Dagenham and Redbridge v Crystal Palace - Pre Season Friendly

Confirmed: Ian Holloway leaves Crystal Palace after poor start to Premier League campaign

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Crystal Palace’s Premier League adventure under Ian Holloway lasted just eight games into the Premier League season.

On Wednesday, Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Parish and Holloway made the announcement that he has left the Eagles by mutual consent at a hastily arranged press conference at the Soho hotel in London.

A disappointing start to Palace’s first PL campaign since the 2004-05 season sees them second from bottom, with just three points from a possible 24. The Eagles’ second half capitulation in a big loss to London rivals Fulham on Monday night turned out to be the final straw.

But despite seven defeats from their opening eight PL games, Holloway is proud of getting Palace to England’s top-flight to start with as against all odds they won the Championship playoffs last season to make it back to the big time.

“I have pride in the job we’ve both done,” Holloway said of him and Parish. “It wasn’t easy. If Steve’s last manager [Dougie Freedman] wasn’t headhunted I wouldn’t have been here. But I have to hold my hand up and say we didn’t keep the spirit that got us up. We changed too much too quickly.”

Holloway took over at Palace in November 2012, as former boss Freedman joined Bolton Wanderers. Known for jokes and laughter, this term has seen Holloway become much more reserved and sinister at times, as his team struggled to adjust after the success of a playoff victory against Watford at Wembley last May.

Parish added his thanks and praised Holloway for the job he’s done in South London to get them where they are today. And along with fellow Co-Chairman Simon Jordan, Parish denied that he and Holloway had fell out and that the club were quite happy to see the season out with Holloway regardless of looming relegation.

“Ian’s contract at Crystal Palace has come to an end by mutual consent,” Parish said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of working with Ian. He leaves our club with his head held very high. I’d like to put the record straight. We’ve never fallen out. We’ve worked together brilliantly. I was more than happy to get relegated and come back up with Ian. The word “sacked” has never been mentioned among the directors.”

Holloway is adored by many soccer enthusiasts for his slapdash approach and comical press conferences, and the manner in which he leaves Palace is somewhat admirable as Parrish confirmed Holloway “felt a new approach might help keep us in the division.” Following the 4-1 pummeling by Fulham on Monday night, Palace looked devoid of ideas and Holloway admitted his half time team-talk had no impact as his side folded in the second half.

That was the final straw in a dismal campaign to date, and when I saw the “Urgent press announcement” email from Palace in my inbox on Monday afternoon… I was hardly surprised Holloway’s time at Selhurst Park was coming to an end.

The former Plymouth Argyle, QPR, Cardiff City and Blackpool manager also revealed the main reason his side continued on a downward spiral. With 14 new players arriving in the summer transfer window, it was difficult for Holloway to foster that same team spirit that had galvanized the Eagles in their promotion campaign last season.

“I’ve lost the spirit of that group. I owe it to the lads to admit that,” Holloway said. “I’m not saying my new signings aren’t good enough. But they need to buy into this football club the same way my other lads did.”

Holloway had kind words to say about his time at Palace, where he won 14, drew 14 and lost 18 of his league games in charge with win ratio of 30.43 percent. The 50-year-old manager believes someone else could prosper at Palace and save them from relegation, but whoever gets the job… Holloway has left them one heck of a mountain to climb.

“It is a privilege to have worked at Palace,” Holloway said. “With me out the way, the new man will have a chance to start again The four owners are unique. They are supporters of the club. Seven defeats out of eight is not good enough. If someone does want a chance in the Premier League with a good group, they should seriously believe in this project.”

VIDEO: Arsene Wenger apologizes for being sent off

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While his team was fighting for second position in the Premier League table, Arsene Wenger was watching from the depths of the Emirates.

Incensed at the (correct) decision to award Burnley a penalty two minutes into stoppage time after Arsenal had controlled much of the game, Wenger lashed out at fourth official Anthony Taylor, causing referee Jon Moss to send Wenger off the pitch.

The Frenchman was forced to watch Alexis Sanchez score a penalty of his own, giving Arsenal a stunning 2-1 win over the Clarets. After the match, Wenger was pleased with the victory, but apologized for his actions, which included shoving Taylor slightly on three separate occasions.

“I saw it [the winning penalty] on television, I at least saw what happened,” Wenger said. “I didn’t see a penalty from outside, but I should have kept my control and I apologize for that. [I should have] not said a word. I should have shut up.”

It’s possible that Wenger sees punishment from the FA for his actions, as it isn’t the first time he’s clashed with referees this season.

The Frenchman was complimentary of Burnley’s defense, with Arsenal controlling much of the game but failing to score more than one goal through regulation.

“My team was well organized, which makes the game simple but efficient. It’s kind of frustrating games that you get here, and you have to deal with it tactically, and we did it well. We won over there in the last second with a little bit of a dodgy goal, and we won today again just in the last second again, so they’re a very strong team.”

Wenger was non-committal when asked about Granit Xhaka‘s dismissal, saying it was on the other side of the field so he did not get a good look at the decision.

Xhaka’s latest red makes him the most sent-off player in Europe

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Granit Xhaka (R) of Arsenal protests to referee Jonathan Moss after shown a red card during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Burnley at the Emirates Stadium on January 22, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Granit Xhaka was a marked man before he came to England. With four dismissals over the last two club seasons, Arsenal fans were aware they were bringing in a talented passer and midfield destroyer, but also a man who had trouble staying on the pitch.

That has manifested itself in the Premier League, and has been maybe even exacerbated.

