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.

Guradiola “so happy” to see Man City “achieve another step” as a club

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21:  Josep Guardiola manager of Manchester City reacts as Leonardo Jardim head coach of AS Monaco looks on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Manchester City FC and AS Monaco at Etihad Stadium on February 21, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
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In the past, when faced with adversity in the UEFA Champions League, Manchester City could do little more than wilt and crumble as their European dreams when up in smoke year after year, typically in embarrassing and/or heartbreaking fashion.

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On Tuesday, when faced with 2-1 and 3-2 deficits late into the second half of their round-of-16 first leg against Monaco, deja vu was quickly setting in for anyone who’s followed Man City’s rise from middling afterthought to mega-rich conglomerate with aspirations of world domination. Then, something strange (based on years of recent history) happened: Sergio Aguero fired City back to level at 2-2 in the 58th minute. Sure, more shocking defending saw the deficit restored three minutes later, but again, Aguero dissented.

For this reason, and perhaps this reason alone considering the putrid defensively display over the course of 90 minutes, first-year City manager Pep Guardiola should be heartened by Tuesday’s events at the Etihad Stadium. In his mind, it was a massive step forward in the club’s psyche — quotes from the BBC:

“I am so happy for the result, we are still alive. These kind of things help this club to achieve another step. We attacked in small spaces. That’s why they wanted me to come here. Everybody has to be congratulated.

“We are going to fly to Monaco to score as many goals as possible. If we don’t score in Monaco we will be eliminated.”

UCL: Aguero, Falcao bag braces as Man City edge Monaco, 5-3

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City (C) celebrates with John Stones (L) and Leroy Sane of Manchester City (R) as he scores their third goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Manchester City FC and AS Monaco at Etihad Stadium on February 21, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
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  • Sterling gives Man City an early lead
  • Falcao hits back with a brace
  • Aguero’s brace breathes life back into City

Radamel Falcao and Sergio Aguero bagged dueling braces, while the defenders and/or goalkeepers from their respective sides engaged in dueling disasters, resulting in a bonkers UEFA Champions League round-of-16 first leg for the ages: Manchester City 5, Monaco 3.

Leroy Sane, David Silva and Raheem Sterling combined to put Man City in the lead after 28 minutes (WATCH HERE). Sane danced brilliantly and effortlessly past four defenders before playing Silva to the endline. The cross was simple for Silva, with Sterling arriving into acres of space in the goalmouth.

[ MORE: Rooney left out of Man United’s Europa League squad (again) ]

That’s as good as the first half would get for City, though, as their annual Champions League meltdown commenced six short minutes thereafter (WATCH HERE). The Nicolas Otamendi-John Stones-Bacary Sanga triangle of deadly defending fell asleep in unison, which allowed Falcao all the time and space in the world to size up and head home his 23rd goal (in 29 games — all competitions) this season.

Eight minutes later, everyone else in sky blue joined the aforementioned trio for nap time. Fabinho, who also whipped in the cross for Falcao’s goal, dropped the most delicate of long balls onto the foot of Kylian Mbappe, and the 18-year-old fired his first-time shot past Willy Caballero without a single defender five yards from him in any direction.

[ MORE: FA Cup QF draw — Chelsea vs. Man United; Arsenal vs. Lincoln City ]

The second half began just as disastrously for City as the first ended. Otamendi tripped Falcao inside the penalty, and after discussing with his assistant on the endline, referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz awarded Monaco a penalty kick — City felt hard done by after Aguero wasn’t awarded a clear-cut penalty in the first half — which Falcao then proceeded to hit weakly into the waiting arms of Caballero. The tide had turned back in City’s favor.

Ageuro fired City back onto level terms just short of the hour mark, with many thanks to the horrendous howler of Danijel Subasic. Aguero’s effort on goal was tame, and right at the Croatian international, but the ball went right through his hands and found the back of the net to make it 2-2, a scoreline which lasted all of three minutes.

Stones tried his very best Otamendi impression, which looked like halfhearted defending as Falcao left him for dead and chipped Caballero in the 61 minute. The renaissance of Falcao will almost certainly result in a summer full of transfer stories linking him with a move back to the Premier League.

Aguero brought City back to level terms again in the 71st minute, unleashing a stunning volley from David Silva’s corner kick. Stones tapped home at the back post six minutes later to put City 4-3 ahead, and Sane completed the epic comeback with an empty-net finish in the 82nd minute.

In the end, City still have plenty of work to do in the second leg, having conceded not one, not two, but three away goals. One thing is a near certainty: no extra time shall be needed.

UCL: Atletico Madrid blitz Bayer for 4 away goals, win 1st leg 4-2

Atletico's Antoine Griezmann, front, is congratulated by his teammate Saul Niguez after scoring their side's second goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid in Leverkusen, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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  • Four away goals for Atleti
  • Niguez, Griezmann, Gamerio, Torres on the scoresheet
  • Bellarabi, Savic (OG) give Bayer a lifeline

If you spent your Tuesday glued to Manchester City’s thrilling 5-3 victory over Monaco in the UEFA Champions League, you may now direct your attention to the day’s other first-leg festival of goals: Bayer Leverkusen 2, Atletico Madrid 4.

[ MORE: Rooney left out of Man United’s Europa League squad (again) ]

Saul Niguez opened the scoring with a stunning curler after 17 minutes (WATCH HERE), and Antoine Griezmann doubled Los Rojiblancos‘ advantage eight minutes later to put Diego Simeone’s side in a commanding position with two early away goals.

[ MORE: FA Cup QF draw — Chelsea vs. Man United; Arsenal vs. Lincoln City ]

Karim Bellarabi pulled one back for Bayer just three minutes into the second half, but Kevin Gamerio converted from the penalty spot to restore Atleti’s two-goal lead just before the hour mark. Stefan Savic gave one back to Bayer in the form of an owl goal in the 68th minute, before Fernando Torres brought the visitors’ away-goals haul to four in the 86th minute.

AT THE HALF: Man City 1-2 Monaco; Atleti lead in UCL round of 16

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21:  Radamel Falcao Garcia of AS Monaco celebrates as he scores their first and equalising goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Manchester City FC and AS Monaco at Etihad Stadium on February 21, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
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We’re only halfway through the first leg of Manchester City versus Monaco, and Bayer Leverkusen versus Atletico Madrid, in the UEFA Champions League round of 16, but the goals are coming fast and furious from England to Germany.

[ MORE: Rooney left out of Man United’s Europa League squad (again) ]

Man City found themselves 1-0 up at the Etihad Stadium, when Leroy Sane turned on video-game mode to set up Raheem Sterling for the opening goal in the 28th minute. But, as City have so typically done in the Champions League, they began self-destructing four minutes later. Radamel Falcao‘s diving header brought Monaco level in the 32nd minute, and Kylian Mbappe’s finish over the head of Willy Caballero put the visitors 2-1 up eight minutes later.

[ MORE: FA Cup QF draw — Chelsea vs. Man United; Arsenal vs. Lincoln City ]

As for Tuesday’s other round-of-16 tie, Saul Niguez simultaneously opened the scoring and snatched the soul of every Bayer defender who dared to contest him. Antoine Griezmann added a second for Atleti, who hold their 2-0 lead at halftime, seven minutes later.