Relegation

Premier League Relegation Watch: Who’s primed to go down (Matchweek 28)

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With only nine points separating 12th placed Hull City from last placed Fulham, the Premier League relegation race is set to come down to the wire.

With Matchweek 28 complete, here’s where the relegation watch currently stands.

12. HULL CITY 30 PTS (28 PLD)

Remaining Matches (10): Manchester City (H); West Bromwich Albion (H); West Ham United (A); Stoke City (A); Swansea City (H); Manchester United (A); Arsenal (H); Fulham (A); Aston Villa (A); Everton (H)

League Form: LDWLWL

Other Competitions: FA Cup (v. Sunderland on March 9th)

Injuries: Robbie Brady, groin (no return date); Paul McShane, ankle (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 10/1

Verdict: With the exception of this past weekend, there is nothing about Hull City that makes them look like a side facing relegation.

13. STOKE CITY 30 PTS (28 PLD)

Remaining Matches (10): Norwich City (A); West Ham United (H); Aston Villa (A); Hull City (H); Chelsea (A); Newcastle United (H); Cardiff City (A); Tottenham (H); Fulham (H); West Bromwich Albion (A)

League Form: LWDDLW

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Peter Odemwingie, calf (March 8th); Oussama Assaidi, knee (no return date); Robert Huth, knee (March 8th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 16/1

Verdict: The Potters have what looks to be the easiest end of the season schedule of any relegation threatened sides. It would be shocking if they went down.

14. SWANSEA CITY 29 PTS (28 PLD)

Remaining Matches (10): Arsenal (PPD, A); West Bromwich Albion (H); Everton (A); Norwich City (H); Hull City (A); Chelsea (H); Newcastle United (A); Aston Villa (H); Southampton (H); Sunderland (A)

League Form: WLWDLD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Pablo Hernandez, hamstring (no return date); Jonjo Shelvey, hamstring (no return date); Michu, ankle (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 12/1

Verdict: They have a number of quality players beaten up but Swansea have too much swagger and too easy a final schedule to go down.

15. NORWICH CITY 28 PTS (28 PLD)

Remaining Matches (10): Stoke City (H); Southampton (A); Sunderland (H); Swansea City (A); West Bromwich Albion (H); Fulham (A); Liverpool (H); Manchester United (A); Chelsea (A); Arsenal (H)

League Form: DLDLWL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Robert Snodgrass, wrist (no return date); Ricky van Wolfsfinkle, knee (no return date); Leroy Fer, hamstring (no return date); Jonas Gutierrez, calf (March 8th); Michael Turner, hamstring (March 15th); Elliot Bennett, knee (March 29th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 2/1

Verdict: Norwich’s season will be determined in the next six weeks via matches with relatively easy opponents. After that, the road gets darn near impossible with Liverpool, United, Chelsea and Arsenal closing out their season.

Without Snodgrass, van Wolfsfinkel and Fer it’s going to take a herculean effort from Chris Hughton’s men – and a little bit of luck – if Norwich are to stay up. I worry for the Canaries.

16. CRYSTAL PALACE 27 PTS (27 PLD)

Remaining Matches (11): Everton (PPD, A); Southampton (H); Sunderland (A); Newcastle United (A); Chelsea (H); Cardiff City (A); Aston Villa (H); West Ham United (A); Manchester City (H); Liverpool (H); Fulham (A)

League Form: WWLWLD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Kagisho Dikgacoi, back (no return date); Joe Ledley, hip (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 15/8

Verdict: Their brilliant run of form (winning three of four) has come to an abrupt stop and reality is setting in for Palace. They’re relatively healthy, have a game in hand and a schedule that’s favorable to staying up but it will be air tight for Tony Pulis’ side.

17. WEST BROMWICH ALBION 25 PTS (27 PLD)

Remaining Matches (11): Sunderland (PPD, H); Manchester United (H); Swansea City (A); Hull City (A); Cardiff City (H); Norwich City (A); Tottenham (H); Manchester City (A); West Ham United (H); Arsenal (A); Stoke City (H)

League Form: DLDLDD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Billy Jones, hamstring (no return date); Claudio Yacob, hamstring (March 8th; Nicholas Anelka, suspension (April 12th); Stephane Sessegnon, groin March 8th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 5/2

Verdict: They’ve been horrible of late and face a difficult schedule down the line. With the unproven Pepe Mel at the helm and injuries to four key starters, Baggies fans will be low on confidence.

