PSG’s total dominance removes any drama from French league

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PARIS (AP) By regularly talking about the Champions League game against Chelsea so early in advance, Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc is doing a great job of under-selling the French league.

Not that he needs much help.

PSG’s dominance this season has been so absolute – it leads Monaco by 21 points – that the race for second place is more exciting.

[ WATCH: PSG scores two incredible goals… 10 minutes apart ]

At the current rate, PSG will finish the season with 104 points – smashing its own record by 15 points. In 22 matches, PSG has scored 56 goals for only 10 conceded, putting it on course to score around 100 and break the record for least goals conceded in a season.

A second straight domestic treble is odds-on, with PSG playing in the League Cup semifinals on Tuesday, and if PSG avoids defeat at Saint-Etienne on Sunday it will equal the longest unbeaten league run of 32 games, set by Nantes in the 1994-95 season.

“PSG will be judged on the Champions League, they are far too strong for France,” France’s World Cup-winning defender Bixente Lizarazu said.

Therefore, it is understandable that Blanc has spent the past two weeks talking about the importance of being ready to face Chelsea in the last 16 – even though the first leg is not until Feb. 16.

But in doing so he may as well grab a megaphone and tell everyone how weak PSG’s competition is. The quest for a fourth straight title is a total procession, albeit a brutal one, with Saturday’s 5-1 hammering of Angers extending an unbeaten league run dragging back to March 15.

Added to that, it was a club record-equaling 11th straight win and improved its whopping goal difference to + 46. At the ripe age of 34, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is on course for his best ever league goal tally – he has 17 so far, despite missing five games – while winger Angel di Maria has already beaten his personal scoring record over a season, as well as setting up the most goals in Ligue 1.

PSG will fancy its chances of finishing the league season unbeaten, and the only defeat anywhere has been a 1-0 reverse away to Real Madrid in the Champions League on Nov. 3.

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In boxing terms, PSG’s dominance would be the equivalent of a heavyweight champion knocking out petrified middleweights within a minute of the opening round.

Lyon and Marseille challenged PSG last season but both now languish 30 points behind.

Monaco threatened to upstage PSG after a massive cash outlay under Russian billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev three years ago, but then did everything to undermine that bid.

In the past two seasons, Monaco has sold Colombia’s World Cup star James Rodriguez to Real Madrid, France midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia to Inter Milan, speedy winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco to Atletico Madrid, lynchpin defender Aymen Abdennour to Valencia, and rising star Anthony Martial to Manchester United – as well as letting once-feared striker Radamel Falcao join United on loan.

For a club hoping to challenge PSG, that is a funny way of showing it.

Instead, Monaco has now become a profit-making club – and a very good one – using its vast scouting network to recruit exceptionally talented young players and sell them for a profit.

Even if Monaco does finish second, it would be hard to bet against the club selling more of its promising assets.

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Monaco has achieved one thing PSG never has, though – reaching the Champions League final, in 2004 – while Marseille remains the only French club to win it, back in 1993.

But Marseille only has an outside shot of qualifying for next season’s Champions League and behind the scenes things are as hectic as usual. Having spent several seasons clearing debts, it also has scant funds available.

Owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus is increasingly keen to sell – the asking price is around ? 85-100 million euros – with potential buyers from Kazakhstan, Kuwait and China showing an interest, according to a report Sunday on football show Telefoot.

However, any buyer would have to invest considerably more to attract the likes of Di Maria and Edinson Cavani – PSG’s ?64-million striker who now sits on the bench.

Buying Marseille comes with another snag: the Stade Velodrome is owned by the city and mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin does not want to sell it.

“As long as I’m mayor of Marseille, it won’t change,” he adamantly told Telefoot.

The example of Lens should be a warning sign to clubs hoping for a miracle investor, too.

Having secured considerable backing from major shareholder Hafiz Mammadov of Azerbaijan, all seemed promising when the northern club won promotion back to the first division two seasons ago.

That was until the league’s financial watchdog (DNCG) spotted missing funds in the club’s proposed budget for 2014-15, the promotion was ruled invalid and Lens was ordered to be relegated no matter where it finished in Ligue 1 last season.

Lens is now in seventh place in the second division.

The best hope of a long-term challenge to PSG rests with Lyon, which has now moved into a new stadium – which it fully owns – and always has promising players coming through from its superbly-run youth academy.

But Lyon only has a slim chance of keeping star striker Alexandre Lacazette, who recently gave an interview saying he would relish playing in the Premier League.

Therefore, next season could be the same all over again – with little excitement outside of PSG’s Champions League campaign.

Furthermore, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has lamented how the atmosphere at Parc des Princes is far less passionate than at Saint-Etienne, Marseille or Nantes – storied clubs with a loyal and noisy fan base.

The atmosphere at Parc des Princes is stifled and much akin to a theater crowd in the way it is excessively demanding – with some fans even jeering 20 minutes into Saturday’s rout of Angers, while others were still taking their seats.

Unlike other major European cities, Paris does not have a cross-city rival to at least make for some exciting local derbies and PSG’s fans appear only vaguely interested until their team gets into heavy scoring mode.

