Fulham appear to be frontrunners for Clint Dempsey’s temporary services – but is it the right move?

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Reports are starting to spring up across England that Clint Dempsey’s loan destination is likely to be his old club Fulham.

The 30-year-old Texan made a well-known exit from Craven Cottage under Martin Jol, falling out with the manager before jumping ship to Tottenham Hotspur.

His time at White Hart Lane was short lived, heading out to Major League Soccer, but with Dempsey’s club form dropping rapidly since leaving SW6, a reunion might not be the worst thing in the world for his confidence.

British rapper Example, a very open Fulham supporter, tweeted at a fan yesterday saying Dempsey had told him he was returning to Craven Cottage.

The fan asked him “You hear @clint_dempsey’s coming home? he turned down West Ham for #ffc” referring to a report by the ever-reliable ZapSportz.com (who?).  Example replied with the following:

source:

The tweet has since been deleted, but what goes up does not always come down on the internet.

Dean Jones of The People also said on the Fulham fan show Cottage Talk that it’s a “very probable” move and that “next week things will seriously move on.”

But does a spell at Fulham – reportedly a 2-month loan – really make sense for the USMNT star?

source: Getty Images
It wasn’t long ago that Dempsey was on top of the world at Craven Cottage, winning Player of the Season two consecutive years in 2010/2011 and 2011/2012.

With Jol out at Fulham and Rene Meulensteen managing in his stead, the move is an understandable one for both parties…somewhat.

Fulham are struggling in 18th place, trying desperately to avoid relegation that would halt a 12-year run in the English top flight.

With just three points in their last seven matches, results have been hard to come by at Craven Cottage, and the return of a both talented and familiar player would be a massive boost to Meulensteen’s squad.

However, there’s a flip side.

Meulensteen’s preferred tactics are still a relative unknown, but if his first win with Fulham – a 2-0 triumph over Aston Villa last weekend – is any indication, it may not be a perfect fit for Dempsey.

The Dutch manager swapped out Jol’s static 4-2-3-1 formation for a more technically sound 4-5-1, placing the central midfielders in an inverted triangle and eliminating the CAM position altogether.  That trio of midfielders – Giorgis Karagounis, Steve Sidwell, and Scott Parker – ran the show and tamed an Aston Villa squad that has been fantastic away from Villa Park.

If that continues, Dempsey’s only real spot on the team (assuming Dimitar Berbatov stays to man the striker slot) would be on the wing, which has been a revolving door at Fulham this season, with everyone showing flashes of talent but nobody doing enough to lock down a spot. Alex Kacaniklic, Adel Taarabt, Pajtim Kasami, and Ashkan Dejagah have all given Fulham a youthful shot in the arm, but only for short spurts.

Other teams interested in the loan signature of Clint Dempsey appear to include West Ham and Stoke City.  It’s not exactly a given those two teams would be a fit for him either.

Stoke City would be especially poor. They are also relatively full on the wings with Marko Arnautovic playing exceptionally well.  The style of play there is also not exactly suitable to Dempsey, with Mark Hughes still sometimes reverting to the Tony Pulis long-ball days of old.

Where do you see Clint ending up? And more importantly, where do you think the best location is for him to thrive?

Pep sticking with Bravo for final: “Locker room more important”

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Petr Cech and Ederson will watch from the bench as their clubs start the League Cup Final on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola announced that Manchester City will turn to Claudio Bravo between the sticks against Arsenal, which has already appointed David Ospina as its backstop for the final.

[ MORE: Europa League draw ]

And if you think Pep, having seen his side lose to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup, should go back to Ederson for the final, he gets it.

“You can have an opinion, I am the manager. We are here for Claudio. He saved two lots of penalties. He deserves to play in the final. The locker room is more important than the final.”

The points aren’t completely independent, of course, but at this point the final is pretty darn important as Man City could see its trophy potential drop from 4-2 in little more than a week’s time.

Bravo has played just 45 minutes in the Premier League, against Liverpool in relief of Ederson, but has been the man for each of eight League and FA Cup matches.

City has just one clean sheet in that group, but won the seven matches apart from the 1-0 Wigan defeat. Two of those, against Wolves and Leicester, came in penalty kicks.

Arsenal gets AC Milan in Europa League Round of 16

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Arsenal’s path to the UEFA Champions League just got a whole lot tougher.

[ MORE: Arsenal loses 2nd leg, advances ]

Already eight points back of the Premier League’s Top Four, the Gunners have drawn Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan in the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The first leg is March 8 at the San Siro before moving to the Emirates a week later.

Milan is currently 7th in Serie A despite its big-spending summer, and faces a similar problem to the Gunners; Gattuso’s men need to make up eight points on Lazio and seven on fifth-place Inter Milan.

Elsewhere, Moscovian sides CSKA and Lokomotiv got no favors with trips to Lyon and Atletico Madrid, respectively.

Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund will be pleased to see Red Bull Salzburg, while the latter’s sister club, RB Leipzig, was held apart from it by a draw with Zenit Saint-Petersbug.

Here’s the draw in full.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16
Lazio vs. Dynamo Kiev
RB Leipzig vs. Zenit St Petersburg
Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
CSKA Moscow vs. Lyon
Marseille vs. Athletic Bilbao
Sporting Lisbon vs. Viktoria Plzen
Borussia Dortmund vs. Red Bull Salzburg
AC Milan vs. Arsenal

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.