Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger weighed in on the Premier League title race as his Gunners prepare to close out a fourth-place campaign on Championship Sunday, and the long-time boss said it would take “a miracle” for Manchester City to not take the title.
Maybe there’s a lax definition of “miracle” in England, because Gus Poyet pulled a self-described one off in rescuing Sunderland, but is it really done-and-dusted for City?
They’ll host West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium on Championship Sunday, a Hammers team they hammered 3-1 at the Boleyn Ground earlier this year. They’ve also handled West Ham over two legs in the League Cup by a resounding 9-0 score line.
And West Ham hasn’t beaten City since March 1, 2009. They haven’t done the deed at City since an FA Cup win in 2006.
West Ham has scored the seventh-least goals in the PL, with 40, though they’ve also allowed the eighth-fewest. The club features a surely-motivated trio of familiar Liverpool names in Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Joe Cole.
A draw will do the trick unless Liverpool blasts Newcastle by 14 goals (which would be historic but not as surprising as you think considering the Magpies have more or less been licking the stamps on next year’s mail for about a month).
It is worth noting that Liverpool beat Newcastle 6-0 toward the end of last season, and that there was less at stake in that battle (Liverpool was in 7th, 10 points back of 5th, while Newcastle was six points ahead of the drop). Their record win is 11-0 against Strømsgodset in the 1974 UEFA Cup-winners Cup.
So would it be a miracle for Manchester City to lose the title on Championship Sunday? Not quite, but Liverpool fans will need a decent amount of good fortune come Sunday. City has lost to only one team at home this year — Chelsea — and has allowed a grand total of 13 goals at the Etihad in PL play.
A City coronation is likely coming.
England international Fabian Delph could face quite the dilemma if England advances past the group stage of the World Cup.
Delph’s wife Natalie is expecting the couple’s third child on June 30, which is two days after their pivotal group stage match against Belgium, and two days before the squad would take the field July 1 for its Round of 16 game should they win Group G. If they finish second in the group, they would play their Round of 16 game on July 3.
When asked what his plans are, Delph joked that his wife would manage on her own. “She’s tough, she’s a Yorkshire lass so she’ll deal with it,” Delph said with a smile.
He then coughed up the truth: they’re not quite sure what the plan is.
“We’re not 100% certain, with a game on the 28th there might be an opportunity to fly back and then get back fast,” he said. “[England manager] Gareth [Southgate] has been fantastic. There’s nothing more important than family to me – family always comes first and always will.”
There’s another dilemma that Southgate must navigate involving Delph. The 28-year-old is a natural winger, but played wing-back in Pep Guardiola‘s title-winning system for much of the year and saw a massive uptick in form in the new role, playing in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy. Southgate must decide where he wants to deploy Delph – if at all – and if he wishes to fit his formation and tactics to mold Delph’s season under Guardiola.
KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) — Prosecutors in Washington state have dropped domestic violence charges against former U.S. national team star goalkeeper Hope Solo.
Solo was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault in 2014 after police said she assaulted two family members at a home in Kirkland, east of Seattle. The case was delayed by appeals.
KING-TV reports that city prosecutors dropped the charges Wednesday, saying the witnesses in the case wanted to move on with their lives and did not want to participate in a trial. An attorney for Kirkland, Melissa Osman, wrote in court documents that the circumstances were unlikely to be repeated.
The longtime national team goalkeeper and two-time Olympic gold medalist recently ran unsuccessfully for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. She has called for equal pay and equal treatment for the U.S. women’s team.
Mark Hughes has gone from Stoke City outcast to Southampton savior in little under six months time.
The Welsh boss was let go from Stoke City with the Potters 18th in the table and headed towards eventual relegation, but he was picked up by fellow relegation candidates Southampton after the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino. He steered the club to safety, finishing three points above the drop in 17th.
With the Saints in the top flight for another season, the club has announced the signing of Hughes to a new three-year contract.
“Mark, Eddie and I are thrilled to have signed long-term contracts with the club. It was the only option we considered, having spent the last eight weeks with the club,” Hughes said of himself and his assistant coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki. “Now it is vital that we take the unbelievable support we received from the fans during the last few games into next season. The staff and the players will work hard every day to deliver the success this club deserves, and with everyone pulling together we will achieve our goals.”
Hughes guided Stoke City to three consecutive ninth-placed finishes, the highest the club had ever finished in the English top flight, but they finished 13th last year and regressed even further this campaign. The sale of playmaker Marko Arnautovic was particularly damaging, and the club scored just 35 goals in 38 games as a result.
At Southampton, Hughes took over a club that sat in 17th with just eight matches to go. He lost three Premier League games in a row to start his tenure and only won two league matches with Saints the rest of the way, but managed to keep the club barely afloat.
According to multiple reports in England, including the BBC, Arsenal is looking to sign Juventus right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer this summer, potentially becoming the first signing under new manager Unai Emery.
Lichtsteiner is out of contract at Juventus this summer, having been with the club since 2011. Lichtsteiner has played in Italy since joining Lazio in 2008.
The Swiss international will captain his country at the World Cup this summer in Russia and will earn his 100th cap in his second match at the event.
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Lichtsteiner has been a mainstay in a Juventus squad that has won seven consecutive Serie A titles, but at 34 years old has been slowly phased out. He has made less than 30 Serie A appearances each of the last seasons, despite a nearly spotless bill of health since undergoing heart surgery in October of 2015. Last season, Lichtsteiner completed just nine full 90 minute performances, including just three after November. Lichtsteiner may have had an even smaller role this most recent campaign had Mattia de Sciglio not struggled with injuries for much of the season.
The Gunners have Hector Bellerin as the club’s main right-back, with the Spaniard leading the squad in total minutes played this past season. However, Bellerin’s level of performance has regressed considerably since proving one of the best young Premier League players in his first full season in 2015/16.
Lichtsteiner has also been linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund, where Lukasz Piszczek mans the right-back spot, but talks between the clubs reportedly broke down.