What did we learn on a wild Premier League Tuesday? (video)

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This feels like one of the pivotal days in the 2018-19 Premier League season.

The title race swung massively in Liverpool’s favor. At the bottom, there were huge wins for strugglers. In the top four race there was movement.

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Six PL games delivered drama, comebacks, thrills and spills, with 20 goals across the games.

Here are the key takeaways from a wild Tuesday…


Man City hand Liverpool title initiative
If you’re a Liverpool fan, you’re already thinking about how to get to Merseyside on May 12 to see them lift the Premier League trophy at Anfield. It’s okay. You can admit it. Manchester City shockingly lost 2-1 at Newcastle United to give Liverpool the chance to go seven points clear atop the table with 14 games to go. This is an opportunity Liverpool simply have to take. Pep Guardiola‘s men took the lead after 25 seconds (the fastest PL goal this season) at Newcastle but the alarm bells were ringing for Pep as his normally slick side were sluggish on the ball and they let Newcastle back into the game. A half-hearted clearance allowed Salomon Rondon to equalize and then a mistake from Fernandinho gave away a penalty kick which Matt Ritchie scored. Newcastle could hardly believe their luck, as City handed them the win in this game. For the record: the Magpies last won a Premier League home game after trailing way back in 2006. On a night when Man City were supposed to cut the gap to leaders Liverpool to one point and put the pressure on Jurgen Klopp‘s side, they crumbled. “We are in January, we have a lot of titles and games still to play for,” Guardiola said after the game. We may well look back on Jan. 29 as the day when Liverpool were actually handed the title. There is a long way to go until May 12, but Liverpool’s fan’s will be in a party atmosphere against Leicester City at Anfield on Wednesday. Liverpool can smell the trophy because City have placed it in front of them. The bookmakers have now cut Liverpool’s odds to win the title to 4/11.


Man United stumble for first time under Solskjaer

For the first time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man United fell behind, and for the first time in nine games under their caretaker boss they failed to win. But they didn’t lose. United trailed Burnley 2-0 with three minutes of normal time remaining at Old Trafford and then Solskjaer led another valiant comeback. Paul Pogba and Victor Lindelof made it 2-2, but there was to be no record seventh PL win on the trot to kick off his time in charge. It was probably what United deserved after starting slowly and missing big chances. They’re still in the hunt for a top four finish, but dropping points at home against Burnley is likely to see you finish outside the top four. That is not the aim for Ole. The next few weeks will be key in deciding how successful Solskjaer will be at United. Next up they play Leicester and Fulham away in the PL, PSG at home in the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea away in the FA Cup and then have Liverpool at home in the PL. At the end of that brutal spell we will truly known if Solskjaer’s honeymoon period is over at United, or if that draw against Burnley equated to a minor mishap with a bottle of champagne for the happy couple…


Fulham, Newcastle breath new life into relegation battle
Two strugglers fought back to seal improbable wins in the chilly conditions as they breathed new life into their survival bids. Fulham were 2-0 down against Brighton at half time at a snowy Craven Cottage. A soggy Claudio Ranieri was livid and he made two subs before the 46th minute. It worked. Aleksandar Mitrovic led their amazing four-goal second half performance as he wrecked havoc, scored twice and set up another. Fulham can score goals galore when they get going, but they have to sort out their defensive issues if they’re going to survive. Right now, they’ve given themselves a chance as they sit four points from safety. Tuesday was huge for the Cottagers. As for Newcastle, it is tough to see where their amazing resolve to come back from 1-0 down to beat Man City came from, but Rafael Benitez’s side will get a huge boost from back-to-back home wins in the PL. Miguel Almiron, who is expected to become their new club-record signing in the coming days, will also provide a huge boost in the final weeks of the season. The likes of Southampton, Burnley, Brighton and Crystal Palace will not be sleeping well on Tuesday as Newcastle and Fulham breathe down their necks.


Wolves flying high as Jimenez stars, again
Mexico’s Raul Jimenez is loving life in the Premier League, and so are his team Wolves. The man on loan from Benfica scored twice in Wolves’ 3-0 shellacking of West Ham at Molinuex, as Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in seventh place and many believe in the driving seat to seal European qualification. Jimenez hasn’t been the most prolific at times this season, but he is Wolves’ top goalscorer with 10 and he’s now scored three goals and had an assist in his last three outings in all competitions. He does more than score goals though, as his link-up play and runs in-behind create so many chances for Wolves’ other attackers. Jimenez described his form for Wolves in the PL as a “dream come true” and now we will wait and see if that dream continues beyond this season, or if he moves onto one of Europe’s big boys permanently from Benfica in the summer. He has now proved he is capable of delivering on the big stage consistently.


Arsenal in top four hunt on emotional night at the Emirates
The Gunners edged past Cardiff City, but it was far from convincing for Unai Emery‘s men. Cardiff had numerous chances to score in the first half but couldn’t break through, and it took a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty and a late Alexandre Lacazette penalty kick to seal the win for Arsenal. On an emotional night at Arsenal where tributes were paid to Cardiff’s missing striker Emiliano Sala, the action on the pitch was put into perspective. Their club-record signing disappeared, along with the plane he was on and pilot Dave Ibbotson last week, and the search for Sala in the English Channel continues. On a snowy night at the Emirates Stadium the action on the pitch was secondary as daffodils were laid in tribute to Sala before the game by both captains, his name was placed on the back of the matchday programme at Arsenal and across the Premier League he was honored.


