Championship Roundup: Bolton Relegated to League One, Leeds Stunned By Wigan and More

On an enthralling Friday packed with Championship action, Bolton’s relegation to League One was confirmed with a 2-0 loss to Aston Villa.

The Wanderers, who have struggled for much of the season with the club in financial turmoil, will play in England’s third tier seven years after their drop into the Championship from the Premier League.

?Villa, who sent Bolton down thanks to goals from Jack Grealish and Tammy Abraham, equalled a club record run of nine straight league wins on Friday and are all but certain to feature in the play-offs.


There was also plenty of drama surrounding the league’s top three teams; ?Norwich, ?Sheffield United and ?Leeds.

Norwich would have secured promotion back to the Premier League if Sheffield United lost to Nottingham Forest and the Canaries beat Sheffield Wednesday in the evening.

However, United ensured Norwich would have to wait a little longer to make their promotion official thanks to goals from Mark Duffy and Enda Stevens, while Norwich themselves couldn’t shove past Wednesday and needed a spectacular 97th minute free kick from Mario Vrancic to grab a point.

Leeds United v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship

Leeds, a favourite team for neutrals since the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa, also had a day to forget, losing 2-1 to Wigan despite taking the lead shortly after Latics defender Cedric Kipre was sent off in the 14th minute.

Likely play-off contenders West Brom and Middlesbrough secured wins, Albion edging Hull 3-2 at the Hawthorns and Boro grinding out a Tony Pulis-style 1-0 success over the Welshman’s former club Stoke. Bristol City and Derby lost ground on sixth placed Middlesbrough, both picking up draws.

Rotherham’s hopes of beating the drop took another blow after losing a 4-3 thriller at Swansea, while Millwall moved three points clear of the Millers thanks to a 1-1 draw with Brentford at Griffin Park.

In the remaining two games, Preston smashed already relegated Ipswich 4-0, Callum Robinson and Lukas Nmecha both netting braces, while strikes from Danny Graham and Bradley Dack ensured Blackburn triumphed at Queens Park Rangers, who responded through Matt Smith.

?A full roundup of Friday’s results can be found below.


Bristol City 1-1 Reading

Sheffield United 2-0 Nottingham Forest

Millwall 1-1 Brentford

Leeds 1-2 Wigan

Middlesbrough 1-0 Stoke

Swansea 4-3 Rotherham

West Brom 3-2 Hull

Birmingham 2-2 Derby

Bolton 0-2 Aston Villa

Preston 4-0 Ipswich

Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Blackburn

Norwich 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday




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Xabi Alonso Backs Liverpool to Win Both Premier League & Champions League

Xabi Alonso has backed former club Liverpool to cap an impressive 2018/19 campaign by winning both the Premier League and Champions League. 

The Reds secured their place in the semi finals of the Champions League with a 6-1 aggregate win over Porto in the previous round, while they currently boast a two-point lead over Manchester City at the summit of the Premier League – albeit playing one game more. 

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Speaking firstly to the ?Daily Mail, the Spaniard – who won the ?Champions League in 2005 with ?Liverpool – stated he is confident the Reds can put last season’s disappointment of losing the final to Real Madrid behind them by beating Barcelona in the semis and winning the final.

Asked if they can become six-time winners of the competition, he replied: “Yeah, why not? They have the experience after what they went through last year. They have the hunger, the desire even more because of the defeat in the last final. That can play a big role. In two legs, Liverpool can beat any team in the world.

“It’s not about individuals. The good thing about Liverpool is that for the last two or three years they have built a team and built an idea. 

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“I think it’s a great team and that’s the main thing. The manager, Jurgen Klopp, is doing an unbelievable job. I really admire him and respect what he’s doing so far.”

As well, Liverpool are very much in the ?Premier League title race as they look to end a 29-year wait for a league title with Jurgen Klopp at the helm – who is looking to win his first trophy since arriving at Anfield in October 2015. 

Asked by former Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg on his ?’Beyond Victory’ podcast whether Klopp’s side can beat ?Manchester City to the title, Alonso replied: “Yes, they can beat them. 

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“I really, really want [Liverpool to win the title] because we have been chasing it for so long, so long. I know how much it means for the club, for their supporters, [after] so long without winning it.”

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KNVB Cancel Full Round of Eredivisie Fixtures to Aid Ajax in CL Semi Final Against Tottenham

?Ajax have been handed a major boost ahead of their Champions League semi-final against Tottenham with the KNVB cancelling an entire round of Eredivisie fixtures prior to the first leg. 

