It’s been a while since fans of English soccer were able to read this: It was a big day in Champions League for the Premier League. The circuit that’s seen their clubs struggle in recent tournaments posted a combined 6-0 in their two Tuesday matches, with Chelsea rebounding from opening round embarrassment while Arsenal posted one of the most impressive results of the young tournament.
[MORE: Dominance then control see Arsenal down Napoli, 2-0.]
We talked about Arsenal in a previous post, but for Chelsea, this was the first truly Mourinho-esque performance since their former boss returned this summer. On the road against an inferior opponent, Chelsea dominating from the beginning, the benefits of which truly emerged near the half-hour mark, after Ramires had already put them up one. Spending much of the half ripping apart Steaua’s right side, Chelsea doubled their lead just before intermission through a Daniel Georgievski own goal. Ramires and a Frank Lampard special in the second half gave the Blues a 4-0 win.
Borussia Dortmund were also on the right side of a route, downing Marseille 3-0, with Atlético Madrid putting up the day’s other impressive result, coming back from an early Jackson Martínez goal to post the first Champions League road win at Porto since 2009. Diego Godín and Arda Turan goals kept the Colchoneros unbeaten on the year, earning Diego Simeone’s side a 2-1 win at the Dragão.
In the day’s other games, Barcelona and Schalke got road wins while Austria Wien and AC Milan earned valuable road draws. Barcelona’s result was noteworthy not only for its close nature, a Cesc Fabregas second half goal against 10 men the game’s only score, but also for the lopsided possession number: 82-18 in Barça’s favor.
Here are all the numbers, courtesy Opta and WhoScored.com:
||Zenit St. Petersburg-Austria Wein [FINAL]
Spanish outlet Marca claims that a number of North American sides are among the clubs chasing Fernando Torres.
The Spanish striker has only scored more than 11 goals once since 2009-10, and is uncapped since 2014. But that doesn’t mean clubs from China to to the U.S. and the UAE to Japan aren’t interested in the 31-year-old.
[ JPW: Recapping the top stories from an intense Premier League weekend ]
The Marca report claims three MLS teams are interested and also name drops the New York Cosmos of the NASL, who’ve recently brought Venezuelan legend Juan Arango on board.
It’s hard to imagine anyone outside the MLS rich sides taking a risk on Torres. Maybe Montreal would look to reunite him with Didier Drogba, and Torres certainly has experience combining with New York City’s David Villa. As for the third… Orlando City? Chicago?
Your guess is as good as ours, though it could be moot if this is solely about money. China continues to spend well.
Gabriel Agbonlahor is riding high, as the Premier League Player of the Week broke his duck this weekend and is thinking “great escape” for his Aston Villa side.
Villa has eight points in its last five matches, doubling its season total to 16. That’s still table bottom, but Remi Garde’s bunch would love to see their way out of the drop zone after a brutal start to the season under Tim Sherwood.
What would it take for Villa to pull that off, and avoid the first Premier League relegation in club history?
[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Week ]
Turns out, a lot.
There is no easy match in the next five, and Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal are all on the schedule after that.
Villa next five matches
Feb. 14 – vs. Liverpool
Feb. 27 – at Stoke City
March 1 – vs. Everton
March 5 – at Manchester City
March 12 – vs. Spurs
The Villans do have three relegation six-pointers left, and two of those are at Villa Park with Bournemouth and Newcastle United. Villa also heads to Swansea City.
But Villa has to make up 12 points on the Cherries, 11 on Swans and eight on the Magpies. And while they are within two goals difference of Newcastle, they have eight goals to make up on Bournemouth and 11 to make up on Swansea.
That doesn’t include Sunderland and Norwich, sides four and seven points ahead of the Villans (though both have tricky runs left as well).
If Garde’s club is to make its escape, it will be close to unbelievable. That it will close with a match against Arsenal makes it even trickier, but that would be just the final impressive note in what could only be considered a Garde-conducted masterpiece.
What a weekend. Let’s relive it.
Round 25 of the Premier League provided plenty more thrills, shocks and excitement as two unlikely title contenders — Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur — are pushing ahead.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Our own Joe Prince-Wright recaps all the major headlines from what could turn out to be a pivotal weekend in the Premier League title race.
[ MORE: Latest Premier League news ]
Click play on the video below to join JPW as he battles the elements and checks in from outside Stamford Bridge in London following Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
Come for the goal, stay for the “Gol” call.
Or should we say the “Gol. Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Gol” call.
[ MORE: Angry Louis van Gaal rips journalists for “inventing” stories ]
USMNT defender Omar Gonzalez has opened his account for Pachuca with this 88th minute header, and it’s worth it if just for the auditory performance.
Gonzalez also pulls out the high-capacity weapon celebration, though he’s apparently opted to do the version closer to the “Scarface” finale (Spoiler alert).