West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion promoted
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Championship insanity: West Brom promoted to Premier League

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The tension for three Championship teams within reach of automatic Premier League promotion on the season’s final day was high.

Supporters of all three clubs will not be sending thank you cards for the anxiety and palpitations, as West Bromwich Albion, Brentford, and Fulham all were level late in their final regular season matches in England’s second tier.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Slaven Bilic and West Brom ultimately won the day by drawing QPR and seeing Brentford lose late at relegated Barnsley. Fulham also drew but would’ve finished behind the Baggies on goal differential.

Brentford 1-2 Barnsley
West Brom 2-2 Queens Park Rangers

Wigan Athletic 1-1 Fulham

The Baggies got a gift from Barnsley but they won’t care as the Hawthorns will see Premier League football in 2020-21.

A win from Brentford over their relegated visitors would’ve been enough to ensure PL football thanks to West Brom’s 2-2 draw with QPR, but the Bees were never better than level on the day. Barnsley could still survive if Wigan loses 12 points for entering administration.

Fulham needed a win and losses from both West Brom and Brentford. They only got one and will have to settle for the fourth-seed in the playoffs.

Cardiff City 3-0 Hull City
Reading 1-4 Swansea City
Nottingham Forest 1-4 Stoke City

Swansea City and Cardiff City joined Nottingham Forest in knowing there were two playoff spots left for the three of them, and the Welsh rivals got their spots.

That means Brentford is the No. 3 seed, Fulham four, Cardiff five and Swansea six. That’s a lot of London and Wales.

Elsewhere

Luton Town is staying up after a remarkable run free of the bottom three thanks to a nail-biting defeat of Blackburn. Charlton was waxed by Leeds and could not escape relegation.

Leeds United 4-0 Charlton Athletic
Birmingham City 1-2 Derby County
Millwall 4-1 Huddersfield Town
Luton Town 3-2 Blackburn Rovers

Who will get promoted to the Premier League? Your Championship primer

Who will get promoted to the Premier League?
Photo by Rich Linley - CameraSport via Getty Images
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The Football League Championship returns on Saturday, as Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion look to keep hold of their automatic promotion places.

It won’t be easy.

[ MORE: Spurs-Man Utd recap | JPW’s 3 Things ]

Here is your guide to the final nine matchdays of the season for England’s second tier.

The top two

Marcelo Bielsa’s Peacocks and Slaven Bilic’s Baggies have 7- and 6-point cushions on third place with nine matches to go, a congested fixture list ready to tax the benches of all of the sides.

The playoff race

Third through sixth in the Championship will contest the playoffs for the third promotion spot to the Premier League.

Third-place Fulham will learn a lot about whether it’s in the race for automatic promotion or just a playoff probability within one week’s time. The Cottagers host fourth-place Brentford at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday and go to Leeds one week later.

Fulham has 64 points, six back of second place and nine clear of seventh place. It would be very surprising if the Londoners didn’t keep hold of a playoff spot.

Brentford (60) and Nottingham Forest (60) have five-point advantages on seventh, nice but not too comfortable, while Preston North End’s one-point-above-sixth-place footing is uneven.

Six teams are within two wins of Preston’s 56 points. Seventh-place Bristol City has 55, Millwall and Cardiff City have 54, Blackburn and Swansea City have 53, Derby County has 51, and QPR’s on 50.

Who will get promoted to the Premier League?
Rooney’s Rams are six points behind the playoff places (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Americans Abroad

Speaking of QPR, USMNT veteran Geoff Cameron is a fixture for Mark Warburton’s London side. The 34-year-old has played 28 times this season.

Derby County has seen a fine season out of Duane Holmes, who has three goals and three assists. Not American, but ex-DC United man Wayne Rooney is Holmes’ teammate.

No American has played more Championship minutes than Fulham’s Tim Ream (3142). Next up are Wigan’s Antonee Robinson (2587) and Hull City’s Eric Lichaj (2546).

