Sunderland relegated as Hull hold on

Sunderland's 10-year stay in the Premier League has come to an end after they lost 1-0 at home to Bournemouth, leaving them 13 points adrift with four games remaining after Hull City held on for a goalless draw at Southampton.

Sunderland's fate looked set when Bournemouth's Josh King side-footed in the winner at the Stadium of Light in the 88th minute after a swift counter-attack.A Hull defeat would have given Sunderland a stay of execution and when Southampton were awarded a penalty at St. Mary's in the final minute there was a glimmer of hope for David Moyes's team.

But Hull keeper Eldin Jakupovic dived low to save Dusan Tadic's penalty in the final minute and earn the 17th-placed Tigers a vital point in their own battle against the drop.

Sunderland had some chances but top scorer Jermain Defoe was not at his sharpest and, not for the first time this season, the home supporters flooded out of the ground before the final whistle.

"My feeling at the start of the season was it was going to be a hard graft," Moyes told BBC Radio.

"But ultimately today I feel for the supporters. They pay their hard-earned cash to come to the stadium and we have not given them enough this season," he said.

Moyes said he was not ready to discuss his future, saying two or three weeks of reflection were needed for the club before a plan was developed for a return to the Premier League.

The club's American owner Ellis Short issued a statement saying such a plan would be developed once the season was over and admitting the club had made mistakes.

"I acknowledge that during my ownership mistakes have been made, particularly in the area of player recruitment, and as a result we have found ourselves struggling to survive in recent seasons," he said.

"We had massive disruption during the summer transfer window and an unprecedented number of injuries throughout the season. These are difficulties which we have been unable to overcome and we are paying the price for that now."

At the Hawthorns Jamie Vardy struck the 43rd-minute winner for champions Leicester against West Brom in a 1-0 win.

Vardy finished with confidence after Shinji Okazaki latched on to a poor back pass from Salomon Rondon.

Goals from Ashley Barnes and substitute Andre Gray helped Burnley to get their first away win of the season with a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace. The result moves Burnley to eight points above the relegation zone and should secure their top-flight status for another season.

Burnley move up to 14th place, above Palace and West Ham, who drew 0-0 at Stoke City.

Bayern captures fifth straight Bundesliga crown

Bayern Munich has won its fifth straight Bundesliga title following a 6-1 thrashing of Wolfsburg.

RB Leipzig's 0-0 draw with Ingolstadt left it 10 poingts adrift of the leaders with only three games and nine points available.

Robert Lewandowksi scored twice in Bayern's victory with club chairman left astounded by the team's achievements.

"Five times in a row, that's unbelievable. We completely deserve to be champions,” the former German international told Sky.

Carlo Ancelotti has delivered a 27th league title in his first season as Bayern's head coach.

"I am very happy, this win was important and it's a fantastic experience,” said the Italian.

Ancelotti has now won four national league titles after also lifting the English Premier League with Chelsea, Serie A with AC Milan and Ligue 1 with Paris Saint Germain.

"I want to thank this great club,” he said.

"We deserved the title and have played good football, now is the time to celebrate.”

JIOI - MAURICE 2019 : La Réunion menace de se retirer des Jeux

Le Comité régional olympique et sportif (Cros) de la Réunion a posé une bombe hier en menaçant de quitter les Jeux des îles. La crise de gouvernance est profonde et l’événement est en péril. À la base, cet épineux article 7 de la Charte des Jeux adopté par le Conseil international des Jeux (Cij) le mois dernier et qui définit les critères de sélection d’un Réunionnais ou d’un Mahorais inscrit aux Jeux, dont la prochaine édition sera organisée à Maurice en 2019.
Le malaise était palpable il y a deux ans, quand le drapeau des Jeux des îles a été plié à Saint-Paul pour prendre la direction de Maurice en attendant 2019. La belle idée de réunir les peuples indianocéaniques sous l’impulsion de la Réunion en 1979 semblait avoir vécu. D’autres considérations — politiques en l’occurrence — avaient pris le dessus, après que Mayotte eut défilé sous le drapeau français lors de la cérémonie d’ouverture, provoquant la colère et le départ des Comores avant même la première compétition.
S’en étaient suivis des 9es JIOI bouclés tant bien que mal, où le sport et la fête avaient été éclipsés, tout comme les drapeaux et les hymnes. Une solution d’urgence qui avait fait une large place aux compromis. La question de la représentation de Mayotte n’a toujours pas été tranchée. Mais c’est d’un autre foyer qu’est venu un nouvel incendie hier, mettant en lumière encore une fois un problème de gouvernance.
Le serpent de mer, ou de l’océan Indien, est ressorti sous les traits du Comité régional olympique et sportif (Cros) réunionnais. Une institution chapeautant tous les mouvements sportifs de l’île d’ordinaire mesurée et réservée dans ses prises de position qui a décidé, en accord avec les présidents de Ligue des sports choisis aux Jeux (voir par ailleurs), de claquer la porte du Cij, sorte de CIO de la zone qui régit les Jeux des îles en élaborant notamment sa charte. Un règlement commun dont toute modification est très sensible. Le point de crispation s’est cette fois porté sur l’article 7, alinéa 2, qui définit les critères de sélection d’un Réunionnais ou d’un Mahorais inscrit aux Jeux.

