The Run-In: Analyzing the situation for each PL team

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With seven games to go in the Premier League, this is getting tense.

[ MORE: PW’s picks – Week 32

Bearing that in mind, here at ProSoccerTalk we thought it would be a good time to look at the final weeks of the season and the scenarios for each team.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Here’s “The Run-In” looking at the fortunes of all 20 teams and what could happen to them in the coming weeks.


Leicester City

Current position/points: 1st/66 points
Toughest game: at Man United, May 1 |  Full schedule
Most important player: N’Golo Kante – Sure, Vardy and Mahrez are massively important but Kante is the heartbeat. He must keep fit and drive them on to grind out points.
Most likely outcome: It would take a massive collapse for Leicester to not win this title now and they have the easiest schedule, on paper, of all three. Five points clear with seven games left, they are the Champions-elect. Remarkable story. Perhaps the best in PL history.


Tottenham Hotspur

Current position/points: 2nd/61 points
Toughest game: vs. Man United, April 10 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Harry Kane – With five goals in his last three PL outings, he’s red-hot. If he keeps it going, the title could be coming to the Lane.
Most likely outcome: Honestly, with the players they possess and their sterling defensive record, Spurs could sneak this. There’s one more twist left in this season… They have the tougher schedule.


Arsenal

Current position/points: 3rd/55 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: at Man City, May 7 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Alexis Sanchez – He’s the only man who can save Wenger from an almighty inquest this summer. Chilean must score more in the run-in.
Most likely outcome: 3rd. This really is a two-horse title race, but Arsenal can apply some pressure and see how inexperienced Spurs and Leicester handle it… Finishing second wouldn’t be a disastrous season but top four seems highly likely now.


Manchester City

Current position/points: 4th/51 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: vs. Arsenal, May 7 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Vincent Kompany – Captain and CB needs to stay fit otherwise City is in deep trouble
Most likely outcome: UCL qualification but if the recent slide continues, teams are queuing up to replace them.


West Ham United

Current position/points: 5th/50 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: at Leicester City, Apr. 17 | Full schedule
Most important player: Dimitri Payet – Mercurial playmaker must be at his best in final weeks for the Hammers to crack the top four.
Most likely outcome: Top six and Europa League qualification. Some tough games to finish with.


Manchester United

Current position/points: 6th/50 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: vs. Leicester, May 1 |  Full schedule
Most important player: David De Gea – They can continue to sneak 1-0 wins as long as De Gea continues to pull off stunning saves.
Most likely outcome: They will be right in the hunt for a top four spot until the final game of the season. This will be tight.


Southampton

Current position/points: 7th/47 points
Toughest game: at Tottenham, May 7 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Sadio Mane – If the Senegalese winger can stay hot, Saints can make a run at the top four. Seriously.
Most likely outcome: Another 7th place finish. Koeman’s men have three of the top four still to play.


Stoke City

Current position/points: 8th/46 points
Toughest game: vs. Tottenham, April 18 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Marko Arnautovic – The big Austrian has stopped scoring and needs to regain form in the final weeks.
Most likely outcome: It seems like a top six finish is well within Stoke’s reach. They have plenty of tough games left. 7-9th most likely.


Liverpool

Current position/points: 9th/44 points (played 29 games)
Toughest game: vs. Tottenham, April 2 | Full schedule
Most important player: Philippe Coutinho – He makes them tick and when he’s on his game, Liverpool win. Imperative they find him.
Most likely outcome: Probably outside the top six. Yes, they’ve games in hand but this season would always be tough. Believe in Klopp.


Chelsea

Current position/points: 10th/41 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: vs. Man City, April 16 | Full schedule
Most important player: Diego Costa – He’s back scoring goals and looks sharp but he must stay focused down the stretch.
Most likely outcome: At this point, top six would be miraculous. 8th would be the best possible outcome for the reigning champs.


West Bromwich Albion

Current position/points: 11th/39 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: at Arsenal & Spurs, April 21 & 25 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Gareth McAuley. The big Northern Irish center back has turned back the hands of time.
Most likely outcome: A very tough slate of games are coming, and manager Tony Pulis will be sure to batten down the hatches to make sure no entertainment comes anyone’s way. Call them 13th.


