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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?

Messi scores four (4) as Barcelona hammers Eibar (video)

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
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Lionel Messi scored four times as Barcelona belted Eibar 6-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old now has 522 goals for Barca, including nine in five league matches this season. That includes two hat tricks.

[ MORE: Klopp rages at defending ]

Paulinho and Denis Suarez also scored for Barca, which is yet to lose a point in La Liga play.

Messi scored a penalty to start the scoring, then started a combination play before scooting into the 18 to score low and left.

Watch the movement from the Argentine magician.

Messi added his second when he drew the defenders and keeper to play him straight-on, then used the outside of his boot to flick a deft finish home.

He’d later dash to the doorstep to complete the 6-1 scoreline.

And how often do we see this? Messi starting and finishing a combination. When you’re an elite player who also thirsts for goals every minute on the pitch, you’ll score a few.

League Cup: Foxes oust LFC; Stoke, Burnley upset (video)

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Leicester City turned to its favorite tactics to send Liverpool out of the League Cup, while Bristol City stunned struggling Stoke City as 11 matches dotted the English tournament landscape on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Pulisic up for major award ]


Leicester City 2-0 Liverpool

Both sides were decidedly second-string, and the Reds had plenty of control over the proceedings despite a lack of goals.

But substitute Shinji Okazaki scored in traffic after Vicente Iborra headed a corner kick his way, and the Foxes took a late lead.

And Okazaki cued up Islam Slimani for a wonderful 78th minute marker (see above) to ensure the result.

Bristol City 2-0 Stoke City

The Robins were flying at Ashton Gate, getting an opener in the 50th minute through Famara Diedhiou and a 60th minute insurance tally from Matt Taylor.

Stoke left some starters on the bench in Erik Pieters, Joe Allen, Jack Butland, and Jese, but had plenty of their best in the XI (Kurt Zouma, Eric Choupo-Moting, Darren Fletcher).

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Barnsley

Spurs had a hefty edge in shots and possession, but the visitors held firm against a decent side including Dele Alli, Son Heung-min, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele.

Fernando Llorente made his first Spurs start, but it was Dele who broke the Londoners through on the side’s 17th shot of the night.

Burnley 2-2 (4-5 PKs) Leeds United

Sean Dyche‘s Premier Leaguers were nearly dismissed from the tournament by Thomas Christiansen’s high-flying Championship side.

It took penalty kicks, where Leeds GK Andy Lonergan stopped James Tarkowski to send the Clarets out of the Cup.

Hadi Sacko had an eye for the winner, assisted by Pablo Hernandez, but Chris Wood converted an 89th minute penalty to, seemingly, send the match to extra time.

Hernandez then scored a penalty of his own in stoppage time, only for Robbie Brady‘s free kick to equalize and again put the match on pace for extra time.

Elsewhere
Crystal Palace 1-0 Huddersfield Town
Aston Villa 0-2 Middlesbrough
Brentford 1-3 Norwich City
Bournemouth 1-0 (ET) Brighton
West Ham 3-0 Bolton
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 (ET) Bristol Rovers
Reading 0-2 Swansea City
Arsenal vs. Doncaster Rovers — Wednesday
Chelsea vs. Nottingham Forest — Wednesday
Everton vs. Sunderland — Wednesday
Manchester United vs. Burton Albion — Wednesday
West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City — Wednesday

Klopp “sick” of conceding bad goals after League Cup ouster

Mike Egerton/PA via AP
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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp isn’t holding back when it comes to his defense’s lapses in judgment.

The Reds boss, who it must be said did not address his center backs during the transfer window and can only blame himself, was fuming after exiting the League Cup with a 2-0 loss at Leicester City.

[ MORE: U.S. teen makes 1st Bundesliga start ]

Klopp’s men controlled the match, but allowed a pair of second half goals and then could not find a single finish let alone the two required to prolong the contest.

“We had big chances, strange situations,” Klopp said after the game. “But it’s a 90-minute game. A second ball after a corner I think, and a throw-in again. I’m sick of goals like this to be honest. You cannot play football and in this case let this Leicester team somehow survive in the game because we are not playing good enough.”

The Reds have conceded in six of eight matches this season, and haven’t kept a clean sheet since an Aug. 27 thumping of Arsenal.

Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare, meanwhile, was pleased to see Klopp substitute a certain Brazilian wizard at the break.

Groin injury costs Arsenal’s Welbeck at least three weeks

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When Danny Welbeck landed awkwardly against Chelsea, many Arsenal fans feared another long absence from the English striker.

Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be too bad.

[ MORE: Pulisic up for major award ]

The 26-year-old forward is set for at least three weeks out with a groin injury. Arsene Wenger says his status will be reassessed after the international break ends in mid-October, which doesn’t bode well for his England availability either.

Welbeck had started all five Premier League matches for the Gunners, scoring on Opening Day against Leicester City and posting a two-goal, one-assist day versus Bournemouth.

The Gunners sit 12th with seven points after five match days.