Premier League roundup: Tense Saturday, as relegation battle intensifies

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It was a busy, busy Saturday in the Premier League as eight games took place and plenty of drama ensued.

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Wins for Leicester City (four on the spin) and Hull City in and around the relegation zone were massive, while Manchester City won a stunner against Aston Villa to cement their top four hopes and Southampton played out an entertaining draw with Tottenham.

[ RELATED: Standings | videos | schedule ]

Just in case you missed anything, below are recaps, videos, analysis, reaction and more from all eight matches.

Southampton 2-2 Tottenham HotspurRECAP

A breahtaking game at St Mary’s as sixth-placed Spurs grabbed a point against seventh-placed Saints. Graziano Pelle twice gave Saints the lead but Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli equalizer to grab a point for Mauricio Pochettino on his return to Southampton.

Manchester City 3-2 Aston VillaRECAP

City survived a second half scare to cement their top four hopes. A horrendous blunder from Brad Guzan made it 1-0 as Sergio Aguero punished the USMNT man, then Aleksandar Kolarov made it 2-0 with a free kick in the second half. That sparked Villa into life as Tom Cleverely and Carlos Sanchez scored to make it 2-2 with five minutes left. But there was one more twist in the tale as Fernandinho scored in the 89th minute to make it 3-2. Huge win for the Citizens, while Villa are still struggling and just two points above the drop zone.

Newcastle United 2-3 Swansea CityRECAP

Seven defeats on the spin now for Newcastle. It started so well as Ayoze Perez gave them the lead but three goals from Oliveira, Sigurdsson and Cork gave Swansea a commanding lead. A late goal from Siem de Jong made it 3-2, but Newcastle is now just five points above the drop zone.

Stoke City 1-1 SunderlandRECAP

Sunderland went ahead through Connor Wickham but another beauty from Charlie Adam leveled things up in the first half and that was how things finished. Despite grabbing a point on the road, Sunderland dropped into the bottom three with four games to go. Panic stations for Dick Advocaat’s men.

Burnley 0-1 Leicester CityRECAP

This was a huge game in the relegation scrap and a minute of madness decided this one. Burnley missed a penalty kick as Matt Taylor hit the post and moments later Leicester went up the other end as Jamie Vardy was credited with the game-winning goal. Four wins on the spin for the Foxes now, as they climb out of the relegation zone on 31 points. Burnley is now bottom on 26 points and are five points from safety with four games to save themselves.

West Bromwich Albion 0-0 LiverpoolRECAP

Jordon Ibe hit the bar and Jordan Henderson came close for Liverpool but they couldn’t break down a stubborn West Brom outfit. The Baggies had good chances themselves as Callum McManaman went close late on and James Morrison had a header cleared off the line. Liverpool’s top four hopes are all but over.

QPR 0-0 West Ham UnitedRECAP

Charlie Austin, QPR’s leading scorer, had a penalty kick saved by Adrian in the first half. West Ham’s goalkeeper denied Matt Phillips late on and was fouled by Steven Caulker as Richard Dunne headed home a disallowed goal in the second half. The Hammers went close through Aaron Cresswell’s free kick which was tipped over superbly by Robert Green. QPR had the better chances but are four points from safety.

Crystal Palace 0-2 Hull CityRECAP

An end-to-end game in south London went Hull’s way as Dame N’Doye scored twice in the second half to give the Tigers their first win in seven matches. Steve Bruce looked like a relieved man afterwards as Hull now have breathing space but are still just one point clear of the bottom three.

El Tri winger Jurgen Damm headed for MLS this summer

Jurgen Damm
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This season’s Liga MX invasion of MLS continues with Jurgen Damm announcing that he’ll leave UANL Tigres this summer after five years with the club.

TUDN has the destination as Atlanta, though previous reports have linked Damm to the LA Galaxy is the spot.

And MLSSoccer.com scribe Tom Bogert says the Houston Dynamo have his “discovery rights” (which remains the worst concept in the entire league).

Reports emerged over the past 48 hours that the El Tri man was headed for an MLS club.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 12-times capped winger has one goal for Mexico, but has not been capped since Oct. 2018. He has spent his entire career in Liga MX.

Damm spent the early part of his career with Tecos and Pachuca, but has been with UANL Tigres since 2015.

He won four league titles with UANL, as well as the 2018 Campeones Cup.

Ex-Arsenal man Gnabry: “London’s still red” after Bayern beats Chelsea

Serge Gnabry
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Ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry still has love for the club.

