Guatemala v United States

U.S. player ratings from Friday’s win over Gautemala

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Game grades from Friday night’s 6-0 win over a young Guatemalan side. Remember, it’s just Guatemala. The Americans begin Gold Cup play Tuesday in Portland against Belize.

STARTERS

GK Nick Rimando (5): Some real issue communicating with the men in front of him. There were two instances in each half where information being exchanged with teammates just wasn’t good enough, and it nearly put the United States in trouble. Otherwise not asked to make many saves. Good work with his feet, if occasionally a little too casual.

RB Michael Parkhurst (5): Very slow to move into the attack. If Parkhurst cannot help drive the attack from the back against a young Guetamalan side (read: not very good), what chance will he have against much better opposition? First cross was at the 52nd minute (and it was a well-shaped one.)

CB Oguchi Onyewu (6): Strong defending and clearing, but sometimes leaden and overly safe with his passing.  A little variety here and there will be needed against the Gold Cup opponents ahead, who are sure to pack the back. Along with Goodson, there was some occasional trouble locating Guatemala’s one striker, Minor Lopez, in the game’s early minutes.

CB Clarence Goodson (7) Tried to move ball forward with more urgency than his central partner, although not with consistently great results. Got over quickly to support Beasley, allowing the U.S. left side to push the attack from their side. Deserved the fifth U.S. goal as he is usually dangerous on set pieces when appearing internationally.

LB DaMarcus Beasley (8): Perhaps the best U.S. player in the first 45, combining well with Edgar Castillo, supplying good crosses through a keen sense of when to spring forward. And it’s nice that Beasley, aiming for his fourth World Cup, still has the legs to get there.

DM Kyle Beckerman (6): Handled the ball a lot (as you expect at that spot) and managed to almost always do something positive with it, although not at the high tempo the guys would later in that position. Gave lots of protection to his center backs. Should have scored in 21st minute, but fanned on a point-blank shot.

(MORE: What we learned from Friday’s victory in San Diego)

CM Jose Torres (5): Stationed slightly higher than Beckerman as a linking central midfielder, as Michael Bradley does these days.  But he was no Michael Bradley, just too casual or sloppy with the ball. This has the look of another opportunity that has come and gone for him, as he didn’t impress the way the second half central mid subs certainly did.

CM Joe Corona (5): He was either an early victim of an overly clogged midfield or he was the reason for it. Stationed behind Herculez Gomez in the original 4-2-3-1, he wasn’t involved and drifted unhelpfully close to the holding men behind him. Found a little more joy when he switched with Donovan, moving out to the right.

RW Landon Donovan (8): Surprisingly rickety in the first 10 minutes, most evident in two early give-aways. (Dare we even say “nervous?”) But he settled down and turned positively alive with movement and ideas when switched to a dual forward role alongside Gomez. By the second half, he was among the best U.S. men – which he should be, of course. I mean, it’s Landon Donovan! Forced a penalty kick, converted it, finished well on Holden’s arrangement and set up another goal.

LW Edgar Castillo (7): Was a primary reason the U.S. left side (along with Beasley) was significantly more dangerous than the right.  His first touches weren’t always tip top, but Castillo did manage some tidy work in tight spaces here and there and was aggressive in attacking desire. Worked inside frequently, able to do so because of Beasley’s ability to work the wing.

CF Herculez Gomez (7): Sixth goal for the United States (Friday’s opener) was typical Gomez stuff, staying with the play through diligent effort, circulating his run and finding himself alone at the far post to calmly put away the goal. After the switch into a 4-4-2, saw more of the ball and always provided an outlet, usually working the right side. He’s definitely got goals in him for the coming Gold Cup.

SUBSTITUTES

Stuart Holden (8): Entered at halftime for Beckerman. Good variety of midfield passing, short, long, diagonal, forward, switching passes, etc. A couple of really swell passes to open up the defense, like the chipped beauty into Donovan for a goal. A highly productive 45 minutes for one of the most-watched U.S. men of the night.

Mix Diskerud (7): Entered at halftime for Torres. Good work in partnering with Holden in the middle of the 4-4-2. Lots of technical work done at the high tempo that Jurgen Kinsmann wants. Only nit-pick is tackling that could have been better.

