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Premier League Roundup: Man City go top, Fulham and Cardiff relegated

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On Saturday in the Premier League we said goodbye to Fulham and Cardiff City as both were relegated after their defeats.

At the other end of the table, Manchester City took a huge step towards the PL title as they ground out a 3-2 win over Everton, knowing if they win their last two home games of the season against Aston Villa and West Ham then they will win their second title in three seasons.

MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Elsewhere Sunderland bagged a massive 1-0 victory away at Manchester United, Villa beat Hull 3-1, West Ham beat London rivals Tottenham to secure their PL status and Southampton scored late to beat Swansea on the road.

In case you missed anything, below we have recaps, analysis and videos of all seven PL games from a pivotal Saturday. Enjoy.

Aston Villa 3-1 Hull City

Villa went ahead inside a minute thanks to Ashley Westwood’s goal but an own goal from Jordan Bowery made it 1-1. Then Andreas Weimann popped up twice before the break and made it 3-1 and the Villans cruised to victory. Paul Lambert’s men have staved off relegation once again, while Hull still aren’t mathematically safe.

Everton 2-3 Manchester City

A nervy and edgy encounter at Goodison as City just held on for a crucial win. Ross Barkley’s stunner put Everton but then Sergio Aguero equalized and Edin Dzeko headed them ahead before the break. After the interval Dzeko struck again as City looked to be cruising but Everton, despite a strange atmosphere from the home crowd as they knew a win would help crosstown rivals win the league, pulled another back as Romelu Lukaku headed home. That set up a nervous finish but if City beat Aston Villa and West Ham at home in their final two games, they will have won the PL title.

Manchester United 0-1 Sunderland

Sunderland beat Ryan Giggs’ United side at Old Trafford, as Sebastian Larsson’s cool volley after 30 minutes did the damage. United missed Wayne Rooney through injury and struggled to create any top chances, as Giggs’ second game in charge ended in defeat. The Black Cats are three points clear of safety and if Norwich lose on Sunday against Chelsea they will be safe from relegation.

Newcastle United 3-0 Cardiff City

The Magpies fans staged their mass walkout in the 69th minute, but the fans who did stay in the stadium saw Newcastle hammer Cardiff 3-0 and relegate the Bluebirds in the process. Goals from Shola Ameobi, Loic Remy and Steven Taylor stopped the Magpies’ run of six-straight defeats. As for Cardiff, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side head back to the Championship at the first time of asking.

Stoke City 4-1 Fulham

The Potters hammered the final nail in Fulham’s coffin with a resounding win at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke led 1-0 at half time after Peter Odemwingie tapped home, then Marko Arnautovic and Oussama Assaidi scored before Kieran Richardson netted a consolation for the Cottagers. Fulham’s misery was complete later on when Jonathan Walters scored, as Felix Magath saw his team’s 13-year stay in the PL come to an end.

Swansea City 0-1 Southampton

Not a classic at the Liberty Stadium as the Swans and Saints both had nothing but pride to play for. Saints pushed hard throughout but Swansea had some great chances to go ahead however Wilfried Bony was off target. In stoppage time the winner arrived as Ashley Williams’ clearance looped back towards his own goal and Rickie Lambert was on hand to knock home on the line. Saints will finish eight, midtable for Swansea.

West Ham United 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur

The Hammers are safe after a derby win over Spurs at Upton Park. Andy Carroll’s header was put into his own net by Harry Kane just after Tottenham had been reduced to 10-man following Younes Kaboul hauling down Stewart Downing as last man. Speaking of Downing, he scored a free kick before the break to make it 2-0 and Tottenham never recovered.

10 Premier League teams enter Football League trophy

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 15:  Sesc Fabregas (L) of Chelsea celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team mates Gary Cahill (C) and Tammy Abraham (R) during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on May 15, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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10 Premier League teams have accepted an invitation to play in a revamped version of the Football League Trophy during the 2016-17 season.

Relaunched as the “EFL Trophy” the competition was previously only open to teams in League One and League Two, the second and third tiers in the English soccer pyramid, but in a one-off trial the Football League has included 16 Category A academy teams from both the Premier League and English Championship to participate.

[ MORE: Guardiola bans pizza

Chelsea, Leicester City, West Ham United, Everton, Southampton, Stoke City, Swansea City, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough are the 10 PL teams who have decided to enter the competition.

A number of other Premier League clubs declined the invite and some purists in England are concerned that essentially “B teams” from the top two tiers will run away with the competition and easily win it. For example, PL side Southampton won the Football League Trophy in 2010 when they were in the third tier but now their U-21 side will be competing in the competition.

Shaun Harvey, chief executive of the Football League, explained the reason to mix things up as member clubs in the Football League voted in favor of the changes this summer.

“When opting to make these innovative changes to the competition, at the very heart of our thinking was to ensure younger players got an opportunity to test themselves in competitive games against experienced professionals. By involving them much earlier at senior level, we have a real chance of developing more and better home grown players.”

A regional group stage draw took place on Wednesday with eight groups in the south and eight in the north. Each team will play three games and the top two teams from each group will then compete in a knockout tournament with the final at Wembley Stadium in April.

The full schedule for the upcoming tournament can be found in the link below.


Zidane suggests Real Madrid in the hunt to sign Paul Pogba

Real Madrid's headcoach Zinedine Zidane follows a Champions League, round of 16, first-leg soccer match between Roma and Real Madrid, at the Rome Olympic stadium, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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Zinedine Zidane is a mischievous so and so.

