Premier League Team of the Week: Coleman, Delph and Gerrard lead way

1 Comment

Matchweek 30 produced a number of eye-raising results including Aston Villa dumping out leaders Chelsea, Arsenal beating rivals Spurs, and first time wins for new managers Felix Magath (Fulham over Newcastle) and Pepe Mel (West Bromwich Albion over Swansea City).

Producing those results required new heroes to emerge. Here is the Premier League Team of the Week:

Goalkeeper – David Marshall: The 29-year-old Scot was everywhere on Saturday, thwarting 19 attempts by Everton including brilliant efforts by Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku that looked destined for goal. The only way past the Cardiff keeper proved to be via a Gerard Deulofeu deflection and a fortuitous slice shot by Seamus Coleman.

Defender – Leandro Bacuna: The 22-year-old Dutchman was the lynchpin on the left side of Villa’s defense on Saturday, making five key tackles to stuff Chelsea’s offense while also pouring forward to manage two shots on goal.

Defender – John Heitinga: The Dutch defender is enjoying a nice spell to his career since leaving Everton and taking up a center-back place at Fulham. In Saturday’s win over Newcastle, Heitinga had two key blocks in the box to deny the Magpies efforts on goal while also producing a stunning shot that hit the underside of the bar only for HawkEye to rule out.

Defender – Seamus Coleman: Coleman’s incredible stamina was on display yet again on Saturday, covering the center-backs when needed while also pressing high up the pitch and taking on the opposition with speed and skill. His persistence paid off when he struck the 93rd minute winner, his sixth of the season, to hand Everton a 2-1 win over Cardiff.

Midfielder – Youssouf Mulumbu: He doesn’t score many goals but the one he notched Saturday was vital for West Brom’s chances of staying in the Premier League.

Midfielder – Steven Gerrard: Captain Fantastic did it again Sunday, converting two penalties to help condemn Manchester United to a 3-0 home loss at the hands of their rivals.

Midfielder – Fabian Delph: The Englishman continued his string of fine Premier League performances Saturday when his tireless engine drove him into Chelsea’s box late where he produced one of the finest finishes of the season – a left footed Cryuff shot from 10 yards out that went side-netting.

Midfielder – David Silva: The City midfielder has not had his best season but on Saturday he showed us he’s still capable of producing massive moments, and none was bigger than his left-footed curler that put 10-man City up 1-0 on Hull.

Forward – Peter Odemwingie: The controversial Stoke forward notched a brace on Saturday to help the Potters beat West Ham 3-1. His first came via a goal-line deflection on Peter Crouch’s side volley while the second was a roof-shattering blast to ensure Stoke all three points.

Forward – Jay Rodriguez: The 24-year-old forward continued his impressive season by notching his 12th goal of the season in Southampton’s 4-2 pounding of Norwich City. Will Roy Hodgson take notice?

Forward – Luis Suarez: What more is there to say about Luis Suarez? The man is simply sensational and on Sunday he capped Liverpool’s domination of Manchester United with a well-taken 84th minute strike, his 25th of the season.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga