Offshore drilling, England: at Chelsea 1, Liverpool 1

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When Roberto Di Matteo talks about Liverpool being a bogey team, he’s alluding to days like these. Chelsea dominated play for most of the match, but unable to generate enough quality chances, the home side left the game to be drawn late. When Luis Suárez headed home a Jamie Carragher flick on in the 73rd minute, Chelsea was left with one win in seven versus Liverpool, the Blues drawn 1-1 at Stamford Bridge.

The result, however, will be overshadowed by the health of John Terry. The Chelsea captain, who opened the game’s scoring in the 20th minute with his 50th career goal, left the match in the 40th minute with a major injury to his right leg. Ramires, in pursuit of Suárez, shoved the Liverpool attacker from behind, the Uruguayan falling into the front of Terry’s lower leg. Foot planted, Terry had no choice but to absorb Suárez’s weight. He immediately called for help and was eventually stretchered from the field.

Man of the Match: It’s a Liverpool match, they didn’t lose, and they scored. Odds are Luis Suárez was the game’s best player.

It wasn’t quite as obvious today as usual, but Suárez was still the Reds’ only real scoring threat. The focus of Chelsea’s defense all day, Suárez was his typical relentless self. His efforts were rewarded in the 73rd minute, Carragher’s header leaving his teammate with an open goal.

Threesome of knowledge: What we learned

Rodgers makes the right changes with his formation.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers started with a three-man defense, bringing Jamie Carragher into the team to play between Andre Wisdom and Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson pushed to wing back positions. The formation had the benefit of getting Liverpool’s best players on the field (the team’s struggled all season trying to find an attacker to join Suárez and Raheem Sterling), but with Chelsea dominating, Rodgers switched after 60 minutes.

It was worth a try, though. Based on the names on the team sheet, it was worth seeing if Johnson and Enrique could do enough to justify sacrificing an attacker and flipping the midfield (inverting its triangle). When it didn’t work, Rodgers switched, and Liverpool eventually scored.

Liverpool’s midfield needs to create more chances.

No matter the formation — 4-3-3 or 3-4-2-1 — Liverpool’s three-man midfield must generate more chances. With the team regularly dominating possession, there’s no reason not to. While the team is short of strikers (Suárez the only man on the team capable of leading the attack), the Steven Gerrard-Joe Allen-Nuri Sahin midfield is not even generating chances for the Reds’ wide attackers, let alone themselves.

On Sunday, Liverpool crafted only two through balls for Suárez and Sterling, only one of which came from the midfield (Gerrard). Despite most of the possession and 507 completed passes, Liverpool’s attack remained dormant.

Chelsea’s swoon continues.

Be talked about it mid-week after Chelsea’s performance against Shakhtar. This run has all the hallmarks from Chelsea’s annual swoon. Liverpool may be a bogey team, but Chelsea has enough talent to break that duck. Instead, they dropped to third in the Premier League.

Packaged for takeaway

  • Pepe Reina is still out, injured. After his understudy, Brad Jones, put in another decent day, there’ll be increased talk about whether the Spanish international should be sold.
  • A strong day from Eden Hazard meant the attacking trio of Hazard, Oscar, and Juan Mata performed to their normal level. Unfortunately, Chelsea got little from the other three players who could contribute to the attack. Deep midfielders Ramires and John Obi Mikel failed to contribute, while Fernando Torres continues to underperform against his former club.
  • David Luiz missed today’s game with a tonsillitis. When he returns, Chelsea will be facing a surprising depth issue in central defense. While the trio of Luiz, Gary Cahill, and Branislav Ivanovic is as good as any in the league, Ivanovic is the first choice right back. Expect Cesar Azpilicueta (who started on Sunday) to become a more permanent part of the back line’s rotation.

USSF says nominations submitted for 8 president candidates

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File
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CHICAGO (AP) The U.S. Soccer Federation says it received the required three letters of nomination for eight candidates in its presidential election, one fewer than the total of people who announced their intention to run.

The USSF is conducting background checks on the candidates whose nominations were received by Tuesday night’s deadline. The governing body said the check is to ascertain that a candidate has “no conviction or no contest plea to a felony or crime of moral turpitude” and it will announce the candidate slate after completing the process.

[ MORE: Atlanta acquires Nagbe ]

Sunil Gulati, the USSF president since 2006, decided after the Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup that he will not seek a fourth four-year term.

The nine people who announced they are running include former men’s national team players Paul Caligiuri, Eric Wynalda and Kyle Martino; U.S. women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo; Soccer United Marketing president Kathy Carter; USSF vice president Carlos Cordeiro; Boston lawyer Steve Gans; New York lawyer Michael Winograd; and Paul LaPointe, Northeast Conference manager of the United Premier Soccer League.

The election will be held in February.

Madrid rallies to beat Al Jazira, reach Club World Cup final (video)

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Gareth Bale scored an 81st-minute winner as Real Madrid came from behind to beat Emirates club Al Jazira 2-1 on Wednesday and reach the Club World Cup final.

Madrid will try to win its third world title in four seasons when its faces South American champion Gremio on Saturday.

[ MORE: Premier League Weds. roundup ]

The match had two goals disallowed by video review, one for each team.

Madrid struggled early and allowed the local league winners to open the scoring with a goal by Brazilian forward Romarinho just before halftime.

But Cristiano Ronaldo equalized early in the second half and Bale netted the winner less than a minute after entering the match as a substitute for Karim Benzema.

Paul Clement admits helplessness at facing Man City

Nick Potts/PA via AP
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Swansea City manager Paul Clement may have the enduring quote of the season so far when it comes to facing the behemoth that is Manchester City.

