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Wenger: Top four not as easy as it looks

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Arsene Wenger has compared finishing in fourth place to winning a trophy.

[ MORE: Arsenal’s strange state of flux ]

Quoting Pep Guardiola, the under-fire Arsenal boss has further risked the wrath of Gunners fans, many of whom are already protesting against him before each game.

After 20 straight seasons of finishing in the top four of the Premier League, thus securing UEFA Champions League qualification in the process, Wenger’s men are seven points outside the top four as things stand although they do have a game in hand on fourth-place Manchester City.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s PL score picks – Week 31

Still, when speaking to the media ahead of Arsenal’s clash with West Ham United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) Wenger gave a little reminder as to just how tough finishing in the top four is…

“It’s a good challenge [reaching the top four],” Wenger said. “It is perfectly possible, for 20 years I have done it. I am quite pleased that people can realize it is not as easy as it looks. Like Pep Guardiola said ‘to achieve a top four in England is a trophy.’

“We have many games in April, we need to have everyone on board and to work like we did against Manchester City, then we have a chance. We also have an FA Cup semi-final. There is all to go for and it is a good opportunity to show we are united and strong.”

With Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal all fighting for the final two UCL spots (Chelsea lead the PL on 69 points and Tottenham sit in second on 62 points) the top four race is set to go down to the wire.

On paper Arsenal and Man United have the toughest remaining schedules and given all of the uncertainty around Arsenal about Wenger’s future, plus whether or not Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will stay beyond this summer, the Gunners have just one win in their last six games and it seems like they must win out to finish in the top four.

After Arsenal’s CEO Ivan Gazidis met with supporters at a fans forum on Sunday ans has been quoted as saying Wenger must be a “catalyst for change” at the club, perhaps this is a little retort from Wenger to give a reminder of what a sterling job he’s done over the past two decades.

The 67-year-old Frenchman still hasn’t revealed his future plans but this crescendo of speculation seems to be approaching some sort of end game.

If Arsenal fail to finish in the top four Wenger can’t stay on, right?

Cristiano Ronaldo announces birth of twin sons via surrogate

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Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in Portugal’s third-place match at the 2017 Confederations Cup this Sunday.

He has bigger things to sort out.

Ronaldo, 32, was released from Portugal’s squad late Wednesday after their defeat on penalty kicks to Chile in the Confed Cup semifinals in Russia.  The Real Madrid and Portugal superstar will now travel to visit his new twin sons, who were born via a surrogate earlier this month, with Ronaldo set to meet them for the first time after captaining Portugal in Russia over the past few weeks.

According to reports from Portuguese TV channel SIC, the surrogate mother was based on the west coast of the U.S. (I can already hear you guys asking ‘does that mean they’re eligible to play for the USMNT?’). Ronaldo is now the father of three children after already having a seven-year-old son, Cristiano Ronaldo Jr.

Reports also suggest that his 22-year-old girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez is five months pregnant, so soon he could be a father for the fourth time. He would then be able to field a five-a-side team of Ronaldo’s for indoor games…

Below is the post from Ronaldo confirming his departure from Portugal’s squad, which the national team also confirmed, as he is set to meet his new children for the first time.

“I was in the service of the national team, as always, body and soul, even though my two sons were born. Unfortunately, we have not been able to achieve the main sporting objective that we wanted, but I am sure we will continue to give joy to the Portuguese.

“The President of the Portuguese Football Federation and the national picker have today had an attitude that has touched me and I will not forget. I’m very happy to finally be with my children for the first time.”

Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.