David Wagner out at Huddersfield Town

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David Wagner is out as Huddersfield Town manager.

The German coach has seen his side lose eight of their last nine Premier League games as the Terriers are rock bottom of the table and eight points from safety with 16 games to go.

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His charisma, passion and connection with the fans will be missed as the former U.S. men’s national team striker masterminded Huddersfield’s return to the top-flight for the first time since 1972.

Huddersfield chairman and owner Dean Hoyle confirmed that the club and Wagner had agreed he would depart by mutual consent.

“I’d like to begin by thanking David for all he has achieved at Huddersfield over the last three-and-a-half years,” Hoyle said. “His achievements will rightly put him up there in Town history alongside great names like Herbert Chapman and Mick Buxton. As I had said previously, I had no intention of sacking David this season. Subsequently David – being the great man he is – came to us and made it clear that he needs a break from the rigours of football management.

“We discussed making that change immediately, but he also made it clear that he would give his all for the rest of this season before departing in the summer if we preferred. After a long discussion we all felt that David staying at the Club until the end of the season was best, but we’ve kept discussions open and we all now feel that the time is right to part ways. I know the term mutual consent is often a byword for the manager being sacked in professional football, but this is a truly joint decision. David has genuine love fo Huddersfield rand his foremost concern in our talks has been to establish what is best for the club.”

Wagner, 47, arrived at Huddersfield in November 2015 and transformed a struggling second-tier team to one which finished in the Championship playoffs in the 2016-17 season and then sealed their first-ever promotion to the Premier League via the playoffs in May 2017.

Huddersfield then upset the odds to stay in the Premier League in the 2017-18 season, as Wagner worked wonders on a tiny budget to keep them in the top-flight.

Wagner’s final game in charge proved to be a controversial 0-0 draw at relegation rivals Cardiff City, as the Terriers were awarded a penalty kick in the second half but referee Lee Mason then reversed his decision after consulting his linesman.

The Terriers face Manchester City on Sunday (Watch live, 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and their former center back and current member of the coaching staff, Mark Hudson, will take charge for that game as Huddersfield look to who can take charge next.

Sam Allardyce is the bookmakers favorite to become the next Huddersfield manager and although he has previous in keeping teams in the Premier League, this is a huge challenge to take on.

Scoring goals has been a massive problem for the Terriers this season, as they’ve won just two of their 22 games so far and are the lowest scorers in the PL with just 13 goals scored.

Still, Wagner’s departure has not been met kindly by plenty of Huddersfield fans who may have believed he was the right man to start preparing them for a promotion push next season as their relegation from the Premier League seems almost inevitable.

Wagner worked miracles to get Huddersfield in the top-flight in the first place and that will never be forgotten in the Yorkshire town.

Huddersfield need an even bigger miracle if they’re going to stay in the Premier League this season.

Sarri to miss 2 Juventus matches including against Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) New Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri will not be on the bench for the club’s first two Serie A matches, including against former team Napoli.

Sarri is recovering from pneumonia and underwent further tests on Thursday.

Juventus says they “showed a good clinical improvement” but the 60-year-old Sarri needs to be absent “to completely recover.”

Sarri has still been going to Juve’s training ground and watching the sessions on video link and coordinating with his staff.

Juventus kicks off its bid for a record-extending ninth straight Serie A title at Parma on Saturday, before hosting Napoli the following week.

Sarri spent three seasons at Napoli before moving to Chelsea in 2018.

UEL Recap: Wolves earn huge road victory, and more

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Wolverhampton Wanderers has one proverbial foot back in a European competition, potentially breaking a 40-year drought for the club.

Wolves defeated Torino on the road, 3-2, in the first leg match between the two sides on Thursday at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino. Mexican international Raul Jimenez continued his red-hot form with another goal, while Diogo Jota scored as well for Wolves.

The Premier League side took the lead late in the first half thanks to an own goal, as Gleison Bremer headed in a Wolves free kick expertly into the side netting. Jota then added the second for Wolves in the 59th minute after an individual moment of brilliance from Adama Traore down the right side of the box, completely bamboozling his defender.

