Barcelona's Song heads the ball during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi

Arsene Wenger puts the kibosh on Alex Song’s return

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Arsenal are in need of a physically imposing holding midfielder.

Alex Song is in need of a club that appreciates his services.

Arsenal once loved Song.

Song once loved Arsenal.

Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?

Well, maybe. But it’s still not happening, says Arsene Wenger.

The Frenchman put the rumors to bed on Thursday when he explained that there is no buy-back clause in Song’s contract. Wenger explained the situation after Song’s cousin – Rigobert Song, announced that the player was not enjoying life in Spain.

“This season he has only been a substitute,” Rigobert said. “He is not happy. At Arsenal he was a leader on and off the field – he doesn’t feel like this in Spain and it makes him feel bad.”

It probably didn’t make Alex feel much better to have his cousin blow up his spot, but hey, that’s what family is for, right? Problem was, not only did it prompt Wenger to put the kibosh on Song returning to Arsenal this season, but it convinced the manager to explain that Song actually needs to stay longer at Barcelona.

“I heard he wants to give it a go for another season, which you can understand because it’s the first season,” Wenger said. “I think he’s a quality player and sometimes the players have to insist when it doesn’t go well and not change his mind too soon.

“My personal advice for him would be to give it another go and after two seasons he can still make a decision.”

Wenger’s comments, while undoubtedly depressing to Song and his cousin, underline the respect the manager has for players owned by other clubs and his refusal to perpetuate transfer rumors. Ironically enough, it was the Frenchman who, for two years, had to deal with incessant rumors and comments out of Barcelona when the Blaugrana had its sights fixed on Cesc Fabregas.

The rumblings were never addressed or diffused by authority figures at Barcelona. Not that they had to be – the vast majority of football clubs do little to silence transfer rumors that could potentially disrupt a club. Point being, for all the grief Wenger gets as a manager there are few classier individuals in the game.

As for Arsenal’s holding midfield options, few rumors have been circulating although West Ham’s Mohamed Diame, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and Bayern Munich’s Luiz Gustavo are all players who would seemingly fit the bill.

Stoke 1-1 Sunderland: Defoe grabs late point for Black Cats

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - APRIL 30:  Jermain Defoe of Sunderland converts the penalty to score his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Sunderland at the Britannia Stadium on April 30, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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  • Defoe scores late PK
  • Arnautovic put Stoke up
  • Black Cats slip into bottom three
  • Stoke without a win in five

Stoke City and Sunderland drew 1-1 at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday with Jermain Defoe scoring a last-gasp equalizer to grab a big point for the Black Cats.

Stoke had taken the lead through Mark Arnautovic and went close to adding a second through Giannelli Imbula but Defoe went down in the box in stoppage time and stepped up to equalize.

With the point Sunderland now have 32 points with three games to go, while Stoke have 48 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Stoke started brightly and Peter Crouch‘s header just missed Arnautovic and Vito Mannone tipped the ball wide for a corner.

Sunderland threatened on the break and Patrick Van Aanholt hit a low drive which Jakob Haugaard gathered comfortably.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

An even first half played out at the Britannia with Arnautovic whipping in a great ball from the left which just missed everyone, while Sunderland failed to pour forward.

Crouch went close again with another header after Phil Bardsely’s deep cross found him but his effort was inches away from creeping into the far bottom corner.

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Arnautovic smashed an effort over after getting free in the box and Defoe forced Haugaard into a save down low but the first half ended 0-0.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Five minutes into the second half Arnautovic put Stoke in the lead with a cool finish as the Austrian has now scored 11 goals for the Potters in the PL this season.

Sunderland pushed for an equalizer and Defoe sent an overhead kick over the bar after Jan Kirchhoff‘s cross and the Black Cats pinned Stoke back in their own half for the closing stages. A rare break forward from Stoke saw Imbula go clear but he missed a golden chance to wrap the three points up for Mark Hughes‘ side and they were punished late on.

In stoppage time U.S. national team defender Geoff Cameron tripped Defoe in the box and the predatory forward picked himself and scored the spot kick. 1-1.

Sunderland’s players and fans celebrated like they’d won but coupled with Newcastle’s victory, they slip into the relegation zone. However, crucially, Sunderland have a game in hand.

Watford 3-2 Aston Villa: Late surge wins it for Hornets

WATFORD, ENGLAND - APRIL 30:  Troy Deeney of Watford celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and Aston Villa at Vicarage Road on April 30, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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  • Two late goals from Deeney
  • Villa led twice
  • Cissokho sent off
  • Villa now lost 11-straight

Watford beat 10-man Aston Villa 3-2 at Vicarage Road on Saturday in a wild encounter in Hertfordshire.

Aston Villa twice took the lead twice through Ciaran Clark and Jordan Ayew but Watford’s Almen Abdi had equalized right on half time. Until Aly Cissokho was sent off in the second half things were looking pretty for Villa but two late Troy Deeney goals — Deeney is a fan of Villa’s arch-rivals, Birmingham City — turned the game on its head.

Watford have now secured their Premier League status for another season and sit on 44 points, while Villa remain bottom on 16 points and have now lost a club record 26 games this season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford started the better of the two teams and pinned Villa back into their own half.

Odion Ighalo cut inside and had his effort saved by Mark Bunn and then the Hornets came agonizingly close to taking the lead.

Ben Watson controlled the ball and sent a magnificent volley towards the top corner but it hit the crossbar and bounced out. So close.

Moments later, though, dominant Watford were behind. An Ashley Westwood corner from the left found Clark and he headed home. 1-0 to Villa as they converted their first chance of the game.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Villa nearly doubled their lead just before the break but Jordan Ayew sent his stooping ahead against the post and moments later it was 1-1. A free kick right on half time saw Abdi step up and curl the ball up and over the wall and into the bottom corner. Hornets level.

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At the start of the second half Villa came flying out of the traps and Ayew put them back ahead with a fine finish. 2-1.

Rudy Gestede then went close as Villa closed in on just a fourth win of the season but then a potential second away win of the season was thrown into jeopardy.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ikechi Anya raced free and last man Cissokho was adjudged to have fouled him and received a straight red card. Cissokho looked to have got a little on the ball and Villa could feel hard done by to be down to 10-men.

It took Watford until the 90th minute to make that advantage count as Deeney scored twice in three minutes to spark wild scenes at Vicarage Road and hand the Hornets a win which secured their PL status for another season.

Everton 2-1 Bournemouth: Cleverley, Baines gets USMNT’s Howard a win

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 30: Tom Cleverley (C) of Everton celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Goodison Park on April 30, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
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  • Goals traded in 1st 10 mins
  • Baines wins it with tidy finish
  • Howard nabs win in “tribute”

After a moving tribute to the Hillsborough 96, Tom Cleverley and Leighton Baines handed Everton boss Roberto Martinez a much-needed win.

Marc Pugh scored for Bournemouth, which fell 2-1 to the Toffees at Goodison Park on Saturday.

USMNT keeper Tim Howard, off to Colorado after the season, was given a rare start and the captain’s armband in what could be the start of a fitting send-off for the Everton veteran.

Everton is in 11th with 44 points, while Bournemouth’s 41 peg them 14th.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The fireworks were early, and controversy was in the house as well.

Cleverley collected the last pass of a neat bit of Everton possession, and cut neatly to give the Toffees the lead with a left-footed shot in the 7th minute.

But minutes later, Everton defender Matt Pennington was shoved aside by Callum Wilson on the left side. No call came, and Pennington stopped to remonstrate for a second as Wilson shouldered the ball forward. The move ended with Pugh beating Howard, and it was 1-1.

The second half saw chances sprinkled to both sides before Aaron Lennon‘s cutback carried through the 18 to Baines, who popped a clever high shot past Artur Boruc. 2-1.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Newcastle United 1-0 Crystal Palace: Townsend, Darlow instant heroes in big win

during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Crystal Palace at St James' Park on April 30, 2016 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
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  • Magpies pull into 17th with win
  • Townsend scores
  • Darlow saves penalty

Andros Townsend‘s 58th minute free kick goal gave Newcastle a lead, and Karl Darlow saved Yohan Cabaye‘s penalty as the Magpies picked up a huge three points with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday at St. James Park.

The win lifts Newcastle out of the drop zone, a point ahead of Sunderland and two clear of Norwich City. Sunderland has a match-in-hand on their rivals.

Palace has 39 points, seven clear of the drop.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Darlow made a nice early stop on Connor Wickham in the first 10 minutes, while at the other end Wayne Hennessey stopped to collect a low Georginio Wijnaldum strike.

Newcastle midfielder Andros Townsend was dangerous but too happy to dribble, and the match remained scoreless after 15 minutes when his preference for his left foot wasted a chance in the 18.

Darlow had a few more saves, including a big stop on Yohan Cabaye, but there was plenty of danger when Yannick Bolasie broke down the left wing on a counter, only to belt a laser wide of the mark.

Chancel Mbemba took a rip from distance after an accidental touch from referee Mike Dean broke up a Palace counter, but Hennessey dove to make a stop.

Darlow made an important punch save as the match neared halftime, as Bolasie remained a danger for Palace.

Hometown midfielder Jack Colback curled a shot around the far post from 12 yards out in the 44th minute.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

A big cheer went around St. James Park when news of Stoke’s goal against Sunderland arrived, and Wijnaldum quickly came close to moving the Magpies out of the drop zone, only to see his shot blocked.

The Magpies won a free kick just 25 yards out from goal when Townsend was taken down one of his many long dribbles.

And the Englishman gave the play a fitting and deserved result with a remarkable free kick goal.

But a bizarre  call off a corner kick put Yohan Cabaye on the spot off a Moussa Sissoko handball. The former Magpies star stepped to the spot, and had his pen saved by Darlow.