Man of the Match: In one of the season’s best games, Juan Mata gave one of the campaign’s best individual performances. Two nice second half finishes turned a 2-1 Blues deficit into a 3-2 lead, with a great individual effort to strip Kyle Walker and set up Daniel Sturridge producing the match’s final goal. On a night where Chelsea’s other attackers failed to make their mark, Mata led his team to big derby victory.
Packaged for takeaway:
- Coming off another impressive London derby performance, Chelsea provided more proof that last season’s sixth place finish was an aberration (not part of a trend). They were exactly as good as the final score. Their vulnerability in defense combined with a potency going forward that led to great Saturday morning entertainment.
- How much John Terry’s absence had to do with that vulnerability will be debated (or, perhaps overshadowed by the four goals). The captain started his four-game suspension today, with Gary Cahill sliding into the starting XI. By now, he and partner David Luiz are familiar with each other, which makes it more difficult to explain why Spurs looked to capable of moving through them at any time in the second half.
- In the first half, though, Chelsea was able to dictate how the game was played, getting an early goal from Cahill to take a 1-0 lead into intermission. Though most of the first period, Chelsea held a three-to-two possession advantage.
- Their only goal, however, came on a mistake by William Gallas, whose weak clearance fell right to Cahill just above the circle. The England international volleyed into the top of the goal, giving Brad Friedel (back in the starting XI) no chance to prevent the opener.
- The game changed at halftime. Spurs came out a different team. They dominated play, getting goals from Gallas and Jermain Defoe within nine minutes of the whistle. Though those would be their final goals of the match, they’d go on to outshoot Chelsea 15-6 over the game’s final 45 minutes.
- For Chelsea, however, it was all about execution, converting on three of their last six shots. More accurately, it was all about Juan Mata’s execution. The Spaniard’s equalizer camw off another terrible clearance for Gallas, while the game winning goal featured a nice near-post finish of an Eden Hazard pass, Mata making a good run to get behind Gallas.
- Those defensive breakdowns are going to obscure the fact that Spurs performed relatively well, particularly with Gareth Bale and Moussa Dembélé unavailable. He both men been at Andre Villas-Boas’s disposal, Spurs may have been able to keep up in a shootout. On Saturday, however, they needed one more threat. Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson provided minimal contributions.
- Without it, Spurs fell victim to what’s becoming Chelsea’s modus operandi – being carried by one of their attackers. Early in the season, it was Eden Hazard. We saw Oscar do it against Juventus. Today, it was Mata. At any point, one of those players can step up, control a game, and lead Chelsea to victory, even when they’re facing the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham.
- Spurs need to get their defense back. They need Younes Kaboul healthy. They need Benoit Assou-Ekotto healthy. They need the ability to bench Gallas or Kyle Walker.
- The only concerns for Chelsea: Their defense and their inability to prove more dangerous with the possession they had in the first half. Will this team always be at its best on the counter, when they can play a game that protects that defense? And if so, will they always be in danger of replicating the Juventus game?
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former France winger Florent Malouda has lost his appeal against being ruled ineligible to play for French Guiana at the 2017 Gold Cup.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport says its judges dismissed Malouda’s appeal against North American soccer body CONCACAF.
French Guiana fielded Malouda in a 0-0 draw against Honduras last July despite being told he was not eligible. CONCACAF awarded a 3-0 win to Honduras and suspended Malouda.
The Gold Cup uses FIFA eligibility rules which bar players from transferring allegiance after playing a competitive game for one country.
Malouda played 80 times for France including a 2006 World Cup final loss against Italy.
The French Guiana soccer federation hoped Malouda, now aged 37, could play in the Gold Cup because it is not a FIFA member.
A U.S. Men’s National Team forward will probably have to wait a bit longer to come to Major League Soccer if that is the path that he chooses.
Reports have recently surfaced linking Bobby Wood to MLS at the conclusion of the Bundesliga season, however, MLSSoccer.com is reporting that a move for the American likely won’t come in 2018.
Wood, who remains under contract for three more seasons at Hamburg, is currently fighting relegation in Germany with his club side.
Hamburg currently sits 17th in the German top flight, eight points buried in the relegation zone with four matches remaining.
The MLSSoccer.com report suggests that MLS clubs aren’t willing to compensate Wood at the current rate of his contract in Germany.
Currently, Wood is making “several million dollars” per season, and even if Hamburg is relegated in 2017/18 Wood’s contract wouldn’t decrease to a number that clubs are comfortable paying.
If Wood was to join MLS, he would be considered a Discovery signing as he is not currently on the MLS player allocation list. The Washington Post previously reported that an MLS club has Wood included on their Discovery list, although the team’s identity isn’t known.
Marouane Fellaini‘s time in Manchester looks to be numbered, and a move abroad could have the Belgian in line for one last payday during his career.
The Manchester United midfielder has rejected multiple offers to stay on at Old Trafford ahead of his contract expiring this summer, which would allow Fellaini to pursue other opportunities come June.
Fellaini is being linked to moves to Major League Soccer and the Chinese Super League, as the veteran aims to secure a sizable contract upon leaving the Red Devils after over five-and-a-half years with the club.
The Daily Mail is also reporting that Fellaini would be open to hearing options that could keep him in the Premier League, although it is unclear if there is any serious interest from English sides at this time.
Since the arrivals of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, Fellaini has struggled to find playing time under manager Jose Mourinho.
This season, the Belgium international has appeared in just 14 PL matches and 19 in all competitions. Fellaini has scored four goals in that span.
The Chicago Fire won’t be moving into a new stadium 2019, however, their venue will have a new name donned on the side of it.
For years, the Eastern Conference side has played its home matches at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, but starting next season the Fire’s home turf will be called SeatGeek Stadium as part of a rebrand.
SeatGeek is one of the largest online after-market ticket distributors, and was created back in 2009.
Toyota Park will undergo its transformation at the conclusion of the 2018 MLS season.
The venue is also home to the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars.