3 reasons why Steve Bruce is failing at Newcastle United

Newcastle United are among the favourites to be relegated this season, this after finishing 13th with 44 points last season. The drop off has been significant and it seems that manager Steve Bruce is hitting a wall.

Bruce’s appointment did not go down well with fans of the club but he did seem to punch above his weight and only finished last season 1 point behind the total that Rafa Benitez had achieved the season before. That was an eyeopener in many ways and there was a belief that Bruce could do well at the club. Owner Mike Ashley saw Bruce’s appointment as a win-win situation given that Bruce was a long standing fan of the club and that Benitez was always asking for reinforcements, Ashley knew that Bruce wouldn’t ask so many questions and just get on with the job.

But this season Bruce’s Newcastle have been exposed and with just 9 games left to play for them they are only 2 points from the drop and in 17th place. The Magpies recent defeat to Brighton was huge. If the 3-0 score line wasn’t enough Brighton were a direct rival for survival and Graham Potter’s side have now moved 4 points clear of Newcastle.

So what has gone wrong with Newcastle, where Fulham could catch them and send the Magpies down, let’s take a look.

Joe Linton

It doesn’t seem fair to blame one player for a teams failings and let’s make it clear Newcastle as a team are failing. But when a club are not getting the wins and not scoring goals eyes will always fall to who is up front. In this case the Magpies have Joelinton a player who broke the clubs transfer record for £40m.

Joelinton has been, up until now, one of the poorest signings in Premier League history. He has scored 3 league goals in 59 games for the club and seven overall from 70. Indeed since starting his career back in 2014 Joelinton has only scored 26 league goals overall. When Newcastle have needed the goals to make that difference Joelinton has been wanting on too many occasions.

The Graeme Jones factor

Newcastle needed to be shaken up and in January Steve Bruce brought in Graeme Jones who had worked previously with the Belgian national side and also Bournemouth as his assistant manager. Jones got to it and changed up tactics within the team and prepared them for the Everton game at the end of January. It is thought that Bruce wasn’t the happiest person at the club that Jones had stepped in in this way. However Newcastle played one of their best games of the season to beat Everton 2-0.

Since then Bruce has taken some of that power back and although it hasn’t been confirmed it’s possible that the two are not seeing eye to eye. Bruce is stubborn and playing his way and he is letting that blind him in how the club must make advancements.

Luck has run out

Every club needs some luck along the way but under Bruce Newcastle have had some decisions go there way and have been able to not play very well but escape with a last minute win or get a draw.

Take the Leeds United match earlier this season, true Leeds ran out 5-2 winners but at one stage Newcastle were well in the game and it was 2-2. However the club had been very poor that day and Leeds would have been wondering how the score line was so close. On that day Newcastle didn’t get away with it.

But how about even earlier in the season when Tottenham completely outplayed Bruce’s team and yet in the 90th minute the score was just 1-0 to Jose Mourinho’s team. Very late on in injury time Newcastle who had been very poor throughout the game were awarded a penalty, from which they scored from- and it was a disputed one at that. The penalty which ended the game at 1-1 was the clubs only shot on target the whole game.

It just seems that especially since the New Year that Newcastle’s luck has run out. Could they go down? The answer is a yes given their second half to the season form where from a possible 45 points they have earned just 10 and won just two times, scoring just 11 goals in that time. Judging on the last 15 games Newcastle would be in 19th place and have earned 2 points less than Championship bound Sheffield United which just underlines how problematic the clubs decline has been.

It looks like that final place will go down to the wire between Fulham and Newcastle, and it will be fascinating to see how this one plays out. As for Steve Bruce he will most certainly lose his job if the club are relegated but if they stay up, even by finishing in 17th place you get the feeling that his close friend and club owner Mike Ashley will be more than happy to keep Bruce on the payroll, at the dismay of the fans.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players of Week 29

Because it was FA Cup weekend only 4 of the scheduled 10 Premier League games took place over the weekend but there were still some very significant results.

