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Premier League relegation picture in focus

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Six teams are within six points of the final relegation place following big wins for Newcastle United and Southampton at midweek in the Premier League.

Cardiff City is the side set for the drop at the moment, holding just 10 precious matches on their season docket.

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The good news is that the Bluebirds are within a single win over getting over the line, and that 16th place Brighton and Hove Albion’s match-in-hand is against dangerous Chelsea.

Before we go into what looms for these six side, here’s the portion of the table in question (Apologies to Fulham and Huddersfield Town and their quests for 10-plus point great escapes, but we’re excluding miracles in this particular study).

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 13. Newcastle United 28 8 7 13 26 34 -8 6-1-8 2-6-5 31
 14. Crystal Palace 28 8 6 14 32 38 -6 3-4-7 5-2-7 30
 15. Burnley 28 8 6 14 31 50 -19 5-2-6 3-4-8 30
 16. Brighton & Hove Albion 27 7 6 14 29 41 -12 5-4-4 2-2-10 27
 17. Southampton 28 6 9 13 30 46 -16 3-6-5 3-3-8 27

18. Cardiff City 28 7 4 17 25 55 -30 5-2-8 2-2-9 25

Let’s begin at the bottom: Cardiff City still faces four of the big boys in Chelsea, Man Cirty, Liverpool, and Manchester United, but also sees six-pointers with Burnley, Brighton, and Fulham. At current pace, the Cottagers will have already been relegated by the time they host Cardiff on April 27.

Southampton‘s Wednesday win over Fulham could hardly have come at a better point on the schedule, given a three-match run against Manchester United, Spurs, and Watford. Saints will have a trio of perceived six-pointers (Brighton, Newcastle, and Huddersfield Town).

Brighton and Hove Albion has that match-in-hand, though it will still have added action with a visit to Millwall and in the FA Cup quarterfinals as well as potential for a longer run. The Seagulls can ease their burden a bit by beating visitors Huddersfield on Saturday, and still face Cardiff, Saints, and Newcastle before a rough finish away to Arsenal and home to Man City.

Burnley lost significant momentum with its 2-0 loss to Newcastle, which feels pretty harsh coming off an 8-match unbeaten run. Sean Dyche‘s Clarets have a tricky fixture list to navigate, and its final four matches are tests at Chelsea, home to Man City, away to Everton, and home to Arsenal. Saturday at home to Palace and April 13 home to Cardiff look monumental.

Crystal Palace is back in the relegation picture, but could be close to safe and sound within 10 days, as Burnley and Cardiff are next before FA Cup quarterfinal action at Watford. Huddersfield and Newcastle follow, and it’s very hard to see the Eagles not getting enough points from their next four matches to survive. If not, May 4 at Cardiff City will be a big one.

Rafa Benitez‘s Newcastle United road into the finale isn’t easy, but could be much worse. Liverpool and Arsenal are their lone Top Six tests, the latter at home, and there are four current relegation candidates on their docket. A finale at Fulham, who will likely be relegated by then, presents an unpredictable item. Newcastle will be aware of the freedom that comes with playing after relegation, having smoked Spurs in the last match of the season three years ago.

Southgate, England players sound off on racist abuse

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England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.

Kane, Sterling star as England rout Bulgaria

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On a night where racist abuse from the stands in Bulgaria marred the overall spectacle, England’s players produced an incredible result and spectacle for the visiting fans, with all things considered.

Harry Kane scored once and assisted on three others as England rolled over Bulgaria, winning 6-0 on Monday evening in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria. Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley both scored a brace for the Three Lions and Marcus Rashford’s thunderbolt from a tight angle gave England the opening goal it needed.

The blowout result was the perfect response after England had suffered its first loss in qualifying for a decade, losing on Friday, 2-1 at the Czech Republic. The six goals England put past Bulgaria was also the fourth time out of six games that England had scored at least five goals in a match. The only other time, aside from the defeat, was a 4-0 win last month at Wembley Stadium over Bulgaria.

This story will be updated.


Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

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With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.