Chelsea keeping Kevin de Bruyne waiting and waiting and waiting …

1 Comment

When you’re an up-and-coming 20 year old who finally gets that ‘big club’ contract, you’re juiced. It’s the break you’ve been waiting for, the time when you’re finally on the verge of stepping into the limelight and becoming a household commodity in world football. Fourteen months after signing with Chelsea, midfielder Kevin de Bruyne is still waiting for that to happen.

The Belgian international came to Stamford Bridge in January 2012 when Chelsea purchased him from Genk – a surging feeder club that has produced the likes of Christian Benteke, Thibaut Courtois and Anthony Vanden Borre. Yet after a year in the fold, few football lovers would recognize de Bruyne if he was standing next to them at a bar sipping a shandy while wearing his Belgian kit. That’s because – surprise, surprise – immediately after signing with the Blues he was loaned back to Genk for the remainder of the spring before spending the entire 2012-13 campaign at German side Werder Bremen.

Credit to the winger, he hasn’t let the demotion effect him on the pitch. In 26 Bundesliga appearances, de Bruyne has banged home six goals and served as provider on eight occasions. Despite the heroics Bremen has struggled and sits 14th in the table, a mere 6 points from the drop zone.

de Bruyne’s football has been equally tasty on the international level where he’s scored twice and assisted twice in five World Cup Qualifying appearances. The fact that he’s accomplished this for the new darling of every footie bro (‘dude, Belgian’s roster is sooo sick, definitely a dark horse to win World Cup 2014‘), only adds to the player’s intrigue.

On Friday, it was de Bruyne who opened the scoring for the Diables Rouges in their 2-0 win over Macedonia. The blonde ambition was played the ball on the right side of the pitch, cut inside and skinned defender Alexander Lazevski before slamming a near post rip past the utterly confused Macedonia netminder, Tome Pacovski. Determined, technically precise, and full of guile, the goal was a feat to behold.

So with his stock rising on both club and international stages, de Bruyne was asked whether he still had aspirations to play at Stamford Bridge. “That’s the reason that I signed there last year,” he said with a pained look of obviousness and desperation.

“I want to show everyone at Chelsea that I can play there. But at the moment I don’t know what Chelsea want to do with me, so it’s difficult to say what’s going to happen with me in the next year, or years. I have to just wait.”

What Chelsea want to do with you, my dear Kevin, is keep you on ice. Maintain you as part of the inventory at the Stamford Bridge warehouse. Keep working hard and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be recalled this summer for the pre-season firecracker against the mighty Singha Thailand All-Star XI. Now wouldn’t that be fun?

If it sounds harsh, sorry kiddo, but this is life at Chelsea, where attacking midfielders are all the rage. The typical front three of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Haaaaathaarrrrrrr clearly have the starting roles on lockdown. After the tiny trio, guys like Victor Moses and Marko Marin sit quietly on Rafa Benitez’ bench, frothing at the mouth to enter a match in the final three minutes and somehow impress. Making matters worse, the do-it-all Ramires is always happy to oblige in any position throughout the midfield.

It’s a dirty game, but not one without lessons, mainly, know the ‘big club’ club you’re signing for before you go searching for that limelight.

PL Preview: Manchester City vs. Newcastle

Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Newcastle has lost 8 PL away matches in a row
  • Man City last lost at home in PL play to Chelsea in Dec 2016
  • Newcastle has picked up 1 of a possible 30 points vs. PL top half this season

Manchester City has a great chance to rebound from its first loss of the season as they host struggling Newcastle at the Etihad on Saturday, live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

The Magpies have picked up their terrible mid-season form of late, but still remain just three points above the drop. They are unbeaten in three, with a win and two draws, and have lost just once in their last five.

Through Newcastle’s losing streak, the Magpies struggled to keep the ball out of their own net, with defensive issues all over the place. They suffered through a nine-game winless run where they conceded 19 goals. However, of late, the roles have reversed, and suddenly they can’t score. In their last four games, they have just two goals.

City, meanwhile, have a few injuries to deal with on the defensive side of things, where they cannot afford them. Fabian Delph went down in the last match and could be out for significant time, along with Vincent Kompany who continues to show his age and history of fitness issues.

INJURIES: Manchester City – OUT: Fabian Delph (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee). QUESTIONABLE: David Silva (illness), Vincent Kompany (fitness). Newcastle – OUT: Jesus Gamez (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: Dwight Gayle (knock).