The Dutch side overcame Juventus 3-2 on aggregate in the quarter finals in order to reach the last four of the competition for the first time since 1997, setting up a two-legged tie against Tottenham for a spot the final in Madrid. 

Matthijs de Ligt

To aid their preparations, the Dutch FA, as reported by ?BBC Sport, have postponed the weekend fixtures ahead of the first leg in north London on April 30 to give Erik ten Hag’s side enough time for the game, having been pencilled in to play De Graafschap on Sunday April 28.

The round of fixtures will instead by played on May 15, subject to clearance from local councils and police, with professional football director Eric Gudde acknowledging the decision may cause some disruption, but insisting is one that had to be made.

He said: “We are aware that it is impossible to satisfy everyone, but a knot must be made.

“There can be no question of full satisfaction because this is ultimately not pleasant for any of the people involved. What is really nice is the reason why this was necessary: the semi-final place of Ajax in the Champions League.”

Ajax, who will face Groningen and SBV Vitesse before the first leg, are on course for securing the treble this season, with the club currently top of the Eredivisie, as well as into the final of the KNVB Cup. 

Tottenham, will play three games prior to their semi final, with them facing Manchester City – the side they beat in the quarter-finals – as well as Brighton and West Ham before the first leg. 

The second leg takes place in Amsterdam on May 5, with the winner facing either ?Barcelona or ?Liverpool in the ?Champions League final at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1. 

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90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Week 29

?Following a week where, I mean Jesus, what didn’t happen? Seriously, Jesus, on this Easter weekend, please tell me what didn’t happen in the world of football this week, because I’m at a loss. Essentially:

– Ajax did it again.

– Juventus cratered as an institution. No seriously – ?they did.

– United Jose’d again.

– Tottenham DIDN’T Tottenham.

– Liverpool Liverpool’d.

– Chelsea didn’t Chelsea, then drastically did.

– Europa League Unai Emery Europa League Unai Emery’d.

But that was just a tiny portion of what went down, so to help us explain the rest, we’ve employed dramatic comedy and soul-searcher extraordinaire, Noah Baumbach, and all his filmography, to help us slog through it. Never been to Prague? Let’s go. 


15. Paris Saint-Germain (Down 5)

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“Dear Starbucks, in your attempt to manufacture culture out of fast food coffee you’ve been surprisingly successful for the most part. The part that isn’t covered by ‘the most part’ sucks.” (Greenberg)

How are Paris Saint-Germain still kicking around in these here rankings? Well, they’re still Ligue 1 champions in waiting, and their French Cup final is coming up. 

The part that isn’t that? The part where they endured consecutive losses to Lille (5-1) and Nantes (3-2)? The part where they’ve attempted to manufacture culture out of football?

Yeah, that sucks.


14. Atletico Madrid (Re-Entry)

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?“I found myself writing ‘wake up’ and ‘go to bed’ in my day planner as if they are two different events.” (Kicking & Screaming)

It’s true. Atletico Madrid don’t have much to play for these days after their Champions League exit to Juventus and subsequent loss to Barcelona, which all but ended their La Liga hopes too. 

But still, a 2-0 win against Celta Vigo…that’s good going, guys! Whack that one in the diary. 


13. Valencia (New Entry)

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“‘So what do you do?

‘Eh…It’s kinda hard to explain.’

‘Because what you do is complicated?’

‘Eh…Because I don’t really do it.” (Frances Ha)

A new entry! And at this late stage! How exciting!

And Valencia have earned it, truly, by reaching the semi finals of the Europa League. What an achievement!

How did they do it, you ask? Have I watched a second of this vaunted Europa League campaign, you ask? No, but I’m certain they did do it. Good enough for me. That quote’s become meta now, hasn’t it? 


12. Chelsea (Up 2)

Pedro

“Oh, I’ve been to Prague. Well, I haven’t ‘been to Prague’ been to Prague, but I know that thing; that, ‘Stop shaving your armpits, read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, date a sculptor, now I know how bad American coffee is’ thing.

‘They have good beer there.’

‘Now I know how bad American beer is thing.’” (Kicking & Screaming)

?Chelsea have now definitively been to Prague. And they discovered just how good Petr Sevick’s right foot is, and how bad they can be with a 4-1 lead at half-time. 

Still, European semi final number 14 is on the way.


11. Lille (New Entry)

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“It’s like their apartment is full of everything we once threw out, but it looks so good the way they have it.” (While We’re Young)

Another new entry! What exciting times. And, again, this is fully deserved. 

Lille absolutely spanked the soulless Ligue 1 leaders 5-1 to delay their (still inevitable) coronation.

