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.


Cole returns to Chelsea as youth team coach

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One of Chelsea’s best players in club history is back at his old stomping grounds in a new role.

Chelsea finally confirmed over their social media channels that former left back Ashley Cole is back at the club coaching in the academy, helping the next generation of stars grow and learn the games. Specifically, Cole is coaching the U-15 squad.

[READ: Top Premier League Storylines]

“I’m also doing my badges at the moment and so being here at Chelsea means I have the chance to coach every day, whereas maybe if I wasn’t working at a club it would be hard for me to get the hours in,” Cole told Chelsea’s website. “I’m learning not just how to be a coach and how to speak to people in a different environment but the side of coaching that you don’t see like planning the sessions and setting up the equipment.

“As a player, you just turn up for a session and do it. If it’s a possession drill, you just arrive and try to keep the ball but now I’m getting to understand that there are always ideas behind a particular session or practice. Organization has to be key and those are the little details that it takes to be a great coach.”

While plenty from Cole’s era have moved into the media for lucrative punditry roles, it’s nice to see players like Cole and his former teammate Frank Lampard, now Chelsea coach, go into coaching to help pass on some of the great lessons they’ve learned during their careers. .

Cole said in the interview that he wasn’t sure what was next after playing three seasons for the LA Galaxy and then joining Lampard at Derby County for the second half of last season. He added that he got his first taste of coaching kids while with the Galaxy, helping some of the academy players and taking part in video sessions.

“The Academy are very good at giving ex-players a route back to the club and a chance to learn as coaches,” Cole said. “They’re eager to bring in people who understand what it means to be at Chelsea and what it means to wear the badge. You have to be a top player to play for Chelsea so they want those top ex-players influencing and trying to help the next generation develop and be better players.”

Spanish FA once again opposes La Liga match in U.S.

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For the second consecutive season, La Liga and Relevant Sports have proposed a league match to take place this winter in the U.S.

And once again, the La Liga proposal doesn’t have the support of its national soccer federation.

[READ: La Liga wants to move Villarreal-Atletico Madrid to Miami]

Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), told reporters on Thursday that it would oppose the match taking place outside of Spain’s borders, keeping a consistent line in the sand on how far globalization can go in soccer.

“It would disrupt the competition,” Rubiales said, via AS. “To play a game in Miami, La Liga needs permission from five bodies that it doesn’t have.”

The five bodies Rubiales referred to are the RFEF, FIFA, CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer and MLS.

Last time around, Relevant Sports and La Liga announced a long-term, lucrative marketing contract to expand the brand’s footprint in the Americas, and soon after, petitioned to move Girona’s home game against Barcelona to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, the home stadium of Relevant Sports owner Stephen Ross and his Miami Dolphins.

Ultimately, La Liga president Javier Tebas and Relevant Sports were unable to get permission from the RFEF or FIFA to hold the event outside Spain and it went off as expected in Girona. At the time, Spain’s player’s union and fans groups opposed the move. Tebas has filed a lawsuit in Spain to try to force the RFEF to approve their request, but it seems unlikely to be awarded and it surely doesn’t provide any good will between the two parties.

There’s been plenty of talk about bringing league games abroad before, but it has just been talk so far. The Premier League considered adding an extra game to the season to be played all over the world, but never went through with creating plans for matches.

Associations – not leagues, to be clear – have brought things like Super Cups abroad. For example, the RFEF moved the 2018 Spanish Super Cup to Tangiers, Morocco, while the France Football Federation has brought its national Super Cup match to both the U.S. and Montreal, Canada in recent years. However, the argument in favor of bringing those games abroad is they’re basically meaningless. Meanwhile, one result in a league season could – in theory – determine whether a team is relegated or not, especially if the margin is three points or less.

We could see another legal fight on our hands, so watch this space, there’s plenty more to come.

Rodgers excuses Maddison’s behavior after England departure

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Leicester City and England midfielder James Maddison made headlines for the wrong reasons after he was pictured last week watching the England match at the Czech Republic from a casino.

Despite the negative attention from Maddison’s decision to watch the game at that venue, he has the backing of his club manager, Brendan Rodgers.

“The kid went away with the international team and took ill while he was away,” Rodgers said, via the Guardian. “He wanted to stay and hopefully be ready for the second game. But the England medical staff – which I can understand, as he had flu and they didn’t want that to spread to his teammates – decided it’s best for him to leave the camp. So he leaves, gets some tablets with our guys at the club, then he feels better.

“He watched the game at home on his own on the Friday and then goes out at half-time – probably he’ll make better decisions in his life but he went to a casino on his own to sit and watch the second half by a poker table. The suggestions are he left England purposelessly and then goes to a casino but that’s totally not the case at all. But his eyes have been opened now to the wider world in terms of what he did. He knows in hindsight he’s made a mistake.”

Considering all that went on during England’s international break, from the poor performance in Prague to the horrible racism endured in Bulgaria, this is a bit of a silly scandal. To be honest, as long as Maddison is taking care of his body and himself, why does it matter if he was at a casino, or a pub, or anywhere?

However, there’s no denying that the optics look bad. Folks didn’t know that he arrived to England camp with the flu, or a flu-like illness at least, and the England medical staff are right to send him away to make sure no one else gets sick. He may have been feeling better by Friday and wanted to get out of the house. I think we’ve all been there after being sick for a few days.

The most important lesson for Maddison is to learn that his actions, out of context, can be misunderstood. In terms of soccer, after Ross Barkley’s performance for England, Maddison will have to prove in his club form that he should still have a place in the England team for the near future. There’s only two more international dates left before the 2020 Euros, so time is running out for Maddison to make an impact to Southgate.

Tierney, Lacazette available for Arsenal

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Arsenal are edging closer to finally having a full-strength squad.

Ahead of Monday’s prime-time matchup with Sheffield United, Arsenal manager Unai Emery confirmed that Kieran Tierney was in line to make his Premier League debut, while Alexandre Lacazette was back in full training and should be in the gameday squad.

“Today is Lacazette’s first training back with us,” Emery said in a press conference on Thursday. “He finished it well and he’s feeling well with his injuries. Tomorrow we will be training again and he will be with us. We will decide.

“The most important thing is that first he is training, then secondly it’s whether he can be with us and it depends how he can feel in the next days training with us, whether his ankle is not giving him any more problems.”

This is a huge boost to Arsenal, which has had to rely on some youngsters and have made some lineup changes to accommodate not having Lacazette on the field. Tierney meanwhile could step into a position where there’s already a decent starter, Sead Kolasinac.

Lacazette’s return also couldn’t have come at a better time. In Premier League action, Arsenal’s high-powered offense has been stymied, scoring just two goals in the last two league games. Meanwhile, against weaker defenses in the UEFA Europa League and the Carabao Cup, Arsenal has bagged a total of 12 goals.

The veteran Frenchman has scored two goals in three appearances so far this season, including a big goal just before halftime in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham. However, he suffered a long-term ankle injury in that match that has kept him on the sidelines for more than a month.

“[Tierney is] ready to play,” Emery later said. Now we have two options in that left-back role with Sead Kolasinac and him. We’re going to play a lot of matches after Monday. We will need every player. It depends how he comes into the first training with us, Sead, after his international matches. We now have two players in that position and we can use one on Monday, it depends how they are, one or the other.”

Tierney, the 22-year-old Scottish left back, has made two appearances for the Arsenal first team since recovering from a double hernia operation over the summer. Signed from Celtic for around $32 million, Tierney adds a skill that Kolasinac has struggled with – expert crosser of the ball into the box, where the likes of Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can score when given a decent chance.