Selon la charte, pour porter les couleurs d’un des deux DOM (Réunion et Mayotte) lors des JIOI, un athlète doit remplir une de ces trois conditions : « être natif de l’île » ; « être licencié auprès d’un mouvant sportif de l’île durant trois années civiles continues incluant celle des Jeux » ; ou « avoir été licencié au moins cinq ans dans l’île. »
Un article déjà âprement discuté dans le passé, les autres pays de la zone craignant un appel trop fort aux "Kréopolitains" (sportifs réunionnais vivant en France) pour renforcer les deux délégations françaises, alors que les Réunionnais dénoncent des naturalisations expresses de leur concurrent.
Lors de la dernière réunion du Cij, présidée par le Seychellois Antonio Gopal, les 27 et 28 mars dernier à Maurice, les Réunionnais ont demandé une abrogation de cet article, ou du moins que tous les pays membres soient logés à la même enseigne. Devant le refus poli et le peu d’intérêt des autres membres, les trois représentants du Cros ont, par la voix de l’un d’eux, Thierry Grimaud, président du comité d’organisation des derniers Jeux et vice-président du Cros, exprimé leur mécontentement dans une allocution demandant à être mis « sur le même pied d’égalité », et considérant l’article 7 comme « discriminatoire. »
Des dettes impayées des comités nationaux des Comores (17 000 euros/≈ Rs 680 000) et de Madagascar (55 000 euros/≈ Rs 2,2 M) sont également évoquées pour brandir la menace d’un retrait de la Réunion des Jeux des îles et donc une absence lors de la 10e édition en 2019, qui correspond au 40e anniversaire des JIOI.
C’est surtout un ras-le-bol profond qui s’est exprimé par le biais de cet ultimatum. Celui d’une gouvernance où la Réunion, face à Madagascar, aux Comores, Madagascar et Maurice, qui font souvent alliance, n’a pas le sentiment d’avoir son mot à dire.
« On arrive au bout de 40 ans d’un fonctionnement. Nous avons toujours la volonté que (les Jeux) soient une fête de la jeunesse et du sport. Nous voulions travailler sur la modification de la charte dans cette idée. On a adopté des principes communs, mais quand nous demandons que tout le monde soit logé à la même enseigne pour participer aux Jeux, on nous dit que ce n’est pas possible, que nous ne sommes pas égaux. On ne veut plus. On sait bien que lorsqu’il y a un litige contre la Réunion au Cij c’est perdu », estime Thierry Grimaud.
Le Cros menace de ne pas participer aux prochains JIOI si la question n’est pas réglée, tout en affirmant ne pas vouloir laisser sa chaise vide. « Comme nous l’avions toujours fait, nous allons rester autour de la table pour la poursuite des travaux, sans que cela soit pour nous un engagement d’être avec vous pour les prochaines rencontres et Jeux », a lancé Thierry Grimaud en conclusion de son intervention à la dernière réunion du Cij.
La prochaine, en février 2018 à Maurice, risque d’être très mouvementée. Et décisive, car après cette date, statutairement, la charte ne pourra plus être modifiée.

  • Published in Local

Anthony Joshua thrives on calm before storm against Wladimir Klitschko

Anthony Joshua laughs a lot. After all he has much to be happy about. He is widely regarded as the best young heavyweight in the world, the future of boxing, according to those with a financial interest in his unbeaten progress at Wembley on Saturday night, an Olympic gold medallist and multimillionaire at 27 with celebrity friends, a posse and a back story.

