Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal: Blues hammer Gunners, as bizarre red card ruins Wenger’s big day (video)

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LONDON — Chelsea hammered London rivals Arsenal 6-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as Jose Mourinho’s men sent out a huge message to the rest of the Premier League title-chasers with their biggest-ever win over the Gunners.

Jose Mourinho’s men started in rampant fashion, as Samuel Eto’o and Andre Schurrle scored in the first 10 minutes to put the Blues 2-0 up, then Eden Hazard scored a penalty to make it 3-0 after an incredible moment of controversy in the 16th minute. Standing on the line, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tipped Hazard’s original shot wide with his hand and referee Andre Marriner spotted the handball, awarded a penalty… but sent off Kieran Gibbs in a case of mistaken identity.

Cue pandemonium, but Arsenal were down to 10-men as Arsene Wenger’s 1,000th game in charge of the Gunners was to end in humiliation. Before the break Oscar added a fourth, then he scored again to make it 5-0 after 66 minutes. Mohamed Salah scored late on to make it 6-0, as Chelsea increased their lead at the top of the standings to seven points. The Blues have 69 points, while Arsenal are third with 62 points.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

A frantic start took place in the sun at Stamford Bridge, as Arsenal pushed early on and Olivier Giroud spurned a glorious chance put them 1-0 up in the 3rd minute as Petr Cech saved his tame effort. Arsenal were made to pay for that, massively, as Chelsea then went ahead in the fourth minute as Eto’o cut inside with a beautiful turn, then curled home a left-footed shot into the far corner to make it 1-0. Two minutes later Chelsea led 2-0, as Schurrle ran at the Gunners defense and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner as Stamford Bridge erupted. But the drama was not over, not by a long shot.

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Schurrle delights the home fans, as Chelsea battered Arsenal on Saturday.

In the 15th minute Hazard smashed a shot towards the bottom corner that had beaten Arsenal’s ‘keeper Szczesny but out of nowhere Oxlade-Chamberlain arrived to tip the ball wide with his hand. Referee Andre Marriner spotted the handball, awarded a penalty… but sent off Kieran Gibbs. Arsenal’s players protested, including Oxlade-Chamberlain who told the referee it was him, but Gibbs was still given his marching orders in one of the most bizarre dismissals in Premier League history.

Hazard converted the penalty kick to make it 3-0 to the Blues after 16 minutes, as Arsenal were down to 10-men and reeling from a remarkable opening few minutes at Stamford Bridge.

The game settle down for the rest of the first half, with Chelsea going close to making it 4-0 when David Luiz surged forward from midfield and saw his deflected effort tipped wide by Szczesny. But in the 42nd minute Chelsea did extend their lead, as substitute Fernando Torres, who had replaced Eto’o after nine minutes, ran down the right and pulled the ball back for Oscar to hammer home and make it 4-0 at the break.

Chelsea continued to attack after the interval, as Torres’ run saw Luiz smash a shot in on goal from six-yards out that Szczesny saved well in the 47th minute. For 10-man Arsenal it was a case of damage limitation, as the Gunners kept the ball when they could but struggled to create any chances as Chelsea defended as resolutely as ever. In the 59th minute a prolonged spell of possession saw Santi Cazorla drive into the box but the Spaniard dragged his shot wide of the far post.

Mourinho was animated on the bench throughout the second half as his side sat back and soaked up Arsenal’s pressure instead of piling on the misery. But Oscar did add a fifth, and his second, in the 66th minute as the Brazilian picked the ball up 25-yards out and bent a tame shot towards the bottom corner that Szczesny somehow allowed to slip through and into the net.

There was still time for more goals, as Salah jumped off the bench to finish coolly and make it 6-0 after Nemanja Matic’s terrific through ball. Chelsea sprayed the ball around for the rest of the  match, as the Blues enjoyed the afternoon sun in West London, while Arsenal were made to suffer for the entire 90 minutes.

LINEUPS 

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, David Luiz (Mikel, 72′); Schurrle, Oscar (Salah, 67), Hazard; Eto’o (Torres, 10′)

Goals: Eto’o (5′), Schurrle (7′), Hazard (17′)Oscar (42′ & 66′), Salah (71′)

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny (Jenkinson, 45′), Gibbs, Arteta, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Flamini, 45′), Cazorla, Podolski (Vermaelen, 24′), Giroud

Red Card: Gibbs (17′)

Europa League final: Man United too tough for Ajax, qualify for UCL

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Though it may have required a minor detour in the journey to the intended destination, Jose Mourinho’s first season as Manchester United manager ultimately reached the promised land: qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League.

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Once it became clear that Man United’s season was unlikely to result in a top-four finish in the Premier League (they eventually wound up sixth), Mourinho put every Mancunian egg into the Europa League basket, and it paid off on Wednesday, as United topped Ajax, 2-0, in the Europa League final inside the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.

