With 18 of the 20 clubs in action on Saturday and Sunday, there are just 11 rounds of Premier League fixtures left in the 2017/18 season.
Every point, every goal, every inch at this stage of the campaign is invaluable, and every game between now and the end of the season in May will have increasingly strong repercussions.
Here’s a look at six things we learned from gameweek 27….
6. Relegation Battle Fiercer Than Ever
Results this weekend ensured that the developing relegation battle remained just as dramatic and unpredictable, with just three points separating 13th place Newcastle and 19th place Stoke, effectively a single win.
Swansea won, Brighton and Stoke took points off each other, Crystal Palace and Southampton both lost, while Huddersfield and Newcastle were also victorious.
West Brom are somewhat cut adrift at the bottom, but even the Baggies could be back in the fight should they pull off a big shock against Chelsea on Monday night.
5. Fine Margins at St James’ Park
Defeat for Manchester United and a long a overdue home win for Newcastle hinged on fine margins at St James’ Park on Sunday, with Matt Ritchie’s well taken finish the only thing that ultimately separated the teams.
Jose Mourinho’s side had gone behind in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford earlier in the season, only to come storming back and win 4-1. It was perfectly feasible the same could have happened this time, with Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez both seeing good chances go begging, while debutant Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka was in inspired form.
Mourinho claimed his team could have played for 10 hours without scoring and it just seemed to ‘one of those days’ for the visitors. Newcastle, meanwhile fought hard, held on and arguably deserved their luck in the end.
4. Man City Don’t Need Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez should ask himself how much he would actually have been playing had he been successful in forcing through a deadline day move to Manchester City last month.
Given that Bernardo Silva has come into the team since Leroy Sane’s injury, with Sane himself now back in training ahead of schedule, the answer is probably not much.
But the Algerian, who ended his self-imposed exile and returned to the Leicester team during the 5-1 drubbing at the hands of City on Saturday, is very much needed by his current team.
It comes back to the issue that has long plagued professional footballers. As attention now turns to summer, does Mahrez continue to be a superstar in a middling team, or push yet again for a big move, but with all the risk of being little more than a fringe player?
3. Arsenal’s Striker Conundrum
It was supposed to be ‘LMAO’, a perfect harmony of Lacazette, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang and Ozil tearing opponents to shreds and readily laughing in the process.
Instead, the Gunners may actually have issues after fans witnessed Lacazette, a player who Arsene Wenger admits may have had his already fragile confidence dented by the big money arrival of Aubameyang last month, missed two late chances in the North London Derby that cost the team the chance to snatch a draw from the jaws defeat.
With Aubameyang disappointing against Spurs, fans are also learning why Manchester United were willing to let Mkhitaryan go – sensational one week and a virtual no-show the next.
2. Who Else But Kane?
Harry Kane has long been Tottenham’s go-to star, especially in North London Derbies, so it was little surprise to see the Spurs talisman net the crucial decisive goal in front of more than 80,000 fans at Wembley in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Spurs are far more than a one-man team, but every side needs a star and he is theirs.
What’s more, after going unbeaten in nine Premier League games and dropping just two points in a run of three fixtures against direct rivals (Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal), Spurs are coming into form at precisely the right time.
1. An Incredible Golden Boot Battle Is Emerging
There are still 11 rounds of games left to play this season and Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Sergio Aguero are well on their way to making it one of the best Premier League Golden Boot races ever after scoring 23, 22 and 21 goals respectively.
All three added to their tallies this week, with Aguero netting four in his team’s win over Leicester, and it remains plausible that all three could get to 30 by the end of the campaign.
Only twice in the last 10 seasons has the Golden Boot winner scored 30 or more, while the last time two players reached 30 in the same season was 1993/94. That was Andrew Cole (34) and Alan Shearer (31) back when the Premier League season was actually 42 games long.
Never have as many as three players reached the milestone in a single campaign.
Nigeria Proposes To Host 2022 Youth Olympics
Nigeria has officially made a proposal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2022 Youth Olympic Games in Abuja.
At a video presentation held in Abuja on Sunday, the Nigerian delegation comprising the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, the Permanent Secretary Adesola Olusade, the Nigeria Olympic Committee President Habu Gumel, officials of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Federal Capital Territory, Dalung assured the visiting members of the IOC that Abuja will be ready to host the games if Nigeria gets the nod.
In his remarks, the minister commended the IOC for considering an African host for the event.
“I want to commend the IOC for developing a mechanism for Africa to be taken along through the changes introduced in the organisation of the Youth Olympics. I want to assure you that the capacity of the country to deliver is not in doubt. We will ensure that we package a brand of the Youth Games which after 2022, will set an agenda for the IOC to emulate.
” Abuja is ready to host because we have hosted international competitions in the past. Moreover, the IOC has emphasised that countries seeking to host the games should not build new structures but improve on their existing ones or make use of temporary facilities which will be dismantled after the games. We have the organisational capacity, the experience and the technical know-how to host.
“Abuja as a city has most of the requirements as enumerated to us by the IOC in a video presentation.
“We hope that at the end of the day, Nigeria will be chosen to host the 2022 Games for Africa,” Dalung said.
Earlier, the IOC members led by Associate Director for the Youth Olympic Games, Antoine Goetschy, stated in their video presentation that the process of securing the bid to host the games will cost nothing to enable weaker countries with the potentials to host the event.
“We are here to see what you have to propose and to show you an overview of what we want in a host city. The objective of our visit is for the proposing host nation to understand the strategic alignment and stakeholders engagement and the potential operational footprint”
Other criteria for hosting the games as presented in the video include demonstration of existing international and youth strategies, prior experience in hosting major events, motivation of the relevant authorities and stakeholders for hosting the Youth Games, dedicated and permanent fields of play, potential accommodation solutions for NOC team delegations, existing indoor multipurpose arenas, potential sites for outdoor festival space and discussions on how hosting the YOG 2022 can act as a catalyst for further development.
The members comprising Gilbert Felli, Senior Adviser, Melina Simm, Advisor and Mathieu Pouret, YOG Manager undertook an inspection tour of the Abuja National Stadium and other facilities yesterday while discussions to select the host country continue.
Neymar Makes Brazil World Cup Squad
Neymar, who hasn’t played a game since breaking his foot in February, was named on Monday as the star of the Brazilian national team which will seek a record sixth World Cup out in Russia, AFP reports.
Coach Tite announced the team list at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro. Neymar’s returning form will be a key factor for the team, which lost influential right-back Dani Alves to a knee injury last week.
Tite’s 23-man squad, which was without major surprises, sees Alves replaced by Danilo (Manchester City) and Fagner, whom Tite knows from his time at the helm of Corinthians’ 2015 national championship-winning team.
Fagner is currently carrying an injury of his own but has been cleared by team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar to play in Russia.
After sweeping aside South American opponents in the World Cup qualifiers, Brazil are seen as one of the favourites at the World Cup. Their campaign begins against Switzerland on June 17.
Source : the18
Neymar Named France’s Player Of The Year
Neymar was named as France’s player of the year at an awards ceremony in Paris on Sunday, despite the Paris Saint-Germain superstar missing the last three months of the season due to injury.
The Brazilian, the world’s most expensive player, scored 19 goals in just 20 league games for PSG before suffering a foot injury in February that required surgery.
His PSG teammates Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe were also nominees, along with Marseille’s Florian Thauvin.
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