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

Leave a comment

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.

Barcelona GM: “We’re close to signing Coutinho, Dembele”

Philippe Coutinho
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.

Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”

Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.

Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.

VIDEO: Asensio, Real Madrid outclass out-of-sorts Barca; PSG trolls?

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
2 Comments

This one wasn’t even close, and is going to instantly have many Barcelona fans wondering if the loss of Neymar is going to be too much for Ernesto Valverde to handle.

Real Madrid rode a stunning Marco Asensio strike to a 2-0 first half lead at the Bernabeu on Wednesday en route to a 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.

It’s Real’s 10th Spanish Super Cup, and first since 2012.

[ MORE: Bacca to Villarreal ]

Karim Benzema also scored in the opening frame, which saw Barca looking out of sorts and rudderless.

As in the first leg in Barcelona, the Blaugranas had their moments but failed to show sharpness and class against the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners.

Lionel Messi hit the crossbar, Luis Suarez headed off the post. The second half wasn’t producing a magic comeback.

Both teams kick off their La Liga seasons on Sunday, with Barca hosting Real Betis and Real off to Deportivo de la Coruna.

Meanwhile, it seems like PSG spent the afternoon trolling Barca, first posting a shot of ex-Blaugranas stars Dani Alves and Neymar training, and then an incredulous Neymar accompanied by a laughing emoji.

Carlos Bacca joins Villarreal, Boateng leaves Las Palmas

Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Colombia striker Carlos Bacca joined Spanish club Villarreal on loan from AC Milan on Wednesday.

Villarreal said the one-season loan agreement includes the option to buy the player at the end of the season.

Bacca returns to a Spanish league where the 30-year-old forward flourished in two seasons at Sevilla before joining Milan in 2015.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

Bacca has made 39 appearances for Colombia, scoring 13 goals. According to Villarreal, he has scored 165 career goals in 336 matches. He scored 14 goals for Milan last season.

Elsewhere in Spain, Las Palmas announced that Kevin-Prince Boateng was leaving the club after both sides agreed to end his contract two days before its season opener.

Las Palmas said that Boateng was leaving due to “personal reasons of an irreversible nature.” The club thanked the former AC Milan standout for his “professionalism” that he displayed during his single season on the Canary Islands.

Las Palmas opens the Spanish league season on Friday at Valencia.

Man City has $23 million Evans bid shot down by WBA

Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Could Jonny Evans be the latest player to cross Manchester’s red and blue divide, albeit with a stop in between?

Reports Wednesday say West Bromwich Albion has rejected a $23 million Manchester City bid for the Northern Irish center back.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

$23 million? That’s like 40 percent of a Kyle Walker!

Evans, 29, is the Baggies captain and a key piece of the club’s aims to continue its long stay in the Premier League.

He joined Manchester United’s academy at age 16 and stayed at Old Trafford through 2015, taking loan opportunities at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland on the way.

At United, Evans won three Premier League titles and two League Cups, and also has a Championship win from one of his two stints at Sunderland.

The 61-times capped Belfast native would give City a key component for Premier League play along with a center back corps of Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Eliaquim Mangala completes their veteran depth, and is certainly City’s weakest position.

Would West Brom sell at any reasonable price? The Baggies are not deep at center back, either — not too many clubs are — and will be in a boatload of trouble without Evans. And given the transfer market, finding a proper replacement at under $30 million is going to be difficult (Reread that sentence. What a summer).

It’s another argument for the transfer window closing before the start of the season.