Predictions for Premier League run-in

Leave a comment

With the run-in now here, the next few weeks are going to be incredibly exciting across the Premier League.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

With that in mind, we asked our writers a series of questions about how they think things will shake out across the Premier League, FA Cup, European competitions and the promotion picture.

Here’s a look at what they believe will happen in the frantic race to the finish line.


Who will win the Premier League title? Have you changed your mind from your original pick?

Joe Prince-Wright: Nope. I said Man City at the start, and I am sticking with them. But this is going to be one heck of a title race. I can see this going into the final minutes on the final day of the season, and goal difference or a single point will likely decide the title. I’m going with City, just, to win the title.

Nick Mendola: I haven’t changed my mind from my original pick of Manchester City, but obviously I’m very close to thinking Liverpool can do this given schedule congestion. The last obstacle seems to be whether the Reds can get through the first Porto match with a decent lead and be able to focus on defeating Chelsea and navigating the 2nd leg.

Andy Edwards: Everybody in the world picked Man City at the start of the season, and for good reason. Now, though, Liverpool’s “easier” run-in has me leaning their way, for the simple fact they showed last year they’re more than happy to punt one competition to chase another, and I’m not sure that concept exists within Pep Guardiola‘s DNA. Obviously it’s a massive gamble to look past a Champions League quarterfinal, but if Jurgen Klopp really wants to win the league…

Dan Karell: I still think Manchester City will do it. Ultimately, Manchester City has the title-winning and big game experience that should just set them apart from Liverpool. I think it will come down to a 2-3 point difference in the table at the end.

Kyle Bonn: Manchester City. That’s who I originally picked, and based on current form, Pep Guardiola’s squad is still the most equipped to finish the season strong. With the 1 point lead, they would need to slip and Liverpool would need to be near-perfect the rest of the way to capitalize. Liverpool’s a likable team, and it’s hard not to root for them to get over the hump, but the struggles a few weeks ago severely cost them.


Which teams finish in the top 4, and why?

(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

JPW: Man, this is very tough. Man City and Liverpool will be the top two, obvs., but then I’d go with Tottenham and Arsenal to finish in third and fourth respectively. With a tougher schedule and having the Europa League to fall back on, I think Chelsea will just miss out, while Man United have run out of steam in a big way.

NM: Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs. There’s definitely enough quality in Chelsea and Manchester United to slip into third and fourth, but the way the fixtures fall and who is home makes me think their paths have more obstacles than Arsenal and Spurs.

AE: Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal, Tottenham. Why that particular order, you ask? Have you looked at Arsenal’s schedule to finish the season?

KB: The Champions League race is going to be FUN! Four teams fighting for two spots, all within three points. I think Spurs will make it as they limp to the finish line, and I like Chelsea to pip Arsenal for the last spot. All these teams have flaws, but I think Chelsea has slightly better players, and Eden Hazard will finish his Blues career strong.


How far do each of the six Premier League teams still in the Champions League and Europa League advance?

JPW:
Man City – lose to Barcelona in the final
Liverpool – lose to Barcelona in the semifinal
Man United – lose to Barcelona in the quarterfinals
Spurs – lose to Man City in the quarterfinals
Arsenal – lose to Chelsea in the Europa League final
Chelsea – beat Arsenal in the Europa League final

NM:
Man City – champions unless they hit Barcelona
Liverpool – out in semis
Man United – lose to Barca in quarters
Spurs – lose to Man City in quarters
Arsenal – lose to Napoli in UEL quarters
Chelsea – defeat Napoli in UEL Final

AE:
Spurs – lose to Man City in quarters
Man United: lose to Barca in quarters
Liverpool and Man City: out in whichever round they face Barcelona.
If Arsenal get by Napoli in the quarterfinals, it’ll be Arsenal v. Chelsea in the final.

KB:
If you asked me a week ago I liked Manchester United’s chances to go far, but given their struggles of late, Solskjaer isn’t exactly equipped to lead them out of the pit quickly enough. However, there’s no better time to match up with Barcelona than now as the Catalan giants are in a bit of a defensive rut. I like Liverpool’s chances to reach the final, and Manchester City too.

