Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger weighed in on the Premier League title race as his Gunners prepare to close out a fourth-place campaign on Championship Sunday, and the long-time boss said it would take “a miracle” for Manchester City to not take the title.
Maybe there’s a lax definition of “miracle” in England, because Gus Poyet pulled a self-described one off in rescuing Sunderland, but is it really done-and-dusted for City?
They’ll host West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium on Championship Sunday, a Hammers team they hammered 3-1 at the Boleyn Ground earlier this year. They’ve also handled West Ham over two legs in the League Cup by a resounding 9-0 score line.
And West Ham hasn’t beaten City since March 1, 2009. They haven’t done the deed at City since an FA Cup win in 2006.
West Ham has scored the seventh-least goals in the PL, with 40, though they’ve also allowed the eighth-fewest. The club features a surely-motivated trio of familiar Liverpool names in Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Joe Cole.
A draw will do the trick unless Liverpool blasts Newcastle by 14 goals (which would be historic but not as surprising as you think considering the Magpies have more or less been licking the stamps on next year’s mail for about a month).
It is worth noting that Liverpool beat Newcastle 6-0 toward the end of last season, and that there was less at stake in that battle (Liverpool was in 7th, 10 points back of 5th, while Newcastle was six points ahead of the drop). Their record win is 11-0 against Strømsgodset in the 1974 UEFA Cup-winners Cup.
So would it be a miracle for Manchester City to lose the title on Championship Sunday? Not quite, but Liverpool fans will need a decent amount of good fortune come Sunday. City has lost to only one team at home this year — Chelsea — and has allowed a grand total of 13 goals at the Etihad in PL play.
A City coronation is likely coming.
PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.
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The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”
His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”
Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.
Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.
In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.
He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.
Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.
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The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.
“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.
“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”
Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.
PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.
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Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.
Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.
There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.
Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.
Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.
Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.
Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.
The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.
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On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.
With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.
According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.
“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.
“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”
Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.