Chris Wondolowski (6): Entered the 59th for Gomez. Found himself unopposed with the ball at his feet when Donovan’s sly pass bounced around 18 yards from goal, then finished with confident perfection for first U.S. goal.

Brek Shea (7): Entered in the 59th for Castillo. Lots of good bursts down the left helped keep the Guatemalan defense in trouble once Klinsmann made lots of changes at the hour mark. Looked like a man determined to get back into Klinsmann’s good graces. Only nitpick was some inconsistency in shooting and crossing, although he certainly made plenty of opportunities for himself to do so.

Alejandro Bedoya (5): Entered in the 59th for Corona. Popped up in the right spot for the last U.S. goal, but not much else. A shell of what Shea was on the other side, with imprecise touches and generally not enough mark on a game that was tilting heavily toward the visitors defensive end.

Will Bruin (5): Entered in the 73rd for Donovan. Got into a couple of good spots near goal but couldn’t quite finish the movement.

VIDEO: Arsene Wenger apologizes for being sent off

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While his team was fighting for second position in the Premier League table, Arsene Wenger was watching from the depths of the Emirates.

Incensed at the (correct) decision to award Burnley a penalty two minutes into stoppage time after Arsenal had controlled much of the game, Wenger lashed out at fourth official Anthony Taylor, causing referee Jon Moss to send Wenger off the pitch.

The Frenchman was forced to watch Alexis Sanchez score a penalty of his own, giving Arsenal a stunning 2-1 win over the Clarets. After the match, Wenger was pleased with the victory, but apologized for his actions, which included shoving Taylor slightly on three separate occasions.

“I saw it [the winning penalty] on television, I at least saw what happened,” Wenger said. “I didn’t see a penalty from outside, but I should have kept my control and I apologize for that. [I should have] not said a word. I should have shut up.”

It’s possible that Wenger sees punishment from the FA for his actions, as it isn’t the first time he’s clashed with referees this season.

The Frenchman was complimentary of Burnley’s defense, with Arsenal controlling much of the game but failing to score more than one goal through regulation.

“My team was well organized, which makes the game simple but efficient. It’s kind of frustrating games that you get here, and you have to deal with it tactically, and we did it well. We won over there in the last second with a little bit of a dodgy goal, and we won today again just in the last second again, so they’re a very strong team.”

Wenger was non-committal when asked about Granit Xhaka‘s dismissal, saying it was on the other side of the field so he did not get a good look at the decision.

Xhaka’s latest red makes him the most sent-off player in Europe

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Granit Xhaka (R) of Arsenal protests to referee Jonathan Moss after shown a red card during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Burnley at the Emirates Stadium on January 22, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Granit Xhaka was a marked man before he came to England. With four dismissals over the last two club seasons, Arsenal fans were aware they were bringing in a talented passer and midfield destroyer, but also a man who had trouble staying on the pitch.

That has manifested itself in the Premier League, and has been maybe even exacerbated.

With his second straight red card of the season, Xhaka’s disciplinary issues are a hindrance to the Gunners and leaves Arsene Wenger with a big decision to make – to continue Xhaka’s selection in the matchday squad when he returns from suspension, or leave him on the sidelines as to not risk again falling down to 10 men.

Over the last 2-1/2 calendar years dating back to the start of the 2014/15 Bundesliga season when he was with Borussia Monchengladbach, Xhaka has been sent off six times in league play, once in the Europa League, and another for his international team during 2018 World Cup qualifying this past summer. The league record alone is more than any other player in the top 5 European leagues.

While obviously the sheer numbers are a major issue, the true problem is in the eye test. Xhaka isn’t learning from his mistakes. No, his dismissal against Burnley wasn’t the most malicious of challenges, but it was a textbook straight red card. The Swiss international passed the ball straight to Steven Defour, and long after the Burnley midfielder unloaded the ball to a teammate, Xhaka went lunging in with both feet showing studs, forcing referee Jon Moss to show him the showers after a quick conference with the assistant referee who was in perfect position to make the call.

If the 24-year-old wishes to find his way back to the field in Arsenal colors, he needs to start learning from his actions, or he will end up on the bench, either through suspension or selection. It nearly cost Arsenal a chance at second place against Burnley, with the Clarets energized by their man advantage. He has four domestic matches to think about what he’s done.