Man United: lose to Barca in quarters
Spurs: lose to Man City in quarters
Liverpool: to reach the final
Manchester City: to reach the final
Imagine a Man City/Liverpool final with one looking for revenge on missing the PL title? Goodness me that would be fun. In the Europa League, given the teams remaining, if Arsenal can get by Napoli they can get by anyone, but I don’t think that will happen. Chelsea is poised to make the final, however, with little standing in their way.

DK: I think Manchester City can go all the way in the UEFA Champions League. Liverpool hasn’t seemed as good, but should at least make the semifinal, and who knows, maybe Man United will as well. Tottenham would do amazing to get past Man City. Chelsea should make the semifinal of the Europa League but the quarterfinals may be the end of the line for Arsenal against Napoli.


Which team finishes in 7th and grabs the Europa League spot?

JPW: I expect the April 27 showdown between Watford and Wolves to decide who finishes seventh, and I fancy Watford to just knick it. Wolves have a tougher run-in, and I think they will beat Watford in the FA Cup semifinal this weekend meaning their focus will be on an FA Cup final in the final weeks of the campaign. Four of Watford’s last six games are at home, where they have been very good this season. Don’t rule out Leicester for a late charge though…

NM: Wolves. The fixtures are more forgiving to them than others. It’s going to be particularly interesting to see how Leicester fares considering their fixtures should have them in seventh ahead of their final four matches: at West Ham, home Arsenal, at Man City, home Chelsea. Poor Brendan.

KB: I still think Wolves is the easy pick here, and as long as they can avoid any more Burnley or Huddersfield-sized slips, they’ll snag that spot.

DK: Leicester City. The Brog effect leads Leicester back into Europe with a late-season surge.

AE: Wolves finish the season at Anfield. All I’m saying is, if the want the Europa League spot they had better lock it up before then.


Fill in the blanks: ____ will join Huddersfield and Fulham in the bottom three because ____.

JPW: Cardiff City will join Huddersfield and Fulham in the bottom three because of their tough schedule and injuries to Sol Bamba and Callum Paterson.

NM: Cardiff City will join Huddersfield and Fulham in the bottom three because of referees.

KB: Cardiff City will join Huddersfield and Fulham in the bottom three because five points is far too much to overcome this late, especially with Liverpool and Manchester United still on the docket.

DK: Cardiff City will join Fulham and Huddersfield in the bottom 3 because they haven’t found a consistent goal scorer. Emiliano Sala might have solved that but tragically we never got to see him for the Bluebirds. Rest In Peace.

AE: Cardiff City will join Huddersfield and Fulham in the bottom three because they have the second-worst number in both the goals scored and goals conceded columns. Put simply, that’s a recipe for relegation.


Name one team that will make a late charge up the table and into the top 10. There’s always one…

(Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

JPW: Crystal Palace’s tough schedule rules them out. Buoyed by a late-season surge and with a favorable schedule, I could see Newcastle or Southampton steaming up the table to at least finish 11th.

NM: Bournemouth were it not for inconsistency. I’ll choose Newcastle United for the second year in-a-row and regret it immediately.

KB: Give me Bournemouth. They’re a scrappy group and their run-in includes Fulham, Burnley, Brighton, and Saints.

DK: Newcastle. They’ve looked a different team since Miguel Almiron joined and they could see them getting 12-15 out of a possible 18 points in their last 6 games of the season.

AE: West Ham United have “screw around and waste 80 percent of the season but finish strongly this season before another expensive summer of transfers and renewed expectations under which they’ll screw around next season” written all over them.


If you had to pick 3 teams to be promoted to the Premier League right now, who would you pick?

JPW: Norwich City and Sheffield United for the automatic spots, as I think the pressure is starting to get to Leeds United. Aston Villa and West Brom would be the obvious picks via the playoffs, but beware of the form team: Bristol City to go up after a glorious win at Wembley.

