Fernando Torres scores first Premier League goal in 2013 as Chelsea secures third place

1 Comment

Fernando Torres broke his Premier League scoring drought by banging home the game-winner to secure Chelsea’s automatic place in the group stages of the Champions League.

The match sparked to life from the opening kickoff with Everton no doubt keen to finish the season on a high note and provide manager David Moyes with parting gift before he leaves for Manchester United.

It was Chelsea, however, who broke the dead-lock in the 7th minute when Oscar burst through the midfield and found Demba Ba on the right side of the box. The Senegalese international unleashed a daisy-cutter that didn’t appear to be well struck but nevertheless troubled Everton keeper Tim Howard.

As the American went to ground to make the save the ball bounced off of his chest and straight into the path of Juan Mata, who made no mistake with his finish. It was Mata’s 20th goal in all competitions this season and his 12th in the Premier League.

Seven minutes later and Everton were level. Leighton Baines drove a pass in the direction of Victor Anichebe, who was 20 yards outside of the box and closely marked by David Luiz. Luiz intercepted the pass but his touch went directly into the path of the unrushing Steven Naismith. The Scot played a one-touch pass to Anichebe, who returned the favor by splitting Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill as Naismith blazed into the box. His first touch drew Petr Cech off his line and Naismith took advantage, cooly slotting home a left-footed strike.

The entertaining end-to-end affair remained deadlocked until the 76th minute when Oscar’s cross from the right side of the field found Victor Moses in the center of the 6 yard box. With his back to goal Moses unselfishly directed his header into the path of Torres, who buried his right footed shot into the bottom corner. It was the Spaniard’s first Premier League goal of 2013 and one that Torres desperately needs as he states his case to remain at Stamford Bridge.

As time ticked down Everton came close on a few occasions. In the 86th minute Nikica Jelavic met Baines’ cross with a flush header that looked goal-bound only for Cech to make an unbelievable reactionary save and ensure Chelsea the victory.

For the Blues, the win sealed third place in the table and automatic qualification in next fall’s Champions League. The match also marked the end of Rafael Benitez’s seven month spell in charge as interim manager where he is expected to be replaced by Jose Mourinho. While many fans and pundits scoffed at Roman Abramovich’s decision to utilize Benitez in an interim capacity it’s hard to argue the project wasn’t a success as the Spaniard not only enjoyed league success but also managed to win 28 of 48 matches and lift the Europa League cup.

For Everton, the loss was one that manager David Moyes felt was undeserved. “We were excellent in the first half and then went behind with a bit of a mistake leading up to that but we deserved our goal back. In the second half we didn’t start the game so well but we created a lot of chances and at the worst we should have had a draw out of it.”

It was Moyes’ 518th game for the club and his last in charge before taking over at Old Trafford. The Toffees finish the season 6th in the table and two points ahead of rival Liverpool. The feat marks the second consecutive season in which Everton outperformed their Merseyside neighbors, the first time that’s happened in first-division football since 1935-37.

Transfer news: Man United move for Cavani, Jovic; Sancho update

Jadon Sancho to Man United
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cavani to Manchester United? Jovic to Manchester United? Sancho to Manchester United?

Everyone to Manchester United!

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA

The latest transfer news surrounds Manchester United and with just a few days to go in the summer window it seems like Ed Woodward and Co. are perhaps panicking a little.

A report from Gianluca Di Marzio in Italy states that Man United have offered a deal to experienced striker Edinson Cavani, who is currently a free agent after leaving PSG.

The same outlet also states that Man United have made an offer to take Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid as they know that Odion Igahlo will be going back to his parent club Shanghai Shenhua in January when his loan is up.

Add to those two rumors that Manchester United want to sign Ismaila Sarr from Watford as a back up to Jadon Sancho, plus reports that the Red Devils want to make one final push for Sancho before the window shuts next week, and we have an absolute mess.

Cavani and Jovic make sense for short-term solutions, but Man United don’t need to add more attacking players. They need a new left back and center back to make their squad stronger, and probably a new holding midfielder too.

With Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial up top, they are set for attackers but Solskjaer doesn’t think so. Cavani to Manchester United would be a good back-up option and at 33 he could pass on plenty of tips to Rashford, Martial and Greenwood.


Jadon Sancho to Manchester United update

When it comes to Sancho, an update of sorts has arrived.

Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus has poured cold water on reports that Sancho could be heading to Man United in the final days of this transfer window.

“For us players that was great news. We all were happy that he will be with us for one more year because he delivers assists and goals, so we get points,” Reus said. “If he gets as big as (Lionel) Messi or Ronaldo, we will see. He needs time, experience and it will be important how he manages the times when things don’t go so well. But he has the confidence and the quality.”

So, that’s that then? Sancho hasn’t travelled with Dortmund for the Super Cup in Munich against Bayern Munich due to a respiratory problem but he has tested negative for COVID-19.

Dortmund set a deadline of August 10 for Man United to put their money where their mouth was and pay for Sancho. But United don’t want to pay $140 million for Sancho and it appears he will now be at Dortmund for at least another 12 months.

Should Man United just wait until then? Can they manage with their current attacking crop? Yes and yes. But they probably won’t.

Fulham boss Parker upset after owner Khan apologized

Fulham
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fulham did not play well in their 3-0 defeat at home against Aston Villa and they’ve now lost all three of their Premier League games since being promoted.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

Add to that the fact they’ve conceded 10 goals and Scott Parker has a big job on his hands to keep Fulham in the Premier League.

It’s safe to say the Fulham manager also didn’t appreciate the son of owner Shahid Khan apologizing to fans for the performance on social media, as he also repeated that he’s been pushing to sign new defenders for several weeks.

Tony Khan — who is the co-owner, vice chairman and director of football operations at Fulham — detailed their search for a new center back, responded to fans comments on Twitter and said the display against Villa wasn’t good enough.

“I apologize to Fulham FC supporters for our performance tonight. We’ve looked to add centre-backs since Wembley, I’m sorry we haven’t yet as two got COVID and we lost a free we thought was close and had another issue with a fourth CB. I promise players in and better efforts from this squad,” Khan said in a Tweet after full time. “I should and will apologize repeatedly for that performance. I’m sorry everybody. We all need to do a better job. Everyone at the club for the past year worked really hard to get the team up and now we need to work significantly harder to stay up. I promise better efforts than today.”

Safe to say that Parker didn’t appreciate that statement as he spoke to the media ahead of Fulham’s League Cup last 16 game against Brentford.

“I think obviously I said it last night. People have the platform. You own a football club, you can decide how you want to communicate or send a message out. It’s not something I agree with, it’s not helpful from that sense but like I said that’s down to the owner and how he sees it,” Parker said. “There’s one thing that I’m disappointed with and that’s how he’s actually apologizing for the performance and that is something that I don’t agree with and he shouldn’t have. The performance last night was a good performance which was a group of players who have done everything they can, worked tirelessly from the first minute to the 95th. From 3-0 down they were still trying work as much as they can to try and get us back in the game and for that I don’t agree with him.”

This is a double-edged sword.

Many fans will appreciated Khan for responding to complaints publicly and being open and transparent. On the other hand, players and coaching staff at Fulham will probably be slightly bemused that this level of information was shared in a public forum.

Khan, who oversees the day-to-day running of Fulham, has taken a very different approach to transfers than when Fulham were promoted two seasons ago and spent big and were instantly relegated from the Premier League during the 2018-19 season.

It will be intriguing to see if Fulham splash the cash in a big way to back Parker in the final days of the window because their defensive performances suggest they will be relegated straight back to the Championship. It is early days in the Premier League season but Fulham are already having a bit of a meltdown.

Transfer news: Sarr to Manchester United

Ismaila Sarr to Manchester United
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ismaila Sarr to Manchester United is the latest back-up option for Jadon Sancho.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

According to the Daily Mail, Ismaila Sarr to Manchester United is emerging as their best possible option this summer as negotiations with Borussia Dortmund aren’t going well.

