Premier League Roundup: Chelsea slip up, Man United respond, relegation drama

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Many would argue we’re witnessing the best season in Premier League history and after another spectacular Saturday played out, it’s hard to disagree.

Chelsea slipped up away at Crystal Palace to leave their title hopes in tatters, Manchester City and Arsenal tied in a pulsating clash, Manchester United saw off Aston Villa 4-1, while Cardiff City and West Bromwich Albion played out arguably the game of the season in a enthralling 3-3 draw.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

There were 22 goals in Saturday’s seven games, as action packed matches were the order of the day. In case you missed any of it, don’t fret, we’ve got you covered at PST.

Here are all the recaps, analysis and highlights from all of Saturday’s games.

Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City

Man City started superbly against Arsenal, and David Silva put the Citizens ahead after just 18 minutes as he reacted first to Edin Dzeko’s shot that crashed off the post. City were the better team for most of the first half, as the Gunners’ faint title hopes looked to be fading out with a whimper. However a totally different side appeared after the break, with Mathieu Flamini finishing superbly to level things up and then Lukas Podolski’s shot was well saved by Joe Hart as City held on. City are still title favorites, but Arsenal keep themselves in the hunt. Just.

Crystal Palace 1-0 Chelsea

Palace dealt Chelsea’s title hopes a massive blow as a John Terry own goal in the second half means Chelsea’s title hopes are over, in the words of their own manager Jose Mourinho. Chelsea just couldn’t handled Palace’s physical approach, as the Eagles took the game to the Blues and gave their chances of Premier League survival a huge boost.

Manchester United 4-1 Aston Villa

Aston Villa went 1-0 up through Ashley Westwood’s free kick, but that only acted to fire up United. You won’t like them when they’re angry. Wayne Rooney scored twice, plus goals from Juan Mata (his for in the PL for United) and Javier Hernandez sealed a comfortable win. Villa boss Paul Lambert didn’t think his side deserved a hiding, but United were clinical.

Southampton 4-0 Newcastle United

The Saints were sensational against the Magpies, and three England hopefuls kept their charge towards Brazil going. Jay Rodriguez scored twice, Rickie Lambert bagged another and Adam Lallana scored a screamer as Saints jumped into eighth ahead of Newcastle, who were truly shocking. Mauricio Pochettino’s men continue to impress.

Stoke City 1-0 Hull City

Peter Odemwingie was the hero for the Potters, as Stoke sealed their third-straight win. A determined Hull kept plugging away, but the Tigers weren’t quite good enough and Stoke did a job on them. How high can Mark Hughes’ men finish now? They have already reached the magic 40 point marker.

Swansea City 3-0 Norwich City

Swansea had been threatening to give someone a hiding for a while, and that team was Norwich. Two Jonathan De Guzman goals set Swansea on their way and another from Wayne Routledge sealed the win to ease Swansea’s relegation worries. As for Norwich, they are embroiled in the battle to stay up. Big time.

West Bromwich Albion 3-3 Cardiff City

This season we’ve been blessed with so many stunning games in the PL, but this could take the biscuit. West Brom raced into an early 2-0 lead with Morgan Almafitano and Graham Dorrans on the score sheet, but Cardiff’s Jordon Mutch scored before the half and then Steven Caulker leveled the scores in the 73rd minute. More drama arrived in stoppage time, as Thievy put West Brom ahead in the 92nd minute and the Baggies looked to have snatched a massive three points. But with the last kick of the game, Mats Moller Daehli popped up to send Cardiff’s fans wild and reignite their survival bid with a stunning late goal. You can’t write this stuff.

DC United acquires Julian Gressel from Atlanta

Atlanta United trades for Julian Gressel
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How much is Major League Soccer’s best assist man worth?

About $750,000.

DC United paid Atlanta United that fee in allocation money for the rights to Julian Gressel, who had been at a contract impasse with the club who drafted him in 2017.

That fee could hit $1.1 million in incentives, and even so could be a bargain.

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Gressel was due to make around $133,000 this season and wanted an improved deal from Atlanta given his massive production since becoming the eighth overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.

That salary is less than hundreds of players, most of them nowhere near Gressel’s impact. Nineteen Atlanta United players made more than him last season, so it’s understandable that the 26-year-old wanted to get paid.

We don’t know what he was asking, or why Atlanta wouldn’t get there. From MLSSoccer.com:

“If we really wanted to, we could have had him play on $130,000 this season, extend him a bona fide offer at the end of the season and (we’d still own his MLS rights),” said Atlanta United vice president Carlos Bocanegra. “We’re also trying to do the right thing for a guy who has given so much to the club and is really just a good kid all around.”

It’s a weird one, given what the club’s been paying others.

Gressel arrived at Providence College from Eintracht Bamberg and immediately started delivering for the Big East side. He finished his four years with 30 goals and 26 assists and All-American status.

There was some adapting to MLS, but he’s gotten better with every season. He scored 10 goals with 13 assists in all competitions last season.

