Chelsea’s Rafael Benitez has been honored as Barclays Manager of the Month. And it’s about time!
Despite hordes of criticism heaped on him by Chelsea fans and a British media seemingly transfixed on ruffling the feathers of foreign bosses (see: Arsene Wenger, Roberto Mancini, Andre Villas-Boas, Manuel Pochetino and Paulo Di Canio), Benitez has provided one of the most stunning managerial performances of the season. And the league is finally taking notice making the interim boss the first Chelsea boss to be named Premier League Manager of the Month since Carlo Ancelotti in April 2011.
Benitez’ side enjoyed an unbeaten month in the league, with three wins from four games. During that stretch the Blues knocked off Swansea City, Sunderland and Fulham while drawing with Liverpool after conceding a last-gasp equalizer at Anfield.
Adding to the significance of the achievement is that Chelsea earned the domestic results while playing five other games during the month, including two matches against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League quarter-finals (where they won 5-4 on aggregate), a 1-0 win over Manchester United in the FA Cup, and a 2-1 first leg victory at FC Basel in the Europa League semi-finals.
Think about that – nine matches in 30 days. Crazy!
The league results have seen Chelsea rise to third in the table with four games remaining, putting them in prime position for a Champions League berth. Yet despite this achievement – as well as earning the club a spot in next month’s Europa League final against Benfica and being a key cog in the development of David Luiz and the resurgence of Petr Cech (who, at the moment is arguably the best goalkeeper in world football) – Benitez remains a very unpopular man.
To be fair, the Chelsea fans’ disdain for the Spaniard is at least somewhat understandable. His decision to pledge his love for Liverpool two weeks ago was nonsensical. Nevertheless, the feats he has managed to accomplish at Chelsea during his five month stint at the club are astounding. And it’s great to see the Premier League is finally taking notice.
Here’s to hoping that come the final day of the season, Blues supporters will as well.
MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans were unhappy with the price of tickets for their team’s match at Anderlecht in the Champions League.
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The fans held banners during Wednesday’s game saying, “Are your necks not full? Is your greed now finally satisfied?”
A Bayern fan group, Club Nr. 12, issued a statement saying Anderlecht had made 85 percent of the tickets available to the German club’s fans priced at 100 euros ($118).
“Even by the standards of the generally high-priced Champions League, this represents a new dimension for a first-round game,” said the statement, which thanked Bayern for supplementing the tickets so fans had could pay 70 euros ($82.50).
Many Bayern fans avoided the trip to Brussels altogether, while 91 percent of more than 2,500 Club Nr. 12 members said in a survey that ticket prices were “completely unacceptable.”
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Anderlecht spokesman David Steegen told The Associated Press that Bayern fans were charged “exactly the same price” as home fans who bought single tickets to the game. He said fans who bought a three-game Champions League bundle were offered a reduction.
Both Premier League sides fell in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play, but for one side the result didn’t effect their progression into the next round.
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Arsenal dropped a 1-0 result to Cologne, however, the Gunners still moved into the Round of 32 after their Group H counterparts, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov settled for a scoreless draw.
Meanwhile, Everton’s 2017/18 woes continued on the day as the Toffees suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat at home against Serie A side Atalanta. The win secures Atalanta’s place in the knockout phase, along with fellow Group E club Lyon — who also won on Thursday.
AC Milan put up five goals of its own in a convincing win against Austria Wien, while Lazio, Nice and Red Bull Salzburg were among the other sides to move into the next round after picking up the necessary results.
Below are all of the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action.
Astana 2-3 Villareal
Konyaspor 1-1 Marseille
Rosenborg 0-1 Real Sociedad
Lazio 1-1 Vitesse
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Steaua Bucuresti
Lokomotiv 2-1 Copenhagen
Zenit 2-1 Vardar
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
BATE 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ostersunds 2-0 Zorya
Koln 1-0 Arsenal
Nice 3-1 Zulte Waregem
Lugano 1-0 Beer-Sheva
Ludogorets 1-2 Istanbul
Braga 3-1 Hoffenheim
AEK 2-2 Rijeka
AC Milan 5-1 Austria Vienna
Lyon 4-0 Apollon
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-2 Slavia Praha
Sheriff 1-0 Zlin
Partizan 2-1 Young Boys
Skenderbeu 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Everton 1-5 Atalanta
Former Brazil international Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of rape on an Albanian woman back in 2013.
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At the time, Robinho was playing for Serie A side AC Milan.
The court decision came down on Thursday after the 33-year-old forward had failed to attend any court hearings in Italy, where the crime reportedly took place.
Robinho is believed to have acted in the crime with five other Brazilians, to which their whereabouts are unknown to this point.
Reuters has reported that Robinho is entitled to up to two appeals and “Italy would only launch extradition proceedings once this legal process is exhausted.”
The Brazilian is known for his club playing days at AC Milan and Manchester City, among other clubs in addition to his time with the Selecao. Robinho took part in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Brazil.
- West Ham is winless in last six against Leicester
- Jamie Vardy has two goals, two assists in last 4 games vs. West Ham
- Hammers have nine points through first 12 matches
West Ham United will host Leicester City from the London Stadium on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as David Moyes and Co. look to climb out of the relegation zone.
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Moyes and West Ham currently sit 18th in the Premier League through 12 games, and will be hoping to see an improvement in their form with the potential returns of Andre Ayew and Marko Arnautovic.
The Hammers are without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Michail Antonio, as well as James Collins.
The Foxes are winless in their last two matches, and coming off of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City over the weekend. Robert Huth and Matty James remain sidelined for Puel’s group, but otherwise, the club is relatively healthy.
What they’re saying
West Ham boss David Moyes on turning the team’s form around: “We need to give the supporters something to shout about and something that looks half decent, and then they will support us. I want everyone to be together. I am not aware of the problems before I came, I was a bit surprised when I heard (chanting against the board). “I want them behind us to give us a chance of winning.”
Leicester’s Claude Puel on confidence in his players: “I have a good feeling with the players; they listen, they work hard on the pitch and I feel their ambition. We will see in the next games, with a good adaption and rotation, to see them approach it with a positive attitude.”
The Hammers are missing several key attacking pieces, including Hernandez, which will surely make the defensive task easier for Leicester. The Foxes attack hasn’t been at its finest, but they’ll be facing a West Ham back line that allows over two goals per game (25 in 12 matches).
West Ham 1-3 Leicester