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Bundesliga wrap: Schalke goes second, Leipzig drops sixth

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RB Leizpig were the losers of the weekend as the congested battle for UEFA Champions League places continued down the home stretch of the Bundesliga season.

[ MORE: Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle ]

Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Bayer Leverkusen wins mean last season’s runners-up sit sixth with nine matches to play.

Schalke 1-0 Hertha Berlin

Marko Pjaca scored his second goal in five Bundesliga appearances to push Schalke past Hertha Berlin on the day and ahead of rivals BVB on the table.

RB Leipzig 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

The hosts couldn’t find a way to defy BVB after red-hot Marco Reus canceled out Jean-Kevin Augustin’s opener to leave it level at halftime.

BVB remains unbeaten under Peter Stoger, and Christian Pulisic was a late sub for the visitors with Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle drawing starts on the wings.

Stoger did admit he felt Reus was off, though it seems razor-thin onside to these eyes:

“I already noticed that Reus’ foot was offside, it was an outstanding pass which we worked on being able to play. If you find the right way there you can be dangerous, that’s what we did here.”

Wolfsburg 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Lucas Alario’s 39th minute goal was joined by Julian Brandt’s below goal to give the visitors a two-goal lead, but Admir Mehmedi scored a minute after Brandt to set up a grandstand finish. All that arrived for Wolfsburg, however, was William’s second yellow card to condemn the hosts to 10 men on the edge of stoppage time.

Elsewhere
Borussia Monchengladbach 2-2 Werder BremenRECAP
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 Hannover 96
Augsburg 0-2 Hoffenheim
Hamburg 0-0 Mainz — Hosts miss PK, have VAR overrule goal
Koln vs. Stuttgart — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Freiburg vs. Bayern Munch — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 24 19 3 2 55 18 37 10-2-0 9-1-2 60
 FC Schalke 04 25 12 7 6 39 30 9 7-4-2 5-3-4 43
 Borussia Dortmund 25 11 9 5 50 31 19 5-4-3 6-5-2 42
 Eintracht Frankfurt 25 12 6 7 33 27 6 6-3-4 6-3-3 42
 Bayer Leverkusen 25 11 8 6 45 33 12 5-4-3 6-4-3 41
 RB Leipzig 25 11 6 8 38 34 4 7-4-2 4-2-6 39
 1899 Hoffenheim 25 9 8 8 40 38 2 6-4-2 3-4-6 35
 Mönchengladbach 25 10 5 10 33 37 -4 6-3-4 4-2-6 35
 FC Augsburg 25 8 8 9 33 32 1 5-4-4 3-4-5 32
 Hannover 96 25 8 8 9 32 35 -3 6-3-3 2-5-6 32
 Hertha BSC Berlin 25 7 10 8 30 31 -1 4-4-4 3-6-4 31
 VfB Stuttgart 24 9 3 12 20 27 -7 8-1-3 1-2-9 30
 SC Freiburg 24 6 11 7 25 38 -13 5-6-1 1-5-6 29
 Werder Bremen 25 6 9 10 24 30 -6 4-4-4 2-5-6 27
 VfL Wolfsburg 25 4 13 8 28 33 -5 2-7-4 2-6-4 25
 FSV Mainz 05 25 6 7 12 29 42 -13 5-2-5 1-5-7 25
 Hamburger SV 25 4 6 15 18 35 -17 3-4-6 1-2-9 18
 1. FC Köln 24 4 5 15 22 43 -21 2-3-7 2-2-8 17

VIDEO: Red-hot Batshuayi scores 2 more, leads BVB to comeback win

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Michy Batshuayi was a much-wanted transfer figure when Chelsea scooped him up from Marseille, so it’s little surprise to see him back bagging goals for fun.

[ RECAP: Ostersunds 0-3 Arsenal ]

He’s having a lot of fun.

Batshuayi made his Europa League debut for Borussia Dortmund on Thursday, scoring the equalizer and stoppage time winner in a 3-2 win over Atalanta.

BVB went ahead after a half-hour through Andre Schurrle, but found itself down 2-1 at home after Josip Ilicic scored twice.

But Batshuayi scored from outside the box, assisted by Mario Gotze, in the 65th minute before teaming up with the World Cup winner a second time at the death (See goal below).

“Batman” now has five goals and an assist in three appearances for BVB since arriving on loan from Chelsea, Thursday’s performance being his second brace since his Groundhog Day debut against Koln.

To recap, last three games:

Batshuayi at BVB — five goals, three wins
Chelsea — four goals, one win

He scored 11 times for Chelsea this season after bagging the same figure over his first full season at Stamford Bridge in 2016-17.

VIDEO: Batshuayi brace on BVB debut; Pulisic assists 2nd

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Michy Batshuayi scored twice and had a third overruled by VAR in his debut for Borussia Dortmund, making a sensational first impression on loan from Chelsea.

[ MORE: West Ham fires director for Anti-African comments ]

Andre Schurrle also scored but, facing resurgent Koln, BVB’s defense also did what it does in a 3-2 victory reminiscent of old boss Jurgen Klopp‘s season at Liverpool.

Batshuayi was felled in stoppage time but limped through it to win a late 50/50 in a performance which will have BVB fans in his corner.

Dortmund leaps second from sixth with the win ahead of the weekend’s other matches. Koln remains four points back of the playoff spot and seven shy of automatic safety.

Here’s the first goal, with Batshuayi getting to the catbird seat to finish a cutback.

As for the disallowed goal, Christian Pulisic started the sequence that led to the second goal, but if the Belgian was offside it was by a very slim margin. Still, offside.

No doubt about the third, and Pulisic plays his part here to perfection after Roman Burki’s long range pass from the BVB 18.

Players to watch in the final week of the window

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With all due credit to the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saga, which has replaced the Alexis-Mkhitaryan saga as the saga du semaine in the Premier League, there are other players potentially on the move this week.

Here’s who we think you should keep an eye on as January moves to its conclusion.

[ PL PLAYBACK: On trade deals, and more ]

1) The list should arguably start and end with Jonny Evans, in that whether or not he moves could lay out how much else his current and prospective new club will do in the remainder of the window.

Evans is the sort of player — with respect to Papiss Cisse — that every club needs, and also brings the experience of knowing it could be better and worse from his time winning PL titles at Manchester United and, well, not winning them at West Brom and on loan to Sunderland. He’s 30, not old for a center back, and he’ll be worth every penny.

2) Thinking of Andre Schurrle‘s time at Chelsea has us daydreaming about a similar Chelsea outcast turned reborn Bundesliga star in Kevin De Bruyne (though certainly few are betting on the German to become a Ballon d’Or finalist under Alan Pardew, Rafa Benitez, or Mauricio Pochettino) What’s neat about his case is that his loan move from Borussia Dortmund — and the German club’s potential to pay half the wages if not more — would allow a club who wouldn’t normally get a player of his class to dream a bit. Then again, it could be a bit of “Jese with PL experience.”

3) Aleksandar Mitrovic‘s wild nature has caused his status to shrink deep into the recesses of Rafa Benitez’s mind, which is a shame because Newcastle really could use him, and he could be a breakout forward at the World Cup this summer. Maybe West Brom needs to trade Salomon Rondon for “Mitro” straight up so two baffling PL strike cases can get fresh starts. Or maybe…

4 and 5) David Moyes should call up Newcastle United and offer reported Chelsea target Andy Carroll or reported everyone else target Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is a like-for-like swap. Trade deals, after all, are the new norm, yes?

One player for each of the Premier League’s Top Six

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The Premier League’s transfer window is going to close within the next two weeks, and each of the big boys feels a need to find help in at least one position on the field.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Manchester City: Yes, it’s laughable that City would require another piece; They’ll be fine either way. But injuries to Fabian Delph and Benjamin Mendy and lack of faith in Danilo does mean that left back would be a spot of interest for Pep Guardiola. This is not shot at young Oleksandar Zinchenko, but City wants at least a treble. This is why City is being linked with Fred, who can play at left back as well as his traditional center mid. It makes sense.

Manchester United: Yeah, yeah, Alexis Sanchez, we know. But with Michael Carrick retiring and Ander Herrera‘s surprising lack of consistent starting time, perhaps Jose Mourinho is aiming for more presence in the center of the park. It betrays things in terms of age, but Lassana Diarra is a free agent and could provide the competition United craves at an easy-to-digest budgetary addition.

Chelsea: Adding Ross Barkley was a nice pick-up, but depth behind Alvaro Morata is clearly a desire for Antonio Conte considering the names which have been linked with Stamford Bridge: Andy Carroll, Ashley Barnes, Edin Dzeko, Peter Crouch. West Ham might like a Carroll-for-Batshuayi swap, and the big Englishman would be a huge get for the Blues should he stay healthy. We wonder if newly available loan target Andre Schurrle has any love left for Chelsea

Liverpool: Here’s a name you probably expected in the City portion of this post: Johnny Evans. The ex-Manchester United defender may be on the move from West Brom, and pairing him with Virgil Van Dijk would give Jurgen Klopp‘s 4-4-2 perhaps the toughest center back pairing in England. Obviously pushing the Naby Keita transfer earlier would be way more effective for Klopp’s project, but it is extremely unlikely to happen in January. So we stick with Evans. Bold statement: With Evans, Liverpool could post the most points in the PL the rest of the way. With Evans and Keita, they’ll be a favorite to rival Man City next season.

Tottenham Hotspur: This club is very, very good and two deep at nearly every position. Heck, Victor Wanyama can’t even get on the field. That’s why it makes sense that the club’s been linked with unfinished project Malcom as well as Schurrle, who Bordeaux said today will not be moving in January. So while that’s the name we’d choose, we’ll instead nod to Cagliari youngster and Golden Boy nominee Nicolo Barella, whose name continues to pop up as a target of several top clubs in the Premier League.

Arsenal: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would be nice, and forward is being magnified as a position at the Emirates Stadium thanks largely to a slow period for the very good Alexandre Lacazette. But his numbers are going to increase with (probably, almost certainly) Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil as twin playmakers, the former who will be motivated to prove his Manchester United critics wrong (See his amazing final Bundesliga season for hope, Gunners fans).

So we’ll seek Arsenal help closer to the back, where they need center back experience thanks to the predictable slide of Per Mertesacker and the unpredictable dip in form of Laurent Koscielny. Man, Evans is a good shout here, but we’ll go off the board completely and speculate that Ajax teen center back Matthijs de Ligt is a very Arsene Wenger type player. In other words: instantly effective or not, how Wenger would it be to add a teenage CB? In a window in which he’s (maybe) sated those who want both a playmaker (Mkhitaryan) and striker (Aubameyang), that seems pretty possible.