Matt Miazga is handling center back duties for Reading, while Cameron Carter-Vickers’ latest loan stint at Luton Town has gone well individually.

Luca De La Torre (Fulham) has seen neglible minutes this season.

English-born MLS and NCAA star Jack Harrison is with Leeds.

Manchester United academy product Jack Harrison of Leeds United went to school at Wake Forest before playing for NYCFC in Major League Soccer (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images).

The relegation scrap

Three clubs will go down to League One next season. Two of the three teams in the bottom three will need a massive change in fortunes to avoid that fate.

Barnsley is seven points back of 21st and Luton Town sits six points back of safety.

Charlton Athletic is currently in 22nd with 39 points, but it can look to a single win as chance to move ahead of any of the five sides ahead of it (depending on how goal differential goes).

Hull City, Wigan Athletic, and Middlesbrough are just two points above the drop zone, while Stoke City and Huddersfield Town have three-point distances above the drop.

Charlton can pass Hull with a win at the KC Stadium on Saturday, though it’s only other chance to affect a fellow struggler is July 18 versus Wigan.

This week’s schedule

Fulham v. Brentford — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday
Middlesbrough v. Swansea City — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday
Millwall v. Derby County — 8 a.m. ET Saturday
West Brom v. Birmingham City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Huddersfield Town v. Wigan Athletic — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Hull City v. Charlton Athletic — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Sheffield Wednesday v. Nottingham Forest — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Luton Town v. Preston North End –10 a.m. ET Saturday
QPR v. Barnsley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Reading v. Stoke City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Blackburn Rovers v. Bristol City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Cardiff City v. Leeds United — 7 a.m. ET Sunday

Transfer rumor roundup: Grealish ready to move; Fraser, Ferguson in PL links

Grealish to Manchester City
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There are plenty more names in the transfer rumor mill on a day the Premier League added a new striker via Timo Werner’s move from RB Leipzig to Chelsea.

[ MORE: Werner to Chelsea official ]


Free transfer finds Fraser and Ferguson

The Scottish Daily Record brings reports that Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser is eyeing a move to Everton when his contract expires, and may not play for the Cherries again this season.

Fraser, 26, has had a rough season after sticking it out with the Cherries despite transfer interest last summer. The Premier League’s 2018-19 assist leader has just a goal and four assist this season.

The diminutive winger has 11 caps for Scotland with a single goal. He’s previously been linked with Tottenham and was subject to Liverpool rumors in November.

Two London clubs are after West Bromwich Albion defender Nathan Ferguson, says Football.London, with Crystal Palace in “pole position” to beat Tottenham and German clubs to the 19-year-old.

Ferguson has been with the Baggies since his youth, and the club is primed to find promotion to the Premier League.

He has a goal and an assist this season, and Ferguson has repped England at three youth levels.

The 6-foot back has played mostly left and right back this season but is also a center back. He’s out of contract at the end of the month

Ferguson to Everton
Nathan Ferguson of West Bromwich Albion (Photo by Adam Fradgley – AMA/WBA FC via Getty Images)

Grealish ready to leave Villa regardless of finish

The Athletic says Jack Grealish has decided to leave boyhood club Aston Villa after this season regardless of whether the Villans are relegated or stay in the Premier League.

Grealish, 24, has nine goals and eight assists in 32 PL matches for Villa this season, his most productive offensive season in his career despite coming on his biggest stage.

The Irish and English youth international has 35 goals and 47 assists in 260 appearances between Villa and Notts County, most of them coming with the former.

Grealish leads Villa in goals, assists, yellow cards, key passes, fouls drawn, minutes. He’s second on the team in shots per game, dribbles, and passing percentage.

West Brom’s Austin warns others about seriousness of COVID-19

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Charlie Austin said he wants to warn young people about the dangers of COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus rapidly spreading across the world.

In an interview with the Telegraph Charlie Austin, currently of Championship side West Bromwich Albion and formerly of Southampton and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, said he’s experienced symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19. In a separate tweet, he clarified that he hasn’t been tested for the disease, but once he started feeling symptoms and spoke with West Bromwich Albion’s doctor Kevin Conrad, he immediately self-isolated in his home. His family were advised to do the same for the standard 14-day period.

[ MORE: Update: Which soccer leagues are still playing? ]

The 30-year-old striker stated he thought that he may have been infected while attending the Cheltenham Festival, an annual horse racing event that draws crowds of 250,000 and more. Austin said that he is going public with his diagnosis as a warning that despite rumors and reports that young people can easily battle the virus, his situation was proof that it’s a very serious health concern.

“Before I started feeling the symptoms on Saturday I was on the phone to my wife Bianca’s mother and I said to her that I hoped if anyone in our family got it that it would be me,” Austin said. “I felt like I was fit and healthy and I could handle it. A week later and I would say to anyone, even those in their 20s and 30s – ‘Don’t take it lightly – it’s serious’. I get that people who haven’t got it are going about their lives. Last week, I was living my life. Not that I didn’t take coronavirus seriously. But this is extremely serious and we should take it that way.”

Austin detailed how his temperature spiked over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, he developed a cough, and later had common symptoms associated with a fever. Austin’s point is to show that despite being in shape and a professional athlete, even he could suffer from the disease.

In his first season at West Bromwich after four years with Southampton, Austin has scored eight league goals in 26 matches. Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi is the only soccer player in England’s top two leagues who has publicly revealed that he’s tested positive for the virus, along with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

FA Cup wrap: Liverpool loses again; Almiron drives Newcastle win

Liverpool
AP Photo/Ian Walton
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Previously impermeable Liverpool allowed three goals for the second-straight match in bowing out of the FA Cup in the fifth round.

Chelsea beat the Premier League leaders 2-0 at Stamford Bridge as one of two FA Cup matches on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Joining the Blues and Arsenal in the hat for the quarterfinal draw is Newcastle United. Sheffield United and Reading are in extra time at the Madejski Stadium, so check back for updates.

They don’t use a hat. They used to. Those were the days to be a haberdasher.

Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool

Liverpool has lost three in four in all competitions after an even match at Stamford Bridge.

Both sides turned to their depth after weekend disappointments, and Chelsea’s responded with a fine showing.

The opener came thanks to a series of Liverpool errors, Willian‘s hammered shot hitting Adrian square in the hands and finding its way over the line.

Kepa Arrizabalaga had a three-save sequence to keep it 1-0 at the break.

Barkley then seized on an unlucky Van Dijk flick and raced sixty yards past a sleepy Fabinho and cautious Joe Gomez to smash a rocket off the in-goal camera.

Pedro was denied 1v1 by Adrian before Olivier Giroud smashed off the bottom of the bar.

Liverpool brought on Roberto Firmino and James Milner in the 70th minute in a late bid to reverse the Reds’ fortunes. Mohamed Salah entered 10 minutes later, all to no avail.

Reading 1-1 Sheffield United (currently in extra time)

Hard-luck Blades striker David McGoldrick finally got his goal, the 32-year-old taking a Ben Osborn feed to make it 1-0. McGoldrick has an expected goal mark of more than seven in Premier League play, but had not found the net.

Reading leveled the score just before halftime through a George Puscas penalty. That was it for the goals in regulation.

West Brom 2-3 Newcastle United

Newcastle had several big chances early and were justly rewarded when Allan Saint-Maximin slipped Miguel Almiron into the box for a clinical finish past Baggies keeper Jonathan Bond.

Almiron made it a brace when Joelinton backheeled a pass toward the penalty spot for the Paraguayan’s sliding finish.

Valentino Lazaro got his first Newcastle goal within two minutes of restart thanks to a Bond error.

Longtime West Brom servant Matty Phillips pulled one back in the 74th minute off a Kenneth Zohore assist.

The Baggies took the slimmest of hopes from a pretty stoppage time connection from Kyle Edwards to Zohore, but a late penalty shout went unheard and the Championship-leading Baggies left the tournament.