Spoilt home fans even jeered Ibrahimovic when he missed a chance a few games ago – astonishingly harsh on such an entertainer who, in just four seasons, has become the club’s all-time leading scorer with 126 goals.

But with no rivals, PSG fans have the luxury of picking holes in their own team.

Manchester City vs Liverpool: How to watch live, stream link, team news


Manchester City host Liverpool in a huge game for both teams as they battle for the title and a top four finish respectively.


Pep Guardiola’s Man City can momentarily cut the gap to leaders Arsenal to five points but there are question marks swirling around the fitness of goalscoring machine Erling Haaland heading into this game. City are looking for a three-peat of Premier League titles and five in the last six seasons, but Arsenal don’t look like they’re going to slip up anytime soon. So City can’t afford to either. They’ve won six in a row in all competitions, scoring 23 and conceding once in that run. We all know they love to kick on at this point of the campaign, so let’s see if they can do it again.

As for Liverpool, well, it has been one step forward and one step back pretty much all season long for Jurgen Klopp’s side. After their 7-0 shellacking of Manchester United, they then lost at Bournemouth to infuriate Klopp and their fans further. The front three of Salah, Nunez and Gakpo are all clicking through the gears nicely but Liverpool have to become more consistent and dominant games in midfield if they’re going to close the gap to the current top four. They’ve had success against City in recent years as their contrasting style of play match up well but this seems like a different, more fragile, Liverpool this season.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

Here’s everything you need for Manchester City vs Liverpool.

How to watch Manchester City vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 7:30am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium

Key storylines & in-form players to watch

The fitness of Haaland is obviously a huge concern for City as he suffered a groin issue and did not play for Norway over the international break and returned to Manchester for treatment. If he isn’t fit to start then expect Julian Alvarez to come in. Elsewhere, City are flying with Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gunodgan having a big role to play with Phil Foden out following his Appendectomy. As always, Kevin de Bruyne is the main man and will relish this chance to cut Arsenal’s lead atop the table.

Liverpool just can’t find consistency right now. They have improved defensively but they are a real Jekyll and Hyde team. Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of that and showed his frustration after their defeat at Bournemouth, which was their last Premier League game and was way back on March 11. He’s had a few weeks to stew over that loss and it will be intriguing to see what plan he has come up with. For this game as earlier this season Liverpool beat Man City 1-0 at Anfield by playing a front four which pinned City in.

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Erling Haaland (groin) | OUT: Phil Foden (appendix removed)

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Calvin Ramsay (knee), Stefan Bajcetic (groin) | QUESTIONABLE: Luis Diaz (knee), Darwin Nunez (ankle), Kostas Tsimikas (rib), Thiago Alcantara (hip), Joe Gomez (undisclosed)

Erling Haaland injury: Manchester City assess star


Manchester City star Erling Haaland left the Norway squad during the international break after suffering a groin injury.

Our partners in the UK at Sky Sports News say that Haaland missed team training on Thursday, less than 48 hours before the huge game against Liverpool this weekend.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Haaland, 22, joined up with Norway for their EURO 2024 qualifiers but has been sent back to Manchester City for treatment.

That meant he went to Marbella and then Barcelona in Spain for specialist treatment and he is now back in Manchester recovering from the groin injury he picked up against Burnley.

The Norwegian striker has been in stunning form in recent weeks, scoring nine goals in his last three games in all competitions for City (including five against RB Leipzig in the Champions League and a hat trick against Burnley in the FA Cup) before the break.

He has scored 42 (yes, forty two) goals in all competitions for Man City this season.

However, Pep Guardiola and Man City now face an anxious wait as an injury to Erling Haaland is the last thing they wanted before a pivotal final few months of the season as they chase the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble.

What is the latest update?

Norway’s team doctor, Ola Sand, gave an update on Haaland’s injury.

“We hoped that this was just a familiarity that would carry over to Saturday, but after doing tests and examinations yesterday it became clear that he will not make it to the games against Spain and Georgia,” Sand said. “It is better that he receives medical follow-up at the club.”

Norway face Spain on Saturday and Georgia next Tuesday, so it seems like Haaland is in a race to be fit for Man City’s games after the international break.

Which games could he miss?

After the international break Man City are playing in the first game of the weekend as they host Liverpool on Saturday, Apr. 1 at the Etihad Stadium.

It seems like Haaland could be struggling to be fully fit for that game, and maybe even the trip to Southampton on Apr. 8, so Pep Guardiola may choose to rest him for their massive UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Bayern Munich on Apr. 11.

Given the form Haaland is in right now, it will be a blow for City if he does miss the next few games but the last thing they want is any long-term damage. Plus, it’s helpful to have the likes of World Cup winner Julian Alvarez in reserve to step in for Haaland.

Premier League relegation history – What do the stats tell us about this season?


With nine teams currently separated by four points, from 20th to 12th places, the 2022-23 Premier League relegation scrap is not only set to last until the final day, but the final two months of the season are sure to be one of the wildest roller-coaster rides of all time.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]  

Three clubs will be relegated from the Premier League (and replaced by three teams from the EFL Championship, of course) at season’s end. Never before have this many clubs been this close to the bottom-three, and the bottom of the table, at this point of a season.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League table for 2022-23 season ]

Below is everything you need to know about the relegation scrap set to unfold over the final eight weeks of the 2022-23 season…

Who are the clubs in this year’s Premier League relegation scrap?

