It was an unusual weekend in the Premier League, as the FA Cup semi-finals took some of the attention. However, between mid-week games and early transfer rumors, there’s a lot of news to catch up on. Let’s get to it!
From last week to this week, nothing has changed at the top of the table. Manchester City briefly went to the top after a 2-0 win over Cardiff City on Wednesday. However, Liverpool responded with a 3-1 win on Friday at Southampton, taking them back to the top. Just as it was a week ago, Liverpool holds a 2-point lead over City. Of course, the caveat remains that the Manchester club has a game in hand, so if City wins all of their remaining league games, they will repeat as Premier League champions.
The Quest Continues
Over the weekend, Manchester City continued its quest to take home four trophies this season by beating Bright & Hove Albion 1-0 in the FA Cup semifinals. However, Pep Guardiola went out of his way to temper expectations after the game, saying it’s “almost impossible to win the Quadruple, almost.” Pep’s words came after Kyle Walker left Saturday’s game with an injury. The City skipper also said that striker Sergio Aguero hasn’t trained in a week, meaning he may not see the field in the immediate future.
As mentioned, Manchester City still controls its own destiny in the league but still has tough games against Tottenham, Manchester United, and at Burnley. City will also return to Champions League action at Tottenham on Tuesday, presumably without Aguero and Walker available. Even if they still survive Spurs, they would still have either Ajax or Juventus in the semi-finals and then a difficult final. On the bright side, City is one more win away from a second trophy, as they will face Watford in the FA Cup finals next month.
Battle at the Bottom
It’s officially over for both Fulham and Huddersfield Town, who are both on their way down. But Cardiff City is still fighting to avoid relegation. As mentioned, the Welsh side fell to Man City 2-0 on Wednesday. That leaves them five points back of both Southampton and Bright with six games left to play. The Bluebirds have critical games with Burnley and Brighton over the next 10 days, and they must get points from both games. Cardiff still has to play Liverpool and Manchester United late in the season, making it hard to envision them staying up if they can’t take points from Burnley and Brighton.
The Remaining Spots
After snapping a five-game winless streak in the league by beating Crystal Palace mid-week, Tottenham remains in third place, leading the race for the two remaining Champions League spots. Spurs sit at 64 points with Arsenal and Chelsea at 63 points and Manchester United at 61. All four clubs have six games left to play, although Chelsea could jump to third when they play West Ham United on Monday.
After an uneven couple of seasons at Manchester United, Romelu Lukaku appears to be planning his Old Trafford exit. Lukaku’s agent says the 25-year old striker is focused on finishing strong but prepared to assess his future after the season. However, his agent also says the Belgium international is also interested in experiencing football culture in various countries. Specifically, Lukaku appears to fancy a move to Italy. Recent reports have tied a number of United players to potential exits this summer, most notably Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, and Alexis Sanchez.
Manchester United has reportedly entered the arena for the services of Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez. United’s intra-city rivals Manchester City have already been heavily linked with Saul. However, United also covets him, as they appear to be ready to rebuild their midfield this summer. Of course, always the resourceful type, Guardiola has already identified fellow Atletico midfielder Rodri Hernandez as an alternative if City can’t sign Saul. In fact, Rodri may end up being a better fit for a holding midfield role than the more versatile Saul.
Getting Into Trouble
A week ago, a video was released of Everton goalie Jordan Pickford in the middle of a fracas at a bar in his hometown of Sunderland that eventually spilled over into the street. Police are still investigating the incident, although manager Marco Silva didn’t mention any potential punishment, calling it a learning experience for Pickford. The England starting keeper was on the field Sunday and kept a clean sheet in Everton’s win over Arsenal. However, this story may not yet be resolved.