Aston Villa 1-0 Chelsea: Villa benefit from Blues’ loss of composure (video)

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Aston Villa ended Chelsea’s 14 match unbeaten run thanks to a late goal from Fabian Delph. By the end of the match, the Blues were down to nine men, José Mourinho was sent to the stands and Villa had finally recorded back-to-back home wins. The win put them into tenth, nine points from the drop, while Chelsea are now just six points clear at the top, with both Arsenal and Liverpool seeking wins from Sunday’s matches.

Even in a match that, at times, was more boring than watching paint dry, there will almost always be a couple defining moments. This match certainly provided them. Provided quite a few, in fact.

The first half threw up very few thrills, although it was, perhaps, surprising how up for the match the hosts looked. Christian Benteke looked set to score, provided he could just get a piece of the ball, while Villa Park was buzzing. Chelsea were on the attack, but had very little space to work with.

With forty minutes left to play Christian Benteke tried his hand (his boot?) at a scissor-kick volley on the edge of the area, but it went just wide of Petr Cech’s goal.

Perhaps that sent a spark up the Blues’ spine, because a minute later, Nemanja Matić had the ball in the back of the net. However, the Serb was judged to have controlled John Terry’s flick with his arm, and Chris Foy had the goal disallowed.

But that wasn’t the most controversial decision from the referee in this match. In the 67th minute, Mourinho was about to pull off Willian, already on a yellow card. But the manager changed his mind, subbing off Fernando Torres for Demba Ba and putting André Schürrle on in place of Oscar instead.

Just one minute later, Willian was sent off with his second yellow. The Brazilian tugged Fabian Delph’s shirt as they jostled, and although the sending off looked to be a bit harsh, Chelsea were stuck playing the remaining 20+ minutes with just ten men.

The Brazilian, booked in the first half for a foul on Karim El Ahmadi, tugs back Fabian Delph to earn a second yellow and his marching orders.

It looked like Chelsea might still come out on top, particularly when, in the 80th minute, the visitors set up a very tricky little free kick routine. But Ba wasn’t able to connect to Eden Hazard’s threaded ball, and the Blues were looking increasingly out of ideas.

That’s when Villa struck – in the form of a gorgeous goal from Delph. The Englishman sent the ball out wide for Marc Albrighton and, when the perfect pass came back into the area, Delph used a cheeky backheel to get past the Chelsea defense and put the ball into the back of the net.

After that, Chelsea came apart at the seams. Delph nearly scored a second in stoppage time, but his shot hit the woodwork instead.

Immediately after, Ramires lost his cool completely, coming down with both feet on Karim El Ahmadi. Foy sent him off with a straight red – and when Mourinho tried to protest, the Chelsea manager was sent to the stands as well.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett (Clark 78), Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor (Albrighton 75)

Goals: Delph 82′

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Matic; Willian, Oscar (Schürrle 67), Hazard, Torres (Ba 67)

Red Cards: Willian 68′; Ramires 94′

Pardew laments firing, credits Palace turnaround to new players

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Alan Pardew knows why Crystal Palace was failing when he got fired, knows he could’ve fixed it, and seems pretty bummed he’s not there any more.

Pardew emerged to make the comments after Sam Allardyce helmed another upset win for Palace, a 2-1 win over Liverpool which joins defeats of Arsenal and Chelsea.

The win moves Palace 12th, and the Eagles have a legitimate shot at a top-half finish despite their poor start to the season. But Pardew wants fans to know it was about a personnel mistake, and that Palace dropped into the relegation zone after he was fired.

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Southampton ]

The Northeast Chronicle says Pardew aimed to bring former Newcastle left backs Davide Santon and Paul Dummett to Palace, but couldn’t get the moves over the line. Then Pape Souare was hurt in a car accident and Palace was in trouble.

Over to you, Pards (From the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder):

“We were kicking ourselves not to have any left-footed cover. We were playing right-footed players there and things were exploiting that situation. We became one dimensional.

“I was really disappointed I didn’t get to the window because Sam Allardyce followed me and the results didn’t really improve until the new players got bedded in and they made a big difference.”

Allardyce brought in Patrick Van Aanholt from Sunderland and Jeff Schlupp from Leicester to shore up the left side.

The story is made more amusing by the fact that Allardyce has not hesitated to make Palace’s return to form almost exclusively about his influence, while Pardew bleeds the very same blood.

Who’s on first?

Atletico Madrid at CAS to fight FIFA transfer ban

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Atletico Madrid officials are at sport’s highest court to appeal against a FIFA transfer ban that will prevent the club from signing youth players from overseas during the coming offseason.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is hearing the appeal Monday, but says a verdict is not expected immediately.

Atletico and FIFA previously agreed to seek a CAS verdict by June, before the summer trading period opens.

[ MORE: Griezmann’s advisor speaks on future ]

FIFA imposed a one-year ban on registering new players as punishment for Atletico breaking rules introduced to prevent child trafficking and luring youngsters from their home country.

Atletico denies wrongdoing, though it agreed not to sign players in January while its appeal went ahead.

Spain’s soccer federation has been criticized for its role in player registrations, with Barcelona and Real Madrid also having served FIFA transfer bans.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Southampton

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  • Chelsea won 2-0 on Oct. 30
  • Saints won fixture 3-1 last season
  • Chelsea 13W-2L at home this season
  • Blues lead all-time 40W-28D-28L

Chelsea aims to stack some wins following a momentum-restoring weekend win when Southampton visits Stamford Bridge on Tuesday (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues have lost two of four inside the Premier League — home to Crystal Palace and at Manchester United — but beat Spurs 4-2 in a thrilling FA Cup semifinal this weekend, extending their season to a May 27 final against Arsenal.

Saints are coming off their first loss in four outings, a 3-0 home beatdown at the hands of Manchester City. Now to the road, where Southampton has the eighth-best record in the Premier League. And Saints boast Manolo Gabbiadini, who Chelsea boss Antonio Conte says has one of the world’s best left foots.

What they’re saying

Chelsea’s David Luiz on Antonio Conte“He’s a fantastic person before a fantastic manager, so we talk a lot, every day, because we have a great relationship,’ he explained. We try to give our best for our club and he tries to help me with his intelligence for football to improve my football so I am very happy to work with him. He did an amazing job in this game.”

Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on facing Chelsea“Of course, you say every game is important, but somehow, when you play against number one, it gets a little bit more important. I saw the game they lost against Manchester United, and now they are a little bit under pressure, and we also want to continue getting good results. Chelsea away is, of course, maybe the toughest game this year, but I think that we have the possibility to get the result.”

Prediction

Rested Southampton provides a real test, but one which Chelsea finds a way to pass thanks to a relatively rested Costa and Hazard. This is Costa’s day, with a brace in a 2-1 win.

Griezmann’s advisor namechecks Man Utd, 4 others

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Antoine Griezmann has maintained a desire to stay at Atletico Madrid, but his advisor says the French striker has five realistic destinations for next season if he doesn’t stay at the Vicente Calderon.

Speaking on the French outlet Telefoot, advisor Eric Olhats says the 26-year-old Griezmann is limited by his $109 million release clause.

[ MORE: Zlatan’s comeback vow; Mata close ]

Griezmann has 25 goals and 11 assists this season, slightly lighter on the goals and a step up in helpers with Atleti alive in two competitions this season. He’s still played centrally and wide right, and Yannick Carrasco is starring on the left.

From Sky Sports:

“There is an unavoidable 100m clause so that restricts the number of candidates. You have United, City, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

“United were the first to come and see us and the most concrete in their wishes.”

Griezmann to the Premier League is a move many would love to see, or at least a new challenge for the fantastic attacker. With respect to Barcelona and Real Madrid, we’ve seen plenty of top La Liga talents move within the division.

Of course, there would be something special to both Diego Simeone and Griezmann winning the UEFA Champions League and defending it at Atleti. Something tells us their fate in this year’s semifinal against Real Madrid may tip the scales for both men, or at least Griezmann.