Snap Judgments: Quick reactions to Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League results

Leave a comment

Three huge upsets on Champions League Wednesday fulfilled yesterday’s promises. In the process, English Premier League teams took a big hit. Arsenal and Manchester City’s losses combined with Chelsea’s defeat in Donetsk left Manchester United as England’s only mid-week winner.

Spanish and German teams combined for six wins in seven games, the only loss coming when the leagues’ champions faced off in Dortmund. English and Italian teams? One win in five games.

Group A

Porto 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv – Give credit to Dynamo, because this game wasn’t supposed to be this competitive. After Porto beat Paris Saint-Germain at home on matchday two, their visit from Ukraine’s runners up was expected to go smoothly. Oleh Blokhin’s team had different ideas, equalizing twice before Jackson Martínez’s second goal of the night gave Porto three points.

What a signing the Colombian’s turned out to be, scoring eight times in 10 appearances since moving from Mexico this summer.

Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain – On Monday, Carlo Ancellotti called for big games from Jeremy Menez and Javier Pastore. Menez responded with a goal and an assist. Pastore registered a helper of his own. Up two at intermission, the Parisians were never threatened, putting forth what’s become a typical, controlling PSG performance.

Impact – Porto stays perfect and on top of the group with only their 1-0 win on matchday two separating them from PSG. Dynamo Kyiv looks like the clear third-best team, but they’ve gotten their two hardest matches out of the way (at Porto, at PSG on matchday one). Playing better under Oleh Blokhin, they can still be a factor.

Group B

Arsenal 0-2 Schalke – An amazingly inept performance from Arsenal, who showed none of the qualities that fuel their reputation for playing one of the most attractive (and successful) styles in the world. They were bad, and Schalke took advantage. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar put them in front near the hour mark, with Ibrahim Afellay’s late goal ensuring Arsenal’s doom.

Montpellier 1-2 Olympiacos – A good performance by Montpellier was left unrewarded when substitute Konstantinos Mitroglou gave Olympiacos their first lead in second half stoppage time. The Greeks managed only two shots on frame, but both got past Laurent Pionnier. Montpellier held the lead and 63 percent of the possession but are left empty handed.

Impact – Arsenal could very well rebound in Gelsenkirchen, but Wednesday result puts Schalke in the driver’s seat. A draw in Germany and they likely win this group. The Gunners may have to be more worried about Olympiacos. With a loss in Germany, Arsenal bring the Greek champions into frame for second, with a trip to Pireaus still on the schedule.

Group C

Málaga 1-0 Milan – A dull game fell to the Andalusians when Joaquin made up for a missed penalty kick with a second half winner. Max Allegri’s shift to a 3-4-3 formation worked to limited degree, limiting Málaga to two shots, though his team is still unable to find ay consistency in attack. Except the rumors about Allegri’s job security to persist.

Zenit 1-0 Anderlecht – This was the absolute minimum Zenit should have expected against a team that still hasn’t scored in the competition. The Russians again failed to show their potential. If it weren’t for a Milan Jovanovic transgression, Aleksandr Kerzahkov wouldn’t have been able to win it from the spot in the second half.

Impact – We didn’t learn anything about Group C. We knew Málaga were the best team. We knew Milan was probably next in line. Though today’s results keep Zenit close enough to matter, it’s hard to get too excited about a team playing so poorly.

Group D

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Real Madrid – Breakthrough. Huge breakthrough for Jurgen Klopp’s team. They got a thoroughly deserved three points from one of the world’s elite teams, in the process making their 2011 group stage results off limits. No more “can they step up” analyses. Borussia Dortmund not only beat Real Madrid, they outplayed them. Thoroughly.

More: Breaking down BVB’s big day against Real Madrid.

Ajax 3-1 Manchester City – Congratulations are due Ajax, who score the biggest win of the Frank de Boer era, but Roberto Mancini deserves all the criticism he’s destined to receive. Beyond having the vastly more talented team, he didn’t have his players ready to match Ajax’s intensity. They were second best all night, and for a team that aspires to be a major factor in Europe, the performance was not only unacceptable, it played into the perception Mancini is not a good coach for this competition.

Impact – With Dortmund stepping up and City faltering, BVB and Real Madrid are destined to advance. It’s just a matter of deciding who wins the group.

Everton’s Koeman hopes loss isn’t end: “I don’t think it’s too late”

Leave a comment

Will losing 5-2 at home to Arsenal and dipping into the early season Premier League drop zone be the end of Ronald Koeman at Everton?

He hopes not.

[ RECAP: Everton 2-5 Arsenal ]

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Koeman said. “I told the players that I believe in the commitment of the players but if you are negative thinking, and everyone is doing it at this moment, I can understand it. You take all the things in a negative way, not even we stayed with 10 men at 1-2. Again, once again all these decisions are not in my hand.

Koeman spoke in relatively relaxed tones after the defeat, clearly flustered but aware that freaking out wasn’t going to change anything.

