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McClean to wear No. 5 in honor of deceased ex-teammate

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James McClean is a colorful personality who doesn’t shy away from strong opinions — he once called Jurgen Klopp “a bit of an idiot” — and the West Brom man is using the big stage of World Cup qualifying to proudly honor a deceased ex-teammate.

McClean has long before friends with Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who shockingly died hours after leading his side to a league win this weekend. Given his age (27), few saw it coming even after McBride admitted to feeling ill after the match.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

McBride and McClean played together at Derry, and the latter was excused from Republic of Ireland training to attend funeral services this week.

He’s still expected to play a role in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday, and McClean will don the No. 5 of McBride. Irish defender Richard Keogh usually wears the number and agreed to the change.

Germany, England to test depth; Canada off to Scotland

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International week gets kicked off bright and early Wednesday, as Papua New Guinea and Tahiti tangle to stay alive for Oceania’s berth in the 2018 World Cup at 2 a.m. EDT.

[ MORE: Cameron pumped for USMNT return ]

There’s also a nine-spot of friendlies on tap.

Germany vs. England — 3:45 p.m. EDT Wednesday

It’ll be called a glamour friendly, but England’s trip to Germany is more of a depth test than anything else thanks to injuries on both sides.

There’s no Manuel Neuer, Julian Draxler, Mario Gomez, and Mesut Ozil for Germany, while Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane, and Daniel Sturridge are out for England and Raheem Sterling is a question.

Lukas Podolski takes the arm band for his final cap, No. 130, as Germany looks to keep up its fine international form. It’ll be interesting to see whether Joachim Loew hands uncapped striker Timo Werner of RB Leipzig a start.

A perfect 4-for-4 in World Cup qualifying, Germany is off to Azerbaijan after the match. Gareth Southgate has England atop Group F with a 3-1 record, and the Three Lions have yet to concede in qualifying. They host Lithuania on Sunday

Scotland vs. Canada — 3:45 p.m. EDT Wednesday

New manager Octavio Zambrano will get his first look at the Canucks since being named Canada boss when they visit Gordon Strachan’s Scottish side.

Canada will be captained by FC Edmonton’s Nik Ledgerwood in his 50th cap, and his leadership will be needed with the new boss and eight of 18 call-ups having five or fewer caps. Two defenders, La’Vere Corbin-Ong (FSV Frankfurt) and Luca Gasparotto (Falkirk) are complete uncapped.

Scotland will boast several in-form players, including Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser and Fulham’s Tom Cairney. Strachan will want to get the squad humming in the absence of Matt Phillips and James McArthur and a huge World Cup qualifier looming Sunday versus Slovenia.

Elsewhere
All times EDT

Vietnam vs. Chinese Taipei — 7 a.m.
Cambodia vs. India — 7:30 a.m.
Philippines va. Malaysia –7:30 a.m.
Cyprus vs. Kazakhstan — Noon
Yemen vs. Palestine — Noon
Curacao vs. El Salvador — 8 p.m.
Bahrain vs. Tajikistan

WC Qualifier – Oceania
Papua New Guinea vs. Tahihi — 2 a.m.

Bundesliga wrap: RB Leipzig falls, Koln’s Modeste on fire

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Anthony Modeste moved into second in the Bundesliga goal scoring table, adding his 20th, 21st, and 22nd goals of the season in moving Koln to within three points of fifth.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Chelsea delight, Arsenal woe ]

That’s the individual highlight of a a busy day in Germany.

Werder Bremen 3-0 RB Leipzig

Werder Bremen is closer to completing its great escape, and this step came at the expense of the visitors’ increasingly unlikely title hopes.

Zlatko Junuzovic, Florian Grillitsch, and Florian Kainz scored in the win, the first looking pretty impressive:

Leipzig spent the better part of its first Bundesliga season in a fight for the title with Bayern Munich, but now sits 10 points back of first and just three ahead of third place Borussia Dortmund.

Werder Bremen is now one of four sides with 29 points, three ahead of the promotion playoff spot occupied by Hamburg. Bremen is unbeaten in five with four wins as it aims for a 37th-straight season in the top flight.

Koln 4-2 Hertha Berlin

USMNT center back John Brooks scored for the visitors, but also was part of a side that allowed four goals to the hosts. Three of those went to star striker Modeste, who has 22 goals on the season. The Frenchman remains uncapped!

Hoffenheim 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen

Well-traveled big man Sandro Wagner scored his 11th goal of the Bundesliga campaign to move Hoffenheim five points clear of Hertha Berlin in the Top Four race.

