Three things we learned from Chelsea v Man United

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LONDON — Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as the Blues breathed new life into their Premier League campaign.

[ MORE: Rivalry renewed – Conte v Mourinho ]

Alvaro Morata’s second half header was enough to beat Jose Mourinho’s men with United starting the game well but then pinned back by Chelsea after the opening 30 minutes.

The win sees Chelsea move just one point behind second-place United heading into the international break, while Manchester City’s lead at the top of the table has now been increased to eight points.

Here’s what we learned from a lively encounter in west London.


MORATA A MENACE

Even though he was adjudged to have fouled Phil Jones early on as the United center back shanked a clearance into his own net to score a spectacular own goal, Alvaro Morata had set the tone early.

The Spaniard was a menace for United’s defense all afternoon.

After his comments during the week to the Italian media which seemed to suggest he wasn’t enjoying life in London, Morata needed a big display. He delivered.

Morata’s towering header from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross — the fifth time he and his countryman have linked up this season for a goal and an assist — won the game for Chelsea to lift some of the growing gloom around Antonio Conte‘s side following their 3-0 shellacking at AS Roma on Tuesday in the Champions League.

Morata had missed chances at Roma and at Bournemouth in recent weeks but despite his wastefulness he has eight goals in 15 games for Chelsea. Not a bad ratio for a striker still adjusting to life in the PL.

More impressive than his goal was Morata’s ability to bully United’s defense. In the first half he charged into Jones with a good old fashioned shoulder barge and sent the bustling United center back to the ground.

At times this season Morata’s inability to mix it up in the Premier League has been questioned. As a direct replacement for Diego Costa (a man who “mixed it up” for a living) Morata was said to be soft. On Sunday he was not with the only blot on his copybook getting it all wrong as he raced in on goal in stoppage time when he only had David De Gea to beat.


UNITED TOO CONCERNED WITH CHELSEA

Eden Hazard was a marked man on Sunday with Phil Jones, Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly rotating the man-marking job on Chelsea’s playmaker.

Despite early promise where Romelu Lukaku had a smart turn and shot saved and then Marcus Rashford nodded just over, United were never in the game after the opening 30 minutes. Don’t let the scoreline fool you.

Mourinho was ushering Bailly to step high on Hazard when United had the ball in Chelsea’s half from the very first whistle.

Once again, in a big game, United’s approach was too defensive and this time they didn’t get the result they wanted.

After a 0-0 draw at Liverpool and a 1-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, Mourinho’s defensive masterclass didn’t work against Chelsea.

Maybe if he focused more on getting the ball to Lukaku and Rashford and involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the game they’d have forced the issue more than they did. Lukaku was a spectator for most of this game and will no doubt receive plenty of criticism for once again not delivering in a big game against a top six side, but he had little to no service.

Then again, this was a Mourinho team set up to play away from home in a defensive formation with Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia at wing back, three center backs and two holding midfielders. What else did we expect?


KANTE CONTINUES TO MAKE CHELSEA TICK

The last month has been a long one for Chelsea. That’s because they’ve been without N'Golo Kante.

In the six games Chelsea were without Kante in October, they only kept one clean sheet.

Kante, the reigning PFA Player of the Year, returned from a hamstring injury on Sunday and dominated midfield. The French international was everywhere, snapping at the heels of Lukaku and Rashford whenever they dropped back and stepping into defensive gaps when Gary Cahill or Azpilicueta surged forward.

He also kept Nemanja Matic (who has been a pivotal figure for United since he transfer from Chelsea in the summer) quiet as the diminutive Frenchman dominated in midfield.

We all know how important Kante is but his first lengthy injury spell of the last two seasons since he arrived in the PL proved it.

Chelsea are a completely different team with Kante in midfield and their defensive solidity is down to him. No one player makes a team but one player can make a heck of a difference. See: Kante, N’Golo.

Chelsea update on transfer deals for Dzeko, Palmeri

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Chelsea are keeping their cards close to their chest when it comes to the potential arrival of Roma duo Edin Dzeko and Emerson Palmeri.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ]

It has been reported that Chelsea have bid $72.5 million for the pair, with Dzeko, 31, fitting the ball for the target forward they’ve been searching for.

