You don’t have to go far online to find somebody that will complete dismiss the descriptive value of most soccer stats. Possession, shots on goal – they don’t mean anything, they’ll say. And from a certain perspective, those detractors are correct. Often those numbers don’t correlate with whose most likely to win. Still, a great deal of the time, those numbers do a good job of describing how the match was played.
No so today at Loftus Road. Queens Park Rangers earned a point after a 0-0 draw against Spurs, but if you went solely by the numbers, you’d think they were battered all afternoon. Spurs maintained 62 percent of the possession while garnering an 18-4 advantage in shots and a 7-0 edge in shots on goal.
To be certain, Spurs were the better side, but the game was nowhere near that uneven. QPR gave up seven shots but goalkeeper Julio Cesar was rarely under any true stress. On the other end, while Hugo Lloris had a relatively easy day, he was still asked to make a good reads coming off his line to deal with through balls before they turned into real opportunities. Where Spurs were putting shots on Cesar, QPR were hoping to connect with one extra pass. Hence, the numbers.
Spurs did dominate possession, a product of their superior midfield and QPR’s tendency to play very direct. Rangers’ possessions were often finished in one movement, whereas Spurs elected to hold the ball for longer periods of time. Unfortunately for André Villas-Boas’ team, they still seemed to ideas against a team willing to sit back and let them hold the ball. Without something amazing from Gareth Bale, the game was destined to be drawn.
Both sides have reasons to be disappointed with the result, though Harry Redknapp will be happy. The QPR manager will look at this as a point from a top side (his previous team) even though a team in QPR’s position (19th) needs to try for three in all its home games. Spurs should also be upset (dropping points to a far inferior side) even if the remain unbeaten since Dec. 9.
The managers are meeting the media ahead of this week’s Premier League matches, and many eyes are trained on one specific match-up.
Chelsea and Manchester United meet on Sunday, the first time Jose Mourinho will manage against his old side since his unceremonious exit last winger.
[ USWNT: Holiday has tumor removed ]
Mourinho, of course, led Chelsea to the 2014-15 title only to see a miserable start to the following campaign. He was hired at Manchester United this summer, but Conte thinks Mourinho’s Chelsea laurels have earned him some love from Stamford Bridge.
“I have great respect for Mourinho. He deserves a good reception. He was an important man for Chelsea and wrote part of the club’s story.”
Conte also touched on Paul Pogba‘s decision to head back to Old Trafford. The manager guided the French midfielder during their time at Juventus.
“It was Paul Pogba’s dream was to return to Manchester United. I wish him well, but only after this game.”
Conte said John Terry is available to return for Chelsea, and that could be invaluable against a big, strong forward like United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With the Red Devils having played Thursday, Conte will like his chances a bit more than usual.
The bracket is set for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, and ensures that at least one MLS vs. Liga MX semifinal will happen next Spring.
No. 1 seed New York Red Bulls will cross the continent to meet No. 8 Vancouver Whitecaps, with the winner moving on to face the victor of Mexico’s Tigres UANL vs. Pumas UNAM.
[ VIDEO: Previewing all 10 PL matches ]
The possibility of an all-Liga MX or all-MLS final still exists, with Pachuca and FC Dallas on opposite sides of the bracket. Arabe Unido gives Panama hope for its first CCL semifinalist, while Saprissa can be Costa Rica’s first semifinalist since 2011.
Of the remaining teams, only Pachuca has won a title in the CCL era (2008-present). Tigres lost in the 2016 final, the only other team to make it that far.
New York Red Bulls (1) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (8)
Tigres UANL (4) vs. Pumas UNAM (5)
Arabe Unido (2) vs. FC Dallas (7)
Pachuca (3) vs. Saprissa (4)
The first legs will be played in late February, and the bright side to the intra-league quarters will be one MLS side waiting a round before facing a more in-form club playing a traditional season schedule (though that’s an overblown excuse at this point).
Some fans don’t care much for the tournament, while others — myself included — are extremely keen to see an MLS team win the CCL and represent North America in the Club World Cup, where it can get a high profile litmus test in a serious competition (Real Madrid beat Cruz Azul 4-0 in a 2014 semifinal).
World Cup champion Lauren Holiday has had a brain tumor removed, one month after giving birth.
Holiday’s husband, Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans, announced that his pregnant wife was diagnosed with an operable tumor in September, and Lauren Holiday has publicly thanked fans for support while requesting prayers.
[ MORE: UCL Final in United States? ]
The Holidays welcomed their first child earlier this month, and Jrue left the Pelicans preseason to help his wife.
The BBC added this tidbit:
Unbelievably as a three-year-old, she had open-heart surgery to repair a defect and went on to become one of the world’s most respected football players.
Get well soon, Lauren.
Carlos Lizarazo’s ridiculous rocket shook rain off the net in an aesthetically pleasing CONCACAF Champions League goal on Thursday.
The Cruz Azul loanee struck a vicious shot for FC Dallas’ fifth goal, which boosted out of the No. 8 seed for the quarterfinals after a 5-2 win at Suchitepéquez in Guatemala.
[ MORE: PST talks with FCD’s Hedges, Zimmerman ]
Lizarazo, 25, had two goals in 10 appearances for FCD heading into the game, with both coming in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.