Peter Crouch

Stoke City 3-2 Chelsea: Assaidi’s screamer hands Potters massive win (video)

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Stoke City pulled off a huge shock at the Britannia, as they beat high-flying Chelsea 3-2 on Saturday thank to Oussama Assaidi’s late winner.

The winger, on-loan from Liverpool, smashed home a beauty in stoppage time to seal a magnificent win for the Potters and send them comfortably into mid-table. In a topsy-turvy affair, Chelsea went ahead through Andre Schurrle but Peter Crouch leveled just before the break. After half time Stephen Ireland put Stoke back ahead, but that man Schurrle bagged his and Chelsea’s second to make it 2-2.

It looked as though the game would end in a draw but Assaidi’s stunning strike was enough to hand Stoke just their second win in 12 PL games. Stoke rise to 12th with the win, while Chelsea missed out on the perfect opportunity to close the gap on Arsenal to just one point as they drop to third.

A bright start from Chelsea saw German international Schurrle burst into the box in the 9th minute but his pull back to Ramires saw the Brazilian forced to hit it first time and he smashed it over the bar.

Moments late Schurrle himself put Chelsea ahead as he cut in from the left, jinxed to his left and right before smashing an effort across goal and into the far corner to put the visitors 1-0 up. Stoke had the stuffing knocked out of them with that goal but they kept lobbing the ball forward and put Chelsea under pressure.

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Two fantastic goals from Schurrle wasn’t enough for Chelsea as they lost to Stoke.

In the 24th minute Juan Mata released Eden Hazard on the left who sent a terrific cross into the danger area that Fernando Torres couldn’t quite connect with as Chelsea pushed for a second goal. Stoke battled hard for a way back in the game as Johnathan Walters and Crouch battled hard up front to feed off the scraps.

The remainder of the first half played out evenly and just before the break Stoke got the goal that craved. Marko Arnautovic set up Crouch to score and lift the roof off the Britannia, as the teams went in level 1-1 at the break.

After the break the home side were buoyed by their equalizer and were soon 2-1 up as substitute Ireland curled a beauty into the far corner to send the Britannia into delirium. However that lead did not last for long as Chelsea instantly equalized to make it 2-2, as German international Schurrle smashed home from the edge of the box.

It was a pulsating end-to-end the game, as both teams looked to go ahead and Schurrle thought he’d grabbed his and Chelsea’s third goal when he smashed an effort past Asmir Begovic in Stoke’s goal but his effort rattled the crossbar.

In the 66th minute Ireland went close to putting Stoke 3-2 up but he blasted his effort miles over the bar when he was found in the box. A huge battle ensued in the closing stages as both teams pushed hard to go ahead, but the closest Chelsea came to taking all three points arrived when Frank Lampard hit a low free-kick under the wall but Begovic saved easily.

But the killer blow for Chelsea arrived in the final minute, as Stoke won the game thanks to Assaidi’s terrific strike. Jose Mourinho was left shaking his head after the final whistle, as his team have conceded six goals in two games away from home in the last four days.

Full credit to Stoke, who never gave up and their fighting spirit shone through to bag them all three points.

LINEUPS

Stoke City: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Muniesa; Walters (Assaidi, 84), Nzonzi, Whelan (Palacios, 86), Adam (Ireland, 17), Arnautovic; Crouch

Goals: Crouch (42), Ireland (50), Assaidi (90)

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Mikel (Lampard, 70); Hazard, Mata, Schurrle (Eto’o, 70); Torres (Ba, 59)

Goals: Schurrle (9 & 53)

Xavi backs Dybala, Verratti to succeed at Barcelona over Pogba

TURIN, ITALY - JANUARY 24:  Paulo Dybala (R) of Juventus FC celebrates after scoring the opening goal with team mate Paul Pogba during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and AS Roma at Juventus Arena on January 24, 2016 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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With Paul Pogba linked with a possible summer move to Barcelona worth more than $100 million, one legend at Camp Nou believes Pogba may not be the right signing.

[ MORE: Top 5 PL storylines ]

After making more than 700 appearances for Barcelona, Xavi knows the club as well as anyone, and he prefers Pogba’s Juventus teammate Paulo Dybala for a move to the Catalan giants.

Xavi also praised the play of Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti, saying that while Pogba is a star player, Dybala and Verratti have “Barca DNA.”

There’s two players I really like, both of whom I think have Barca’s DNA. They are Marco Verratti and Paulo Dybala.

They are amazing and, thanks to their quality and style of play, would easily integrate into the [Barca] machine. I see them as future stars at the club.

[Pogba] is a great player. He’ll be a star for France as he is for Juve, but I see him with a different game to ours.

Both Pogba and Dybala are 22-years-old, while Verratti is 23. All three players have been among the elite young talents in the world, with Pogba earning the most praise of the group and always linked with a big-money move to Europe’s top clubs.