Torino’s Lorenzo di Silvestre answered just two minutes later off a late run into the box and a powerful header, but Jimenez then gave Wolves another two-goal advantage, as well as another crucial away goal. Jimenez ran with the ball from midfield and with Nicolas N’Koulou retreating, Jimenez took the space and scored.

Torino striker Andrea Belotti gave the Italians some late hope with a penalty kick goal in the 89th minute, but it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback. Anything but a defeat by more than two goals for Wolves will be enough for the club to make it to the Europa League group stage.

Here’s more results from around the Europa League on Thursday afternoon:


Celtic top AIK at home

The Scottish champions appear to have brushed off the disappointment of exiting the UEFA Champions League with a solid 2-0 win at Celtic Park against AIK Solna on Thursday evening.

James Forrest scored the opener for Celtic, taking advantage of a ricochet on the edge of the box to unleash a strike that AIK goalkeeper Oscar Linner couldn’t parry away. Odsonne Edouard then put the icing on the cake with a tremendous free kick from 30-yards out to give Celtic it’s 2-0 lead.

Neil Lennon’s side then held off AIK late to secure the shutout.

Thursday’s Europa League Playoff Round first leg qualifying matches:


Astana 3-0 BATE
Ararat Armenia 2-1 F91 Dudelange
Malmo FF 3-0 Bnei Yehudah Tel Aviv
Suduva 0-0 Ferencvaros
Feyenoord 3-0 Hapoel Be’er Sheva
Ludogorets 0-0 Maribor
FC Copenhagen 2-1 Riga
AEK Athens 1-3 Trabzonspor
Legia Warsaw 0-0 Rangers

Crossroads: What if Arsenal hadn’t gone unbeaten?

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The 2003-2004 Premier League season will forever be remembered for Arsenal’s Invincibles, the first team in history to go an entire 38-game season undefeated.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

But what if they hadn’t?

On the latest episode of NBC Sports’ new series Crossroads, host Aaron West dives into the Invincible season for Arsenal, and what would have happened if Arsenal lost along the way. Of course, we know that didn’t happen, and it wasn’t until the next season against Manchester United that Arsenal’s unbeaten run of 49 games was ended.

Watch the latest episode of Crossroads above, and check out previous episodes on Manchester City and Liverpool on NBC Sports‘ Youtube Page.

 

Oxlade-Chamberlain signs contract extension at Liverpool

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While Liverpool hasn’t been busy in the transfer market, it continues to be busy upgrading its first team contracts.

The club announced on Thursday that it had signed midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to a new, undisclosed long-term contract. The BBC reported that the new contract tied Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool through 2023, after his last deal was set to expire in 2022.

[READ: JPW’s Premier League Picks]

“I’m really, really excited – it’s been in the pipeline for a little while, so it’s nice to finally get it done and just extend my time here, which I am really looking forward to,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told Liverpool’s website in a statement. “I feel like I missed out on a year, which I obviously did, so it’s really exciting for me to be able to sign. It’s something that I feel is an opportunity to give that year back and make up for lost time – and hopefully put in some good performances to make amends for not being around last year.

“You’ve got to count your blessings every time you get an opportunity like this, you don’t get the chance to play for Liverpool Football Club every day. I am really excited to be able to extend my time here.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain is finally healthy after a long, long recovery from a horrific knee injury suffered in April 2018. The England international missed out on the World Cup as well as the Champions League final, though he was able to make the field off the bench towards the end of last season, eventually making the bench for Liverpool’s Champions League victory in June.

With some injuries and fatigue to other players, Oxlade-Chamberlain made his first Premier League start in more than a year last Saturday against his former club Southampton, playing 89 minutes in Liverpool’s 2-1 victory. He also started and played the first half in Liverpool’s UEFA Super Cup win over Chelsea on penalty kicks.

This deal is ultimately a good-will gesture from both sides, making up for the year lost that Oxlade-Chamberlain endured after the knee injury in the Champions League semifinal. It could take him more time, but Liverpool is certainly hoping that he can make a full recovery and come good for the Reds as it looks to win its first Premier League title, and first top league title in England since 1990.