Premier League Relegation Watch: Sunderland gain ground in tight table

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With the top of the table becoming clearer by the week, the fight to avoid relegation grows more and more convoluted.

So let’s take a look at all the relegation-threatened sides and evaluate their remaining matches, form, injuries and odds of staying up in the Premier League.

13. SWANSEA CITY 36 PTS (35 PLD)

Remaining Matches (3): Aston Villa (H); Southampton (H); Sunderland (A)

League Form: LDWLLW

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Michu, ankle (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 10/1

Verdict: Great win at Newcastle leaves the Swans in a good spot, as does the status of their final three opponents.

14. HULL CITY 36 PTS (34 PLD)

Remaining Matches (4): Fulham (A); Aston Villa (A); Manchester United (A); Everton (H)

League Form: LLWLLW

Other Competitions: FA Cup final (May 17th)

Injuries: Allan McGregor, kidney (no return date); Robbie Brady, groin (no return date); Paul McShane, ankle (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 11/1

Verdict: A game in hand is a good thing but three away matches followed by a final match at home against Everton is a difficult run.

15. ASTON VILLA 35 PTS (34 PLD)

Remaining Matches (4): Swansea City (A); Hull City (H); Manchester City (A); Tottenham (A)

League Form: WLLLLD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Christian Benteke, achilles (out for season); Libor Kozak, broken leg (out for season); Jores Okore, knee (April 26th); Charles N’Zogbia, calf (no return date); Nicklas Helenius, hip (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 3/1

Verdict: Drab 0-0 draw with Southampton sees Villa drop further in the table setting up a dire next two matches against Swansea and Hull.

16. WEST BROMWICH ALBION 33 PTS (33 PLD)

Remaining Matches (5): Manchester City (A); West Ham United (H); Arsenal (A); Sunderland (H); Stoke City (H)

League Form: LWLDWD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Jonas Olsson, calf (April 21st); James Morrison, ankle (April 21st)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/1

Verdict: Gonna be tight for the Baggies, who could do with a result today against City. But the game in hand helps as do matches against West Ham and Stoke City, both of whom have nothing to play for.

17. NORWICH CITY 32 PTS (35 PLD)

Remaining Matches (3): Manchester United (A); Chelsea (A); Arsenal (H)

League Form: LWLLLL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Elliot Bennett, knee (April 26th); Joseph Yobo, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/4

Verdict: Tremendous effort in the 2-3 loss to Liverpool on Sunday but ‘effort’ does the Canaries very little these days. With a two point cushion they face an incredibly difficult final three fixtures against United, Chelsea and Arsenal, it’s hard not to see Norwich going down.

18. CARDIFF CITY 30 PTS (35 PLD)

Remaining Matches (3): Sunderland (A); Newcastle United (A); Chelsea (H)

League Form: LLDLWD

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesCraig Noone, abdominal (May 11th); Mark Hudson, hamstring (no return date); Andrew Taylor, knock (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/4

Verdict: Kept grinding with a 1-1 against Stoke on Saturday, Cardiff will need a big result next weekend against Sunderland to set up a final weekend match-up with Jose Mourinho’s side. Feels ominous.

19. FULHAM 30 PTS (35 PLD)

Remaining Matches (3): Hull City (H); Stoke City (A); Crystal Palace (H)

League Form: WLLWWL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Kieran Richardson, hamstring (no return date); Kostas Mitroglu, knee (no return date); Scott Parker, thigh (April 26th); Damien Duff, knock (no return date); Mahamadou Diarra, knee  (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/3

Verdict: A valiant effort against Spurs fell short this weekend but facing three clubs with nothing to play for will be a boon to the Cottagers.

20. SUNDERLAND 29 PTS (34 PLD)

Remaining Matches (4): Cardiff City (H); Manchester United (A); West Bromwich Albion (H); Swansea City (H)

League Form: LLLLDW

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesSteven Fletcher, ankle (no return date); Keiren Westwood, shoulder (no return date); Connor Wickham, knock (April 27th); Ki Sung-Yeung, knee (no return date); Carlos Cuellar, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/4

Verdict: Fantastic win over Chelsea keeps the ‘miracle’ hopes alive. Game-in-hand could be the difference that makes it a reality.

Southgate, England players sound off on racist abuse

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England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.

Kane, Sterling star as England rout Bulgaria

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On a night where racist abuse from the stands in Bulgaria marred the overall spectacle, England’s players produced an incredible result and spectacle for the visiting fans, with all things considered.

Harry Kane scored once and assisted on three others as England rolled over Bulgaria, winning 6-0 on Monday evening in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria. Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley both scored a brace for the Three Lions and Marcus Rashford’s thunderbolt from a tight angle gave England the opening goal it needed.

The blowout result was the perfect response after England had suffered its first loss in qualifying for a decade, losing on Friday, 2-1 at the Czech Republic. The six goals England put past Bulgaria was also the fourth time out of six games that England had scored at least five goals in a match. The only other time, aside from the defeat, was a 4-0 win last month at Wembley Stadium over Bulgaria.

This story will be updated.

 

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

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With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.