What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on build-up of injuries: “In these situations, it always depends on the mentality of the players, if they can make a step forward. If they can they play in positions that are not natural positions and the other guys help them, everything is going well.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on not having a full squad: “When you have a short blanket, if you pull it to your face, your feet are cold, if you cover your feet, your top half is cold.”

Prediction

Newcastle has been ok of late, but not nearly enough to keep Manchester City out of the back of the net. This could get ugly, with the Citizens looking to rebound from their season’s first loss. 3-0 Man City with the possibility that it could get much worse if Newcastle gives up.

PL Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester United

Getty Images
1 Comment
  • Burnley has 1 win vs. Man United in last 23 meetings
  • Manchester United has not conceded a goal in 2018
  • Paul Pogba is joint-top of the league with 9 assists

A critical top of the table battle comes our way from Turf Moor (!!) on Saturday as Manchester United travels to Burnley live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

Since losing at Chelsea back in early November, Manchester United in unbeaten away from home and has won four of the five road matches. Burnley, meanwhile, has lost three matches in a row to start the new year and has not won in Premier League play since December 12th against Stoke City.

The goalscoring form of each team is also in stark contrast. Manchester United has not allowed a goal in any competition in 2018, and last conceded back on Boxing Day in a 2-2 draw with this Burnley side. The Clarets, meanwhile, have just one goal in their last three Premier League games and just three goals in their last six.

INJURIES: Burnley – OUT: Chris Wood (knee), Stephen Ward (knee), Jonathan Walters (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Chris Taylor (ribs). Manchester United – OUT: Daley Blind (undisclosed), Eric Bailly (ankle), Michael Carrick (heart), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia.

What they’re saying

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on the gap in riches between clubs: “I don’t think any of us are surprised by the gap in the Premier League – I think it’s been there a long time and it’s getting harder year on year since the business model of football has changed.”

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on focusing despite transfer rumors: “In this moment, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan our player, [Alexis] Sanchez an Arsenal player and with a match tomorrow, I want to switch off and focus on the most important thing, which is the match.”

Prediction

Burnley may be coming back down to Earth, but they are still a formidable team with great organization, and Manchester United will be once again held to a draw, this time 1-1.

Alexis Sanchez in Arsenal squad, could play vs Crystal Palace

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ahead of his nearly imminent move away from the Emirates, Alexis Sanchez could make an appearance for Arsenal against Crystal Palace this weekend as he was with the squad at the team hotel on Friday night, according to reports in England.

According to the reports, Arsene Wenger has not decided if he will play Sanchez against Palace or not, as any potential injury could seriously jeopardize any outgoing transfer in the works. However, naming him to the bench and allowing Sanchez to make one last appearance in front of the home fans would be a nice touch before he leaves, likely for Manchester United.

It probably doesn’t help Wenger’s selection that oft-injured Danny Welbeck will miss the match after picking up a muscle problem in training.

Sanchez did not travel with the team to Bournemouth last weekend as Arsenal lost 2-1 in stunning fashion. Sanchez has missed four Premier League games this season, and Arsenal has lost three of them.

The reports state Sanchez trained with the Arsenal first team on Friday, but only because the youth team he trained with the day before had left for a road trip.

Reports: LA Galaxy trades Gyasi Zardes to Columbus for Ola Kamara

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to a reports by the LA Times and by ESPN, the LA Galaxy have traded US international Gyasi Zardes along with allocation money to the Columbus Crew for striker Ola Kamara.

Both reports state that Columbus will receive $400,000 in guaranteed allocation money in the deal, plus another $100,000 should Kamara score 12 goals next season to trigger the incentive.

Zardes was once a force along the wing for Bruce Arena and the Galaxy, but the 26-year-old has declined heavily in the last two seasons as injuries and poor form have held him to just eight goals over the last two seasons, including just two last campaign. Meanwhile, Kamara has been a star for Columbus in his first two years in Major League Soccer, scoring 16 goals in 2016 before netting another 18 last season, leaving him third in the league in goals scored over those two seasons.

The LA Times report states that Kamara will earn a new contract after the trade, giving him a raise over his current $482,500 yearly salary.

Zardes is an interesting case who shouldn’t be given up on just yet. A homegrown player for the Galaxy, he scored 17 goals in the 2014 season, including on in the MLS Cup Finals as the Galaxy won it all. He earned a seemingly permanent place on the USMNT as a result, and has 37 caps to this date. However, his goalscoring form has since evaporated, leaving him with no more than six goals in an MLS season since, and has just six goals in those 37 caps for the national team.

The Galaxy will need to acquire an additional international roster spot in order to activate Kamara for the season opener on March 4th against Portland, as they have filled up their seven spots as of now.