Claudio Ranieri dug his own grave at Leicester City

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Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri admitted two weeks back that he’s been too loyal to his title-winning players who aren’t performing up to standards this season. He followed that up by handing starting spots to out-of-form Christian Fuchs, Jamie Vardy, and Wes Morgan in the Champions League loss to Sevilla.

Now Ranieri has been sacked. It’s a sad story, but it’s easy to see why.

Should the eventual replacement truly hope to salvage Leicester City’s Premier League status, he must do what Ranieri failed to, and what he will be better equipped to do: put aside loyalties built from overachieving last season and and sit both Fuchs and Morgan, two critical players from last season’s incredible run who have sorely underperformed since. Just against Sevilla on Wednesday, Morgan gave away a blatant penalty with an ugly, petulant hack at Joaquin Correa’s legs, while Fuchs completely misjudged a cross en route to Pablo Sarabia’s opening goal.

Both have been equally as miserable in Premier League play. Morgan, the Leicester City captain, has looked every bit of his 33 years old, lumbering around the pitch unable to keep up with attackers slicing through the box. His successful tackle percentage is just 33%, and his pass accuracy is 69%, a shambolic combination for a defender. Fuchs, meanwhile, has been just as bad. Turning 31 himself in April, Fuchs was one of the worst players on the pitch in the 3-0 loss to Manchester United, and was yanked at halftime in the 2-0 loss to Swansea as he continued to struggle.

It’s surprising that Ranieri had kept faith in the two players after his comments on loyalty. One of the truest managers to his word in European soccer, the Italian said two weeks ago, “I could be [too loyal], could be. It is difficult when you achieve something so good, you want to give them one chance, two chances, three chances. Maybe now, it is too much. Of course I must change something because it is not possible to continue in this way.” He never backed up his words.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Ranieri had started his two aging defenders time and time again hoping they will recapture last season’s lightning. That flat out wasn’t happening. Just prior to Ranieri’s comments on loyalty, I wrote about how the failing defense was most responsible for this season’s struggles. Since that moment, despite both the obvious shortcomings of which were written and the manager’s statement on failing loyalty, nothing changed.

Now, after they struggled again midweek, the two must sit immediately to avoid the otherwise inevitable. The last time Christian Fuchs started the game on the bench was the last time Leicester City won in the league, when young Ben Chilwell started at left-back and the Foxes shut out West Ham. Wes Morgan hasn’t sat a single minute in Premier League play, but he was rested for an FA Cup win over Derby County plus the subsequent loss to Millwall.

Obviously sitting a pair of defenders, with the Foxes still goalless in league play since Islam Slimani‘s winner against West Ham an appalling 610 minutes ago. The midfield is being overrun, the attack can’t deliver a competent cross, and set pieces appear to be the only time Leicester looks dangerous. Still, if the Foxes are to give themselves a chance of survival, now it’s up to the new manager to do what is right.

No, you’re right, the manager can’t step out on the field and perform; that is up to the players. The manager must be judged by the players he puts on the pitch, his tactics on the field, and his man-management between fixtures. Ranieri will always have last season to cherish, but he never left the title run behind. With Fuchs and Morgan – and to an extend Vardy and Riyad Mahrez as well – failing to perform to the standards of a Premier League team, Ranieri failed to ignore the human temptation of loyalty and instead base his present decisions on what stared him right in the face.

Claudio Ranieri will always be remembered in Leicester for the miracle he achieved rather than the failures to follow. There’s plenty that isn’t his fault: the thin makeup of the squad, the sale of N'Golo Kante, the failure by the board to truly spend the newfound coffers wisely, and the inexplicable drop in form of playmaker Mahrez. Nevertheless, relegation is a financial doomsday that clubs will attempt to avoid at all costs – even the cost of a newly born legend. The end to the Italian’s Leicester City story is a sad, harsh one, but he only has himself to blame.

Manchester City vs Liverpool, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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

STREAM LIVE MANCHESTER CITY v LIVERPOOL

Pep Guardiola’s Man City can momentarily cut the gap to leaders Arsenal to five points but they are without goalscoring machine Erling Haaland for this game after he suffered a groin injury before the international break. 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.

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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


Manchester City vs Liverpool live analysis! – By Joe Prince-Wright at the Etihad Stadium

CHANCE! A few decent efforts from City now. Gundogan almost finishes at the back post, then Alisson saves a shot from the edge of the box. Liverpool opened up a few times with long balls over the top.

City look a little rattled early on. Liverpool pressing them high and it is working.

KICK OFF! We are underway here in Manchester. Salah has started up top with Gakpo underneath him. Very attacking lineup from Liverpool and they are pressing very high up the pitch. Extremely similar tactics to when they played against City in their 1-0 win at Anfield earlier this season.

The atmosphere is bubbling up very nicely here. The warmups are done and the star attackers from both City and Liverpool were spanking in shots galore. The music is pumping over the PA system here. It is go time. This rivalry has delivered so much drama over the years, let’s see if there are even more twists and turns. I’m sure there will be…

Big, big, big (did I mention big!?) team news is that Erling Haaland is OUT for Manchester City. He has not recovered from his groin injury and Julian Alvarez starts up top. It will be intriguing to see how City cope without their main man who was absolutely on fire before the international break. The rest of the team news is as expected. Jota, Salah and Gakpo up top for Liverpool with Darwin Nunez fit enough for the bench.

