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Top Premier League storylines – Week 35

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It’s a short Premier League weekend with the FA Cup taking place, but all eyes will be on the Emirates Stadium after Friday’s stunning news.

Arsene Wenger begins his farewell tour at Arsenal this Sunday as the Gunners host a London derby against West Ham United.

[MORE: Arsene Wenger’s legacy

Arsenal aims to finish season on a high
Arsenal vs. West Ham —  8:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN

The decision to step down has taken attention away from Arsenal’s defeat last Sunday when Newcastle came back from a one-goal deficit to defeat the Gunners, 2-1. Perhaps with the manager on his way out, Arsenal’s players will be extra motivated to end the season on a high note. If Arsenal continue to slip up, it could be out of Europe entirely, as the club sits just two points above seventh place.

For West Ham, a win would all but ensure the club’s place in the Premier League next season, but the club currently sit just six points above the relegation zone, and with the team going through a rough past few months, every point gained at home or away counts.

Does a guard of honor await Manchester City?
Manchester City vs. Swansea City —  11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN

By virtue of Manchester United’s defeat last Sunday, Manchester City became officially Premier League champions-elect.

The club will get to raise the trophy officially at the end of the season, but for now, it appears Swansea City will be the first club to show its respect to Man City’s dominance throughout the season with a guard of honor. Man City is still chasing more Premier League records, but Swansea City, just four points above the drop zone, needs this win more.

Relegation scrap on tap
Watford vs. Crystal Palace —  10:00 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN

It’s a proverbial six-pointer as Watford, about as far north you can go in the London area, takes on Crystal Palace in south London in a key relegation battle.

Just three points separate the two sides, but a win for Watford would push the club up to 40 points while a win for Palace would put the Eagles even on points with the Hornets at 37 each. Interestingly, via the Premier League, “Watford are winless in their last six home meetings with Crystal Palace in all competitions (D3 L3), since a 2-0 victory in the Championship in February 2009.”

Higuain “rejuvenated” by Gattuso after Juve “kicked me out”

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Gonzalo Higuain is off and running at AC Milan, even if the club hasn’t been finding the wins it needs to contend in Serie A.

The 30-year-old forward has six goals in seven games for Milan after his surprising summer move from Juventus, which came after Cristiano Ronaldo arrived from Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Spurs injury update ]

Rather than feel slighted just two seasons after a $106 million move from Napoli to Juve, though, Higuain is feeling reborn.

Apparently, you can’t feel disillusioned about soccer when Gennaro Gattuso gives you those football eyes.

“I feel rejuvenated,” Higuain said. “I love Gattuso. He looks at you and sends you his love for football.”

Higuain admitted he had no desires to leave Juve, saying the club didn’t give him an option and he still is fond of The Old Lady.

“Mine is a feeling of affection because they treated me very well; team-mates and supporters have given me huge affection,” he said in the interview with Gazzetta dello Sport (Italian link). “But I did not ask to leave. Basically, everyone says it, they kicked me out. At Milan I immediately had a great love and so they convinced me.”

Higuain scored 55 goals in 105 appearances for Juventus, adding 12 assists in winning two scudetto and matching Coppa Italia crowns.

Spurs issue injury update ahead of wild month

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Tottenham Hotspur has weathered an injury crisis to stay in the thick of the Premier League title race, and is getting some of its men back in the fold.

Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele have been boosted by the international break, Mauricio Pochettino revealed on Thursday.

[ MLS: New 2nd youngest goal scorer ]

Dele Alli, Danny Rose, and Jan Vertonghen are going to require a bit more healing, though, via the BBC:

“Still maybe 10 days more for Dele Alli and Danny Rose is the same, one week more. Jan Vertonghen is a little bit longer. But the most important thing is that we start to recover players. It will be a tough month of competition for us.”

Spurs are two points back of the trio leading the Premier League ahead of a tricky month for all contenders.

Tottenham visits improving West Ham United on Saturday before heading to PSV Eindhoven and hosting Manchester City. A League Cup date with West Ham follows before a visit to Wolves and a return date with PSV. Then Palace, and another international break.

Get well soon, right?

Reports: Shaw agrees new rich deal with Manchester United

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Luke Shaw‘s tumultuous run at Manchester United is back on the up, and now his contract is, too.

Multiple reports say the 23-year-old left back has agreed a new five-year deal at Old Trafford, worth an eye-popping $200,000 per week. The club has not yet announced the deal.

[ MLS: New 2nd youngest goal scorer ]

Shaw has gone 90 minutes in seven of eighth Manchester United league matches this year, missing the eighth with a concussion. He scored in United’s opener against Leicester City.

In a harbinger of things to come, Shaw missed the first five matches of his Manchester United career after arriving from Southampton for about $35 million in 2014.

Ankle, tibia, and even facial injuries limited him to 18 Premier League matches that season, and another broken leg cost him all but five matches the next season. Long-term groin and foot injuries followed in subsequent seasons.

Once healthy, there was the criticism from manager Jose Mourinho regarding his diet and fitness. But Shaw has sorted that out and impressed his boss to earn the new deal.

Next time you wonder if the weekly criticism heaped on players is worth the trouble, remember that Shaw is now getting at least 200k this week… and next week… and the week after that! But also remember what he went through to get there.

MLS gets new 2nd youngest goal scorer in hilarious fashion (video)

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Gianluca Busio is going to score a lot of goals in his professional career, but the new second-youngest goal scorer in MLS history will find few as memorable as his first MLS goal.

Definitely in terms of hilarity.

[ MORE: USWNT beats Canada ]

The center midfielder, 16, ran onto a Johnny Russell pass and had a gaping goal in front of him during stoppage time of Sporting KC’s 4-1 defeat of Vancouver on Wednesday.

Busio, who recorded assists in both his USL and MLS debuts, just had to tap it into the goal. He did that, just.

Only Freddy Adu (14 years, 320 days) was younger than Busio when he scored his first MLS goal.

“Johnny was working and he outran the dude, worked it, and right when he turned that corner,” Busio said in a post-match interview on Fox Sports Kansas City. “It was him against one defender. I was so happy I almost missed it. I was just so excited, I didn’t know what to do.”

Busio now has a goal and an assist in 153 minutes spread over seven appearances. And Sporting KC moves into second out West with two matches to play.