We paid tribute to Newcastle United in this week’s Quick Six, but two days after the Magpies knocked off visiting Chelsea, their performance is probably worth a few more moments’ reflection. Two months ago, the team fall looked set to be defined by Yohan Cabaye’s desire to move to Arsenal. Now the French international is back in a side that’s capable of making Chelsea look decidedly second best.
That’s not the only obstacle Newcastle’s overcome. Their central defense has been hamstrung by injury. Papiss Cisse, their one established scorer coming into the season, hasn’t been a meaningful contributor, and Hatem Ben Arfa, most talented player on the team, continues to be Hatem Ben Arfa, unreliable and enigmatic attacker. Combined with no meaningful additions this summer, Alan Pardew’s has had his work cut out.
Well, perhaps we shouldn’t say no meaningful additions, because getting Loic Remy from Queens Park Rangers has been a key addition. The former Nice and Marseille man has stepped into Cisse’s void and already found six goals, threatening to become the scorer Newcastle desperately needs. A look back at his Ligue 1 record would caution against too much optimism, but perhaps Remy’s inevitable regression will come with Cisse’s renewed ability to find a soccer news.
Regardless, Pardew has been issued as series of challenges, yet he has his team middle of the table. More importantly for this post, he has them capable of beating the like of Chelsea, their ability to do so accounting for this week’s Headline Moment.
Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.
The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.
The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.
Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.
Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.
As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.
However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.
“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”
Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”
It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.