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Premier League Relegation Watch: Clubs primed to go down (Matchweek 30)


Matchweek 30 saw massive wins by Fulham and West Brom meaning only seven points separate 12th placed West Ham United from last placed Fulham. The Premier League relegation race is shaping up to come down to the wire with multiple clubs vying for safety.

Here’s the relegation watch currently stands:

source: Getty Images12. WEST HAM UNITED 31 PTS (29 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): Manchester United (H); Hull City (H); Sunderland (A); Liverpool (H); Arsenal (A); Crystal Palace (H); West Brom (A); Tottenham (H); Manchester City (A)

League Form: WWWWLL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Marco Boriello, shin (no return date); Joey O’Brien, shoulder (April 14th

Vegas odds to be relegated: 16/1

Verdict: West Ham ripped off four straight wins in February but have since lost two straight to Everton (0-1) and Stoke City (1-3), respectively. But with key players (Andy Carroll and Winston Reid) now healthy, the Hammers should have no problem reaching the 40 point mark.

source: Getty Images13. HULL CITY 30 PTS (28 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): 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: DWLWLL

Other Competitions: FA Cup (v. Sheffield United on March 13th)

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

Vegas odds to be relegated: 12/1

Verdict: Despite losing two straight, Hull City have enjoyed a fantastic Premier League season and few will have the Tigers pegged to go down. With a favorable end of the season schedule and a relatively healthy roster, expect Hull to be in the league come next August.

source:  14. SWANSEA CITY 29 PTS (29 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): Everton (A); Arsenal (A); Norwich City (H); Hull City (A); Chelsea (H); Newcastle United (A); Aston Villa (H); Southampton (H); Sunderland (A)

League Form: LWDLDL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Nathan Dyer, ankle (March 22nd); Jonjo Shelvey, hamstring (March 22nd); Kyle Bartley, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 10/1

Verdict: These are troubling times at the Liberty Stadium as Swansea find themselves with the second worst form record in the league having taking only five of a possible 18 points from their last six matches. The free-fall can be blamed on a number of things, namely an injury plagued season, participation in the Europa League and managerial ineptitude.

Making matters worse for the Swans is their end of the season schedule which boasts difficult fixtures with Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle and Southampton as well as potential relegation six-pointers with Norwich and Sunderland.

source: Getty Images15. NORWICH CITY 29 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): Sunderland (H); Swansea City (A); West Bromwich Albion (H); Fulham (A); Liverpool (H); Manchester United (A); Chelsea (A); Arsenal (H)

League Form: DLWLDL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Leroy Fer, hamstring (no return date); Jonas Gutierrez, calf (March 22nd); Michael Turner, hamstring (March 22nd); Elliot Bennett, knee (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 7/4

Verdict: If anyone who is currently safe is going to get relegated, Norwich City looks the most likely. The Canaries put in a lopsided effort at Southampton this past weekend, coming back from 3-0 down to lose 4-2. With only eight matches to play, Chris Hughton’s side must take points in their next four matches, all of which are winnable. After that, however, it’s curtains for Norwich who end the season against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

source: Getty Images16. WEST BROMWICH ALBION 28 PTS (29 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): Hull City (A); Cardiff City (H); Norwich City (A); Tottenham (H); Manchester City (A); West Ham United (H); Arsenal (A); Sunderland (H); Stoke City (H)

League Form: DLDDLW

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Morgan Amalfitano, knock (no return date); Chris Brunt, knee (April 21st); Billy Jones, hamstring (March 29th); Claudio Yacob, hamstring (March 22nd); Diego Lugano, knee (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 7/2

Verdict: Such a massive win for West Brom this past weekend. To go into the Liberty Stadium and come from 0-1 down to win 2-1 will be a huge boost to the confidence of Pepe Mel’s side. The Albion remains banged up with a number of key injuries but with six of their final nine contests against clubs outside the Top 10, staying up looks to be in the cards.

source: Getty Images17. CRYSTAL PALACE 28 PTS (29 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): Newcastle United (A); Chelsea (H); Cardiff City (A); Aston Villa (H); Everton (A); West Ham United (A); Manchester City (H); Liverpool (H); Fulham (A)

League Form: LWLDLD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Danny Gabbidon, knock (March 22nd); Barry Bannan, illness (March 22nd); Marouane Chamakh, hamstring (March 29th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 3/2

