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PL roundup: Man City one win away; Liverpool storm back

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in the Premier League…

[ MORE: Bayern Munich obliterate Dortmund in season’s final Der Klassiker ]

Everton 1-3 Manchester CityFULL RECAP

The vast majority of Man City’s game this season have felt like they were over before they even began; others, like Saturday’s 3-1 triumph away to Everton, were all but over after four minutes, and reduced to a mere formality after 12. Leroy Sane opened the floodgates inside the first five minutes, followed by Gabriel Jesus before the quarter-hour mark, and then Raheem Sterling in the 37th minute. Yannick Bolasie pulled a goal back in the second half, but that was as close as the Toffees would get. With a 16-point lead and only seven games left to play, the magic number is six — the number of points won, or combination of points won and Manchester United points dropped, required to clinch the title.

Manchester United 2-0 Swansea CityFULL RECAP

Man United clearly won’t catch the “noisy neighbors” in the title race, but Jose Mourinho’s men are finishing the PL season in fine form after notching their fourth straight win on Saturday. Romelu Lukaku made it 1-0 after five minutes (assisted by Alexis Sanchez), and the Chilean completed the scoring just 15 minutes later, as United held Swansea at arm’s length for the remainder.

Crystal Palace 1-2 LiverpoolFULL RECAP

Liverpool fell behind Palace following Luka Milivojevic‘s 13th-minute penalty (given away by Loris Karius), but the Reds roared back to life and victory in the second half. Sadio Mane tapped home to make it 1-1 in the 49th minute, followed by Mohamed Salah‘s 29th league goal in the 84th minute. The victory keeps Liverpool five points clear of fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur, though the Reds have played two more games thus far.

West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Burnley — FULL RECAP

Burnley have seen off nearly all challengers in the race for seventh (and trail sixth-place Arsenal by only two points, having played one more game), with only Leicester City still knocking on the door following Saturday’s 2-1 win away to last-place West Brom. Ashley Barnes scored a stunner in the first half (WATCH HERE) and Chris Wood made it 2-0 in the 73rd before Salomon Rondon pulled back a late consolation goal in the 83rd.

Brighton & Hove Albion 0-2 Leicester City — FULL RECAP

Speaking of Leicester, the Foxes are unbeaten in their last four league games following a a late 2-0 win away to Brighton. Vicente Iborra scored the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute, followed by Jamie Vardy‘s insurance goal in the 95th. There were nine red cards in the game, including two for Wilfred Ndidi, who was sent off in the 87th minute.

Watford 2-2 BournemouthFULL RECAP

It was a back-and-forth affair between Watford and Bournemouth, as the Hornets blew a pair of one-goal leads to eventually drop a pair of points at home. Kiko Femenia put the home side 1-0 ahead in the 12th minute, but Joshua King converted from the penalty spot just before halftime. Roberto Pereyra made it 2-1 four minutes into the second half, but Jermain Defoe stole the point in the 91st minute.

Newcastle United 1-0 Huddersfield Town — FULL RECAP

After an appalling start to the season, Newcastle have all but guaranteed their top-flight status for next season, reaching 35 points with a 1-0 win over fellow PL new boys Huddersfield. Ayoze Perez scored the game’s only goal, in the 80th minute, to give Rafa Benitez‘s side back-to-back wins and a seven-point cushion between themselves and the relegation zone.

West Ham United 3-0 Southampton — FULL RECAP

Southampton, on the other hand, have not fought off relegation quite as effectively in recent weeks. Saturday’s 3-0 loss away to West Ham leaves Saints without a win in their last five league games. Joao Mario bagged the opener in the 13th minute, followed by a first-half brace from Marko Arnautovic, in the 17th minute and then again in the third minute of stoppage time.

Sunday’s PL schedule

Arsenal vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

VIDEO: France stars projected onto Arc de Triomphe

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If France’s players had any doubt about the level of import their World Cup title had back home, it was erased when their photos were projected onto one of the most celebrated monuments in the world.

The photos of Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and company made their way onto the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, hours after France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup Final.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The Arc de Triomphe honors those who died in the French Revolution and early 19th century wars, and sits above France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

How humbling must it be for those players to grace such a heavy monument (both in weight and substance).

Dalic: In one day, Croatia went from lucky to unlucky

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Ante Cacic’s Croatia was on pace to miss out on the World Cup.

Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia rallied the troops to second place in their qualifying group, a playoff defeat of Greece, and a run to the World Cup Final.