[ RELATED: Messi named La Liga Player of the Month for first time in career ]

Dybala is enjoying a breakout season at Juventus, currently with 13 goals and eight assists in Serie A play. In Paris, Verratti is part of a PSG side that hasn’t lost in 25 matches and holds a 24-point lead at the top of the table.

Vincent Kompany set to make Manchester City return this weekend

during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Manchester, England.
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Vincent Kompany is set to make his first appearance for Manchester City since Boxing Day as the defender has returned from injury.

City’s captain and center-back missed more than six weeks with a calf injury before Christmas, and then reaggravated the injury just minutes into his return at the end of December.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

However, Kompany has been back in training and manager Manuel Pellegrini said he is fit to play this weekend when City host Tottenham in a huge top-four matchup.

We’ll see what the starting XI is tomorrow – we’re not just thinking about one player and one game, we’re involved in a lot of competitions. Maybe we have a lot of criticism when we don’t play well but I’m happy with the squad over the whole season.

Every player must play a game when they’re 100%. Vincent has worked for three weeks with no problems. He played 45 minutes in a friendly game against the under-21s and I think he’s ready to play.

Kompany’s presence in the City back-line has been pivotal this season. In the eight Premier League games Kompany has started, City have kept seven clean sheets. In the 18 matches without the big Belgian in the starting lineup, City have kept just five.

[ RELATED: Diego Costa suffers broken nose in Chelsea training ]

With City just a point behind Tottenham, Kompany returns from injury just in time for one of the biggest matches of the season. Tasked with slowing down Harry Kane and Spurs’ high-flying attack, Kompany’s play could prove crucial to the Citizens getting a result.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Newcastle United

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  • CFC unbeaten under Hiddink (W5, D6)
  • Newcastle have just 6 away goals all season
  • Diego Costa: 6 goals in his last 7 PL matches

Chelsea look to extend their unbeaten streak under Guus Hiddink to 12 matches on Saturday when the Blues host relegation-threatened Newcastle (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

The Blues’ last loss came under Jose Mourinho in December.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

Chelsea are up to 13th on the table, currently riding a run of 11 matches unbeaten in all competitions. Guus Hiddink is yet to suffer a loss after taking over for his second stint at Stamford Bridge in December, although draws have kept Chelsea from climbing further up the table. Diego Costa has had the hot-hand with six goals in his last seven appearances, but the Spanish striker will be forced to play with a mask after suffering a broken nose in training.

[ MORE: Hiddink has “no fear” of playing youngsters in Zouma’s absence ]

For Newcastle, the Magpies sit 17th on the table just one point above the drop. Their away form has hurt the club all season, as Steve McClaren‘s men have scored a league-low six goals on the road this year. The Magpies are coming off of a win over West Brom, and supporters will be hoping the club’s new January signings continue to produce. Seydou Doumbia could make his Premier League debut on Saturday, which would be a massive boost to the attack.

What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink: “The status of being unbeaten sounds good but realistically we would have wished to have more victories, especially at home. And we have an opportunity to do so against Newcastle. They improved their squad with substance, some good signings, and they are more competitive now.”

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren: “In our home games we are starting to get a consistency in our performance and the way we play. We need to start transferring that to our away games and picking up points away from home – we owe it to the fans.”

Prediction

Newcastle have just two wins in their last 18 league matches away from home, and I don’t see that trend changing this weekend. Chelsea have looked a new team with Guus Hiddink in charge, and they stay unbeaten under the Dutchman. Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle United.

Pochettino enjoying best spell of career ahead of massive clash at Man City

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23:  Mauricio Pochettino (R) Manager of Tottenham Hotspur is seen on arrival at the stadium prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park on January 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Mauricio Pochettino is getting ready for one of his biggest matches in charge at Tottenham, but he’s not letting the pressure get to him.

The Spurs’ boss talked down the importance of Sunday’s match against Manchester City (Watch live, 11:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra), and went on to say he is currently having the most enjoyable time of his career.

[ WATCH: Full PL match replays ]

Pochettino has Tottenham sitting second on the table, and they travel to the Etihad this weekend for a clash against fourth-placed Manchester City, who sit one point behind Spurs.

When asked if this weekend’s match could be a decisive result in the title race, Pochettino was unwilling to admit it was anything more than three points in a long campaign. However, when asked about the season as a whole, the Argentinian manager said he was having great fun at White Hart Lane, responding “Is it my most enjoyable time of career? Yes, maybe yes if I’m honest.”

[ MORE: Who are the Premier League title favorites? ]

Pochettino’s work at Tottenham has made him one of the most well-respected managers in the Premier League, with some reports tabbing him as the potential future boss of Manchester United.

Spurs have won six on the spin in all competitions, and will be confident facing a City side they smashed 4-1 earlier this season. With leaders Leicester facing Arsenal on Sunday, Tottenham could see themselves just two points off the pace if results go their way.