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Where will 2017 Arsenal top or bottom out?

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Arsenal is in a very bad place right now.

Of course that’s all relative to Arsenal, the club which brought us the Invincibles and so many beautiful, flowing football moments, those of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Ian Wright, and — to a lesser extent — Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

The Gunners lost their eighth match of the Premier League season on Monday — a sad display at Crystal Palace — to give them their most losses in a season since 2011-12. That year saw Arsenal lose 10 matches, one of only two seasons with double-digit PL losses under Wenger.

[ MORE: Wenger’s status in Kroenke’s hands ]

The situation isn’t good, and Arsenal’s hopeful trek to the Top Four is fraught with peril. No mistakes can remain, no more bumps in the road. Arsenal has used up every bit of asphalt in the budget when it comes to paving over potholes.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Chelsea 31 24 3 4 65 25 40 13-0-2 11-3-2 75
 Tottenham Hotspur 31 20 8 3 64 22 42 14-2-0 6-6-3 68
 Liverpool 32 18 9 5 68 40 28 11-4-1 7-5-4 63
 Manchester City 31 18 7 6 60 35 25 8-6-1 10-1-5 61
 Manchester United 30 15 12 3 46 24 22 6-9-1 9-3-2 57
 Arsenal 30 16 6 8 61 39 22 10-3-2 6-3-6 54
 Everton 32 15 9 8 57 36 21 11-4-1 4-5-7 54

Right now, it looks like fifth or sixth is Arsenal’s situation. The Gunners certainly won’t catch Chelsea or Spurs, and Manchester City won’t be easy to catch, either. In fact, Arsenal’s only hope for the Top Four is to outperform Manchester United and hope for Liverpool to fall apart.

That’s asking a lot. Even given Liverpool’s relative struggles against bottom half sides, the Reds will not see a single Top Seven team the rest of the way. Even if Jurgen Klopp‘s men lost all three road matches, they’d finish with 72 points. Arsenal would have to do better than 6W-2L to catch them.

[ CRY-ARS: Wenger reacts | Big Sam, too ]

That would mean defeating either Spurs, Manchester United, or Everton. Not a huge ask, no, but nothing worth expecting given recent form.

Arsenal schedule
April 17 at Middlesbrough
TBD vs Sunderland (originally 4/22)
April 23 vs Man City (FA Cup semi)
April 26 vs. Leicester City
April 30 at Tottenham Hotspur
May 7 vs. Manchester United
May 13 at Stoke City
May 21 vs. Everton

Even if Arsenal were to do enough to catch Liverpool, the Gunners would also need to better Manchester United’s performance the rest of the way. Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils have a hellish rest of the season which includes at least two Europa League matches and league dates with Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, and Spurs.

If the Gunners can’t rally and finish fifth, they need more than just a managerial change. But it’s difficult to find a path to fourth for Wenger’s men. How can Stan Kroenke and Co. swallow that?

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.