Getty Images

Premier League Saturday roundup: Drama central

Leave a comment

What. A. Day. Late winners, red cards, controversy, upsets.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The seven Premier League games on Saturday produced just about everything.

[ MORE: PL standings |  Schedule

Below is a look back at all the action from Saturday’s seven games in the PL.


Manchester United 1-1 BournemouthRECAP

1-1 doesn’t even go close to telling the story of this game. United led through Marcos Rojo‘s first Premier League goal but Bournemouth scored a penalty kick via Joshua King. Then, things got tasty. Tyrone Mings and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were going at it the whole game and the former looked to stamp on Zlatan’s head while he was on the floor, then Zlatan connected with an elbow on Mings’ head moments later. In the melee which ensued Andrew Surman was shown a second yellow card as Bournemouth played the entire second half with 10 men.

[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies on Saturday’s action ] 

Zlatan had the chance to the be the hero, once again, but his penalty kick was saved by Artur Boruc and United were held to a seventh draw in their last 11 PL home games. Frustration for Jose Mourinho as his men lost ground in the top four race, while Ibrahimovic and Mings could well get retrospective bans.


Liverpool 3-1 ArsenalRECAP

Alexis Sanchez was left on the bench and it backfired badly for Arsene Wenger as Liverpool secured victory. First half goals from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane set Jurgen Klopp‘s side on their way and even though Sanchez jumped off the bench at half time to spark life into Arsenal and set up Danny Welbeck‘s strike, Wenger’s men lost for the third time in four games as Georginio Wijnaldum scored late on.

Liverpool again rose to the occasion against a top four rival as they remain unbeaten against the top six this season, while Arsenal’s top four hopes are in real jeopardy with Liverpool leapfrogging them in the table.


Watford 3-4 SouthamptonRECAP

What. A. Game. Watford took the lead through Troy Deeney early on but Saints came roaring back as Dusan Tadic first scored and then set up Nathan Redmond to make it 2-1. Then Stefano Okaka equalized late on but Manolo Gabbiadini made it 3-2 (he’s now scored six goals in four games for Saints) and Redmond added another to make it 4-2 before Abdoulaye Doucoure scored a late consolation for the Hornets. Claude Puel‘s Saints have now scored 10 goals in their last three games and have put their EFL Cup final heartbreak firmly behind them.


Leicester City 3-1 Hull CityRECAP

What a difference one week makes. Leicester have won back-to-back PL games for the first time this season as they continue to prove life is just fine after Claudio Ranieri. Caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare has overseen two-straight 3-1 wins against Liverpool and now Hull but the Foxes had to fight back from 1-0 down. In fact, it’s the first time this season that Leicester have won after going behind as Sam Clucas put Hull ahead. However, Christian Fuchs made it 1-1 at half time and then second half goals from Riyad Mahrez and a late own goal from Tom Huddlestone sealed the win. The reigning champs are finally pulling away from the relegation zone.


Swansea City 3-2 BurnleyRECAP

Another thriller took place at the Liberty Stadium as Paul Clement celebrated wildly thanks to Fernando Llorente’s late winner. The Swans went ahead through a Llorente header but then a controversial penalty kick was awarded to Burnley (Clarets striker Ashley Barnes handled the ball but referee Anthony Taylor gave a spot kick) and Andre Gray made it 1-1 before adding another in the second half to make it 2-1. Martin Olsson made it 2-2 with 20 minutes to go and then Llorente popped up in stoppage time to hand Swansea a fifth win in nine games under Clement. Swansea now have 27 points and some breathing space from the bottom three.


West Brom 0-2 Crystal PalaceRECAP

A simply massive away win for Palace as Sam Allardyce‘s men are out out of the drop zone. A goal in each half from Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend proved the difference for the Eagles against a West Brom side who had an off day after reaching 40 points after just 26 games. For Palace, they’re on 25 points and have given themselves hope ahead of a tough run of games.


Stoke City 2-0 MiddlesbroughRECAP

Routine win for the Potters as two first half goals from Marko Arnautovic saw them past goal-shy Middlesbrough. The Potters dominated from start to finish and Aitor Karanka‘s Boro, the lowest scorers in the PL, have now slipped into the relegation zone and are just three points off the bottom. As for Stoke, they’re up to ninth place and just five points behind West Brom in eighth.


Report: Chicharito-to-MLS in doubt due to contract demands

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
Leave a comment

While Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has the feel of the player most clearly destined to play in MLS since Thierry Henry, we might have to wait a little while longer before the 28-year-old Mexican international ditches Europe in favor of a return to North America.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

According to a report from ESPN FC on Thursday, Hernandez is seeking an annual salary “way north of $10 million,” which would shatter the current record contract for an MLS player (Kaka — $7.2 million per year).

Hernandez has one more season left on his contract with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. During the summer of 2018 he’ll be available for any club in the world to sign on a free transfer. With Los Angeles FC, the team Hernandez has reportedly been negotiating with for months now, set to debut in MLS in March 2018, chances are they’d like the centerpiece of their squad (and the largest annual investment in MLS history) to be involved on opening day, thus a fee will be required, very likely pushing the club’s total investment (salary plus fee) into the neighborhood of $50 million.

[ WATCH: Giovani dos Santos’ jaw-dropping volley vs. MIN ]

You can see pretty quickly why LAFC might balk at such demands.

