Hull City v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League

Premier League Relegation Watch: Hull and Norwich gain separation while the others tumble

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Matchweek 31 saw massive wins by Hull City and Norwich City to distance themselves from the relegation-threatened pack while the bottom seven clubs all took losses setting up a dramatic end to the season.

Here we look at all the relegation-threatened sides and evaluate their remaining matches, form, injuries and odds of staying up in the Premier League.

12. HULL CITY 33 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): West Ham United (A); Stoke City (A); Swansea City (H); Manchester United (A); Arsenal (H); Fulham (A); Aston Villa (A); Everton (H)

League Form: WLWLLW

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

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

Vegas odds to be relegated: 22/1

Verdict: Hull did itself a huge favor with the 2-0 win over West Brom on Saturday giving the Tigers an eight point cushion on the relegation zone. Forty points is typically the bench-mark for safety in the Prem but it would take an epic collapse for Steve Bruce’s side to botch this up.

13. NORWICH CITY 32 PTS (31 PLD)

Remaining Matches (7): Swansea City (A); West Bromwich Albion (H); Fulham (A); Liverpool (H); Manchester United (A); Chelsea (A); Arsenal (H)

League Form: LWLDLW

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesLeroy Fer, hamstring (April 12th); Michael Turner, hamstring (March 29th); Elliot Bennett, knee (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 4/1

Verdict: A huge victory over Sunderland last weekend has Norwich looking like a side destined to stay up but the Canaries can’t take their foot off the gas over the next four weeks because the last four matches of the season are extremely difficult.

14. WEST HAM UNITED 31 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): Hull City (H); Sunderland (A); Liverpool (H); Arsenal (A); Crystal Palace (H); West Brom (A); Tottenham (H); Manchester City (A)

League Form: WWWLLL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: James Tomkins, ankle (March 26th); Marco Boriello, shin (no return date); Joey O’Brien, shoulder (April 19th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 12/1

Verdict: Thoroughly out-played this weekend against Manchester United means West Ham have lost three straight. Like Norwich, the end of their season is a tough go with matches against Spurs and City meaning Sam Allardyce will want his side playing top quality football over the net six matches to secure safety.

15. SWANSEA CITY 29 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): Arsenal (A); Norwich City (H); Hull City (A); Chelsea (H); Newcastle United (A); Aston Villa (H); Southampton (H); Sunderland (A)

League Form: WDLDLL

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesKyle Bartley, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 8/1

Verdict: Despite the 3-2 loss on Saturday, Swansea looked a much improved side against Everton. Healthy and with a manageable end-of-the-season schedule, it’s hard to see the Swans going down.

16. WEST BROMWICH ALBION 28 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): Cardiff City (H); Norwich City (A); Tottenham (H); Manchester City (A); West Ham United (H); Arsenal (A); Sunderland (H); Stoke City (H)

League Form: LDDLWL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Gareth McCauley, ankle (no return date); Victor Anichebe, hamstring (no return date); Morgan Amalfitano, knock (no return date); Chris Brunt, knee (April 21st); Billy Jones, hamstring (March 29th); Diego Lugano, knee (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 3/1

Verdict: Bad loss to Norwich last weekend also saw key players Gareth McCauley and Victor Anichebe succumb to potential long term injuries. These are nail-biting times at the Hawthorns. The Albion have the quality but can they find the points?

17. CRYSTAL PALACE 28 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): Chelsea (H); Cardiff City (A); Aston Villa (H); Everton (A); West Ham United (A); Manchester City (H); Liverpool (H); Fulham (A)

League Form: WLDLDL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Dwight Gayle, ankle (April 5th); Marouane Chamakh, hamstring (March 29th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 5/4

Verdict: Heart-breaking loss for the Eagles last weekend on a goal that was scored well beyond the three minutes of stoppage time noted by the fourth official. Tony Pulis went ballistic and for good reasons, not only did it strip his side of a point but because there are precious winnable matches in Palace’s remaining eight games.

18. SUNDERLAND 24 PTS (28 PLD)

Remaining Matches (10): 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: WWLLDL

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesSteven Fletcher, ankle (no return date);Keiren Westwood, shoulder (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 10/11

Verdict: The devastating loss to Norwich City last weekend put the Black Cats three points shy of safety. Fortunately for Gus Poyet’s side, they have 10 matches to play. Unfortunately, six of those are against sides in the Top 10.

19. CARDIFF CITY 25 PTS (31 PLD)

Remaining Matches (7): West Bromwich Albion (A); Crystal Palace (H); Southampton (A); Stoke City (H); Sunderland (A); Newcastle United (A); Chelsea (H)

League Form: DLLWLL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Craig Noone, muscle (no return date); Andrew Taylor, knock (no return date); Mark Hudson, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 2/7

Verdict: Of the current teams in the relegation zone, Cardiff has the most favorable schedule to secure promotion. Whether Ole Gunnar Solskjær can figure out how to make that happen has South Wales on the edge of its seat.

20. FULHAM 24 PTS (31 PLD)

Remaining Matches (7): Everton (H); Aston Villa (A); Norwich City (H); Tottenham Hotspur (A); Hull City (H); Stoke City (A); Crystal Palace (H)

League Form: LDLLWL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Dan Burn, muscle (no return date); Kostas Mitroglu, knee (March 30th);Ashkan Dejagah, groin (no return date); Scott Parker, knee (March 30th); Damien Duff, knock (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/4

Verdict: The Cottagers have the fewest amount of matches remaining among the relegation-based clubs and the most amount of key injuries. Mitroglu, Dejagah and Parker must get healthy if this side is to have any shot at staying up, which Vegas says isn’t happening.

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
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Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

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Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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