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

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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: Arsenal interested in Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel

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According to a report by The Sun, Arsenal is monitoring the progress of Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

The rumor does make sense. With Petr Cech at 34 years old and having a poor season in front of net and backup David Ospina failing to challenge him for the starting job, the Gunners are looking elsewhere to bring in a potential future starter.

Schmeichel has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League the past two seasons. Last season he led the Foxes to the Premier League title, organizing a stunningly good defensive line of patchwork players. This season, the defense has largely regressed and let Schmeichel down, but he has still performed well and has the metrics to remain one of the league’s top shot-stoppers.

The Danish keeper is 30 years old himself, but that puts him in his prime for a goalkeeper. He has been with Leicester City since 2011, and he will tick 250 appearances for the club with his next match. Schmeichel was rumored to be a member of the secret player delegation that worked hard to see Claudio Ranieri pushed out of the club, a sentiment which he and the other players have strongly denied.

Still, with an improbable Premier League title in hand and an appearance in the Champions League quarterfinals now on the cards, there probably isn’t much else for him at Leicester City. It’s possible Schmeichel could look to bank on his past performances and secure a move to a bigger club this summer.

Should Arsene Wenger stay with Arsenal past this season, a possibility that looks more and more likely, he could look to move on from Cech despite signing the former Chelsea goalkeeper just two summers ago.

Diego Costa injured, but will stay with Spain squad for friendly

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Chelsea striker Diego Costa pulled up in Spain training on Sunday, and with the Blues in first in the Premier League and Costa in great form, there were obvious concerns.

With Costa struggling with leg and ankle injuries, the RFEF informed Chelsea that there was an issue, and Costa was pulled from training and sent for tests. X-Rays at the local hospital in Madrid were negative, and he’s rejoined the squad.

According to the RFEF, doctors will continue to monitor the 28-year-old and he will continue with the national team for the rest of the international break. With a World Cup qualification win over Israel already in the books and just a friendly against France to go on Tuesday, it’s odd that Spain would risk Costa moving forward, but they will continue to keep him around.

Costa has scored 18 goals this season to lead the Blues, and he scored in the win over Israel. Spain takes on France in Saint-Denis on Tuesday, with both teams leading their World Cup qualification groups. Spain has a goal-differential lead on Italy with both teams miles above the rest of the Group G, and France is ahead of Sweden by three points in Group A, with the Netherlands back in fourth.

Foul or flop? Player “headbutts” referee, is sent off

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Well, there must be something in the water down in Brasilia, because things got a little weird this evening.

Flamengo drew with Vasco da Gama 2-2, but that was just the start.

In the 54th minute, with Vasco da Gama leading 1-0 at Estadio Nacional Mané Garrincha, 36-year-old Luis Fabiano was sent off for “headbutting” the referee. Headbutting is in quotes because looking at the video, it certainly appears there was little to no contact, and the referee flops.

Yes, the referee flopped. Take a look:

To be fair, Fabiano was already on a yellow, so getting in the referee’s face even without the headbutt/pelvic thrust would likely still have seen him sent to an early shower.

So the former Porto and Sevilla man was sent off, and Vasco da Gama was down to 10 men. Immediately after the red card, Flamengo took advantage, powering in a pair of goals via Willian Arao and Orlando Berrio to take the lead 2-1. But Vasco wouldn’t quit, and they earned a penalty five minutes into stoppage time, which Nene buried for the 2-2 draw.

To top things off, a player named Yago Pikachu scored the opener for Vasco da Gama, which was followed by a delay in the game seven minutes later after a power surge in the stadium. Go figure.

Lletget diagnosed with foot sprain, escaping further damage

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Word has arrived from the LA Galaxy camp that will see USMNT fans feel relieved as Sebastian Lletget has escaped the news many feared.

The young attacker was impressive in the first 18 minutes of the United States’ 6-0 win over Honduras, but was injured minutes after scoring the opening goal and could not continue. Replays showed that Lletget got his foot caught underneath a defender in the process of a hard challenge on the right wing.

There was concern that Lletget would be out for a significant amount of time, but the Galaxy announced that after testing over the weekend, Lletget did not suffer any structural damage and was diagnosed with a left foot sprain.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Paul Arreola to roster, drops Lletget, Brooks, Morris ]

Lletget will visit a specialist on Monday to determine a plan for recovery, and it’s possible that he will still have to miss some time in the near future. The Galaxy visit Vancouver on Saturday, and his status for that match has to be considered up in the air. They then host Montreal on April 7.

While Lletget obviously misses out on the next USMNT game at Panama on Tuesday having already been dumped from the roster, he will most definitely be available for the June games against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico, and will likely be an option for Bruce Arena given the manager’s history with Lletget at Los Angeles.

The United States have been struck with a collection of injuries that all occurred just before the international break, hampering the squad significantly. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, and Fabian Johnson all went down in the days before reporting for international duty, and the team lost Lletget and John Brooks in the Honduras win. Lletget’s departure could see Alejandro Bedoya into the starting lineup on Tuesday, with the Union midfielder having replaced Lletget in the Honduras match. Also in contention is Jermaine Jones, who could come in after his suspension and push Darlington Nagbe onto the wing.