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Big win for Man City as Liverpool strengthen European claim

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LONDON, May 6 (Xinhua) — Manchester City piled on the pressure at the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win at home to Leeds United on Saturday afternoon that leaves them four points clear of Arsenal, who have a difficult visit to third place Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon.

Kevin de Bruyne started for City after injury, while Erling Haaland was also in the starting line-up, although Pep Guardiola rested Jack Grealish, John Stones, Bernardo Silva, Rodri and Ruben Dias ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg away to Real Madrid.

Leeds had new coach Sam Allardyce in the dugout, but the veteran could only watch as City dominated the first half, with Ilkay Gundogan scoring two drilled shots from the edge of the Leeds area after two assists from Riyad Mahrez.

Haaland hit the woodwork twice in the second half and Gundogan missed a penalty that would have made it 3-0 in the 84th minute and a minute later Rodrigo scored from one of his side’s only chances in the game to provide a nervous end at the Etihad Stadium.

Mohamed Salah’s 13th-minute goal after a move involving Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk saw Liverpool to a 1-0 win at home to Brentford, which leaves them fifth in the table and favorites for a place in next season’s Europa League.

Salah’s 30th goal in all competitions this season saw his side to their sixth consecutive league win.

Aston Villa’s hopes of qualifying for Europe next year look to have disappeared after a 1-0 defeat in a Midlands derby away to Wolverhampton.

Toti Gomes scored the only goal of the game following a ninth-minute corner and although Villa dominated thereafter Wolves clung on for a point that means they are safe from relegation.

Harry Kane kept Tottenham’s slim hopes of playing in Europe alive with a goal on the stroke of halftime in a 1-0 win at home to Crystal Palace.

Finally, two late goals gave Frank Lampard his first win in seven games in charge as Chelsea won 3-1 away to Bournemouth.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Maguire has a decision to make, says Man Utd coach Ten Hag

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LONDON, May 30 (Xinhua) — Manchester United’s coach, Erik ten Hag, says Harry Maguire faces a significant decision about his future with the club.

Though Maguire has a contract with Manchester United that runs until 2025 and continues to be a key part of the England squad, national team coach Gareth Southgate recently suggested that his international place could be at risk due to only playing 16 times in the Premier League.

Despite also featuring seven times in the Europa League, Maguire’s lack of sharpness led to errors in his team’s quarterfinal defeat to Sevilla, underlining the need for the towering defender to see more action.

However, with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane ranking higher in the Old Trafford pecking order, Ten Hag concedes that it won’t be straightforward for the imposing defender.

“No one would be content with this situation,” the coach mentioned in an interview with The Times.

The former Ajax boss acknowledged that Maguire was also dissatisfied with not playing every week but maintained that “he consistently trains at peak levels, putting in 100% effort. He manages that situation well and his captaincy makes him important to the squad.”

“He’s up against stiff competition from Raphael Varane, who’s fantastic. Let’s say I’m pleased he’s here and when we needed him, he performed. But it’s also a decision he has to make,” the coach commented.

Ten Hag was also queried about the future of David de Gea after the goalkeeper made some errors this campaign. He assured that the 32-year-old would be at Manchester United for the 2023-24 season but refrained from making any further guarantees.

“I won’t say he will always be my number one, because in a club like United there should be competition for all positions,” he explained.

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Preview: Premier League title may be decided this weekend

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LONDON, May 19 (Xinhua) — The Premier League prepares for another huge weekend of matches which could see the title decided with two matches left to play.

The races to qualify for the UEFA Champions League and to avoid relegation are just as close as ever in what promises to be 48 hours of tension and drama.

If Manchester City win at home over Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, they will be confirmed as this season’s Premier League champions. Pep Guardiola’s side have a four-point lead over Arsenal, who have just two games left to play.

City will have their morale sky-high after a magnificent 4-0 win at home to Real Madrid on Wednesday night which ensured their place in the Champions League final, and Guardiola has the option to bring in fresh players such as Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez against Chelsea.

Chelsea’s disastrous season continued when they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to struggling Nottingham Forest last weekend, and given their current form, anything other than a Man City win would be a big surprise.

Guardiola’s men could be confirmed as champions without kicking a ball if Arsenal lose at Forest on Saturday, and given their inferior goal distance, even a draw would effectively mean it is game over for Arsenal in the title race.

The Gunners were stunned by Brighton last weekend and Mikel Arteta will have to raise their spirits against a rival that is still fighting for Premier League survival.

The weekend kicks off with Tottenham, who look to maintain their hopes of playing in Europe next season, facing Brentford at home.

Brentford are missing top scorer Ivan Toney, who begins an eight-month ban for a breach of betting regulations.

Seven consecutive wins have given Liverpool a slim chance of a top-four finish and they need to make it eight wins from eight when Aston Villa visit Anfield. Darwin Nunez, Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita are all doubts for Liverpool, who are a point behind Manchester United after playing an extra game.

United visit Bournemouth, whose survival was confirmed by Liverpool’s win over Leicester on Monday night, and there will be a party atmosphere as the Vitality Stadium celebrates another season in the elite.

A point for West Ham at home to Leeds United will also ensure their survival, while Leeds need a win and could hope to take advantage of some tired legs from the home side after their UEFA Conference League semifinal success on Thursday.

Leeds’ new coach Sam Allardyce has made them tougher to beat, and after taking a point from Newcastle last week, he is up against another of his former clubs.

The return of Dominic Calvert-Lewin has helped Everton edge closer to salvation, but the striker is a doubt for their visit to play Wolves, who are safe from the drop, but coach Julen Lopetegui will want more tension in this weekend’s game than in last week’s defeat at Old Trafford.

Amid all the tension, Fulham and Crystal Palace have nothing to play for other than south London pride when they meet at Craven Cottage.

Finally, Newcastle United could seal Leicester City’s relegation and their own place in next season’s Champions League at St James Park on Monday night.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Manchester City move to within a win of title after dramatic Sunday

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LONDON, May 14 (Xinhua) — Manchester City moved within just one win of the Premier League title after a dramatic Sunday’s action, which saw them win 3-0 away over Everton, while Arsenal lost 3-0 at home to Brighton.

The results leave Man City with 85 points with three games left to play, while Arsenal have 81 and have played a game more.

With a Champions League semifinal return leg against Real Madrid on Wednesday, City coach Pep Guardiola rested players such as Jack Grealish, Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, and Bernardo Silva. His side struggled against a rival desperately needing points to avoid relegation.

Everton looked to be on top for the opening 20 minutes, but City eased themselves into the match and left them stunned with two goals in two minutes. Ilkay Gundogan netted a spectacular opener with his back to the goal in the 37th minute, and Erling Haaland powered in a header in the 39th.

Gundogan assured the win six minutes into the second half with a free kick into the top corner that left Everton keeper Jordan Pickford helpless.

The result piled the pressure on Arsenal, who were at home to a rival that was looking to bounce back from a shock 5-1 defeat to Everton last week.

Brighton took control of the game in the first half but only took the lead in the 51st minute due to Julio Ensico’s close-range header. Deniz Undav lifted the ball over Aaron Ramsdale with four minutes to play, and Pervis Estupinan sealed a stunning win in the sixth minute of injury time.

At the other end of the table, Southampton were the first team to have their relegation from the Premier League confirmed when they lost 2-0 at home to Fulham on Saturday afternoon.

Second-half goals from Carlos Vinicius and Aleksandar Mitrovic, who celebrated his return from suspension with a goal, condemned Southampton, who have lost seven of their last eight games.

Leeds United remain in the bottom three, but a 2-2 draw at home against Newcastle United will give them hope.

Luke Ayling put Leeds ahead from a tight angle, and it should have been 2-0, only for Nick Pope to save Patrick Bamford’s penalty.

Callum Wilson made no mistake at the other end two minutes later, and he netted a second penalty in the 69th minute. Rasmus Kristensen saved a point following a 79th-minute as Leeds ended with 10 men after Junior Firpo’s late red card.

That result means that a draw at home against Leeds next weekend will probably be enough to keep West Ham in the top flight (if Leicester City lose to Liverpool on Monday) despite their 2-0 defeat to Brentford.

Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa scored in the first half as Brentford dominated against a rival clearly focused on their Conference League semifinal against AZ Alkmaar.

Nottingham Forest took a valuable point away against Chelsea with two goals from Taiwo Awoniyi, who scored either side of Raheem Sterling’s brace for the lackluster home side.

Bournemouth will be safe if Leicester City fail to win their last three games of the season, even though they lost 2-0 away against Crystal Palace, who took the points thanks to goals from Eberechi Eze.

Manchester United had a relatively easy 2-0 win over Wolverhampton, who had little to play for. Anthony Martial’s 32nd-minute goal and a late strike from fit-again Alejandro Garnacho moved United four points clear of Liverpool, who visit Leicester on Monday.

Aston Villa beat Tottenham 2-1 with goals to claim their sixth consecutive home win under coach Unai Emery.

Source(s): Xinhua

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