By DAN KARELL
Aston Villa might just have saved themselves from relegation to the Championship.
In a lower end of the table clash, Paul Lambert’s charges ran riot on Monday, defeating Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland, 6-1, at Villa Park. Christian Benteke scored a hat-trick in 17 second-half minutes, his first such achievement in English soccer to give him 18 goals on the season, by far leading all Villa scorers.
Ron Vlaar and Andreas Weimann scored the opening goals for Villa before the Belgian international Benteke hit three past Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Gabriel Agbonlahor finished the match off with a goal two minutes from time to further embarrass the Black Cats.
Villa now sit on 37 points with three matches to go, five points clear of Wigan in 17th place, and tied with Sunderland on points.
Here are some more stories to get your Tuesday started:
ARSENE WENGER LINKED WITH MOVE TO PARIS
Arsene Wenger’s tumultuous season at Arsenal might be his last at the club.
According to a report in English newspaper The Telegraph, the Arsenal manager is ready to step down from his position despite having another year left on his contract, and become the newest manager of Paris Saint-Germain beginning this summer.
The report says that the Qatari ownership group of PSG has been telling their inner circle that they are confident the 63-year-old Strasbourg native will move to Paris come June. Even if Wenger saw out his contract at Arsenal, the group is still confident that he’d be working at the Parisian club come summer of 2014.
Wenger has endured one of his toughest seasons this year as Arsenal boss. Though his team currently sit fourth in the table, the Gunners were knocked out of England’s cup competitions by lower level opposition, before exiting on away goals against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
It’s been a full eight years since Arsenal last won a trophy, however, in Wenger’s 17 years, he brought the club 11 trophies including three Premier League titles.
LEWANDOWSKI AGENT DISMISSES MOVE TO ENGLAND
Since last winter, Manchester United has been on the forefront of signing Borussia Dortmund forward Robert Lewandowski, with the English club constantly staying within the rumor mill in England and Germany.
However, the player’s agent Maik Barthel has responded to questions over his client’s future by saying that Lewandowski is interested in a potential move to the Premier League, but not at this time, fueling the speculation that the Poland international will be moving to Bayern Munich this summer.
“I can tell you only one thing – Robert is interested in the future coming to the Premier League,” Barthel told The Guardian. “The Premier League is very interesting for Robert. How long is the future, I cannot say to you. I think this summer is not the future.”
Lewandowski has had another terrific season at Borussia, scoring 35 goals in all competitions for the second-place side in the Bundesliga. He scored all four goals in last Wednesday’s stunning win over Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals.
HAVELANGE RESIGNS FROM FIFA OVER ALLEGED BRIBES
Just hours after the release of FIFA’s ethics report over the scandal between the world soccer body and marketing company International Sport and Leisure, former FIFA President Joao Havelange announced that he had resigned from his honorary position with the organization.
The Brazilian was named in the ethics report prepared by Hans-Joachim Eckert and Michael J. Garcia as one of three people within FIFA who took bribes from ISL, to ensure that the Swiss company would win the rights to market numerous World Cup finals. According to the report, Havelange, son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, and recently resigned Nicolas Leoz received a series of “bribes” or “commissions” from ISL between 1992-2000.
Despite the allegations of bribery, Havelange, Teixeira, and Leoz are not punishable by law for their actions, as it was not illegal to received bribes in Switzerland at that time. Current FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who took over for Havelange in 1998, was cleared of receiving any kickbacks from ISL or helping the South American contingent receive their bribes.
“I also note with satisfaction that this report confirms that ‘President Blatter’s conduct could not be classified in any way as misconduct with regard to any ethics rules’,” Blatter told BBC Sport. “I have no doubt that Fifa, thanks to the governance reform process that I proposed, now has the mechanisms and means to ensure that such an issue – which has caused untold damage to the reputation of our institution – does not happen again.”
Queens Park Rangers owner Tony Fernandes has confirmed that manager Harry Redknapp will stay in charge of the relegated team in next season’s Championship. (REPORT)
The agent of PSG forward Ezequiel Lavezzi has said that the Argentine will not be returning to Serie A next season. (REPORT)
Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez has dismissed claims of a move to Boca Juniors, lamenting that the Argentine club can’t afford his current market valuation. (REPORT)
Juventus manager Antonio Conte has asked the club for an improved contract worth €5 million per year plus bonuses for Champions League qualification and advancement. (REPORT)
What do you make of these reports? Do you see Wenger leaving Arsenal for PSG this summer? Do you believe he can be successful in Paris? Do you see Lewandowski moving to Bayern Munich?
Share your thoughts below.