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PL Saturday roundup: Chelsea widens gap; Everton puts six past Cherries

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Antonio Conte may not be ready to say Chelsea are the clear title favorites but after Saturday’s performance, the Blues could be running away with the Premier League.

The Blues certainly had some help though, with Liverpool faltering against Hull and Tottenham struggling with Middlesbrough.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Elsewhere, Everton put on the most impressive show of the day with six goals to push the Toffees past a tricky Bournemouth side.

Here, we take a look back at Saturday’s action from around England’s top flight.

Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal — RECAP

Since the last time these two sides faced off Chelsea has been on an absolute tear, and that continued on Saturday. While controversy surrounded the first goal, Marcos Alonso put the Blues ahead inside of 13 minutes. Second-half tallies from Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas ensured the points would go the way of Conte’s side, while Olivier Giroud netted in stoppage time to give the Gunners a moment of solace. Arsenal now sit 12 points behind leaders Chelsea, with their title hopes all but over.

[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies on Chelsea’s win ]

Hull City 2-0 Liverpool — RECAP

It’s February and Liverpool have yet to win in the new calendar year. Jurgen Klopp‘s side remains fourth in the PL but the Reds have certainly fallen from grace as of late, and losses to Hull and Swansea over recent weeks have put a major damper on the club’s title hopes. The Tigers move to 18th in the PL with Saturday’s win, putting the team just one point away from moving itself out of the bottom three. Alfred N'Diaye and Oumar Niasse both found the scoresheet for Hull to give the club its fifth win of the season.

Everton 6-3 Bournemouth — RECAP

You saw that right. Nine goals between them at Goodison Park! While Bournemouth fought admirably to keep the game within sight for much of the day, Romelu Lukaku‘s stardom continues to grow in the PL after his four-goal performance on Saturday. The Belgian striker helped pace the Toffees for their 11th win of the season, while James McCarthy and Ross Barkley also found their way onto the scoresheet.

Meanwhile, Josh King netted a brace for Bournemouth, while Harry Arter grabbed another for the away side, who fall to 14th following the defeat. The Cherries are now winless in their last five PL fixtures.

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Crystal Palace 0-4 Sunderland — RECAP

Palace has fallen and they can’t get up. In a battle of two of the league’s most struggling sides, it was Sunderland that came away with an absolute smashing at Selhurst Park. Jermain Defoe increased his goal total on the season to 10 after scoring a brace, while Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong also netted for the Black Cats. Both sides remain in the relegation zone on 19 points, however, Sunderland has taken points in consecutive matches while Palace has won just once in its last 10 PL matches.

Tottenham 1-0 MiddlesbroughRECAP

Mauricio Pochettino‘s men faced a stiff challenge against the Boro but Spurs made sure they didn’t slip up to keep their falling title hopes in line. Harry Kane converted from the penalty spot just before the hour mark to keep Tottenham within nine points of Chelsea on Saturday, although the club faces a tough test next week against Liverpool.

Southampton 1-3 West Ham — RECAP

The Hammers are back in the top half after a three-goal performance from the visitors at St. Mary’s. Manolo Gabbiadini scored in his Southampton debut, only to be out out shined by the away side. Andy Carroll, Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang all netted for West Ham, who has now won three of its last four PL fixtures.

West Brom 1-0 Stoke City — RECAP

James Morrison scored after six minutes, and that was all the hosts needed to pick up a valuable three points for the eighth-place side. As it stands, West Brom is now just six points out of the top six ahead of Manchester United’s clash on Sunday against Leicester City. Meanwhile, Stoke sits seven points behind the Baggies in 11th place.

Watford 2-1 Burnley — RECAP

Jeff Hendrick‘s early red card put the visitors at a major disadvantage and Watford capitalized to the fullest at Vicarage Road. Jose Holebas was on the receiving end of Hendrick’s nasty challenge less than 10 minutes into the match, allowing the Hornets to go on the offensive. Goals from M’Baye Niang and Troy Deeney helped push Watford into 10th place, leaping over the Clarets.

Luis Enrique to return as Spain boss five months after resigning

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Luis Enrique will be named manager of the Spanish national team on Tuesday, five months to the day after stepping down from the same position to care for his nine-year-old daughter as she battled bone cancer.

[ MORE: Van Dijk leaves Netherlands squad for “personal reasons” ]

Robert Moreno is set to step aside to make way for Enrique. Moreno was previously an assistant on Enrique’s staff and had initially been put in charge of La Roja through the 2020 European Championship.

Enrique’s daughter, Xana, passed away in late August after a five-month battle.

[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Season so far ]

Moreno managed the team during Monday’s 5-0 thrashing of Romania to complete an unbeaten EURO 2020 qualifying campaign, but the 42-year-old was seen leaving the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in tears after the game. Neither Moreno nor any of the players spoke to the media.

He previously said that he would step aside should Enrique find himself able to return. Moreno insisted that friendship came first, above all else.

