Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao celebrates his goal against Deportivo La Coruna during their Spanish first division soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid December 9, 2012. REUTERS/Susana Vera (SPAIN – Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Carli Lloyd and Neymar are among the new names on the shortlists for FIFA’s top individual honors.
Of course, Barcelona’s Brazilian joins a pair of familiar faces in Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. One will win the Ballon d’Or on Jan. 11.
On the ladies side, USWNT star Carli Lloyd has to be considered a front-runner to become just the third American to win the FIFA World Player of the Year on the women’s side.
Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm have also won the award, though Germany has won two-straight behind the heroics of Nadine Angerer and Nadine Kessler.
This time, it’s German striker Celia Sasic who will try to bring home the honors, and Japan’s Aya Miyama is also on the shortlist.
The coaches for Lloyd and Miyama, Jill Ellis and Norio Sasaki, are up for Women’s Coach of the Year, along with England’s Mark Sampson.
On the men’s coach side, the honor is between Luis Enrique (Barcelona), Pep Guardiola (Bayern Munich) and Jorge Sampaoli (Chile).
Diego Costa took his time as he strode out to warm up on the sidelines late in the second half of Chelsea’s draw at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. Costa, 27, looked unhappy, to say the least, and then as he returned to the bench as a petulant act occurred which may be seen as the beginning of the end of his Chelsea career.
[ MORE: Costa “privileged” at Chelsea ]
Costa took off his his warm-up bib and tossed it towards Jose Mourinho and his coaching staff flippantly as youngsters Kenedy and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were instead selected to come off the bench with Chelsea’s main striker left to stew and sit in the cold at White Hart Lane. No less than 10 minutes after the full time whistle Costa waltzed past the mixed zone and walked straight onto the Chelsea team bus where he sat for over an hour waiting for the rest of his teammates to arrive.
I wonder what the Spanish international was thinking… Anyway, here’s what Mourinho (who said he has no issue with Costa) had to say post-game when asked about benching Costa following their public disagreement in Chelsea’s win away at Maccabi Tel-Aviv last week.
“Diego is very privileged because he was the last one to be on the bench,” Mourinho said. “Everyone else has been: the captain; Ivanovic, Cahill, the vice-captain of England, Fabregas, Pedro, Hazard, player of the season, Oscar, everyone was on the bench. Diego was privileged because I kept him in the team for all these matches. Today we thought the best strategy was this one. We are happy with the decision and the players. If we had won 1-0, our performance would have been considered tremendous. You will still say it was good.”
With just four goals in 17 appearances for the Blues this season, Costa’s slump is clear for all to see compared to his start to the season last year where he scored 11 goals in his first 17 games. Rumors have been rife that Mourinho is looking to buy a new striker in January to replace Costa, with the Brazilian born forward going through a tough time and Chelsea sticking by him despite two bans from the FA in 2015 for misconduct on the pitch.
Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao are both set to return to action this week, so Chelsea will have options up top and given the way Eden Hazard led the line in a false nine formation at Spurs on Sunday, Costa could soon be well down the pecking order. If he continues to react anything like he did on Sunday then Mourinho will have a big decision to make with regards to his main man up top.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
Hazard, who replaced Costa in the lineup, was superb. The diminutive Belgian battled against Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen on his own and won balls in the air, made intelligent runs in-behind which Mourinho applauded and the only thing he didn’t do was score as he headed over in the first half and forced Hugo Lloris into a terrific save in the second half from a wonderfully controlled volley.
ProSoccerTalk asked Mourinho about Hazard’s display and if the reigning PFA Player of the Year is getting back to his best.
“I think that was his best game of the season,” Mourinho said. “His game was more complete, in both directions: with and without the ball and he was attacking people with the ball and attacking the space without it. He was jumping and trying in the air against the two Belgian boys who are two meters tall. He did fantastically well. Even without scoring, his appetite to be important in the game and make an impact was there.”
Is Hazard, supported by Oscar, Willian and Pedro, the answer for Chelsea? Will Costa return to the starting lineup? Will Mourinho use Falcao or Remy instead?
Plenty of questions remain around the reigning champs but Mourinho has sent a clear message out to Costa which he must absorb quickly: nobody is bigger than the team. Shape up or get out.
He did it. Jamie Vardy, 28, became the first player in Premier League history to score in 11-straight games as his opener put Leicester City 1-0 up against Manchester United in a game they eventually drew 1-1.
Vardy’s remarkable rise from non-league to the Premier League and the English national team has been much documented and he deserves all the praise he is getting for beating Ruud van Nistelrooy’s long-standing record and doing something the greats of the PL didn’t manage.
Soak in the atmosphere from the King Power Stadium in the video above as the Vardy party went on long into the night. Next up: Jimmy Dunne’s record of scoring in 12-straight games for Sheffield United in the 1931-32 English top-flight season.