Everton

Current position/points: 12th/38 points (played 29 games)’
Toughest game: at Liverpool, April 20 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Ross Barkley. He does a bit of everything, and this year has really lived up to his potential.
Most likely outcome: The only team in this bunch that could challenge to finish top half, but also is focused on succeeding the semifinals of the FA Cup and beyond. 11th.


Bournemouth

Current position/points: 13th/38 points
Toughest game: at Man Utd, May 15  Full schedule
Most important player: Andrew Surman. The steady South African midfielder covers plenty of ground and has intangibles overflowing from whatever he uses to store intangibles.
Most likely outcome: Very difficult run home for the Cherries, who will struggle to keep up their recent pace.


Watford

Current position/points: 14th/37 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: at Arsenal, April 2 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Troy Deeney. The plaudits head Odion Ighalo‘s way more often, but Deeney’s hold-up play has created so many chances for the Hornets, and his leadership is valuable.
Most likely outcome: Around 13th-15th.


Swansea City

Current position/points: 15th/36 points
Toughest game: at Leicester City, April 24|  Full schedule
Most important player: Ashley Williams. The veteran back’s crunching tackles and keen reactions have saved Swans’ leaky defense more points than their performances deserve.
Most likely outcome: A relatively tricky run-in should have Swans finishing no more than a spot higher than their current position.


Crystal Palace

Current position/points: 16th/33 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game(s): at Arsenal & Man Utd, April 17 & 20 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Yannick Bolasie. As Yohan Cabaye fades, it’s up to Bolasie to supply electricity to the Palace attack.
Most likely outcome: Safe, though Palace remains winless in the Premier League since New Year’s Day.


Norwich City

Current position/points: 17th/28 points
Toughest game: at Arsenal, April 30 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Sebastien Bassong. The Cameroonian back is an important part of the Canaries defense, attack and possession game.
Most likely outcome: Norwich has the least quality of the bunch, but Alex Neil has the club grinding in every match. The two-point lead is nice, and the Canaries may know their fate in three weeks, as they face Newcastle, Palace and Sunderland, only the middle match away from Carrow Road.


Sunderland

Current position/points: 18th/26 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: vs. Arsenal, April 24|  Full schedule
Most important player: Jermain Defoe. The 33-year-old striker keeps bagging goals at important times. Given the way the Black Cats defend, he’s going to need to keep doing it.
Most likely outcome: Their January buys give them the quality to stay up, and Sam Allardyce has been through a relegation fight or two in his day. He’s also gotten his club into those battles though, so, comme ci, comme ca. We like their odds to go down.


Newcastle United

Current position/points: 19th/25 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: at Southampton, April 9 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Georginio Wijnaldum. The Dutch playmaker might be leading the Premier League in assists if Aleksandar Mitrovic and company had their finishing boots in order.
Most likely outcome: Rafa Benitez is a smart manager, one who gives them a fighting chance to go with their strong talent base. If they win at Norwich next week, they’ll be the favorites to stay up between Sunderland, Norwich and themselves. Staying up.


Aston Villa

Current position/points: Cooked 20th/16 points
Toughest game: at Arsenal, May 15 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Idrissa Gueye. He’s quietly been a solid all-around midfielder on a team lacking in talent. Look for him to get a move somewhere in the PL next season.
Most likely outcome: Down.

 

Report: Manchester United “miles” apart on Maguire deal

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Yesterday, the English tabloids exploded with reports that Manchester United was nearing a deal with Leicester City to make Harry Maguire the most expensive defender in the world with a $100 million deal nearly completed. Some even went so far as to suggest a medical would take place on Monday – today.

Now, there seems to be an about-face as ESPN senior writer Mark Ogden reports that the two sides are “miles away” on a potential deal, as his source describes it.

According to the report, Manchester United’s last bid of $50 million is much closer to their valuation of the player, and while Leicester City is holding out for a world record bid, the two sides have not made much movement towards an agreement. They are willing to go up to $75 million with another bid, but that is still well off the Leicester City price tag.