NM: Norwich City, Sheffield United, Aston Villa.

KB: Leeds would be a fun group to see in the Premier League, and it appears nobody’s stopping Norwich City at the top of the table. Aston Villa fans have waited for their return with baited breath, and it would be fun to see them win the playoff, having won each of their last six.

AE: Norwich City and Leeds United are the obvious choices, because they’ve paced the Championship all season and appear to have squads that are close to PL-ready. As for the third spot, West Bromwich Albion probably best fits that same mold from the seven or eight sides headed for or chasing the playoffs.

DK: Leeds United, Sheffield United, Aston Villa. While Man United and Man City are big clubs in the north of England, it’s nice to see other traditional soccer hotspots such as Sheffield, Birmingham and Leeds get to be showcased in the Premier League.


Who will be the Premier League top goalscorer?

(AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

JPW: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
NM: Sergio Aguero.
AE: If Liverpool pull off the title, it’ll be because Mohamed Salah returned to his 2017-18 form for a few weeks and willed them there.
KB: Sadio Mane.
DK: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arsenal stays hot late thanks to a flurry of goals from the French-born Gabon international.


Which team will win the FA Cup?

JPW: Wolves.
NM: Manchester City.
AE: While it’s great that clubs like Wolves, Watford and Brighton & Hove Albion got to the semifinals, it also sets up the most predictable outcome for the final three games that could be imagined. It’ll be Man City, at a trot.
KB: Wolves. Because, why not?
DK: Manchester City. Pep Guardiola is on a mission for the quadruple and nothing will stop them on the path to the FA Cup title. Wolves would be my second choice.


Transfer news: Werner to Chelsea; Sanchez to Inter

Werner
Getty Images
Leave a comment

In the latest transfer news Timo Werner is reportedly being chased by Chelsea, while Alexis Sanchez could be staying at Inter Milan instead of returning to Man United.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

First up, a juicy report from Bild says that Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is trying to convince his Germany teammate and close friend Timo Werner to join hm at Stamford Bridge.

Werner, 24, has dazzled at RB Leipzig this season (31 goals in 40 games in all competitions) and is widely expected to leave with Liverpool, Man United and many others clubs across Europe chasing his signature. Per the report, Chelsea have Rudiger working hard to convince his friend and former Stuttgart teammate that west London is the place for him.

The release clause on Werner’s current contract is said to be $60 million and Chelsea are one of the few clubs who have a healthy transfer budget as they had a transfer ban for a whole year and Frank Lampard has just spent $44 million on one new signing so far, bringing in Hakim Ziyech who will not arrive until later this summer.

Werner is exactly what Chelsea need. They have created so many golden goalscoring opportunities and although Tammy Abraham was putting them away at the start of the season, his form and fitness was a concern in the last few months before the suspension.

Olivier Giroud is their only other forward option and Werner would be perfect to finish off the chances this attack-minded Chelsea team create. Even better for him, he would actually play at Chelsea which may not be the case at Liverpool and Man United given their stacked attacking lineups.

Sanchez
Getty Images

Heading to Manchester, it appears Alexis Sanchez may not be going back to his parent club next season.

Sanchez, 31, is on loan at Inter Milan for the 2019-20 season and the Daily Express claim that he could stay at Inter rather than heading back to Old Trafford despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer previously saying he was open to the idea. Per the report, Man United are keen to loan Sanchez out to Inter once again on a similar arrangement and the Serie A side are willing to see how Sanchez does when the season restarts in a few weeks. With Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and others around at Man United, he may struggle for minutes at Man United.

Would another loan be a good move for Inter?

Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have been their main strikers this season under Antonio Conte, with Sanchez out injured for large chunks of the campaign and then doing okay when he did play. However, with Martinez chased by Barcelona, if they do sell the Argentine forward for over $115 million, having Sanchez around on loan would soften the blow.

