This news of a potential new ground for Chelsea FC is very personal to me.
For several years now my buddy’s place, which is literally across the street from Battersea Power Station, has served as London base of operations for an annual trip, where myself and a few fellow soccer nerds jam-pack as many matches as humanly possible into a 4- or 5-day period.
My friend’s kitchen window looks out over the historic, disused monstrosity, which may soon be Chelsea FC’s historic, disused monstrosity, and may soon be the site of Stamford Bridge’s replacement.
Also on a personal level, I’d like to know about the small gastro-pub just behind the historic site, about whether a certain, stunningly lovely Canadian remains on duty there?
Ahem. Let’s move on.
On a non-personal level, here are the important things to know about Friday’s big talker out of London:
- Chelsea FC needs a new ground. Stamford Bridge, in haughty West London, is a fine ground. But at about 42,000, the capacity can’t match the larger, current standard bearers like Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium or Manchester United’s Old Trafford.
- Battersea Power Station, which went on the market in February, is a historic landmark, so there are important implications well beyond sports to consider in all this.
- Chelsea officials would like to include some of the original design elements, such as the signature foursome of smokestacks, into the facility design.
- Officials at Stamford Bridge say a new facility has potential to become one of the “most iconic football stadiums in the world.”
- Also in the club’s announcement Friday: “We must also stress that making an offer for the Battersea Power Station site does not mean the club has made a definitive decision to leave Stamford Bridge.”
- The club’s official announcement is here.
Oh, and this … Battersea Power Station is the image on Pink Floyd’s Animals album. The notorious photo shoot involved an inflatable pink pig. I am absolutely not making any of this up.
Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.
[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]
Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City
Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.
Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth
The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.
But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.
Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace
Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a
Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland
Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.
One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.
Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.
The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.
[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]
That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.
“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”
A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?
Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.
Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.
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A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.
Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.
Click play on the video above to watch it.
There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.
So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.
[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]
On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.
That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.
Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.