18. SUNDERLAND 24 PTS (26 PLD)

Remaining Matches (12): Manchester City (PPD, A); West Bromwich Albion (PPD, H); Crystal Palace (H); Norwich City (A); Liverpool (A); West Ham United (H); Tottenham (A); Everton (H); Chelsea (A); Cardiff City (H); Manchester United (A); Swansea City (H)

League Form: WDWWLL

Other Competitions: FA Cup (v. Hull City on March 9th)

Injuries: Keiren Westwood, shoulder (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 7/4

Verdict: Despite being favored to go down the Black Cats have been steadily improving and have two games in hand on their fellow relegation contenders. Bowing out of the FA Cup could prove vital for Gus Poyet’s side, who face an incredibly difficult schedule down the run.

19. CARDIFF CITY 22 PTS (28 PLD)

Remaining Matches (10): Tottenham Hotspur (A); Fulham (H); Everton (A); Liverpool (H); West Bromwich Albion (A); Crystal Palace (H); Southampton (A); Stoke City (H); Sunderland (A); Newcastle United (A); Chelsea (H)

League Form: LWLDLL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Craig Noon, knock (no return date); Mark Hudson, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/5

Verdict: With their horrid current form and new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer showing little signs of being able to maneuver Cardiff through this mess, the Bluebirds look destined to go down.

20. FULHAM 21 PTS (28 PLD)

Remaining Matches (10): Cardiff City (A); Newcastle United (H); Manchester City (A); Everton (H); Aston Villa (A); Norwich City (H); Tottenham Hotspur (A); Hull City (H); Stoke City (A); Crystal Palace (H)

League Form: LLDLDL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Brede Hangeland, head injury (no return date); Damien Duff, knock (no return date); Fernando Amorebieta, muscle injury (no return date); Matt Briggs, groin (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/4

Verdict: Will decent talent and Felix Magath help Fulham do the impossible? A doable end of the season schedule says there’s a chance.

Brazil will play Colombia in friendly for air crash victims

CHAPECO, BRAZIL - DECEMBER 03:  A fan pays tribute to the players of Brazilian team Chapecoense Real at the club's Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco, in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, on December 03, 2016. The players were killed in a plane accident in the Colombian mountains. Players of the Chapecoense team were among the 77 people on board the doomed flight that crashed into mountains in northwestern Colombia. Officials said just six people were thought to have survived, including three of the players. Chapecoense had risen from obscurity to make it to the Copa Sudamericana finals scheduled for Wednesday against Atletico Nacional of Colombia.  (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Brazil will play Colombia in a friendly match at the end of January to help victims of the air crash that killed most of the players, staff and directors of soccer club Chapecoense last week.

Spokesman Douglas Lunardi also said on Monday that the Brazilian football confederation will donate about $ 1.5 million to Chapecoense.

Nineteen of Chapecoense’s players were killed in the crash just outside Medellin, Colombia, as the Brazilian team headed to the first of two matches against Colombian club Atletico Nacional to determine the champion of the Copa Sudamericana – Latin America’s No. 2 club tournament.

[ MORE: U.S. Soccer’s Player of Year finalists ]

Earlier, South America’s football confederation Conmebol officially gave the title of the 2016 edition to Chapecoense, as Atletico Nacional requested.

Lunardi said the venue will be decided by Chapecoense directors and that all the ticket office revenues will go to the families of the victims. The most obvious choices, he said, are the historic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro and Chapecoense’s Arena Conda.

“The decision will be between making that tribute at home or get a bigger revenue for the victims,” Lunardi told The Associated Press. “We will let them take their time to make that decision.”

Maracana has a capacity of 78,000 and has hosted two World Cup finals as well as the opening ceremony of the last Olympic Games in August.

Arena Conda is a 22,000-seater. It hosted a memorial service on Saturday for 50 of the 71 victims.

Chapeco, the city of the club impacted by the tragedy, has 200,000 residents and sits about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) south of Rio.

In a press conference in Chapeco, Chapecoense’s president Ivan Tozzo said the club will decide the venue for the match in the next few days. He also said that the donation from the confederation will help cover the expenses for the memorial services.

UEFA Champions League preview: Arsenal in Basel, Man City hosts Celtic

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Raheem Sterling of Manchester City takes on Stuart Armstrong of Celtic during the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and Manchester City FC at Celtic Park on September 28, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
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The final week of group stage matches in this season’s UEFA Champions League are upon us, and only a pair of berths remain in Tuesday’s groups.