Ogden writes that Manchester United’s first choice was Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt, but he is nearing completion on a move to Juventus, and if the reports over the last few weeks are to be believed, Manchester United was never really in play. De Ligt was handed significant wages at Juventus, something Manchester United may not have been willing to do.

They turned their sights towards Maguire, but with three weeks left in the transfer window, there apparently needs to be significant work done on a deal to move it across the finish line. Ogden writes that there is “confidence” within Manchester United that Maguire wants the move, but that’s nothing if the two clubs can’t come to an agreement.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: James to Atletico, Rondon to China

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It has seemed for weeks that James Rodriguez is just a formality away from becoming a Napoli player, with Real Madrid motivated to offload the Colombian and Napoli appearing equally as excited to bring him on. However, as the weeks drag on without any official announcement, things may have begun to sour.

According to a number of reports in Spain, Real Madrid were upset with Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis due to comments made by the Italian. With Real Madrid insisting any would-be suitor pony up immediately with a permanent deal, de Laurentiis went public with his insistence on a loan with an obligation to buy. “We are all prepared to make sacrifices for James Rodriguez, but we ask Real Madrid to make them too,” de Laurentiis said to Sky Sport Italia. “We’ve not given up, but in order to break the ice we need Madrid to consider that rather than have an unhappy player sitting around, they should send him out to play. Perhaps on loan.”

That reportedly upset Real Madrid enough to the point where they have shifted focus to Atletico Madrid, willing to deal with a direct rival rather than capitulate to Napoli’s wishes. The reports also state that Rodriguez is on board, growing frustrated with Napoli’s wavering desire for his services. Atletico is also an attractive destination for the Colombian given the gap up front created by the departure of Antoine Griezmann. They have spent all the Griezmann money on Portuguese youngster Joao Felix, but with such a departure, there is always a power vacuum Rodriguez could exploit.


According to Lyall Thomas of Sky Sports, Championship side West Brom has agreed to sell Salomon Rondon to Chinese club Dalian Yifang where he will reunite with manager Rafa Benitez.

The report states the deal between the clubs is done and the player now must agree to personal terms, with the possibility for official confirmation of the deal in as little as 48 hours. It is unclear what the value of the deal is, but Sky mentions that Rondon has a release clause in his contract worth $20.6 million.

Rondon spent last season on loan at Newcastle with Benitez after West Brom was relegated the season before. He was a superb creative force, scoring 12 goals across all competitions, good for second on the team behind Ayoze Perez. The 29-year-old is an experienced attacker with 78 international caps for Venezuela.


Sheffield United is preparing for its first season in the Premier League since the 2006/07 campaign, and they are looking for reinforcements to bolster their lineup and avoid the straightaway drop they faced last time in the top flight. Having already broken the club transfer record by acquiring Callum Robinson from Preston North End for $10 million, they are now looking to beat that number again.

According to The Guardian, the Blades had a $19 million bid for striker Oli McBurnie rejected by Swansea City. The Championship side is reportedly desperate to keep the 23-year-old after already offloading Daniel James to Manchester United.

McBurnie, a Leeds-born Scottish international, scored a massive 22 goals for the club in 42 Championship appearances last season as the club finished ninth in the table, plus he another two in a pair of FA Cup games. He first arrived at Swansea in the summer of 2015 in a deal with Bradford and was loaned out three separate times before sticking with the first team last season.


Roma technical director Gianluca Petrachi has issued a hands-off warning for Tottenham target Nicolo Zaniolo, saying the defender isn’t for sale.

“I have to work to try to get the best out of Zaniolo,” Petrachi said during a press conference for Leonardo Spinazzola’s unveiling. “I am also a very practical person, I have direct contact with my players. I never put Zaniolo up for sale, nor did I say it was on the market. The market is full of surprises, but today Zaniolo is not on the market.”

The 20-year-old joined from Inter last summer and signed a contract through the summer of 2023. There have been reports that Spurs are circling due to Zaniolo’s unhappiness with Petrachi reportedly breaking off new contract negotiations upon his arrival. There were even rumblings of a swap deal for Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld.

