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Newcastle and Man Utd fixtures show Liverpool top four chance amid two Champions League boosts



Newcastle and Man Utd fixtures show Liverpool top four chance amid two Champions League boosts

After winning six matches in a row in the Premier League, Liverpool has reignited its top-four chances. Ultimately, if the Reds do not make the Champions League this season, it will be because of the first three-quarters of the campaign rather than the run-in.

Jürgen Klopp’s side can only win its own fixtures, with three games remaining — Leicester, Aston Villa and Southampton — with those matches looking a lot more winnable given the form that Liverpool has been in lately.

Having beaten Brentford 1-0 on Saturday, Liverpool will have been watching on Sunday as Newcastle United and then Manchester United were in action — in third and fourth place heading into the weekend.

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First, there was Newcastle United. Its opponent, Arsenal, could easily have collapsed at this point in the season, being behind to a relentless Manchester City in the Premier League title race, but the Gunners, to their credit, performed very well.

Martin Ødegaard continued his fantastic season with a brilliant opener before Gabriel Martinelli forced an own goal. Arsenal battled to a 2-0 win and moved within a point of Pep Guardiola’s men at the top having played a game more.

More importantly than that, however, Newcastle is now only three points ahead of Liverpool, albeit Eddie Howe’s side has a game in hand to play. This was one of the fixtures that Liverpool needed Newcastle to slip up in, and it did.

Then came Manchester United, itself facing a tricky-looking away trip at West Ham United. David de Gea made that task even harder when he failed to stop a relatively tame effort from Algerian winger Saïd Benrahma.

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From that point on, Manchester United never looked quite convincing in attack — no huge shock when relying on Wout Weghorst and Anthony Martial.

A breakthrough could have come via an individual moment from Marcus Rashford or Bruno Fernandes, but that never arrived and West Ham held on and saw the result out.

With Newcastle and Manchester United both losing, that is a double boost for Liverpool, with each of the teams above them three points closer than prior to kick-off at Anfield on Saturday.

Liverpool’s remaining games: Leicester (A), Aston Villa (H), Southampton (A)

Points if all matches are won: 71

Newcastle’s remaining games: Leeds United (A), Brighton (H), Leicester (H), Chelsea (A)

Points if all matches are won: 77

Manchester United’s remaining games: Wolves (H), Bournemouth (A), Chelsea (H), Fulham (H)

Points if all matches are won: 75

And, of course, there is Brighton to consider as well. Roberto de Zerbi’s side is currently seven points behind Liverpool, but has three matches in hand having only played 32 matches so far.

Brighton’s remaining games: Everton (H), Arsenal (A), Newcastle (A), Southampton (H), Manchester City (A), Aston Villa (H)

Points if all matches are won: 73

That next Brighton fixture, against Everton, is tomorrow, with Liverpool fans having eyes on that with regard to the relegation battle that the Goodison Park side is embroiled in at the moment — Brighton’s games after that are Newcastle and Arsenal. says: Brighton would be an outsider, with the hardest games and a bit of a gap to overhaul to Liverpool and the others. Manchester United has the easiest remaining matches and should be capable of picking up the three points that it needs, though was hardly convincing at all against West Ham; quite the opposite, in fact.

Newcastle is perhaps the one that Liverpool could catch if the Reds do their job. Leeds at Elland Road (Sam Allardyce’s first home game in charge) should not be easy, while Brighton, Leicester and Chelsea can all play on their day. Newcastle and Manchester United still both have work to do. Liverpool just has to keep them honest and then hope for more results like today.


Manchester United let Liverpool back into top four race with defeat at West Ham

Manchester United are just a point ahead of fierce rivals Liverpool following a 1-0 defeat at West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday.

Erik ten Hag’s side looked to have wrapped up a place in next season’s Champions League after a 1-0 win over Aston Villa last weekend, with the Dutchman admitting qualification was in their hands.

And it still is, but back-to-back losses against Brighton and now West Ham have given Liverpool hope of sneaking into the competition at the end of the season.

After losing 1-0 at the Amex in midweek following an Alexis Mac Allister penalty deep into added time, Ten Hag’s side went down to a first-half goal from Said Benrahma at the London Stadium on Sunday.

United are still fourth, a point above Liverpool with a game in hand over the Reds as well.

Newcastle are two points better off in fourth place, despite defeat at home to Arsenal on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s win was huge for West Ham as David Moyes’ men moved seven points clear of the relegation zone with three fixtures left to play.

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SPORTS AGENDA: A new Sky Sports show will explain VAR decisions to viewers

A groundbreaking television programme on which audio from referees and VAR officials is made public is set to air a week today.

Agenda understands that Howard Webb, the new chief of refs’ body PGMOL, is keen to increase transparency and has been instrumental in the creation of a planned 30-minute show which is expected to be screened on Monday, with Webb himself later taking to the airwaves on Monday Night Football ahead of Liverpool’s visit to Leicester City.

It is hoped the show, which will be shown internationally via Premier League Productions, will help clubs and fans understand how decisions are reached and reduce confusion and animosity.

