Cardiff City 0-0 Everton: Bluebirds thwart Toffees in entertaining draw (Video)

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Cardiff City and Everton played out an entertaining 0-0 stalemate at the Cardiff City Stadium, as the home side defended resolutely and the Toffees pushed hard for the winner late on.

However Roberto Martinez’ side made it three-straight draws to start off the season as they were left frustrated for the third weekend in a row.

A bright start to each half saw Cardiff force the issue but Malky Mackay’s men were good value for their point as they held on for the shutout.

Craig Bellamy had their best chance in the second half but his touch was far too heavy as he rounded USMNT ‘keeper Tim Howard in the 60th minute and the chance evaporated. As for Everton, they came close on several occasions in the first half with Ross Barkley, Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas all working Cardiff’s ‘keeper David Marshall.

In the first half Cardiff came flying out of the traps and piled the pressure on the visitors. But in the 9th minute there was some great build up play from Everton’s Pienaar, who cut inside from the left and found Barkley who made a mazy run before his shot was deflected shot wide. From the ensuing corner a goalmouth scramble took place as Marouane Fellaini came close to scoring.

The Bluebirds looked composed early on in the beautiful conditions in the Welsh capital and caused Howard plenty of problems with Bellamy’s vicious inswinging corners after 15 minutes as the Bluebirds pushed forward.

source: Reuters
A midfield battle ensued for most of the game

In the 24th minute Mirallas headed over from a free kick when he really should have done better and tested Marshall in goal. And moments later in the 28th minute, the Belgian international had another opportunity to score with his head following great work from Croatian international Nikica Jelavic.

The lanky frontman found himself by the left corner flag and curled in a delightful ball that found Mirallas unmarked but once again the Belgian fluffed his lines as Cardiff’s fans breathed a sigh of relief down by the River Taff.

And wave after wave of Everton attack continued to reign down on Cardiff’s goal as the Toffees made all the moves in the first half, with Cardiff pinned back onto the edge of their own box.

In the 41st minute, Leighton Baines made a slaloming run down the left and was taken down by Cardiff’s Chilean midfielder Gary Medel in the box. No penalty was given and Roberto Martinez was not happy with the decision by the referee.

And in first half stoppage time, Seamus Coleman clipped in a great ball to the near post and Jelavic’s header was deflected towards goal and looked to be heading in but Marshall somehow sprung to the his left to make the stop. On second viewing, the header hit defender Ben Turner’s arm and another shout for a penalty went by the wayside.

In the second half Cardiff again started brightly, as a corner found right back Matt Connolly but his shot went wide as the home fans had something to shout about at last.

Everton continued to press but Cardiff had the best chance of the second half on the hour mark, as Craig Bellamy burst through on goal. However the Welshman’s touch around advancing Everton ‘keeper Howard was too heavy and the Toffees were let off the hook.

The Merseyside outfit continued to push forward as the game wore on and substitute Arouna Kone was thwarted by Marshall in Cardiff’s goal, however the Ivorian had strayed offside but his shot was saved from point blank range anyway.

Tempers flared up in the second half on a few occasion as the game got scrappy and both teams were desperate to take away at least a point. And it ended 0-0, despite Everton’s best efforts with Fellaini and Kone tried to break through late on.

No doubt that Cardiff City will be the happier of the two sides as they ground out a valuable point at home whilst Everton are still searching for their first win of the season. It will feel like another opportunity missed for Martinez and his players but they are still unbeaten after three consecutive draws.

The Toffees are in 14th spot, while Cardiff occupy 10th with four points from three games in the Premier League.

LINEUPS

Cardiff City: Marshall, Connolly, Caulker, Turner, Taylor, Whittingham, Medel (Mutch 89), Kim (Maynard 82), Gunnarsson, Bellamy (Cowie 79), Campbell. Subs not used: Lewis; Hudson, Gestede, Noone.

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Mirallas (Deulofeu 86), Pienaar, Osman, Barkley, Fellaini, Jelavic (Kone 68). Subs not used: Robles, Heitinga, Oviedo,Naismith, Stones.

Mourinho: Mkhitaryan “disappeared” during games, got dropped

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It would appear that Henrikh Mkhitaryan has become the new Luke Shaw, who not so long ago became the new Juan Mata, who had become the new Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Pepe, who all previously become the new Kaka and Mesut Ozil — players previously perceived to be undroppable, only to fall out of favor and be dropped from Mourinho’s side.

[ MORE: Carrick back in training after operation to fix irregular heartbeat ]

Similarly to many of the aforementioned stars of Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid sides of the not-so-distant past, Mourinho recently singled out Mkhitaryan for not working hard enough for the team and failing to meet expectations with his performances.

Mkhitaryan last featured in Man United’s 1-0 loss to Chelsea on Nov. 5, prior to the most recent international break. He played just 62 minutes, to follow an UEFA Champions League appearance of just 45 minutes against Benfica. Mkhitaryan was then absent from the substitute’s bench for a victory over Newcastle United and a defeat to Basel.

