West Brom 1-2 Stoke City: Charlie Adam winner gives Stoke best-ever finish (video)

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Charlie Adam produced a goal out of nothing and Stoke City combined a win with a Newcastle loss to jump to ninth place on the final day, marking their best-ever Premier League finish.

The substitute weaved his way through a lackadaisical West Brom defense all by himself and gave Mark Hughes a fitting finish to a surprisingly successful season.

West Brom were incredibly close early on, hitting the bar with a header off a corner in just the second minute.  The ball bounced straight down but goalline technology showed the ball did not fully cross the line.

source:
Stoke finish the season in ninth as the Potters prevailed.

That was all the Baggies would have for a while, as Stoke brought their quality wing play to the Hawthorns and it began to go to work.

The Potters would eventually benefit from putting the touchline under pressure, as Marko Arnautovic powered down the left-hand side and crossed into the box, but his cross never found its mark. Instead, it nicked off Gareth McAuley’s heel and snuck into the bottom corner for an own-goal and Stoke’s lead.

West Brom had a few half chances, but the goal energized the visitors and things looked bleak for the Baggies in their last match of the season.

Stoke finished out the half in comfortable fashion, with the home attack offering little into the box and the visitors enjoying plenty of dangerous possession.

In the second half, things were the same for West Brom, finding themselves helpless in the final third and Stoke looking much more incisive.  Despite this, the Baggies would find an equalizer.

In their first real bit of quality, Graham Dorrans had options and found Craig Dawson, whose cross was passed up by Morgan Amalfitano before Stephane Sessegnon crashed it home.

With the game slowing down as the minutes ticked on, Stoke City searched for their winner and waited until the 86th minute before it came.  Substitute Charlie Adam received a ball from behind the halfway line and worked his way past four sleeping defenders to slot home the winner for Stoke.

LINEUPS:

West Brom – Foster; Dawson (O’Neil 83′), McAuley, Olsson, Brunt; Dorrans, Mulumbu (Vydra 90′), Morrison, Amalfitano (Anichebe 63′), Sessegnon; Berahino.

Goals – Sessegnon 56′

Stoke City – Sorensen; Muniesa, Shawcross, Wilson, Cameron; Arnautovic (Etherington 90′), Whelan, Nzonzi, Odemwingie (Crouch 77′); Ireland, Walters (Adam 81).

Goals – McAuley (og) 22′, Adam 86′

Sanchez, Mkhitaryan transfer still up in the air

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The player-swap/trade/transfer between Arsenal and Manchester United still appears to be heading towards completion, but it was further delayed Friday.

Multiple reports in England state that while Alexis Sanchez seems set to move to Manchester United, Henrik Mkhitaryan has yet to agree to move the other way, as talks between the player’s agent and Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was seen training at Manchester United’s practice facility on Friday, and because the latest delay, both players would be unable to debut for their new teams this weekend after missing the Premier League registration deadline.

[MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks]

Arsenal hosts Crystal Palace Manchester United travels to Burnley, both on Saturday at 10 a.m. (Watch Arsenal live on CNBC, Manchester United live on NBCSN, and both live on NBCSports.com)

The London Evening Standard reports that Mkhitaryan would command a $242,000-per-week salary but that as of Friday morning he had yet to undergo a medical for the transfer. Arsenal reportedly still wants a transfer fee included for Sanchez, while Manchester United would prefer to just swap the two players.

It’s also looking as if that won’t be Arsenal’s only business in the transfer market. While it seemed like a far-fetched rumor at first, the links between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal have only grown stronger in the past few days, and the Gabon international appears to be in the Gunners sights. It appears that Bordeaux’s young striker Malcolm is now off the table.

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.