Gnabry tweeted that “London is still red” after he scored twice for Bayern Munich in a 3-0 beating of Chelsea on Tuesday in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

This after scoring four times against Spurs in a previous Champions League group stage match and Tweeting that “North London is Red.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

So what’s with the London form?

“I’ve got a lot of friends here,” Gnabry said after the game. “A lot of them were in the stands tonight, and it seems they give me a lot of good power.”

Gnabry only scored once during his time in England with Arsenal and West Brom but is a bona fide star in the Bundesliga.

With a three-goal advantage over Chelsea heading to Munich for a second leg, however, he’s not got his head in the clouds.

“Three goals ahead gives us a little bit of confidence, but we need to be prepared for the second leg. We can’t take it not seriously enough. … We’ve seen it last year with Liverpool beating Barcelona, so we have to be careful. We have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.”

Gnabry now has 51 goals and 29 assists in four seasons since returning to Germany from Arsenal. Not terrible production for a player the Gunners offloaded to Werder Bremen for under $6 million in 2016.

What color will London be when Chelsea buys him next year? We kid, we kid…

Champions League preview: Real Madrid renews rivalry with Pep; Lyon hosts Juve

UEFA Champions League preview
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The final two ties of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 begin Wednesday when Manchester City and Juventus head to Spain and France.

The focus for many will be on the former, as City continues to weather UEFA drama while its manager prepares for his fiercest foe as a player and manager.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Pep Guardiola has managed against Real Madrid 17 times and boasts a 9-4-4 record between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Catalan wizard has lost his last three versus Real, two with Bayern and once in his final El Clasico as Barca boss.

Even as Guardiola stresses preparation and plan, he knows there will be bounces and that both teams will have to cope with them.

“We have to be strong, have quality and need to have luck,” he said, via The Manchester Evening News. “At this stage, it’s important but we cannot control that. We can control what we can control and we will see. This competition, last season, against Liverpool, there are decisions. You have to overcome. You need incredible concentration in our game and game plan plus try to be a little lucky.”

Real Madrid living legend Sergio Ramos has earned the ire of Guardiola on plenty of occasions, one of the few things Liverpool and City fans have in common.

Ramos wouldn’t get drawn into rivalry talk, sying the stage somewhat negates the opponent.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Ramos said via the club’s web site. “I think he’s a fantastic coach, with loads of experience, and his numbers speak for themselves. We’re motivated by the Champions League, regardless of the players or coaches who may have been rivals in the past. We’re up for the Champions League and our next task is to beat City. From a personal point of view, I’m just focused on making the next round.”

[ MORE: Key battles for Real-Man City ]

Wednesday’s other match sees a club long linked with Guardiola, as Juventus will play the role of heavy favorites against Lyon.

Maurizio Sarri‘s side is to bidding to win what’s eluded all Juve bosses since Marcello Lippi beat Ajax in 1996. If they succeed, it will be by going down a different path than it’s traveled in recent years.

Here’s Leonardo Bonucci, via Football-Italia:

“What the coach asks of us now is basically the opposite of what the previous coach did,” Bonucci mused. “It was usually individual against individual, now it’s more about organized team movements. Obviously, you need to train consistently to get that down and playing every three days makes it difficult. But we started this journey well aware of the positives it could bring and the difficulties of getting there.”

Lyon has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, sitting seventh in the Ligue 1 table, but has the tools to surprise if Juve doesn’t bring its best. That starts in France on Wednesday.

Lampard: Chelsea first leg loss ‘quite sobering,’ ‘harsh lesson’

Frank Lampard
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Chelsea manager Frank Lampard isn’t sugarcoating his side’s 3-0 first-leg loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday.

“Sometimes you have to be brutally honest about it,” he said in televised remarks after the loss. “It’s quite sobering.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Lampard admitted that Bayern was firing on all cylinders at Stamford Bridge, and proffered tepid support for the idea of an unlikely comeback in Germany next month.

“The level of team they showed that they are, hence why they challenge in the Bundesliga and the Champions League,” he said, via Football.London. “I’m disappointed we couldn’t do better against them. It’s a reality check. Don’t look at anyone else apart from yourself.”

“We should never say the door is closed because our fans would never accept that. I’m more concerned with the bigger picture here. There’s a lot to be done.”

Sure is.

Chelsea leads fifth-place Manchester United by three points in the top four race and has a four-point edge on sixth-place Spurs in the scenario that fifth is enough for Champions League football.

That’s important because the UCL path back to the tournament looks like a massive ask. And Lampard said the players need to use Tuesday’s blowout loss at home “as a positive effect” moving forward.

But he also put it pretty plainly during his post-match comments.

“It was a harsh lesson,” Lampard said. “This is Champions League football.”