This “fine young man”, as he is often and correctly described, is an entrenched hero of British sport, getting ready to test his spirit and skill against one of the all-time greats in front of 90,000 fans. So he laughs and it is infectious. Even the stone-faced Wladimir Klitschko, who now plots to destroy him, laughs with him.

Scared men often let laughter hide their anxiety but there is a scary calm about Joshua that seems genuine. He is always like this. “I like to be around familiar faces. It keeps me relaxed,” he says. “I don’t want to build up too much unnecessary energy. Believe it or not, stress is as big a killer as anything. When I’m walking out to the ring, that’s when I let the energy build up. When it’s time to switch on, I definitely switch on.”

But the first punch does not necessarily mean an explosive release of tension for him. His trainer, Robert McCracken, has encouraged measured power, control and clear-mindedness for every second of the fight. For all the lightheartedness of the buildup, neither fighter will fully relax until the job is done. “When you win,” Joshua adds, “it’s a release, and your eyes are open to everything. When you’re fighting it’s intense.”

At the weigh-in at Wembley Arena on Friday he looked ready for a collision rather than a dance, weighing a career-high 17st 12lb, fully 10lb heavier than a challenger 14 years his senior.

“You’ve got to take the fight round by round,” Joshua said when asked if he might have been better to come in lighter and use his movement, adding: “I want to knock him out. But I don’t hate Klitschko, I don’t dislike Klitschko, I want to beat Klitschko. For now it’s tunnel vision.”

Dr Steelhammer, who has a degree in sports science, will digest the fact that Joshua has chosen bulk over sleekness – although he did in his last fight, too, when he blew away the American Éric Molina. “It really doesn’t matter,” Klitschko said. “I will go round to round. I wish him good luck.”

The former world champion Lennox Lewis, who began his professional career at 16st 7lb and was nearly two stones heavier in his last fight (against Wladimir’s brother, Vitali), thinks Joshua will win but cautioned: “That’s very heavy, a lot of muscle to move around for 12 rounds. He has to watch his stamina, make sure he can go in there and box. He better have a Plan B. I’ve never seen Klitschko in this kind of shape.”

Joshua will need all his focus because he knows, behind the grin and the strained bonhomie, that the ring is no place for levity. And that is why the chess-playing Klitschko, who has wiped the smile from 64 faces in 68 bouts stretching back to 1996, will have wondered about Joshua’s demeanour in recent days. Is that a nervous laugh he hears? Is this amiable prince playing games with him? Is there something he is yet to learn about Joshua, even though they have sparred many times?

All is not as it seems. When they faced off the previous day, Sky miked them up. Joshua turned his off and whispered: “I’m going to hurt you.”

Those who know Joshua best will testify that he has always been jovial but iron-minded, even in the dark teenage days in Watford when a life of drug-dealing on the streets tugged at his sympathies before he found a sport that could accommodate his wild side. (Those dire memories seemed distant on Friday when Joshua took delivery of a Range Rover made to his specifications.)

Away from the cameras he is similarly light-hearted and it is a joy to witness; boxing is heaving with sadness, bitter feuds, disappointment, tragedy, cynicism and gross behaviour. Muhammad Ali was the last heavyweight to illuminate his sport properly, lifting it on to a higher plane of entertainment. Joshua can spread his own kind of light – if he wins.

Nevertheless their happy-happy pre-fight press conference at Sky’s HQ in west London on Thursday provoked predictable sniggers among the gnarled boxing writers. This was bringing boxing into disrepute. What would David Haye make of it all? Mike Tyson would be turning in his hood.

The British Boxing Board of Control secretary, Robert Smith, meanwhile, was relieved to answer questions that did not dwell on bottle-throwing, table-tossing acrimony.

“I’m very happy,” he told Sky. “You always contact me when things have gone wrong, so it’s a nice change. Both boxers, and the whole card, have behaved themselves impeccably. They’re a credit not only to the sport in their own countries but to the sport across the world. This is what boxing can do for people. These are the role models we want youngsters to see so they can decide if they want to get involved in the sport.

“I don’t think any fight needs trash-talking and this was sold out very quickly. It’s an intriguing match. Wladimir is coming towards the end of his career, which obviously he knows, and Anthony is really at the beginning of his career.”

