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West Ham United 2-1 Hull City: Red card, own goal doom Tigers (video)

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A mid-first half red card to goalkeeper Allan McGregor proved too much for Hull City to overcome, with the controversial decision leaving West Ham United up a goal and a man. Though the short-handed Tigers would pull that opener back in the second half, an own goal from James Chester proved decisive as the Hammers, snapping a three-match losing streak, earned a 2-1 win at Upton Park.

An even affair was broken open in the 23rd minute when McGregor saw red after a collision with Mohamed Diamé, one Mike Dean and his crew adjudicated to have denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Mark Noble’s conversion from the spot gave West Ham the lead, one that was pulled back when Nikica Jelavic deflected home a Tom Huddlestone free kick in the 48th minute. Shortly after, a cross from the right from Guy Demel was redirect by James Chester into the Hull net, giving the Hammers their final margin of victory.

The result moves West Hame three spots up the Premier League table, with Sam Allardyce’s crew claiming 11th place from Aston Villa. Hull, on the other hand, slides to 13th after losing its third in four.

West Ham created the first chance of the match when a cross from the right was knocked down by Andy Carroll, giving Matthew Taylor a chance after a poor clearance by Hull. A lunging block from Alex Bruce kept McGregor from being tested with the game’s first threat, giving way to a match that was played on even footing for its first 20 minutes.

The the ninth minute, however, West Ham was forced to make its first sub after James Collins hobbled off the field. With fellow center half James Tomkins having overcome injury doubts to make today’s starting XI, the Welsh international was forced to give way to Roger Johnson, who would soon find his day made easier by a disputed call at the other end of the park.

source: Getty ImagesNear the 23rd minute, a venture from Noble into the penalty area ended when a tackle sent the ball bouncing off two defenders and toward the Tigers’ goal. There the ball hit Diamé’s elevated right hand before McGregor, coming out to challenge a potential shot, turned to collide side-first into the West Ham midfielder. With Diamé, just outside the six-yard box, having lifted the ball over the keeper and toward goal, McGregor was shown straight red, forcing Steve Harper on at Bruce’s expense.

After McGregor was treated for injury, Noble welcomed Harper with the game’s first goal. The replacement keeper, leaning early into the left side of goal, saw the West Ham midfielder calmly finish toward the right post, making it 1-0.

Minutes into the second half, the 10-mean Tigers pulled back Noble’s opener, with a Huddlestone drive from 26 yards out deflecting off Jelavic before beating Adrían. Making amends for a missed chance toward the end of the first half, the Hull midfielder blasted his restart toward the middle of the West Ham goal. Just inside the penalty area, however, Jelavic ran into the shot and pushed it toward Adrían’s left post, giving the keeper no chance of preventing Hull’s unlikely equalizer.

The lead was gone in six minutes, however. Off a poor cross from Demel, Chester failed to adjust to an unexpected bounce, his attempted left-footed clearance seeing the ball skip off his knee. The deflection went over Harper and under the crossbar to give West Ham its winner.

Hull’s best chance over the match’s final 36 minutes was a long drive from Huddlestone that forced Adrían to concede a corner. Even against a West Ham team that failed to adjust to a man advantage, the short-handed Tigers couldn’t find a second equalizer. Instead, they were left wondering if another official would have called Diamé’s hand ball.

LINEUPS

West Ham United: Adrían; Dumel, Collins (Johnson 9′), Tomkins, McCartney; Noble, Diame (J. Cole 69′); Downing, Nolan, Taylor; Carroll

Goals: Noble (26′), Chester (54′, o.g.)

Hull City: McGregor; Chester, Bruce (Harper 25′), Davies; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler, Figueroa (Rosenior 59′); Long, Jelavic (Sagbo 82′)

Goals: Jelavic (48′)

Seven unheralded stars of this Premier League season

during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
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Look, it’s been a crazy year in the Premier League. Leicester City is top by five points, Chelsea is a bottom-half side, and not one of the league’s top three scorers hails from a team in last season’s Top Four.

So it follows that among the league’s other statistical leaders — advanced and traditional — are some surprisingly shining stars.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Or at least they aren’t mentioned a ton. We plan to rectify that here. By no means do we claim these statistical leaders without fault this season, but hats off to the good they’ve done (or, in some cases, the pain they’ve felt).

Most saves in a starring role

You wouldn’t know it from the goal totals these past few weeks, but Stoke City’s Jack Butland has been playing otherworldly between the sticks. His 87 saves lead the Premier League, and the Potters would be in the thick of a relegation battle if he hadn’t shone as brightly.

Ironman

Eleven players have played every minute of their side’s Premier League campaign this season (a 12th, Gareth Barry, has played all but one). Four of those 11 are goalkeepers, and six more are defenders. The only midfielder? Bournemouth’s South African standout Andrew Surman (above).

Top thief, too

Surman is also the league leader in interceptions with 92. The next seven players on the list, headed by Chris Smalling, are all defenders.

