponent who played with a huge amount of intensity.”

Sevilla, seeking to win the competition for the third season running, won 3-1 at home to Shakhtar Donetsk for a 5-3 aggregate success.

But for all their recent pedigree in the competition, Liverpool will approach the final with significant momentum, having previously seen off both Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund in the competition.

– Gameiro brace –

Anfield was staging its first game since the new inquests into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster ruled that 96 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed and a stirring pre-match rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, the club anthem, helped to electrify the atmosphere.

There were early scares for the hosts when Simon Mignolet had to save from Mario Gaspar and Jonathan Dos Santos curled over, but in the seventh minute they leveled the tie.

Nathaniel Clyne’s cross from the right was pushed away by Villarreal goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, but Roberto Firmino turned the ball back across goal and with the sliding Sturridge getting a touch just in front of him, Bruno contrived to bundle the ball into his own net.

Shortly after, Lallana scuffed wide from James Milner’s superb, curved pass down the inside-right channel.

Villarreal survived the onslaught, but the noise and early setback appeared to have rattled them and striker Roberto Soldado, formerly of Tottenham Hotspur, was booked after a series of indiscretions.

After Philippe Coutinho, the tireless Milner and Sturridge had threatened for Liverpool, and Dos Santos headed over the bar for Villarreal, Klopp’s men scored their crucial second goal.

Firmino miscued his attempt to larrup a left-foot volley towards goal from the edge of the box, but the ball ran to Sturridge, whose shot clipped Areola, struck the base of the right-hand post and rolled in.

Having been left on the bench for Liverpool’s previous three games in the competition, the England striker celebrated with abandon.

Ruiz saw red after a pair of bookings and with nine minutes to play it was all over as Firmino did brilliantly to reach the left-hand byline and cut the ball back for Sturridge, whose mishit shot was alertly poked home by Lallana.

In Seville, where the tie resumed at 2-2, former Arsenal striker Eduardo gave 2009 champions Shakhtar hope by cancelling out Kevin Gameiro’s ninth-minute opener for the hosts.

But Gameiro struck again early in the second half before a 59th-minute Mariano strike rubber-stamped victory for Unai Emery’s side, who will go in search of a third consecutive Europa League trophy in Basel on May 18.

Sunderland unveil home jersey for 2016/17 season

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Sunderland Football Club have unveiled their new home jersey for the 2016/17 season.

The new Sunderland home jersey features the familiar red and white stripes, but this time the jersey has a gold trim, which boosts the overall look and feel of the design.

The shorts are Sunderland’s traditional black, with gold detailing. Red socks make a return for 2016-17 and feature black and gold accents.

Browse the latest Sunderland jerseys and merchandise.

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Top 5 must-see soccer games on US TV this weekend

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With the Premier League champions now confirmed, attention will turn to the bottom of the division this weekend, as there are three vital games in the race to stay afloat in the top flight.

Two of them—involving sides in the bottom three hosting illustrious names, as does a clash to determine which side will join Burnley in the top tier from 2016-17; that one is a classic case of winner takes all.

Rounding off what should be a gripping weekend is a local derby which will play a critical role in determining the Spanish champions, as well as a showdown between two of Major League Soccer’s heavyweights.

All kick-offs are in Eastern Time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!

 

Middlesbrough vs. Brighton & Hove Albion

Saturday, May 7, 7:30AM, beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS en Español, fuboTV and SlingTV

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Middlesbrough are in the box seat to join Burnley in the Premier League next season via automatic promotion, although their final day tussle with Brighton & Hove Albion is primed for drama.

That’s because Brighton know they can still take one of the top spots if they were to go to the Riverside and win. Chris Hughton’s team froze in front of their own fans on Monday, knowing a win over Derby would have handed them an advantage heading to the North East; a 1-1 draw means only three points will do now.

After letting a 2-1 lead slip against Birmingham City on Friday night, Boro will be relieved to still be in a strong position to progress. Aitor Karanka’s side were by far the better team at St. Andrew’s, with a selection of decisions going against them on the night. Nevertheless, as a side who have only lost twice at home all season, they are big favorites heading into the clash.