Spurs chairman reportedly met with Real Madrid about Gareth Bale

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As a neutral, the idea of Gareth Bale rejoining Tottenham Hotspur would be a delight to our Premier League matchday viewing.

Obviously this applies to Spurs fans to the nth degree, especially after a dull 0-0 with Watford at the weekend.

In the short-term, Bale would be a terrific stopgap as Spurs struggle to find themselves without Harry Kane in both the PL and Champions League.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

In the long-term, Bale and Heung-Min Son on the wings of Harry Kane would be enough to make any PL power trio blush (unless Liverpool really does add Timo Werner).

A report out of Spain says Real Madrid president Florentino Perez met with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy about several things including the availability of Bale.

The Welsh star has been long admired by Jose Mourinho, and of course knows Spurs well having become a superstar after arriving from Southampton.

Bale is 30 and his wages would easily top Spurs’ pay list. His 21 goals and nine assists in the 2012/13 Premier League season join his 19 and 11 in 2015 La Liga as his top league seasons.

Spurs host Norwich City on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

Guardiola praises Laporte, “the best left central defender in the world”

Pep Guardiola praises Aymeric Laporte
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Manchester City kept its first clean sheet of 2020 on Tuesday, posting a 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

It took the two-time reigning Premier League champions six tries to get there, the previous zero coming against this same Blades side at the Etihad Stadium.

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City manager Pep Guardiola was quick to give credit to a returning hero, as center back Aymeric Laporte returned to the fold for the first time since Aug. 31.

The club was 3W-1D at that point. They went 12W-2D-5L without him.

Here’s Guardiola, from the Manchester Evening News:

“It’s incredible,” Guardola said. “We have missed him a lot, he’s the best left central defender in the world. Imagine the best teams in the world lose their best central defender. We miss him a lot because he’s a specialist left foot where our buildup. He is fast, strong in the air.”

“He has something that we don’t have in the squad. His left foot and many actions to build up to make it quicker and better – we don’t have it, not because the other ones are not good but he has the only left foot as a central defender and for the way we want to play that is so important. His character and mentality and winning, he has all the attributes. For me, when he is fit he is the best left central defender in the world.”

If you read that as a little bit of an explanation for City being 13 points off Liverpool, you’ve similar eyes to us.

Pep is asking how Liverpool would look without Virgil Van Dijk, how Real Madrid appears when Sergio Ramos is out.

It’s not the be-all, end-all, but as I wrote when Laporte went down, this is the key piece to their defending efforts as well as where they begin possession.

We’re also grateful that Guardiola didn’t drop some sort of, “He’s like a January transfer addition,” statement (at least as far as we’ve read.

Chelsea admit they miss USMNT’s Pulisic

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LONDON — Since USMNT star Christian Pulisic was injured in training in the first week of January, Chelsea have lost against Newcastle, drawn with Arsenal and blown away Burnley.

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In the two games where they’ve dropped points they’ve missed Pulisic’s genius in the final third with both Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi easily shackled by Arsenal in their London derby. Chelsea admitted as much when speaking after the 2-2 draw against Arsenal on Tuesday, an Arsenal side who played with 10 men for over 60 minutes of the game.

Asked by Pro Soccer Talk about Pulisic’s adductor injury and if they missed him during the draw against Arsenal, downbeat Chelsea boss Frank Lampard noted that Pulisic, 21, was “playing really well” before his injury.

“Yeah, a game like today could have been a good where he would have been helpful for us because he was playing well for a patch. But other people have to stand up in those situations,” Lampard said.

When will Pulisic be back?

Lampard confirmed he is making good progress but will not be fit until after the mid-season player break in February, which means he will miss their FA Cup trip to Hull City this Saturday and their clash at Leicester City on Feb. 1. He may not be back until Feb. 17 when they host Manchester United in the Premier League, which means in total he will have been out for a period of six weeks.

“In terms of when he’s back, it is not going to be a week, it is probably be the other end of the early February break but he is getting better and he isn’t far away,” Lampard said.

Speaking to Pro Soccer Talk pitch-side at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who scored their late second goal which looked like being the winner, lavished praise on Pulisic when asked about his absence over the last week.

“Christian is a magnificent player. Since he joined us in the summer he has shown us his potential and we know that he can make the difference at any time. Whenever a player is injured it is not good for a team because we lose potential and I hope to have him back soon,” Azpilicueta said.

Chelsea’s skipper is expecting big things from Pulisic when he does return to fitness, as the fourth-place Blues now have just a six-point cushion to those outside of the top four and have played a game more.

It seems like everyone at Chelsea hopes the USMNT star can rejuvenate their attack in the final months of the season.

“After coming to Europe as a young boy to Germany, he came to Chelsea and it is one step forward, playing for Chelsea every game, fighting to win and fighting for trophies,” Azpilicueta said. “In my role I’ve tried to help in settle into the city and the club. He has a brilliant attitude. Always trying to improve. I am sure he will become bigger and bigger.”