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Premier League

Man City climb four points clear of Arsenal in title race

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Manchester City v Leeds United - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - May 6, 2023 Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan in action with Leeds United's Weston McKennie REUTERS/Molly Darlington

Manchester City continued their seemingly unstoppable charge towards a third consecutive Premier League title with a 2-1 victory over Leeds United on Saturday that put them four points clear of Arsenal.

Ilkay Gundogan scored a brace for Man City, but missed a late penalty that left manager Pep Guardiola enraged after the Spaniard had called for Erling Haaland to take it, with Leeds grabbing a goal back a minute later.

Liverpool’s faint hopes of a top-four finish continued as they beat Brentford 1-0 at Anfield thanks to Mohamed Salah’s first-half strike.

Harry Kane scored to lift Tottenham Hotspur to a much-needed 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, their first victory in five games, while Chelsea claimed their first win under interim manager Frank Lampard with a 3-1 victory at Bournemouth.

Man City had appeared to be cruising after Gundogan’s double strike put them in the box seat at the Etihad Stadium but the German’s missed penalty in the 84th minute set up a nervy finish as Rodrigo Moreno pulled a goal back for Leeds moments later.

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While Gundogan was on a hat-trick, Guardiola was adamant there should be no room for sentiment and Haaland was the designated taker.

“The performance was excellent. We played really, really good,” Guardiola said. “Who knows if Erling takes the penalty and misses it? What happens if Gundo takes the penalty and scores? So the question is 2-0, who is the taker? The taker is Erling.”

City’s victory, coupled with an Arsenal loss on Sunday to Newcastle United, would all but clinch the Premier League title for the treble-chasers who stretched their winning league run to 10 games.

Liverpool notched up a sixth straight Premier League win to maintain their pursuit of a top-four spot.

Salah bagged the only goal of the game in the 13th minute, starting the move before Fabinho crossed to Virgil van Dijk at the back post, and the big Dutchman headed the ball back for the Egyptian to bundle home his 100th goal at Anfield.

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The win left the Merseysiders in fifth spot on 62 points, one behind fourth-placed United, but the Red Devils have two games in hand.

KANE HEADER

Kane headed Tottenham in front in first-half injury time to move up to second place in the all-time Premier League goalscorers list.

The win vaulted Spurs to sixth in the table with 57 points from 35 games, six points behind fourth-placed United, who have played two games fewer. Palace are 12th.

Chelsea snapped a nine-match winless run in all competitions.

Late goals from Chelsea’s Benoit Badiashile and Joao Felix, after Conor Gallagher’s opener was cancelled out by Bournemouth’s Matias Vina, helped the London club move up to 11th with 42 points.

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Bournemouth slipped to 14th, three points behind Chelsea having played a game more.

“It feels great, we just wanted to put in a performance today,” Lampard said. “We haven’t been good enough recently so this was an important game for us.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers got an early goal from defender Toti and then held on for a gritty 1-0 win over Aston Villa to all but cement a spot in the Premier League next season.

It was a welcome win for Julen Lopetegui’s side after a 6-0 thumping by Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend.

“Massive result for us,” said Ruben Neves, whose corner kick led to the goal. “After the Brighton game, it’s all we have talked about.”

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Wolves climbed 10 points clear of the relegation zone with 40 points, while Villa remained in eighth after their second consecutive loss.

-Reuters

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Premier League

June 12 relief for Ten Hag…to stay at Old Trafford

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Manchester United Can Still Finish Fourth, Says Erik Ten Hag -

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will remain in the job for next season and has entered into talks with the Old Trafford club over a contract extension despite the team’s lowest ever Premier League finish of eighth, British media reported.

The decision comes after an end-of-season review by the club’s board for the 2023-24 campaign, which finished on a high with a shock FA Cup final win over favourites Manchester City.

Ten Hag’s contract runs until the end of next season, with the club having the option of extending it a further 12 months.

Former Ajax Amsterdam coach Ten Hag had come under increasing pressure after 20-times English champions United suffered their worst start to a season since 1962-63 with eight defeats in their first 15 matches in all competitions.

