Chelsea’s old guard will be sticking around until they are a lot older.
On Friday during Chelsea’s pre-match press conference before their game with Sunderland (Watch live on NBC, 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, or online via Live Extra) assistant manager Steve Holland gave an update on contract negotiations with some of the Blues’ veteran stars.
According to Holland, who was standing in for manager Jose Mourinho at his request, contract talks with 33-year-old captain John Terry are ongoing and new contracts for Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard are also being discussed.
“John has had an outstanding season; we have the best defensive record in the Premier League and he’s played in almost all of that and been a major part of it all,” Holland said. “I know that John wants to stay at Chelsea, and Chelsea want John to stay, so hopefully that situation can be concluded amicably over the next few weeks. It’s the same situation [with Lampard and Cole], we’re dealing with not just normal players, but magnificent servants for this club over a long period. So full respect will be given for those players.”
Good news for Chelsea?
I’ve watched Terry in person on numerous occasions this season and have no qualms saying he is one of the best central defenders in the Premier League. If not the best. His reading of the game, timing of challenges and leadership skills make him any manager’s perfect center back and with a clean bill of health for most of the 2013-14 campaign, many are calling for Terry to be recalled to the England squad. That won’t happen but it’s difficult to not admire Terry’s quality as a defender.
Now the wage demands will be the only stumbling block, as reports stated Terry may have to take a pay cut in order to stay on at Stamford Bridge. As for Cole and Lampard, they are in slightly less advantageous position when it comes to contract talks. Although both are legends at the club after many years of loyal service and winning trophies, this season they’ve both been bit part players, especially Cole, as question marks will be raised as to the validity of keeping on the aging duo at Stamford Bridge.
Many may see deals handed out to these veterans as clogging up spots on Chelsea’s roster, but as we’ve seen from Terry this season, and at times Lampard, both still have a lot to offer. Cole is a complicated situation, as every time he’s pulled on the Chelsea shirt this season he hasn’t let anyone down but the England international has fallen behind Cesar Azpilicueta in the pecking order and may want a move this summer for regular soccer.
Chelsea’s plan to reward their loyal servants is admirable and is something that needs to happen in order to keep the wining mentality at the Bridge. Terry, Lampard and Cole should all stay on to help usher in a new era under Mourinho in West London.
Paraguay’s Dario Lezcano and the hosts looked prepared to cruise to a 3-1 win when he netted his second goal of the day, but there was still a half-hour left at Audi-Sportpark.
Adrian Ramos scored in the 69th minute, opening the door for the latest big moment for American teenager Christian Pulisic. The diminutive attacker scored his second Bundesliga goal of the season in stoppage time to propel BVB to a point.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had BVB’s other goal.
Hertha Berlin 2-1 Koln
Anthony Modeste and Koln had less than 10 minutes to celebrate their equalizer, as Niklas Stark’s 74th minute goal lifted Hertha to all three points. USMNT center back John Brooks went the distance at center back.
Bayern Munich 2-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
What looked like a potential onslaught in the first half hour settled into a final score line, as Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa goals were enough for Carlo Ancelotti’s crew at the Allianz Arena. Gladbach managed just two shots, none on goal, in the loss. USMNT mid Fabian Johnson went 90 minutes in the loss.
Elsewhere Hamburg 0-3 Eintracht Frankfurt — Another 90 for USMNT’s Chandler
Freiburg 2-1 Augsburg — Nils Petersen nets winner.
Bayer Leverkusen 0-3 Hoffenheim — Early red card for hosts.
Darmstadt 3-1 Wolfsburg — Three different goal scores in win.
RB Leipzig vs. Werder Bremen — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Schalke vs. Mainz — 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Now 32 years old and Barcelona’s longest-tenured servant, Iniesta has played more than 40 games (all competitions) every season since the 2003-04 campaign, back when he was a 19-year-old La Masia product quickly breaking into the first team. Part of a run like that is down to unparalleled talent and an unwavering commitment to craft, but, of course, a stroke of good luck on the serious-injury front.
It’s looking quite unlikely he’ll extend his 40-games-played streak to a 13th season in 2016-17, however, after the club confirmed fears on Saturday that Iniesta suffered knee ligament damage during a heavy challenge by Valencia midfielder Enzo Perez early in the first half of Barca’s 3-2 victory — statement from Barca’s official website:
The first team player Andres Iniesta has injured the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. When he arrives in Barcelona the player will have more tests to find out the exact extent of the injury.
The Blaugrana also lost Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique to injuries during their Champions League triumph over Manchester City, as well as Rafinha and Arda Turan, who picked up knocks of their own in training during the week. Injury crisis at the Nou Camp.
How would manager Jurgen Klopp have felt if his dominant side, one that failed to put away maybe a dozen chances versus the Baggies, drew?
“We had to finish the game much earlier,” Klopp said. “It would have been kind of a joke if we drew or lost today. We were unbelievable. We wasted a little energy in the second half. … Performance, really good against a team like this that were here to get somehow something.”
He’s right, of course. The Reds need to learn to kill teams off, even if star West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster deserves plenty of credit for another starring role against a top team.
Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho scored first half goals worthy of admiration, and Liverpool beat West Brom 2-1 at Anfield on Saturday.
Gareth McAuley scored the Baggies’ lone goal, as West Brom took Liverpool’s day from comfortable to uneasy over the final 30 minutes or so.
The winning margin pushes Liverpool level on points Arsenal but behind the Gunners on goal differential. Man City has 19 points and would retake the table lead with a draw or better versus Southampton on Sunday.
The Baggies are 13th, ahead of West Ham and Burnley on goal differential.
The Reds went ahead when Roberto Firmino‘s spinning cross was belted past Foster by Mane in the 21st minute.
A poor Ben Foster clearance fell to Mane in the 35th minute, and the Senegalese attacker quickly found Coutinho. The diminutive winger cut into the box, working a near-post shot by Foster to make it 2-0.