Speaking to the media ahead of Chelsea’s League Cup semifinal second leg at Arsenal on Wednesday, Conte was tight-lipped over the approach for Dzeko and left back Palmeri.

“I don’t know. As you know very well about the transfer market, if there are news the club will inform you,” Conte said.

As for Roma, they have acknowledged that Dzeko, the former Manchester City striker, has been impacted by the talks surrounding his future.

Speaking ahead of their game against Sampdoria on Wednesday, manager Eusebio Di Francesco had the following to say about Dzeko’s future.

“As things stand at the moment, he will. Obviously I’m going to have to assess things and see what frame of mind he’s in. I’ll speak to him about it,” Di Francesco said.

With Roma fighting for the Italian title and in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, it’s tough to understand why they would want to offload Dzeko in January. However with Dzeko now 31, Roma could recoup all of the $40 million they paid to Man City (and then some) for the Bosnian forward in 2015. That’s a decent deal for them after getting two-and-a-half seasons and 61 goals in 117 appearances in all competitions (46 goals in 88 Serie A games) from Dzeko.

The man who won the Premier League title twice with Man City may also feel like he has a little left to prove in England as he fell behind Sergio Aguero and many others in the pecking order towards the end of his time at the Etihad Stadium. It is also believed Dzeko will almost double his wages if he moves from Roma to Chelsea.

With Peter Crouch and Andy Carroll mentioned as potential signings for Chelsea as Conte looks for a big man to mix up his attacking options, Dzeko is by far the most prolific name mentioned and he must have previously impressed Chelsea this season after scoring twice against them in a 3-3 Champions League draw at Stamford Bridge in October.

Alvaro Morata is out of form and has struggled with injuries, plus Michy Batshuayi has struggled to deliver whenever he has stepped in so far so this season, getting a reliable back-up striker has become the main aim for a Chelsea side in third place in the Premier League table and still in the FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League.

As for Palmeri, the deal for the Brazilian born left back, 23, will see him become a valuable squad member and add depth at left wing-back with no real options to back up Marcos Alonso. Think of a left-footed Davide Zappacosta who steps in admirably for Victor Moses at right wing-back whenever needed.

With Cesar Apzilicueta now a permanent fixture at center back, Conte needs help at left back, especially as he revealed on Tuesday that a loan deal for Kenedy to Newcastle United is all but complete.

Arsenal confirm talks over Aubameyang transfer

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Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal are in negotiations with Borussia Dortmund over signing striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arsenal’s CEO Ivan Gazidis and their new Director of Recruitment, Sven Mislintat, are in German to talk with Dortmund about a deal for the 28-year-old Gabonese forward.

Aubamyenag hasn’t played in Dortmund’s last two games, first due to a disciplinary problem and he was then left out of their squad to face Hertha Berlin last Friday due to a lack of focus. The man who has scored 141 goals in 212 appearances for Dortmund in all competitions since 2013 seems to be edging his way out of the Westfalenstadion.

Asked if he was confident that the reigning Bundesliga top goalscorer would arrive at Arsenal during the January window, here’s what Wenger had to say.

“Confident or not confident, I don’t know. You never know how close you are,” Wenger said. “This is the kind of thing – he is one of the possible movements, but we have other things in mind as well. We have plenty of opportunities and the final decision is not made. At the moment we are not close to any deal, Aubameyang or anybody else.”

Okay, Arsene, so you may have other targets too. You sly fox…

But seriously, it seems like Arsenal have gone all in on Aubameyang and given his goalscoring record over the past five seasons, who can blame them? Here comes the juicy stuff.

Reports have stated that Dortmund wanted Olivier Giroud plus cash in exchange for Aubameyang, but Wenger said that negotiations aren’t yet at that stage.

Various reports over the weekend suggested that a fee of close to $70 million would nab Aubameyang from Dortmund, but it is believed Arsenal have offered close to $61 million so far.

The languid forward is a good friend of new Arsenal signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan as the duo wrecked havoc during their time together at Dortmund, and having Ozil and Mkhitaryan thread balls into Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang will leave Gunners fans salivating uncontrollably.

Stop drooling. Whip your keyboard or smartphone clean. But if Arsenal pull off this deal for Aubameyang, it could well signal a new era of challenging for the top four seriously and getting themselves back into the title conversation.