[ MORE: Pochettino sees Sanchez as one of world’s best defenders already ]

In Mourinho’s mind, Mkhitaryan hasn’t merited a place in the team — quotes from the Guardian:

“I was not happy with his last performances. I’m not speaking about one or two, I’m speaking about three, four or five. He started the season very well and after that, step by step, he was disappearing. His performance levels in terms of goalscoring and assists, pressing, recovering the ball high up the pitch, bringing the team with him as a no. 10, were decreasing.

“That was enough [to drop him] because the others worked to have a chance. Everybody works to have a chance. It’s as simple as that.”

“I don’t know if Mkhitaryan will start but, for sure, he will be back in the group. For him to be back to the group, it means that somebody is going to leave the group.”

Davinson delights Pochettino, who predicts “massive” strides

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It’s still very early days for Davinson Sanchez as a Tottenham Hotspur player, but the early returns are extremely positive as the Colombian center back has featured in 14 of the club’s 17 games in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League this season.

[ MORE: Spurs beat Dortmund again to win group with Real Madrid ]

What’s more encouraging than Sanchez’s initial performances? The 21-year-old’s “massive” room for improvement and the expectation he’ll one day soon be one of the world’s best defenders, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.

After signing for Spurs in August, Sanchez went straight into Pochettino’s starting lineup, slotted in between stalwarts Toby Aldeweireld and Jan Vertonghen, who together last season led the defense with the PL’s best record (26 goals conceded in 38 games), as part of a back-three. Sanchez has taken to Tottenham like a duck to water, in Pochettino’s estimation — quotes from ESPN FC:

“You saw against against Dortmund how many times he was with [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang one-versus-one. How many central defenders can play one-versus-one and escape and go, be tight and press? If you run, I run because I am so confident when running. I think not many center backs in the world can do this.

“Or against Swansea against Tammy Abraham: how many times he was one vs. one and the ball was behind him, he was on the halfway line and running was not a problem? And against Cristiano Ronaldo, too?”

“We expect more from him, but I am so happy with him. He is doing well, very well. He’s only 21 years old, but he shows more maturity [than that], and he’s so aggressive when he’s marking, his concentration [is good] and then with the ball he’s good, but I think he can improve.

“There is massive scope to improve potentially, it’s massive for him. In only a few months, he’s showing he’s doing a fantastic job for us. [He can improve in] every single aspect, tactic, physical condition, technique.

“We need with him one and a half months or two months preseason every day, and then I’m sure he’s going to show a different level. I think he’s one of the best today, but has potential to improve a lot more.

“Because he’s so clever, and he’s very humble, and he’s very open to learn, he’s a player when you tell something his reaction is to be open, and be critical with himself, and that is a massive skill from a player, when he’s so open to improve, and then the conditions he has are amazing to be one of the best center halves in the world.”

To state the completely obvious, Pochettino was wise to utilize Aldeweireld and Vertonghen as training wheels for Sanchez, if you will, upon his arrival. His athleticism and pace make him 1) the ideal complement to a pair of players who read the game so well; and, 2) perfectly positioned to operate as the last-man, emergency defender on the rare occasion either Belgian is breached.

[ MORE: Liverpool host Chelsea in massive top-four clash ]

For the first time all season, Sanchez started out wide in Alderweireld’s absence (hamstring) against Arsenal last weekend, and for the first time since his arrival, he appeared a flawed — which is to say, human — defender. To his credit, Sanchez gave a quality account of himself on the whole, and finished the game much stronger than he’d started.

No one was more aware of this than Pochettino, though, as he slid Eric Dier into Aldeweireld’s spot for Tuesday’s Champions League triumph over Borusia Dortmund, again deploying Sanchez in the middle. With Aldeweireld expected to miss a couple more weeks at minimum, the Tottenham teamsheet should routinely read Vertonghen-Sanchez-Dier from left to right until he returns.

Lille appoint four interim managers to replace Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) A four-man coaching team will take provisional charge of French soccer club Lille in the wake of Marcelo Bielsa’s dismissal.

Lille says Fernando Da Cruz, Joao Sacramento, Benoit Delaval and Franck Mantaux will be in charge of the team until further notice.

Lille announced earlier this week that Bielsa had been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club” following a 3-0 loss at Amiens.

The northern side is in 19th place and next travels Saturday to Montpellier, which has the best defense in the league.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but failed to make the club competitive. After finishing a disappointing 11th last season, Lille hired the coach – affectionately known as El Loco Bielsa (Crazy Bielsa) – with the aim of returning to the Champions League.

Irregular heartbeat the cause of Carrick’s recent absence

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Manchester United captain Michael Carrick hasn’t played for his club since Sept. 20, a confounding period of more than two months now, and the reason for the 36-year-old midfielder’s absence has finally come to light: an irregular heartbeat.

[ MORE: Mourinho slams critics (again), gives injury updates ]

The condition, which Carrick announced himself on Friday, was first detected after Man United’s League Cup victory over Burton Albion. He has since undergone a cardiac ablation, a procedure to scar or destroy tissue in your heart that’s allowing incorrect electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Carrick was named the new United captain this summer following the departure of Wayne Rooney. As told in the above statement, he is working toward full fitness and once again being available for selection in Jose Mourinho’s side.

Hooray for modern technology and medicine, which allow otherwise baffling medical conditions to be diagnosed, treated and recovered from in a matter of weeks or months.