Hello and welcome to Manchester for this huge game! It has been a glorious sunny morning here, but the clouds are bubbling up just as the action is about to on the pitch at the Etihad. Buckle up. Sparks always fly when these two meet.


Key storylines & in-form players to watch

The loss 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. Julian Alvarez comes in, which is a pretty good back-up option. Elsewhere, City are flying with Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gunodgan having a big role to play with Phil Foden out following his appendix issue. 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

OUT: Phil Foden (appendix removed), Erling Haaland (groin)

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup

OUT: Calvin Ramsay (knee), Stefan Bajcetic (groin), Luis Diaz (knee), Thiago Alcantara (hip), Naby Keita (muscle)



Bournemouth vs Fulham: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Bournemouth host Fulham at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday hoping to take another huge step towards Premier League safety.

STREAM LIVE BOURNEMOUTH v FULHAM

The Cherries stunned Liverpool in their last home game but were brought back down to earth with a thud as they were hammered at Aston Villa before the international break. Still, Gary O’Neil’s side are just one point from safety with 11 games to go and have a real chance of staying up. Plus, some of their January signings look like real gamechangers and this game between the newly-promoted duo delivered a thrilling 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage earlier this season.

Fulham have struggled in recent weeks as they’ve lost two in a row in the Premier League and then their incredible meltdown at Manchester United in the FA Cup quarterfinal saw them crash out of the competition with Aleksandar Mitrovic, Willian and manager Marco Silva all sent off. Add in that Mitrovic and Silva were both charged by the FA and it was an absolute mess with Fulham’s talisman losing the plot as he pushed the referee. The Cottagers will be hoping for a straightforward trip, and win, down to the South Coast to get them back on track.

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Here’s everything you need for Bournemouth vs Fulham.


How to watch Bournemouth vs Fulham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & in-form players to watch

Gary O’Neil has set Bournemouth up to be dangerous on the counter attack and that works well against teams who love to dominate possession. Fulham love to do that and this tactic could suit the Cherries in this game. Dominic Solanke has led the line superbly, Neto has been excellent in goal and Dango Ouatrara has been sensational since arriving in January as his speed and direct running has given Bournemouth an extra dimension.

Fulham have just lost their way after an incredible season so far. They are still in the battle for European qualification as they sit in the top 10 and now they have to finish the campaign strong to keep positive vibes flowing. Marco Silva wants them to snap into challenges, press high and keep the ball when they have it and they are horrible to play against.


Bournemouth team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Junior Stanislas (undisclosed), Marcus Tavernier (thigh), Illia Zabarnyi (foot), Adam Smith (groin)

Fulham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Willian (suspended), Aleksandar Mitrovic (suspended), Layvin Kurzawa (knee), Neeskens Kebano (Achilles). QUESTIONABLE: Shane Duffy (calf)



Arsenal vs Leeds: How to watch, live stream link, team news

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Arsenal can keep its Premier League title run going strong with a win over relegation-fighting Leeds United on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium (watch live, 10am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com).

The Gunners enter Saturday with an 8-point title lead over Manchester City, who holds a match-in-hand and plays the 7:30am ET kickoff earlier Saturday vs Liverpool.

STREAM LIVE ARSENAL vs LEEDS

Leeds is coming off a feisty but fortunate 4-2 win over Wolves that it took it clear of the bottom three by two points.

If Leeds can manage a point here, it will be a heaping helping of unexpected and will say something about Javi Gracia’s project at Elland Road.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Arsenal vs Leeds.

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How to watch Arsenal vs Leeds live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

For Arsenal, it’s going to continue to be a feast of talent in attacking positions as Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard are in the Premier League Player of the Year conversation and Gabriel Martinelli isn’t too far off. Perhaps Gabriel Jesus would be there, too, if he didn’t miss such a long stretch of time with injury but he’s fit and firing and Leeds has reason to worry about its back line. Leeds would love to see Maximillian Wober and Tyler Adams available but they are not and it will be incumbent about the attackers to make up for their absences. Weston McKennie and Marc Roca will be under the microscope today.


Arsenal team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Thomas Partey (other), Kieran Tierney (calf). OUT: William Saliba (lower back), Mohamed Elneny (knee), Eddie Nketiah (ankle), Takehiro Tomiyasu (knee)

Leeds team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Maximillian Wober (thigh), Stuart Dallas (thigh), Adam Forshaw (groin), Tyler Adams (hamstring), Wilfried Gnonto (ankle).

Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

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After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League returned with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.

Now we are approaching the final few months of the campaign, it is so tight up and down the Premier League table.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

As we head into the final months of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest and although Manchester United briefly surged into the picture, they look more likely to cement their spot as the third best team in the Premier League.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.


What about the top four and European places?

Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle and for the moment have hunted down Newcastle, while Liverpool is back in the Champions League picture after their return to form and Chelsea looks like a top six finish is their ceiling. For now.

Surprising Fulham, Brentford, and Brighton are all hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns. Can one of them surprise and qualify for Europe?


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Southampton, West Ham, and Bournemouth currently occupy the relegation places but that keeps changing all the time and it is so tight at the bottom of the table.

Nottingham Forest, Leicester City, Wolves, Leeds, Everton and Crystal Palace all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three as the race to stay in the Premier League intensifies. This could be the craziest relegation scrap in Premier League history.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – March 19

Premier League standings

NBC Sports’ standings and scoreboard



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