Premier League title tussle continues and WSL finale: football countdown – live!

Allan Saint-Maximin has gone on Twitter to explain himself. Nothing to see here says big Al, who also compares himself to Michael Jordan! Blimey!

The interview I did with Sofoot has been taken out of context and shortened on Twitter. I never said anything negative about my teammates, I simply said as any Newcastle fan would that I was looking forward to having an even better team so that we could progress collectively 1/2

— Allan Saint-Maximin (@asaintmaximin) May 6, 2022

Some quotes here from his interview with French publication ‘So Foot’.

“Those who have played alongside me know full well that when it comes to pure quality, I have no cause to be jealous of Sadio Mane.

“But the difference between these great players and me is that they show a lot of things on the pitch.

“The day I get a team-mate who is able to convert the chances I create, I will have 10 to 15 successful assists every season. That will change people’s minds.

“My aim is to do things that leave a mark on people’s minds, and to change the rules.

“In a similar way to what Michael Jordan has managed to do. He has changed people’s lives. Jordan has given motivation to people, and that is beautiful.”

You can’t beat a good mural. Here’s one Lucy Ward spotted last night. Hopefully David Moyes didn’t hoof a ball at it.

Some Burnley team news for that Villa game as the Clarets look to make it four straight Premier League victories.

Incidentally, Man Utd’s longest winning streak in the top-flight this is season stands at two.

From PA Media: Erik Pieters, Jay Rodriguez and Maxwell Cornet could all be in contention for a return to the Burnley squad against Aston Villa.

Pieters is the most likely having trained all week following a knee injury while Rodriguez (hamstring) and Cornet (knee) are also back out on the grass.

Captain Ben Mee has stepped up his recovery from a leg injury but may not feature again this season, which also looks set to be the case for both Johann Berg Gudmundsson (leg) and Ashley Westwood (ankle).

Never one to gloss over matters, straight-talker Steven Gerrard says Aston Villa have underachieved this season.

Victory over Norwich last week took them to 40 points but that was their first win in six Premier League games.

He told the club’s website: “We want to finish in a place where we can be satisfied – I don’t think we’re going to be happy or celebrating anything this season because the team, from the beginning of the season to now, has underachieved.

“In the remaining games, it’s about putting ourselves in a place that we can go and build on.

“We can try and strengthen in the coming window, have a positive pre-season and reset everything going into a brand new season. Those are the short-term priorities.”

Villa play resurgent Burnley at Turf Moor this weekend and Gerrard added: “Burnley have got their own style and identity, but I think it’s very disrespectful to say that Burnley just fight and compete.

“I’ve watched their last three or four games and they’ve got really good technical players, they’ve got a really strong mentality within the group and they’re desperate to stay in the Premier League.

“If they achieve that, they’ve probably punched above their weight compared to other teams, but that’s none of my business. My business is to take maximum points off Burnley tomorrow.

“We’ve analysed a good, strong team that are on a new manager bounce, but my priority is to make sure Aston Villa go there and get the win.”

Leon Bailey is out after picking up and injury in the Norwich win while Gerrard describes Jacob Ramsey as “a big doubt” following an issue in training.

Leicester and set-pieces, eh. It cost them again last night as they lost their Europa Conference League semi-final to Roma due to some rather suspect planning.

This from Ben Fisher, who was at the Stadio Olimpico.

Jonny Evans seemed as bemused as anyone as to why 5ft 9in Ricardo Pereira was picking up 6ft 3in Tammy Abraham at corners at the Stadio Olimpico last night, with the England striker rising above the Leicester full-back to score the only goal of the game.

Brendan Rodgers said a mismatch was always inevitable given Roma had five main aerial threats.

“Set-pieces are a really important part of the game and they’re a problem for us,” Evans said, confirming Pereira was assigned to mark the former Chelsea striker. “When you look at Tammy Abraham being marked by Ricardo, there’s a problem there with the size difference. It’s very difficult in that situation.”

Here’s Ben’s full match report, including further reaction from Foxes boss Rodgers.

Still hard to believe that Maradona’s ‘hand of God’ shirt sold for £7.1m at auction.

Imagine if Steve Hodge’s dog (perhaps still outraged by the injustice) had ripped it to shreds.

Interesting piece here from Barney Weston on why football must do more to tackle climate change. How can we all help? Read on…

Looks like Roy Hodgson has realised it’s time to hand in the gun and badge. This from PA Media.

Roy Hodgson insisted he will not be looking for another managerial job ahead of Watford’s trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Watford’s relegation from the Premier League could be confirmed when they travel to Hodgson’s former club, with the Hornets needing favourable results, a goal difference swing and wins in all of their remaining matches to remain in the top flight.

Since he took over in January following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri, Watford have just two wins in 14 matches, and the 74-year-old is ready to call time on his managerial career.

“I mean, obviously, I still feel good. I still feel lively enough to do something but I wouldn’t go as far as to say I would be looking for another job at the top level of management,” Hodgson said.

“I think I’ve done my share of that now. And I think it’s only right as I did when I left Crystal Palace (to look forward) more to a quieter time in my life and a chance to spend more time in particular with my wife and son.

