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PL Saturday roundup: Spurs, Arsenal win big; Costa-less Chelsea get back on track

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Both ends of the table continue to provide intrigue after another busy day around the Premier League, including the division’s top three sides each picking up convincing victories.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Here, we take a look back at Saturday’s action from around England’s top flight.

Tottenham 4-0 West Bromwich Albion — RECAP

Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is hitting its stride at the right time, and now Spurs find themselves all the way up to second in the PL. Harry Kane‘s hat-trick helped guide Tottenham to an easy home win over West Brom on Saturday at White Hart Lane as Spurs picked up their sixth-straight victory. The Baggies have now lost three of their last five matches despite sitting in the top 10.

Swansea City 0-4 Arsenal — RECAP

Swansea’s struggles continued on Saturday despite a lively start from the hosts. Once again though, the Gunners proved that they can punish any team in the blink of an eye if given the opportunity. Goals from Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez, as well as two own goals, helped guide Arsenal up to third in the table as the top of the league remains congested. Meanwhile, the Swans still sit at the bottom of the PL on 15 points.

Leicester City 0-3 Chelsea — RECAP

No Diego Costa, no problem. While speculation over the Spaniard’s future continues to swirl, the Blues got back on track against the reigning top-flight champions. A brace from Marcos Alonso and a third from Pedro helped give Chelsea all three points and a tentative seven-point advantage over Spurs at the top of the PL. The Foxes once again fell short on Saturday for their ninth loss of the campaign, after having fallen just three times a season ago. Claudio Ranieri‘s men are now just five points above the bottom three with 17 matches remaining.

Burnley 1-0 Southampton — RECAP

The Clarets continued their impressive home record this season with another home victory. Joey Barton‘s first goal since returning to Burnley helped push the hosts up to 10th in the standings after the midfielder came on as substitute. All eight of Burnley’s victories have come at home this season, while 25 of the team’s 26 points have been picked up at the Turf Moor.

HULL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: Tom Huddlestone of Hull City (C) celebrates his side third goal with his Hull City team mates during the Premier League match between Hull City and AFC Bournemouth at KCOM Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Hull, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Hull City 3-1 Bournemouth — RECAP

Marco Silva received everything he could have wished for on his PL debut for the Tigers. Despite going down early after Junior Stanislas converted from the penalty spot, it was all Hull the rest of the way. An Abel Hernandez double helped put Hull out in front against the Cherries, while a Tyrone Mings own goal sealed the fate of the visitors on Saturday. Hull now has four wins on the season, moving the Tigers up to 18th in the table.

Sunderland 1-3 Stoke City — RECAP

Marko Arnautovic and Peter Crouch both scored for the visitors as Stoke City rose to ninth on Saturday against the Black Cats. While Jermain Defoe continues to keep Sunderland in the hunt to climb out of the relegation zone, the Englishman lacks a supporting cast up front. Sunderland remains in the bottom three on 15 points, although the Black Cats are just one point behind 17th place Crystal Palace.

Watford 0-0 Middlesbrough — RECAP

Both sides remain above the drop zone despite an uneventful encounter at Vicarage Road. Middlesbrough failed to record a shot on target on Saturday, however, the visitors came the closest to finding an opener when Cristhian Stuani knocked home a flicked ball from Alvaro Negredo. Unfortunately for Boro, the finish was called back for offsides.

West Ham 3-0 Crystal Palace — RECAP

The Hammers remain in fine form as of late courtesy of Michail Antonio‘s three assists against the Eagles at the Olympic Stadium. Manuel Lanzini, Sofiane Feghouli and Andy Carroll all punched their names on the scoresheet for West Ham, who now move up to 12th in the league. None were better than Carroll’s bicycle kick strike which put an exclamation on the match. Palace, however, have fallen all the way to 17th after failing to win in their last seven matches.

Wenger confirms Ospina will start pair while Ozil, Ramsey miss out

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Arsene Wenger confirmed in his pre-match press conference that goalkeeper Petr Cech will get an extended rest with a pair of Cup games on the horizon for Arsenal.

In his place, David Ospina will start both Thursday’s Europa League Round of 32 match against Ostersund and Sunday’s EFL Cup Final against Manchester City. Ospina is no stranger to this type of rotation, with the Colombian owning just 30 starts over the last three seasons in national and international Cup competitions compared to just seven Premier League appearances.

