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State of play in the Premier League

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There’s something about the Premier League’s run-in that makes true May (or late April) mountains out of what would be January mole hills, and that’s exactly why we’re excited for what otherwise would be a Manchester City waltz to the title.

The same can be said for any table standing race, really, from the Top Four to seventh to the desperately sought 17th spot between Cardiff City and Brighton.

City enters its home stretch with a three match run of Burnley (away), Leicester City (home), and Brighton (away). Plop that early on their schedule and you’d strongly pencil them in for three wins (the same as you would for Liverpool with Huddersfield home, Newcastle away, Wolves home).

With the stakes raised, however, Burnley’s form and Sean Dyche‘s defensive acumen loom a bit larger. Leicester’s relatively decent record against Pep Guardiola feels like a slick slope, and Liverpool’s poor record versus Wolves foretells final week slippage.

And the Reds also have to deal with a pair of matches against Barcelona, which is also the only controllable path toward hardware in what could become another silverware-free year at Anfield (The Reds have won one cup since the start of the 2007-08 season, beating Cardiff City in penalties for the 2012 League Cup).

Here’s what’s left for the top dogs.

Man City: In the Pep era, City is 6W-1D against Burnley including twin 5-0 wins at the Etihad Stadium this season and a combined score line of 22-4. City has had a much worse time with Leicester, losing this season’s league contest at the King Power Stadium and advancing past the Foxes in penalty kicks during League Cup play. City is 4-0 against Brighton since 2017.

Liverpool: Liverpool is 3-0 and has not conceded a goal to Huddersfield this century. It’s 2W-1D against the Magpies in its last three outings, and Wolves have a 2W-1L advantage against the Reds since 2017.


The Top Four

Just a word on the form of the Premier League’s third- and fourth-place candidates and OH NO, MY EYES.

Spurs would have to really falter to fall out of the picture, given advantages in goal differential, points, matches won, and goals scored.

Here are the remaining fixtures.

Spurs: v. West Ham, at Bournemouth, v. Everton

Chelsea: at Man Utd, v. Watford, at Leicester

Arsenal: at Leicester, v. Brighton, at Burnley

Man Utd: v. Chelsea, at Huddersfield, v. Cardiff City

United needs to beat Chelsea, then hope to pad its goal differential while asking for upsets of Chelsea and Arsenal.

Remember: If Arsenal or Chelsea win the Europa League and finishes in fifth or sixth, and if Spurs win the Champions League and finish in fifth or sixth (however unlikely that is), fourth place will not be good enough for Champions League qualification.


Seventh place

It still looks like the route to Europa League, provided Man City beats Watford in the FA Cup Final.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Wolves 35 14 9 12 44 43 1 9-4-5 5-5-7 51
 Watford 35 14 8 13 50 50 0 8-3-6 6-5-7 50
 Everton 35 14 7 14 50 44 6 9-4-5 5-3-9 49
 Leicester City 35 14 6 15 48 47 1 7-2-8 7-4-7 48

Wolves are in control following their surprising demolition of Arsenal on Wednesday, but that could change come Saturday at chasers Watford.

Everton will be hoping for a draw in that match and a win of its own at Crystal Palace, while Leicester City begins a murderer’s row of fixtures with a visit from Arsenal.

The goal differentials are close, and all the teams have won 14. It’s truly anyone’s ballgame, though Leicester’s fixture list make the Foxes a very long shot. And Matchday 38 features three of the four facing Top Six teams. Watford hosts West Ham. Could that spell UEL for Elton John’s favorite side?


Relegation

Fulham and Huddersfield Town are already headed for the Championship, while Southampton would need a tremendous 0-3 run with hemorrhaged goals to be a factor for 18th.

This comes down to Brighton and Cardiff City.

Chris Hughton‘s Seagulls have 34 points, a minus-22 goal differential, and nine wins.

Neil Warnock‘s Bluebirds have 31, minus-35, and nine wins.

Left on the docket for Brighton are Newcastle at home, Arsenal away, and Man City at home.

Cardiff will visit Fulham, hosts Crystal Palace, and head to Manchester United.

It’s not an impossible dream for Cardiff, but it’s going to have to start with a win this weekend and a Brighton loss to Newcastle that puts the sides level on points going into the final two. If the Seagulls can beat Newcastle, forget about Cardiff’s chances.

On This Day: Bornstein becomes national hero – in Honduras

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You know what today is? It’s Jonathan Bornstein day in Honduras.

Ten years ago today at RFK Stadium in our nations capital, a young, hot-shot kid with plenty of hair named Michael Bradley and Bornstein helped the U.S. Men’s National Team come back to draw Costa Rica, 2-2, in World Cup qualifying. In fact, it’s eerie watching Bornstein’s celebration, running to the corner flag and diving headfirst as he’s mobbed moments after by his teammates. It’s a bit similar to what Lanson Donovan did about nine months later.

[READ: USMNT looks to build in match v. Canada]

To add some context, it was the final day of qualifications matches in the Hex. Three days earlier, the U.S. had already secured a place in the World Cup with a wild 3-2 win at Honduras, meaning Los Catrachos needed to win over El Salvador on the final night and hope that the U.S. would keep Costa Rica from winning in the final match.

Who else, but Carlos Pavon gave Honduras a 1-0 win over El Salvador that night. Then, it was Bornsteins goal later that night that put Los Catrachos into the World Cup for the first time since 1982, and left Costa Rica to battle for the shared spot between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.

In honor of the big day, hundreds of Honduras fans had been mentioning Bornstein on social media, and the veteran defender – currently of the Chicago Fire – retweeted quite a few of the thankful messages to him. Below, here’s video of the call from Honduras TV, as well as from Ian Darke and the ESPN crew.

Unfortunately for Bornstein, this may be the highlight of his national team career. He did make the 2010 World Cup squad and started twice, including the matches against Algeria and Ghana, but he never truly took the next step in his career to become a star left back.

After a calamitous performance against Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, which also Bob Bradley his USMNT job, Bornstein was dropped and hasn’t been seen from again on the national team stage.

However, even though he’s only a club player these days, he’ll never have to buy a drink in Honduras, that’s for sure.

Euro 2020 qualifying: France settles for draw with Turkey

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Euro 2020 qualifying continued on Monday and included a top-of-the-group clash in Group H.

[READ: England rout Bulgaria in game marred by racist chants]

France 1-1 Turkey

France spoiled a chance at home to put one foot in Euro 2020 after conceding late in the match and settling for a draw with Turkey.

Despite playing without a lot of starters – Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, and Hugo Lloris are all out injured – France still was strong in the first half and peppered Turkey with 12 shots. Goalkeeper Mert Gunok made an outstanding double-save in the first half and Leicester City’s Çağlar Söyüncü did his best to keep Antoine Griezmann in front of him.

In the 72nd minute, Olivier Giroud came on the field as a substitute and four minutes later, he put France in front to the delight of the home crowd at the Stade de France. What else, but a header off a corner. However, the lead didn’t last long. Off a free kick in the 82nd minute, Hakan Calhanoglu’s delivery was nodded home by Kaan Ayhan. The 1-1 draw leaves both France and Turkey tied with 19 points from eight qualifying matches. It also means that Turkey hasn’t lost to France over two games in this qualifying cycle.

Here’s a look at the rest of Monday’s scores:

Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifying scores

Group A

Bulgaria 0-6 England

Kosovo 2-0 Montenegro

Group B

Lithuania 1-2 Serbia

Ukraine 2-1 Portugal

Group H

Iceland 2-0 Andorra

Moldova 0-4 Albania

Ronaldo scores 700th goal for club and country

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Cristiano Ronaldo achieved yet another personal milestone in his star-studded career on Monday evening with a simple penalty kick goal.

With his 72nd minute strike, Ronaldo tallied his 700th goal for club and country in his career. It’s an incredible achievement, and one indicative of his incredible goal-scoring exploits and his long career.

Ronaldo was already leading all active players globally in terms of goals scored, so his 700th is only adding to the list. His former club nemesis, Lionel Messi, still sits a reported 28 goals behind him, according to Soccerway. After them, LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the closest, and he has “only” 542 goals.

The Portuguese icon becomes the sixth male player to score 700 goals in his career. The others include Pele, Romaro, Josef Bican, Ferenc Puskás, and Gerd Muller.

Ronaldo made his debut for Sporting Lisbon in the 2002-2003 season as a 17-year-old and quickly was snapped up by Man United and Sir Alex Ferguson, where he transitioned from a tricky winger to a clinical striker who couldn’t stop scoring.

The 34-year-old has scored 40-or-more goals on three occasions in his career and he scored 25-or-more goals in all nine years he was at Real Madrid. For Portugal, he’s now scored an incredible 95 goals in all competitions. He had 15 goals in World Cup qualifying alone for the 2018 campaign.

Watch the video of Ronaldo’s breaking goal below. Unfortunately for him, Portugal fell, 2-1 to Ukraine.

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.