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Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United: Eto’o hat trick extends Moyes misery (video)

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Manchester United continue to struggle against top of the table teams this season as a trio of goals from Samuel Eto’o extended Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten Premier League run at Stamford Bridge.

The storied striker couldn’t miss on the day, as everything went his way to give Chelsea a deserved victory.  United got one back late but it’s little to hang their hat on as Nemanja Vidic was needlessly sent off late, adding insult to injury.

Eto’o struck with a deflected shot under 20 minutes in, and again just before halftime to give David Moyes no way back.  There was a clear gap in quality between the sides, as the new United manager will now find it nearly impossible to maintain his outspoken title hopes.

The visitors wasted no time getting their feet under them, as Ashley Young tested Petr Cech under two minutes from kickoff.  The Red Devils pressured every single Chelsea ball handler, and the home fans were vocally frustrated early.

The tough luck for Manchester United would continue though, as a very tough break would lead to a Chelsea goal against the opening run of play.

With Chelsea on the break in the 17th minute, the ball bounced around and fell to Samuel Eto’o.  A brilliant bit of individual play saw him send Phil Jones tumbling to the ground with a one-two move, and fire on goal from distance. The shot immediately deflected off Michael Carrick’s outstretched foot, and the carom looped the ball up and into the top corner.

While the deflection serves as a tough-luck finish on the visitors, the move by Eto’o to get past Jones and give himself space for the shot deserves plenty of credit.

source: AP
Adnan Januzaj impressed for Manchester United, but with no support it was Samuel Eto’o’s day at Stamford Bridge.

Adnan Januzaj, playing with free rein behind Danny Welbeck was fabulous for United in the first half, but had little support. A number of times he cut a ball across the face of goal with nobody there to connect.

The young Belgian found Welbeck in the 37th minute, but with the 23-year-old in on goal, Cesar Azpilicueta made a last-ditch tackle to force the striker into shooting straight at Cech. United fans may rue the lack of a penalty given by referee Phil Dowd, as Azpilicueta lashed through Welbeck’s feet from the back without contact on the ball.

With Manchester United failing to finish their chances in front of goal, Eto’o would make them pay with his second just before halftime.  Ramires found Gary Cahill on the right flank, and the defender crossed perfectly to Eto’o who lashed home from close range. Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea could have done better, but given little time to react the ball deflected off his feet and into the net behind him.

After the break, Eto’o would complete his hat-trick thanks to the hard work of Cahill yet again.  Off a corner Cahill slotted himself into a bit of space in the box, and the defender leaped above all else for the header.  De Gea’s reaction save was on point, but Eto’o was waiting to pounce on the rebound and he did just that for the tap-in.

Manchester United made a few changes to personnel and tactics, looking to claw their way back into the match, but with time running out and Chelsea bringing on defensive reinforcements, they could only muster one consolation goal from substitute Javier Hernandez with 12 minutes remaining.

That was little consolation for Manchester United, who had to finish out the final three minutes of stoppage time with 10 men and will be without Nemanja Vidic for the forseeable future after the United defender hacked down Hazard in frustration and was sent off.  They were lucky not to receive another as just after Rafael went into Gary Cahill with two feet elevated but only received yellow from Phil Dowd.

The victory for Chelsea keeps them on pace with Arsenal and Manchester City, just two points off the lead in third place as Mourinho looks to make his case for the Premier League title.

For David Moyes though, his continued inability to get results against top clubs will allow Manchester United fans to continue to ask questions about his ability to take the club back to its former heights.  They remain back in seventh position, four back of Moyes’ old club Everton and just one above Newcastle in eighth.

GOALS:

Chelsea – Eto’o 17′, 45′, 48′
Manchester United – Hernandez 78′

DISCIPLINE:

Manchester United – Vidic (straight red) 90+1′

LINEUPS:

Chelsea – Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Luiz; Willian (Matic 86′), Oscar (Mikel 68′), Hazard; Eto’o (Torres 79′).

Manchester United – De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Vidic, Evra (Smalling 51′); Valencia, Carrick, Jones, Young (Hernandez 56′), Januzaj; Welbeck.

Robbie Keane still entertaining offers ahead of return

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  Soccer Player Robbie Keane arrives at the Premiere of IFC Films' "Pele: Birth Of A Legend" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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Robbie Keane is still sorting out his future, and it seems unlikely he’s heading back to the past.

