Andre Villas-Boas, Jose Mourinho

All-square between the master and his apprentice after Chelsea fight back for draw at Tottenham

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LONDON — There was a slightly forced, if not warm handshake between Andre Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho before Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

But with over 30 photographers ready for that moment pregame, AVB duly obliged by walking over to the Chelsea bench and offering his hand to his countrymen, as the two Portuguese coaches embraced.

And in Saturday’s blood and thunder clash in North London, both managers shared the spoils with the home side dominating the first period before Chelsea came roaring back into the game in the second half.

(MORE: Jose Mourinho fuming at Jan Vertonghen after Fernando Torres sent off)

Spurs manager Villas-Boas believes the draw was a fair result, but had Paulinho’s shot that hit the post just before half time gone in, Tottenham’s boss could’ve got one over his old boss in their first ever encounter.

“I think the moment of the game came when Paulinho hit the post just before half time,” Villas-Boas said. “Had that gone in, it could have put us in a very good position, I think we deserved that for the first half that we played, the second half wasn’t really played by both teams but I think Chelsea had the upper hand on the counter-attack. They looked very, very strong and deserved to get the equalizer in the end from a set play.”

(MORE: Juan Mata Chelsea’s hero, as Spaniard sparks second half comeback)

Many may argue that Chelsea’s strong second half showing came courtesy of Jose Mourinho’s shrewd tactical substitutions at half time. Mourinho brought on Juan Mata for John Obi Mikel at the break, and the brave decision from the 50-year-old manager changed the entire complex of the game.

Mourinho believed his side deserved to win.

“I think they were better than us in the first half but not much better,” Mourinho said. “They were better but they didn’t create so many chances but enough to be deserving of the advantage of one nil. In the second half, only one team. One team. And that team was very, very strong until the moment the referee made the mistake. A big mistake. But a mistake that has a big influence in the result. And at that moment, we were much better. They were in big trouble, they were really in big trouble.”

And the “Special One” is right.

source: ReutersThe introduction of Juan Mata sparked Chelsea into life, with the Spanish attacker creating plenty from a central area and allowing Oscar, Ramires and Frank Lampard to roam forward in support. Oscar looked better on the left and Fernando Torres burst into life. But the controversial decision from Mike Dean to send off Torres with 10 minutes left to play halted Chelsea’s momentum, and if it wasn’t for that, Mourinho could have pulled of a spectacular comeback win against his old understudy.

(MORE: Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea: Lively derby ends in a draw)

After the game, Villas-Boas spoke about his relationship with Jose and revealed what they spoke about post-game.

“We had a brief chat just now, because I explained to him that I would invite him up but I have to leave [AVB was attending a celebration dinner in Porto],” Villas-Boas said. “But I think the attention should not be drawn to the managers. It should be drawn to the game. It was a difficult hard battle, between two teams who wanted to win this game. We had a very good first half, not a good second. I think it’s a fair result. The league won’t be decided by games like this, it will be against other teams where you can’t drop points. Great, great battle.”

Yet Mourinho, as is often the case, had the last word on his relationship with AVB.

“I’m 50-years-old, I’m not a child,” Mourinho said. “I think when I was 15 or 20, I was not a child. I was very mature. And if you have a problem with somebody, you don’t go to your mom or your dad or the press. If you have a problem with somebody you go face to face to resolve your situation. So for me, this story is a book without pages. I don’t care of it. I think what people want is a very good game of football. Tottenham did that, we did that and the ref tried to do that.”

Robbie Keane still entertaining offers ahead of return

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  Soccer Player Robbie Keane arrives at the Premiere of IFC Films' "Pele: Birth Of A Legend" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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Robbie Keane is still sorting out his future, and it seems unlikely he’s heading back to the past.

Keane is training in Dublin ahead of a return to the pitch. The 36-year-old striker left the LA Galaxy this offseason, and says he’s had several offers from Championship squads in England as well as a few clubs abroad.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Although he’s starred for Wolverhampton and Leeds, destinations where fans would welcome his arrival, Keane says not to hold your breath.

