West Brom

Premier League Relegation Watch: Nervy times for West Brom and Norwich City

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With six weeks left in the Premier League, only nine points separate bottom feeders Fulham from 13th placed Swansea City.

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.

13. SWANSEA CITY 33 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): Hull City (A); Chelsea (H); Newcastle United (A); Aston Villa (H); Southampton (H); Sunderland (A)

League Form: LDLLDW

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesKyle Bartley, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 28/1

Verdict: It was a good week for Swansea, drawing 2-2 with Arsenal and spanking Norwich City 3-0. With Michu back healthy and a reasonable end-of-the-season schedule, there’s little to no fear of relegation at the Liberty.

14. HULL CITY 33 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): Swansea City (H); Manchester United (A); Arsenal (H); Fulham (A); Aston Villa (A); Everton (H)

League Form: WLLWLL

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

Injuries: Allan McGregor, kidney (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: 16/1

Verdict: It was a tough week for Hull, outplaying West Ham and losing before playing even with Stoke and suffering the same result. Losing McGregor to a kidney injury is also a concern. Still, the Tigers have quality and three more points should be enough to keep them afloat.

15. NORWICH CITY 32 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): West Bromwich Albion (H); Fulham (A); Liverpool (H); Manchester United (A); Chelsea (A); Arsenal (H)

League Form: WLDLWL

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesLeroy Fer, hamstring (April 12th); Michael Turner, hamstring (April 5th); Elliot Bennett, knee (April 20th); Joseph Yobo, calf (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 3/1

Verdict: Things are not looking good for the Canaries. They were spanked 3-0 by Swansea last weekend and now have two matches – against West Brom and Fulham – to get points out of before they face four Top 7 sides to end their season. For me, they’re the club that’s currently safe but is most likely to end up relegated.

16. CRYSTAL PALACE 31 PTS (31 PLD)

Remaining Matches (7): Cardiff City (A); Aston Villa (H); Everton (A); West Ham United (A); Manchester City (H); Liverpool (H); Fulham (A)

League Form: LDLDLW

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Dwight Gayle, ankle (April 12th); Marouane Chamakh, hamstring (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 3/1

Verdict: Gigantic, season-changing win last weekend for the Eagles over Chelsea. Might very well be the victory that keeps them in the Premier League. Palace will need to find more points elsewhere but with a game in hand and a favorable end-of-the-season schedule, Tony Pulis’ record of never being relegated should remain in tact.

17. WEST BROMWICH ALBION 29 PTS (31 PLD)

Remaining Matches (7): Norwich City (A); Tottenham (H); Manchester City (A); West Ham United (H); Arsenal (A); Sunderland (H); Stoke City (H)

League Form: DDLWLD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Gareth McCauley, ankle (no return date); Victor Anichebe, hamstring (April 5th); Claudio Yacob, hamstring (April 12th); Chris Brunt, knee (April 12th); Billy Jones, hamstring (April 12th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 3/1

Verdict: Had last week’s game in the palm of their hand before Berahino failed to go to the corner flag, lost the ball and Cardiff scored in the last second to draw 3-3. Dropping points to Cardiff is a bad, bad thing and this week the Albion will try to avoid the same fate against Norwich in a match both sides will be desperate to win.

18. CARDIFF CITY 26 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): Crystal Palace (H); Southampton (A); Stoke City (H); Sunderland (A); Newcastle United (A); Chelsea (H)

League Form: LLWLLD

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesCraig Noone, muscle (April 5th); Mark Hudson, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/4

Verdict: Nice to snatch a point last weekend against West Brom but Cardiff needs wins. Three of their next four matches offer a strong possibility with Palace, Stoke and Sunderland all in the cards. Still, Cardiff in the Championship next season feels right, doesn’t it?

19. SUNDERLAND 25 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): Tottenham (A); Everton (H); Manchester City (A); Chelsea (A); Cardiff City (H); Manchester United (A); West Bromwich Albion (H); Swansea City (H)

League Form: LLDLLL

Other Competitions: None

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

Vegas odds to be relegated: 2/5

Verdict: Decent fight last week against Liverpool but a poor effort against West Ham put Gus Poyet’s side in a really bad place. Yes, they have two games in hand on most of their competitors but the Black Cats look positively anemic up top. No goals, no Premier League. Seems like a fair rule.

20. FULHAM 24 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): Aston Villa (A); Norwich City (H); Tottenham Hotspur (A); Hull City (H); Stoke City (A); Crystal Palace (H)

League Form: DLLWLL

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesDan Burn, muscle (no return date); Kostas Mitroglu, knee (no return date); Scott Parker, knee (April 5th); Damien Duff, knock (no return date); Georgios Karagounis, knock (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/6

Verdict: Vegas offering 1/6 is likely the last odds for Fulham before they stop taking bets. It’s sad, really. Anyone who loves the Premier League, especially Americans, should have a soft spot for Fulham. The Cootagers schedule still has five very winnable games left but, well, you know, that’s a huge long shot.

Seven unheralded stars of this Premier League season

during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
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Look, it’s been a crazy year in the Premier League. Leicester City is top by five points, Chelsea is a bottom-half side, and not one of the league’s top three scorers hails from a team in last season’s Top Four.

So it follows that among the league’s other statistical leaders — advanced and traditional — are some surprisingly shining stars.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Or at least they aren’t mentioned a ton. We plan to rectify that here. By no means do we claim these statistical leaders without fault this season, but hats off to the good they’ve done (or, in some cases, the pain they’ve felt).

Most saves in a starring role

You wouldn’t know it from the goal totals these past few weeks, but Stoke City’s Jack Butland has been playing otherworldly between the sticks. His 87 saves lead the Premier League, and the Potters would be in the thick of a relegation battle if he hadn’t shone as brightly.