Brighton’s task will be made even more difficult by the fact star center-back Lewis Dunk will miss the game after his red card against Derby. However, with the pressure and expectation on the home side, perhaps the visitors will play with the kind of freedom which has pushed them into this position to begin with.

 

Norwich City vs. Manchester United

Saturday, May 7, 7:45AM, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra

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Norwich City’s penultimate home match of the season needs to be a memorable one if the Canaries are going to stay afloat in the top flight, as they gear up to face Manchester United in a clash they need to win.

The Canaries seemed to be moving in the right direction earlier in year, with crucial consecutive wins secured over West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United. However, the defeat to Crystal Palace and subsequently Sunderland seem to have really set Alex Neill’s men back. Coming into this one, they trail 17th place Newcastle United by two points with a game in hand.

United’s season isn’t quite over with yet. While they were held to a draw by Leicester City in their previous outing, Manchester City’s loss to Southampton has pulled them back into the battle for fourth spot. If the Red Devils win, they’ll move one point behind City, who face Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Norwich can heap massive pressure on their rivals with a win too, as three points would push them above Newcastle and temporarily into a position of safety. However, a loss here could all but seal their fate as the second side to be relegated alongside Aston Villa.

 

Sunderland vs. Chelsea

Saturday, May 7, 10:00AM, USA and NBC Sports Live Extra

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Regardless of what goes on at Carrow Road on Saturday lunchtime, the match between Sunderland and Chelsea at the Stadium of Light later in the day is going to be crucial.

The Black Cats gave themselves a massive boost in their previous contest, when they were able to snatch a last gasp point against Stoke City. Jermain Defoe netted from the spot in stoppage time and throughout this tussle to stay afloat in the top flight, his ability to bag key goals has left many thinking Sam Allardyce’s side have an edge.

Chelsea are something of an unknown commodity, though. Without the carrot of ending Tottenham Hotspur’s title challenge dangling in front of them, it’ll be fascinating to see what kind of performance the Blues put in in the North East. Encouragingly for Blues fans, Eden Hazard at least looked back to his usual self in the clash against Spurs.

Undoubtedly, this is a bigger game for Sunderland, though. Allardyce’s side have proven tough to beat on home soil under his guidance and showed they can cope with classy opposition when Arsenal came to town not too long ago. With Newcastle performing well under Rafael Benitez, and visiting Villa on the day, three points here would be a huge boost to their survival chances.

 

Barcelona vs. Espanyol

Sunday, May 8, 11:00AM, beIN SPORTS Español, fuboTV and Sling TV

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Just two wins stand between Barcelona and another league title, although Sunday’s visitors to the Camp Nou, local rivals Espanyol, will be out to spoil the party.

Having drawn each other in the Copa del Rey earlier this year, this will be the fourth time these two enemies have come face-to-face in 2015-16. And it’d be fair to say the previous three meetings were especially feisty affairs, with neither side holding back when it came to the physical side of the game; Espanyol were reduced to nine men in the cup at the Camp Nou.

For Barcelona, there’s plenty at stake. Wins for Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid last weekend kept the pressure on the Catalan giants and while they delivered with a 2-0 win at Real Betis, there were a few signs of nerves, even for a football club as illustrious as the Blaugrana. Slip up here and the title could be gone.

Espanyol could still feasibly be dragged into a relegation battle and while that’s unlikely there’s still something for them to play for in terms of their own season. They’re a team who can occasionally raise their game when faced with the iconic blue and red jerseys too and would relish being the side to deliver a devastating blow in Barca’s quest for glory.

 

DC United vs. New York City FC

Sunday, May 8, 8:30PM, FOX Sports 1, FOX Soccer 2GO & MLS Live

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After finally getting a victory under their belt last weekend, New York City FC head to DC United trying to find some consistency.