And they cherry-on-topped it with a goal from Jose Fonte. Sure, they have probably-generational youth talent like Nicolas Pepe, but still, Jose Fonte!!! And he looked so good, didn’t he?


10. Eintracht Frankfurt (Up 5)?

Timothy Chandler,Mijat Gacinovic

“If Plato is a fine red wine, then Aristotle is a dry martini.” (Kicking & Screaming)

I could say something equally faux-profound about Eintracht Frankfurt’s remarkable 2018/19 season, but I won’t.

I’ll just say that Luka Jovic is very good. As is Ante Rebic. As is Filip Kostic. Blues beware. 


9. Juventus (Down 5)

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“What I used to be able to pass off as a bad summer could now potentially turn into a bad life.” (Kicking & Screaming)

Another year, another European dream shattered right in front of the Old Lady’s eyes. Juve are now broken. Seriously, seriously broken. 

Sure, they have an eighth consecutive Scudetto to look forward to in the next fortnight (at most), but look around, there are no other Serie A teams in these rankings as it stands. And that tells you all you need to know. 


8. Borussia Dortmund (-)

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“Sometimes it’s good to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it.” (Frances Ha)

Finally, FINALLY, ?Borussia Dortmund did what they’ve supposed to have been doing during this Bundesliga title race run-in – win. And comfortably, too. 

A Jadon Sancho brace was just what the doctor ordered. More of the same, please. You know how much faith we placed in you. Some confirmation that this wasn’t misplaced would be nice. 

Thanks.


7. Arsenal (Up 1)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles,Allan

“For the first time in my life I’ve stopped thinking of myself as a child imitating an adult.” (While We’re Young)

All of a sudden, Arsenal look like a team of grown ups, especially in Europe. Of course, the stewardship of Europa League savant Unai Emery must help, but still, the improvement in their midweek continental maturity has been stark. 

Brandon Stark? Yes, ‘Game of Thrones‘ is still a thing, and if I had the time to insert Bran into this picture – cause, you know, he’s everywhere man! – I would.


6. Bayern Munich (Up 1)

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“You know, me and Jamie, always wondered, ‘how are we gonna get old?’ And the answer is…just like everyone else.” (While We’re Young)

At times this season, Bayern have looked just like a team of their age should look: bedraggled, off the pace, out of touch etc. 

But at others, they’ve appeared as ageless as a bunch of boys from Neverland.

The only way we’ll find out which assessment is true is by waiting for the sands of time to do their work. How profound. 


5. Manchester City (-)

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?”Josh, you know the world isn’t a giant conspiracy against you.” (While We’re Young)

Replace Josh with Manchester City and, yep, you’ve got it. A bitter, bitter, way to lose? Sure. A Var-spiracy hell-bent on keeping your plucky side of misfits from touching European glory? Give over. 

That may have been harsh. Because I genuinely did feel for City fans on Wednesday night – there can’t be many worse ways to lose than that, after a game like that. So here, have another Baumbach quote, on the house:

“How do you make God laugh? Make a plan.” (Kicking & Screaming)

Feeling better yet?


4. Barcelona (Down 2)

Lionel Messi

“It was like walking barefoot through broken glass to get a milkshake. I loved the milkshake, but, you know, my feet were bleeding.” (‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’)

Yes, it’s only a matter of time before Barcelona win La Liga, and yes, they won their Champions League quarter-final second leg with ease. 

So why the bleeding feet?

Well, it can’t be pleasant playing 180 minutes against Manchester United, can it? 

In other film-milkshake related news, ?Lionel Messi is coming for your milkshake, Europe, and he wants to drink it all up.


3. Tottenham Hotspur (Up 3)

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“It’s huge to finally embrace the life you never planned on.” (Greenberg)

In their wildest dreams, ?Tottenham fans would never have ‘planned on’ reaching the Champions League semi finals. They may have hoped and dreamed and prayed. But never ‘planned’. They’re not like that. 

Fortunately, that’s not how their club were thinking. That’s not what their players were thinking. That’s not what their manager was thinking. For years, they’ve been plotting this moment. Sure, there’s been some praying on the way too, but Wednesday night wasn’t the result of prayers.

It was planning at its best. 


2. Liverpool (Up 1)

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“I haven’t had that thing yet, where you realise that you’re not the most important person in the world.” (Margot at the Wedding)

Sure, Liverpool vanquished some demons when they dispatched of Chelsea on Sunday at Anfield, and then vanquished Porto altogether in their ?Champions League tie, but are they the most important club in the world?

They may feel like it, but clearly, given their runner-up medal in these here rankings, they’re not. 

Sorry.


