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.

WATCH: Walcott compares Wenger speech to Pacino

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What if Tony D’Amato of American football was Antoine Dumond of the world’s game?

Theo Walcott says Arsene Wenger inspired him to make that comparison after a recent pregame speech, a fiery number that convinced the Arsenal attacker how badly his manager wanted to win the Premier League.

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Speaking to Arsenal TV for a series of questions on former and current teammates — and Wenger — Walcott shared a pretty funny tidbit:

“The manager did a speech the other day. I won’t be able to do the speech because it was that good.”

“It genuinely reminded me of the film ‘Any Given Sunday’. I actually said that to him, and I was little bit embarrassed.’ You remind me of that film, that speech,’ I didn’t know if he had seen the film.

“Just showing the passion and how hard, and how long it’s been as well. He really wants it, like all of his players.”

Here’s the thing, though: Walcott doesn’t give us the answer as to whether Wenger has seen “Any Given Sunday”. And how about you, Theo, do you see yourself in Willie Beamon or Cap Rooney?

CAS rejects Serbia’s challenge to Kosovo joining UEFA

Supporters of Kosovo's national soccer team raise Kosovo flag during their international friendly soccer match at Adem Jashari Stadium in Mitrovica, Kosovo on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Kosovo host Turkey for their second friendly match of the country's national football team. Turkey won the match 6-1. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Serbian soccer federation’s appeal against Kosovo joining UEFA has been rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The court ruled that Kosovo met the standard of UEFA entry rules because it is “recognized by the majority of the United Nations member states as an `independent state.”‘

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Serbia argued that Kosovo, which joined European soccer’s governing body last May despite not being a U.N. member, should be blocked.

CAS decided that because “there is no formal recognition of countries by the U.N.,” then acceptance of Kosovo’s statehood by most countries was valid for the soccer application.

European soccer federations voted 28-24 in favor of Kosovo’s entry to UEFA after Serbia led opposition to its former province.

Serbia and its allies, including Russia, have not recognized Kosovo since the Balkan republic declared independence in 2008.

UEFA’s decision led to Kosovo joining FIFA one week later, and being fast-tracked into a 2018 World Cup qualifying group.

Still, Ukraine hosted Kosovo in neutral Poland in October, because its government also does not recognize Kosovo’s statehood.

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”