Paul Pogba put United 1-0 ahead after just 18 minutes (WATCH HERE), benefitting from a wicked deflection off a defender’s shin, and Mourinho’s famously rigid, organized midfield and defensive structure frustrated a young Ajax side (a starting lineup with an average age of just under 23 years old) that reached the final on the back of a free-flowing, attacking tidal wave.

[ WATCH: Pogba gives United an early lead ]

Down just a goal, Ajax needed little more than a moment of brilliance from any number of rising stars sure to fetch massive transfer fees and land big-money contracts elsewhere in Europe, in the not-so-distant future.

That hope lasted less than 180 seconds into the second half, though, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan doubled the lead, thanks to some unbelievably quick reflexes and a tidy overhead kick from three yards out. Ajax would manage just two shots on goal all night (four for United).

Not only did Mourinho deliver Champions League qualification, alongside a European trophy, United also claimed the EFL Cup back in February. With the allure of UCL football next season, expect another busy (and expensive) summer of spending at Old Trafford.

AT THE HALF: Man Utd lead Ajax in UEL final, thanks to Pogba (video)

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After 45 minutes of Wednesday’s Europa League final, between Manchester United and Ajax, in Stockholm, Sweden, Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils have one foot in next season’s UEFA Champions League.

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After a cagey opening 15 minutes that saw neither side create anything of consequence, Man United pulled ahead on a fair bit of luck in the 18th minute. Paul Pogba received the ball 25 yards from goal, took a touch toward goal and fired a low shot toward goal. Davinson Sanchez did everything he could to get his body in front of the strike, but the ball glanced off his shin, sending it one direction and goalkeeper Andre Onana the other.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Europa League final ] 

Having conceded just eight goals in 14.5 Europa League games thus far this season, would you bet on United conceding an equalizer in the final 45 minutes? Hit the link above to follow along, live.

Valverde dismisses deal to coach Barcelona

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MADRID (AP) Departing Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde has been avoiding talk about a possible move to Barcelona, saying he has not entered into negotiations with any club.

Valverde did not confirm reports that he has already reached a deal to coach Barcelona next season, and did not dismiss taking a year off after four seasons at Athletic.

“I haven’t committed to any club, I haven’t talked to anybody,” Valverde said. “I have an agent and there are teams that have shown interest in me. Now I have to decide whether I will take on a new adventure, and it would have to be a challenging one.”

The 53-year-old Valverde has been widely touted to replace Luis Enrique, who announced earlier this year that he was tired and would not continue as Barcelona’s coach.

The Catalan club ends its season after the Copa del Rey final against Alaves on Saturday.

The Mundo Deportivo newspaper reported this week that Valverde has already reached a two-year deal with Barcelona, with an option for a third season. The newspaper said the announcement would be made next week.

“I don’t know what’s been published,” Valverde said. “I never talk about negotiations with clubs and that won’t change. This wouldn’t be the first time that I have offers from important clubs.”

He said there was still the possibility of taking some time off and not immediately taking over another club.

“Why not?” he said. “In the end I can do whatever I want, no?”

A former forward, Valverde played two seasons with Barcelona in the late 1980s. He spent six years with Athletic from 1990-96.

Valverde didn’t hide that he will be hoping Barcelona wins the Copa del Rey title this weekend, which would guarantee Athletic a spot in the Europa League next season. Athletic finished seventh in the Spanish league, but will play in the second-tier European competition with a Barcelona victory because the Catalan club will play in the Champions League. Only the teams in fifth and sixth places automatically qualify for the Europa League.

Valverde led Athletic to victory over Barcelona in the final of the Spanish Super Cup in 2015, which marked the team’s first title in more than three decades. He also coached the club from 2003-05.

Valverde has also coached Espanyol, Olympiakos, Villarreal and Valencia.

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

LIVE: Man United face Ajax in Europa League final

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Manchester United and Ajax square off in Stockholm, Sweden on Wednesday for the UEFA Europa League trophy and a place in the Champions League next season.

[ LIVE: Europa League final ] 

This a huge game for Jose Mourinho and United bad coming less than 48 hours after a suicide bomber killed 22 people in Manchester, this game has taken an entirely different complexion.

The mood around the Friends Arena is a somber one as Manchester United’s fans mourn those lost in the terror attack and people around the world send their love and prayers to Manchester.

Black armbands will be worn by both teams and there will be a minute’s silence before the game to honor the victims.

United have never won this trophy and they will have their work cut out against a young, talented Ajax side.

Click no the link above to follow the action live from Stockholm, while here at ProSoccerTalk we will have all the analysis, reaction and more from the final.