Yet, for all that this promotion has lacked spite, there is a detectable undercurrent of danger. It is two-way peril, as well. Tony Bellew, who recently survived Haye’s best insults and uppercuts, insists: “There is a way back for either man.” Maybe. Certainly Joshua would not be crushed by losing. He is only 27 and has won all his 18 fights by stoppage. Not many promoters would be queueing up to recycle the machine-like Klitschko, though, if he suffers his second defeat in a row to a British heavyweight.

It is easy to imagine the mayhem if this were the scheduled rematch for Klitschko against Tyson Fury, who unsettled him long enough to take his WBA belt in November 2015. An all-British Joshua-Fury showdown at the same venue next summer would generate even bigger numbers than this event is said to be gathering: £40m in revenue, with the fighters splitting three-quarters of that.

Matchroom has a hold on this territory now. The hyped grudge reprise between Carl Froch and George Groves set the bar and Eddie Hearn keeps reaching for it. He wanted to pit Kell Brook against Amir Khan here but events and ego intervened. This deal, though, was easier to seal: between a young lion unafraid to test himself against an old dog who is willing to risk a losing farewell in pursuit of one last grab at the crown.

Klitschko did not take kindly, however, to the suggestion that he might have retired had he beaten Fury and that maybe he was fighting on only to repair the damage that low-key performance inflicted on his reputation.

“Wrong question, wrong timing,” he said with a cold stare. “I have never looked further than my next fight. You go from fight to fight as long as your health is good and your motivation is there. If one of those two is missing, you’re done. That’s been my attitude for more than a decade now.”

Klitschko will go to the ring convinced he can hand Joshua a boxing lesson, although the evidence of recent years is not convincing. Joshua thinks his venerable opponent’s best years peaked in 2005. Inspection of his CV after he stopped Chris Byrd that year supports the theory that, as he developed a stand-off style that made best use of his size and power, he threw fewer punches, took fewer risks.

In 19 bouts since that win – the overwhelming majority against safe opponents – Klitschko has understandably boxed more conservatively. While he is still dangerous and 14 of those opponents did not last the distance, 12 got past halfway – and one had his hand raised at the end.

As Smith observed of Fury, Klitschko’s only conqueror in the past 13 years: “At the present time he is still suspended. He’s got a hearing in the beginning of May. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

The odds are that Klitschko will not be getting a rematch with Fury, even if the Mancunian is in any shape to accommodate one before Christmas. More likely, as the bookmakers recognise, Joshua will leave smiling again after his 19th win, probably around halfway. In a quieter moment this week Joshua said: “If this gets tough, I will slug it out. If I don’t come out there the same person I walk in, I don’t mind. I’ll go to war.”

China's richest man deepens sports foray with global marathons deal

China's Dalian Wanda Group, controlled by the country's richest man Wang Jianlin, has signed a deal to sponsor races with the world's top organizer, Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMM), the latest move by Wanda to expand its global sports business.

Wanda's sports division and WMM on Wednesday signed a deal that will see Wanda hold three WMM races in the Asia-Pacific region in the next ten years, including a race in China.

The Abbott World Marathon Majors presently consist of six of the world's most well-known marathon races, including the Boston Marathon and the New York Marathon.

A WMM China race may be inaugurated within three years, Wang told a singing ceremony in Beijing.

"This is the right moment for a world marathon to come to China," Wang said.

The Marathon Singapore, an annual international marathon race operated by Wanda Sports subsidiary World Triathlon Corp (WTC), is likely to be a candidate for one of the events, Wanda said in a statement.

Hugh Brasher, London Marathon race director, told reporters at the announcement that it may take several years before a Chinese city meets operational criteria to host a marathon event.

Pollution is an element that needs to be addressed to hold a race, Brasher said, but other criteria, including financial and political support, are required.

Wanda has helped lead China's push into organized sports and sports marketing, as the government advances its goal of turning the sector into a 5 trillion yuan ($725.63 billion) business by 2025.

Over the last two years, Wanda has sealed a series of high-profile sports investments, including buying WTC, the U.S. owner of the popular Ironman Triathlon franchise, and taking a 20 percent stake in Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid.

Wanda last year also became a top sponsor of soccer's global governing body FIFA and said it will organise the first China Cup from 2017, and inked a partnership with international basketball's governing body FIBA.

The group has said that it plans to create at least 10 major international sports events in China before 2020.

In September, Wanda also signed an eight-year exclusive partnership with Badminton World Federation (BWF), the world badminton governing body.

Zidane: Stop The Fascists

FORMER France great Zinedine Zidane says people should do anything they can to avoid having fascist candidate Marine Le Pen win the presidency.