Patrick Vieira’s side were involved in a stunning contest on Saturday, as they edged Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2, their first win since the opening day of the season. David Villa bagged a brace, Andrea Pirlo dictated the game and while the defensive issues which have hampered this team continue to emerge, it was evident just how much these three points meant.

The challenge will be to repeat those standards at a very difficult venue. DC United may not have had the best beginning to the season, languishing down in fifth position in the Eastern Conference, but Ben Olsen’s side are a strong on home soil and will feel capable of exposing NYCFC’s longstanding woes at the back.

Both of these sides will feel capable of achieving something memorable this season and while there’s a long way to go in the regular season yet, wins in these kinds of matches can trigger a run. For each team, a victory could be so important.

Most-watched live soccer games on US TV for weekend of April 29 to May 2, 2016

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Out of the 40 soccer games shown live across US television last weekend, the Premier League game between Manchester United and Leicester scored the most number of viewers, almost breaking the 1 million number, for the game that was shown on NBCSN. The match was also televised live on Telemundo but those viewing numbers aren’t publicly available. It’s fair to say that the overall viewing number may have broken the 1 million barrier, which is incredibly impressive considering that Leicester City was bottom of the league 12 months ago and heading for relegation.

NBC Sports also achieved impressive viewing numbers for their Arsenal-Norwich game (on NBC) as well as Monday’s Chelsea-Spurs battle that was shown on NBCSN.

Not surprisingly, Barcelona and Real Madrid continue to attract big numbers as well as Liga MX’s Club America.

Outside of those teams and leagues, the Bundesliga finally generated a decent TV viewing audience for a game that wasn’t shown on FOX. It’s been a while, but the 215,000 people who tuned in to watch Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes underlined the fact that Leverkusen, not Bayern Munich, is now the most popular Bundesliga team in the United States (thanks to Chicharito).

Out of curiosity, one number that isn’t listed below is the TV viewing audience for Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg between Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid. That game was watched by 458,000 people on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes combined. The viewing number wasn’t as great as the first leg between the two teams, which was watched by 655,000 people across FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes.

