Premier League Playback: Chelsea correct to be incensed by poor decisions

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CHELSEA ON WRONG END OF BAD DECISIONS

Jose Mourinho has moaned about officiating before. On many occasions. But this time, he really had a valid argument.

On Saturday Chelsea drew 1-1 against Burnley as their lead at the top of the Premier League table was cut to just five points. Mourinho’s boys were cruising against the Clarets but then a moment of real controversy, preceded by several failed penalty appeals and other dubious decisions, changed the game.

[ RELATED: Mourinho agitated, as decisions go against Blues ]

In the 69th minute of Burnley’s dramatic draw, Ashley Barnes lunged into an atrocious leg-breaker of a tackle on Nemanja Matic and as the Serbian got up he launched himself at Barnes and pushed the forward to the ground. Referee Martin Atkinson then sent off Matic with Chelsea 1-0 up and they couldn’t hold onto their lead after going down a man. Barnes has since been cleared of any retrospective action by the FA, while Chelsea ponder an appeal over Matic’s ban as he will miss the League Cup final on Sunday and two other PL games.

Is Mourinho right to be incensed? Absolutely. Here’s the transcript from his post-match presser which was conducted moment after the final whistle:

 “I think there are four moments of the game where you can write the story of the game,” Mourinho said. “Minute 30. Minute 33. Minute 43. Minute 69. I repeat for you, to make it easy for you. Minute 30. Minute 33. Minute 43. Minute 69.

“Asked to describe the incidents which occurred in those moments, Mourinho said: “I don’t describe. To describe I have to use words that I cannot use. It is better we finish here.”

Two extremely strong PK calls and a clear kick from Barnes into Branislav Ivanovic’s back was missed by Atkinson and his officiating crew in the first half, as the Blues were hard done by and had a routine win snatched away from them. Yes, Matic shouldn’t have pushed Barnes but the tackle was truly horrendous. PST’s Andy Edwards asked: what would you do in Matic’s situation? It would be extremely hard to not react. Mourinho then made an impromptu appearance on Sky Sports show Goals on Sunday and piled on the pressure by saying Ashley Barnes’ action were “criminal” and he lambasted Atkinson’s decisions.

Usually, talking about referees performances gets a bit old. Especially when it comes to Mourinho. But the Portuguese boss has a point. The decisions which went against his side on Saturday were horrendous and everyone sat at home and watching the game at Stamford Bridge knew it. It wasn’t the only shocking decision this weekend, as Southampton had at least two clear penalties waved away by referee Kevin Friend at St. Mary’s Stadium on Sunday.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays

Speaking to Ronald Koeman after his side lost 2-0 to Liverpool, the Saints boss believes that more needs to be done to help the referee and he, like Mourinho, is a big fan of using technology.

“Humans can make mistakes, ” Koeman said. “In every country there are critics about the referee. I don’t do that. The fourth official can do a lot more than he can do. He is watching. He can help the referee with decisions and the technology is a big help for referees in a difficult situations.”

Mourinho has now spoken his mind after his initial encrypted message which seemed as though he was spouting off his lottery numbers. In minutes 30, 33, 43 and 69 of their match against Burnley, Chelsea have every right to feel aggrieved. With Manchester City breathing down their necks, will three points turning into one make a big difference at the end of the season? For Atkinson’s sake, I hope not.

Premier League Schedule – Week 26

Result Recap & Highlights
Aston Villa 1-2 Stoke Recap and watch here
Chelsea 1-1 Burnley Recap and watch here
Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal Recap and watch here
Everton 2-2 Leicester City Recap and watch here
Hull City 2-1 QPR Recap and watch here
Man City 5-0 Newcastle Recap and watch here
Southampton 0-2 Liverpool Recap and watch here
Sunderland 0-0 West Brom Recap and watch here
Swansea 2-1 Man United Recap and watch here
Tottenham 2-2 West Ham Recap and watch here

Officiating needs to be improved and I agree with Mourinho and Koeman, technology needs to be used wherever possible to help improve the standard of calls and make sure there is a level playing field.

At the moment the calls are ridiculously inconsistent and those decisions are the major talking points of games when we should be concentrating on the play of 22 professional players. Not four professional referees.

LIVERPOOL CONTINUE SURGE AMID ANIMOSITY

Liverpool launched themselves back into the top four race on Sunday with a vital away win at Southampton. In the driving rain on the south coast Philippe Coutinho produced a moment of magic early on and Raheem Sterling struck in the second half to kill off the Saints. That doesn’t tell the whole story at St. Mary’s. Far from it.

