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Premier League relegation battle could get bonkers by final day

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And then there were five.

With respect to the unsteadiness of Watford and Brighton as well as West Brom’s fine form and miracle pleas, there are five teams squarely in the relegation battle with two weeks to go in the 2018-19 Premier League season.

[ RECAP: West Ham 1-4 Man City ]

Southampton and Stoke are in the drop zone, 17th place Swansea faces both of them, and West Ham and Huddersfield Town are by no means safe with 3-point advantages on the drop zone.

Some scenarios:

  • There’s a perfect storm of Saturday results that could leave Southampton, West Ham, and Huddersfield on 35 points, Swansea on 34, and Stoke on 33 heading into the final 8 days of the season.
    —-> And if Swans and Saints then drew their May 8 match, it could be 36, 35, 35, 35, 33 on Championship Sunday!
  • Another scenario which saw Stoke, Swans, West Ham, Huddersfield Town and Saints winning next weekend while Brighton loses would drag the Gulls into the mix.
  • There are also Saturday scenarios that see Stoke relegated and Southampton on life support, rendering the potential biggest game of the bunch — the Swans-Saints match — close to moot.
  • What is West Brom’s way out? The Baggies need to beat Spurs at the Hawthorns and Palace at Selhurst Park to move to 34 points. Then, West Brom would need Stoke to beat Swans, Swans to draw Southampton, and Stoke, Swans, and Saints to lose their remaining matches.

In that last scenario, there is no possibility of a relegation playoff. If Swansea and West Brom were level on on 34 points, it would take some bizarre results to level the other categories. West Brom (minus-24) would lower its mark with the wins while Swans would sink from minus-25.

A playoff is possible with other teams.

Saturday

Stoke City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET
Bournemouth vs. Swansea City — 10 a.m. ET
Leicester City vs. West Ham — 10 a.m. ET
Everton vs. Southampton — 12:30 p.m. ET

May 6

Manchester City vs. Huddersfield Town — 8:30 a.m. ET

May 8

Swansea City vs. Southampton — 2:45 p.m. ET

May 9

Chelsea vs. Huddersfield Town — 2:45 p.m. ET

May 10

West Ham United vs. Manchester United — 2:45 p.m. ET

Decision Day — May 13 — all matches at 10 a.m. ET

Huddersfield Town vs. Arsenal
West Ham vs. Everton
Southampton vs. Man City
Swansea City vs. Stoke City

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Manchester City 35 30 3 2 102 26 76 15-1-1 15-2-1 93
 Manchester United 34 23 5 6 65 26 39 13-2-2 10-3-4 74
 Liverpool 36 20 12 4 80 37 43 11-7-0 9-5-4 72
 Tottenham Hotspur 34 20 8 6 66 31 35 10-4-2 10-4-4 68
 Chelsea 35 20 6 9 60 34 26 10-3-4 10-3-5 66
 Arsenal 34 17 6 11 66 46 20 14-2-2 3-4-9 57
 Burnley 36 14 12 10 35 32 3 7-5-6 7-7-4 54
 Everton 36 13 9 14 42 54 -12 10-3-5 3-6-9 48
 Leicester City 35 11 11 13 49 52 -3 6-6-5 5-5-8 44
 Newcastle United 35 11 8 16 35 44 -9 7-4-7 4-4-9 41
 Crystal Palace 36 9 11 16 41 54 -13 6-5-7 3-6-9 38
 Bournemouth 36 9 11 16 42 60 -18 6-5-7 3-6-9 38
 Watford 35 10 8 17 42 60 -18 6-6-6 4-2-11 38
 Brighton & Hove Albion 35 8 13 14 32 47 -15 6-8-4 2-5-10 37
 West Ham United 35 8 11 16 43 67 -24 6-5-6 2-6-10 35
 Huddersfield Town 35 9 8 18 27 56 -29 6-5-7 3-3-11 35
 Swansea City 35 8 9 18 27 52 -25 6-3-8 2-6-10 33

 Southampton 35 6 14 15 35 54 -19 4-7-7 2-7-8 32
 Stoke City 36 6 12 18 32 65 -33 5-5-8 1-7-10 30
 West Bromwich Albion 36 5 13 18 30 54 -24 2-9-7 3-4-11 28

Rumored Neymar for Bale swap: Who wins?

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Who would gain more of an advantage from the rumored, sensational Gareth Bale for Neymar swap: Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid?

Both players are currently problems for their clubs, though neither is known as a true rabble-rouser; Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane wants to be done with the newly-minted 30-year-old Bale, while PSG knows Neymar wants to leave and would love to satiate Kylian Mbappe’s appetite to be the man at their club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

Presumably some money would be headed PSG’s way in addition to Bale, and both clubs would be getting a motivated megawatt star.

Neymar doesn’t turn 28 until February, but the difference in age may be offset by the Brazilian’s track record of injuries.

In fact, his injury status last season combines with an off-field accusation of sexual assault and a red card for confronting a fan to overshadow his production: Neymar’s 23 goals and 13 assists in just over 2300 minutes last season, including five and two in the Champions League (and a goal and an assist against defensively-stout Liverpool).

Bale presents very few personality challenges, and PSG won’t have a problem with his massive wages (especially with Neymar off the books). His numbers have dipped in two of three seasons since his otherworldly 2015-16, but La Liga is a more difficult scoring league than Ligue 1.

Neymar has twice been a Ballon d’Or finalist and, presuming his legal troubles don’t persist, could be a title fight changer in La Liga. Imagine the Neymar, Eden Hazard, and Luka Jovic trying to outgun Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Luis Suarez? Insane.

We’d say Real would be winning the straight-up swap, and that it’s pretty unlikely to go down that way. So it depends what PSG does with the relative Financial Fair Play freedom that would come with the money that also arrives from Spain. Is it Idrissa Gana Gueye? Someone else who helps take PSG’s Champions League hopes to the next level?

Manchester United in ‘concrete talks’ with Lille over Pepe

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Manchester United are reportedly in “concrete talks” to agree a fee with Lille for much-tracked playmaker Nicolas Pepe.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with Liverpool and Arsenal amongst others, and Lille has admitted he’ll be leaving the club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

United’s reported salvo was around $87.5 million. He’d give them a star who could play across from Anthony Martial or as an attacking midfielder under Romelu Lukaku.

Only Kylian Mbappe and Teji Savanier garnered better season-long ratings than Pepe in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 campaign, and Pepe’s 22 goals and 11 assists stand out from the pack. Only Mbappe had more goals and only Savanier more assists.

Pepe has four goals in 11 caps for the Ivory Coast, and made three starts in Les Elephants’ five-match run at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He’s a fit for the Premier League, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s system. And if the Red Devils can keep him from Liverpool, well, all the better we’re sure.

Report: Manchester United, Leicester agree to monster Maguire fee

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Manchester United and Leicester City have agreed a fee for Harry Maguire, clearing the way for the English center back to join the Old Trafford set.

That fee is a whopping $100 million, according to Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones. That’s about $4 million more than the world record for a defender, set when Liverpool purchased Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton.

[ MORE: USMNT CB to West Ham? ]

Maguire has been a statistical monster for Leicester City, and he passes the eye test, too.

Manchester United has needed to upgrade its stable of center backs for some time, and now the biggest question is who will work best alongside the 6-foot-4 26-year-old.

The former Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic, and Hull City defender is now 20-times capped by England.

The move could have a ripple effect on the Premier League, as the Foxes have been expected to bid for Burnley star James Tarkowski should Maguire leave the King Power Stadium.

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT’s Long to London, Newcastle linked with pair

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Could USMNT center back Aaron Long be headed to the Premier League?

The 26-year-old could join West Ham United’s stable of center backs, which includes Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, and Angelo Ogbonna.

Sky Sports says that the Red Bulls defender has drawn the interest of Lyon and Fiorentina, but been offered to the Irons should they match his $5 million release clause.

Unable to find a place with Portland and Seattle, Long spent a few seasons in the USL before earning a place with RBNY.

Now 11-times capped by the USMNT with two goals, Long could be bringing his talents to London’s Olympic Stadium.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Newcastle United has the chance to sign oft-injured Danny Welbeck on a free transfer.

The longtime Arsenal striker, weaned at Manchester United, scored five times in 12 matches last season in a return to injury woes following a 43-match season the prior year.

Newcastle is also being linked with a former defender. James Tavernier has gone on to captain Glasgow Rangers, and the 27-year-old would cost around $10 million.

Surely Steven Gerrard would want more for the defender, but prices haven’t met quality for Scottish Premiership players as we’ve seen with Kieran Tierney at Celtic.