Tottenham bounced back after a nightmare week as they stepped up their top 4 hopes with victory over Aston Villa. The most thrilling game though involved Tottenham north London neighbours in another London derby as Arsenal came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 against West Ham.

Brighton won their 2nd game in a row and they have pushed 6 points clear of the bottom three as a result.

Let’s look at the players that made the team of the week.

Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris- Tottenham 7pts

After a disappointing week for the club the captain would have been happy to have secured his 10th clean sheet of the season as Tottenham got back to winning ways to beat Aston Villa 2-0 away from home. Lloris now has 48 points.

Defender: – Sergio Reguilon Tottenham 5pts

Sergio Reguilon has been one of the best defenders in the league this season and he was alert and focused as Tottenham beat Aston Villa 2-0. He has now helped to keep six clean sheets.

Defender: Lewis Dunk- Brighton 5pts

Lewis Dunk really stood out for Brighton as they achieved a fantastic and much needed 3 points at the weekend by beating Newcastle 3-0. Dunk helped to keep a clean sheet and his value is is 7m and he is rated as the best Brighton defender.

Defender: Ben Davies- Tottenham 5pts

Ben Davies had a solid game for Tottenham when he came on for Reguilon in the 2nd half. Davies could be called upon and was so effective that Aston Villa were not able to come back into the game when he was brought on.

Defender: Joel Veltman- Brighton 7pts

Joel Veltman was at the heart of Brighton’s team performance. The defender helped to keep a clean sheet as he saw his side beat Newcastle 3-0. He also assisted in the first goal which got the ball rolling. Veltman now has 27 points and his value is 7.5m.

Midfielder: Neal Maupay- Brighton 6pts

Neal Maupay scored his 8th goal of the season as his goal helped Brighton on their way to beat Newcastle. It was a huge win for the club who with that victory have been able to move six points clear of the bottom three.

Midfielder: Jesse Lingard- West Ham 6pts

Jesse Lingard has had a very positive start to his career as a West Ham player. Lingard opened the scoring against Arsenal and then assisted two minutes later for the 2nd goal. Lingard has already since January, been involved in seven goals and scored 5 of them.

Midfielder: Lucas Moura- Tottenham 4pts

Lucas Moura assisted in Tottenham’s opening goal and that was the midfielder’s third of the season so far. Moura with 38 points is ranked as the best midfielder for the club and pulled 8 points clear of Tanguy NDombele.

Midfielder: Raphinha- Leeds United 4pts

Many expected Fulham to pull together another win as they are battling hard in relegation but Leeds pulled off a great victory by beating Fulham 2-1.Raphinha scored the winning goal and he now has six goals so far this season.

Striker: Patrick Bamford- Leeds United 5pts

Patrick Bamford scored the other goal for Leeds as they beat Fulham 2-1. That was Bamford’s 14th goal of the season and he has also assisted six times in what has been a superb season for the player so far. Bamford now has 68 points overall.

Striker: Harry Kane- Tottenham 4pts

Harry Kane was back to his best as he converted a penalty for Tottenham which secured their win and ended up being the winning goal as they bounced back to beat Aston Villa 2-1 after a miserable week for the club. That was Kane’s 17th goal of the season.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Liverpool 0-1 Fulham

This game between Liverpool and Fulham only had 1 goal, but what a significant and history making game it was all the same.

You see Liverpool have never lost 5 games in a row at home before, but that’s old news. The defeat to Fulham made it six games in a row, Liverpool in their 139 year history have, at least for this period, never looked so poor. This is all the while astonishing given that for the past 18 months the club has arguably been the best club side in the world. How funny and quite complex football can be and the implosion of this great club chortles along at rapid speed.

So devastating has Liverpool’s form been that one has to question if they will be playing in the Champions League next season? This comes after reaching the final in 2018 and winning the competition the year after. The defeat to Fulham has left Liverpool 7 points adrift of a top four place and for now they look out of contention. However surely one would assume with the players that the Reds boast they will find their swagger again before the end of the season to recharge their batteries.