The youngster was a mainstay for Roma last season once he earned a starting place in early November, making 27 Serie A appearances and scoring four goals.

Ajax exec Overmars makes Ziyech sales pitch to Arsenal

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Ajax technical director Marc Overmars has made a public pitch to Arsenal for winger Hakim Ziyech, who he believes would be high enough class to directly replace Mesut Ozil at a fraction of the cost.

The 46-year-old Dutchman, a former Gunner during his playing days when he spent three seasons at Highbury, made a bold and direct statement, calling out his old club to make a change in the attack that he believes will benefit them greatly. In fact, he insinuated that the two sides already spoke, but he was rebuffed, a surprising result to the Dutchman.

“I am a bit surprised that it is still so quiet around Hakim,” Overmars told Dutch publication Voetbal International. “I think he has played better every year and his statistics are exceptionally good. Many clubs are increasingly looking at that.”

It’s no surprise the technical director of a selling club is playing up one of his players, but it was only just beginning for Overmars, who specifically said Arsenal should rethink its strategy. “I think Hakim Ziyech is better than Mesut Ozil. I would say sell him and you will get Hakim for half [the price]. But they [Arsenal] didn’t listen to me. So it could just be that he stays with Ajax.”

It’s certainly quite a shock to see such a brazen public statement from an executive when most involved in transfer dealings are all too happy to keep the inside information out of view.

Ozil, who turns 31 in October, is a polarizing figure at Arsenal, where he has produced a host of brilliant and glittering moments but also gone missing for extended periods of a long season. He has failed to truly push Arsenal towards a genuine title challenge since arriving from Real Madrid in 2013, having secured just three FA Cup titles in his time at the Emirates, a relatively disappointing haul at a club that prides itself as one of the biggest in the English game.

The 26-year-old Ziyech is one of the stars of Ajax’s surprising Champions League run this season, helping the club reach the seemifinals and serving as an experienced presence in a squad bursting with young talent. He scored five goals and assisted four more in 17 Champions League matches and added another fantastic Eredivise haul to his wonderful season, scoring 16 league goals and assisting 17 more in 29 top-flight matches. Ziyech has 12 goals in 23 international matches for Morocco and started all four of their matches in this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations, failing to find the back of the net before the country was eliminated in the Round of 16 by Benin.

In the interview, Overmars also lauded David Neres for rejecting a move to China last winter, pointing out how well it worked out for both the club and player, with Ajax reaching far into the Champions League and Neres earning an international call-up.

Chelsea signs youth product Mason Mount to new contract

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Chelsea announced the signing of academy product Mason Mount to a new five-year contract on Monday.

Mount, a 20-year-old midfielder, spent all of last season on loan at Championship club Derby County where he was a starter for much of the season, making 38 league appearances while scoring nine goals and assisting five. He scored a hat-trick against Bolton in April and helped the club reach the playoff final before losing to Aston Villa 2-1.

The previous season, Mount was on loan at Dutch side Vitesse, a club with which Chelsea has a well-known and long-standing relationship. Mount was elected Player of the Season at Vitesse while scoring 13 goals and assisting 10 more in 40 appearances across all competitions, including Europa League group stage play. He scored in all three of his appearances in the Dutch Europa League playoff, with Vitesse securing a spot in the next season’s competition.

“It’s a massively proud moment for myself and my family,” Mount said in the official team release. “I joined this club at six years old and it was always my goal to play for the first team one day. I’m really looking forward to the coming season now and working hard to have an impact here at Chelsea. I’ve been at the club for a long time already and hopefully I’ll stay for a long time to come.”

With his Derby performances in tow, Mount was called up to the England U-21 squad for the Euros where he appeared in all three of England’s games and made one start, assisting a goal in the shocking 4-2 loss to Romania.

Mount was with the first-team squad for the preseason game in Dublin against St. Patrick’s Athletic over the weekend, scoring a goal in the match, and subsequently has traveled with the team to Japan.