Premier League Roundup: Chelsea clear at the top, Manchester United click, Cardiff bag huge win

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On Saturday there were only five Premier League games due to FA Cup action… but that certainly didn’t mean there was a shortage of action.

Oh no.

Cardiff prevailed in a ding-dong relegation battle vs. Fulham, Manchester United’s offense finally clicked and hammered West Brom, Chelsea went seven points clear at the top with a huge win over Tottenham and plenty more action occurred in the other PL games.

Below you get a neatly wrapped package including recaps, analysis and video highlights as this roundup provides you with everything you missed from Saturday’s PL action in Week 29.

Here it goes, folks. Enjoy.

Cardiff City 3-1 Fulham

Massive. Massive. Massive win for Cardiff City against fellow struggles Fulham. The Bluebirds scored early through Steve Caulker but Lewis Holtby equalized for Fulham to make it 1-1 with 30 minutes to go. Cardiff responded superbly to conceding, as Caulker quickly bagged his and Cardiff’s second, then a scrappy goal that Fraizer Campbell claimed made it 3-1 late on. Cardiff are now only in the relegation zone on goal difference, while Fulham are five points adrift from safety at the bottom but Felix Magath thinks they can still stay up…

Chelsea 4-0 Tottenham Hotspur

For almost an hour Spurs were the better team at Stamford Bridge… then the game turned on its head in three crazy second half minutes. First Samuel Eto’o put the Blues 1-0 up following Jan Vertonghen’s slip up, then Eto’o (who was only starting due to Torres being injured in the warm-up) won a penalty and Kaboul was sent off for taking him down. Eden Hazard scored the PK and two late goals from Demba Ba gave Chelsea the 4-0 win, which was slightly harsh on Spurs. The Blues are now seven points clear at the top of the standings and unbeaten in 14 games.

Crystal Palace 0-1 Southampton

Saints stopped the rot after losing three games in a row across all competitions. Jay Rodriguez’s bizarre first half strike, which saw him score while sitting down after winning a tackle with Palace’s ‘keeper, was enough to snatch all three points as Saints out-battled Palace. The Eagles remain in the thick of the relegation battle after this result, while Saints are steady in ninth and looking to break into the top six.

Norwich City 1-1 Stoke City

The Canaries let this one slip as a strike from Bradley Johnson was cancelled out by a penalty kick by Johnathan Walters in the second half. Norwich are now just four points above the drop zone with the teams below them having games in hand. As for Stoke, they aren’t out of trouble yet, but a late red card for goalscorer Walter tested their resolved and the Potters held on for a decent point.

West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Manchester United

After the game David Moyes declared himself delighted with United’s marauding offensive performance away at the Hawthorns. Phil Jones headed United into an early lead and the Red Devils withstood strong pressure from the home team before Wayne Rooney made it 2-0 in the second half. Late on Rooney set up substitute Danny Welbeck to make it 3-0 as United returned to winning ways with a bang. They are now in sixth place, just nine points away from Manchester City in fourth but they have two games in hand of United. Regardless, United’s front four of Mata, Rooney, RVP and Januzaj are starting to click and Marouane Fellaini looked superb in midfield.

Christian Pulisic named USMNT Player of the Year

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Who else could it be? Christian Pulisic has been named the USMNT player of the year for 2019.

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The Chelsea star, 21, excelled for club and country over the past 12 months and after taking a few months to settle into life in England, he’s now taking the Premier League by storm on a weekly basis.

Pulisic has now won this award for a second time after first winning it in 2017 and he becomes the youngest player in U.S. men’s national team history to win the award twice.

His achievements over the last 12 months are numerous, as he dragged a struggling USMNT to the 2019 Gold Cup final and also became the youngest player to reach double figures in goals for the USMNT.

MLS veteran Sacha Kljestan signs with hometown LA Galaxy

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Carson, Calif. (AP) Veteran midfielder Sacha Kljestan has signed with the LA Galaxy as a free agent.

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The 34-year-old U.S. national team contributor officially returned to his native Southern California on Wednesday.

