Fernando Torres’ ban could increase to four games, after ugly spat with Jan Vertonghen

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In the 50th minute of Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Saturday, Fernando Torres lost the plot.

He petulantly clipped the heels of Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen as the ball was rolling harmlessly out of play, which saw the Belgian defender, understandably, react angrily.

And as Torres laughed off Vertonghen’s complaints, the Spanish striker suddenly grabbed the defenders face and scratched his neck and cheek in one fell swoop. Neither the referee or the linesman apparently saw it, because if they did, Torres would have gotten a straight-red. Instead he got a yellow card for the initial trip.

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

However the 27-year-old forward now faces an anxious wait to see if the incident is included in Mike Dean’s match report, if it isn’t, the video will be passed onto the Football Association’s new independent disciplinary panel, (very similar to MLS’ disciplinary panel) who will decide if the striker was guilty of violent conduct.

If they find Torres guilty, his ban will be increased from one game to four, handing Jose Mourinho a huge blow as he begins to rebuild Chelsea to the way he wants them. And despite many mocking his goalscoring record, Torres will have a pivotal role to play in Mourinho’s new-look side.

Jose was certainly complimentary of Torres’ display afterwards, as I spoke with him.

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A massive battle between Torres and Vertonghen played out, as the Chelsea striker excelled despite lashing out.

“He was playing very well,” Mourinho said. “I was watching Fernando’s matches for Chelsea in other seasons and it looked to me, a bit heavy, a little slow. Fernando now looks in fantastic shape. He played a very good game. He knows what I think, I don’t have to tell him. He knows I’m very happy with his performances. He knows already.”

One of the reasons Torres got involved in such an incident on Saturday, is because he was all over the pitch after the break. He twice ran through on goal after terrific runs to beat two, three or more players, and looked like a man possessed in the second half. It was the Torres of old, he was chasing lost causes, giving Vertonghen and Spurs’ other defenders a tough time, while using his pace to run effortlessly at Tottenham’s backline.

(MORE: All-square between the master and his apprentice, as Chelsea fight back to draw at Tottenham)

But his bullish display boiled over in the far right corner of White Hart Lane, raising his hands to Vetonghen should have seen him handed a red card. So Torres was lucky to stay on the pitch but eventually, as we now know, he was sent off for a second yellow after an innocuous collision with, you guessed it, Vertonghen.

The Belgian defender got his own back by making a meal of a challenge from Torres, where there was no contact whatsoever. Mourinho wasn’t impressed with the Belgian defender.

“I think in this situation, the referee is not guilty, the player is guilty,” Mourinho said. “Because if nobody touches me and in this moment, I fall, it is not your fault, it is my fault because I fall. So, I think the referee went in the trust when he saw, I think it was Vertonghen. When he pretends that Fernando had a big contact on him, the referee is at a distance and he makes the second yellow card.”

Torres’ display against Spurs showed plenty of promise and helped Chelsea grab a point, but his moment of petulance may see him out of league action until November.

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.