Crystal Palace – 27 points, 12th place
Wolves – 27 points, 13th place
Leeds – 26 points, 14th place
Everton – 26 points, 15th place
Nottingham Forest – 26 points, 16th place
Leicester – 25 points, 17th place
West Ham – 24 points, 18th place
Bournemouth – 24 points, 19th place
Southampton – 23 points, 20th place

What was the magic number to avoid relegation in recent seasons?

2022: 36 points
2021: 29 points
2020: 35 points
2019: 35 points
2018: 34 points
2017: 35 points
2016: 38 points
2015: 36 points
2014: 34 points
2013: 37 points
2012: 37 points
2011: 40 points
2010: 31 points
2009: 35 points
2008: 36 points

When was the last time each club was relegated from the Premier League/top flight?

Fulham: 2021 (promoted 2022 – 1 season in PL)
Bournemouth: 2020 (promoted 2022 – 1 season)
Aston Villa: 2016 (promoted 2020 – 4 seasons)
Newcastle: 2016 (promoted 2017 – 6 seasons)
Wolves: 2012 (promoted 2018 – 5 seasons)
West Ham: 2011 (promoted 2012 – 11 seasons)
Southampton: 2005 (promoted 2012 – 11 seasons)
Crystal Palace: 2005 (promoted 2013 – 10 seasons)
Leeds: 2004 (promoted 2020 – 3 seasons)
Leicester: 2004 (promoted 2014 – 9 seasons)
Manchester City: 2001 (promoted 2002 – 21 seasons)
Nottingham Forest: 1999 (promoted 2022 – 1 season)
Chelsea: 1988 (promoted 1989 – 34 seasons)
Brighton: 1983 (promoted 2017 – 6 seasons)
Tottenham: 1977 (promoted 1978 – 45 seasons)
Manchester United: 1974 (promoted in 1975 – 48 seasons)
Liverpool: 1954 (promoted 1962 – 61 seasons)
Everton: 1951 (promoted 1954 – 69 seasons)
Brentford: 1947 (promoted 2021 – 2 seasons)
Arsenal: 1913 (promoted 1915 – 103 seasons)

How many games remaining between relegation candidates?

There are 23 remaining head-to-head matchups between the nine teams currently in the relegation battle.

Crystal Palace: 8 games (1 against every other team)
Wolves: 4 games
Leeds: 5 games
Everton: 4 games
Nottingham Forest: 4 games
Leicester: 6 games
West Ham: 5 games
Bournemouth: 6 games
Southampton: 4 games

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Ever Wonder what happened to Leicester City’s title-winning team?


Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Check out our ‘Ever Wonder’ series in full ]

Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.

Ever Wonder where the Leicester title-winning team is now?

With odds of 5000-1 to win the Premier League title in 2015-16, Leicester City pulled off one of the greatest shocks in sports history.

But have you ever wondered ‘hey, what is that Leicester team up to now? What happened to them?’

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Club legends and captains

After captaining them to FA Cup glory and being the main man in recent years, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel left Leicester in 2022 and is now starring for Nice in France.

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Right back Danny Simpson, center backs Robert Huth and Wes Morgan and left back Christian Fuchs have all retired with the latter playing for Charlotte FC in MLS in 2022.

Morgan lifting the Premier League trophy alongside beloved manager Claudio Ranieri, who is still coaching in Italy in Serie B with Cagliari, is an image that is in sporting folklore.

Superstars move on to even more glory

In midfield, N’Golo Kante has gone on to win the Premier League again and Champions League, among other trophies, with Chelsea. Internationally – he started every game for France as they won the World Cup in 2018.

His midfield partner at Leicester – Danny Drinkwater – also joined Chelsea, but is currently without a club after loan moves across the Premier League, Turkey and the Championship.

Winger Riyad Mahrez is a star at Manchester City, winning three more Premier League titles, while on the other wing, Marc Albrighton left Leicester on loan in January 2023 for West Bromwich Albion in the Championship but is still contracted to the club.

Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League
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Veterans still plugging away and one continues to party…

Striker Shinji Okazaki is playing in Belgium for Sint-Truiden, while fellow forward Leonardo Ulloa retired after spells in Mexico and Spain.

Meanwhile – veteran striker Jamie Vardy is of course still at Leicester, and will forever go down as a club legend.

He played a key part in their FA Cup triumph and recent European exploits, and won the Premier League Golden Boot award three years ago. He never misses a party.

As for the other key contributors off the bench, Demarai Gray is at Everton, Jeffrey Schlupp is at Crystal Palace, Ben Chilwell is at Chelsea and is England’s second-choice left back, Richie de Laet is still playing at Royal Antwerp, Andy King is at Bristol City and Nathan Dyer has retired.

Wherever they are now, this group of players will always be known as the team who pulled off one of the greatest upsets the sporting world has ever seen.

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