Where will Premier League title be won and lost?

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In the words of Kevin McAllister from Home Alone: “This is it. Don’t get scared now.”

We have entered the final weeks of the Premier League season and the title race is set to be one of, if not the greatest in history. Both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have already said their teams must win all of their remaining games to have a chance of being crowned champions.

That is how tight this will be.

[ MORE: Salah – Four wins and we win title ]

Liverpool lead Manchester City by two points, but Guardiola’s side have a game in hand over Liverpool. Would you rather have points on the board or games to play at this stage of the season? It would seem the former is preferable, meaning Liverpool have a bit of an edge.

Given the kindness of their schedule in their final four games, Klopp’s side are also licking their chops in anticipation of a first-ever PL title and their first league trophy since 1989-90. The elusive title is so close, Liverpool’s fans, players and staff can almost taste it.

[ MORE: Klopp reacts to victory | De Bruyne “incredible” ]  

As for Man City, everybody is expecting them to slip up, but the equation for them is simple: win all five of their remaining games and they will be back-to-back PL champions with 98 points on the board. Quite remarkably, Liverpool could win all four of their remaining games and secure 97 points but not win the title.

Below we take a look at where the title will be won and lost in the remaining games.


Liverpool
Apr. 21: Cardiff City (A)
Apr. 28: Huddersfield (H)
May 5: Newcastle (A)
May 12: Wolves (H)

The way they are playing right now, there is basically a 99.9 percent chance that Liverpool are going to win their final four games of the season. Mohamed Salah is back in form, Jordan Henderson is playing like a man possessed and defensively they are very solid. Cardiff could be pretty much relegated by the time their clash with Liverpool rolls around on Sunday, while Huddersfield are already down, Newcastle aren’t playing for anything and Wolves’ seventh-place hopes could be dashed before the final day of the season. Simply put, if Liverpool play to 75 percent of their potential in their last four games, they will win them all.

The only problem is that coming up against teams like Newcastle and Wolves who have little to play for and have talented attacking players on the counter, is dangerous. And if Wolves need a win on the final day to finish in seventh and qualify for Europe, Anfield will be a nervous place. If Liverpool beat Cardiff, Huddersfield and Newcastle, it will go to the final day of the season. Then, the game against Wolves, a team who have played and shocked most of the top six this season, is the big one.


Man City
Apr. 20: Tottenham (H)
Apr. 24: Man United (A)
Apr. 28: Burnley (A)
May 4: Leicester City (H)
May 12: Brighton (A)

On paper, this is not an easy run-in at all. It appears that the next two games will decide where the title will go. Spurs at home and a trip to Man United in the space of four days is pivotal for Pep Guardiola’s men, as their game in hand (a Manchester derby which will confuse the heck out of Man United) will see them pull one point clear ahead of both teams playing on Apr. 28. City travel to Burnley and Liverpool host Huddersfield on that day, and if City do beat both Spurs and Man United, getting past Burnley at Turf Moor is a tricky proposition. The Clarets have been in fine form in recent weeks and City have struggled there in the past, and with Burnley almost safe from relegation (and probably safe by the time that game rolls around) there is no pressure on them.

There is also the added prospect of Leicester traveling to Man City on May 4, as Brendan Rodgers can do his old club Liverpool a massive favor in the title race five years on from leading Liverpool so close to a PL title, but losing out to Man City, himself. Like Burnley, Leicester are flying high (aside from that blip against Newcastle) and they are pushing for seventh place and European qualification. If City can somehow go into the final day of the season with a one point advantage, you feel they will get the job done at Brighton. But an added layer there is that the Seagulls could also need the points as they battle against relegation. Simply put: City have the harder schedule compared to Liverpool, but with their game in-hand and superior goal difference, many would still back them to win the title.

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.