Sarr would be a good alternative, but he is valued at over $57 million by Watford. Surely spending that kind of cash just for the sake of it rather than waiting an extra 6-12 months for Sancho is a mistake?

The Watford and Senegal winger, 22, was one of the only positives to come from the Hornets’ relegation from the Premier League last season and was chased by Liverpool earlier this summer before they signed Diogo Jota instead.

After a slow start to life in England after his arrival from Ligue 1 side Rennes, Sarr scored twice in Watford’s shock 3-0 win over Liverpool and added another in a shock win against Man United, as he netted six goals and grabbed four assists in total.

Not bad for his first season in the Premier League, but is he any better than Daniel James, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata as back-up options? Probably, but spending over $50 million to sign him seems more out of desperation than planning.

That’s no disrespect to Sarr, but it shows that Manchester United are perhaps getting a little nervy and anxious in the final days of the window. Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has signed Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek this summer but United have missed out on Sergio Reguillon and Gareth Bale (who both went to Tottenham) and Thiago Alcantara who chose Liverpool instead.

Sancho is understandably their top target and Dortmund know that. They also know that selling Sancho this summer makes little sense as his transfer value is at its lowest and will rise to close to the $150 million they want for him when the market (hopefully) gets back to normal as the COVID-19 pandemic develops.

Sarr is a very good winger and in a team like Manchester United which will provide him with plenty of the ball out wide and on counter attacks he will slot in very nicely. But is he going to start ahead of Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford? No. He is a player who can be added to the rotation and add strength to the squad but what happens next summer if Man United do land Sancho?

There needs to be a better long-term transfer plan at Manchester United rather than just buying players each and every summer for the sake of it.

Lyon give Arsenal boost amid latest Aouar update

Aouar to Arsenal
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Aouar to Arsenal continues to be in the works, as more talks are scheduled in the final days of the transfer window and Lyon have given the Gunners a timely boost.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA

Lyon president Jean-Michael Aulas confirmed over the weekend that Arsenal have made an opening bid for Houssem Aouar, 22, but that he rejected it, and he’s now suggested the offer was well b

Asked about Arsenal’s pursuit of Aouar, the outspoken Lyon president had the following to say about the bid which is believed to be around $44.6 million.

“There was a timid offer, it was not an offer that was even susceptible to making us consider a sale,” Aulas said.

Asked how much he would want for Aouar, $46 million or $58 million, Aulas replied: “More than the first number that you mentioned.”

So, it appears they aren’t too far apart on their valuation and Lyon appear to be lining up Aouar’s replacement as Sky in Italy believe that they’ve agreed to sign Lucas Paqueta from AC Milan.

The dominoes are falling into place ahead of the final few days of the summer transfer window.

Aouar was superb in Lyon’s unexpected run to the UEFA Champions League semifinal in 2019-20 and his creativity will certainly add an extra dimension to Arsenal’s midfield. Mikel Arteta’s side battled hard in their 3-1 loss at Liverpool on Monday but couldn’t connect passes in midfield and Aouar is a master at that.

Alongside one of Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos he would be brilliant in Arsenal’s 3-4-3 formation.  The French international midfield is a perfect player for Mikel Arteta’s system. He is silky on the ball and calm to help dictate possession, while he also isn’t afraid of his defensive duties.

This move for Aouar suggests that Lucas Torreira, Mateo Guendouzi and Mohamed Elneny are all set to move on as Arteta focuses on quality over quantity and is said to still want Ateltico Madrid’s holding midfielder Thomas Partey too, although that seems like a long shot now.

Aouar to Arsenal would be another statement of intent from the Gunners who have added Gabriel at center back plus Willian out wide and Arteta has developed a host of young players over the last 10 months. Slowly but surely the pieces are falling into place as Arteta tries to push Arsenal back into the top four.