Relegation-threatened Sunderland took the lead at Stamford Bridge today but couldn’t hang on as Chelsea won 2-1 and rose to third in the Premier League.
What at face value seemed surprising – the visitors going ahead – wasn’t really that shocking in context. You might have expected Sunderland’s players to make a roaring start to impress their curiously-sweatered new boss, while six of Chelsea’s weary starters began against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League three days prior.
One of those was Spain defender Cesar Azpilicueta, who put a sprightly Sunderland 1-0 up shortly before half-time by steering Adam Johnson’s corner into his own goal.
It was almost inevitable that Chelsea would be stung into more meaningful action after that, but Rafael Benitez’ side, ordinary for much of the contest, benefited from two lucky breaks.
A pass from half-time substitute Fernando Torres found Oscar, whose shot was saved by Simon Mignolet. But the rebound looped off defender Matt Kilgallon for the match’s second own-goal in the space of a couple of minutes.
There was more fortune with 55 minutes gone as Branislav Ivanovic deflected in a long-range attempt from David Luiz.
With Tottenham only drawing with Everton across London a little earlier, the result lifted Chelsea above them into third on goal difference, dropping Arsenal to fifth.
Next up for Sunderland? Only the small matter of the Tyne-Wear derby, a trip to local rivals Newcastle United a week today. And Newcastle should be extra-buoyant for that one after beating Fulham 1-0 today thanks to a late winner from Papiss Cisse that lifted them to 13th and goes a long way to easing their own relegation concerns.
Black Cats fans had better hope that Di Canio’s tactics prove sharper than his fashion sense. That sort of style has no place outside a golf course. Frankly, Paolo, we expect better. You’re Italian.
The United States takes on Canada for the second of two friendlies that test those involved in January camp. With Iceland already dispatched 3-2, Canada is next up, at 10:30 p.m. ET from the StubHub center in California.
Jurgen Klinsmann has chosen his lineup, and it’s not easily discernible.
The back line is the biggest head-scratcher, with three central defenders starting, and at least one of them out of position. Jermaine Jones, who performed well in a midfield distribution role against Iceland, has been moved back to the defensive line, partnering with Matt Besler. Steve Birnbaum, also a central defender who had ups and down against Iceland, is back in the lineup. There’s nowhere to fit a third central defender, so he will play out wide. Kellyn Acosta, a natural full-back, rounds out the back four.
In midfield, the personnel lends itself to a flat four, if only because there’s really no other way it can go. Again, a multitude of central defenders are deployed, with Michael Bradley, Lee Nguyen, and Mix Diskerud forming some kind of CM/CM/Winger combination (Nguyen is likely the odd man out wide), with Gyasi Zardes out wide on the other end.
Jozy Altidore returns up front, this time to partner with Jordan Morris, who makes his first USMNT appearance as a professional player.
Jurgen Klopp has made his frustrations with Daniel Sturridge‘s injury history very clear, but he still knows the England international is a crucial part of his squad, and he will be patient, no matter how frustrating it is.
Sturridge has been out since early December, and has made just five appearances all season due to a number of recurring injuries that have sapped him of his consistency for the last two years.
But with the 26-year-old back in training the last two days, the English media has speculated that Sturridge is looking to leave Liverpool, and that the club is trying to rid themselves of him as well. Klopp does not see it that way.
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“I have no feeling that Daniel is thinking like this so stop thinking about it,” Klopp said in his pre-match press conference, speaking ahead of the match Saturday against Sunderland. “I spoke to him but not about this. I didn’t ask: ‘do you want to leave?’ “Why should I? He’s been back in training for two days. I don’t go over and say: ‘Daniel, I hear you want to leave? Is there truth in it?’ I don’t believe that it is like this.”
Klopp called the rumors a “non-story” and believes as soon as Sturridge is out on the field, the rumors will stop. He just has to get out on the field first.
“Since I was here I’ve had a normal relationship with Daniel Sturridge,” Klopp said. “The only problem is I have only had him 10 or 12 times on the training pitch – that is the truth. Now he is back we hope he can stay in team training and everything will be good. If everything is normal from now on then he is in the race.”
The German said that just having returned to training, Sturridge won’t be ready for Saturday’s game, but he could potentially be back to action for the FA Cup match against West Ham on Tuesday.
BERLIN (AP) — The German football federation has opened legal proceedings against Franz Beckenbauer, former members, and FIFA in a bid to limit potential damages arising from the 2006 World Cup corruption affair.
The DFB tells The Associated Press in a statement that it has “taken the necessary measures to prevent a possible limitation of claims” against former head of the German World Cup organizing committee Beckenbauer and his then vice-president Fedor Radmann, former DFB presidents Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, former DFB general secretary Horst R. Schmidt, the executors of Robert Louis-Dreyfus’ estate, together with FIFA.
Central to the affair is a suspect 6.7 million euro payment made to FIFA by the DFB before the 2006 World Cup was awarded. The money was loaned to the German federation by Dreyfus.
Shakhtar Donetsk striker Fred, a regular for the Brazilian national team, has seen his CONMEBOL doping ban extended worldwide to all competitions.
A FIFA disciplinary committee announced that Fred’s suspension now covers “all types of matches, including domestic, international, friendly and official fixtures.”
The 22-year-old tested positive for the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide during last summer’s Copa America, and has not played for the Brazilian national team since, having been banned for a year by CONMEBOL. He had been playing for his Ukranian club while FIFA was reviewing the case, making 12 appearances in league play and scoring two goals. He also played six times in the Champions League without scoring a goal.
The one-year ban is back-dated to Fred’s last international squad appearance, when he was on the bench for the Copa America quarterfinals on June 27 of last summer. That date will allow Fred to be eligible for the Rio Olympics, which start August 5.