Chelsea 2-0 Hull City: Costa return sends Chelsea eight points clear

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Diego Costa (R) of Chelsea celebrates scoring the opening goal with his team mates during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on January 22, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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Chelsea didn’t miss a beat with Diego Costa out, but they sure are glad to have him back.

The Spaniard bagged a goal in lengthy first-half stoppage time and Chelsea eased its way to all three points to take advantage of a host of slip-ups near the top of the table to work an eight-point gap at the summit. A late goal from Gary Cahill secured the points as the Blues were on their way.

The Blues had the opening chance just 11 seconds into the game as they boomed a long ball forward, one that Diego Costa chested down and volleyed just inches wide left.

Past the 12 minute mark, there was a lengthy injury delay after Ryan Mason and Gary Cahill had a very nasty clash of heads. Cahill came out relatively unscathed and was able to stay on but Mason was down for several minutes, requiring full medical attention as he received oxygen and was carefully placed on a backboard before being stretchered off.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The game seemed to fall asleep after the delay, with Mason replaced by David Meyler. Hull had a spell of possession, including a corner, before Chelsea got back on the ball. The Blues nearly got a break when a shot from Marcos Alonso took a massive deflection and nearly looped into the top corner, but Eldin Jakupovic was there to tip it behind.

That moment began a huge spell of pressure for the Blues. David Luiz rose high to meet a Victor Moses cross but couldn’t get the contact, and then Pedro went to ground for a penalty shout but was denied. Hull’s defensive shape was fantastic in the first half, and while Chelsea held the bulk of possession, they had little to show for it in front of net. In significant first half added time they came close again, with Alonso on the left wing cut one across the face of goal, but it was just out of reach for a sliding N'Golo Kante and into Jakupovic’s arms.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Before the break, Chelsea would break through. Victor Moses cut a ball across the penalty area that somehow made it all the way to Diego Costa without a touch, and the Brazilian put himself back in the spotlight with a powerful finish.

The second half was a spirited one, but didn’t produce much in front of net. The television commentators called the game “plucky” which accurately described the action. After 70 minutes, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte brought off Eden Hazard for Cesc Fabregas. Hull City had a healthy amount of attacking intent, but couldn’t get by the Chelsea back three.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

It wasn’t enough for the Tigers, as Chelsea put the game away with 10 minutes to go. Substitute Cesc Fabregas delivered a free-kick into the box, and Cahill snuck in around the back, getting free and heading in from point-blank range. Fabregas earned his sixth assist of the Premier League season, tied for most on Chelsea despite playing just 521 minutes. Costa nearly had a third four minutes later, but was stuffed by Jakupovic from a tight angle.

The three points pushed Chelsea eight points clear at the top, with Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester City dropping points. Hull City’s loss sees them remain in the relegation zone, in 19th on 16 points, three from safety.

Real Madrid loses Modric and Marcelo to injuries in Malaga win

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 21:  Marcelo of Real Madrid CF comes off substituted during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Malaga CF at the Bernabeu on January 21, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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The 40-game unbeaten run seems like a distant memory.

Real Madrid had lost two straight matches before a 2-1 La Liga win over Malaga on Saturday, but despite the three points, they still did lose in a way.

Los Blancos lost both Marcelo and Luka Modric to injury in the match, and both could potentially miss up to a month of time.

Modric has been in and out of the squad this season due to injuries, and during his other lengthy spell on the sidelines, he was replaced adequately by 22-year-old Mateo Kovacic, and he was the man to replace Modric against Malaga with 12 minutes remaining. Reports say the Croatian suffered an adductor injury which can be quite painful and could keep him off the field for a number of weeks.

Marcelo, meanwhile, has been a staple in the Madrid lineup, appearing in the last 11 league matches and starting all but two of those. Marcelo was brought off just 25 minutes into the Malaga win reportedly with a hamstring problem, replaced by Isco. The likely long-term replacement for the 28-year-old Brazilian would be Nacho Fernandez, who has seen time this season on both defensive flanks.

The injuries puts not just the immediate La Liga and Copa del Rey futures of the two in jeopardy, but also could affect their availability for the start of the Champions League knockout stage which begins on February 15th against Napoli.