Verdict: Winless in their last four, Palace need to be careful. They worked hard to ascend out of the relegation zone after Tony Pulis was appointed but the Eagles are now finding it difficult to see out the spring. And with a challenging end of the season schedule pitting Palace against Newcastle, Chelsea, Everton, City and Liverpool the points won’t come easy for the Selhurst Park faithful.

source: Getty Images18. SUNDERLAND 24 PTS (27 PLD)

Remaining Matches (11): Norwich City (A); Liverpool (A); West Ham United (H); Tottenham (A); Everton (H); Manchester City (A); Chelsea (A); Cardiff City (H); Manchester United (A); West Bromwich Albion (H); Swansea City (H)

League Form: DWWLLD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Steven Fletcher, ankle (no return date); Keiren Westwood, shoulder (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 7/4

Verdict: Of the three teams currently in the relegation zone, Sunderland feel like the most likely to escape. With 11 matches left to play (and most of those being favorable matchups) and having reduced their workload by exiting from the FA Cup, Gus Poyet’s side will have no excuses if they go down. The health of Steven Fletcher will be a factor but with Jozy Altidore available and Ignacio Scocco added to the strike ranks this winter, the Black Cats still have options up top to get the job down.

source: Getty Images19. CARDIFF CITY 25 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): Liverpool (H); West Bromwich Albion (A); Crystal Palace (H); Southampton (A); Stoke City (H); Sunderland (A); Newcastle United (A); Chelsea (H)

League Form: LDLLWL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Ben Turner, knock (no return date); Andrew Taylor, knock (no return date); Mark Hudson, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/4

Verdict: Vegas has Cardiff as the most likely squad to be relegated and for good reason – the Bluebirds are in the worst form of any club in the league and have only eight matches to play. If there are upsides to Cardiff’s situation it’s that the remaining matches are against favorable opponents and the squad is in good health. That said, talk to any pundit covering the Premier League and he’ll tell you Cardiff is destined to be playing in the Championship next season.

source: Getty Images20. FULHAM 24 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): 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: DLDLLW

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Kostas Mitroglu, knee (no return date); Ashkan Dejagah, groin (no return date); Giorgos Karagounis, muscle injury (no return date); Scott Parker, knee (March 22nd); Damien Duff, knock (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 2/7

Verdict: Fulham is only slightly more likely than Cardiff to make it out of the relegation zone. Like the Bluebirds, the Cottagers don’t have any games in hand on their opponents. But Felix Magath’s team did play quite well this past weekend, defeating Newcastle 1-0 at the Cottage. It’s a win that they’ll look to gain some motivation from although Manchester City and Everton will be difficult tasks over the next two weeks.

When April comes, however, the fixture list becomes quite favorable for Fulham with matches against Villa, Norwich, Hull, Stoke and Palace. So while the situation is bleak for Fulham a thin line hope still remains.

Report: Guardiola to take manager’s job at Man City next season

Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Manchester City desperately want to lure Pep Guardiola away from Bayern Munich and pay the Spaniard tactician lots and lots of money to come manage in the Premier League.

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Of course we’ve all heard it before — a number of times, in fact. So, what’s different about the latest report, hitting the headlines very late Thursday night in Europe, linking the 44-year-old to Man City?

Well, apparently, we’ve moved past “Man City will offer Guardiola whatever he wants to come to the Etihad Stadium,” and arrived at “Guardiola has agreed terms to become manager at Man City.”

However, the respected Spanish radio station Cadena COPE is reporting that Guardiola has already decided he would like “a change of scenery” and will succeed Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium.

“Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season and will train Manchester City next season,” read the report.

“Guardiola has decided on a change of scenery. He considers his time in Germany will end on 30 June after three seasons and, therefore, fulfil one of his wishes: to coach in England.”

With all due respect to every player Man City have signed in the last decade, the acquisition of Guardiola would be, by far, their greatest coup to date — a manager with a clear ethos, a clear plan of action and a track record of having succeeded and won in the UEFA Champions League, which remains the most elusive trophy to City’s cabinet.

Mourinho-Costa feud could mean January transfer activity for Chelsea

Diego Costa & Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
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Perhaps no man in the footballing world has been embroiled in more controversy this season than Jose Mourinho, who remains in charge of Chelsea despite a horrid start to the club’s 2015-16 Premier League campaign.

