Premier League Roundup: Chelsea, Man United, Tottenham and West Ham all win

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On another dramatic day of Premier League action, we had a dazzling set of matches around the PL on Saturday in Week 21.

The big boys excelled, as Manchester United beat Swansea, Chelsea eased to victory away at Hull, Tottenham labored to all three points over Palace and Everton easily dispatched Norwich.

Aside from routine wins for the big boys, West Ham and Sunderland both picked up massive wins on the road against Cardiff City and Fulham respectively. Those basement boys badly needed a win as the relegation battle is heating up wonderfully, as plenty more teams have been sucked into the battle to survive.

MORE: Latest Premier League Standings

We have an action packed slate of matches coming your way on Sunday, so make sure you stay tuned to NBC Sports Network.

But right now, let’s run the rule over the seven PL games that took place on Saturday. Here are all the recaps, analysis and video highlights to unravel at your leisure.

Let’s get to it.

Cardiff City 0-2 West Ham United

There’s big wins… and then there’s this. A truly monumental victory for the Hammers, as Big Sam can breath a little easier tonight as West Ham scored in each half to bag a 2-0 win. Carlton Cole opened the scoring and a late Mark Noble strike compounded new Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer to defeat on his managerial debut in the PL.

Everton 2-0 Norwich City

The Toffees continue their impressive form as they sit fourth and are now just five points off leaders Arsenal. A stunning long-range effort from Gareth Barry in the first half opened the scoring, then Kevin Mirallas curled in a beautiful free kick to make it 2-0. The Canaries were well off the pace as Chris Hughton’s side sit perilously close to the relegation zone.

Fulham 1-4 Sunderland

Adam Johnson was the man of the moment for the Black Cats, as the tricky winger scored a hat trick at Craven Cottage to help Sunderland to their biggest win of the season. Sunderland raced into a 2-0 lead as Johnson and Ki scored in the first  half, Steve Sidwell pulled one back for Fulham (who had USMNT captain Clint Dempsey playing his first PL game since May 2013) to make it interesting but Johnson scored two more to seal a massive win for the Mackems.

Hull City 0-2 Chelsea

A composed and clinical display from Jose Mourinho’s side, as second half goals from Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres finished off a lively yet one-dimensional Hull City. Chelsea are top of the PL, with an easy victory proving just how solid they are as the Tigers never really looked like scoring.

Manchester United 2-0 Swansea City

Exhale… United fans. After losing three-straight games for the first time since 2001 to start off 2014, David Moyes’ men were back to winning ways with a relatively comfortable victory over Swansea at Old Trafford. In a nervy first half both teams cancelled each other out, but after the break strikes from Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck put United 2-0 up. The Red Devils were rampant and could’ve extended their lead, but the three points were the most important thing.

Southampton 1-0 West Bromwich Albion

The Saints huffed and puffed the entire game and finally broke through in the second half thanks to a delightful Adam Lallana strike. In the 66th minute the England international latched onto a fine reverse pass from Uruguayan Gaston Ramirez and finished superbly. Shane Long was stopped by Artur Boruc late on but the Baggies didn’t really deserve anything.

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Crystal Palace

Spurs struggled for most of the opening stages of this game, as Crystal Palace bossed the first half and Jason Puncheon missed a penalty with perhaps one of the worst PKs ever taken… No joke. A fired up Tottenham came out in the second half, as a verbal volley from Tim Sherwood got them going. Christian Eriksen opened the scoring with a blaster at the near post, then Toronto FC bound Jermain Defoe grabbed the second with a typically clinical finish. Spurs unbeaten in five and sit fifth in the league. AVB who?

Photo: Flamengo supporter tattoos club jersey on body

MAURÍCIO DOS ANJOS VIA VICE
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A supporter in Brazil has taken fandom to a whole new level with a piece of body art that shows his devotion to the club.

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

Maurício dos Anjos, a passionate Flamengo fan, has been a life-long supporter of the Rio de Janeiro-based club, and has the tattoo to prove it.

While it may look like body paint, Dos Anjos has a tattoo on the upper-half of his body depicting the Flamengo jersey, and it’s pretty awesome.

“People ask me if I don’t find it strange that I’m always wearing a Flamengo shirt. And I just don’t,” dos Anjos told VICE. “To me, it’s normal. But it doesn’t seem like anyone I talk to about it actually dislikes my tattoo.”

In total, Dos Anjos says the body work took over 90 hours and 30 sessions to complete the tattoo.

Has the perception of MLS really changed?

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When David Beckham arrived in Los Angeles back in 2007 his presence changed the complexion of Major League Soccer for all the right reasons, and the perception of the growing league changed.

[ MORE: Go behind the scenes at NYCFC’s new training facility ]

Over the years, MLS has strived to move into the upper-echelon of the global game, in an attempt to compete with the likes of the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga, but naysayers still indicate to this day that the United States’ top flight lacks the quality of the aforementioned.

Phrases like “retirement league” and “uninspired” have been used to describe MLS in the past, particularly when it comes to the league’s willingness to spend boatloads of cash on notable players well past their prime.

Examples such as Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Rafael Marquez have at times dampened the perception of MLS due to the lack of quality on the pitch from those players, along with several others that had previously boasted extensive resumes.

Now, we’re at a time where MLS has picked up its scouting, with clubs focused more on younger, more skilled talents from South America and Europe.

That has led to major signings over the past several years, such as Ezequiel Barco, Miguel Almiron, Diego Rossi and Jesus Medina, to name a few.

Has that changed the overall complexion of MLS though?

On Thursday, Kevin De Bruyne‘s agent, Patrick de Koster, suggested in an interview that the Belgium international would likely “finish” his career in MLS.

“For now, he’s very happy at this club,” De Koster said. “We always look what the best solution for the player, both financially and football wise. Kevin’s future? I can see him finish at Los Angeles.”

This comes on the heels of a 36-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining the LA Galaxy in a move that has sent shockwaves across the league and the world because of the Swede’s great presence on a global scale.

It’s not to say that players like Ibrahimovic, or previous signings like David Villa and Didier Drogba cannot help the overall growth of MLS, because they certainly bring an awareness to the matches and draw attention to their respective clubs.

However, the long-term viability of MLS has been and will continue to be sustained on youth players succeeding in the league, as well as being able to draw promising young talents into the top flight of the U.S.

Report: USMNT likely to face Brazil, Mexico in September friendlies

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The U.S. Men’s National Team won’t have a busy schedule throughout the summer, but Dave Sarachan and his side will get a tiny taste of the World Cup in September.

[ MORE: Chivas’ Almeyda exhales after CCL title win ]

ESPN FC is reporting that the USMNT will likely face Brazil and Mexico — both of whom will travel to Russia in June — later this year, as the U.S. Soccer Federation is in the process of finalizing both friendlies.

The matches are set to be played during the September international window, which runs from Sept. 3 through Sept. 11.

Both fixtures will reportedly be played in the United States, although venues haven’t been determined yet.

The U.S. has already begun booking a slate of difficult matches to round out 2018, with England and Italy already confirmed opponents for the Yanks in November.

The Yanks are 1-17-0 all-time against Brazil in all competitions, while the U.S. hasn’t faced Mexico since its 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca in June 2017 during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

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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