Reyna, Busio headline U.S. U-17 squad for CONCACAF Championships

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Two of the top teen-aged talents the U.S. has ever produced will be wearing the red, white, and blue next month at the 2019 CONCACAF Under-17 Men’s Championship.

U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Raphael Wicky announced his 20-man squad for the upcoming tournament, set to take place at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. It’s a small irony, as this is the first year without the residency program that was housed on the IMG Academy property.

The U.S. squad is led by Sporting KC midfielder Gianluca Busio and the son of USMNT legend, Claudio Reyna, Giovanni, who is reportedly set to join Borussia Dortmund’s academy officially in the coming months. Also included in this squad is FC Dallas youngster Ricardo Pepi, who already has four goals in USL League One this season. Another forward, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez is coming into the camp in red-hot form, having scored a hat-trick and helped lead his Seattle Sounders to the GA Cup title.

Griffin Yow just made his full D.C. United debut, and Las, just 17, has already reportedly attracted attention from Europe.

Here’s a look at the U.S. roster.

GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Damian Las (Chicago Fire; Norridge, Ill.; 13/0), 12-Chituru Odunze (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN; Calgary, Alta.; 4/0)
DEFENDERS (7): 4-Axel Alejandre (FC United; Chicago, Ill.; 14/0), 3-Adam Armour (North Carolina FC; Cary, N.C.; 11/0), 13-Mauricio Cuevas (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.; 2/0), 14-Tayvon Gray (New York City FC; Bronx, N.Y.; 10/0), 5-Kobe Hernandez (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.; 14/1), 2-Joseph Scally (New York City FC; Lake Grove, N.Y.; 14/1), 15-John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls; Chatham, N.J.; 3/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 7-Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; Greensboro, N.C.; 7/2), 20-Gilbert Fuentes (San Jose Earthquakes; Tracy, Calif.; 13/0), 8-Bryang Kayo (D.C. United; Poolesville, Md.; 0/0), 6-Daniel Leyva (Seattle Sounders FC; Las Vegas, Nev.; 0/0), 16-Adam Saldana (LA Galaxy; Panorama City, Calif.; 17/1)
FORWARDS (6): 18-Jack de Vries (Philadelphia Union; Wayne, Pa.; 0/0), 17-Tyler Freeman (Sporting Kansas City; Shawnee, Kan.; 3/1), 19-Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Tacoma Defiance; Kent, Wash.; 14/5), 9-Ricardo Pepi (North Texas SC; McKinney, Texas; 6/1), 10-Giovanni Reyna (Unattached; Bedford, N.Y.; 8/1), 11-Griffin Yow (D.C. United; Clifton, Va.; 6/3)

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Man City preparing $79 million bid this summer; Bale to leave Real Madrid

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Pep Guardiola has identified the successor to Fernandinho, and he’s convinced Manchester City to break the bank to acquire him.

[READ: JPW’s Premier League picks]

Per a report in The Telegraph, Manchester City is preparing a transfer bid of nearly $79 million to sign Atletico Madrid central midfielder Rodrigo Hernandez Cascante, better known as Rodri. In his first season in Madrid, the 22-year-old has made 28 La Liga starts along with six in the UEFA Champions League, anchoring the second-place Atletico Madrid midfield.

In addition to his defensive duties, he’s also scored a pair of goals this season.

If true, Rodri’s transfer will break Man City’s previous record when it signed Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City for almost $78 million.

Fernandinho continues to be a world class holding midfielder, but coming up on 34-years old, he’s surely coming up on time when he won’t be able to cover as much ground as he used to. With Rodri in tow, Fernandinho can slowly take a reserve role in the team, or move to another club for one last big contract.

Here are some more transfer rumors from around Europe:

(more…)

USMNT’s Brooks scores equalizer for Wolfsburg

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John Brooks is enjoying a career year for Wolfsburg, and he just added another highlight to his strong season.

Brooks, running up in the attack in a rare foray forward, tapped home into an empty net to save Wolfsburg a point at home in its 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt. It was Brooks’ third goal of the season and second in the last two months.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The U.S. Men’s National Team centerback has played and started 29 times this season for Wolfsburg, the most games he’s ever played in a single season in Germany’s top tier. Brooks started alongside Aaron Long in the USMNT’s 1-0 win over Ecuador in Orlando in late March, and could play a key role for the USMNT this summer at the Gold Cup, unless coach Gregg Berhalter decides to let him rest this summer.

Season over: Hudson-Odoi suffers suspected Achilles tear

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One incident on Monday showed why some players are so desperate to change clubs when given the chance. They may never get it again.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Callum Hudson-Odoi said on his Instagram post Monday evening that he had suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. If confirmed by the club, it’s usually a nine-month recovery process, with some players needing a full year to return to full fitness. Considering the timing of this, towards the end of the season, it means that Hudson-Odoi may miss an entire season of top-flight soccer, as well as possibly miss out on a chance to move to Bayern Munich this summer.

The injury is a huge blow to the 18-year-old, who had forced his way into the Chelsea side after strong performances in the UEFA Europa League, and now he’s making regular Premier League starts at the tender age of 18. Hudson-Odoi had started four-straight Premier League games including Monday, but now he faces a long layoff.

In Hudson-Odoi’s favor is his youth. While it can be a career-ending injury, hopefully Hudson-Odoi could retain his electric pace once he recovers and can return to the starting lineup for Chelsea.

But it’s a big disappointment to the young Englishman, who surely would have played for England youth national teams this summer and could have potentially made a big-money move abroad.