With his second straight red card of the season, Xhaka’s disciplinary issues are a hindrance to the Gunners and leaves Arsene Wenger with a big decision to make – to continue Xhaka’s selection in the matchday squad when he returns from suspension, or leave him on the sidelines as to not risk again falling down to 10 men.

Over the last 2-1/2 calendar years dating back to the start of the 2014/15 Bundesliga season when he was with Borussia Monchengladbach, Xhaka has been sent off six times in league play, once in the Europa League, and another for his international team during 2018 World Cup qualifying this past summer. The league record alone is more than any other player in the top 5 European leagues.

While obviously the sheer numbers are a major issue, the true problem is in the eye test. Xhaka isn’t learning from his mistakes. No, his dismissal against Burnley wasn’t the most malicious of challenges, but it was a textbook straight red card. The Swiss international passed the ball straight to Steven Defour, and long after the Burnley midfielder unloaded the ball to a teammate, Xhaka went lunging in with both feet showing studs, forcing referee Jon Moss to show him the showers after a quick conference with the assistant referee who was in perfect position to make the call.

If the 24-year-old wishes to find his way back to the field in Arsenal colors, he needs to start learning from his actions, or he will end up on the bench, either through suspension or selection. It nearly cost Arsenal a chance at second place against Burnley, with the Clarets energized by their man advantage. He has four domestic matches to think about what he’s done.

Chelsea 2-0 Hull City: Costa return sends Chelsea eight points clear

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Diego Costa (R) of Chelsea celebrates scoring the opening goal with his team mates during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on January 22, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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Chelsea didn’t miss a beat with Diego Costa out, but they sure are glad to have him back.

The Spaniard bagged a goal in lengthy first-half stoppage time and Chelsea eased its way to all three points to take advantage of a host of slip-ups near the top of the table to work an eight-point gap at the summit. A late goal from Gary Cahill secured the points as the Blues were on their way.

The Blues had the opening chance just 11 seconds into the game as they boomed a long ball forward, one that Diego Costa chested down and volleyed just inches wide left.

Past the 12 minute mark, there was a lengthy injury delay after Ryan Mason and Gary Cahill had a very nasty clash of heads. Cahill came out relatively unscathed and was able to stay on but Mason was down for several minutes, requiring full medical attention as he received oxygen and was carefully placed on a backboard before being stretchered off.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The game seemed to fall asleep after the delay, with Mason replaced by David Meyler. Hull had a spell of possession, including a corner, before Chelsea got back on the ball. The Blues nearly got a break when a shot from Marcos Alonso took a massive deflection and nearly looped into the top corner, but Eldin Jakupovic was there to tip it behind.

That moment began a huge spell of pressure for the Blues. David Luiz rose high to meet a Victor Moses cross but couldn’t get the contact, and then Pedro went to ground for a penalty shout but was denied. Hull’s defensive shape was fantastic in the first half, and while Chelsea held the bulk of possession, they had little to show for it in front of net. In significant first half added time they came close again, with Alonso on the left wing cut one across the face of goal, but it was just out of reach for a sliding N'Golo Kante and into Jakupovic’s arms.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Before the break, Chelsea would break through. Victor Moses cut a ball across the penalty area that somehow made it all the way to Diego Costa without a touch, and the Brazilian put himself back in the spotlight with a powerful finish.

The second half was a spirited one, but didn’t produce much in front of net. The television commentators called the game “plucky” which accurately described the action. After 70 minutes, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte brought off Eden Hazard for Cesc Fabregas. Hull City had a healthy amount of attacking intent, but couldn’t get by the Chelsea back three.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

It wasn’t enough for the Tigers, as Chelsea put the game away with 10 minutes to go. Substitute Cesc Fabregas delivered a free-kick into the box, and Cahill snuck in around the back, getting free and heading in from point-blank range. Fabregas earned his sixth assist of the Premier League season, tied for most on Chelsea despite playing just 521 minutes. Costa nearly had a third four minutes later, but was stuffed by Jakupovic from a tight angle.

The three points pushed Chelsea eight points clear at the top, with Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester City dropping points. Hull City’s loss sees them remain in the relegation zone, in 19th on 16 points, three from safety.

Real Madrid loses Modric and Marcelo to injuries in Malaga win

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 21:  Marcelo of Real Madrid CF comes off substituted during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Malaga CF at the Bernabeu on January 21, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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The 40-game unbeaten run seems like a distant memory.

Real Madrid had lost two straight matches before a 2-1 La Liga win over Malaga on Saturday, but despite the three points, they still did lose in a way.

Los Blancos lost both Marcelo and Luka Modric to injury in the match, and both could potentially miss up to a month of time.

Modric has been in and out of the squad this season due to injuries, and during his other lengthy spell on the sidelines, he was replaced adequately by 22-year-old Mateo Kovacic, and he was the man to replace Modric against Malaga with 12 minutes remaining. Reports say the Croatian suffered an adductor injury which can be quite painful and could keep him off the field for a number of weeks.

Marcelo, meanwhile, has been a staple in the Madrid lineup, appearing in the last 11 league matches and starting all but two of those. Marcelo was brought off just 25 minutes into the Malaga win reportedly with a hamstring problem, replaced by Isco. The likely long-term replacement for the 28-year-old Brazilian would be Nacho Fernandez, who has seen time this season on both defensive flanks.

The injuries puts not just the immediate La Liga and Copa del Rey futures of the two in jeopardy, but also could affect their availability for the start of the Champions League knockout stage which begins on February 15th against Napoli.