For now the game at Anfield swung on a different story and that was Fulham’s possible survival. The Cottagers have looked destined for a speedy return to the Championship for much of the season but since December Scott Parker has got his troops pointing in the right direction. Their hunger and desire has been brilliant albeit the majority of their results in the past three months have ended in draws, but by and large they are picking up points here and there and avoiding defeats. That’s how you survive in arguably the worlds most competitive league.

The only goal of the game in which Fulham would win 1-0 came just before half time. Mario Lemina was today’s hero for Parker’s side he had a bit to do but the ball was nicely set up for him in the area and he was able to score with relative ease. Up until the goal it was Fulham who were on the front foot, this in itself seems bizarre that the Cottagers would have chances and time on the ball at Anfield and indeed Liverpool would finish the game with just 3 shots on target.

Inevitably Liverpool had their best moments in possession in the 2nd half but made no real threat on goal in the final third and had just 1 real chance in this period. It was another limp display from the champions and for Fulham more glory on Merseyside given that they had beaten Everton here a few weeks ago by 2-0.

Will Fulham stay up? The omens are looking good for Parker’s team because of the fight they have shown and they have reduced a seven point gap to just goal difference over Brighton. Fulham could also have a challenge at Newcastle in 16th place given that the Magpies are only 1 point in front of Fulham.

As for Lemina that was his first goal of the season and scoring the winning goal against the champions he would have taken that to be his debut of the campaign.

If you beat the champions surely that will only reinforce the belief that you are going to stay up. Brighton, Newcastle and even perhaps Burnley in 15th place will be on high alert and the last few weeks of the Premier League season will be unmissable.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 24

Manchester City have gone 7 points clear at the top of the Premier League and at this moment another league title looks inevitable for Pep Guardiola’s side. City swept Tottenham aside by beating them 3-0 at the weekend to win their 16th game of the season.

Leicester were brilliant as they stunned an out of sorts Liverpool by coming back from a goal down to beat the current champions 3-1. Leicester have 46 points and that is the same as 2nd placed Manchester United who have won just once in their last five games. Liverpool look out of the title race now and they are 13 points behind Manchester City and the league leaders have a game in hand over them.

Everton, Tottenham and Leeds have dropped off the pace for a European position as they were all beaten at the weekend but Arsenal beat Leeds 4-2 and they are just 5 points from a possible European finish.

Let’s check out the team of the week below and you can see if any of your players have made the grade.

Goalkeeper: Ederson Moraes- Manchester City 10pts

Ederson earned a huge 10 points as he kept a clean sheet against a strong opponent in Tottenham as Manchester City won 3-0. Ederson kept his 14th clean sheet of the season but the story of this game was that Ederson earned extra points as he actually assisted in one of the goals, very rare for a goal keeper.

Defender: Ola Aina- Fulham 7pts

Ola Aina had a superb game for Fulham as they won at Everton 2-0 in perhaps an unlikely result. The beauty of his game is that he helped keep a clean sheet and helped give Fulham 3 huge points and he assisted in the opening goal to cap off a great game for the defender. He is the top defender at Fulham and has 22 points so far.

Defender: Matthew Lowton- Burnley 9pts

Burnley beat Crystal Palace very convincingly at the weekend 3-0 and Matthew Lowton not only kept a clean sheet to earn the points but he also scored the last goal for Sean Dyche’s side. He has 28 points so far.

Defender: Joao Cancelo- Manchester City 5pts

The defender has been one of the best for Manchester City this season and is an integral part of the team. He earned 5 points as City beat Tottenham 3-0 and that means he has kept 12 clean sheets this season and with 64 fantasy points earned is currently the number 1 defender at the club.

Defender: Lewis Dunk- Brighton 5pts

Lewis Dunk now has 28 points for Brighton and he is the best defender for the club presently. Dunk kept his seventh clean sheet of the season and that is impressive for a club like Brighton, who at times, have struggled this season. His value is 7m.

Midfielder: Ilkay Gundogan- Manchester City 10pts

If Manchester City win the league then Ilkay Gundogan would have been a big part of the reason, he has simply been superb for the club and earned a staggering 10 points this week. Gundogan scored 2 goals against Tottenham and now has 13 goals and has also assisted another 5 times so far.

