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.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

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.


Serie A to impose 33-percent pay cut for players, coaches

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Serie A announced on Monday that it has agreed a 33-percent pay cut for 19 of its 20 clubs’ players and coaching staff for as long as the league’s coronavirus suspension lasts.

[ MORE: Report: Premier League prepares for June return ]

Juventus was the lone club to abstain from voting on the measure after previously agreeing to cut its players’ salaries by an amount equal to the monthly wages of March, April, May and June.

The league said in a statement that the reduction in wages paid to players and coaches was “necessary to safeguard the future of the entire Italian football system.”

“The intervention … foresees a reduction of one third of the total gross annual salary in the event that it is not possible to resume sporting activity, and a reduction of one sixth… if the remaining matches of the 2019/2020 season can be played in the coming months.”

The statement also reiterated all sides’ desire to continue and compete the 2019-20 season once it is deemed safe for all involved parties to do so.

“There is a confirmed willingness to bring this season to an end and to get back to playing, without running any risks, only when the sanitary conditions and the government’s decisions will allow so.”

U.S. prosecutors allege bribes in 2018, 2022 World Cup votes

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NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors revealed new details of alleged bribes paid to FIFA executive committee members to gain their votes for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup and charged a pair of former 21st Century Fox executives with making illegal payments to win broadcast rights for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

[ MORE: Former U.S. TV execs indicted on charges of World Cup bribery ]

An indictment unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn says Nicolás Leoz, then president of the South American governing body CONMEBOL, and former Brazil federation president Ricardo Teixeira received bribes to vote for Qatar at the 2010 FIFA executive committee meeting.

Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, president of the North and Central American and Caribbean governing body CONCACAF, received $5 million in bribes to vote for Russia to host in 2018 from 10 different shell companies that included entities in Anguilla, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, the indictment alleged. Guatemala federation president Rafael Salguero was promised a $1 million bribe to vote for Russia, according to the indictment.

Leoz, who died last August, avoided extradition, as have Warner and Teixeira. Salguero pleaded guilty in 2018 to two counts of wire fraud conspiracy and one count each of racketeering conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

Alejandro Burzaco, former head of the marketing company Torneos y Competencias, testified in 2017 that all three South Americans on the FIFA executive committee took million-dollar bribes to support Qatar, which prevailed over the U.S. 14-8.

[ MORE: Report: Premier League prepares for June return ]

Former 21st Century Fox Inc. executives Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez were charged Monday with making payments to CONMEBOL officials to obtain broadcast rights bidding information from a co-conspirator whose identify was not identified in the indictment.

ESPN had U.S. English-language television rights to the World Cup from 1994-2014, but Fox in 2011 gained the rights for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. After the 2022 tournament in Qatar was shifted from summer to late autumn, a time when it is likely to get less attention in the U.S., FIFA awarded Fox rights for 2026 without competitive bidding.


Also charged in the indictment, handed up by a grand jury on March 18, are former Imagina Media Audiovisual CEO Gerard Romy; and the Uruguayan sports marketing company Full Play Group SA.

The indictment includes charges of wire fraud and money laundering. The charges against Romy and Full Play also allege racketeering conspiracy.

“The profiteering and bribery in international soccer have been deep-seated and commonly known practices for decades,” William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said in a statement. “Over a period of many years, the defendants and their co-conspirators corrupted the governance and business of international soccer with bribes and kickbacks, and engaged in criminal fraudulent schemes that caused significant harm to the sport of soccer. Their schemes included the use of shell companies, sham consulting contracts and other concealment methods to disguise the bribes and kickback payments and make them appear legitimate.”

Since the first indictments were announced in May 2015, there have been 26 publicly announced guilty pleas, many from former soccer officials, including CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer.

[ MORE: Son Heung-min to complete military service in South Korea ]

CONMEBOL president Juan Ángel Napout and Brazil federation president José Maria Marin were convicted following trials. Napout is in prison in Florida and Marin was released from a prison last week. Some individuals await sentencing.

Lopez was CEO of Fox International Channels, a 21st Century Fox subsidiary, and Martinez was president of Fox International Channels and an executive of Fox Latin American Channel Inc. They are accused of joining with Full Play to pay million of dollars in bribes to CONMEBOL executives in exchange for rights to the Copa Libertadores, South America’s annual club championship.

“It’s shocking that the government would bring such a thin case,” Lopez’s lawyer, Matthew D. Umhofer, said in an email. “The indictment contains nothing more than single paragraph about Mr. Lopez that alleges nothing remotely improper. Mr. Lopez can’t wait to defend himself at trial.”

Steven J. McCool, Martinez’s attorney, said in an email: “We are certain a jury will swiftly exonerate Carlos, as the charges against him are nothing more than stale fiction.”


Carlos Ortiz said Full Play intends to plead not guilty at Thursday’s arraignment and his client “looks forward to vigorously defending itself against all of the charges at trial.”

A lawyer for Romy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Fox Sports also did not respond to a request for comment.

Romy is accused with joining his alleged co-conspirators to pay a $3 million bribe to Jeffrey Webb, the former president of the North and Central American and Caribbean governing body CONCACAF, for media and marketing rights to home World Cup qualifiers in the Caribbean for the 2018 and 2022 cycles. Webb pleaded guilty on Nov. 23, 2015, to several counts and awaits sentencing.

Van Dijk wants to be remembered as ‘a Liverpool legend’

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Virgil van Dijk is setting his sights as high as possible, aiming to first bring the Premier League title back to Liverpool and to then be remembered as a “legend” and “one of [the club’s] greatest servants” when his playing career is finished.

[ MORE: Former US TV execs indicted on charges of World Cup bribery ]

The 28-year-old Dutchman is well on his way to following up last season’s PFA PL Player of the Year award with Liverpool’s first top-division title since 1990 — provided the 2019-20 season is completed after being suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — and he appears to have a keen interest in how he will be remembered in the hearts and minds of the club’s most ardent supporters for years and decades to come.

[ MORE: Report: Premier League prepares for June return ]

Van Dijk wasn’t at all hesitant to throw around the L-word when speaking to Spanish media outlet Sport this week:

How would you like to be remembered?

“As a Liverpool legend. I want to achieve incredible things here. We have a fantastic team, we don’t lack anything, we have all the tools necessary to on winning: a coach that we identify with, a versatile squad, a style of play that breeds victories, a stadium and supporters that play their part. Yes, I would like to be one of those players that return to Anfield after retiring. I see club legends at games and I feel part of a really big family.”

I have read that you love Disney. It’s quite a contrast to your life as a footballer…

“I like Disney films and I love taking my kids to Disneyland. Seeing them so happy makes my day. I was seven or eight when I went there for the first time and it was fantastic but we did not go much as it was so expensive. I took my wife when we first started dating. We got drunk in a hotel… it was memorable. I like simple things so why complicate things? Why be negative when you can enjoy life and be positive? That’s something I have learned with the years. I always try to be positive. Life is too short to always look at the negatives.”

Another few years of performances at his current level, and Van Dijk should have no trouble talking his way back inside Anfield anytime his heart desires for as long as he lives.

Former U.S. TV execs indicted on charges of World Cup bribery

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NEW YORK (AP) A pair of former sports marketing executives of 21st Century Fox have been indicted on charges they paid bribes to soccer officials to obtain confidential bidding information during FIFA’s sale of U.S. television rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

[ MORE: Report: Premier League prepares for June return ]

Charges were unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn against former 21st Century Fox Inc. executives Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez. They are accused of making payments to officials of the CONMEBOL, South American soccer’s governing body.

ESPN had U.S. English-language television rights to the World Cup from 1994-2014, but Fox in 2011 gained the rights for 2018 and 2022 tournaments. After the 2022 tournament in Qatar was shifted from summer to late autumn, a time when it is likely to get less attention in the U.S., FIFA awarded Fox rights for 2026 without competitive bidding.

Also charged in the indictment, handed up by a grand jury on March 18, are former Imagina Media Audiovisual CEO Gerard Romy; and the Uruguayan sports marketing company Full Play Group SA. The Justice Department said the indictment includes charges of wire fraud and money laundering. The charges against Romy and Full Play allege racketeering conspiracy.

“The profiteering and bribery in international soccer have been deep-seated and commonly known practices for decades,” William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said in a statement. “Over a period of many years, the defendants and their co-conspirators corrupted the governance and business of international soccer with bribes and kickbacks, and engaged in criminal fraudulent schemes that caused significant harm to the sport of soccer. Their schemes included the use of shell companies, sham consulting contracts and other concealment methods to disguise the bribes and kickback payments and make them appear legitimate.”

[ MORE: Son Heung-min to complete military service in South Korea ]

Lopez and Martinez are accused of joining with Full Play to pay million of dollars in bribes to executives of CONMEBOL in exchange for rights to the Copa Libertadores, South America’s annual club championship.

“It’s shocking that the government would bring such a thin case,” Lopez’s lawyer, Matthew D. Umhofer, said in an email. “The indictment contains nothing more than single paragraph about Mr. Lopez that alleges nothing remotely improper. Mr. Lopez can’t wait to defend himself at trial.”

Steven J. McCool, Martinez’s attorney, said in an email: “We are certain a jury will swiftly exonerate Carlos, as the charges against him are nothing more than stale fiction.”

Lawyers for Romy and Full Play did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Fox Sports also did not respond to a request for comment.

Romy is accused with joining his alleged co-conspirators to pay a $3 million bribe to Jeffrey Webb, the former president of the North and Central American and Caribbean governing body CONCACAF, for media and marketing rights to home World Cup qualifiers in the Caribbean for the 2018 and 2022 cycles. Webb pleaded guilty on Nov. 23, 2015, to several counts and awaits sentencing.