didier drogba chelsea

Offshore drilling, England (FA Cup semifinal): Chelsea 5, Tottenham 1

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Man of the Match: Chelsea had a lot of good but not great performances, with John Terry, Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Ramires putting a good foot forward. But let’s give this one to Didier Drogba. His opening goal was massive, in more ways than one. Not only was the timing of it important (opening the scoring) but the skill behind it was incredible. How often does somebody do something like that at Wembley?

Packaged for takeaway:

  • It was amazing to see Tottenham content to sit back, not pressure Chelsea at all in the first half. While Chelsea brought the ball out of their own end, only Emmanuel Adebayor was in their half, providing only the obligatory pursuit.
  • The approach was far too deferential. Between that and Spurs seeming insistence on only counter attacking (playing a number of quick, low-percentage balls out of their own half rather than retaining possession), it was as if Harry Redknapp told his team taht Chelsea was as strong as two years ago and they’ll need to feast on crumbs.
  • Despite all this, Tottenham were probably the better team come halftime. Twice they came close to the opener, with John Terry saving a Rafael van der Vaart header off the line before van der Vaart went off the post with a cross for that left Petr Cech of two minds. Neither of those chances were generated off of counters.
  • But the best Spurs chance was probably a non-chance. David Luiz, beaten by Aaron Lennon just inside the penalty area, reached out and grabbed his opponent. Lennon elected to run through it, something that surely earned him Twitter plaudits, but it may have cost his team. Gus Puyet, asked at halftime whether he thought Lennon should have gone down, said “yes, but maybe that’s because I’m a foreigner.” That’s probably not the reason, Gus.
  • Spurs’ unwillingness to pressure Chelsea bit them on the first goal. Frank Lampard was allowed to play a 60-yard ball for Drogba, who then got all Drogba-y. While some bay ask that William Gallas do more (seems he left Drogba with only a very tough shot), what they should be asking is why is Harry Redknapp implemented a plan that does pressure the likes of Lampard.
  • The second goal was terrible. After Carlo Cudicini blocks a ball into the air, John Terry comes in and, under the guise of playing the ball, launches himself and takes out three Spurs: Ledley King, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, and the goalkeeper. Juan Mata comes, plays a ball into the pile, and Martin Atkinson gives a goal despite the ball not even reaching the line. I can only infer that amid the chaos, Atkinson trusted Juan Mata’s celebration to be the decider. (I say that flippantly, but subconsciously, that might have happened.)
  • Credit to Spurs for responding quickly, but unfortunately, Martin Atkinson made another somewhat controversial decision. When, in the 56th minute, Emmanuel Adebayor blew by David Luiz and went in alone on goal, he was taken down by Petr Cech after playing the ball wide, allowing Gareth Bale to run onto Spurs’ first goal. Atkinson played advantage and let play continue, but Cech should have still been carded. Advantage means allowing play to continue. It doesn’t mean the foul didn’t happen.
  • If course, the root of the controversy was many (myself included) thinking Cech should have been sent off, but as it was pointed out to me soon after, the laws of the game state that if advantage is played on a goal scoring opportunity and the goal’s subsequently scored, you can’t dismiss the offender. You can only issue a yellow card.
  • After late goals by Ramires, Lampard, and Florent Malouda, the scoreline is unfairly lopsided. Many broadcasters and pundits opined Sprus had played better throughout much of the match, but that doesn’t mean Chelsea’s result is undeserved. In fact, many of Chelsea’s matches have played out this way of late. This is their new approach, and while it won’t win style points, it may win trophies.
  • They’ll get their chance in the FA Cup final. Chelsea moves on while Spurs are left to hold them (and Newcastle) off for fourth in league if they’re to salvage their season.

Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Norwich City

NORWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal and Johan Elmander of Norwich City compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Arsenal at Carrow Road on May 11, 2014 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
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  • Arsenal is unbeaten in last six matches
  • Teams drew 1-1 back in November
  • Norwich has lost two straight

Arsenal hosts Norwich City on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) with the Canaries seeking life in their relegation battle.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA

Three matches remain and Arsenal sits in a precarious position, despite occupying third in the Premier League. Level on 64 points with Manchester City, the Gunners are in search of three points in order to create separation in the battle for the final automatic Champions League qualification spot. In the event Arsenal finishes fourth, Arsene Wenger‘s side would have to go through qualifying in the competition.

[ MORE: Sunderland travels to Stoke looking to extend unbeaten run to three ]

The Canaries have lost two straight to bottom half sides, following a thrilling 3-2 victory over Newcastle in early-April. With only three wins to back them up in the new year, Norwich really needs to turn up the dial as the PL season winds down. Sunderland’s form has increased and a string of Newcastle results has Norwich scrambling. Being on the road at the Emirates doesn’t necessarily help their case either.

What they’re saying…

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “I have no doubt because I am committed and when I do something I do it 100%. I am always committed to give my best as long as I am at the club. I don’t worry too much about the rest, what other people say.”

Norwich boss Alex Neil : “The bottom line is we have to go there with the intention of bringing something back, be it three points, which would be great, or a point. Whatever the case may be. We just want to go there and play as well as we can, and if we do that then we have a chance against them.”

Prediction

It’s quite simple. Norwich needs a victory, and as much as they have shown this season, it simply doesn’t seem like they have enough to complete the task. Arsenal wins 2-0, a massive gut-punch to the Canaries with three games to play.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

Premier League Preview: Stoke City vs. Sunderland

during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Sunderland at Carrow Road on April 16, 2016 in Norwich, England.
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  • Stoke is winless in last four matches
  • Four points in two games have Sunderland in 17th

Stoke City hosts Sunderland on Saturday from the Britannia Stadium as the Black Cats look to stay afloat in the Premier League (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

With Stoke sitting in the midst of mediocrity this season, Mark Hughes and his side have very little to play for when they meet Sunderland. Hughes’ men have allowed 12 goals in the past three matches, while only a single finish themselves. Despite boasting powerful names like Marko ArnautovicXherdan Shaqiri and U.S. National Team defender/midfielder Geoff Cameron, the Potters have certainly underachieved and Sunderland will look to capitalize.

[ MORE: PST discusses Leicester’s success and how they got here ]

Sunderland has caught a bit of a hot streak over recent weeks, pulling off key results against Norwich City and Arsenal. Striker Jermaine Defoe has been a savior for the Black Cats, posting 13 goals on the season for a side that has only mustered up 39 as a team. With Sunderland lumped together with Norwich and Newcastle in the relegation battle, Sam Allardyce and his squad need a result to keep momentum rolling forward.

What they’re saying

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes: “I’m not one to hide behind injuries – I’ve never done that – but the reality is that we haven’t been at our best form because maybe key individuals aren’t available and we’ve had to make changes within games at times.”

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce: “We are in good form at the moment… but I would expect Mark will have Stoke really revved up and he will want to stop this very poor run of performances. But I do hope they’re as bad as they have been in the last three games!”

Prediction

While Stoke may be playing for a top-half finish this season, the pressure remains firmly on Sunderland with four games left to play. Last week’s 0-0 draw against Arsenal has the Black Cats believing they can stay up next season, and I believe they’ll put out a result on the road. The two sides will finish in a 1-1 draw, leaving Sunderland fans to turn to Crystal Palace-Newcastle and Arsenal-Norwich.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

VIDEO: Previews of every Premier League game – Week 36

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23:  Louis van Gaal manager of Manchester United celebrates with winning goalscorer Anthony Martial of Manchester United after victory in The Emirates FA Cup semi final match between Everton and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on April 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Week 36 is a huge one in the Premier League.

[ VIDEO: Top 5 storylines

Leicester City can win the title, the top four race is intense, there’s a scramble for the top six and the relegation battle is stressing fans out.

Everything is on the line with three weeks of the season to go. This is magic.

[ MORE: Week 36 TV schedule

So, let’s take a look at each game this weekend with previews of all of them below.


Newcastle United vs. Crystal Palace (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, USA Network) – [STREAM]

Arsenal vs. Norwich City – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

Manchester United vs. Leicester City – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur – (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Swansea City vs. Liverpool – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Stoke City vs. Sunderland – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

West Brom vs. West Ham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Everton vs. Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Southampton vs. Manchester City – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Watford vs. Aston Villa – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: This is it, don’t get scared

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29:  Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur is challenged by Gary Cahill of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane on November 29, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Week 36 of the Premier League season is here and we have a full slate of action.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live online ] 

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Click play on the videos below to hear my score prediction and preview of each game.

[ VIDEO: Top 5 storylines

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Newcastle United 2-0 Crystal Palace (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, USA Network) – [STREAM]

Arsenal 3-1 Norwich City – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS… 

Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur – (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Swansea City 1-1 Liverpool – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Stoke City 1-1 Sunderland – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

West Brom 2-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Everton 2-1 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Southampton 3-1 Manchester City – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Watford 1-2 Aston Villa – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]