The pilot programme will include audio from on-field officials and interactions with those operating VAR.

While the incidents to be used are yet to be selected it is thought that Webb will also go through the chosen flashpoints ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s side’s visit to the King Power Stadium.

PGMOL chief Howard Webb, right, is keen to increase the transparency around VAR decisions

While champagne may have been the order of the day, Huddersfield’s Houdini Neil Warnock was spotted strolling the pretty lanes of Last of the Summer Wine country after he masterminded the club’s great escape. Warnock, who previously managed the Terriers in the early 1990s, also popped into his old barber’s for a trim — about 25 years after his last visit.

At the recent meeting of EFL clubs to approve the new broadcast deal with Sky Sports, a number of representatives from sides in Leagues One and Two tried to raise the issue of how all funds are distributed.

Those who spoke were told that the meeting was not the right forum. Expect further discussions at this summer’s AGM. Sources on the call disclosed that the much-improved £935million five-year package ‘sailed through’ and hailed the work of EFL commercial chief Ben Wright.

Positive discussions are continuing between Manchester United and long-serving keeper David de Gea over a new deal.

The Spaniard broke Alex Stepney’s goalkeeping appearance record for the club when he hit 540 in United’s Premier League clash with West Ham at the London Stadium. While he has faced criticism from certain quarters — and he certainly made a howler on Sunday— De Gea has eclipsed Peter Schmeichel’s clean sheet record and currently tops the Premier League charts for that stat this season.

De Gea’s contract expires shortly, although the club have the option to extend by 12 months. Should agreement be reached, the 32-year-old is expected to have to take a cut on his current £375,000-a-week deal.

Positive discussions are continuing over extending David de Gea’s contract at Man United

Strong rumours in India that the IPL is looking to form a 10-over IPL2. It will be interesting to see where this fits politically, where it could sit in the schedule and how it would work with the Saudis, who are looking at setting up their own Twenty20 competition that could blow all others out of the water financially. There are officials within India’s top brass who feel that the 10-over format could well be something that could be on the radar for future Olympic Games.

Fresh from seeing star forward Sam Kerr carrying Australia’s flag at the Coronation on Saturday, Australian women’s football is continuing to make its mark ahead of this summer’s World Cup (which they are co-hosting with New Zealand).

The new Disney+ show Matildas: The World At Our Feet tracks the progress of the Aussie women’s team over the past 12 months and shows the preparations that enabled them to beat the Lionesses last month — ending their 30-game unbeaten run. One key scene in episode 3 involves high-performance director Paddy Steinfort, who has previously helped NFL star Patrick Mahomes in the past. Steinfort explains that Kerr and other key players must be rested before a high-profile friendly with Spain to reduce the risk of injury and exhaustion.

The team went on to lose 7-0, but is the benefit of thinking long term now paying off and will the Matildas, as a result of giving players a much-needed break last summer, have an advantage when the World Cup starts in July?

Sam Kerr carried Australia’s flag at the Coronation and is featured in a new Disney+ show

Sam Allardyce believes the task ahead of him in saving Leeds from relegation is so huge that he has decided to base himself in the city.

Allardyce wants to spend most of his waking hours at the training ground and since starting his new job on Wednesday has been arriving at the Thorp Arch before 8am every morning — and sometimes even earlier.

The former England, Everton and Newcastle boss, whose side showed signs of promise in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester City, gets there before most of the other staff.

While he lives in Bolton, which is within an hour and 30 minute’s drive from Wetherby, Allardyce is refusing to commute. Instead, he is choosing largely to stay in a hotel on the outskirts of Leeds until the season has finished, while spending the occasional night at home.

Meanwhile, after a judge refused Sammy Lee’s attempt to be excused from a jury to join his old pal in Yorkshire, an SOS was sent out to Robbie Keane.

He told chief exec Angus Kinnear he wanted Keane at 9.30am. A call was made and former Whites man Keane agreed to come in without discussing terms. At 1pm he was on a flight from Dublin before landing at Leeds-Bradford Airport at 2pm and arriving at training for 2.45pm.

Sam Allardyce has decided to base himself in Leeds as he bids to save the club from relegation

There cannot be many physios who have left football to pursue a career in television but Agenda understands that was the motivation behind Bournemouth medic Stuart Douglas’s decision to depart the club.

Readers may remember that the former Luton man jetted to the Australian jungle last year where his sister Scarlette, the former A Place in the Sun presenter, was appearing. The pair have already fronted shows together on Channel 4 and the aim is now for Stuart, 45, to free up time to focus solely on roles on-screen with his sister.

He will stay with the Cherries, who have already advertised for a replacement, until the season ends.

Qatar’s ambition to host the 2036 Olympics remains on track. On Friday, the Athletics Diamond League was held in Doha with many VIPs in attendance. The prize guests for Qatar are IOC members and one of them, Seb Coe, might have been expected to attend.

However, if Lord Coe thought he could diplomatically escape Qatar’s gaze by attending King Charles III’s Coronation, he may have been mistaken — as he found himself seated almost within lobbying distance of fellow IOC member, the Emir of Qatar!

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