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.

Russia banned from 2020 Olympics, 2022 World Cup

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Russia has been banned from competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) voted unanimously to ban the nation from international sport for four years for doping offenses.

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Individual Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under a neutral banner at this summer’s Olympics. The men’s national soccer team will also still be allowed to compete at the 2020 European Championship, where they will be one of the 12 host nations this summer.

The punishment was agreed by WADA’s executive committee at a special meeting at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland. It is the most severe sanction yet against the country after accusations of systemic doping and deleting laboratory evidence.

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WADA president Sir Craig Reedie said, “For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and re-join the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.

“As a result, the WADA executive committee has responded in the strongest possible terms, while protecting the rights of Russian athletes that can prove that they were not involved and did not benefit from these fraudulent acts.”

Cruzeiro relegated from Brazilian top flight for first time

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Brazilian side Cruzeiro was relegated from the top flight for the first time in the club’s 98-year history following a 2-0 defeat to Palmeiras on the final day of the season.

Cruzeiro required victory and a loss by Ceara at Botafogo to stay safely in the Brazilian Serie A, but neither came to pass.

Palmeiras midfielder Ze Rafael scored in the 58th minute to send the visitors on their way, with fellow midfielder Dudu finished things off in the 84th minute. Referees ushered the players off the field immediately after the conclusion of the match as Cruzeiro fans rioted in the Mineirao stadium, ripping out seats, setting off smoke bombs, and clashing with police.

Cruzeiro finished 17th in the 20-team table, three points back of Ceara in 16th. In the Brazilian top flight, the bottom four teams are relegated. CSA, Chapecoense, and Avai were also relegated. Cruzeiro had won the Brazilian Serie A as recently as 2013 and 2014, winning four titles in its history. They also have six Copa do Brasil titles, most recently winning the league cup in 2017 and 2018.

Flamengo ran away with the championship, finishing on 90 points, 16 points clear of second-placed Santos and third-placed Palmeiras who both finished level on 74 points. Palmeiras had challenged for the title, but fell off at the end of the season with a five-match winless run through November.

Premier League Preview: West Ham United v. Arsenal

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Two struggling London sides meet Monday when West Ham United hosts Arsenal (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The sides might’ve expected they’d be within close proximity at this point on the fixture list, but two wildly disappointing seasons means the three points between the Gunners and Irons comes with the former in 11th and the latter 16th.

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It’s been nine matches since Arsenal beat someone, 11 since it happened in the Premier League. West Ham hasn’t been much better, winning once in its last 10.

Freddie Ljungberg has yet to win as Arsenal interim boss, while West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini could see his current stint in London end without more results like the Nov. 30 win at Chelsea.

Monday versus Arsenal would qualify.


Injuries/suspensions

West Ham United: OUT —  Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid. QUESTIONABLE — Michail Antonio.

Arsenal: OUT — Dani Ceballos. QUESTIONABLE — Rob Holding.


Probable lineups

West Ham United: Martin; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Fredericks; Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Snodgrass, Haller.

Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, Sokratis, Luiz, Bellerin, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.


What they’re saying

West Ham’s Antonio sees an opportunity: “The only three teams that are really performing are Liverpool, Leicester and Man City. Everyone else is getting beaten, and it means we’ve had a missed opportunity so far this season. We started the season off brightly, the best start we’ve had for four years, but then we’ve had a slump. Everyone’s having a slump and this is our slump. Now it’s time for us to start turning up. We’ve been in this situation before and we know how to dig in and pull ourselves up again.”

Arsenal’s Ljungberg on setting targets: “I don’t think we should stop talking about the top four, but for us it’s about concentrating on what we’re doing here now and not look up, down, sideways. We just need to work on our own game and our own confidence.”


Prediction

Really, you wouldn’t want to predict anything from these sides right now besides goals. We’ll give an edge in desperation to the hosts and a 2-2 draw.

La Liga: Sevilla held at Osasuna, Getafe maintains UCL fight

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Sevilla was held to a 1-1 draw at 10-man Osasuna on Sunday, giving both Real Madrid and Barcelona space at the top of the La Liga table.

Munir El Haddadi put the visitors 1-0 up just 11 minutes in, but Ezequiel Avila struck just before halftime to share the points. Sevilla was held to just two total shots through the opening 45 minutes, and despite Osasuna defender Oier Olazabal being shown a second yellow card with 29 minutes to go, Sevilla still managed just 11 total efforts through the 90 minutes, with four on target.

Getafe continued its battle for a top four spot as they won 1-0 on the road at Eibar. Angel Rodriguez bagged his eighth goal of the season to secure the win, cropping up in the 67th minute to finally put Getafe through. They had been turning the screw for some time, forcing Marko Dmitrovic into a pair of big saves just before the opener which came from an absurdly tight angle after Angel had rounded the goalkeeper. The win leaves them fourth, level with Real Sociedad on 27 points.

They were allowed to close the gap after Real Sociedad was held scoreless in a 0-0 draw at 14th placed Real Valladolid. The visitors put just two of their 14 shots on net, and dropped to fifth thanks to Getafe holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Athletic Club also fell back in the race for a top four spot, dropping a 3-2 decision on the road at Real Betis. Joaquin scored a first-half hat-trick, with all three goals coming in the opening 20 minutes to give him five in his last three games. Inaki Williams brought Athletic Bilbao one back before halftime from the spot, and Yuri Berchiche made things interesting with a minute to go, but that was all they could muster as the visitors fell to sixth on 26 points, above Atletico Madrid on goal differential with the two yet to play head-to-head.

Celta Vigo made it interesting as Iago Aspas scored a man-down goal, but Leganes held on for a 3-2 win over the 10-man visitors. Oscar Rodriguez had a first-half brace to help the hosts to a 3-0 lead, but Nestor Araujo and Aspas helped Celta Vigo make things interesting. Still, a 71st minute second yellow card for halftime substitute Gabriel Fernandez hampered the visitors in their efforts for a comeback, leaving Celta Vigo in the relegation zone, a point back of safety, with Leganes is four points behind them in 19th.