Elsewhere
Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Ingolstadt — Friday
Wolfsburg 1-0 Darmstadt — Mario Gomez scores
Augsburg 1-1 Freiburg — Hosts three clear of danger zone
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-0 Hamburg — 89 mins for Bobby Wood
Mainz vs. Schalke — 10:30 a.m. EDT Sunday
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Bayern Munich — 12:30 p.m. EDT Sunday

Standings

 

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 24 18 5 1 60 13 47 9-3-0 9-2-1 59
 RB Leipzig 25 15 4 6 43 28 15 9-1-2 6-3-4 49
 Borussia Dortmund 25 13 7 5 54 27 27 9-3-0 4-4-5 46
 1899 Hoffenheim 25 11 12 2 46 25 21 8-5-0 3-7-2 45
 Hertha BSC Berlin 25 12 4 9 34 30 4 10-1-1 2-3-8 40
 1. FC Köln 25 9 10 6 37 29 8 6-5-1 3-5-5 37
 Eintracht Frankfurt 25 10 6 9 26 27 -1 6-4-2 4-2-7 36
 SC Freiburg 25 10 5 10 32 42 -10 7-1-4 3-4-6 35
 Mönchengladbach 24 9 5 10 30 33 -3 6-3-3 3-2-7 32
 Bayer Leverkusen 25 9 4 12 37 40 -3 5-3-5 4-1-7 31
 FC Schalke 04 24 8 6 10 31 27 4 7-2-4 1-4-6 30
 FSV Mainz 05 24 8 5 11 33 40 -7 5-4-3 3-1-8 29
 Werder Bremen 25 8 5 12 34 44 -10 5-1-7 3-4-5 29
 FC Augsburg 25 7 8 10 24 34 -10 3-5-5 4-3-5 29
 VfL Wolfsburg 25 8 5 12 23 34 -11 4-2-7 4-3-5 29
 Hamburger SV 25 7 6 12 24 46 -22 5-3-4 2-3-8 27
 FC Ingolstadt 04 25 5 4 16 23 42 -19 2-3-7 3-1-9 19
 Darmstadt 25 4 3 18 17 47 -30 4-3-6 0-0-12 15

Premier League roundup: Chelsea delight, Arsenal misery

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Here’s what you may have missed from a seven-match day across England, including West Brom advertising for its “Behind the Badge” series (Watch Ep3 at 4:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSN) with a defeat of reeling Arsenal.

West Bromwich Albion 3-1 ArsenalRECAP

Craig Dawson scored a pair of goals and Hal Robson-Kanu added another as West Bromwich Albion heaped misery on Arsenal with a fourth Premier League loss in five outings.

Crystal Palace 1-0 WatfordRECAP

Troy Deeney headed a pinpoint effort… into his own goal as Palace gained some breathing room in the relegation battle.

Stoke City 1-2 ChelseaRECAP

Gary Cahill conceded the penalty that allowed Jon Walters to cancel out Willian‘s opener, and then scored the winner as Chelsea moved closer to coronation.

Everton 4-0 Hull CityRECAP

Hull was down 1-0 when it went down to 10 men, and Romelu Lukaku scored a brace in stoppage time to lead the Toffees sixth.

Sunderland 0-0 BurnleyRECAP

The Black Cats wasted a few chances and now sit seven points back of safety.

Bournemouth 2-0 Swansea CityRECAP

Alfie Mawson has been good of late for Swans, but saw Benik Afobe‘s shot take a turn off of him and defy Lukasz Fabianski to make it 1-0. Afobe added another, and the Cherries scooped up back-to-back wins for the first time since March 2016.

West Ham United 2-3 Leicester CityRECAP

Leicester’s heroes of 2015-16 were on point Saturday, as Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth (!!), and Jamie Vardy all scored and Kasper Schmeichel made some key saves to make sure Manuel Lanzini and Andre Ayew’s goals were in defeat. It’s four-straight wins for the Foxes.

For more on Saturday’s action, listen to the latest 2 Robbies podcast.

Wenger “very worried” about Arsenal’s slump

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Arsene Wenger is not glossing over the facts.

[ RECAP: West Brom win, 3-1

The Gunners have now lost four of their last five Premier League games, the first time they’ve done that since April 1995, and the pressure is mounting.

A plane carried messages over the Hawthorns on Saturday first calling for Wenger to be fired and then came a message of support. With Wenger’s contract up at the end of the season and his future still uncertain, these are strange times for the Arsenal fanbase.

Wenger stated he will be making his mind up soon when talking to reporters.

Speaking after the 3-1 defeat against West Brom — he also called the encounter a “typical game, nowadays” — Wenger focused on the downward trend of four defeats in the last five which damages their top four hopes.

“It is very worrying. We are not used to that,” Wenger said. “Overall we have a task to fight back, regroup and focus on the games coming up. We have many big games.”

The issue in this particular game was from set pieces and Wenger stated that they had prepared for that threat from West Brom but applauded their deliveries and movement in the box and stated they scored many times from similar situations against other teams in the PL.

“We knew at half time, at 1-1, the danger that could come on counter-attack or corner. We were caught again in the second half,” Wenger admitted. “We take all the responsibility. It is always a big disappointment when you lose a game like this. We have to all take responsibility and prepare for our next games.”

As well as saying that he thought West Brom’s second goal was offside and his team should’ve had a penalty when Shkodran Mustafi was caught by Hal Robson-Kanu in the box, Wenger discussed injuries to Petr Cech and Alexis Sanchez.

“We lost Petr Cech on a calf problem, after we lost Sanchez, he stayed on but in the second half he was not himself,” Wenger said. “His ankle doesn’t look good. When it doesn’t go well it is always the same.”

All in all, these are the kind of things which happen when your luck is out.

Will Wenger be out if his luck doesn’t change?