With Juventus sealing a $98.7 million move for Gonzalo Higuain on Tuesday, everybody is expecting the Italian champs to sell Paul Pogba to Manchester United in the next few days for a fee in excess of $130 million.

[ MORE: Guardiola bans pizza ]

Well, hold your horses. Real Madrid could be back in for Pogba.

Speaking to the media ahead of Real’s opening 2016 International Champions Cup game against Paris Saint-Germain in Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday, Zidane has

“I do not know if he’ll come. Until August 31 anything can happen,” Zidane said. “Pogba is a great player and when you’re with Madrid you always want the best. But today he is not a Madrid player, he is with Juventus. I cannot say anything else.”

Zinedine, my friend, quickly try and screw the lid back on that can of worms you’ve just opened.

[ MORE: How did Yedlin, CCV do for Spurs? ]

Pogba, 23, is currently on vacation in Florida with his agent Mino Raiola and it has been reported that his potential world-record transfer to Manchester United has hit a snag. Raiola is in line to make over $22 million on the deal but reports suggest Juve and United are at odds over who pays Pogba’s agent that fee.

All of that aside, do Real really need Pogba?

Yes, he’s a fine player but as we’ve already discussed at PST, is he really worth over $130 million? As his up and down form at EURO 2016 proved, he may still not be the complete player but his athletic ability combined with his deft touches and penchant for taking over games with his lung-bursting runs are his biggest assets. The lure of working with Zidane, a French national team legend, could be strong for Pogba and of course Zizou knows all about switching Juve for Real Madrid as he made the same move during his playing days for a then world record fee.

Zidane already has Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro and Mateo Kovacic in central midfield but maybe the reigning European champs will look to strengthen further by adding yet another glittering star to their ranks.

If Pogba does head to Real Madrid, then surely the Los Galacticos nickname will be back in full force.

Guardiola responds to banning pizza, overweight Man City players from training

SHENZHEN, CHINA - JULY 27:  Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola attends a press conference for 2016 International Champions Cup match between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund at Shenzhen Stadium on July 27, 2016 in Shenzhen, China.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Pep Guardiola isn’t too impressed with the fitness levels of Manchester City’s players.

The new manager of City has apparently ordered certain players to train on their own away from the first team.

[ MORE: Winter break for the PL? ]

That’s according to French left back Gael Clichy, who said that “if your weight is too high, you’re not training with the team” and added that “you hear it a lot but, for my part, it’s the first time any manager has really done it. And we have a few players who are not training with the team yet.”

Clichy also revealed that Guardiola has banned “some juice and, of course, pizza and all the heavy food is not allowed” as part of a strict new diet for the Citizens.

Wow.

Speaking in a press conference in China ahead of City’s clash against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday, Guardiola revealed his issues with the current fitness of his squad.

“They are not overweight, but I want my players fit,” Guardiola said. “The weight is so, so important. You need to run, fight, jump, head the ball and then after two days you need to do it again. After three days you have to do it again, then another three days you need to do it again. When you are not fit, danger is coming. You are not fast enough or quick enough in the head. That is why you need to be fit.”

So, Guardiola didn’t deny this is the case but it goes to show just how meticulous and ruthless he is when it comes to getting his players in peak condition.

Now, it’s probably an honest slip of the tongue from Clichy to reveal all of this but will he regret telling the world about Guardiola enforcing a strict diet on the team? Who knows. Probably not.

It’s no secret that Guardiola is a hard taskmaster. Speak to players at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. You’re either with him or against him. There’s no ambiguity.

I’m expecting to see huge cardboard cutouts of pizza slices in the stands at City’s games this season…

Conte not going to sell Matic, enjoys quality midfield headache

VELDEN, AUSTRIA - JULY 20: Nemanja Matic of Chelsea reacts during the friendly match between WAC RZ Pellets and Chelsea F.C. at Worthersee Stadion on July 20, 2016 in Velden, Austria. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
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Antonio Conte feels he has a bit of an embarrassment of riches in his midfield, not that it’s a problem outside of deciding who hits the pitch.

The Chelsea boss does not plan on selling Nemanja Matic despite the acquisition of N'Golo Kante — in fact Conte thinks Matic can be one of the best in the world.

[ MORE: New club for Pato ]

That’s not surprising, given that Matic was one of the keys to Chelsea’s 2014-15 PL title run.

Conte says he has some tricky selections to make in the coming days, as Chelsea prepares to open its Premier League season Aug. 15 at West Ham United.

From ChelseaFC.com:

“Kante is a good player and he was a target of our market. I am pleased the club took this player, it’s fantastic,” said the 46-year-old. “The players in a great team like Chelsea must know there are many players that can play. It’s important for me to have a good choice to try the best solution game by game. It’s important for me to see always the right attitude and behaviour from the players.

“When I have players like N’Golo, Nemanja, Cesc, Oscar and Chalobah, and Mikel who is in the Olympics, it is not easy to choose. I want to have this problem.”

For a manager who loves to keep it tight in the midfield, it would be far from shocking to see Matic and Kante behind two attacking mids (Willian and Hazard?) or even three.

Regardless, Chelsea’s match day tactics will be one of the more fascinating subplots of 2016, especially when Conte matches up against the Blues’ former boss Jose Mourinho (Oct. 22 at Stamford Bridge and April 15 at Old Trafford).