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The Portuguese mastermind has fallen out with a number of his own players and staff this season, so why not add another name to the growing list? Come on down, Diego Costa, you’re Mourinho’s next combatant.

The two reportedly got into a heated locker-room exchange following Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv. Given Costa’s increasingly poor form all the way back to the final weeks and months of the 2014-15 season — just seven goals scored in the last 10 months — Mourinho is reportedly less and less sure the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard is the right man to lead the line for the reigning PL champions.

The details of Mourinho and Costa’s halftime spat, from the Guardian:

Mourinho, just as he did after a similar situation against Norwich on Saturday, made his frustrations clear at the forward’s lack of anticipation over an Eden Hazard pass, which would have provided the striker with a tap-in had he been on the move. Costa returned his manager’s remonstrations in kind. Oscar and John Terry tried to calm him down only to be pushed aside. The manager subsequently suggested there had been “a few kisses, a few cuddles” in the dressing room at the interval, and “no problem,” though the public show of dissent was notable.

The club’s hierarchy is reportedly considering dipping into the transfer market in January — something they’re extremely loath to do — to replace the misfiring Costa. The names of Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin Van Persie and Saido Berahino are the biggest currently linked with the Blues, given the lack of elite players typically available — as well as not being cup-tied in the Champions League — during the January window.

Chelsea, who currently sit 15th in the PL, return to league action on Sunday when they visit Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane (Watch live at 6:30 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra).

Wenger expects “hunting lion” Sanchez to be fit for Norwich clash

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC
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Alexis Sanchez is, by regular human standards, questionable for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Norwich City on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on Live Extra), thanks to a tweak to his hamstring during Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb.

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There’s just one problem with the above premise: Sanchez, according to manager Arsene Wenger, isn’t exactly human; he’s more like a lion, says Wenger — a hunting lion chasing after and feasting on its prey.

Wenger, on Sanchez’s ability to recover quickly and star for the Gunners — quotes from the Guardian:

“When he does something, he does it 100%. He finishes and you think: ‘He’s dead now.’ But then he recovers and gives 100% again. You always see signs of exhaustion but it’s not [that], because two days later, he’s fine.

“His style is very explosive, it’s a very committed style. Jamie Vardy is a bit similar. When they go, they go. They are like the lion. He has to catch the animal in the first 200 metres. If he doesn’t get there, he’s dead [on his feet] afterwards. They are these kind of killers. When they go, it is to kill and after, they have to stop.”

“I take information, especially from the medical people who know him and treat him everyday and after, we look at his overall recovery as well. When there are alarming signs, we want to make the right decision at the right moment but as long as the guys are confident, they score goals – it is always difficult to rest them.”

Sanchez’s production this season — 9 goals, 4 assists in 17 appearances – all competitions — is right on par with his spectacular debut in the PL last season. “What is also remarkable is that he goes to South America to play,” Wenger went on to say. “He comes back on Thursday night and on Saturday he can play without a problem, even if he’s jet-lagged.”

Expect Sanchez to feature on Sunday, and probably to score a goal or two, as well.

“Unprofessional” Grealish banished to U-21s after nightclub incident

Jack Grealish, Aston Villa FC
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2015 has been an eventful calendar year for Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, to say the least.

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First, there was his emergence as a prominent first-team player for his boyhood club; followed by the Villans’ run to the FA Cup final in May; then came the England-versus-Ireland tug-of-war for his international services; a forgettable vacation to Spain for the 20-year-old; and another managerial change at Villa Park. After yet another off-field incident last weekend, in which Grealish was photographed in a nightclub hours after a 4-0 defeat to Everton, his new manager, Remi Garde, has labeled Grealish “unprofessional” and sent him away to train with the club’s U-21 side.

Garde, on Grealish’s actions and subsequent punishment — quotes from the Guardian:

“This is not professional. It is not what is expected from my players. That is why now Jack is training with the under-21 team for the moment. He won’t be included in the squad for Watford. At this stage he is not playing this weekend and he is training with the under-21 team. That is all I can say for the moment.”

“Sometimes players in every country ask to stay in the city we have played in and this is not a problem for me, it happens one or two times a season. The problem with Jack was not that he wasn’t on the bus. The problem was elsewhere.”

Villa, who will welcome 13th-place Watford to Villa Park on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on Live Extra), currently sit rock bottom in the Premier League (5 points from 13 games), five points away from climbing out of the relegation zone.