“But I think it would be foolish for me to sort of rule out any sort of activity in football because I don’t know what might be offered to me.

“So I’ll take every suggestion as it comes and give full consideration but it’s unlikely, as I said yesterday, that would involve full time coaching and management.”

Here’s our ‘10 things to look out’ for in the Premier League this weekend. Includes a pic of yogi Mo Salah in a lovely ‘tree’ pose (from the recent win over Man Utd). Hadn’t seen him pull that one since scoring against Chelsea a few seasons back. Hopefully he’s planning a ‘Warrior 2’ for the Champions League final.

Watford’s Juraj Kucka (left) appears to be in some meditative state too. Although perhaps he’s just missed a sitter.

Eddie Howe has an issue to deal with ahead of Newcastle’s home game against Manchester City after darling of the terraces, Allan Saint-Maximin, apparently told French magazine ‘So Foot’ that he would be more effective in a better team.

Eddie and Allan.
Eddie and Allan. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Howe said: “I saw the quotes, spoke with Allan. I think I need to make this clear that Allan’s quotes didn’t come across in the way he meant them to.

“He was concerned yesterday. We spoke and in no way did he mean to damage the team and the unity that we’ve built. Of course, he said things in an interview, but, as I said, it wasn’t in the context that he meant, although it happened.

“We will be speaking with the squad, and making sure there’s no fall-out from that, because unity has been our strength. It’s vitally important that we keep that at all costs.”

In more heartening news for the Magpies, Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier could return to the squad for the City game after lengthy absences.

Howe said: “Callum has trained all week. I’ve been really pleased with him, he’s trained very well. We’ve had two really tough days and he’s come through those days excellently.

“Physically, he looks very good – he’s put a lot of work in to get to this point, so I’m very pleased with the attitude, as always, with Callum.

“He’s incredible with his work and he looks in a good place. There’s a good chance he’ll be involved.

“Kieran is slightly behind him this week in the sense that he hasn’t trained every day, but when he has trained – he trained yesterday – he’s trained very well, so we’ll make a late decision on them.”

Wilson has been out for 17 matches and Trippier 12.

Time for some manager quotes but first… Dimitar Berbatov trapping a crossfield pass.

As well as picking up awards, Mo Salah has some karma in mind after getting his wish of a Champions League final against Real Madrid.

Here’s Andy Hunter’s piece on the Liverpool striker having a score to settle in a rematch that won’t feature either Sergio Ramos or Loris Karius.

David Moyes rather lost his cool in West Ham’s Europa League defeat and had to apologise for leathering a ball at a ballboy.

Click the video where he attempts a joke, realises it’s tanked and then apologises again.

Rangers are in the Europa League final but West Ham are not after falling at the final hurdle.

Our reports on the contrasting nights for the two British teams.

Liverpool’s Mo Salah and Chelsea’s Sam Kerr were all smiles last night after picking up their Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year awards.

Here’s a look at past recipients in case you were wondering.

Men’s winners
2021/22 Mo Salah (Liverpool)
2020/21 Ruben Dias (Man City)
2019/20 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
2018/19 Raheem Sterling (Man City)
2017/18 Mo Salah (Liverpool)

Thierry Henry is the only player to have won it three times.

Women’s winners
2021/22 Sam Kerr (Chelsea)
2020/21 Fran Kirby (Chelsea)
2019/20 Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal)
2018/19 Nikita Parris (Man City)
2017/18 Fran Kirby (Chelsea)

Arsenal managers’ new deals

Let’s start with some Arsenal news and how’s this for some lovely co-ordination. Current men’s team and women’s team bosses, Mikel Arteta and Jonas Eidevall, have signed new contracts. Here they are in matching tops with matching pens.


So here we are. Matchweek (or is it Gameweek?) 36 out of 38. In Grand National terms we’re at The Elbow. Much can still happen in the run-in.

Perhaps the biggest intrigue this weekend is how Manchester City will react to Real Madrid’s witchcraft on Wednesday night. We’ll have to wait to find out though as City don’t host Newcastle until 4.30pm on Sunday in the final Premier League match of the weekend.

Before then, Liverpool hope to keep piling on the pressure with victory over Spurs at Anfield on Saturday evening, a game that will have plenty of ramifications on the top-four battle. Current Champions League spot dwellers Arsenal host Leeds on Sunday afternoon.

And how about that crazy battle at the bottom? Norwich are gone, Watford are being issued the last rites while Burnley and Everton have momentum. Leeds fans are carrying a new sense of impending doom while the trio on 40 points – Southampton, Brentford and Aston Villa – would like another point or so just to be sure.

West Ham and Leicester have to pick themselves up after disappointing European exits while Wolves currently hold the rosette in the late-season ‘on the beach’ contest.

The Women’s Super League is even nearer the finish line and we go into the final weekend with Chelsea holding a one-point lead over Arsenal.

If Chelsea fail to beat Manchester United, Arsenal can pinch the title with victory at West Ham.

So, strap yourselves in and let’s play. Lots of manager quotes, build-up and other hot content coming your way.


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