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Week 27: Top 5 Premier League storylines – Is Spurs the title favorite?

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After a one-week hiatus, the Premier League is back.

The title race is taking serious shape, but there are plenty of races around the rest of the Premier League table. With Leicester City, Tottenham, Arsenal, and Manchester City all vying for the top spot, those below them are still battling for various positional milestones.

Who is the favorite for the Premier League crown? Who has a realistic shot at the top four? Who is hot and who is cold? Who will be dragged into a relegation battle? With 12 matches left in the season, these questions still don’t have answers, but they may after this weekend.

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1. Is Tottenham the title favorite?

Tottenham vs. Swansea City — Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET

I can see the comments flooding already: “You guys still don’t give Leicester City any credit?” Sure we do do. At the moment, Tottenham is not the title favorite. The team at the top of the table with 12 matches remaining is the title favorite, and that means Leicester City. When/if Spurs does take over the lead, then they will be the favorites.

This fact, however, is undeniable: Spurs is in the best form of the league and has a title-winning league resume this season. They’ve lost just three times all year, and just twice since an opening-day loss to Manchester United. Since their 1-0 loss to Leicester City in mid-January, they’ve rolled off five straight wins. Last week’s win over Manchester City was enormous, and it means they have a breeze of a schedule the rest of the way, with just one other top-4 team on the dockett through the end of the season – the North London derby on March 5 which will be a massive occasion.

Given Tottenham’s inability to get over the top 4 hump in recent seasons, any Champions League finish seems like a major victory, but a title race has essentially fallen into their lap. Can they take advantage where Arsenal has failed this season?

2. Can Leicester recover?

Leicester City vs. Norwich City — Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET

Remember how Tottenham has lost only three times this season? Leicester had only lost twice…until last week, when they fell at the Emirates. A potentially big blow to Leicester’s title chase, Norwich could be just the spoonful of medicine the Foxes need to get back on track. The Canaries have opened the scoring against opponents just eight times all season, the second-worst amount in the league ahead of only bottom-feeding Aston Villa. That’s not likely against the Foxes who had conceded just two goals in eight matches before their 2-1 loss to Arsenal last week. A win feels like a must for Leicester’s title hopes this week, but that also seems the likely result.

3. Will the Gunners use the momentum?

Arsenal vs. Manchester United — Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET

Arsenal was humbled by Barcelona in Champions League, but losing to one of the best attacks ever assembled is nothing to hang their heads about. The league form for Arsenal still breeds confidence, with three unbeaten following the loss to Chelsea. The Gunners need to milk every last point possible out of their remaining matches if they hope to keep pace with or pass Spurs, and this week’s matchup with a faltering Manchester United seems like the perfect opportunity to jump back on the soapbox. Just two points back, Arsenal is right in the thick of things, but they need to build on recent performances if they have any hope of sticking around.

4. Can Southampton make a move on Manchester United?

Southampton vs. Chelsea — Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET

The Saints’ poor run through December was a debilitating wound, but not a mortal one. Southampton still has the opportunity to push for a guaranteed Europa League place, and their chances for the top four seem dire but not dead. This weekend seems to be the perfect opportunity to make a move on Manchester United and shimmy into the top five. The Saints already dispatched Chelsea once this season at Stamford Bridge, but this isn’t the same Chelsea team they faced back in early October. Can they pass the Red Devils? Also notable: Chelsea has an outside shot at moving back into the top 10 should things shake out, something that seemed well out of reach in the early going.

5. Can Crystal Palace get back to winning ways vs West Brom?

West Bromwich Albion vs. Crystal Palace — Saturday, 12:30 a.m. ET

One of these teams hasn’t won since December 19; the other has just six points since early January. Two teams looking to avoid being swept into a relegation battle meet at The Hawthornes, with both in dire need of a victory. The Eagles have tumbled down the table, without a win since 2015 and on the verge of totally undoing all the impressive early season results. Both these sides sit at 32 points, and with the relegation zone eight points back, the heat isn’t on just yet, but it could be with yet another failure this weekend. Games like these have a habit of ending in a draw, but it’s likely Alan Pardew could go for all the marbles.