ARSENAL’S INJURIES MOUNTING
Arsenal’s fans had their hearts in their mouths as Alexis Sanchez went down clutching his hamstring in the second half of the Gunners’ draw at Norwich City on Sunday.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Despair then turned to anger, most of which was directed at Arsene Wenger, as the Chilean forward was forced off with what looked like a serious hamstring pull which could keep him out of a pivotal stretch of games. In his pregame presser on Friday Wenger admitted that Sanchez was struggling with a hamstring knock. He selected him anyway and now Arsenal’s main man is out, with others dropping like flies around him.
Wenger was less than impressed when the press hounded him after the game asking: why on earth risk Sanchez when your talisman was already struggling?
“Nobody is scientifically developed enough, not even the press, to predict exactly when a guy will be injured,” Wenger said. “I would have rested him but he felt perfectly alright before the game. We declared that he had no problem. Despite all the tests he looked alright. The players are there to play football not to be rested when the press decides that they need to be rested. He [Alexis] says it is a kick on his hamstring but I believe that is not really the reality.”
The reality is that Wenger got this wrong. His vast experience should have told him that Sanchez resting against Norwich was the right decision.
[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]
Now, the Chilean superstar joins Francis Coquelin, Laurent Koscielny and Santi Cazorla (both injured in the game at Norwich), Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott on the treatment table. No matter how influential all of those players are, Sanchez is the key ingredient and Wenger simply had to manage the situation better. Not just on Sunday but in recent weeks he’s had the chance to bring Sanchez off for the final 30 minutes of games in blowout wins but has failed to do so. In truth, this is nothing new. November is always the month when Arsenal’s squad seems to suffer with injuries as their early-season promise evaporates before the festive season arrives and then reemerges around Easter when the squad is back to full health.
In the past Wenger has said that resting Sanchez has actually had an adverse impact on his play, so maybe that swayed his mind. Regardless, Wenger is a manager and has to manage the situation. Sanchez was always going to declare himself fit because, well, he’s a player. It’s up to Wenger to be a manager and make the tough decisions in the short-term which will benefit Arsenal in the long-term. Now, Sanchez could be out for a long-time and Arsenal will suffer greatly because of that.
Highlights from Arsenal’s clash with Norwich, and every game during Week 14, can be found in the video below.
“SOUTH LONDON AND PROUD”
The latest episode of Premier League Download is out as Roger Bennett goes behind-the-scenes to find out what Crystal Palace’s fanatical supporters are all about.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
Below you can watch “South London and Proud” in full as the Eagles continue to soar up the table and American investors are ready to take over during the festive period.
Fun times ahead at Selhurst Park.
Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look at the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here.
The 14th round of the Premier League season saw standout performances from some of the “lesser” clubs in England’s top-flight.
Aside from a pair of Manchester City players and one Spurs defender, the PL’s Team of the Week includes players from outside the upper reaches of the PL table.
Well, last year’s Premier League table. A pair of players from No. 2 Leicester are also in the mix.
See the full team of the week below (and in the video above).
Premier League Team of the Week — Round 14 [ ARCHIVE ]
Goalkeeper: Willy Caballero (Manchester City)
Being out of management hasn’t stopped Tim Sherwood from speaking atop a pedestal.
The 46-year-old former Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur manager is looking down on advanced statistics.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Sherwood politicked on behalf of lower leaguers everywhere and issued a bit of a call against foreigners.
Of course, this is a man who held out for two Premier League jobs despite reported interest from the lower leagues (seemingly because the quality wasn’t good enough for his managerial skill set).
And he certainly will have his supporters when it comes to his absurd opinion on next-level statistics.
All that data analysis can be used for something but it can’t be used to pick your players. Some of the data is not about goals, or assists, it’s about ‘expected goals’ when a player got himself in position to score, but didn’t. What a load of nonsense. Trust your eyes. You can’t get a feel for them on the screen. Any player can be made to look good on a showreel. It’s far sexier to go to the top European leagues and find these players. It’s easier to sell it to your fans.
By the way here’s who Sherwood signed this summer at Aston Villa, recognizing that the manager isn’t the only one to make personnel decisions at a club:
Jordan Ayew (Lorient — Ghana)
Jordan Amavi (Nice — France)
Mark Bunn (Norwich — England)
Jose Angel Crespo (Bologna — Spain)
Jordan Veretout (Nantes — France)
Idrissa Gueye (Lille — Senegal)
Adama Traore (Barcelona — Spain)
Joleon Lescott (West Bromwich Albion — England)
Rudy Gestede (Blackburn — Benin)
Lotta lower-league English there, Tim?
Don’t even get us started on calling expected goals “nonsense”. While they certainly aren’t as good as converting chances, that’s a terribly unfortunate opinion.