Pos. Teams No. of viewers TV Network Game time (ET) Date
           
1 Manchester United vs. Leicester City 908,000 NBCSN 9-11am Sun., May 1
2 Arsenal vs. Norwich 868,000 NBC & NBC Universo 12:30-2:30pm Sat., April 30
3 Southampton vs. Manchester City 543,000 NBCSN 11:30am-1:30pm Sun., May 1
4 Real Betis vs. Barcelona 528,000 beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS en Espanol 2:30-4:30pm Sat., April 30
5 Chelsea vs. Spurs 443,000 NBCSN & NBC Universo 3-5pm Mon., May 2
6 Club America vs. Monterrey 436,000 Univision Deportes & UniMas 6-8pm Sat., April 30
7 Tigres vs. Veracruz 427,000 Univision Deportes & UniMas 8-10pm Sat., April 30
8 Bournemouth vs. Everton 329,000 NBCSN 10am-Noon Sat., April 30
9 Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid 318,000 beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS en Espanol 10am-Noon Sat., April 30
10 Portland vs. Toronto 302,000 ESPN 4-6pm Sun., May 1
11 Atletico Madrid vs. Rayo Vallecano 261,000 beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS en Espanol 12:15-2:15pm Sat., April 30
12 Sporting KC vs. LA Galaxy 259,000 FOX Sports 1 & FOX Deportes 8:30-10:30pm Sun., May 1
13 New York Red Bulls vs. FC Dallas 243,000 Univision Deportes & UniMas 7-8:30pm Fri., April 29
14 Queretaro vs. UNAM 232,000 Univision Deportes 9-11pm Fri., April 29
15 Swansea vs. Liverpool 218,000 NBCSN 7-9am Sun., May 1
16 Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin 215,000 FOX Sports 1 & FOX Deportes 12:30-2:30pm Sat., April 30
17 Newcastle vs. Crystal Palace 206,000 USA & NBC Universo 10am-Noon Sat., April 30
18 Jaguares vs. Atlas 168,000 Univision Deportes 10pm-Midnight Sat., April 30
19 Toluca vs. Cruz Azul 149,000 Univision Deportes 1-3pm Sun., May 1
20 Leon vs. Pachuca 105,000 NBC Universo 9-11pm Sat., April 30
21 Granada vs. Las Palmas 101,000 beIN SPORTS en Español 4:30-6:30pm Sat., April 30
22 Valencia vs. Villarreal 70,000 beIN SPORTS en Español 2:30-4:30pm Sun., May 1
23 Bayern Munich vs. Monchengladbach 45,000 FOX Sports 2 9:30-11:30am Sat., April 30
24 Werder Bremen vs. Stuttgart 45,000 FOX Sports 1 & FOX Deportes 2:15-4:15pm Mon., May 2
25 Deportivo vs. Getafe 42,000 beIN SPORTS en Español 12:15-2:15pm Sun., May 1
26 Espanyol vs. Sevilla 39,000 beIN SPORTS en Español 10am-Noon Sun., May 1
27 Darmstadt vs. Frankfurt 37,000 FOX Deportes 9:30-11:30am Sat., April 30
28 PSV vs. Cambuur 33,000 Univision Deportes 8:30-10:30am Sun., May 1
29 Augsburg vs. Cologne 33,000 FOX Sports 2 2:30-4:30pm Fri., April 29
30 Porto vs. Sporting 31,000 Univision Deportes 1:30-3:30pm Sat., April 30
31 Las Palmas vs. Espanyol 26,000 beIN SPORTS en Español 2:30-4:30pm Fri., April 29
32 PSG vs. Rennes 19,000 beIN SPORTS 2:30-4:30pm Fri., April 29
33 Malaga vs. Levante 16,000 beIN SPORTS en Español 2:30-4:30pm Mon., May 2
34 Bolton vs. Hull 14,000 beIN SPORTS 8-9:30am Fri., April 29
35 Juventus vs. Carpi 14,000 beIN SPORTS en Español 6:30-8:30am Sun., May 1
36 Lazio vs. Inter 13,000 beIN SPORTS 2:45-4:45pm Sun., May 1
37 Genoa vs. Roma 13,000 beIN SPORTS 1-3pm Mon., May 2
38 AC Milan vs. Frosinone 11,000 beIN SPORTS 9am-11am Sun., May 1
39 Napoli vs. Atalanta 8,000 beIN SPORTS 3-5pm Mon., May 2
40 Rayo OKC vs. Indy Eleven 6,000 beIN SPORTS 8-10pm Sat., April 30

Note that viewing figures for soccer games shown on the over-the-air Univision network or Telemundo have not been made available.

SEE MORE: Browse through all of the TV ratings data from now through 2006

HT SportsTV Ratings

Pep Guardiola faces toughest challenge of his managerial career at Manchester City

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The position that Pep Guardiola stepped into at Bayern Munich three years ago this summer was not, in many ways, an enviable one.

The Spanish coach was preparing to take over a team that had just won the Champions League, Bundesliga, and German Cup in one of the most successful seasons in the club’s storied history. There was virtually no room for improvement. Nothing to build towards.

But Guardiola’s was also a position that no other manager could have attained. When he arrived in Germany in 2013, Guardiola wasn’t just a manager. He was the manager.

That’s the why Guardiola got the job. If it had been any other coach returning from a year long sabbatical, Bayern wouldn’t have been interested. They would have happily continued winning under well-liked German coach Jupp Heynckes.

But Guardiola chose Bayern, and Bayern was thrilled. And because it was Guardiola, it didn’t matter that Heynckes was well on his way to winning the treble. He was moved aside.

Bayern’s press release announcing the hire of Guardiola in the middle of the 2012-13 season insisted that the Heynckes was retiring – a stance that was later compromised by the admission of then-Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness that the German coach was retired more than he was retiring.

Bayern should have been careful what they wished for. Guardiola hasn’t been a failure in Germany, per se – his team is about to clinch a third Bundesliga title in three years – but he certainly hasn’t been an qualified success.

