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

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The seven Premier League games on Saturday delivered so many incredible moments, as we had comeback wins, top teams falling, controversy and plenty of strugglers bagging big wins.

Days like today are exactly why we love the Premier League.

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Here is a look at what we learned.


SPURS IN TOP FOUR TROUBLE

Tottenham suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at Southampton as they’ve now lost three of their last four games and are without a Premier League win since beating Leicester City on Feb. 10. Mauricio Pochetttino, watching on from the stands due to his current touchline ban, lambasted his players for failing to respect Saints. Spurs were superb in the first half and should have been at least 3-0 up with Harry Kane and Dele Alli ripping Saints apart. Instead they were only 1-0 up and were then totally outfought in the second half and paid the price.

With sixth-place Chelsea now just five points behind third-place Spurs, they are losing serious ground in their top four battle and still have to play at Liverpool and Man City. From the cusp of being in the title race, Spurs have crumbled and are now in real danger of not being in the UEFA Champions League next season.

“It is good because a lot of people now are going to realize our real level,” Pochettino said, before adding. “We are fighting against big sides (for the top four). We had a big gap, that maybe wasn’t real, now welcome to the reality. We are under going to be under pressure to win games. It is a massive challenge for us to keep our position.”


STERLING LEADS CITY, BUT NOT WITHOUT CONTROVERSY

Raheem Sterling‘s hat trick extended Man City’s lead atop the Premier League table to four points, but the 3-1 win against Watford didn’t come without controversy. The crucial first goal arrived less than 45 seconds into the second half but it was originally ruled out for offside, then it was allowed due to a strange perception of the offside rule. That could be a huge moment in the season, as City were struggling to break Watford down. Pep Guardiola‘s side were not at their best and that is expected as they are without Fernandinho, John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne, three players who are key to how they operate.

City took care of business, with a little help from the officials, and now it is over to Liverpool who host Burnley at Anfield on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp‘s men now know that any slip up will hand Man City an even greater advantage in the title race. The pressure is on.


COMEBACKS, GLORIOUS COMEBACKS

Southampton’s comeback win against Tottenham stole the headlines, but Newcastle also launched a marvellous comeback as they beat Everton at St James’ Park 3-2. Rafael Benitez’s side dug deep to fight back from 2-0 down as they also had a penalty kick saved in the first half moments before going 2-0 down.

The belief Newcastle showed to drag themselves back into the game was sublime and, just like Saints, the kind of momentum they will gain from this comeback win will be vital as so many teams battle to stay in the Premier League. At this point of the season sealing a comeback win can be even more important than grabbing three points. The resilience teams are showing at the bottom of the table is incredible, with the likes of Saints, Newcastle and Brighton standing tall. Add in Burnley and Cardiff scrapping away and there are still so many twists and turns remaining in the battle against the drop.


RELEGATION BATTLERS STAND TALL

It is not often Brighton, Saints, Newcastle and Cardiff have won games this season. So it was extremely surprising they all grabbed wins on the same day. Brighton dug deep and delivered a massive away win in the M23 at derby, with Anthony Knockaert‘s stunning goal worthy of winning any game. Glenn Murray had given the Seagulls the lead and Crystal Palace were never at the races. Saints’ win was incredibly unexpected, while Newcastle and Cardiff took care of business at home. All in all, the relegation battle is more muddled than it was before the day kicked off.

Just six points separates Cardiff in 18th and Palace in 14th, and the likes of Cardiff, Brighton and Palace have tough run ins compared to others at the bottom. Fulham and Huddersfield are basically down, while six teams are fighting to stay out of the final relegation spot. Pick one from: Cardiff, Burnley, Southampton, Brighton, Palace and Newcastle.


WILSON, TIELEMANS, RONDON ARE BALLERS

There are some players who are on teams outside of the top six who sometimes do not get the respect they deserve. A few of them stole the show on Saturday. Wilfried Zaha usually falls into this category but he struggled for Palace against Brighton, but Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson was brilliant on his return from injury. Wilson hasn’t played since mid-January for Bournemouth, but he returned with a goal and an assist in their win at Huddersfield and was a constant menace. You can bet that Wilson will be called into the England squad for the upcoming internationals and the PL’s big boys will be sniffing around him this summer.

As for Youri Tielemans, he continues to go from strength to strength in the Premier League. The Belgian midfielder is only on loan from Monaco and Leicester will want to sort that out sharpish as he scored the first and oozed class throughout their 3-1 win against Fulham. Brendan Rodgers loves to have a ball-playing central midfielder who makes things happen and Tielemans fits the bill. And then there is Salomon Rondon at Newcastle. The Venezuelan striker rarely gets the headlines, but he has quietly scored eight goals this season for the Magpies and their entire attacking unit is better when he is fit and playing. Rondon won Newcastle a penalty kick, scored the goal which sparked their amazing comeback and bullied Everton’s defense. For the likes of Miguel Almiron, Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez to flourish, Rondon has to be the focal point.

Report: Newcastle in takeover talks with UAE billionaire

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Reports out of Northeast England say Newcastle United supporters who want owner Mike Ashley out at all costs have new hope.

United Arab Emirates billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan is said to be in talks with Ashley about a takeover of the St. James’ Park-based club, though there’s a lot of work to do for a deal to be complete.

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One report goes as far as to say Ashley has agreed to accept $444 million for the Premier League club.

Sheikh Khaled, 61, was educated at American colleges Boston University and Michigan State. He’s the cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and was turned down with a $2.5 billion bid for Liverpool last season.

From The Chronicle:

NUFC have confirmed some talks with Sheikh Khaled. But say there is still “some way” to go on a deal. Newcastle United refusing to make any further comment at this time.

Takeover talks are nothing new at Newcastle, and there does seem to be some heat to these reports, but Ashley and his crew have spun these stories of interest in the past. And with Magpies supporters waiting for news on Rafa Benitez‘s new deal, some will be way of a smoke screen for an inability to reach an agreement with the celebrated Newcastle manager.

Wondolowski scores 149th, 150th goals; Earthquakes win

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TORONTO (AP) Chris Wondolowski scored his 149th and 150th MLS goals in the San Jose Earthquakes’ 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday night.

The MLS career goals leader scored both from close range.

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Wondolowski got a yard’s separation from Drew Moor and deftly redirected in Cristian Espinoza’s cross in the 37th minute to tie it at 1. The go-ahead goal in the 81st minute was a virtual replay, with Espinoza finding Wondolowski in space.

The San Jose striker has six goals in two games. He scored all four goals in a 4-1 victory over Chicago last weekend to surpass Landon Donovan’s league record of 145 goals and up his career total to 148.

Richie Laryea opened the scoring for Toronto (5-6-2) in the 28th minute

San Jose (5-6-2) won for the first time in six road games this season.

Chairman Mubarak: Other clubs are ‘jealous’ of Man City’s success

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Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak believes that other clubs — namely those who have fallen miles back of the back-to-back Premier League champions — are “jealous” of the club’s success.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante to miss Europa League final with new injury ]

The root of the perceived jealousy is, of course, Man City’s seemingly unlimited spending power which dwarves that of just about — if not — every other club in the PL. There’s a growing sense around the league — and around the world — that clubs like City, just to name one, are doing the game a disservice by distorting the transfer market and building an infallible super-team with the aid of unprecedented financial resources.

Mubarak believes that these feelings also stem from other clubs’ failed dealings in the transfer market: spending comparable — if not more — money on players who don’t justify that price tag the same way some of City’s big-money buys have done — quotes from the BBC:

“With success, there is a certain level of jealousy, envy, whatever you call it. That’s part of the game.

“It’s not easy for our competition, we know that. But the reality is, we didn’t buy the most expensive player in the Premier League [Paul Pogba], we didn’t buy the most expensive goalkeeper [Kepa Arrizabalaga], we didn’t buy the most expensive midfielder, we didn’t buy the most expensive striker [Romelu Lukaku].

“People make decisions, they’ve got to live by them. This is a well-run club.”

City’s financial dealings have regularly been in the headlines of late, as they are believed to have circumvented FFP rules by lying about sponsorship deals so as to balance a larger expenditure on transfer fees and player wages with revenue generated by the club.

Valverde under pressure after dismal end to Barcelona’s season

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MADRID (AP) A couple of weeks ago, few questioned Ernesto Valverde as Barcelona coach.

The team had just won a second straight Spanish league title under his command and was close to making it to the Champions League final after beating Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of the semifinals.

The team was also through to the Copa del Rey final, where it would try to win an unprecedented fifth straight title in the competition.

Valverde seemed to be comfortably in control as the club moved closer to winning the treble.

Things quickly took a turn for the worse, though, and Valverde woke up on Sunday under added pressure and facing increased criticism.

Barcelona lost 2-1 to Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday, a result that followed the disastrous elimination against Liverpool in the Champions League and added to the team’s woeful end to what had been a great season.

“A month ago we were celebrating the league title. Fifteen days ago we were thinking we had a chance at a treble,” Valverde said. “And we came up short in the decisive moments in both the Champions League and the Copa del Rey.”

The disappointing ending brought out a wave of criticism of Valverde, who last year also finished the season under a cloud after another humiliating Champions League elimination – that time it squandered a big first-leg lead against Roma in the tournament’s quarterfinals.

The criticism seems more pronounced this time, with some fans and local media calling for a change at the helm.

It didn’t take long after Barcelona’s loss to Valencia in Seville for club President Josep Bartomeu to come out and defend the coach.

“Ernesto has a contract and he remains the team’s coach,” Bartomeu said. “This loss was not the coach’s fault. The team created a lot of scoring chances but the ball didn’t go in, and what counts is how many times you score.”

Bartomeu had already defended Valverde after the demoralizing 4-0 loss to Liverpool in the Champions League, saying the club was not considering a change in command for next season.

Valverde said he was not worried and felt supported by the club despite the disappointing ending.

“It’s a bad feeling, we won’t deny it, but we have to stay strong,” he said. “What we want as coaches is to have a chance to come back. It’s tough to lose, it means something went wrong. We have to take the responsibility for it.”

Even if Valverde stays as expected, it doesn’t mean there won’t be changes for Barcelona.

Several players played below expectations this season, especially former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, who was regularly jeered by fans and whose place with the club remains uncertain.

Bartomeu will likely have to go shopping in the offseason to try to improve the supporting cast for Lionel Messi, who had a fantastic year but wasn’t able to save the season by himself. When Messi looked ordinary, no one was able to take over his role as protagonist, and it proved costly in the decisive moments.

Young midfielder Frenkie de Jong is joining from Ajax and he should significantly boost the midfield, but Barcelona will definitely need to add to its attack, as Luis Suarez was the only true striker who performed consistently well. He couldn’t play in the Copa final after undergoing knee surgery and his absence was felt as the team struggled to capitalize on its scoring chances.

Veteran Gerard Pique is set to return for another season in defense, but there are still doubts about the fitness of Samuel Umtiti, who missed several matches this season because of injuries.

“We’ve been thinking about next season for a while, but it’s not the time to discuss the future,” Bartomeu said. “We ended with the Spanish league title, it was important. We couldn’t win the Copa, but we’ll just move on.”