EPL Round Up: March 11, 2019
The English Premier League season is heading down the stretch run, as each team has less than 10 games left in the season. Every week, things can potentially change at both ends of the table. Let’s check out everything going on over the past week.
There was no change at the top of the table this week, as both Manchester City and Liverpool took three points over the weekend. Raheem Sterling scored a hat trick to lead City over Watford 3-1 on Saturday. Liverpool kept pace on Sunday, giving up an early goal but responding in a positive fashion to beat Burnley 4-2. City remains one point ahead of Liverpool with eight games left for both sides. Each side will also have to deal with the distraction of a Champions League game this week.
Four for Top Four
Tottenham’s plummet continued over the weekend, as they lost to Southampton 2-1. With the loss, their hold on a top-4 spot has become rather tenuous. There are now just four points separating Spurs in third place and sixth-place Chelsea, creating a tight race for those final two Champions League spots late in the season. After Arsenal knocked off Manchester United on Sunday, the Gunners are in fourth place, one game behind Spurs and two games ahead of United. Chelsea, who was a little fortunate to settle for a draw with Wolverhampton, is just one point back of Man U and three points behind Arsenal for a top-4 spot.
With their win over Spurs on Saturday, Southampton was able to climb out of the relegation zone, dropping Cardiff City back into the bottom-3. Cardiff (28 points) is now two points behind Burnley and Southampton (30 points) as they try to secure safety. Brighton and Crystal Palace have 33 points while Newcastle’s win over Everton leaves them with 34 points. However, those teams haven’t quite assured themselves safety just yet.
Watching Tottenham’s loss from the stands was manager Mauricio Pochettino, who was serving the first of a two-game touchline ban for his altercation with official Mike Dean a few weeks ago. Pochettino called the ruling “unfair,” stating that this was the first time his behavior as manager was the least bit questionable. He will serve the second game of the suspension at the end of the month when Spurs travel to Liverpool.
Getting Into Trouble?
Not long after Chelsea was hit with a two-window transfer ban, Manchester City could be in some hot water as well. UEFA announced this past week that they are launching an investigation into possible violations by City of Financial Fair Play rules. UEFA didn’t offer any more specifics, although the club was quick to release a statement proclaiming innocence. According to reports, Manchester City faces a potential ban from Champions League competition if they are found guilty of wrongdoing.
No Spaghetti for Me, Please
Speaking of Manchester City, manager Pep Guardiola was in the rumor mill this past week in connection with Juventus. One report claimed that Pep had reached a verbal agreement to replace current Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri this summer. However, Pep was quick to put the kibosh on those rumors after City’s win on Saturday. “I have two more years, and I’m not going to move, it’s impossible unless if they sack me and after I go home,” Pep said. “If Manchester City wants me, I will stay here for two more years and hopefully another one. I am not going to Juventus for the next two seasons.”
Yours If You Want It
In other managerial news, reports last week indicate that Manchester United will name Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the club’s permanent manager before the end of the season. The Red Devils have made a swift turnaround since Solskjaer took over for Jose Mourinho. United is now in the mix for a top-4 spot and has advanced to the quarterfinals of Champions League following an unexpected and controversial win over PSG last week. Nothing is official, but it seems that Solskjaer has overtaken Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino as the most likely candidate.
Liverpool got some bad injury news last week when midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pulled a muscle while playing a game with the club’s under-23 side. The Ox had been working his way back from the ACL injury he suffered last season and was hoping to rejoin the Reds before the end of the campaign. He left Friday’s game after 40 minutes as a precaution, although any kind of set back at this point could keep him from seeing the field in a Premier League game until next season.
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