A good deal of Jose Mourinho’s recent soundbites have concerned his Chelsea side’s lack of striking options. The site of Samuel Eto’o playing a part in Tuesday’s training, therefore, was a welcome site.
With 11 goals and three assists in all competitions, the Cameroonian striker is Chelsea’s most potent striking option but has been absent from the side since suffering a hamstring strain during the 6-0 victory over Arsenal on March 22nd.
In the three matches since then, Mourinho has handed starts in the #9 role to Fernando Torres and Andre Schurrle, neither of whom made the score sheet. This lack of attacking bite was devastating to Chelsea, losing 0-1 in the league to Crystal Palace – a result that likely cost the Blues the title – and losing 1-3 to Paris Saint Germain – a result that will be incredibly difficult to overturn in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.
Granted, Eto’o’s participation on Monday was limited to some stretching and light work with assistant first-team coach Rui Faria but it was marketable progress for a player not fit to travel to the Parc des Princes last week.
Overturning the deficit against PSG remains priority #1 for Mourinho, who admitted that he “may risk” plugging Eto’o in.
“Maybe I will pick him,” Mourinho said. “To risk a player you need to have minimum conditions. If you think he’s going to be out after 10 minutes of the game you can’t take that risk.
“If there is a minimum of conditions of risk, then, yes, I will pick him. We need to score goals. If we don’t score a minimum of two goals, we are out. We know that. If we can have everybody available who can give us a chance to score goals, then let’s do that.
“I wanted Eto’o to be on the bench on Saturday [against Stoke] and play 15 or 20 minutes but he was not fit enough. He did not train with the team on Sunday, so we have to see.”
Harry Kane spent the first half hour of Sunday’s tilt versus Stoke torturing the visiting Potters.
Kane opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Christian Eriksen bobbled Dele Alli‘s pass into the 18, but Ryan Shawcross‘ barely hit his clearance and Kane took a touch before belting home for the advantage.
[ WATCH: Spurs-Stoke live, replay ]
His second was lovely, bounding a low volley between the legs of Victor Wanyama and by a diving Lee Grant.
The third carried a bit of luck, with his low free kick taking a turn off the leg of wall end Peter Crouch to elude a lunging Grant. 3-0.
Here are the first and third, too:
The EFL Cup has named its team of the tournament ahead of Sunday morning’s final between Southampton and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.
Liverpool and Southampton lead the way with two players each, while finalists Manchester United have just one player in the team.
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That’s Ander Herrera, who joins a midfield with Sofiane Boufal (Saints), Mohamed Diame (Newcastle United), and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal).
Up top are Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, the latter for his work at Bristol City.
The back four is led by Saints’ Maya Yoshida and Hull City’s Harry Maguire, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) and Matty Pearson (Accrington Stanley) joining the unit.
The backstop is Leeds United’s Marco Silvestri.
The penultimate Premier League match of the weekend pits Stoke City against third-place Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Jan Vertonghen is back alongside Toby Alderweireld in the heart of Spurs’ back line, and it’s no surprise that PL Download stars Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris also start.
Geoff Cameron‘s four-month layoff appears to be reaching its end, as the USMNT back is on the subs bench for Stoke City. He last played on Oct. 22.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Sissoko, Son, Janssen.
Stoke City: Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Adam; Arnautovic, Allen, Ramadan; Crouch. Subs: Given; Muniesa, Berahino, Afellay, Diouf, Cameron, Imbula.
SYDNEY (AP) Bobo scored twice as Sydney FC rebounded from its first loss in the A-League to beat Melbourne City 3-1 and continue atop the table.
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Sydney’s ambitious attempt to become the first team to end the regular season unbeaten came unstuck last week when it was beaten by Western Sydney Wanderers in a fractious local derby, repercussions of which continued through the week. Wanderers were fined $20,000 by Football Federation Australia after its fans unfurled an obscene banner targeting Sydney coach Graham Arnold.
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Sydney raised itself above that controversy on Friday with a comprehensive win over Melbourne City which briefly took it 11 points clear in first place.
Melbourne Victory restored the gap to eight points when it beat defending champion Adelaide United 2-1, and Perth leapfrogged Melbourne City into third place when it dumped the Wanderers 2-0.
Bobo opened Sydney’s scoring with a penalty, but City canceled that out only a minute later.
Sydney went in front again after the break, and Bobo sealed the win, set up by a superb through ball by Milos Ninkovic which highlighted their developing combination.
Midfielder Brandon O’Neil said Sydney was determined to leave behind the contention of their derby loss.
“When it all came out, the FFA and Western Sydney had to deal with it and it did,” O’Neil said. “It brought us together and we spoke about a few things, and nothing changed for us. We want to be premier (champions).”
Melbourne Victory’s win over Adelaide kept it in touch with Sydney with seven regular season rounds remaining.
Wellington kept its faint playoff hopes alive, staying in seventh place with a 2-1 win over Brisbane.