Shipped from abroad: Reflections on an English Premier League Saturday

Leave a comment

These days, everything that happens with Liverpool spurs perspective. Coming into Saturday’s match, that perspective was a wide one, seeing the Reds in their worst form for 50 years. After Luis Suarez’s late equalizer got them a point from visiting Aston Villa, the perspective shifts, through it doesn’t narrow. Nothing from today’s match helps focus on the now.

Instead, it’s a wide, sorrowful view that sees a home point from the league’s 15th place side as a cause for relief. And describing Villa as a 15th place side is the most flattering way you can describe Alex McLeish’s team, at this point. They’re not good, and as such, don’t expect LFC supporters to take much solace from this result. At least it’s not a loss will be the refrain.

That won’t console for long. We’re now one week away from Liverpool’s Merseyside Derby at Wembley in the FA Cup semifinals, a must-win match in the hearts of supporters who, after Saturday, can ask “If we need a late goal to draw Villa at home, are we going to be able to get past Everton?”

Liverpool has one more match to find something: Tuesday at Blackburn. Unfortunately, these are just the types of matches where the Reds have stumbled – matches where they have to impose instead of react. Based on what we saw today, dropping points at Ewood almost has to be expected.

Elsewhere in the Premier League

All results: Sunderland 0-0 Tottenham; Chelsea 2-1 Wigan; Liverpool 1-1 Aston Villa; Norwich City 2-2 Everton; Bolton 0-3 Fulham; West Brom 3-0 Blackburn; Stoke City 2-1 Wolverhampton.

Stuff that stuck out:

  • Chelsea moves back into fifth and are now only three points behind Spurs. If Arsenal fall to Manchester City tomorrow, the Blues will be two back of a Champions League spot. Unfortunately, Newcastle’s staying right with them (and are in two fewer competitions). They could beat out Arsenal or Tottenham and still end up in Europa.
  • Two goals from Nikica Jelavic have me convinced I was wrong. Bought from Rangers at the end of the winter transfer window, I thought he was a reach – especially for the €6.6 million that’s hard to come by at Goodison. He had a good goal return in Scotland, but I put no stock in it. To the eye, he seemed little better than other options. He’s now up to five goals in 10 matches with the Toffees, and while that may be nothing but a decent start, it’s enough to convince me I’d judged too harshly.
  • Clint Dempsey’s double (in Fulham’s 3-0 win at Bolton) could have led this post, but his goalscoring exploits have become so common that we no longer have to break out the confetti to celebrate his exploits. The guy is fifth in the league in goals, behind only van Persie, Rooney, Aguero and Ba. It’s an amazing status commensurate with a year so successful that “Clint Dempsey scores!” is no longer the story. Instead, it’s “Clint Dempsey scored again.” A more subdued message? Sure, but at this point, it’s also more meaningful.
  • Here’s that full goalscorers list:
Player Club Goals
van Persie, Robin Arsenal 26
Rooney, Wayne Manchester United 21
Aguero, Sergio Manchester City 17
Ba, Demba Newcastle 16
Dempsey, Clint Fulham 15
Ayegbeni, Yakubu Blackburn 14
Adebayor, Emmanuel Tottenham 13
Balotelli, Mario Manchester City 13
Dzeko, Edin Manchester City 13
Holt, Grant Norwich City 13

Up next: Manchester United’s at QPR tomorrow ahead of Manchester City’s visit to Arsenal.

Gressel ties it in Atlanta United’s 1-1 draw with Timbers

Twitter/@fanly_timbers
Leave a comment

ATLANTA (AP) Julian Gressel tied it in the 56th minute and Atlanta United held on for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

A loose ball deflection off defender Larrys Mabiala bounced into Gressel’s path and he pounced on it with a right-footed volley. Atlanta (10-3-4) stayed atop the MLS standings and extended its unbeaten streak to five games.

Mabiala opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. Samuel Armenteros was the first to get a touch with a left-footed stab on Diego Valeri’s free kick. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan blocked it out, but Mabiala headed home the rebound and Portland took the early lead.

The Timbers (6-3-5) extended their unbeaten run to nine.

MLS: NYCFC beat TFC in new coach Torrent’s debut

AP Photo/Adam Hunger
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — Jo Inge Berget scored twice and coach Domenec Torrent celebrated his New York City FC debut with a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

Berget made it 2-1 in the 68th minute, following Maximiliano Moralez’s direct pass up the right channel and slotting it home.

NYCFC (9-3-4) tied it at 1 in the 51st minute on Berget’s back heel from the top of the 6-yard box.

Víctor Vazquez opened the scoring for Toronto (4-8-3) in the 37th minute. Vasquez outran his defender on Auro’s long ball up the right side and sent a chip shot over the onrushing goalkeeper.

NYCFC’s David Villa left the game in the 28th minute with a non-contact injury.

Torrent replaced Patrick Vieira in New York shortly after Vieira’s departure for OGC Nice was officially confirmed. Torrent had been the right-hand man to Pep Guardiola for the last 11 years, most recently at Manchester City.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 12 — Time to settle Groups A & B

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Day 12 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Monday, and with it begins the final round of group games to decide the 16 teams headed to the knockout rounds. For the next four days, we’ll be treated to four games each day.

Also, the end of 8 a.m. ET kickoffs. Hooray for sleeping in.

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

First up, the conclusion of Group A, where both the hosts, Russia, and Uruguay have already advanced with wins in their first two games. Now, the two meet in the southwestern city of Samara to determine who’ll go through to the round of 16 as the group winners, and who’ll be the runners-up. Most likely awaiting either of them will be Spain and Portugal, pending the order in which they finish in Group B.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Speaking of Group B, Spain will finish group play against fourth-place and points-less Morocco, while Portugal have a tricky meeting with third-place Iran, who sit just a point behind the reigning European champions. The winner of Group B will face the runners-up of Group A, and vice versa.

Below is Monday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Monday, June 25

Group A
Uruguay vs. Russia: Samara, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt: Volgograd, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group B
Spain vs. Morocco: Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Iran vs. Portugal: Saransk, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Transfer rumor roundup: Emery raiding Sevilla; Wilshere’s suitor(s)

Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Unai Emery has reportedly been in contact with at least one former player, Ever Banega, in an attempt to convince the Argentine midfielder to join him at Arsenal.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news

Banega, who’ll turn 30 on Friday, played two seasons under Emery at Sevilla — where they won back-to-back Europa League titles (Banega was only at the club for the second and third of three straight from 2013-2016).

With Banega reportedly on the fence about whether or not to leave Sevilla again — he only just returned last summer after one season at Inter Milan — Emery is said to have made a personal call after Arsenal’s bid of roughly $23 million triggered the release clause in Banega’s contract. Sevilla will join Arsenal in the Europa League next season after finishing seventh in La Liga.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Jack Wilshere announced last week that he will leave Arsenal this summer — thus opening up the handful of games for which he was healthy and fit to play each season, perhaps for Banega — which leads us nicely to the final bit of transfer talk for Sunday: West Ham are interested in the 26-year-old, but are reportedly only willing to offer him a one-year contract.

The Hammers’ hesitancy is, of course, a response to his years-long battle with injuries — he’s made just 66 appearances over the last four PL seasons (three with Arsenal, one on loan to Bournemouth).

Two other clubs to keep an eye on, as they’ve reportedly indicated interest in Wilshere and/or been in contact already: Everton and Juventus.