Manchester City v Southampton - Premier League

Manchester City 4-1 Southampton: Citizens go second despite early scare (video)

Leave a comment

Manchester City beat Southampton 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, as the Citizens blitzed Saints with a hammer blow on half time to keep their title charge on course.

An early penalty kick from Yaya Toure set them on their way, but Southampton dominated the first half and drew level in the 37th minute as Rickie Lambert also scored from the penalty spot. But the pivotal moments came in first half stoppage time, as Samir Nasri finished off a stunning team move, despite David Silva being offside in the build up, and moments later Edin Dzeko headed home a third.

Saints striker Jay Rodriguez suffered a worrying knee injury, as the away side lost their attacking intent after his departure on a stretcher. In the second half City sealed the win with Stevan Jovetic jumping off the bench to make it 4-1 late on, as City have now won 14 of their 15 PL home games.

City are momentarily in second, as they sit one point behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand. Southampton remain in eighth, as the Saints started brightly but tailed off in the second half.

(WATCH: Mauricio Pochettino furious at officials, after Saints’ defeat to Man City)

In the second minute City were awarded a penalty as Edin Dzeko turned inside Jose Fonte, and Southampton’s Portuguese defender flicked out his leg and Dzeko crashed to the ground. On second viewing Fonte failed to touch Dzeko, but the intent was there and referee Chris Foy pointed to the post.

Yaya Toure stepped up to score his 22nd goal of the season, as City took a commanding lead to ease any nerves inside the Etihad.

Southampton pressed for the equalizer as in the 10th minute Jay Rodriguez’s cross almost found Rickie Lambert in the box but the England international couldn’t get on the end of terrific ball. Lambert then teed up Adam Lallana but the Saints captain saw his first touch let him down as City took their foot off the gas.

source: Getty Images
Kay Rodriguez suffered a serious looking injury, as the England international twisted his knee.

The Saints continued to press, but a sickening injury to Rodriguez in the 25th minute put things into perspective. The England international — who has scored 15 PL goals this season and is in fine form with five goals in his last four games — jumped in the air to control a chipped pass, but twisted his right knee as he landed. Saints’ star writhed on the floor in agony before he was stretchered off the field, as his World Cup hopes hang in the balance.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

In the 34th minute City finally got another chance as Samir Nasri’s free kick from the left was headed towards goal at point-blank range by Dzeko but the Bosnian striker saw his effort clip the bar and go over. Soon after Saints were level, as Jack Cork surged into the box and was brought down by Pablo Zabaleta’s dangling leg with Foy pointing to the spot for the second time in the first half. Lambert stepped up and confidently the ball past Joe Hart into the top corner to make it 1-1. Lambert has now scored 34 PKs from 34 attempts.

But on the stroke of half time City scored twice, as a superb flowing move was finished off by Nasri in the 45th minute (despite Silva looking miles offside in the buildup) and two minutes later Dzeko headed home to make it 3-1 as Saints imploded. The Citizens stepped into another gear seamlessly, as somehow Southampton trailed 3-1 after dominating most of the first half.

At the break Javi Garcia came on for Fernandinho, as City tried to solidify their midfield and stop Saints from possessing in the middle third of the pitch. City looked much more dangerous in the second half, as Dzeko raced cleared just before the hour mark but saw his first effort saved and then blazed his follow up way over the bar. Chances for Alvaro Negredo and Silva were thwarted by Saints, as Lambert had a glorious chance to half the deficit in the 74th minute but he smashed his effort wide of the far post.