They ended up eighth after 14 defeats in their 38 league games and bowed out of the Champions League in the group phase.

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Ten Hag’s job security had been the subject of speculation all season and many pundits believed the FA Cup final would be the Dutchman’s last game with the team, win or lose.

But moments after their thrilling triumph, the 54-year-old insisted he had no doubt he would be back and said he had received the backing of the club’s owners all season.

“I’m in a project and we are exactly where we want to be. We’re constructing a team. When I took over it was a mess at United, and we are on our way to construct a team for the future,” he told reporters at Wembley.

“The team is developing, the team is winning and the team also plays to an identity. What you need to play is to be available, you need a strong squad in top football, and especially when you play in England, the Premier League is so competitive.”

INJURY WOES

Ten Hag pointed to United’s revolving door of injuries last term, the most of any Premier League team and concentrated in key positions such as central defence.

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He also spoke about the breakout seasons of young players such as midfielder Kobbie Mainoo, who is part of England’s Euro 2024 squad in Germany, and Argentina winger Alejandro Garnacho.

In Ten Hag’s two seasons in charge, United have played in three Wembley finals and lifted two trophies, having also won last season’s League Cup.

Media reports said that all eventualities were considered in the club’s post-season review and the clear preference was for Ten Hag to remain in charge at Old Trafford.

Among coaches linked to the job as potential replacements were Thomas Tuchel and England manager Gareth Southgate.

Ten Hag is United’s fifth permanent manager since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 as the club have searched for someone to lead them back to the heights of their glory years.

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He guided United to third in the league in his debut season

-Reuters

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Another Nigerian blood to flow in Chelsea veins

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Carabao Cup - Quarter Final - Everton v Fulham - Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain - December 19, 2023 Fulham's Tosin Adarabioyo celebrates after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine

Chelsea have signed centre back Tosin Adarabioyo from fellow west London club Fulham on a free transfer, the Premier League side announced on Friday.

Adarabioyo, a former England youth international is of Nigerian descent. He is the latest Nigerian linked with Chlesea after Celestine Babayaro, Mikel Obi and Victor Moses among others.

The 26-year-old Adarabioyo who will join the Stamford Bridge side on a four-year contract beginning on July 1, has made one appearance for the England Under-19s and has played 78 times in the Premier League.

He is the first player to join Chelsea since they announced the arrival of new head coach Enzo Maresca, opens new tab earlier this week, and will bolster their options at centre back following the departure of veteran Thiago Silva.

“We are delighted to bring Tosin to Chelsea,” Chelsea co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said.

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“Throughout his career, he has showcased his maturity and defensive qualities and has gained a wealth of experience in the Premier League in recent seasons.

“He is ready to make the step up to Chelsea and work alongside the talented players in our squad. We look forward to Tosin joining up with us for pre-season.”

Chelsea are looking to revive their fortunes under Maresca after finishing sixth in the standings last season.

“I’m looking forward to starting work with Enzo and I’m sure the boys are too,” Adarabioyo said.

“It’s going to be exciting. We’re going to play good football and win a lot of games. There are top players in this squad and I’m eager to play with them all.”

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-Reuters

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Nigerian-born Ogbonna leaves West Ham after nine-year stay

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Premier League - West Ham United v Luton Town - London Stadium, London, Britain - May 11, 2024 West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna applauds fans as he is substituted REUTERS/Tony Obrien/File Photo

West Ham United centre back Angelo Ogbonna is leaving the club after nine years in east London, the Premier League side said on Wednesday.

Ogbonna was born to Nigerian parents who emigrated to Italy from Nigeria in 1983, settling in the city of Cassino in the central part of the country, but managed to obtain Italian citizenship only after his 18th birthday. He is now 36.

The  Italy international made 201 Premier League appearances for the club and was part of their Europa Conference League-winning side last year.

The former Juventus player struggled with several injuries during his time at West Ham, including a cruciate ligament tear suffered in 2021 that kept him out for almost a year.

“When he was not playing, Ogbonna was always a willing supporter of the club’s community work,” West Ham said in a statement. “He will always be a beloved member of the West Ham United family

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-Reuters

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