With that said, 1) LAFC shouldn’t be surprised by this recent development, given Hernandez’s otherworldly allure within the LA market; 2) to piggyback on no. 1, a player should be paid every cent he’s worth to the club, on and off the field, and there might not be a player in the entire world (this side Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo) who’d make LAFC a bigger hit in LA from day one.

Enrique “more than satisfied” with Barca tenure, eyes one more trophy

Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Luis Enrique is finally saying goodbye to Barcelona, with one last chance at a trophy.

The Luis Enrique era in Barcelona ends after the Copa del Rey final against Alaves on Saturday, when the coach could cap his three-year stint with a ninth trophy out of a possible 13.

It would be a fitting farewell for him nearly three months after his surprise announcement that he was leaving.

“It would be a special title,” Luis Enrique said.

The former Barcelona midfielder has won nearly everything as the coach, since replacing Gerard Martino in 2014.

He led the team to the treble of the Spanish league, Copa del Rey, and Champions League in 2015. He achieved the league-Copa double in 2016, and began this season with the Spanish Super Cup title, their only trophy so far.

It hasn’t been Luis Enrique’s best season with Barcelona, which was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, and lost the Spanish league to Real Madrid last weekend.

“I’m happy and more than satisfied for all the years that I’ve enjoyed with this club,” the 47-year-old Luis Enrique said.

He announced in March he was leaving so he could get some rest.

“I came here to be a leader and I’ve been one. I’m leaving when I think it’s the best time to do it.”

His other titles included the 2015 European Super Cup and the 2015 Club World Cup.

Barcelona has yet to lose a Copa del Rey home-and-away series since he took over, a run of 12 straight triumphs.

“We are all thankful for these three years (with Luis Enrique),” captain Andres Iniesta said. “We have to win one last title to finish the best possible way.”

Barcelona has been in the Copa final in seven of the last nine seasons, including the last four. It has won it a record 28 times, including the last two.

Alaves will be playing in the final of a major tournament for only the second time in its 96-year history. The other was the UEFA Cup 16 years ago, when it lost to Liverpool 5-4 in extra time.

Alaves’ only winner’s trophy is for Spain’s second division. It was a promoted club in Spain’s top division this season after 10 years in the lower divisions, including four in the third tier. It finished ninth in the Liga.

Alaves enters the Copa final boosted from having beaten Barcelona 2-1 at Camp Nou at the beginning of the season.

The coach touted to replace Luis Enrique at Barcelona is Ernesto Valverde, who left Athletic Bilbao this week. An official announcement is expected next week.

Marco Silva leaves Hull; Premier League clubs lining up

Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Marco Silva came to the Premier League, he saw the PL, but he didn’t conquer the PL — at least, not yet.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

It was announced on Thursday that the 39-year-old Portuguese manager, who took over last-place Hull City in January, has left the club after succumbing to relegation from the PL. Silva, whose stock rose quickly during his brief stay in England, signed a contract that ran only through the end of the season should they be relegated, thus he’s not sure on options these days. Hull would have undoubtedly welcomed him back for a run at promotion from the Championship next season.

As recently as Wednesday, Silva was expected to be named the new boss at Porto, though various reports stated that talks between the manager and club had broken down.

[ MORE: Terry “couldn’t care less” about criticism of his farewell ]

Watford and Crystal Palace, both of whom are manager-less after Walter Mazzarri was fired and Sam Allardyce resigned, respectively, are said to be extremely interested in Silva’s services.

David Luiz “took a risk” to return to Chelsea, PL — and it paid off

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
Leave a comment

You should always bet on yourself, and that’s exactly what David Luiz did last summer in returning to Chelsea and the Premier League.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Whether or not you succeed is secondary to believing in and backing yourself to to do well in an situation, no matter how difficult. When Luiz left Chelsea in the summer of 2014, he did so as something of a joke in PL circles — his eccentric playing style had caused him to commit a number of memorable sometimes-hilarious gaffes which eventually branded him a liability as a “defender.”

After two seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, where he won everything that French football has to offer, Luiz was given an opportunity to return to England and prove wrong so many who had doubted him. It was a “risk,” according to Luiz, but an opportunity he couldn’t pass up — quotes from the Guardian:

“I was winning everything in Paris. I was there for two years and won all the titles in France. I had a great life, great credibility with the club. … I had everything.

“But then I took a risk to come back to the one country that was not that happy with me. Where they always criticized me a lot even after winning the Champions League, the Europa League or where I’d played all the games. That’s why it was a risk. And I love the risk. If you don’t take risks in your life — in your professional life but also in everyday life — you never feel anything new, so I [chose to] taste something new. I don’t like to stay always with the easy life, but I’m happy now because I took the right decision.”

Antonio Conte, the manager who sought to bring Luiz back to Stamford Bridge, heard what everyone was saying about the 30-year-old Brazilian international, and he couldn’t believe his ears — quotes from the Guardian:

“I heard a lot of bad things when he arrived, that he was ‘not a defender.’ But we were sure we were signing a really good player we could lift up again to be one of the best defenders in Europe and, I hope, in the world. He has good technique, he’s strong, he starts our possession and has the personality to do this.”

[ MORE: Terry “couldn’t care less” about criticism of his farewell ]

Luiz was a standout performer for a title-winning side with the third-best defensive record in the PL this season.

Conte and Luiz – 1, Everyone else – 0.