After Tuesday’s results, Arsenal is as close to fifth as it is to first. After a stoppage time own goal gave struggling Swansea City a point at the Emirates, the Gunners saw their game on Everton reduced to six points. With the Toffees still holding a game in hand, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger is ready to shift focus from a title charge to protecting the team’s Champions League spot.
“The title is not our biggest worry at the moment,” Wenger said, via reporting by The Guardian. “We just have to try to be realistic and we have to come back in the next game. We have to look behind us … Everton won [at Newcastle United] so we have, of course, to focus.”
(MORE: Arsenal 2-2 Swansea City: Stoppage time own goal from Flamini sees Gunners drop points at home)
For a team that could have moved within one of first on Saturday, moving on from the title race is a sudden and bitter turn. But with the worst goal difference among the league’s top four, Arsenal have the standings, form, and tiebreakers working against it. Champions League must be the priority, especially with Arsenal set to visit Goodson on Apr. 6.
“It will be open until the end,” Wenger said of the races at the top of the table. “We can still have surprises.”
At this point, it would be a surprise to see the Gunners resume their title challenge, part of the reason why Wenger sees a two-team race at the top.
“Manchester City had a good result [at United] … they look a bit unstoppable and they are the favorites because they still have two games in hand,” according to Wenger.
“Them and Chelsea are the favorites for the title. We don’t have too much room to come back into it.”
It makes a lot of sense, you know?
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will turn 30 in 2018, not a spring chicken for a striker but still plenty productive if healthy.
His national team, Mexico, will likely be revving its engines for the World Cup, and won’t be upset to have the forward playing a bit less soccer and a lot closer to home.
[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines ]
And Los Angeles FC will want to make a massive mark as it seeks to butt its head into a market dominated by the LA Galaxy (and, perhaps still then, Mexico national teamer Giovani Dos Santos).
So, tell us more, Steve Brisendine of MLSSoccer.com:
“[LAFC] are going to do everything possible to sign the current Bayer Leverkusen player, whose contract ends in 2018 and could therefore leave for a reduced fee. That’s what AS.com has confirmed with sources close to the project. LAFC hope to announce their new manager this spring and dream, a little later, to do the same with Javier Hernandez, aka Chicharito.”
Make it happen. Make. It. Happen. We’re already reserving his spot on our MLS fantasy teams.
There’s action all over England, from those defending the goal mouth to others striving to conquer it.
[ MORE: More transfer gossip ]
— Bournemouth wants an upgrade on Artur Boruc, according to The Telegraph, and that could come in the form of Chelsea backstop Asmir Begovic.
The Cherries reportedly had a $12.5 million bid turned down by Antonio Conte, who has Thibaut Courtois in the No. 1 seat and Portugal national team backup Eduardo in the ranks (along with three keepers on loan and young goalie Mitchell Beanie).
— Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger shut the door on acquiring West Ham wantaway Dimitri Payet according to Sky Sports’ Transfer Centre:
“We have many players offensively who can play in this position. You are interested by the quality of the player but there needs to be a need as well, and we have no need in this domain.”
— Clubs in need of experienced Premier League backs need look no further than Everton, where manager Ronald Koeman has admitted that England international Phil Jagielka could leave Goodison Park. The 34-year-old center back has 40 caps for England and has made 337 appearances for Everton. He could be a massive upgrade for Sunderland if David Moyes is up for a reunion.
— Stoke City chairman Peter Coates says a purchase of Saido Berahino from West Brom is not contingent on a sale of Bojan Krkic. The latter has been linked to Middlesbrough.
— Mauro Zarate may be returning the Premier League. Watford boss Walter Mazzarri has been largely let down by his strike corps as Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney have taken steps back this season. Could $4 be enough to bring the ex-West Ham and QPR man from Fiorentina to Vicarage Road? Zarate has four goals in nine matches for La Viola, and has nine goals in 40 Premier League matches.
New LA Galaxy midfielder and USMNT mainstay Jermaine Jones is hoping he can clarify Tim Howard’s controversial comments about dual nationals.
Howard said Wednesday that there were commitment issues with some of the dual nationals on the United States squad, adding that players like Jones and Fabian Johnson were great for the team.
[ MORE: Galaxy adds Portugal CM ]
Jones answered those thoughts on Thursday, labeling them “dangerous stuff”.
From ESPNFC’s Doug McIntyre:
“With all the respect for Timmy, I feel it’s not if you’re half American or full-American. It’s more what you have in here [taps his chest].
“If you go on the field and you give everything for this country, then of course sometimes there’s a situation where you’re not playing good.
“But it’s normal. That can happen to everybody, and that’s what you have to understand.”
Jones isn’t shy to share his comments on anything, and it was definitely a surprise to hear Howard’s thoughts on dual nationals. Salient words from Jones.
Robbie Keane is still sorting out his future, and it seems unlikely he’s heading back to the past.
Keane is training in Dublin ahead of a return to the pitch. The 36-year-old striker left the LA Galaxy this offseason, and says he’s had several offers from Championship squads in England as well as a few clubs abroad.
[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]
Although he’s starred for Wolverhampton and Leeds, destinations where fans would welcome his arrival, Keane says not to hold your breath.
“I’ve had a lot of people asking me about coming back to Leeds and Wolves, and they’re great clubs I’ve played for, but you can’t go somewhere if people actually don’t offer you anything.
“Until it’s actually in writing to me I can’t comment much on it, but I definitely haven’t heard from Leeds or Wolves.”
Whether Stateside or in England, Keane can still have an impact on a team’s fortunes. We look forward to seeing him back on the field, and to hear some more quips as well.
Consider his answer to whether he’d entertain an offer from China:
“If they gave the money Diego Costa was offered, I’d walk there now,” Keane said.