Preview: USMNT’s must-win Nations League finale v. Cuba

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The scenario is simple for the U.S. men’s national team ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Cuba (7:30 p.m.ET): Gregg Berhalter’s side will finish top of Group A with a victory, and only a victory. Period. It’s as simple as that.

[ MORE: Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup (video) ]

Friday’s victory over Canada righted the wrongs of last month’s defeat north of the border and laid the foundation for the Americans to reach the semifinals in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League, provided they take care of business in George Town, Cayman Islands, in what is set to be the final game of Berhalter’s first calendar year in charge. Despite trailing Canada (+6 goal differential)  by three points heading into Friday, the Yanks (+8) already have the tiebreaker in their favor.

Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes (twice) and Aaron Long scored to give the USMNT its 4-1 triumph over their northern neighbors. More importantly, it was a largely dominant display after going 1-0 up inside two minutes and carrying a 3-0 led into halftime.

[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Season so far ]

The USMNT will once again be without Christian Pulisic (hip injury), leaving the attacking options on the roster quite thin. Morris, who got a goal and an assist against Canada, will likely start on the left again, with Sebastian Lletget and Paul Arriola playing centrally and on the right respectively. Zardes is the presumed starter up top, unless Berhalter opts for the youthful inexperience of Josh Sargent in a must-win game.

Berhalter appears to have settled on a pretty consistent backline, with Sergiño Dest and Aaron Long manning the right side and John Brooks and, at least on Friday, Tim Ream on the left. Weston McKennie’s place deep in midfield has been cemented for quite some time, but he’s partnered close to a half-dozen players alongside him this year alone. The 21-year-old Schalke midfielder was stellar against Canada, frequently starting counter-attacks and carrying the ball into the final third.

Projected USMNT lineup

I___________I
Guzan

Dest —— Long —— Brooks —— Ream

McKennie —— Roldan

Arriola —— Lletget —— Morris

Zardes

Man Utd debt climbs to $500m as club spends to halt decline

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United’s attempt to strengthen its underperforming squad has proved costly with debt rising more than 55 percent in a year to $498 million.

[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Season so far ]

The cost of signing Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James ahead of the new season in the first quarter of the financial year was around 140 million pounds.

Although United reported record revenue last season of $812 million, the New York Stock Exchange listed business is now expecting the 2019-20 figure to drop to between $725 million and $750 million.

That is due to United missing out on Champions League television and prize money after finishing sixth last season. United could miss out again with the side in seventh place, nine points behind fourth-placed Manchester City after 12 of the 38 games.

[ MORE: Van Dijk leaves Netherlands squad for “personal reasons” ]

“Our ultimate aim is to win trophies, play fast, fluid, attacking football, with a team that uses graduates from our academy along with world-class acquisitions,” United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said. “We know this will not be achieved overnight, however we have made investments across the club that we believe will set us on the right path.

“We know our academy is a strong competitive advantage and an area we will continue to invest in as it is at the heart of the club.”

EURO 2020: Spain, Sweden finish top; Norway, Romania reach playoffs

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MADRID — Spain finished its qualifying campaign for the 2020 European Championship with a 5-0 rout of Romania in what could have been the farewell match for coach Robert Moreno on Monday.

Moreno did not show for the post-match interview and there were widespread reports in Spanish media he would not continue at the helm of “La Roja.”

The Spanish soccer federation did not immediately say why the coach did not talk to the media. It said a news conference was scheduled for Tuesday.

Moreno took over the job after Luis Enrique resigned in March to take care of his sick daughter. Moreno had been Luis Enrique’s assistant until then.

Gerard Moreno scored twice for the hosts, who had already secured a spot in the tournament but needed the victory to be among the top-seeded teams in the draw this month.

Spain also got on the scoreboard through Fabian Ruiz, Mikel Oyarzabal, and an own-goal by Romanian defender Adrian Rus.

“It was important to finish with the three points in front of our crowd,” said Ruiz, who scored his first goal with the national team. “We need to keep this same dynamic going into the Euros next year.”

Spain ended as the Group F winner with eight wins and two draws, at Norway and Sweden. “La Roja” finished five points in front of second-placed Sweden.

Romania, which had already been eliminated, ended in fourth place with four victories and two draws in 10 matches.

Spain, coming off routing Malta 7-0 in Cadiz, outscored its opponents 31-5.

It was in control from the start on Monday, with Romania threatening only a few times in front of a crowd of 36,198 at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, including many Romanians.

Ruiz opened the scoring from close range in the eighth minute, and Moreno added his goals with a header in the 33rd and strike from the six-yard line in the 43rd.

Rus found his own net while trying to intercept a cross into the area in first-half stoppage time, and Oyarzabal closed the scoring with a left-footed shot from outside the box in second-half injury time.

It was the second Spain match at Atletico’s Metropolitano stadium, the other a 6-1 rout of Argentina ahead of last year’s World Cup.