Midfielder: Rodrigo- Manchester City 6pts

Rodrigo opened the scoring for City as they beat Tottenham 3-0. He had to keep his cool to convert the penalty and ultimately that set up the rest of the game. It was an important goal for the midfielder as it was his 1st league goal of the season.

Midfielder: Ruben Neves- Wolves 6pts

Wolves have been under pressure lately but Ruben Neves helped ease that as they beat Southampton away from home 2-1. Neves opened the scoring for his club and then assisted in the match winner for an all round great performance.

Midfielder: Johann Gudmundsson- Burnley 6pts

Burnley went a long way to staying up by beating Crystal Palace 3-0 away from home and there was joy for Gudmundsson who has suffered a few injuries this season but scored the first goal which set up his team for all 3 points.

Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang- Arsenal 14pts

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has had a poor season by his standards by the Arsenal striker was back to his very best as he helped the Gunners beat Leeds United 4-2. Aubameyang scored a fantastic hat-trick including a penalty to put his name back amongst the very best in the Premier League. He has 8 goals so far in the league this season.

Striker: Jay Rodriguez- Burnley 6pts

Jay Rodriguez was able to earn six points at the weekend as Burnley beat Crystal Palace 3-0. Rodriguez scored the 2nd goal after just 10 minutes and assisted in the clubs third goal to wrap up a great win. Rodriguez has scored just once now but he has been injured for a long spell and has a total of 3 points as he was on minus before.

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Losing to Manchester City should not dishearten Arsenal who can still have a strong finish in the Premier League

For many it was the way Arsenal lost to Manchester City when the Premier League re started on Wednesday night that would have been the biggest concern.Losing 3-0, having David Luiz sent off (is he the gift that keeps on giving)? And then looking at a meaningful statistic that was certainly damning, Arsenal had 0 shots on target. Ouch!

Many expected City to win and Arsenal to lose, after all the Gunners have been poor on the road now for a few seasons, and they were playing the current champions. However there was an uncertainty given that the game of course was played behind closed doors. But it made no difference, City would have won 3-0 with or without fans and played some great football.

As a result Arsenal remain in 9th place and despite their 7th loss of the season the mid week didn’t turn out too bad for the club given that Sheffield United who are above them only earned a point. In short they didn’t lose pace for a European place.

Arsenal need to regroup and refocus, the display they put in against City and Luiz’s sending off will give their next opponents Brighton cause for celebration, and Graham Potter’s side may well be welcoming Arsenal and thinking that they are there for the taking. Brighton have had some very good results lately against the Gunners and have beaten them 2-1 at the Emirates earlier in the season.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be disappointed with the way his team lost at City but won’t forget that before the break for the Coronavirus Arsenal were one of the inform teams who had just recorded 3 wins in a row.

The Gunners are only 5 points from a Europa League place and whilst the Champions League looks a little off for them being 8 points adrift of Chelsea, if they can finish the season strong who knows what can happen?

Let’s look at Arsenal’s remaining fixtures. The Gunners have 2 away games in a row coming up facing Brighton and Southampton. Whilst those games look tricky a good Arsenal side can win those. After that they will be at home to Norwich who are bottom of the league and one would expect another 3 points from them. Then they are away to Wolves and at home to Leicester, these will be difficult games, but still Arsenal could win at least one of them.

After that they face Tottenham in the derby, a game that could go either way with no fans and atmosphere. Their last 3 games are against Liverpool, Aston Villa and Watford. The match against Liverpool could be easier than expected given that the Reds should have wrapped up the title by then. But matches against Villa and Watford where both teams could be battling relegation could be close affairs.

It’s possible though that Arsenal could finish the season with 59 points, that’s the prediction here and yes that would fall too short for a Champions League place. Possibly a Europa finish is on the cards, but even then Arsenal might fight and play better not to finish so low in the league.

