You got the feeling even Chelsea felt a little bad for the visitors by the end of this one, among the worst shellackings in Premier League history as the suddenly resplendent Blues roared in an 8-0 win over in-shock Aston Villa.
Chelsea really was in dazzling form, abetted surely by a young Aston Villa team that simply could not find its balance after conceding right away; Fernando Torres’ sensational header came just two minutes after kickoff.
By the time American goalkeeper Brad Guzan picked the ball from his net for the final time, Chelsea had zoomed from seventh to third place in the table – and still with a game in hand over the field due to that recent trip in Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup.
This was just the fifth time a Premier League team has won by eight or more goals, and it could have been even worse but for some of Guzan’s good work in goal. Yes, Guzan managed to the nearly impossible, having a “respectable” day in terms of skillful saves while allowing a hideous eight-spot.
(MORE: Narratives invert after Chelsea routs Aston Villa)
How The Guardian described it: “The goals plundered at will as Villa wilted. Such riotous victory will serve to spur on this side. Manchester United are still 11 points clear but Chelsea, risen from seventh back to third, boast a game in hand and an injection of form. They were irrepressible, an eight-goal margin hardly flattering.”
Other talking points here:
- Was Guzan at fault on any of the eight? Not really, although the final shot blew by him suspiciously close. Another one came on a rebound the American ‘keeper left in a bad place, but it was off a point-blank shot that he did well to save in the first place.
- He saved one of two Chelsea penalty kicks, so there’s that.
- Guzan wasn’t the only American on the bad side of this lopsided crusher; U.S. defender Eric Lichaj was also in the Villa starting XI.
- Seven different men scored for Chelsea. The last team to have as many scorers in a top-flight game in England: Liverpool, with eight men to find goal in a 9-0 win over Crystal Palace back in 1989.
- Aston Villa has played in 3,936 top-flight games, yet this is the first time to have conceded eight goals. (Thanks to Opta Sports for those two little statistical gems.)
- It’s not like Villa was reeling before this one. Paul Lambert’s young side was unbeaten in six straight coming into West London on Sunday.
After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.
[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]
If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.
There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.
Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.
MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.
Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.
Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.
The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.
Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.
Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.
Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.
Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.
[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]
The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:
“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.
“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.
“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”
With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.
The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:
Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.
The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.
There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.