Martin Jol could be managing for his job against Cardiff

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With all eyes in London set to be trained on White Hart Lane on Saturday, it’s hard to notice that the match taking place down the road in SW6 is of the utmost importance.

At least, for Martin Jol it is.

The Fulham manager has been under fire much of this young season, as Fulham have floundered with disappointing results and are a chic candidate for many pundits to be flirting with the drop this season.

Under new owner Shahid Khan, Jol will have been looking to make a good impression on his new employer – instead, he’s blown a late lead to formerly goal-less West Brom, lost to Newcastle (again, very late), and lost twice to title-contenders Arsenal and Chelsea where Fulham were comprehensively outclassed and outgunned.

His only win thus far is the season-opener against Sunderland, who have ironically already fired their manager in Paolo Di Canio.

It would seem, then, that this match against Cardiff City Saturday afternoon would serve as a sort of litmus test for his managerial position.  Win, and he can breathe easy, at least for a few more weeks.  Drop points, and Shahid Khan will have some serious decision making to do.

Fulham have always kept a tight fist around their coffers, and it’s been something of a struggle for the Dutchman to find consistent quality in his side, but Jol has been criticized by many supporters for his tactics, which often have the appearance of playing for draws.  Fulham have created the second-fewest chances so far this season, with only their opponents this weekend having concocted fewer.

It would behoove fans to keep an eye on Jol’s job status going forward.  Khan has openly said he does not like to make staff changes midseason (a policy he’s stuck to with Jacksonville), but in his first foray into a sporting venture ripe with the fear of relegation, it will be interesting to see how he handles the added pressure.

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay endorsed Jol for the job ahead of this clash at Craven Cottage, pointing out Fulham’s somewhat surprising victory over Everton midweek in the Capital One Cup.

Many supporters, however, aren’t convinced. For a club that has been to a Europa League final four seasons ago and finished 12th, 9th, and 8th in the past three, steady growth is the goal.

It’s time for Fulham to get back on track, and they need to do it against Cardiff this weekend, or Martin Jol could be headed out the Cottage door.

Men in Blazers: Jurgen Klopp talks loss of Coutinho and more

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Roger Bennett talks with manager Jurgen Klopp about revolutionizing Liverpool, his Greatest Show on Turf-esque offense, the loss of Philippe Coutinho and how he keeps football in perspective.

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MLS: Higuain extends with Crew, Royer gets new deal with Red Bulls

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Two key midfielders earned new deals on Thursday, as two of the Eastern Conference’s recent successes helped solidify for their attacks for the next few years.

The Columbus Crew extended Designated Player attacker Federico Higuain through the 2019 MLS season.

Higuain has been with the Crew since 2012, when the Argentine joined the club from Colon de Santa Fe in his native country.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls extended Daniel Royer’s contract, as the Austrian winger in the midst of his third season with Jesse Marsch’s group.

Thus far, Royer has tallied 17 goals in all competitions for the Red Bulls, including 15 during the 2017 campaign, where the former Midtjylland player finished second on the team in goals behind Bradley Wright-Phillips.

UEL: Griezmann nabs crucial away goal vs. Arsenal, Marseille cruises

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A game of back-and-forth at the Emirates Stadium set up an enticing second leg in the UEFA Europa League semifinals, while a Ligue 1 side positioned itself well to move into the final.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Arsenal and Atletico Madrid settled for a 1-1 draw in London, as Antoine Griezmann’s late strike leveled the match for the Spanish side.

The Gunners looked on their way to a victory when Alexandre Lacazette‘s goal just beyond the hour mark put Arsene Wenger‘s men in front.

The result sets up a strong showdown for the two giants in a week’s time, although Arsenal will feel it left something on the table after racking up 26 shots (seven on target) on the day, particularly after Sime Vrsaljko was sent off after 10 minutes for the visitors when he picked up a second yellow card.

Meanwhile, Florian Thauvin and Clinton Njie gave Marseille a 2-0 win over Red Bull Leipzig, giving the French side the edge it sought out ahead of the competition finale.

The two clubs will meet again at Red Bull Arena Salzburg for the second leg.


Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Marseille 2-0 Red Bull Salzburg

Europa League, LIVE: Arsenal, Marseille host first legs

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Diego Costa brings a solid career record against Arsenal back to London in a bid to ruin Arsene Wenger‘s farewell season at the Emirates Stadium.

[ FOLLOW: Arsenal vs. Atleti ]

The now-Atletico Madrid forward returns to England on Thursday as his La Liga outfit aims to stop Arsenal from reaching next month’s Europa League Final in Lyon.

[ FOLLOW: Marseille vs. Red Bull Salzburg ]

That’s a 3:05 p.m. ET kickoff, the same as Marseille’s date with Red Bull Salzburg in France.

ARSENAL-ATLETICO MADRID LINEUPS

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Wilshere, Ramsey, Welbeck, Ozil, Lacazette. Subs: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Chambers, Kolasinac, Iwobi, Nketiah.

Atleti: Oblak, Lucas, Godin, Gimenez, Vrsaljko, Saul, Thomas, Koke, Correa, Griezmann, Gameiro. Subs: Werner, Savic, Gabi, Vitolo, Olabe, Torres, Costa.