The most under-appreciated of the underdogs

Kante (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Leicester City has been fantastic, and people are quick to name Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as big parts of the table-topping effort at King Power Stadium. Then, perhaps they’ll say something about goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel or defender Wes Morgan.

But how about the Premier League’s leader in tackles. Midfielder N'Golo Kante (right) has 115 tackles, 12 more than second-best Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace.

An all-expense paid journey to the massage parlor for…

Five players have been fouled more than 50 times this year, and you need to be around the ball a lot for that to happen. The four also-rans are Southampton’s Sadio Mane, Swansea City’s Andre Ayew, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Mahrez, but the man who deserved to skip to the head of the ice bath line is from Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha has been fouled 59 times. And that’s the amount of times the foulers were caught in the act.

Let Newcastle United’s captain climb in second, though; Fabricio Coloccini‘s 47 blocked shots are eight more than runners-up Neil Taylor (Swans) and Christian Fuchs (Leicester).

A man possessed

He hasn’t been heralded like a year ago, and most witnesses would tell you the midfielder’s been playing much worse. No, touches don’t equal success, but Cesc Fabregas‘ 2,027 credited touches are 74 more than the next player despite the fact that he’s the only player in the top four to have started less than 25 matches. He’s also completed 83 more passes than the closest competitor (Surman).

All-around stars

Advanced stats site Squawka uses an algorithm to generate statistics on who just might be the most complete player in the Premier League.

It’s certainly not foolproof, but the best player per-90 minutes would likely surprise you: Mousa Dembele of Spurs (Minimum 15 matches).

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As for who’s produced the most when numbers are averaged out over the entire game, one man rises to the top: Ross Barkley.

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Oft-targeted in the Premier League, Carvalho extends deal at Lisbon

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William Carvalho has been running through the rumor mill for ages, and Sporting Lisbon has made sure they’ll get their due if he ever stops somewhere else.

The Angola-born Portuguese defensive midfielder with 15 caps has extended his contract with Sporting through 2020, a date that carries him through his 28th birthday.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Carvalho is 23 now, and has been linked with loads of big name clubs from Manchester United to Chelsea, Arsenal to PSG.

His new buyout clause is said to be as high as $53 million, and Carvalho hopes his commitment calms his supporters.

“Sportinguistas, I say to you that I am very happy with the deal which I signed up to 2020 and that you will have total effort on my part to be champions.”

Sporting is tied with Benfica atop the Portuguese table, second on goal differential. The club leads third-place Porto by six points, and is still alive in the Europa League. Bayer Leverkusen is up next.

Klinsmann hints at Euro-heavy roster for World Cup qualifiers

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Danny Williams #14 of the United States looks on before an international friendly against Brazil at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
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If your favorite Major League Soccer players don’t make the cut for Jurgen Klinsmann’s next roster, don’t think you won’t see them in the red, white and blue this summer.

[ JPW: What’s the best XI for USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers? ]

Perhaps it’ll be different for the players who were a part of January camp — stars Lee Nguyen and Steve Birnbaum chief among them — but Klinsmann says the late start of the MLS season can affect fitness for the critical qualifiers home and away to Guatemala.

That means there’s a better chance to see in-form Championship midfielder Danny Williams (above) or Pachuca’s Omar Gonzalez then, say, Orlando City’s Brek Shea or Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.

From USSoccer.com:

“We are basically looking all over the place. We monitor all the players in Europe. We monitor all the players in Mexico, and obviously we can’t wait until MLS starts as well. It’s really kind of crucial that we see everybody getting in the best shape possible, everybody getting into a rhythm and making statements.

“Then you say, ‘Is the roster you see at the end of March the same one as Copa America?’ Probably not. The end of March comes early for MLS players. The European players are in the full swing, and also Mexican players because they started already a month ago with Liga MX. So we’ll be monitoring everyone.”

We’ve already covered the obstacle that is the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying playoff occurring at the same time as the Guatemala matches, but this is still good news for players in England, Germany and other European locales seeking caps in March.

Klopp on struggling Benteke: “He wants to score and we need him to score”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Christian Benteke of Liverpool reacts as he foiled by goalkeeper Darren Randolph of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Jurgen Klopp had his appendix removed this weekend, but it’s doubtful he’s feeling as sore as his big Belgian striker.

Christian Benteke had the opportunity to put himself in the good graces of Liverpool fans with a number of decent chances in Tuesday’s FA Cup loss to West Ham, but couldn’t get the job done.

[ MORE: Match recap | Watch Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

In one case, Benteke put himself in a prime spot only to lash his shot wide of the post. Instead, he’s now at 11 appearances without a goal (despite ripping nine shots against the Irons).

From the BBC:

“I don’t believe in the easy goal. He has to carry on like this. It’s not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard. He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months.”

Klopp maintained that Liverpool was “the better team” on the night — counterpart Slaven Bilic disagreed — despite conceding a pair of very similar looking goals.

The game could’ve avoided extra time through Benteke’s boots and body, but he couldn’t find his finish again.

The 25-year-old has seen his goal production drop by nearly half since joining from Aston Villa in the summer, and it’s sure to return… just maybe not under Klopp.