It must be incredibly surreal for fans to see their club down in 9th place, and without all of their draws (there have been 13 so far) the club would actually be fighting in the relegation.

The game at the weekend against Brighton is a huge one then, lose that and Arsenal could already be losing their direction so soon after the restart. The club are better than that and Arteta must break their away day hoodoo.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from the Weekend

The winter break has meant that games are now being staggered across the Premier League which means every team will end up, at one stage, getting at least 2 weeks off. This weekend then there was just 4 games to be played. However bad weather conditions meant that the most anticipated match between Manchester City and West Ham had to be called off.

So only 3 Premier League games took place this weekend and there were nice wins for Everton and Sheffield United who have put the heat on Chelsea to try and stake what many would believe is a shock claim for a top 4 spot. Can both clubs find a nice run of consistency? It might be all it takes.

Below then we take a look at the best players from this weekend, having to select from just the 3 games that were eventually played. Did any of your players play this weekend? And how many points did they get? Let’s take a look.

Formation: 4-4-2:

Goalkeeper: Ben Foster- Watford 0pts

Because of the lack of games and the fact that every goalkeeper conceded this weekend we have ended up with a bizarre situation where the best goalkeeper in the league ends up with zero points. That’s because some dipped into the minus points. Foster conceded as Watford drew with Brighton 1-1, away from home which was a decent result for them and Foster made some very good saves to help earn a point.

Defender: Yerry Mina- Everton 0pts

Yerry Mina played the whole game and conceded a goal which jumped him back down to zero points. Everton beat Crystal Palace 3-1 and Mina now has a total of 19 points.

Defender: Michael Keane- Everton 0pts

Michael Keane hasn’t started many games for Everton but he put in a decent shift in the game even if he couldn’t earn any points this weekend, conceding just 1 goal but his team won anyway.

Defender: Shane Duffy- Brighton 0pts

Shane Duffy played a good game as Brighton drew 1-1 with Watford. He is a bargain at just 1.5m and has earned 12 points the majority of those in the last few weeks,

Defender: Craig Cathcart- Watford 0pts

Watford got a decent result at Brighton with the game ending 1-1 and that was a valued point earned away from home. Cathcart has 21 points and is ranked as Watford’s 2nd best defender so far this season.

Midfielder: John Lundstram- Sheffield United 4pts

Points earned! John Lundstram scored for Sheffield United as they won a vital game 2-1 over Bournemouth who were threatening to take a point from them and the win has sent the Blades into 5th place.

Midfielder: Abdoulaye Doucoure-Watford 4pts

Doucoure scored against Brighton and was able to earn a vital point for his relegation threatened team. He earned 4 points and now has a total of 28, he has been in fine form too and could be worth picking up for the remainder of the season.

Midfielder: Wilfried Zaha- Crystal Palace 2pts

Wilfried Zaha was on the losing side, 3-1 against Everton but the highly thought of player showed a lot of creativity and he assisted in Palace’s goal, which at the time was an important one as the club had just equalised.

Midfielder: Theo Walcott- Everton 2pts

Theo Walcott has upped his game in recent weeks and started to score points. Walcott had an unlucky game as he had to go off injured after just 25 minutes but he still managed to assist in Everton’s opening goal which led the way to their victory at the weekend over Crystal Palace.

Striker: Richarlison- Everton 4pts

Richarlison scored his 9th goal for Everton this season as they swept by Crystal Palace winning 3-1. He now has 38 points for the season and is worth adding to your team as he has really grown in confidence over the last few weeks.

Striker: Billy Sharp- Sheffield United 4pts

Billy Sharp has suffered with some set backs with injury lately so it was impressive of him to bounce back and get a vital goal which helped the Blades to secure 3 huge points and gives them a chance of European football next season.

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West Ham look likely for relegation after implosion against Brighton

Beating Brighton was the bear minimum requirement for West Ham and for the majority of their game on Saturday it looked like David Moyes team were cruising. But there would be a deadly sting in the tail.

Issa Diop opened the scoring after half an hour much to the relief of Hammer fans, when Robert Snodgrass made it 2-0 just before half time, for many that was game over. It has been proven time and again scoring just before the break can kill and change the opposition’s mindset. All looked well.