In addition, Wenger also confirmed that Mesut Ozil will miss out for Thursday’s match due to illness, but is expected back for Sunday’s EFL Cup final. Arsenal has a 3-0 lead over Swedish club Ostersund after the first leg, with the second leg to be played at the Emirates.

Wenger said Aaron Ramsey is back in training, and while he will not be risked in the Europa League match in his return from a groin injury that saw him miss the North London derby loss, he could be in contention to play against Manchester City. [Ramsey] is not in the squad tomorrow, he had a good training session. We will see how his evolution goes between now and Sunday. I don’t rule him out.”

Ramsey scored a hat-trick in the 5-1 win over Everton in early February, but has played just 181 minutes since picking up a hamstring injury in mid-December.

Finally, Wenger said that Danny Welbeck and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will both receive starting spots against Ostersund, as will some unnamed youth products. Welbeck has been out of Premier League action since mid-January, stuck behind Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but he received four minutes off the bench in the North London derby and will get another opportunity in the Europa League to prove his worth.

Conte admits job security speculation will always exist at Chelsea

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Antonio Conte admits that he will always face speculation about his tenure as manager while he is employed at Chelsea, but dismissed it as “no problem for me.”

There is a general acceptance that Conte will part ways with Chelsea at the end of the season given the tough times the club has seen this campaign. The Blues are hanging on to a Champions League place by a thread, and struggled through a January that included just two wins across all competitions in six matches.

“I’ve said it very clearly: I’ve got a contract until 2019 and I intend to respect this, but you know anything can happen in football,” Conte told Italian publication Mediaset. “It takes two to be happy and continue a marriage. Our work is unique because we’ve always got our suitcase in our hands.”

Conte did issue somewhat of a warning to Chelsea, however, that if he were to be fired, it could come back to haunt the club, as he would have no shortage of offers. “My intention is to respect my contract, but if something were to happen, it would open up different scenarios.” Big clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid could have job openings this summer if their lofty goals aren’t met, and those places would be attractive destinations for Conte, who won the Premier League title with Chelsea just last year.

“It’s a bit the history of Chelsea and inevitable when, in the past, in 14 years, 10 coaches have been changed,” he said. “Clearly when there is this habit, let’s say, the press play on it and as soon as there is a result or two which don’t go your way, they try to put the pressure on.

“But it’s no problem for me. I hope that this pressure doesn’t harm the players, not me, because I go looking for pressure.”

CCL: Toronto wins; Wild Herediano comeback

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On a single-digit Tuesday that severely limited the attendance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where the Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC dueled in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Jonathan Osorio’s second half goal put the Reds in front and Sebastian Giovinco had a goal and an assist and the visitors take a 2-0 decision back to Ontario.

The best chance of a preseason quality first half saw Dominique Badji flub the best chance of the stage into the feet of Alex Bono.

Toronto took the lead, nabbing the away goal through Osorio’s header of a Sebastian Giovinco cross. And the Atomic Ant got on the board with a goal of his own off an Auro assist with 17 minutes to play.

[ MORE: Georgia teen heading to Schalke ]

Tuesday’s other first leg saw Herediano and Tigres play to a 2-2 draw in Costa Rica, with the Liga MX visitors taking a pair of away goals but shocked by a pair of stoppage time concessions.

Francisco Meza scored in the 15th minute and Lucas Zelarayan seemingly put it to bed with 15 minutes to play.

But Yendrick Ruiz converted a 90th minute penalty kick before ex-DC United forward Jairo Arrieta did this ahead of the Feb. 22 second leg in Mexico.

Another American heads to Schalke: Zyen Jones

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Schalkamerica?

Bundesliga mainstays Schalke have added yet another American, this one 17-year-old Zyen Jones of Atlanta United. Jones is a forward with the U.S. U-17 national team.

Like Josh Sargent, who signed his deal with Werder Bremen on Tuesday, he’ll head overseas and sign a pro contract on Aug. 25, his 18th birthday.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Jones will join several potential USMNT teammates in Gelsenkirchen, including injured senior team midfielder Weston McKennie and youngster Nick Taitague (19). Forward Haji Wright is on loan at Sandhausen.