Mexico smothers Cuba 7-0 to start Gold Cup strong

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If Tata Martino envisioned a perfect start to the 2019 Gold Cup, his wildest dreams came true as Mexico dismantled Cuba 7-0 in their first group stage game of the competition. In a completely dominating 90 minutes, Mexico asserted itself as one of the premiere title contenders of the tournament.

21-year-old Uriel Antuna, on his third international cap, snagged a hat-trick while Raul Jimenez was spectacular in the attack, with a hand in each of the first four goals of the game.

The onslaught started just two minutes in via a clown show at the back for Cuba that saw three defenders completely whiff on a clearance, with the ball coming off the post as well before Antuna bundled it into the back of the net for his first of a memorable night.

Raul Jimenez came inches away from doubling the lead in the eighth minute as he put a diving header just wide right as the early slaughter continued. After the opening 15 minutes, Mexico seemed to take its foot off the gas pedal, cruising through to halftime with very little goal action but also hardly allowing Cuba to see a touch of the ball, holding 76% possession through the first half-hour.

On the 30-minute mark, however, the second goal that had been begging finally came and the storm continued. Right through the heart of the Cuba defense, Wolves star Raul Jiminez finished it off through the two center-backs and past goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez. The third came before halftime as Diego Reyes bagged his first international goal since March of 2017 as a corner swung in to Jimenez at the far post and he poked it on net. While Sanchez saved his weak effort that seemed more like a delivery, it was pushed right to Reyes on the doorstep for the poke.

Cuba couldn’t make it to halftime before conceding again, with Mexico breaking down the right via Jiminez who crossed to the middle for Roberto Alvarado. The Cuban defense tracked back to intercept the initial cross, but the rebound fell to Antuna who stepped in front of Andres Guardado and ripped his second of the game.

The second half was no different as Mexico continued to pour it on, with Jimenez adding his second past the hour mark and 21-year-old Alexis Vega bagged his first international goal with 16 minutes to go. On the 80th minute, Antuna got free down the right and finished from a tight angle for his hat-trick.

Canada hammers Martinique 4-0 to begin 2019 Gold Cup

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19-year-old Gent striker Jonathan David is your trivia answer of the summer, scoring the opening goals of the 2019 Gold Cup as Canada comfortably downed Martinique 4-0 behind the youngster’s brace.

[ MORE: Ellis and USWNT not ducking France ]

The youngster scored his fifth international goal in just his fifth cap, continuing a hot start to his Canadian career. The winning moment came off a mistake at the back as Martinique goalkeeper Loic Chauvet misfired a pass to defender Daniel Herelle and David pounced, producing a delicious finish that saw him keep his cool to get Chauvet on the ground before clipping into the back of the net.

Martinique did not go down without a fight, as Kevin Parsemain missed a trio of great chances all just before halftime. The first saw him take a Kevin Fortune cross and toe-poke just wide left with the goal gaping, and moments later Atiba Harris was caught in possession leading to a Parsemain breakaway, but Milan Borjan saved low on the shot. Lastly, in first-half stoppage time, Parsemain put Canadian defender Derek Cornelius on his rear but his shot again was saved by Borjan at the near post.

In the second half Canada appeared to come out defensive-minded, and they struck on a ball over the top that completely fleeced the Martinique back line. Davis flashed by the high defensive line and latched onto the long ball from Samuel Piette, firing cooly past Chauvet yet again to put Canada up 2-0.

The floodgates opened after the hour mark, with Junior Hoilett and Scott Arfield both finding the back of the net with the Martinique back line all over the place. The rest of the match featured David going for his hat-trick, dragging a late shot wide left from distance looking for the milestone. Canada secured a solid start to the tournament just hours after the country’s women played to victory over New Zealand out in France at the World Cup.