The Real Madrid coach said he was “far from all these ideas, from this National Front. So we need to do everything to avoid this.”

Zidane, who was born in Marseille and comes from Algerian descent, took a similar stance when Jean-Marie Le Pen — Marine’s similarly fascist father — made it to the second round of the 2002 presidential election.

Le Pen faces neoliberal Emmanuel Macron in the presidential run-off on May 7.

I may have to pick myself, says Mourinho

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has joked that the club’s injury blight may force him to pick himself for Sunday’s home game with Swansea City.

Already missing six senior players, United lost Marouane Fellaini to suspension and Timothy Fosu-Mensah to injury during Thursday’s 0-0 draw at Manchester City.

Their problems are particularly acute in central defence, with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo sidelined, moving Mourinho to contemplate picking himself and untried 19-year-old Axel Tuanzebe.

“In this moment it’s the only option we have: Axel, Eric (Bailly) and Daley (Blind),” Mourinho told reporters after the draw with City at the Etihad Stadium.

“I think Eric and Daley played absolutely amazing again. I have to speak with them and see how they are and how they feel.

“I’m also training hard in the gym so I can be an option also. Mourinho and Tuanzebe against Swansea.”

The draw at City, in which Fellaini was red-carded for headbutting Sergio Aguero, left United a point below their local rivals, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualifying spot.

French authorities investigate 2018 and 2022 World Cup football bids

French financial prosecutors are investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and have heard former Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

A person with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on  Friday (NZ time) that France's financial prosecutor services (PNF) opened the investigation on grounds of private corruption, criminal association, influence peddling, and benefiting from influence peddling relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly about the case.

Blatter was questioned in Switzerland last week as a witness, the same person told the AP.The office of the attorney general of Switzerland said in a statement that ''at the request of and in the context of proceedings being conducted by French justice authorities, it has questioned Mr. Joseph Blatter in his capacity as a person providing information on the 20th April 2017 in Zurich."

The PNF opened its investigation last year.

Fifa has also been targeted by investigations led by Swiss and US authorities. Last month, Fifa sent 1,300 pages of internal investigation reports into suspected bribery and corruption to Switzerland's attorney general. The documents complete a 22-month probe by legal firm Quinn Emanuel, which Fifa retained in the fallout from United States and Swiss federal prosecutors revealing their sprawling investigations of soccer corruption in May 2015.

Blatter said last week that he met with U.S. Department of Justice investigators and insisted he was not a suspect in their bribery and corruption case linked to Fifa.

Blatter was suspended from office in September 2015 and later banned from soccer by the Fifa ethics committee.

Marouane Fellaini sees red but United's unbeaten run continues as City are held in the Manchester derby

There was a time when a team of Pep Guardiola players would have unpicked a deadlock of this kind and when sitting deep in serried ranks against his players, as Manchester United did, risked serious embarrassment.

Not now. In a Manchester derby which reflected the distance between the old sparring partners and champion class, Manchester City ran into sand, straining every sinew to find a way through a wall of red, yet lacking the speed of thought and pass to do so. Their effort cannot be questioned, yet when it came to picking up the pace, they simply ran faster. Passing faster and smarter –altogether different qualities – were the real requirement.

The finishing of Guardiola’s side was poor, too, a Sergio Aguero strike against the base of the United post in the second half the closest they came to breaking the deadlock and the agony was compounded in the second minute of second half injury time when substitute Gabriel Jesus was fractionally offside as he found the net with a header from Aguero’s cross.It was a measure of the game’s meagreness that the talking point was Marouane Fellaini’s craven stupidity – a clear head-butt on Aguero in the 84th minute and a straight red card for which he can have no complaint, despite the protestations which delayed his departure from the field. The Belgian had been booked for pushing the striker in the back in United’s late rear-guard action, seconds earlier. The sight of him, towering over an opponent, forehead to forehead, is a familiar one, contributing to why so many who follow United cannot accept him as one of their own.

One of the advertising hoardings, promoting an engine oil, described ‘150 years of innovation’ though the first half did not feature much clever propulsion. City were its better side, forcing David De Gea into saves twice in five minutes just beyond the half hour, but their struggle to make something of that superiority was the story of their season in microcosm.hey missed David Silva’s mercurial spirit, for sure. A pre-match big screen image to haunt Pep Guardiola listed the side’s best chance creators of this season: Silva topped that particular tree with 114 openings carved out. Without his presence to seize on the little pockets of space, Aguero dropped deeper to create an axis, though that left the side without anyone at the top when chances came.