But two minutes after the break Brighton pressure led to an own goal scored by Angelo Ogbonna. The Hammers now could slowly collapse under their own pressure or march on. Ten minutes later the game looked wrapped up and it was Snodgrass again, emerging as the unlikely hero to make it 3-1 to the home side. With fifteen minutes remaining the fans were singing despite Brighton creating wave after wave of attacks, 3-1 just looked too good to be overhauled. But then again this is West Ham a club who have repeatedly blown decent leads in the past.

Pascal Grob is his name but it was Pascal ‘Grab’ on Saturday, when he scored for the away side to make it 3-2 and now there was a belief that 3-3 seemed more likely than a Snodgrass hat trick. West Ham thought they had 3 points and were now not blowing bubbles, but blowing this match. Glenn Murray, the type of striker any Italian team would love in their squad, one that isn’t consistent but will get the goal you need scored to make it 3-3 and the London Stadium turned into the biggest gob smack you could ever want to witness. VAR played out yet again, what is a game without it? Because Brighton’s goal had to be delayed and debated on for a possible hand ball, VAR decided against it and Brighton got their goal which only rubbed the salt into the wounds for the home side.

Somehow West Ham had blown it again- they hadn’t lost but being 3-1 up at home with 15 minutes left and finishing 3-3 certainly felt like it. Suddenly you were looking at a team who could well be playing in the Championship next season. The draw confirmed West Ham’s slip into the bottom three, in 18th place. Though they are just 2 wins from 14th and 3 wins from 10th.

West Ham have lost 13 games and manager David Moyes comments when he joined the club of ”I win” have certainly come back to haunt him. In the league his record reads like this: Played 6, won 1, drawn 2 and lost 3.

There is talk of relegation even though the tables show the teams in the bottom half being so close for West Ham because of their upcoming fixtures. This month will see the Hammers having to play Manchester City and Liverpool- both away games. They end the month at home to Southampton. Arsenal and Tottenham follow in March and there is a real chance that West Ham could be relegated with such tough fixtures ahead.

The Brighton game was being highlighted by fans as the one match they had to win to give them some breathing space at least, but if form continues like it has this season without any improvement then they are looking to finish the season with about 36 points, that total may not be good enough to stay up.

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Brighton were right to sack Chris Hughton despite Premier League survival

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Brighton have sacked manager Chris Hughton after the former Tottenham player steered the club to survival. On the face of it keeping the club up should have assured Hughton his job, but they were right to sack him as the tell tale signs were there for all to see.

Brighton actually started the season well and were propping up in the top 10 even in December. They were being compared to both Wolves and Watford who are two teams this season that really have punched above their weight and did so well. Wolves finished 7th in a best of the rest position and Watford not only finished close behind but are also in the FA Cup final where they will play Manchester City next Saturday.

As for Brighton it all started to go wrong when 2018 said goodbye and the New Year greeted us with 2019. From the last 20 games, that’s 60 points Brighton won 15, that was good enough not to finish 17th where they did but to finish in 19th position and relegation. Again it is their form at the beginning of the season which saved the club.

From those 20 matches they have won just 3 and scored 15 times conceding 34. The club finished their dismal form at home losing 4 of their last 5 games and the other match ended in a draw. In the end they survived in the league by just two points over Cardiff, who if it wasn’t for some bad luck in games easily would have finished above them.

But it was also Hughton’s approach to survival. Once he knew the club were in danger they ended up approaching games to scared to lose, and so would defend deep in numbers, fans like to call this ‘parking the bus’ and that was the club all over. It made for some poor displays and negative football and no football fan wants to pay to see that even if it rarely grinds out a point.

The majority of Brighton’s transfers were undisclosed which was unfortunate but some sources have suggested that the club spent £70m last summer recruiting players. That’s all well and good but the season before they managed 40 points meaning that they spent all that extra money to finish with 4 points fewer.

