Premier League snapshots: Wigan’s gifts, Liverpool’s rout, Fulham’s slide

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There were six Saturday games in the Premier League, but given the point of the season we’re at, only a couple carried any serious implications.

Here are the quick-hit recaps of today’s matches:

Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United

One liner: A late goal Andy Carroll goal allows the final score to carry the illusion of a close match.

More:

Yaya Touré’s 83rd minute goal:

Up until then, City had controlled a one-goal game, leaving West Ham one moment of against-the-run-of-play pragmatism from getting a result at Eastlands. After the goal, the game was over.

Implications: Neither team has much to play for, so aside from bragging rights, this game meant nothing. City remains focused on next month’s FA Cup final against Wigan.

Everton 1-0 Fulham

One liner: Fulham have been terrible.

More: Obviously, Steven Pienaar’s half-volley was all Everton needed, but this match may as well have ended in the 16th minute. While the Toffees pressed for a second, it was energy wasted. Fulham never put a shot on Tim Howard.

The Cottagers have one point in their last four games, matching their goal total over the same haul.

Implications: Everton maintains their distance on seventh-place Liverpool while Fulham, still 11th in the league, start to amass doubts.

Southampton 0-3 West Bromwich Albion

One liner: The Mauricio Pochettino bounce: Dead.

More: The game had as many red cards as goals, with Gaston Ramirez, Marc-Antoine Fortuné, and Daniel Fox all sent off. Ramirez was sent off in the 70th minute after an elbow to Shane Long, to which Fortuné responded by slapping Ramirez. Fox was sent off for a tackle on Steven Reid.

By that point, West Brom had all their goals. Fortuné opened the scoring in the sixth minute then set up Romelu Lukaku in the 67th. Lukaku did the providing for Long in the 77th.

Stoke City 1-0 Norwich City

One liner: Surprise, there was a goal (and it was Charlie Adam)!

More: Both these teams, already among the worst attacks in England, started with five midfielders. Granted, with Jon Walters and Kei Kamara, both teams could easily change, but neither alignment exactly screamed, “We’re going for this one!”

Just after halftime, Charlie Adam met  a Peter Crouch knockdown, beat Mark Bunn, and converted one of the matches three shots on goal (all from Stoke City).

Implications: Two weeks ago, this looked like it would have relegation implications, and while Norwich only has 38 points (Stoke has 40), it’s unlikely either team is in real danger. So, no implications other than the match having mercifully expired.

Wigan 2-2 Tottenham

One liner: Wigan run out of ways to give Spurs goals, can’t give away the last point.

More: We covered it here.

Implications: For Wigan, this is another match like the one two weeks ago at Manchester City – a chance at full points that slipped through their finders. For Spurs, you could say the same. They need Chelsea or Arsenal to start stumbling (something that will happen if Spurs win at Stamford Bridge on May 8).

Newcastle 0-6 Liverpool

One liner: Skeleton in hooded robe extends finger toward Alan Pardew.

More: Relive the onslaught.

Implications: Liverpool’s playing for nothing, but it’s encouraging to see them perform so well without Luis Suárez. For Newcastle, they still can’t be certain they’re clear of a relegation fight. And they can’t be certain their manager will be around to see them though it.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 10 — All eyes on Germany

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Many of the favorites in the 2018 World Cup have disappointed, but until Argentina fell 3-0 to Croatia on Thursday, Germany was the only one to suffer a defeat.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Die Mannschaft fell to Mexico in their opening match, with El Tri carving up the German midfield on the counter. Now, Joachim Low has had ample time to make the adjustments needed to go for victory as the Germans take on Sweden as they chase a spot in the knockout stages among Group F.

Meanwhile, Mexico looks to prove they’re not a one-hit wonder as they take on South Korea in Rostov. Juan Carlos Osorio has received plenty of praise – and rightly so – for his tactics in the upset victory, and that leaves El Tri with a chance to clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a win.

Before all that Group F craziness, Belgium takes the field in the morning against Tunisia as they look to follow up its comprehensive 3-0 victory over Panama in the opening round. A victory for the Red Devils would not only book a place in the knockout round, but also eliminate Tunisia from contention.

Below is Saturday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Saturday, June 23

Group F
South Korea vs. Mexico: Rostov-on-Don, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Germany vs. Sweden: Sochi, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group G
Belgium vs. Tunisia: Moscow, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Kluivert junior leaves Ajax for Roma in $21m transfer

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ROME (AP) — Roma signed Justin Kluivert, the son of former Milan and Barcelona forward Patrick, from Ajax on Friday for a fee that could rise to 18.75 million euros ($21.8 million).

The 19-year-old Dutch international forward has agreed a five-year contract with Roma.

“I’m very happy. I’m at an incredible club,” Kluivert said. “I cannot wait to start. I believe that Roma is the ideal team for my growth, which will allow me to play at the highest levels.”

Kluivert junior made 56 appearances and scored 13 goals for Ajax. He has one cap for the Netherlands.

He joins Roma for an initial 17.25 million euros ($20.1 million) and performance-related clauses could see the price rise by 1.5 million euros.

Ricketts family, owner of the Chicago Cubs, interested in purchasing AC Milan

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The Ricketts family, who purchased a controlling stake in the Chicago Cubs back in 2009, have interest in further pursuing ownership in financially troubled Italian club AC Milan.

According to a family statement, “The Ricketts family brought a championship to the Chicago Cubs through long-term investment and being great stewards of the team … They would bring this same approach to AC Milan.”

First reported by the Chicago Tribune, the news of the Tom Ricketts’ interest in the team comes on the heels of news that current owner Li Yonghong had failed to meet a Friday deadline for a $37 million loan payment. According to reports, the missed payment means that Li will cede control of the club to Elliott Management, who loaned the Chinese businessman the money to complete his initial purchase of the club last April.

The Chicago Sun-Times also reported the family’s interest in the club, and quoted their source as saying, “The Ricketts put together the management team, resources and training facilities [for the Cubs]. [They did] everything you need top to bottom to be successful.”

Ricketts has plenty of history in soccer ownership, having previously been a part of the group that owned English club Derby County before selling back in 2015. This May, Ricketts also announced he was leading an investment group that is looking to bring a USL expansion team to Chicago.

Forbes values AC Milan at $612 million – a massive 26% 1-year decline – and ranks them the 17th most valuable soccer club in the world. That valuation could be further on the decline, as the storied club missed out on Champions League qualification for the fifth straight year, although they qualified for their second straight Europa League appearance with 6th place finish in last year’s Serie A table, eight points behind Lazio in fifth.

AC Milan also faces heavy sanctions from UEFA regarding Financial Fair Play, although those fears could be eased with the financially-troubled Li selling the club.

The Ricketts family’s wealth comes largely from investment banking, with Tom’s father J. Joseph Ricketts having founded Ameritrade back in 1975. Tom is estimated by Forbes to be worth $1 billion, while his father has an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion.

Xhaka, Shaqiri display controversial goal celebrations in win over Serbia

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A seemingly innocuous goal celebration performed by both Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri has thinly veiled, politically charged undertones and could potentially land the pair in FIFA disciplinary proceedings following Switzerland’s 2-1 win over Serbia.

Both displayed a bird hand signal as they celebrated scoring goals, and considering their pre-match comments, post-match social media posts, and ethnic backgrounds, those were clearly meant to represent the double-eagle symbol in the middle of the Albanian flag.

This is a complicated political scenario, but it could be considered by FIFA to be politically provocative. Shaqiri is Albanian, born in Kosovo before moving to Switzerland with his parents and three siblings when he was just a year old. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 and is not recognized as a sovereign nation by Serbia. Xhaka is of Albanian descent, and his father previously participated in a demonstration against the communist Yugoslavian rule in Kosovo that landed him a lengthy jail sentence. Albania and Serbia have a particularly tumultuous relationship, with their leaders meeting for the first time in over 60 years in 2014, which caused tempers to flare.

Following the match, Xhaka posted a picture of his celebration on his Instagram story, with the caption in Albanian roughly translated to, “Here you go Serbia, this is why they call me Granit Kosovo!” He deleted the post, and replaced it with an image of his celebration side-by-side with Shaqiri’s, with the slightly more cryptic caption, “We did it, bro!” in English.

FIFA is wildly against any type of political demonstration or involvement in the world of soccer. The governing body has punished individual nation federations in the past for government involvement, while political demonstrations on the field are fiercely frowned upon.

Switzerland captain and new Arsenal signing Stephan Lichtsteiner came to the defense of his two teammates after the match. When asked about the celebrations, he said to Goal.com, “We had a lot of pressure, it was not an easy game for us. We have a lot of Albanians, so there is a lot of history between Serbia and Albania. It was a very tough game for them mentally.”

“It was good. Why not? This is the history for them,” Lichtsteiner continued. “The war between them was so difficult. I spoke to the father of one of our players who is Albanian, and he told me about this history. This is more than football. This is more than football because they have this period, this war that gave them both big problems. I understand them. I think it’s normal, it’s part of their life. There was also big provocation ahead of the game from them [Serbia], so I think it’s normal.”

Shaqiri could be in especially hot water. The Stoke City midfielder wore boots with the flags of Switzerland and Kosovo. He has made it clear in the past that he values his roots, saying, “I was born in Kosovo, but I grew up in Switzerland. I live both mentalities, it’s not a big difference.”

Switzerland finishes its World Cup group stage round with a match against Costa Rica on Wednesday in which a win would secure a spot in the knockout stage.