Jesus Navas whipped in a great cross into the box in the 80th minute, as Negredo slid in to try and score but Jovetic cleaned up in behind him and scored his first Premier League goal at the Etihad Stadium. City held on to collect a valuable three points, despite a minor tantrum from Toure after he was booked for diving and fouled several times, to put themselves just one point behind PL leaders Liverpool.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Navas, Fernandinho (Javi Garcia, 45′), Toure, Nasri, Silva (Jovetic 77′), Dzeko (Negredo, 5′)

Goal: Toure (3′), Nasri (45 + 1), Dzeko (45 + 2), Jovetic (80′)

Southampton: Gazzaniga, Chambers, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Cork (Wanyama, 80′), Schneiderlin, S. Davis (Gallagher, 75′), Lallana, Rodriguez (Ward-Prowse, 26′), Lambert

Goal: Lambert (37′)

Barcelona invites Chapecoense to play friendly

CHAPECO, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 22: Supporters of Chapecoense cheer their team during the match between Chapecoense and Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Series A 2014 at Arena Conda on October 22, 2014 in Chapeco, Brazil. (Photo by Alan Pedro/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says it has extended an invitation to host a friendly match against the Brazilian soccer club involved in last week’s plane crash.

Chapecoense was on its way to the final of the Copa Sudamericana, one of South America’s most prestigious club tournaments, when its flight went down in Colombia, killing all but six of the 77 players, officials and journalists on board.

The match would be played in August. The friendly, called the Joan Gamper trophy, is used as Barcelona’s traditional curtain raiser for the new season.

Barcelona says it sent a formal invitation to Chapecoense on Thursday.

Barcelona says it wants to “pay homage to the 71 people who died in the accident as well as their families.”

Wenger discusses future of Sanchez, Ozil at Arsenal

Leave a comment

With just 18 months left on their current contracts, the futures of both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil at Arsenal is becoming a daily topic.

[ MORE: Ranking the PL superstars ]

This week alone Sanchez has been linked with a move to China on Wednesday, plus Real Madrid and Chelsea on Thursday, while another report from the Telegraph suggest the Gunners are willing to listen to offers for 28-year-old Ozil who isn’t willing to back down on his hopes of getting a $487,000 week contract at Arsenal where he is currently the top earner on $180,000.

To try and clear up any of the speculation Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger, who only has a contract at the Emirates until the end of the current season, has been speaking to the media about the reports.

Asked if Arsenal was willing to break their transfer structure, he said they’ll “do the maximum of what we can for every single player” to remain at the club.

He then reinforced the notion that Sanchez and Ozil would remain at Arsenal for at least 18 months, and hopefully much longer.

“Eighteen months is quite long in football. They have 18 months on their contracts and are completely committed to do well as long as they are here,” Wenger said. “Beyond that we will try to extend their contracts but I can’t make that a subject of every press conference as that is normal. These players have 18 months, they will be staying 18 months and hopefully much longer. I don’t believe that it is a problem.”

“A contract is between two parties and on my side the best position is to achieve it early. You have to accept that negotiations are private and secret and we don’t have to explain what we do with negotiations.”

Asked about the astronomical sums of cash reportedly being offered to Sanchez to go and play in the Chinese Super League — reports state the Chilean star has offers of $505,000 per week on the table — Wenger believed it was true but questioned why either would leave England.

“Why should you go to China when you are playing in England? We live in a world where the great players like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil earn a lot of money and have the privilege to choose where they want to play,” Wenger said. “The commitment of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil is absolute total and I’m very pleased with that. We are professionals and the first quality is to give 100 percent, it is here and now, that is what it means to be professional and to be fully committed to the cause.”

So, Wenger is confident the superstar duo will stay. Should he be?

With Paul Pogba earning over $368,000 as the current top earner in the Premier League, it’s easy to see why Ozil and Sanchez believe they’re worth more than Pogba is currently earning at Manchester United.

Sanchez, 27, has been ripping it up this season, scoring 11 times in 14 PL outings and Ozil has already matched his goal tally from last season with eight strikes in all competitions.

Arsenal’s wage structure is said to be set at $250,000 per week, with an insistence on no player earning more than Wenger does.

Unless they change that stance it’s difficult to see how Sanchez and Ozil will remain at the Emirates Stadium with so many suitors from across the Premier League, Europe and worldwide willing to double, or even treble, their current wages.

Of course the Premier League is the most-watched in the world and there are many advantages to playing in it for Sanchez, Ozil and other superstars but money talks. If these huge offers from the Chinese Super League are true, why wouldn’t players move there to cash in on their relatively short playing careers?

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
1 Comment

Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

Follow @NicholasMendola