LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 19: Yannick Bolasie of Crystal Palace and George McCartney of West Ham compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Crystal Palace at Boleyn Ground on April 19, 2014 in London, England.

West Ham United 0-1 Crystal Palace: Eagles assure second season in Premier League (video)

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Saturday’s win over West Ham secures a huge, huge three points for Crystal Palace. They’d reached the 40 point mark already, but now they are mathematically assured of a second consecutive season in the Premier League. Tony Pulis, the man who’s never seen a side relegated, has worked his magic once more.

Prior to kickoff between West Ham and Palace, a minute’s applause rang out around Upton Park, honoring former West Ham player Dylan Tombides. The club announced yesterday that the 20-year-old died following a battle against testicular cancer.

But if Irons fans were hoping the club would honor Tombides’ memory by playing out a thriller, well, that dream didn’t come true.

(Premier League Roundup: Chelsea blow it, Swansea, Spurs and Palace win)

Although West Ham started brightly, for the majority of the first half, it was the visitors that had the upper hand. In the 17th minute, Andy Carroll was there to clear a header from Kagisho Dikgacoi off the line. Five minutes later, Dikgacoi was threatening again, but his shot was straight at Adrián.

In the end it was a penalty that secured safety for Palace. Pablo Armero brought down Cameron Jones inside the area, clipping his ankle. It was a clear penalty, and the visitors took advantage.

Cameron Jerome drives into the box and goes tumbling under Pablo Armero’s challenge. A penalty, and the West Ham defender can have few complaints after clipping the striker’s ankle. Mile Jedinak stepped up, putting his shot past Adrián into the top left corner.

Rather than spurring West Ham into action, the goal encouraged Palace to go after another. Jason Puncheon, who’d scored four in the last three games, came the closest, seeing two shots blocked and then placing one just wide.


West Ham United: Adrian, McCartney, Tomkins, Reid, Armero, Noble, Diame, Nolan (Nocerino 85), Downing (J. Cole 78), Carroll, Jarvis (C. Cole 70)

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Digkacoi, Jedinak, Puncheon (Gabbidon 87), Bolasie (Parr 87), Ledley, Jerome (Murray 82)

Goals: Jedinak 59′

Mourinho “working like never before” to turn Chelsea around

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Jose Mourinho got the dreaded much-needed vote of confidence from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich last weekend, seemingly giving the Portuguese manager a temporary stay of execution despite the Blues’ worst start to a season in 37 years.

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Speaking this week, Mourinho has revealed that while he’s thankful to have been kept on at the club for which he regularly professes his love, he still thinks it was no-brainer for Abramovich. In other words, Mourinho’s not backing down from his incredible, seven-minute rant to one question following Saturday’s defeat to Southampton.

Mourinho, on what he’s doing to turn Chelsea around — quotes from the Guardian:

“It shows the confidence of Abramovich in the manager who has won three Premier League titles with this club. I thank him and I keep working.

“What’s going on? I do not know. The results with Chelsea at the moment have been really bad. I cannot hide that reality, and I don’t want to. And I struggle to find an explanation. But I assure you: I’m working like never before and we will come out of this. And there is also the Champions League that we will not neglect, for certain.”

What did you expect from Mourinho? Well, you know, I should probably be fired, but thanks to Mr. Abramovich for not realizing this and keeping me employed? It’s simultaneously interesting and the least surprising thing ever, though, that Mourinho claims to not know what’s wrong with Chelsea at the moment. Of course he has a theory (or five), and of course he’s “working like never before” to correct it.

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The most fascinating thing about Chelsea’s sluggish start to the season is to see, hear and read Mourinho speaking from a position of powerlessness. Always the clever one, the one dictating where the discussion goes, the one in charge of every press interaction, Saturday’s rant felt like watching a desperate Mourinho grasping for anything by which to pull himself back up.

Reports link Guardiola with Manchester City summer move

Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Bundesliga
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There are claims out of Spain that Manchester City has a verbal agreement to bring Pep Guardiola to town when his Bayern Munich contract expires in June.

Don’t expect comment from Guardiola, who bristles when discussing his future. In the past he’s hinted he might not be the right man for the Bavarian side, but has lamented any questions about clubs other than Bayern.

Now Mundo Deportivo writer Francesc Aguilar says there’s a secret agreement between Guardiola and Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain to reunite at the Etihad Stadium this summer.

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Both Barcelona buffs and former Spanish internationals, Begiristain was Barca’s director of football when Guardiola took over for Frank Rjikaard in 2008.

Manuel Pellegrini signed a contract extension this summer and has led the club to a Premier League title, though the club has struggled in European competition. For what it’s worth, the Manchester Evening News got rumor reaction from Sergio Aguero:

On the latest Guardiola rumour, Kun said: “It has been talked about a lot. I don’t know him, but he’s a great manager and it’s wonderful to have the best managers train you.”

But he also added: “I’m very good with Manuel Pellegrini, we talk a lot. I’m happy in the team and with him, but the club will be the one who chooses who comes in.”

In other words, “I’m really good, and they pay me well enough that I’m prepared to play for any big name that arrives.”

It’s a story to keep up with, even as it intrudes on the seasons of two big, rich European clubs.