Colombia downs Argentina 2-0 after big Messi miss

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A miserable opening 45 minutes gave way to a more exciting second half, and Roger Martinez came off the bench to win the day with a 71st minute stunner to give Colombia all three points in Bahia, supported by a late cherry on top from Duvan Zapata.

The goal came just minutes after Lionel Messi missed a golden opportunity to give Argentina the lead during a spell of serious possessional domination midway through the second half. Once again, the Argentinian collection of star forwards came up empty, a drought that continues to plague the side in big matches.

The first half, largely, was a physical mess with very few real chances on net. The possession was nearly even between the two sides, neither team registered a shot on target, and there were just five shots overall in the first half, including just one for Argentina.

Early on, Lionel Messi was at the heart of Argentina’s best chance as he delivered a stunning long ball forward for Sergio Aguero, but with David Ospina coming acres out of his net to challenge with a flying karate kick, the offside flag went up to end the chance. Colombia was dealt an early blow as Luis Muriel was forced off with an early thigh injury, replaced by Martinez in a move that would eventually prove critical.

Argentina suffered a near-disaster when Nicolas Otamendi delivered a dangerous back-pass to goalkeeper Franco Armani who sent it right back to his defender with both under heavy pressure, but they escaped just conceding a corner and it came to nothing for Colombia.

After the break, the game opened up a bit but there were still few chances on net. Messi nearly weaved his way through the entire Colombian defense, nutmegging Davinson Sanchez before Wilmar Barrios came in to cut the ball off, but the referee made a controversial decision not to award an illegal back-pass as Barrios then touched back to Ospina who collected in his arms. Instead, he showed a yellow card to Leandro Paredes for dissent after the action arguing his case.

The two teams burst into a scuffle when Messi was hacked down by Juan Cuadrado past the hour mark as Argentina began to grab hold of the game. Cuadrado received a yellow of his own and was withdrawn shortly thereafter. On the hour mark, Messi had a golden opportunity to give Argentina the lead, but as Paredes saw his effort saved, the rebound came to Messi but he headed wide right from point-blank range despite the goal gaping.

Minutes later Colombia took the lead through a simple yet stunning move as Martinez burst down the left and cut inside just outside the top of the penalty area, unleashing a fabulous strike that left a diving Armani with no chance as it buried into the side netting inside the far post.

Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli somehow decided that 31-year-old Matias Suarez was the choice for a last throw of the dice off the bench, choosing the man with two prior international caps over the likes of Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez. Instead, Colombia went down the other end and eviscerated the Argentina defense with a vicious counter down the left as Roger Martinez combined with Jefferson Lerma. The latter crossed to the doorstep and Zapata – who came on just five minutes earlier for Radamel Falcao – somehow beat the napping center-back pairing of German Pezzella and Otamendi.

The win for Colombia gives them an early advantage in Group B, while Argentina can still rescue its situation with matches remaining against Paraguay and Qatar. The loss marks the third in Argentina’s last four competitive matches, with losses to France and Croatia in World Cup play prior to this defeat.

Follow Live: Gold Cup kicks off with Mexico and Canada in action

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The 2019 Gold Cup is here, and both Mexico and Canada are in play as the tournament kicks off at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The games mark the first round of Group A play as Canada officially kicks things off against Martinique at 7:30 p.m. ET, while Mexico takes the field at 9:30 p.m. ET.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores ]

Canada made its way to its 11th straight Gold Cup by bulldozing the CONCACAF Nations League with a perfect 4-0-0 record and a +17 goal differential to finish atop the table along with Haiti. Martinique takes the field for its sixth Gold Cup having also recorded a 4-0-0 record in the Nations League.

Mexico, meanwhile, will see Tata Martino take charge of his first competitive match as head man of El Tri. He comes into the Gold Cup on a high, having won each of the four previous matches he has taken charge of. Mexico has high expectations for the tournament, and a big start over Cuba would set the stage.