Keane is training in Dublin ahead of a return to the pitch. The 36-year-old striker left the LA Galaxy this offseason, and says he’s had several offers from Championship squads in England as well as a few clubs abroad.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Although he’s starred for Wolverhampton and Leeds, destinations where fans would welcome his arrival, Keane says not to hold your breath.

From TalkSport.com:

“I’ve had a lot of people asking me about coming back to Leeds and Wolves, and they’re great clubs I’ve played for, but you can’t go somewhere if people actually don’t offer you anything.

“Until it’s actually in writing to me I can’t comment much on it, but I definitely haven’t heard from Leeds or Wolves.”

Whether Stateside or in England, Keane can still have an impact on a team’s fortunes. We look forward to seeing him back on the field, and to hear some more quips as well.

Consider his answer to whether he’d entertain an offer from China:

“If they gave the money Diego Costa was offered, I’d walk there now,” Keane said.

Galaxy adds center mid from Portuguese top flight

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LA Galaxy’s roster reformation continues with the addition of Joao Pedro, a day after formalizing a deal with USMNT midfielder Jermaine Jones.

The 23-year-old center midfielder was with Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal’s top flight, and comes to the club as a “Special Discovery Player” with Targeted Allocation Money.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Pedro has a goal in 17 appearances this season, as Vitoria Guimaraes sits fifth in the Primeira Liga.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“Joao is an extremely talented midfielder who has experience playing at a high level in Portugal,” said Galaxy general manager Peter Vagenas in a written statement released by the club.

“He is only 23 years old and has the best years of his career front of him. We identified him as a top target this offseason and we think he can immediately help strengthen our midfield. We look forward to welcoming Joao to Los Angeles as we continue to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Pedro was a regular for Vitoria Guimaraes but is far from a certainty to star for the Galaxy. We do know that Vagenas has probably done his research as to whether Pedro fits with Jermaine Jones.

AFCON wrap: Senegal clinches first knockout round slot

Senegal's, Sadio Mane, right, is challenged by Zimbabwe's, Willard Katsande, left, during the African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match between Senegal and Zimbabwe at, Stade de Franceville Stadium, in Franceville, Gabon Thursday Jan. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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Senegal has advanced to the knockout rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving three teams to work for the second Group B slot come the final day.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Senegal 2-0 Zimbabwe

Sadio Mane (Liverpool) and Henri Saivet (Saint-Etienne) scored within the first 13 minutes as Senegal clinched Group B with a win over Zimbabwe. There were 48 shots between the two teams, 24 for Senegal, in a fairly open affair. As for the Warriors, they’ll need to beat Tunisia on Monday.

Algeria 1-2 Tunisia

Tunisia rebounded from a loss to Senegal without scoring from the run of play. Lille mid Naim Sliti scored a penalty after an Algeria own goal made it 1-0. Anderlecht midfielder Sofiane Hanni scored for Algeria.

Friday’s matches
Ivory Coast vs. DR Congo — 11 a.m. ET
Morocco vs. Togo — 11 a.m. ET

Wenger concerned Chinese wages become benchmark for players

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 15:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal looks on during an Arsenal press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match against Barcelona at Camp Nou on March 15, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
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LONDON (AP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is hoping the high quality of competition in Europe will keep players from leaving for the financial gain in China.

Wenger is facing regular questions about the future of both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, and the big money on offer in the Chinese league can complicate negotiations.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Argentine striker Carlos Tevez joined Shanghai Shenhua last month in a deal worth $40 million over two years.

“The danger (is) that the Chinese offers become the benchmark for Europe,” Wenger said Thursday. “You cannot compete with that, but I still think that, when you’re a footballer, the first thing is that you want to play against the best players in the best teams.”

Wenger said players that want the best compensation for playing in the best quality league need not look to Asia.

“I think that combination is the best in England at the moment, so I don’t see why the players should leave the English Premier League,” Wenger said.

Wenger, whose team is fourth in the standings, has made only one signing in the January transfer window, picking up defender Cohen Bramall from non-league club Hednesford.

Arsenal has also decided to keep captain Per Mertesacker for another season. Wenger announced Thursday that the club has taken up a one-year option to extend the contract of the 32-year-old German, who has not played this season because of a knee injury sustained during a friendly in July.

Mertesacker faces a fight to get back into the team because Shkodran Mustafi, an offseason signing from Valencia, has built a strong partrnership with vice captain Laurent Koscielny at the heart of Wenger’s defense.