Aguero was short of his best finishing, swivelling around in a weight shift which left Michael Carrick and Daley Blind off balance but then firing over. Raheem Sterling, restored to the side after four games on the bench, looked off it. A give-and-go with Aguero two minutes before the break sent him through for City’s outstanding chance of the first period but he, too, placed his shot over.

United were organised, it has to be said. Eric Bailey, starting his tenth successive game, did more to cement the reputation he has built these last eight months and made an impeccable 24th minute tackle when Leroy Sane burst into the left hand channel. Carrick was assured. The presence of Marouane Fellaini in central midfield reflected a United built to repel.It was United who actually found the evening’s most exploitable opportunity by setting Marcus Rashford’s pace onto Aleksandar Kolarov and but they looked like a ghost of their former gladiatorial best and light years away from the last Manchester derby played on a Thursday, in which Andrei Kanchelskis’ 1994 hat-trick was the centrepiece of their 5-0 win.

There was also evidence of that profligacy which has been the story of their season, when Ander Herrera ran to meet a Henrikh Mkhitaryan free kick in the dying moments of the first half and put his back post header wide with the goal at his mercy.Attacking became an alien concept to United when the game recommenced. Kevin de Bruyne took the ball beyond Herrera just beyond the hour and crashed the ball into the side netting. Aguero thrashed a shot over the bar when he took on a half clearance from Antonio Valencia, illustrating the pressure that United, with their serried defensive ranks, were creating as the deadlock went on. An Otamendi header was deflected over off Baily’s shoulder.Fellaini’s dismissal left Mourinho looking for any available defensive reinforcement. Rashford was at right back before making way for the more genuine defensive presence of Ashley Young. United left with top four hopes intact after achieving what they and their parked bus came for: anything but defeat.

Tottenham refuse to give up title chase, Arsenal eye top-four

With less than a month of the Premier League season left it remains Chelsea's title to lose but Tottenham Hotspur defiantly stayed in contention by grinding out a 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

Chelsea's already profitable week looked like getting a whole lot better as Palace doggedly kept Tottenham at bay for 78 minutes but Christian Eriksen's unstoppable blast meant they are once again looking over their shoulders.

With five games remaining Chelsea, who beat Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday and Southampton in the league on Tuesday, both by 4-2 scorelines, lead Tottenham by four points.

They face Everton on Sunday at Goodison Park while Tottenham face a huge north London derby against Arsenal -- probably the last one ever at their historic White Hart Lane stadium.

"It was good to get the three points and be alive in the race for the title," Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, aiming to deliver a first title since 1961, said.

"The challenge is to keep going."

Arsenal were also in action on Wednesday, keeping alive their hopes of finishing in the top four for a 21st successive season with a crucial 1-0 victory over Leicester City courtesy of Robert Huth's late own goal.

Huth deflected in Nacho Monreal's volley in the 86th minute to earn a win which put the Gunners sixth, above Everton, three points behind Manchester United and four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City. United face City on Thursday.

"Every win gives you a little more momentum. I don't have a preference for the Manchester derby, we don't have to look much at the others. We just have to look after ourselves. The target is clear for us," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

Sunderland's 10-year stay in the top flight will end this weekend if they lose to Bournemouth and Hull City take a point from their trip to Southampton.

That gloomy prospect arose after they were beaten 1-0 by Middlesbrough in a dismal basement derby on Wednesday.

Boro also look destined for the drop but Marten de Roon's early winner at least gives them hope.

"I think all we do now is we remain focused for the game on Sunday against Manchester City," Boro manager Steve Agnew said of his side who are six points behind 17th-placed Hull.All eyes were on Tottenham to see if they would buckle under the pressure against a Palace side who had won six of their last eight in the league to move towards safety, including against leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Liverpool at Anfield.

Lacking the fluency they had displayed in winning seven consecutive league games in which they scored 22 goals and kept four clean sheets, Tottenham were sloppy on occasions.

But they refused to panic and kept grafting away before Eriksen produced a moment of magic -- sending a dipping low shot past Wayne Hennessey to send a clear message to Chelsea.

With 74 points -- a new club record in the Premier League -- Tottenham look virtually guaranteed a top-four finish but they are clearly not finished yet.

"We are thinking of bigger things than finishing above Arsenal," Pochettino said afterwards.

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