From TalkSport.com:

“I’ve had a lot of people asking me about coming back to Leeds and Wolves, and they’re great clubs I’ve played for, but you can’t go somewhere if people actually don’t offer you anything.

“Until it’s actually in writing to me I can’t comment much on it, but I definitely haven’t heard from Leeds or Wolves.”

Whether Stateside or in England, Keane can still have an impact on a team’s fortunes. We look forward to seeing him back on the field, and to hear some more quips as well.

Consider his answer to whether he’d entertain an offer from China:

“If they gave the money Diego Costa was offered, I’d walk there now,” Keane said.

Galaxy adds center mid from Portuguese top flight

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LA Galaxy’s roster reformation continues with the addition of Joao Pedro, a day after formalizing a deal with USMNT midfielder Jermaine Jones.

The 23-year-old center midfielder was with Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal’s top flight, and comes to the club as a “Special Discovery Player” with Targeted Allocation Money.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Pedro has a goal in 17 appearances this season, as Vitoria Guimaraes sits fifth in the Primeira Liga.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“Joao is an extremely talented midfielder who has experience playing at a high level in Portugal,” said Galaxy general manager Peter Vagenas in a written statement released by the club.

“He is only 23 years old and has the best years of his career front of him. We identified him as a top target this offseason and we think he can immediately help strengthen our midfield. We look forward to welcoming Joao to Los Angeles as we continue to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Pedro was a regular for Vitoria Guimaraes but is far from a certainty to star for the Galaxy. We do know that Vagenas has probably done his research as to whether Pedro fits with Jermaine Jones.

AFCON wrap: Senegal clinches first knockout round slot

Senegal's, Sadio Mane, right, is challenged by Zimbabwe's, Willard Katsande, left, during the African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match between Senegal and Zimbabwe at, Stade de Franceville Stadium, in Franceville, Gabon Thursday Jan. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
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Senegal has advanced to the knockout rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving three teams to work for the second Group B slot come the final day.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Senegal 2-0 Zimbabwe

Sadio Mane (Liverpool) and Henri Saivet (Saint-Etienne) scored within the first 13 minutes as Senegal clinched Group B with a win over Zimbabwe. There were 48 shots between the two teams, 24 for Senegal, in a fairly open affair. As for the Warriors, they’ll need to beat Tunisia on Monday.

Algeria 1-2 Tunisia

Tunisia rebounded from a loss to Senegal without scoring from the run of play. Lille mid Naim Sliti scored a penalty after an Algeria own goal made it 1-0. Anderlecht midfielder Sofiane Hanni scored for Algeria.

Friday’s matches
Ivory Coast vs. DR Congo — 11 a.m. ET
Morocco vs. Togo — 11 a.m. ET

Wenger concerned Chinese wages become benchmark for players

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 15:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal looks on during an Arsenal press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match against Barcelona at Camp Nou on March 15, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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LONDON (AP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is hoping the high quality of competition in Europe will keep players from leaving for the financial gain in China.

Wenger is facing regular questions about the future of both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, and the big money on offer in the Chinese league can complicate negotiations.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Argentine striker Carlos Tevez joined Shanghai Shenhua last month in a deal worth $40 million over two years.

“The danger (is) that the Chinese offers become the benchmark for Europe,” Wenger said Thursday. “You cannot compete with that, but I still think that, when you’re a footballer, the first thing is that you want to play against the best players in the best teams.”

Wenger said players that want the best compensation for playing in the best quality league need not look to Asia.

“I think that combination is the best in England at the moment, so I don’t see why the players should leave the English Premier League,” Wenger said.

Wenger, whose team is fourth in the standings, has made only one signing in the January transfer window, picking up defender Cohen Bramall from non-league club Hednesford.

Arsenal has also decided to keep captain Per Mertesacker for another season. Wenger announced Thursday that the club has taken up a one-year option to extend the contract of the 32-year-old German, who has not played this season because of a knee injury sustained during a friendly in July.

Mertesacker faces a fight to get back into the team because Shkodran Mustafi, an offseason signing from Valencia, has built a strong partrnership with vice captain Laurent Koscielny at the heart of Wenger’s defense.