Yes, they’ve lost a final talent in Alexis Sanchez in the swap deal with Mkhitaryan, but they also gained a fine playmaker who will slot into their style of play seamlessly and they could have one of the most lethal marksman in world soccer on his way.

An intriguing final eight days of the window away with Wenger, Arsenal and Aubameyang.

List of top 30 richest clubs in world revealed

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10 Premier League were listed among the top 20 richest clubs in the world, with 14 PL clubs in the top 30.

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Deloitte released their Football Money League findings after analyzing the financial performance of clubs across the world for the 2016-17 season, with Manchester United coming out on top for the second season on the spin and the 10th time overall.

However, United were less than $2.2 million ahead of Real Madrid who finished in second, as the reigning European and Spanish champions switched places with third-place Barcelona. Bayern Munich and Manchester City rounded out the top five in fourth and fifth place respectively.

14 PL clubs were in the top 30, an increase from 12 this time last year. Arsenal were in sixth, Chelsea in eighth, Liverpool in ninth, Leicester in 14th, West Ham in 17th, Southampton in 18th and Everton in 20th.

Southampton are the only newcomer into the top 20, with Saints benefiting from their eighth-place finish in the PL last season, their fourth-straight finish in the top eight of the Premier League table, plus their appearance in the Europa League for a second-straight season. The South Coast boom in the PL also saw Bournemouth as the only debutants in places 21-30 with the Cherries now the 28th richest club on the planet, with Crystal Palace, West Brom and Stoke also among the top 30.

A noticeable trend is that Italian giants AS Roma and AC Milan both slipped out of the top 20, while just one team from France featured in the top 20 (Paris Saint-Germain), plus three teams each from Italy, Germany and Spain.

Below is a look at the top 30 and how much revenue they generated in 2016-17, with a more in-depth look at the top 20 available here via Deloitte.


  • 1. Manchester United: $828.4 million
  • 2. Real Madrid: $826.2.m
  • 3. Barcelona: $794m
  • 4. Bayern Munich: $720m
  • 5. Manchester City: $646.4m
  • 6. Arsenal: $597.1m
  • 7. Paris Saint Germain: $595.5m
  • 8. Chelsea: $524.2m
  • 9. Liverpool: $519.6m
  • 10. Juventus: $496.9m
  • 11. Tottenham: $435.5m
  • 12. Borussia Dortmund: $407.3m
  • 13. Atletico Madrid: $333.7m
  • 14. Leicester City: $332m
  • 15. Inter Milan: $321m
  • 16. Schalke: $281.9m
  • 17. West Ham: $261.3m
  • 18. Southampton: $259.8m
  • 19. Napoli: $245.8m
  • 20. Everton: $244m
  • 21. Lyon: $242.9m
  • 22. AC Milan: $234.8m
  • 23. Zenit St Petersburg: $220.9m
  • 24. Roma: $210.4m
  • 25. Borussia Monchengladbach: $207.5m
  • 26. Crystal Palace: $200.8m
  • 27. West Bromwich Albion: $196.6m
  • 28. Bournemouth: $195m
  • 29. Stoke City: $193.9m
  • 30. Benfica: $193.1m

Serie A: Juve keep winning to remain 1 point back of Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus closed the gap on Serie A leader Napoli back to just one point as the six-time defending champion eased past Genoa 1-0 on Monday.

Douglas Costa scored in the 16th minute, the first conceded by Genoa in five league matches. It was a less than convincing performance from Juventus but it was never really troubled, as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – standing in for the still-injured Gianluigi Buffon – was little more than a spectator.

“What was important was to win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “At the end there was a bit of nervousness because we were lacking in energy a bit.

“We could have finished off the match in the first half, and again with a couple of occasions after the break. We didn’t manage to so compliments to Genoa.”

The battle for the Serie A title is shaping into a two-horse race. Juventus moved 10 points clear of third-placed Lazio, although the capital side has a match in hand.

“The season is still long and all those who are behind us can still get back into the race,” Allegri said. “It was important to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Juventus needed to win after Napoli beat Atalanta 1-0 on Sunday.

Allegri’s side started brightly and had an early chance to take the lead but Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin did well to keep out a free kick from specialist Miralem Panic.

However, it did not take much longer to strike. Douglas Costa passed out left to Mario Mandzukic, who played a delightful return ball for the Brazil midfielder to slot into the bottom left corner.