Around the EPL – Latest News and Notes
With less than a month left in the season, the Premier League is in its final stretch. The fight continues on all fronts, giving over half the teams in the league something to fight for late in the season. Let’s catch up on all of the headlines from the past week.
Still No Change
Everything remains stagnant in the title race. Manchester City didn’t have their best performance, but they came away with three points after a 1-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday. Liverpool followed with a 2-0 win over Cardiff City on Sunday. As it stands, the Reds are two points ahead of City 88 points to 86 points. Alas, the Manchester club has a game in hand, so they continue to control their own destiny. That extra game will be played Wednesday night in the form of a Manchester Derby.
Speaking of Manchester United, the Red Devils had arguably the most embarrassing performance of any Premier League team this weekend, losing 4-0 at Everton. New manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was unsure when asked after the game if his players cared. “I don’t know. You’ve got to ask them,” Solskjaer said. “I’ve asked them, you’re not going get the answer from me but if you want to play at this club it has to mean more.”
Who Wants It
The silver lining for Manchester United is that the other teams fighting for the top-4 also lost over the weekend. As mentioned, Tottenham lost away at Man City while Arsenal dropped a home game to Crystal Palace 3-2. As it stands, Tottenham remains in third place with 67 points with Arsenal and Chelsea close behind with 66 points and Manchester United a little further back with 64 points. As it stands, all four teams have four games left to play, although Chelsea is back in action Monday evening against Burnley.
With Solskjaer about to embark on his first transfer window as the Manchester United manager, there are conflicting reports about how many changes will be made. At times, Solskjaer has used the term “rebuild,” although over the weekend he promised new players but had doubts about the club signing as many as five or six players, which was previously reported. On the other hand, a number of players are gearing up to leave Old Trafford, which could force Solskjaer to bring in a new wave of players despite his resistance to making major changes this summer.
With their win over Brighton & Hove Albion last Tuesday, Cardiff City has kept their hopes of avoiding relegation alive. However, Cardiff lost to Liverpool over the weekend while Brighton secured a draw with Wolverhampton. That gives Brighton a 3-point cushion over Cardiff, 34 points to 31 points. Brighton also has a significant edge in goal differential and an extra game to play, as they’ll face Tottenham on Tuesday. On the bright side, Cardiff has winnable games against Fulham and CrystalPalace the next two weeks, giving them a fighting chance against Brighton, who plays top-6 teams in three of their last four games.
There’s one more intriguing race in the Premier League this season, and it’s the battle for 7th place, which is otherwise known as the “Best of the Rest” outside of the top-6. After their win over Manchester United on Sunday, Everton is now 7th with 49 points, but only ahead of Watford on goal differential. Meanwhile, Leicester City and Wolverhampton both have 48 points. It’s also worth noting that Watford and Wolverhampton both have a game in hand over Everton and Leicester. In the event that Manchester City beats Watford in the FA Cup final, the team finishing 7th will reach the qualifying stages of Europa League.
One Foot Out the Door
Chelsea striker OliverGiroud is reportedly unhappy with his current role with the club and could be planning a summer exit because of it. Prior to last week’s Europa League game, Giroud said he wasn’t happy “to play the second role.” The French striker went on to say that he’s happy at the club but wants to have a bigger role next season. Chelsea is yet to decide whether they will exercise the option on Giroud’s contract for next season. Complicating matters is Chelsea’s appeal of a potential transfer ban that would prevent new players from joining the club. While he has played a role in European and cup competitions, Giroud has rarely started in the Premier League this season and would surely be open to going to a club where he can play more minutes.
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