Lineups and discussion: Manchester United vs. Chelsea

Leave a comment

The only way this game could have been scheduled worse is if it kicked off this Saturday at 10:00 a.m Eastern. Chelsea’s annual visit to Manchester United is normally be one of the most anticipated fixtures of the season, but scheduled far too early, the stakes are low-to-non-existent. At least if it was on opening weekend we could have had the months of insane buildup, people like us driving a ‘Moyes debuts against Chelsea narrative’ six feet deep. Doesn’t that sound fun?

I guess we’re just going to have to content ourselves with 22 elite soccer players starting for two iconic clubs playing in front of a 75,000 people at one of the best venues on Earth. As for stakes — beyond these being two of the three major contenders for this year’s title — we’ll have to supplant them with the uncertainty that we’re still not very sure if United will fall off of Chelsea has truly made up the gap. If either side manages three points, it will be as huge of a result as you can muster 10 days into a season.

Chelsea comes into the match at the top of the Premier League, with first week wins over Hull City and Aston Villa putting them on a perfect six points through two matches. Today’s game, however, will be their first way from Stamford Bridge. It will also be their first against a side that’s expected to compete for Europe.

Manchester United faced both of those things in week one, going to the Liberty Stadium in Swansea to post a 4-1 win on Michael Laudrup’s Swans. Doubles by Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck got the David Moyes era off to a surprisingly strong start.

For United, there is one notable change from Monday’s game: Wayne Rooney starts. The recalcitrant star began on the bench against Swansea yet came on to record two assists. Against the club he’s rumored to be moving to before the transfer deadline, Rooney may make one of his final Manchester United starts. He comes into the team for Ryan Giggs.

Chelsea’s wrinkle is the lack of an obvious number nine. Against Hull they used Fernando Torres. Demba Ba started against Aston Villa. Today, José Mourinho’s going with an attacking four of Kevin De Bruyne, Oscar, Eden Hazard, and Andre Schurrle. Amazingly, Chelsea has named a striker-less team that doesn’t contain Juan Mata.

Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, on NBCSN. If you’re away from your television, head over to NBC Sports Live Extra, where you’ll be able to stream today’s match.

Starting Lineups

Manchester United: David de Gea; Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra; Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Wayne Rooney; Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck

Chelsea: Petr Cech; Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Ashley Cole; Ramires, Frank Lampard; Kevin De Bruyne, Oscar, Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle

FIFA force pace on $25B Club World Cup, global league plan

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Leave a comment

GENEVA (AP) FIFA is forcing the pace on talks over a $25 billion offer to revamp the Club World Cup and create a global national team competition.

FIFA says President Gianni Infantino hosted a meeting last Friday with invited officials from some top European clubs.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Walcott strike ]

The European Club Association has strongly opposed FIFA’s hope for a four-yearly club tournament starting in 2021, which could rival the UEFA-organized Champions League.

UEFA has also proposed a Global Nations League. A similar project is tied to the FIFA-controlled $25 billion, 12-year offer from a consortium including investors from Saudi Arabia and China.

FIFA says it’s holding “informal ongoing discussions with different stakeholders on the topic of the future Club World Cups.”

Infantino is set to meet confederation presidents and general secretaries “in the near future,” FIFA says.

Video: De Rossi, Roma make classy visit to Hillsborough memorial

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

On many occasions there are instances where teams and individuals exemplify the fact that real-life occurrences are more meaningful than sports.

Ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League meeting, Italian giants AS Roma visited Anfield –where they will face Liverpool in the competition’s semifinals.

After walking around the venue where the two sides will compete in less than 24 hours, Roma captain Daniele de Rossi and the rest of the Roma squad visited the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield to pay tribute to the 96 victims lost in the 1989 event that rocked the entire country.

De Rossi was seen laying a floral arrangement on the site, along with a note from the club that read, “In memoria delle vittime di Hillsborough AS Rome.”

Liverpool, Roma ride major emotions into the UCL semifinals

John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Four clubs remain in this season’s UEFA Champions League competition, and while two of the teams have been considered heavy dogs in the fight all year long the other two sides look to continue on their storybook run.

Liverpool, Roma, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have found themselves in the semifinals of this season’s UCL, creating a strong mix of storylines as the tournament heads towards its most critical point.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Theo Walcott’s strike ]

Anfield will be the site for Tuesday’s first leg between Liverpool and Roma, with both sides still riding major highs from their victories in the last round.

The Reds enter the final four after having disposed of fellow Premier League side Manchester City in relatively dominating fashion. Meanwhile, Roma completed a seemingly impossible comeback against Barcelona to progress in the competition.

Liverpool is led by three of the year’s top goalscorers, including Mohamed Salah — who has scored eight goals in the UCL and 41 across all competitions.

For Roma, much of the side’s success has been predicated on finding defensive strength at the right moments throughout the tournament.

Despite falling behind 4-1 in their first leg defeat to Barca in the previous round, Edin Dzeko and Co. rallied for a 3-0 win at the Stade Olimpico to stun the Catalan club by holding Lionel Messi and his side in check.

Manager Eusebio Di Francesco will have to find creative ways to halt the Liverpool attack though over the course of two legs, with the Reds boasting the top attack in this year’s UCL.

Liverpool has scored 33 goals in 10 UCL matches, while only conceding seven in the process.

Keeper Ederson hopeful he can score this season for Man City

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The prospects for a goalkeeper scoring during a match are usually uncommon, but that hasn’t halted Manchester City’s number one choice from aiming to break the trend this season.

Ederson — who has moved into the starting role at the Etihad Stadium with relative ease in 2017/18 — has dreamt of scoring a goal of his own for the Premier League champions in waiting.

“I heard the fans chanting my name, asking me to take the penalty but Gabriel went there,” Ederson said. “Unfortunately he missed it and Bernardo happily scored. But if the manager have asked me to go there, definitely I’d score.

“I’m not sure if I would be able to do set-pieces, but I’m good at penalties, either using power or technique on shooting it. But City have [their] regular penalty-takers and we are well-served.

Citizen supporters chanted for the goalkeeper to take a penalty kick over the weekend in the team’s 5-0 win over Swansea City.

However, Gabriel Jesus was the man selected for the opportunity, but had his attempt saved by Lukasz Fabianski before Bernardo Silva was in the right spot to score the game’s fifth goal.

“If Pep asks me to take it, I’m there,” Ederson said of the penalty kick. “Hopefully it will happen [before the end of the season], I’d like to score.”

This isn’t the first time Ederson has discussed exploring opportunities outside of the net, though.

The Brazilian shot-stopper has long been a fan of former Brazil international goalkeeper Rogero Ceni — who scored 65 goals for club side Sao Paolo.

Earlier this season, the 24-year-old joked around with the media, saying that he’d be more than happy to fill a role in the midfield when City was experiencing some injury issues within the squad.