Chris Hughton is a great guy and a credit to the game and a real footballing man. For many reasons mostly known to him, the heart was not there in the team and there was no real fight in the second half of the season. He will move on from this and so will Brighton.

So on the face of it it can look harsh to sack a manager when the club have just stayed up, but the truth is that they have actually slipped backwards and just got lucky that Cardiff had a mix of bad luck and at times were poor themselves.

Hughton will be back and Brighton will be hoping that their next manager takes them back in the right direction. Hughton in the end saved the ship from drowning, but now it needs a new captain.

EPL Best XI – Week 37

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The curtain is almost down. The business is almost done. With just a single round of games remaining in the Premier League, the relegation battle is finished but the title race remains very much alive. With the final game of the season being the time that this year’s Premier League champions will be identified, there is still plenty to play for at the summit of England’s top flight. With that said, let’s adopt a 4-3-3 formation this week and see which players performed the best for their clubs this past weekend.

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Cardiff and Neil Warnock will hold onto Premier League survival miracle for now

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What a season it has been for Cardiff City, who have had to battle against the threat of relegation for most of the season. Of course one cannot talk about Cardiff’s season without mentioning the tragedy of Emiliano Sala’s plane crash when the Nantes player had just been signed by Cardiff.

One wonders if Sala would have saved Cardiff from the drop? It is a possibility given that the player had vastly improved in front of the goal in the past 12 months and was becoming a really good striker. He would have scored goals for Cardiff and could have earned the club those couple of wins that they have been missing. His passing remains one of the great shocks in modern footballing times.

As for the players that Cardiff manager Neil Warnock has had to work with, overall the club have been poor this season and their league position doesn’t lie. However one can think that Cardiff have also been unlucky. The offside goal that Chelsea scored, took 3 points effectively away from the side. And, when they were losing 1-0 to Liverpool, the Reds 2nd goal, a penalty looked soft and finished the game off, it could have ended a draw on a different day.

Cardiff look down, everyone seems to agree and when you are massive odds on with the bookmakers, well that is supposed to seal the deal. But the club do still have hope, because in 17th place Brighton have been decidedly awful since 2019 came through the front door of the AMEX Stadium.

Chris Hughton’s side have been for the less of a word, boring to watch. Sometimes boring is needed in football. When they are playing a superior team then they have to try and park the bus as it is called. But overall even when they have been playing teams with the same qualities as them they have become a team afraid to lose, celebrating a draw like it’s a win is always a bad sign with 15 games to go of the season.

Hughton is one of football’s good guys and knows his stuff about the game and is very down to earth. But the way his team plays it seems that they won’t be missed if they go down. At the same time Brighton are favourites to stay up and currently they are 4 points ahead of Cardiff with just 2 games left to play. That is a massive lead, and it is even bigger. You see Brighton have a  much superior goal difference so in effect that lead is 5 points with just 6 left on the board. How do Cardiff do this, and come back?

Well the good news for them is Brighton will have to travel to Arsenal next. Now Arsenal are in dreadfully poor form but one must think this will not continue especially at home. Note 3 of the clubs four recent defeats have come away from home. If Arsenal do oblige then Cardiff must find a way to win again. They were, for example, poor at the weekend when they lost to already relegated Fulham.

The same weekend Cardiff will play Crystal Palace and the only hope for that game for Warnock and his team is that they are at home. Though the Bluebirds have won just 1 game from their past five in front of their home fans.

If Cardiff win and Brighton lose the league will look like this; 17th Brighton 35 points, 18th Cardiff 34. Then it is game on for the final day of the season. Only there is a problem for both teams.

Brighton will be at home against Manchester City who will be more than likely needing to win for the league title. Cardiff will be away against Manchester United who will be looking to finish the season on a high after some miserable form. Both sides on paper could lose, which would change nothing.

The problem for Cardiff is that they will need to win their last two games to survive, and that, at this stage, will be a miracle. Just like who will win the league or claim those final Champions League places the relegation battle looks as exciting as ever and could well go down to the final game of the season, which could in turn affect the league title out come. Who needs Hollywood?