Ironman

Eleven players have played every minute of their side’s Premier League campaign this season (a 12th, Gareth Barry, has played all but one). Four of those 11 are goalkeepers, and six more are defenders. The only midfielder? Bournemouth’s South African standout Andrew Surman (above).

Top thief, too

Surman is also the league leader in interceptions with 92. The next seven players on the list, headed by Chris Smalling, are all defenders.

The most under-appreciated of the underdogs

Kante (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Leicester City has been fantastic, and people are quick to name Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as big parts of the table-topping effort at King Power Stadium. Then, perhaps they’ll say something about goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel or defender Wes Morgan.

But how about the Premier League’s leader in tackles. Midfielder N'Golo Kante (right) has 115 tackles, 12 more than second-best Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace.

An all-expense paid journey to the massage parlor for…

Five players have been fouled more than 50 times this year, and you need to be around the ball a lot for that to happen. The four also-rans are Southampton’s Sadio Mane, Swansea City’s Andre Ayew, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Mahrez, but the man who deserved to skip to the head of the ice bath line is from Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha has been fouled 59 times. And that’s the amount of times the foulers were caught in the act.

Let Newcastle United’s captain climb in second, though; Fabricio Coloccini‘s 47 blocked shots are eight more than runners-up Neil Taylor (Swans) and Christian Fuchs (Leicester).

A man possessed

He hasn’t been heralded like a year ago, and most witnesses would tell you the midfielder’s been playing much worse. No, touches don’t equal success, but Cesc Fabregas‘ 2,027 credited touches are 74 more than the next player despite the fact that he’s the only player in the top four to have started less than 25 matches. He’s also completed 83 more passes than the closest competitor (Surman).

All-around stars

Advanced stats site Squawka uses an algorithm to generate statistics on who just might be the most complete player in the Premier League.

It’s certainly not foolproof, but the best player per-90 minutes would likely surprise you: Mousa Dembele of Spurs (Minimum 15 matches).

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As for who’s produced the most when numbers are averaged out over the entire game, one man rises to the top: Ross Barkley.

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Oft-targeted in the Premier League, Carvalho extends deal at Lisbon

Christian Hofer / Getty Images Sport
Christian Hofer / Getty Images Sport
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William Carvalho has been running through the rumor mill for ages, and Sporting Lisbon has made sure they’ll get their due if he ever stops somewhere else.

The Angola-born Portuguese defensive midfielder with 15 caps has extended his contract with Sporting through 2020, a date that carries him through his 28th birthday.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Carvalho is 23 now, and has been linked with loads of big name clubs from Manchester United to Chelsea, Arsenal to PSG.

His new buyout clause is said to be as high as $53 million, and Carvalho hopes his commitment calms his supporters.

“Sportinguistas, I say to you that I am very happy with the deal which I signed up to 2020 and that you will have total effort on my part to be champions.”

Sporting is tied with Benfica atop the Portuguese table, second on goal differential. The club leads third-place Porto by six points, and is still alive in the Europa League. Bayer Leverkusen is up next.

Klinsmann hints at Euro-heavy roster for World Cup qualifiers

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Danny Williams #14 of the United States looks on before an international friendly against Brazil at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images
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If your favorite Major League Soccer players don’t make the cut for Jurgen Klinsmann’s next roster, don’t think you won’t see them in the red, white and blue this summer.

[ JPW: What’s the best XI for USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers? ]

Perhaps it’ll be different for the players who were a part of January camp — stars Lee Nguyen and Steve Birnbaum chief among them — but Klinsmann says the late start of the MLS season can affect fitness for the critical qualifiers home and away to Guatemala.

That means there’s a better chance to see in-form Championship midfielder Danny Williams (above) or Pachuca’s Omar Gonzalez then, say, Orlando City’s Brek Shea or Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.

From USSoccer.com:

“We are basically looking all over the place. We monitor all the players in Europe. We monitor all the players in Mexico, and obviously we can’t wait until MLS starts as well. It’s really kind of crucial that we see everybody getting in the best shape possible, everybody getting into a rhythm and making statements.

“Then you say, ‘Is the roster you see at the end of March the same one as Copa America?’ Probably not. The end of March comes early for MLS players. The European players are in the full swing, and also Mexican players because they started already a month ago with Liga MX. So we’ll be monitoring everyone.”

We’ve already covered the obstacle that is the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying playoff occurring at the same time as the Guatemala matches, but this is still good news for players in England, Germany and other European locales seeking caps in March.

Klopp on struggling Benteke: “He wants to score and we need him to score”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Christian Benteke of Liverpool reacts as he foiled by goalkeeper Darren Randolph of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
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Jurgen Klopp had his appendix removed this weekend, but it’s doubtful he’s feeling as sore as his big Belgian striker.

Christian Benteke had the opportunity to put himself in the good graces of Liverpool fans with a number of decent chances in Tuesday’s FA Cup loss to West Ham, but couldn’t get the job done.

[ MORE: Match recap | Watch Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

In one case, Benteke put himself in a prime spot only to lash his shot wide of the post. Instead, he’s now at 11 appearances without a goal (despite ripping nine shots against the Irons).

From the BBC:

“I don’t believe in the easy goal. He has to carry on like this. It’s not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard. He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months.”

Klopp maintained that Liverpool was “the better team” on the night — counterpart Slaven Bilic disagreed — despite conceding a pair of very similar looking goals.

The game could’ve avoided extra time through Benteke’s boots and body, but he couldn’t find his finish again.

The 25-year-old has seen his goal production drop by nearly half since joining from Aston Villa in the summer, and it’s sure to return… just maybe not under Klopp.