Premier League Team of the Week: Coleman, Delph and Gerrard lead way

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Matchweek 30 produced a number of eye-raising results including Aston Villa dumping out leaders Chelsea, Arsenal beating rivals Spurs, and first time wins for new managers Felix Magath (Fulham over Newcastle) and Pepe Mel (West Bromwich Albion over Swansea City).

Producing those results required new heroes to emerge. Here is the Premier League Team of the Week:

Goalkeeper – David Marshall: The 29-year-old Scot was everywhere on Saturday, thwarting 19 attempts by Everton including brilliant efforts by Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku that looked destined for goal. The only way past the Cardiff keeper proved to be via a Gerard Deulofeu deflection and a fortuitous slice shot by Seamus Coleman.

Defender – Leandro Bacuna: The 22-year-old Dutchman was the lynchpin on the left side of Villa’s defense on Saturday, making five key tackles to stuff Chelsea’s offense while also pouring forward to manage two shots on goal.

Defender – John Heitinga: The Dutch defender is enjoying a nice spell to his career since leaving Everton and taking up a center-back place at Fulham. In Saturday’s win over Newcastle, Heitinga had two key blocks in the box to deny the Magpies efforts on goal while also producing a stunning shot that hit the underside of the bar only for HawkEye to rule out.

Defender – Seamus Coleman: Coleman’s incredible stamina was on display yet again on Saturday, covering the center-backs when needed while also pressing high up the pitch and taking on the opposition with speed and skill. His persistence paid off when he struck the 93rd minute winner, his sixth of the season, to hand Everton a 2-1 win over Cardiff.

Midfielder – Youssouf Mulumbu: He doesn’t score many goals but the one he notched Saturday was vital for West Brom’s chances of staying in the Premier League.

Midfielder – Steven Gerrard: Captain Fantastic did it again Sunday, converting two penalties to help condemn Manchester United to a 3-0 home loss at the hands of their rivals.

Midfielder – Fabian Delph: The Englishman continued his string of fine Premier League performances Saturday when his tireless engine drove him into Chelsea’s box late where he produced one of the finest finishes of the season – a left footed Cryuff shot from 10 yards out that went side-netting.

Midfielder – David Silva: The City midfielder has not had his best season but on Saturday he showed us he’s still capable of producing massive moments, and none was bigger than his left-footed curler that put 10-man City up 1-0 on Hull.

Forward – Peter Odemwingie: The controversial Stoke forward notched a brace on Saturday to help the Potters beat West Ham 3-1. His first came via a goal-line deflection on Peter Crouch’s side volley while the second was a roof-shattering blast to ensure Stoke all three points.

Forward – Jay Rodriguez: The 24-year-old forward continued his impressive season by notching his 12th goal of the season in Southampton’s 4-2 pounding of Norwich City. Will Roy Hodgson take notice?

Forward – Luis Suarez: What more is there to say about Luis Suarez? The man is simply sensational and on Sunday he capped Liverpool’s domination of Manchester United with a well-taken 84th minute strike, his 25th of the season.

VIDEO: Breaking down some celebrated Premier League derbies

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The kickoffs aren’t coming back soon, so we’re finding solace in anticipating the biggest matches on the Premier League calendar.

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Certain rivalries are circled on the fixture list when it arrives each summer, the sort of games that seem to level the playing field regardless of the gulf in class.

Is Arsenal struggling? No better way to bounce back than Spurs.

Liverpool sliding a bit? It’ll snap back to form when Everton hits Anfield.

PST lead writer and editor Joe Prince-Wright has prepped up for several of these derbies over the years, and here’s a cheat sheet for those new and a tasty summation for those missing their hated foes.

Liverpool-Manchester City

Arsenal-Tottenham Hotspur

Liverpool-Everton

Manchester City-Manchester United

Chelsea-Tottenham Hotspur

Bournemouth’s Howe takes voluntary pay cut, first PL manager to do so

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Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is the first Premier League manager to take a pay cut due to the coronavirus suspension.

Howe joins Bournemouth chief executive Neill Blake, first team technical director Richard Hughes, and assistant manager Jason Tindall in taking “significant, voluntary” pay cuts.