Pretty decent stuff.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

And surely the 51-year-old will reflect on that, probably even this evening, but he’s more focused on a letdown after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to highly-favored France.

Key to the match was a penalty awarded to France when a partially-obscured Mario Mandzukic handled a ball inside the 18, leading to Antoine Griezmann’s pivotal goal.

The PK was awarded via VAR, and France went up 2-1 en route to a three-goal lead. From the AFP:

“I never comment on referees but in a World Cup final you do not give such a penalty,” said Dalic.

“It in no way diminishes France’s win. We were a bit unlucky. Maybe in the first six games we were favored by luck and today we weren’t.

“I have to congratulate my players. Maybe today we played our best game at these championships. Against such a strong side as France you must not make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we must also be proud of what we’ve done.”

Croatia had two-thirds of the ball and doubled France’s shot attempts, and Dalic isn’t the least bit controversial in wondering whether the match is much different if that penalty goes unawarded by referee Nestor Pitana.

Atlanta comes back to draw 10-man Seattle (video)

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A scrappy if not downright venomous affair between the lowly Seattle Sounders and high-flying Atlanta United ended in a 1-1 draw in Georgia on Sunday.

The Sounders went ahead through a Nicolas Lodeiro penalty kick, awarded via VAR a la this morning’s World Cup Final, but Atlanta leveled the score with a highlight which show every bit of the game story.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

Just check Josef Martinez’s barking at Stefan Frei, who made an uncharacteristic error on the play, after his 19th goal of the season (Nice cross, Julian Gressel).

Martinez needs nine more goals to break the MLS single season record, and he has 13 games to score them.

Jordan McCrary was sent off for Seattle in the 63rd minute for a second yellow, but Seattle navigated the final half hour or so to scoop up an unlikely point.

Atlanta still sits first with its earned point but opens the door for New York City FC to reach the top of the table when it plays its match-in-hand, while Seattle is now 11 points back of the West’s final playoff spot.

Anderson arrives: Can Pellegrini unlock West Ham’s potential?

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West Ham United has sealed another impressive deal, adding $48 million winger Felipe Anderson from Lazio.

It’s a club record deal from the Irons, whose ambitions have been short-circuited in recent seasons by stop-start play under Slaven Bilic and David Moyes.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

Now Manuel Pellegrini is in charge, and has made a series of purchases including Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko, Issa Diop, and Jack Wilshere amongst others.

Anderson was fantastic for Lazio last season, though he was part of a loaded attack with Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, and Sergej Malinkovic-Savic.

Now the challenge is gelling quickly inside a short window. As we’ve seen in the past with markedly changed mid-table sides — see: Everton’s 2017-18 season — hitting the ground running is key.

Players have been convinced of West Ham’s ambition. Here’s the latest, Anderson, from WHUFC.com:

“West Ham is a club with a lot of tradition, lots of great players have played here, like Bobby Moore, Carlos Tevez and Di Canio. They were great players and idols here, and I’m aiming big, who knows, maybe I could hit their heights and be a legend here too.”

But turning that into on-field success and in-room culture has been a challenge. The move to London Stadium didn’t help, and managerial instability has been anything but a boon to the Irons. There have been plenty of self-inflicted wounds, too.

West Ham’s lineup could be frightening, even in the face of injuries to Andy Carroll (surprise!) and Winston Reid. But managing egos new and old is a challenge, which is why the Pellegrini hire could be a masterstroke.

Consider this possible XI from Pellegrini, who largely operated his Manchester City with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 with two holding/defensive/deep-lying center midfielders (There have been rumors West Ham could sell Cheikhou Kouyate).

There are a lot of options for Pellegrini’s front four. Anderson and Yarmolenko both prefer right wing, while Arnautovic likes the left but has proven adept as a center forward if Pellegrini becomes the latest manager to eschew the idea of Javier Hernandez up top. Manuel Lanzini‘s injury does seem to put Wilshere in the No. 10 role.

Fabianski

Fredericks — Diop — Balbuena — Masuaku

Obiang — Kouyate

Anderson — Wilshere — Yarmolenko

Arnautovic

So the ingredients are there, with Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Zabaleta, and Jordan Hugill joining Chicharito in keeping training competitive.

But Pellegrini will have to navigate a culture that saw a seedy finish to the season, with protests and ugly incidents amongst supporters and players on the field in London.

And he does seem the man for the job. But if he can’t do it… well, stay tuned.