1. Ajax (-)

Matthijs de Ligt,Daley Blind,David Neres,Lasse Schone

?”Don’t mind me, I’m just trying to get your attention.” (Frances Ha)

Well, by God, De Godenzonen, you’ve got it. Ten times over. Christ, we love you. We love your style of football. We love your infectious youthful naivety, your generational talent, your once in a lifetime collective, your never-say-die-attitude. We love it all. 

The fact that these words are uttered by the God Adam Driver should not be ignored, either. Driver was an up-and-comer for a millisecond, and then, deservedly, he was an A-grade actor. There was no in between. No stint in Hollywood purgatory. He’s just great, in everything does. 

A lot like Ajax.

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Everton vs Manchester United Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

?Everton host Manchester United on Sunday afternoon, the first hurdle in what could be a make or break week for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.

After getting dumped out of the Champions League and registering only two wins in their last seven games across all competitions, United desperately need to take all three points in order to restore some momentum in their pursuit of a top four finish.

Everton have their own incentives. A spot in the Europa League qualifying rounds is very much up for grabs as they sit only one point behind seventh place Leicester City. 

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Check out 90min’s preview of ?Sunday’s clash below.


Where to Watch

?When Is Kick Off? ?Sunday 21 April
?What Time Is Kick Off? ?13:30 (BST)
?Where Is it Played? ?Goodison Park
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League
?Referee? ?Paul Tierney

Team News

Everton, who are unbeaten in their last three home games, are set to only be without two first team players for Sunday’s clash.

Marco Silva told the media that Yerry Mina is their only injury absentee, still nursing a hamstring injury he sustained on international duty, while Andre Gomes is set to serve the first of a three-match ban following his red card in the 2-0 defeat to Fulham last weekend.

As for United, Solskjaer has confirmed Alexis Sanchez and Nemanja Matic are fit and could feature, but Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly are still sidelined along with long term absentee Antonio Valencia.

Luke Shaw will also miss out as he serves the second of a two-match ban after picking up ten yellow cards in the league.


Predicted Lineups

?Everton ?Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne; Davies, Gueye; Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard; Calvert-Lewin.
Manchester United ?De Gea; Dalot, Smalling, Lindelof, Young; McTominay, Matic, Pogba; Lingard; Rashford, Lukaku.

Head to Head Record

United are unbeaten against Everton in their last eight games, winning six of those and recording a 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. 

The Toffees’ last win came in 2015 when they completed a convincing 3-0 win at Goodison Park, however they still fall short in head to head form over time. In 200 meetings, United have won 88 compared to Everton’s 69 and they have shared the spoils 43 times. 

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It’s a fixture which has seen many players turn out for both sides throughout their careers, with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Phil NevilleMorgan Schneiderlin and Marouane Fellaini all competing for both clubs. 

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Romelu Lukaku is the latest player to have this connection and will return to Goodison Park for only the second time, hoping to make an impact on the game should he be given an opportunity. 


Recent Form

Everton will be looking to bounce back after a slip up last weekend saw them lose 2-0 to Fulham at Craven Cottage. They had been in great form previously, recording three wins in a row against Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal respectively.

They managed to keep clean sheets in each of those matches and Marco Silva will be hoping they can tighten the ship again against a United side looking to get in behind at every opportunity.

Paul Pogba

United are still licking their wounds after a disappointing night in Barcelona which sees them without a win in their last four away games. This comes off the back of a record breaking run where they managed nine wins in a row over all competitions on the road. 

A win is vital if they want to have any chance of finishing in the top four, with games against ?Manchester City and ?Chelsea to come.

Here’s how they’ve performed in their last five fixtures.

?Everton ?Manchester United
?Fulham 2-0 Everton (13/4) ?Barcelona 3-0 Manchester United (16/4)
?Everton 1-0 Arsenal (7/4) ?Manchester United 2-1 West Ham (13/4)
?West Ham 0-2 Everton (30/3) ?Manchester United 0-1 Barcelona (10/4)
?Everton 2-0 Chelsea (17/3) ?Wolves 2-1 Manchester United (2/4)
?Newcastle 3-2 Everton (9/3) ?Manchester United 2-1 Watford (30/3)

Prediction

This is usually a tasty clash and Sunday afternoon has all the ingredients to produce another gripping encounter. 

United will do whatever they can to get the win and will not be afraid to throw everything they have at ?Everton, knowing it’s all or nothing.

This shouldn’t phase the Toffees as they’ll be confident having dismantled top six opposition a few times at home this season. 

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In the end, ?United should manage to come away victorious, with more on the line and a point to prove after a run of bad performances. 

Prediction: Everton 1-3 Manchester United

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