Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Luis Suare

Shipped from abroad: Reflections on an English Premier League Saturday

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These days, everything that happens with Liverpool spurs perspective. Coming into Saturday’s match, that perspective was a wide one, seeing the Reds in their worst form for 50 years. After Luis Suarez’s late equalizer got them a point from visiting Aston Villa, the perspective shifts, through it doesn’t narrow. Nothing from today’s match helps focus on the now.

Instead, it’s a wide, sorrowful view that sees a home point from the league’s 15th place side as a cause for relief. And describing Villa as a 15th place side is the most flattering way you can describe Alex McLeish’s team, at this point. They’re not good, and as such, don’t expect LFC supporters to take much solace from this result. At least it’s not a loss will be the refrain.

That won’t console for long. We’re now one week away from Liverpool’s Merseyside Derby at Wembley in the FA Cup semifinals, a must-win match in the hearts of supporters who, after Saturday, can ask “If we need a late goal to draw Villa at home, are we going to be able to get past Everton?”

Liverpool has one more match to find something: Tuesday at Blackburn. Unfortunately, these are just the types of matches where the Reds have stumbled – matches where they have to impose instead of react. Based on what we saw today, dropping points at Ewood almost has to be expected.

Elsewhere in the Premier League

All results: Sunderland 0-0 Tottenham; Chelsea 2-1 Wigan; Liverpool 1-1 Aston Villa; Norwich City 2-2 Everton; Bolton 0-3 Fulham; West Brom 3-0 Blackburn; Stoke City 2-1 Wolverhampton.

Stuff that stuck out:

  • Chelsea moves back into fifth and are now only three points behind Spurs. If Arsenal fall to Manchester City tomorrow, the Blues will be two back of a Champions League spot. Unfortunately, Newcastle’s staying right with them (and are in two fewer competitions). They could beat out Arsenal or Tottenham and still end up in Europa.
  • Two goals from Nikica Jelavic have me convinced I was wrong. Bought from Rangers at the end of the winter transfer window, I thought he was a reach – especially for the €6.6 million that’s hard to come by at Goodison. He had a good goal return in Scotland, but I put no stock in it. To the eye, he seemed little better than other options. He’s now up to five goals in 10 matches with the Toffees, and while that may be nothing but a decent start, it’s enough to convince me I’d judged too harshly.
  • Clint Dempsey’s double (in Fulham’s 3-0 win at Bolton) could have led this post, but his goalscoring exploits have become so common that we no longer have to break out the confetti to celebrate his exploits. The guy is fifth in the league in goals, behind only van Persie, Rooney, Aguero and Ba. It’s an amazing status commensurate with a year so successful that “Clint Dempsey scores!” is no longer the story. Instead, it’s “Clint Dempsey scored again.” A more subdued message? Sure, but at this point, it’s also more meaningful.
  • Here’s that full goalscorers list:
Player Club Goals
van Persie, Robin Arsenal 26
Rooney, Wayne Manchester United 21
Aguero, Sergio Manchester City 17
Ba, Demba Newcastle 16
Dempsey, Clint Fulham 15
Ayegbeni, Yakubu Blackburn 14
Adebayor, Emmanuel Tottenham 13
Balotelli, Mario Manchester City 13
Dzeko, Edin Manchester City 13
Holt, Grant Norwich City 13

Up next: Manchester United’s at QPR tomorrow ahead of Manchester City’s visit to Arsenal.

Five Premier League players make UEFA Team of the Year shortlist

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with his team mate Sergio Aguero (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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UEFA has released the 40-man shortlist for the 2015 Team of the Year, with five Premier League players making the cut.

[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is on the list after being named the Premier League Player of the Year last season, as is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.

Manchester City accounts for the other three players, as Joe Hart, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have been selected. However, De Bruyne makes the list mainly based off his play for Wolfsburg last season.

Three teams have more players selected than the entire Premier League combined. Barcelona leads the list with eight players, while Bayern Munich and Juventus each have six.

[ MORE: FIFA Ethics Committee seeks lifetime ban for Sepp Blatter ]

Cristiano Ronaldo already has the most appearances on the final list with nine, and is looking to make his ninth consecutive Team of the Year. No other player has been selected more than six times since the beginning of the award, which was started in 2001.

Below is the complete 40-man shortlist.

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Denys Boyko (Dnipro).

Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), David Luiz (Paris St-Germain), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Thiago Silva (Paris St-Germain), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).

Midfielders: Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris St-Germain), Yevhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen).

Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St-Germain), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).

New York Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch voted MLS Coach of the Year

Jesse Marsch
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NEW YORK (AP) — The Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch has been voted Major League Soccer’s Coach of the Year, the first to earn the honor in the two-decade history of the New York team.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Red Bulls went a league-best 18-10-6 in Marsch’s first season after replacing Mike Petke, winning 14 of their last 20 games with one tie. They trail Columbus 2-0 going into Sunday’s second leg of their Eastern Conference final.

MLS said Tuesday that from combined team, media and player votes, Marsch received a weighted total of 152 out of a possible 300.

Dallas’ Oscar Pareja was second with 91 and Vancouver’s Carl Robinson third with 24.

How can Chelsea qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

HAIFA, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 24: Willian of Chelsea celebrates scoring his teams second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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With one match left in UEFA Champions League group play, Chelsea control their own destiny.

After beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv 4-0, the Blues sit tied with FC Porto on ten points at the top of Group G.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

However, with Dynamo Kyiv earning a big win over Porto on Tuesday, Chelsea must wait until the final matchday to qualify for the knockout round, as there is a possibility of a three-way tie for the top spot in Group G.

With Chelsea hosting Porto on December 9, here are the scenarios for Jose Mourinho’s men to assure advancement.

  • A win over Porto will clinch Chelsea the top spot and a place in the last 16.
  • A draw against Porto will see Chelsea advance.
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo win: Chelsea win group, Dynamo finish second
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo draw or loss: Porto win group, Chelsea finish second
  • A loss to Porto and a Dynamo Kyiv draw/loss to Maccabi Tel-Aviv will see Chelsea finish second in the group and advance to the last 16.
  • The Blues have secured at least a berth in the Europa League, regardless of the result in their final match.

Simply put, get a point at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea advance.

Mourinho says bad pitch in Tel-Aviv injured Ramires, John Terry

during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.
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Chelsea left Israel with a 4-0 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, but also left with some injuries.

Ramires was hurt in training the day before the match, and John Terry was forced off in the second half.

[ RECAP: Tel-Aviv 0-4 Chelsea ]

Jose Mourinho talked about the condition of the pitch before the match, and was even more upset after it as two of his players are now hurt, although the extent of those injuries is not yet known.

Terry was stretchered off and looked to be in quite a bit of pain after going up for a challenge, as his ankle twisted awkwardly when he landed.

The pitch in Tel-Aviv was in poor condition, as large chunks of turf could be seen flying up when players planted or went in for tackles. Mourinho himself was seen on the field trying to fill in divots during stoppages of play.

While Mourinho said he didn’t want to jump to conclusions before getting test results, he believes John Terry will be unable to play this weekend, a huge Premier League match away at Tottenham.

[ MORE: Arsenal ready to “play for our lives” in match vs. Olympiacos ]

Other than his issues with the conditions, Mourinho was relatively happy with the team’s play and believes they are getting some confidence back, now with consecutive wins after beating Norwich City over the weekend.