Predicting Premier League’s relegation battle

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The Premier League relegation battle is incredibly tough to predict right now and it is likely that will be the case until the final weekend of the season.

This is bonkers.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

With only Norwich City seemingly cut adrift at the bottom, the other two relegation spots could go to two of six teams who have been sucked into the battle in recent months.

From slumping teams like Aston Villa, West Ham and Brighton to battlers Watford and Bournemouth who have been down there for most of the season, the fine margins will really make the difference in the final months of the season.

On paper all we can do right now is look at the remaining schedules for the seven teams at the wrong end of the table and predict which three will go down.

With 11 games to go, time is running out for teams to keep themselves out of the bottom three as the Premier League relegation battle will be a huge point of focus between now and mid-May.


Toughest remaining schedule:
1) Bournemouth: Nine of their remaining 11 games come against teams in the top 12. No six-pointers left. They look doomed.
2) West Ham: Five of their next six are against teams in the top 10. Given their lack of direction and attacking intent, they could nick the odd point here and there but fixtures haven’t been kind. Hosting Aston Villa on the final day of the season will be pivotal.
3) Aston Villa: Speaking of Villa, the only game they have left against a team below them is that crunch clash against West Ham. After Dean Smith’s incredible rant against his players, they are sinking. Fast.
4) Brighton: Not an easy schedule, at all. They host Liverpool and Man City in late April but by then Liverpool will have probably won the PL and alongside Man City they will likely be focusing on the UCL. Home games against Palace and Newcastle will be key.

Easiest remaining schedule:
1) Watford: Even though they sit in 19th place right now, Nigel Pearson will be keeping things calm. They face Norwich, Newcastle and West Ham in late April and early May and that will decide their season. There should be hope at Vicarage Road.
2) Newcastle: Currently seven points above the drop zone, injuries have hit Steve Bruce’s side hard but they should be fine. But they play against West Ham, Bournemouth and Aston Villa in a stretch in late March and early April and if that goes badly they could be sucked back into the battle. If that is the case their last two away games against Watford and Brighton will be massive.
3) Norwich City: They have four or five home games left which you could see them winning and they would need to do that just to give themselves a chance of staying up. Daniel Farke’s side will go for it and they will attack teams home and away but unless they improve drastically in defense, they will be relegated before the final few weeks of the season arrives.


Projecting the table on the final day

14. Newcastle – 42 points
15. Watford – 40 points
16. Brighton – 40 points
17. West Ham – 38 points

———————————

18. Aston Villa – 36 points
19. Bournemouth – 36 points
20. Norwich City – 29 points


Final verdict

Momentum means everything at this time of the season and the likes of Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich just don’t have it. With 11 games to go the clock is ticking and those three teams would be my picks to go down, even though they have plenty of goals among their attacking options. Defensively those three teams haven’t been good enough all season and I think West Ham, Brighton, Watford and Newcastle have more defensive solidity about them to stay up. Looking at the projected points tally above, this will go down to the final game of the season as six teams battling to stay out of 18th and 19th will be the main talking point on May 17.

Man City vs Man United: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE MAN CITY vs MAN UNITED

Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

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WATCH: Lionel Messi spins gorgeous free kick goal past Nice’s Schmeichel

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Lionel Messi got the better of Kasper Schmeichel with an outstanding free kick as Paris Saint-Germain outlasted Nice 2-1 on Saturday at the Parc des Princes.

The world’s greatest scorer was fouled to set up a free kick just inside the arc. Nice, of course, got into a wall and former Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel arranged it to his liking.

As he does so many times, however, Messi spun a free kick just over the wall. The ball, which came so close to taking a slight turn off a leaping wall member (actually, did it?), tumbled down and right into the side netting to give PSG a 1-0 lead before the match was a half-hour old.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi scores relentless Groningen goal ]

Gaetan Laborde tied the match before halftime, and Nice’s revamped roster looked set to hold tight for a point (The club’s signed familiar Premier League names Schmeichel, Ross Barkley, Aaron Ramsey, and Mario Lemina).

Even that wouldn’t be enough, though, as Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to replace young Hugo Ekitike to finish a Nordi Mukiele assist for a 2-1 win.

PSG has eight wins and a draw this season, good for a two-point lead on second-place Marseille. Messi has five goals and a joint-league-best seven assists, tied with Neymar. Mbappe and Neymar are tied for the league goals lead with eight.

Lionel Messi free kick goal video

USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi defies xG with relentless goal (video)

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USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi’s goal while trying to will Groningen back into an eventual 4-1 loss to AZ Alkmaar on Saturday will not be one of the expected variety.

The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Augsburg, ran onto an audacious long pass from 20-year-old defender Neraysho Kasanwirjo but had plenty of work to do with AZ leading 2-0.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez scores audacious overhead goal ]

Pepi sees one defender fall in a race to the ball, then bodies up AZ’s Sam Beukema a little outside the six-yard box.

Hand-to-hand combat sees both players hit the turf, and Pepi probably could won a penalty.

But the World Cup hopeful spins while on the pitch and snaps a shot past charging AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst to make it 2-1.

Video after the jump.

Ricardo Pepi
fotmob.com

Ricardo Pepi goal video: Fantastic start to Groningen loan

Pepi now has a goal or an assist in his first three Eredivisie outings, not unlike his fantastic start to life in a USMNT shirt.

His goal contributions have taken a dive since his first two USMNT matches — World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Jamaica — and he only has one assist from the following 10 outings in a U.S. shirt.

Still, Pepi is clearly one of Gregg Berhalter’s favorite options for the upcoming World Cup, and his performances will be measured against Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, and others.

In a tournament where every moment matters, his work for this scrappy finish will be well-noted by the USMNT staff.

Josef Martinez scores vicious overhead kick in Atlanta United loss (video)

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If this is the last goal of Josef Martinez’s (likely) final season with Atlanta United, it will be very appropriate.

So for Martinez, even in a losing effort, to go airborne for an overhead kick that is a simply sensational feat of athleticism and power, well, it just feels right.

The 29-year-old Venezuelan forward joined the Five Stripes in 2017 in what seemed a massive capture for the club at the time and now seems downright gargantuan, but he’s fallen out with current manager Gonzalo Pineda and was even suspended for a match last month.

[ MORE: West Ham beats Wolves | Klopp reacts to latest setback ]

Martinez has nine goals and four assists in an injury-abbreviated 25-game season, giving him 111 goals in 156 appearances for ATL UTD. The former Torino and Young Boys striker is still being capped for Venezuela and would leave with an MLS Cup, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and Campeones Cup as well as a boatload of individual honors.

Atlanta lost 2-1 to New England on Saturday and returns home for their season finale next weekend versus New York City FC. The Five Stripes won’t make the playoffs unless at least two teams decide not to field teams, so if the NYCFC game doesn’t go well, let’s pretend this one was his final appearance for the club.