Those are in Group B, where Napoli, Benfica, and Besiktas enter the day a point a part. Only Dynamo Kyiv has been eliminated, and they’ll host a Besiktas side which is in the catbird seat. If the Turkish side wins, it will finish above either Napoli or Benfica.

Benfica is at home to its Italian rivals, with both sides on 8 points. And they’ll each head to the knockout rounds of Besiktas (7 points) fails to earn a result.

[ MORE: U.S. Soccer’s Player of Year finalists ]

As for our Premier League contestants, Arsenal looks pretty locked into the second seed in Group A. Trailing PSG after a 2-2 draw in London, the Gunners head to Switzerland to face Basel. Arsenal needs to better PSG’s result against visiting Ludogorets Razgrad.

Manchester City hosts Celtic knowing it’s already clinched second place in Group C and cannot catch leaders Barcelona. Expect youth.

In Group D, things are also settled with Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich 1-2 regardless of what happens in their match in Germany. Atleti is the only team which can finish the group stage 6-0. The last team to achieve that 2014-15 Real Madrid, who swept Basel, Liverpool, and Ludogorets Razgrad.

Tuesday’s UCL schedule
PSG vs. Ludogorets Razgrad
Barcelona vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
Bayern Munich vs. Atletico Madrid
Manchester City vs. Celtic
Basel vs. Arsenal
Benfica vs. Napoli
PSV Eindhoven vs. Rostov
Dynamo Kyiv vs. Besiktas

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Everton’s Bolasie needs ACL surgery, will miss AFCON

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Jose Mourinho manager of Manchester United reacts as Yannick Bolasie of Everton is given treatment during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on December 4, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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This is a big blow to Everton, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Yannick Bolasie is set for a long spell on the sidelines after suffering an ACL injury in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United.

The 27-year-old attacker has played in every match for the Toffees, and is an electric attacking threat. He has one goal and four assists in PL play this season, after nabbing five and four for Palace last season.

[ PL: Grading the superstars’ seasons ]

A $32 million buy from Crystal Palace, Bolasie will miss the Africa Cup of Nations next month and likely send the Toffees into the transfer market.

Manager Ronald Koeman has made no secret of his Memphis Depay admiration, and this could tip Everton’s hand.

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Aubameyang raises transfer eyebrows in midst of otherworldy season

LISBON, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 18: Pierre Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund in action at the warm up during the UEFA Champions League match between SC Sporting and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Jose Alvalade on October 18, 2016 in Lisbon, Lisboa. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images
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Game changer, season changer, title changer.

It’s hard to find a phrase that would overstate what it would mean if a club could pry Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from the hands of Borussia Dortmund.

Aubameyang raised eyebrows Monday with his non-dismissal of a transfer possibility. It wasn’t quite a “come and get me”, but the door is certainly open.

[ MORE: U.S. Soccer’s Player of Year finalists ]

“I don’t know if I will stay. I just think about playing good football right now. I want to give my best and win titles. I just think about the sport and nothing else.”

If you don’t pay a lot of attention to the Bundesliga, it might be easy to overlook Aubameyang. But the season he’s having with BVB’s wealth of playmaking midfielders is overwhelming. Give him less than a yard, and he’s all set.

Throw in the UEFA Champions League, and “Auba” has 18 goals in 18 matches. In the Bundesliga, he has a 4-goal night at Hamburg but also goals against Bayern and Hertha. Aubameyang has two braces, and has only been held off the score sheet three times (BVB is 1D-2L in those contests).

Put plainly, no one is doing what he’s doing right now.

Top Five leagues, 2016-17 goals (matches)

  1. Aubameyang, BVB — 15 (12)
  2. Edinson Cavani, PSG — 14 (14)
  3. Anthony Modeste, Koln — 12 (13)
  4. Mauro Icardi, Inter Milan — 12 (14)
  5. Eden Dzeko, Roma — 12 (15)
  6. Alexandre Lacazette — 11 (11)
  7. Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal — 11 (14)
  8. Diego Costa, Chelsea — 11 (14)
  9. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid — 10 (11)
  10. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City — 10 (12)
  11. Andrea Belotti, Torino — 10 (13)
  12. Lionel Messi, Barcelona — 9 (9)
  13. Luis Suarez, Barcelona — 9 (12)
  14. Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich — 9 (13)
  15. Iago Aspas, Celta Vigo — 9 (13)
  16. Ciro Immobile, Lazio — 9 (15)
  17. Alassane Plea, Nice — 9 (16)

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