[ RECAP – City hammer Swansea ]

The suffering Swans have had their share of poor performances this season — Clement later said January transfer spending “is a must” if the club wants to stay up — but he’s throwing his hands up in the air when it comes to Wednesday’s loss at the Liberty Stadium.

The man sounds exasperated, and sorry for his team. From the BBC:

“At times it was horrible to be on the sideline watching that, seeing my side trying but suffering for long periods. They’re not the games that will decide our season but it was hard to watch at times because they were so dominant. For me, one of the best sides I’ve ever come across. So many good athletes, so many intelligent footballers and it’s really hard to pin them down. We actually had some attempts on their goal so I’m disappointed we didn’t get on the score sheet but they were a far superior side to us. We’ve got to put it aside that game. We’ve got Everton away (next) and we’ve got to try and pick something up there.”

All that’s left is for Clement to pick up a clarinet, awkwardly blow into it, then point at Pep Guardiola and say, “He’s good.”

Free message board points to the first one to name the reference.

Premier League roundup: Reds, Gunners stumble

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The Top Four looks set for tumult on a weekly basis, and this week’s seen clubs move in-and-out at the lash of a whip.

[ MORE: Atlanta acquires Nagbe ]

Tottenham’s back in. Leicester City would like to come closer.

Burnley’s out. Liverpool and Arsenal, too.

First place might be out of the question, with unbeatable looking Man City 11 points clear of the pack. But nearly everything else is in play.

Manchester United 1-0 Bournemouth — RECAP

United didn’t have it’s A-game, but that was okay thanks to fine defensive play from star backstop David De Gea and some gutsy tackles from Phil Jones. The goal came when Juan Mata‘s cross was nodded home by Romelu Lukaku in the 25th minute, and United rode that marker for all it was worth to stay three points ahead of third place Chelsea.

Swansea City 0-4 Manchester City — RECAP

How good is Man City? Pep Guardiola‘s bunch have now won a Premier League record 15-straight in a single season, and have scored 52 goals while conceding just 11. Markers 49-52 came from David Silva (two), Kevin De Bruyne, and Sergio Aguero. Tottenham is next.

Liverpool 0-0 West Bromwich Albion — RECAP

A ball bounded off Ahmed Hegazi’s body, and off Dominic Solanke‘s body and forearm to give Liverpool its presumed breakthrough, but the call was intentional handball. The Reds had myriad chances to score before that, but instead hand a point to the visiting Baggies.

Newcastle United 0-1 Everton — RECAP

Mikel Merino and Matt Ritchie both hit goal posts as Sam Allardyce‘s Everton rode its luck and a Karl Darlow spillage to a 1-0 win. Wayne Rooney poked home the rebound, and the Toffees’ relegation worries are officially a thing of the past. Newcastle? Not so much, but money’s a-coming to Rafa Benitez at St. James’ Park.

West Ham United 0-0 Arsenal — RECAP

The chances were there for dominant Arsenal, but the winning goal did not materialize at the London Stadium. Marko Arnautovic did everything but score when West Ham did manage the ball, and Javier Hernandez rattled the cage late, but David Moyes men had to settle for a well-earned point.

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Brighton and Hove Albion — RECAP

Spurs are back in the Top Four thanks to a long Serge Aurier cross that fooled Mat Ryan and a Heung-Min Son deflection of a Christian Eriksen offering. Brighton’s just three points away from the drop zone with the loss.

Southampton 1-4 Leicester City — RECAP

Claude Puel‘s Foxes are flying, scoring goals for fun and encroaching on the Top Four after a horrible start to the Premier League season. Shinji Okazaki bagged his first Premier League brace, while Andy King and Riyad Mahrez also scored for Leicester, who is within five points of fourth and next faces Crystal Palace. Southampton’s goal came from Maya Yoshida.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Manchester City 17 16 1 0 52 11 41 7-1-0 9-0-0 49
 Manchester United 17 12 2 3 37 11 26 8-0-1 4-2-2 38
 Chelsea 17 11 2 4 31 14 17 5-1-2 6-1-2 35
 Tottenham Hotspur 17 9 4 4 30 14 16 5-3-1 4-1-3 31
 Liverpool 17 8 7 2 34 20 14 4-5-0 4-2-2 31
 Burnley 17 9 4 4 16 12 4 5-2-2 4-2-2 31
 Arsenal 17 9 3 5 30 20 10 7-0-1 2-3-4 30
 Leicester City 17 7 5 5 27 23 4 4-1-3 3-4-2 26
 Watford 17 6 4 7 26 29 -3 2-3-3 4-1-4 22
 Everton 17 6 4 7 21 29 -8 5-0-3 1-4-4 22
 Southampton 17 4 6 7 17 23 -6 3-3-4 1-3-3 18
 Huddersfield Town 17 5 3 9 12 29 -17 4-2-3 1-1-6 18
 Brighton & Hove Albion 17 4 5 8 14 23 -9 2-4-2 2-1-6 17
 Bournemouth 17 4 4 9 15 20 -5 2-2-4 2-2-5 16
 Stoke City 17 4 4 9 19 36 -17 3-2-3 1-2-6 16
 Newcastle United 17 4 3 10 16 26 -10 3-1-5 1-2-5 15
 West Bromwich Albion 17 2 8 7 12 22 -10 1-5-2 1-3-5 14

 Crystal Palace 17 3 5 9 12 28 -16 3-3-3 0-2-6 14
 West Ham United 17 3 5 9 14 32 -18 3-2-3 0-3-6 14
 Swansea City 17 3 3 11 9 22 -13 2-1-6 1-2-5 12