“It’s difficult,” he said. “It’s not a time to start to be crazy because I’m responsible for this team. We lost 5-2 and it’s a big result even against Arsenal.”

Like fellow Dutch manager Frank De Boer at Crystal Palace, the move is not necessary yet somehow seems inevitable. Will Bill Kenwright and the Everton board be able to avoid itchy trigger fingers with a midweek trip to Chelsea in the League Cup and a visit to Leicester City next?

The League Cup match gives a little buffer, but a relegation six-pointer of sorts against Leicester is probably not the time for a shakeup. And all one has to do is look to the Foxes to see how a managerial change doesn’t fix everything.

If the Toffees squad hates Koeman, and we don’t know much about this, then yes, maybe a change for the sake of change could help before the trip to Leicester.

But there was a moment in the first half, when it was still 1-0 for the hosts, that showed just how slim the margins are for Everton. Gylfi Sigurdsson, the mega money transfer, chipped a ball into the box that any top striker would’ve ran onto and belted home for 2-0.

But there was not a top striker there. Koeman did not sell Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United. Everton, as Arlo White and Lee Dixon said during the broadcast, put all their eggs in Olivier Giroud‘s basket only to see him stay in London for family reasons. Sandro hasn’t done the trick, and the Toffees need January badly. Will they get there with Koeman?

Follow @NicholasMendola

Everton 2-5 Arsenal: Ozil, Sanchez star for Gunners

Leave a comment
  • Rooney buries beauty (video)
  • Ozil puts Gunners ahead
  • Lacazette scores after Gana red card
  • Toffees into relegation zone

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil starred as Arsenal overcame a beautiful Wayne Rooney opener to send 10-man Everton into the Bottom Three after a 5-2 decision at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Ozil scored the match-winner and Sanchez, Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey, and Alexandre Lacazette also scored as Arsenal again showed its potential for greatness in a comeback win. The Gunners move into fifth, behind Chelsea on goal differential.

The loss overshadowed Wayne Rooney’s wonderful strike from outside the 18, and sends Everton 18th on goal differential. Oumar Niasse scored in stoppage time off a laughable back pass from Monreal.

Idrissa Gana Gueye took a second yellow for fouling Granit Xhaka in the 69th minute.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The first 10 minutes may’ve well been subtitled, “Alexandre Lacazette versus Jordan Pickford,” but Rooney changed that.

The Everton hero, two days shy of his 32nd birthday, buried his 15th career goal against Arsenal by picking up the ball after a 50-50 scrap opened the ball into his path.

What a hit.

Arsenal hit back, before the break, when Pickford got horizontal to save a an Aaron Ramsey rip onto the boot of Monreal. Pickford only got a piece of the shot, and it was 1-1.

Pickford some more wonderful Gunner thwarting late in the half when Alexis Sanchez’s crafty dribbling led him to the doorstep.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Rooney’s goal was a distant memory when Arsenal earned its first lead via gorgeous goal production in its own right. Alexis Sanchez chipped a delightful ball into the 18 and Ozil nodded it past Pickford.

There were third and fourth rungs on Ozil and Sanchez’s goal ladder when Hector Bellerin took the ball from a Nikola Vlasic mistake and fed Sanchez, who found Ozil for a cutback to Lacazette inside the 18.

Substitute mid Jack Wilshere cued up Ramsey for a fine team goal just before the whistle, but it wasn’t the final goal. Niasse took advantage of a Monreal gaffe to make it 4-2 before Alexis waltzed to restore the three-goal advantage.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Watch Live: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tottenham Hotspur looks to keep Liverpool in its rear view mirror with a win at Wembley Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Reds can move a point back of third-placed Spurs with a win.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Georginio Wijnaldum will miss with a reported injury, as Jordan Henderson, James Milner, and Emre Can start in Jurgen Klopp‘s midfield.

For Spurs, it’ll be Harry Winks starting over Eric Dier in an otherwise fairly standard unit.

LINEUPS

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Aurier, Winks, Dele, Eriksen, Son, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Rose, Nkoudou, Sissoko, Llorente, Dier, Davies.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Moreno, Henderson, Milner, Can, Salah, Coutinho, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Grujic, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexander-Arnold, Solanke, Klavan, Sturridge.

Follow @NicholasMendola

AT HALF: Rooney’s beauty leads entertaining 1-1 vs. Arsenal

Peter Byrne/PA via AP
Leave a comment

The first 10 minutes of Arsenal’s visit to Everton may’ve well been subtitled, “Alexandre Lacazette versus Jordan Pickford,” but Wayne Rooney changed that.

The Everton hero, two days shy of his 32nd birthday, buried his 15th career goal against Arsenal by picking up the ball after a 50-50 scrap opened the ball into his path.

[ STREAM: Everton vs. Arsenal ]

What a hit.

Unfortunately for Everton, Nacho Monreal hit back just before the break to level the score.

Follow @NicholasMendola