The main problem with Sanchez is that over the last three years he has picked up consistent injury problems. If he can shake those issues off, we all know he is capable of scoring goals and creating havoc. Given this recent track record though, that’s a big if, as he’s scored just one goal and added three assists in 15 outings for Inter this season.

Premier League confirm zero positive COVID-19 test results

Premier League
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Following the latest batch of tests on players and club staff the Premier League have revealed that zero out of 1130 COVID-19 tests taken on Thursday and Friday have come back positive.

Zero.

The fourth round of testing is the first time that no positive tests have come back, as a total of 3,882 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out with 12 positive results.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, as full contact training is now up and running and a restart date of June 17 has been set.

Here is the statement from the Premier League in full:


The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 28 May and Friday 29 May, 1130 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, zero have tested positive.

The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.

Previous test results

Round 1: 17-18 May – 748 tested, with six testing positive from three clubs.
Round 2: 19-22 May – 996 tested, with two testing positive from two clubs.
Round 3: 25-26 May – 1,008 tested, with four testing positive from two clubs.


This is more good news for the Premier League as the UK government gave the green light for elite sport in the UK to return from June 1 in empty stadiums, as the top-flight of English soccer continues to clear each hurdle in its way to finishing the final 92 games of the 2019-20 season.

With just over two weeks to go until the action returns, Premier League clubs will have to keep these test results low for the restart to take place.

Bayern Munich batter Fortuna, go 10 points clear at the top (video)

Bayern Munich
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bayern Munich are waltzing their way to an eight-straight Bundesliga title as they battered Fortuna Dusseldorf 5-0 on Saturday at the Allianz Arena to record an eight-straight win in the German top-flight.

[ MORE: Schalke lose again; Saturday recap ]

An own goal, two from Robert Lewandowsk and a goal each from Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies did the damage to Fortuna as Bayern Munich are now just three wins away from securing the title, as they have five games left in the season.

Hansi Flick has now won 22 of his 25 games in charge of Bayern Munich after he took charge in November with the German giants struggling under Niko Kovac. Now, they are rampant and are one of the favorites to win the UEFA Champions League.

The Bavarian giants dominated early on as USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales made an important clearance but Mathias Jorgensen was so lucky a few moments later.

[ MORE: Bundesliga schedule, stats

A ball into the box found Benjamin Pavard and his scuffed effort was going wide before it hit Jorgensen and went into his own goal.

Bayern then doubled their lead as Thomas Muller’s shot was pushed wide and from the resulting corner Pavard nodded home to make it 2-0.

Lewandowski made it 3-0 before the break as he has now scored against all of the current Bundesliga clubs and had previously gone without a goal in five outings against Fortuna.

Kimmich’s surging round saw the loose ball find Muller and his pass to Lewandowski was perfect as he swept home to an empty net.

Lewandowski was at it again just a few minutes after the break as he finished off a slick Bayern move as the Bavarian giants put their foot on the accelerator.

Alphonso Davies made it 5-0 as he bulldozed his way through the Fortuna defense and slotted home, while Muller and Pavard went close to adding a sixth and Fortuna had the odd chance on the break.

In the end, the victory was as routine as possible for Bayern Munich who have more than one hand on the Bundesliga title.

USMNT’s Weston McKennie honors George Floyd with armband

McKennie
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Schalke and USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie has released a statement after he wore a personalized armband with the message ‘Justice for George’ on it to honor George Floyd.

McKennie, an American international who has played in the Bundesliga for the last four seasons at Schalke, was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He wore the armband in Schalke’s defeat at home to Werder Bremen on Saturday.

Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN on Monday there have been widespread protests across the USA. A video showed former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, putting his knee on George Floyd’s neck for more than 8 1/2 minutes. Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with murder, authorities confirmed.

Weston McKennie released the following statement after wearing the armband at the weekend to honor George Floyd:

“To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on to long feels good!!! We have to stand up for what we believe in and I believe that it is time that we are heard! #justiceforgeorgefloyd #saynotoracism

Here is a photo of McKennie wearing the armband which he put on before the game kicked off and wore on his left arm.