On Tuesday night, Bayern exited the Champions League against Atletico Madrid on away goals – their dramatic 2-1 victory in Tuesday night’s second leg not enough to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the Vicente Calderon Stadium.

It’s a defeat that means Guardiola – who announced in December that this would be his last season at Bayern – will exit the club without a Champions League success. In all of his three seasons, Bayern lost in the semifinals.

There were rationales for those defeats – especially when an injury crisis deprived Bayern of a fair shot against Barcelona last year – but the collective of losses against three different Spanish clubs is a difficult one to reconcile.

SEE MORE: Ilkay Gundogan can be a key presence at the crux of Guardiola’s Manchester City

The first of those losses was an absolute humiliation against a Real Madrid team coached by Carlo Ancelotti, the man who has been lined up to take over for Guardiola in Munich next season.

And Guardiola has done Ancelotti another favor. By failing to win the Champions League this year while building a superb and flexible team, he’s made himself a fine act to follow.

And some in Munich may greet Ancelotti with open arms for reasons separate from soccer.

From taunting Bayern’s team doctor of 40 years into resignation last year, to his classless refusal to shake Caleb Porter’s hand at the 2014 MLS All-Star game, Guardiola was, at times, petulant and difficult to work with.

Removed from the haven that was Barcelona at the beginning of his coaching career, Guardiola struggled in stressful moments – both to win games, and to hold his nerve.

Make no mistake: Bayern played terrific soccer under Guardiola, and they had plenty of success. But unmitigated success in Germany was always going to be extremely difficult to achieve. Guardiola’s timing made sure of that.

But the timing at Manchester City – the club announced as Guardiola’s next destination in February – might be just right.

It’s a club in desperate need of rebuilding and refocusing – not just in terms of personnel, but also in terms of football philosophy.

SEE MORE: Schedule of Premier League games on US TV and live streaming

This job isn’t a slam-dunk. Even though the Premier League appears wide open next year, City weren’t even close to winning it this term. Despite their valiant Champions League run, the Citizens have looked more tired than inspired for the better part of two years.

If Guardiola can make European champions out of City, he’ll have done something truly remarkable. With the anomaly of Chelsea’s extraordinary run in 2012, English teams have been an afterthought in the Champions League since the turn of the decade.

Conquering England, and then Europe via England, will be the most difficult challenge of Guardiola’s career.

The core of his Barcelona teams was already in place when he was hired. It was much the same at Bayern, where, despite a host of big-money signings, the club’s most important players were the same men who won the treble under Heynckes’ direction.

At City, though, Guardiola will be able and will very likely have to build from the ground up.

Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, City’s last two managers, were both very capable in their very different ways. But Guardiola has held the mantle of savant. This next stint will show us if he’s really a cut above – or just a very good coach who has coached very good teams.

Celtic unveil home jersey for 2016/17 season

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Scottish Premiership champions Celtic have unveiled their new home jersey for the 2016/17 season.

Designed by New Balance, the legendary Celtic FC hoops have been refreshed in Fern green and Optic white; finished with gold trim around the sleeve cuffs and shoulder seams– a testament to the club’s success. The green gradient hoops are designed to evoke the nostalgia of the 2003 UEFA Cup Final. The iconic words ‘A club like no other’ as spoken by legendary Celtic FC player, coach and manager Tommy Burns, are displayed on the back neck tape and to the inner hem.

The shorts feature a classic all-white design trimmed with gold piping, paired with socks in white with a green gradient hoop.

The goalkeeper kit is constructed with engineered Flex fabric zones to offer a greater range of movement, these zones are identified by contract heat transfers. The striking Toxic colour design with black shoulder Flex panels is complemented with Toxic colour shorts and socks.

Celtic FC Captain Scott Brown said: “The famous green and white Celtic jersey, and now with gold trim, is a continuous reminder of the hard work, dedication and success that makes this club so great. It is a fundamental and iconic part of our history. It’s great to see the jersey looking so fresh with this new design for next season. I know all the players will feel proud to wear this kit.”

Order the Celtic FC home jersey today.

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