- Stoke hasn’t won at Stamford Bridge in PL since 1974
- Chelsea has conceded 2 goals in last 12 matches
- Mark Hughes has never won in 8 tries at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea is just one match away from a Premier League record, and they can make that a reality as they take on Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on New Year’s Eve (Watch live at 10:00 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).
The Blues would equal the record of 13 straight victories in English top-flight play, with only a pair of teams in the late 1800’s plus Arsenal to finish the 2001-02 season having accomplished the feat. Chelsea has won 12 in a row, with their last loss coming in late September to the Gunners.
With depending on the Liverpool vs. Manchester City result, Chelsea could increase its lead at the top with a win, and that will be most important to them, but the record is most certainly on the horizon.
Diego Costa and N'Golo Kante are both back for Chelsea following a yellow card suspension. Stoke, meanwhile, is still missing Marko Arnautovic for a red card ban, while Geoff Cameron, Jack Butland, and Marc Muniesa are all injured.
What they’re saying
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte: “At the start of the season, not one coach, not one person, not one journalist trusted in this team to fight for the title in this league this season. To have 12 wins in a row is a great achievement, but it’s not enough to win the league at this point of the season.”
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes: “I don’t think anyone thinks that from now until the end of the season they will win every game. We’re going into it with the intention of stopping the run if we can – and why can’t it be us?”
Stoke City could not possibly be going to a worse place at a worse time. Missing key players and picked apart by Arsenal and Liverpool in the last month, this could very well get ugly. 3-0 seems like a reasonable scoreline to expect in favor of the Blues, but it could be worse given the form the two sides are in.
Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.
[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]
The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.
Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.
Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).
“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”
Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.
[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]
The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.
More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.
Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.
[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24 ]
That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.
Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.
A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:
“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”
She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.
Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.
There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]
An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.
Here’s how we think the draft could play out:
- LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
- LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
- DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
- Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
- Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
- Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
- Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
- New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
- New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
- Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
- FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
- San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
- Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
- Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
- Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
- New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
- Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
- Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
- New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
- Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
- Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
- Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
- Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson
There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.
Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.