Kljestan has scored 49 goals over 10 MLS seasons in a career that began as the fifth overall pick by defunct Chivas USA, the Galaxy’s former stadium partners. After a successful five-year stint with Belgium’s Anderlecht, he spent the past five seasons with New York Red Bulls and Orlando City.

The Huntington Beach native also has made 51 appearances for the U.S. team, playing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Kljestan will provide veteran leadership for a Galaxy roster in transition after the departures of its top two goal-scorers: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Uriel Antuna.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Liverpool in talks to activate Minamino’s release clause

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On the face of it, this move makes perfect sense for everyone concerned. Especially Liverpool, who get a bargain.

Multiple reports state that the Premier League leaders are in advanced talks to sign Japanese winger Takumi Minamino from RB Salzburg.

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Minamino, 24, has a release clause of just $9.5 million and it has been reported that he will move to Liverpool in January with talks going well over a five-year contract.

RB Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund confirmed talks are ongoing about the transfer, with Bayern Munich and Marseille also said to be interested in signing the tricky winger.

“I can confirm that there are talks with Liverpool at the moment. It is an honor [for us] to see the caliber of clubs who are interested in our players.”

Minamino’s goals, pace and trickery pushed Salzburg to within one game of reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds and he impressed against Liverpool in both games in the UCL group stage as he scored at Anfield and gave their defense plenty of problems in the return game. His skillset would perfectly suit the way Liverpool play with his direct running, pace and nose for goal seemingly perfect for Jurgen Klopp‘s side.

With Klopp and his RB Salzburg counterpart Jesse Marsch hugging on the sidelines after Liverpool’s win in Austria on Tuesday, plus Klopp’s kind words on the job the American coach is doing at Salzburg, it’s safe to say there’s a strong connection between the two teams and their styles of play are very similar.

That’s an even better reason for Minamino to head to Liverpool as the Japanese star would slot in seamlessly and he would become the third former RB Salzburg player at the Reds alongside Naby Keita and Sadio Mane.

From the style of play of both player and the club, to the small transfer fee, this works out very well for everyone involved. Even Salzburg will be happy to become known as a feeder club to Liverpool and Europe’s other big boys as that will help them with their future recruitment.

Raul Jimenez’s future at Wolves uncertain

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Raul Jimenez has been talking about playing for one of Spain’s big boys.

That sound you can hear is Wolves fans everywhere sobbing.

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The Mexican striker was quoted by Spanish outlet Marca saying that he would one day like to return to Spain and play for one of the La Liga giants.

“I would never rule out returning to Spain. I have good memories, and I would like to go back at some point,” Jimenez said. “I want to try out LaLiga once more, as I didn’t get to play much the previous time. Returning is not off the agenda. I have played at the Nou Camp and the Bernabeu.”

Jimenez, 28, previously played for Atletico Madrid before moving to Benfica who loaned him to Wolves in the summer of 2018, and he has since made the switch to the West Midlands permanent for $40 million.

However, his manager Nuno Espirito Santo has moved to calm down fears the El Tri star will move at the end of this season.

“What he is doing is amazing – every day of his life is dedicated to Wolves so we are delighted with it,” Santo said. “Being ambitious and dreaming is something all of us have. But our present is very good with Raul here.”

The powerful Mexican striker has been superb over the past two seasons and has proved to be a phenomenal target man in the Premier League. He’s scored 32 goals in 71 appearances in all competitions for Wolves, leading them to an FA Cup semifinal appearance and seventh-place PL finish last season and his goals this campaign (15 in 27 appearances in total) have catapulted them into the top six and the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League. Aside from his goals Jimenez’s hold-up play has been vital to Wolves’ success.

It is worth pointing out that Jimenez revealed he is very happy at Wolves but the fact he is so ambitious and fancies moving on to either Real Madrid and Barcelona is a good thing for the club. This means Jimenez is striving to improve and do all he can to take his game to the next level.

Yes, Wolves will be desperate to keep hold of the Mexican star who is a fans favorite at Molineux. But if he continues to score goals and one of Spain’s big boys, or a title-chasing team in the PL, were to come calling, can they stand in his way?