Howe is the longest-serving manager in the PL. He started with Bournemouth’s academy in 1994 and spent just a few short seasons away from home (Portsmouth and Swindon Town) during his playing career.

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The club has also furloughed employees throughout the organization. From a Bournemouth statement:

There is no script for moments like this. No tactics and no set plays to find a winning formula. But as a board we are continually looking at ways to ensure the future of the club and our employees is protected when the season returns.

We have also advised a number of staff across all areas of the club that they will be temporarily furloughed, as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

These measures have been taken to safeguard the financial stability of the club during what is such an uncertain period, not only in football but for businesses in all industries across the world.

Surely Howe won’t be the last during this uncertain time for clubs and businesses all over the world.

Ex-Marseille president first coronavirus-related death in Senegal

Pape Diouf
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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) Pape Diouf, a former president of French soccer club Marseille, died Tuesday in Senegal after contracting the coronavirus. It was the West African country’s first COVID-19-related death, according to the health ministry. He was 68.

Diouf, who was president of Marseille from 2005-09, had been treated since Saturday in intensive care in Dakar, health minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said.

Senegal President Macky Sall wrote on his official Twitter account that he had followed Diouf’s health closely after he was admitted for treatment.

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“I pay tribute to this great figure in sport,” Sall wrote. “I pay tribute to the medical staff at Fann Hospital who spared no effort to save him.”

Relatives said Diouf was meant to be moved to France. He had recently traveled to several countries in the West Africa region.

In its most recent count, Senegal has reported 190 cases of the coronavirus, with 45 of those having recovered.

Diouf was a charismatic and popular leader who was close to the fans and players at Marseille, the only French team to win the European club title.

“Pape will forever remain in the hearts of Marseille people and (is) one of the great architects of the club,” Marseille wrote under a photo of Diouf.

Shortly before his time at the club ended, Diouf signed Didier Deschamps as the new coach and Deschamps won the French league title and League Cup in his first season in charge. It was Marseille’s first league title in 18 years.

Deschamps, who coached France to World Cup success two years ago, described Diouf as “a man of convictions, a spirited man, passionate about football” adding that his “sudden and brutal death deeply saddens me.”

“I could measure his popularity, which was immense with the Marseille people whose hearts he had won,” Deschamps said on L’Equipe’s website.

The French soccer league called Diouf’s death “a moment of immense sadness for French soccer.”

Diouf was born in Chad to Senegalese parents. After arriving in Marseille at the age of 18, he became a sports journalist and then a players’ agent.

Diouf was not afraid to take risks in signing unheralded players, such as the diminutive Mathieu Valbuena from third-tier side Libourne in 2006 when he was 21.

The 1.67-meter (5 feet, 5 inches) Valbuena went on to prove Diouf right, and all the doubters wrong, playing 52 times for France.

“A great man with a great heart,” Valbuena said. “We were hypnotized by his speeches, he had a lot of charisma.”

Diouf was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal in 2012, one of the country’s highest honors.

Pugmire reported from Paris. AP reporter Babacar Dione in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

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

Report: Griezmann plus cash could finally get Neymar back to Barcelona

Neymar
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Neymar’s long-rumored return to Barcelona hasn’t quite reached the point of exhaustion, but it’s close.

A new report has said Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain may be coming to terms with what’s been a fairly obvious swap deal for some time.

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According to Sky Sports, PSG would send Neymar to Barcelona in return for French hero Antoine Griezmann and money.

The $167 million price tag attached to Neymar is significantly more than the $110 million on Griezmann, and there’s no doubt the former is more of a gamechanger at this point on their careers.

While Neymar gets both the #whenhealthy and #whenavailable tags to his rep, he’s scored 18 times with 10 assists in 22 matches across all competitions this year.

Before the full phrase ‘Ligue 1’ exits your lips, he’s scored against Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Celtic, Galatasaray, Liverpool, Anderlecht, and Red Star Belgrade in his three seasons with PSG.

Griezmann is a full year older than Neymar and, while one of the world’s elite attackers, he’s a step below the Brazilian’s tier. He’s also said to want to keep finding his way at Barca, with Gerard Pique and others ready to lend support.