[ RELATED: Latest PL standings

Southampton could have had a penalty kick after 17 seconds when Emre Can appeared to haul back Filip Djuricic as he went clean through on goal. Referee Kevin Friend waved away the calls and did so again when Joe Allen clearly pulled back Djuricic moments later. Simon Mignolet also looked to have handled outside the box when blocking Eljero Elia’s shot and Dejan Lovren handled in the box before Jose Fonte looked to have brought down Sterling at the other end, but he did get a smidgen of the ball as he slid in. Chants of “1-0 to the referee” greeted Friend as he and the officials walked off the pitch to a cacophony of boos at half time as the home fans were incensed with his decisions.

Liverpool put in a solid display, despite only recording four shots on goal and having 40 percent of the ball, but were they a tad bit lucky against Saints? Our analysts break that down in the video below.

[ RELATED: Three things we learned from St. Mary’s ]

All in all, it was a turbulent afternoon down on the south coast, as the animosity towards the referee was equaled by how the home fans felt towards three of Liverpool’s players. Well, two. Lovren and Adam Lallana bore the brunt of the hatred, while Rickie Lambert was given a standing ovation as all three returned to St. Mary’s for the first-time since leaving for Liverpool last summer.

Lallana, who spoke to me for NBC SportsWorld last November about this very game, had an off-day as he was substituted in the second half with the entire stadium booing the former Saints skipper who had come through the ranks of their academy after joining the club as a 12-year-old. Lallana, according to rumors which he vehemently denies, refused to play for Saints last summer to push through a move to Liverpool. The locals did not forget.

[ RELATED: Lallana pens first-person piece for SportsWorld ]

He was cast as the villain, while the man he spear-headed Saints’ remarkable ascent from the third-tier to the top six of the PL with, Lambert, was lauded as fans sung his name all afternoon. It was bizarre and in his post-match press conference Rodgers was not happy with the way Lallana and Lambert were treated by Southampton’s fans… and the editor of the matchday programme.

“I was a wee bit disappointed for Adam Lallana, I’ve got to say. Adam was the captain here for two years and has given an incredible service to Southampton and I know for a fact that he could have left here a number of times and didn’t. To get the reception that he got was disappointing,” Rodgers said. “I looked in the match programme and there was nothing relevant to his time here and all the time he has been here since he was a boy. The likes of Rickie Lambert, an incredible servant here and got the club to where it is today.

“There was no mention of him. Which I thought was sad. Those two guys gave their heart and souls to Southampton and are big supporters of this club. They have moved to one of the biggest clubs in the world, so it’s hard to deny a player that. I thought they would have been given more here today. At other clubs they will always have something in there of appreciation for their former players, but there was absolutely nothing in there on these two guys. For me that’s a bit sad. I was thinking of them today when I was looking at the programme before the game. Everything they have given this club to get them to where they are today and there wasn’t a mention of them.”

Of course Rodgers is going to back his players, but did he really need to pick out something so obscure to make his appoint? He also thought the referee was “excellent”…

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Regardless of that strange Mourinho-esque episode, Coutinho’s moment of brilliance capped off a professional display as Liverpool bent but did not break against a goal-shy Southampton side who have now scored just once in their last four outings and were hamstrung by Sadio Mane being punished for turning up late for the pre-match meal. 10 games unbeaten in the PL and with just one defeat in their last 18 in all competitions, Liverpool are on a roll. The 3-4-3 formation is helping them grind out results, as they are now within three points of the top four and are two points behind arch-rivals Manchester United despite trailing them by 10 points on Dec. 26.

BACK PAGES: WHAT ARE THE TABLOIDS SAYING?

source:
Mourinho blasts referee, Liverpool on the rise.

We’ve spoken about Mourinho and Liverpool, and they were the talk of the back pages across England on Monday.

Click on this link to see what the tabloids thought of Week 26 in the Premier League, as the storylines at the top and bottom of the table continue to contrive towards a conclusion in a hugely captivating fashion.

MAN CITY HITTING TOP GEAR

Manchester City have scored nine goals in their last two PL games and Sergio Aguero is back in business.

City hammered Newcastle 5-0, with the Argentine scoring one and creating havoc with his darting runs, on Saturday and were buoyed by the news that Chelsea let two points slip at home to relegation candidates Burnley. Can Man City claw back a five-point deficit in the final 12 games of the season? It’s doable.

[ RELATED: An in-depth look at NYCFC’s time at Man City ]

Aguero and Vincent Kompany look to have fully shaken off the rust from their long-term injuries, while Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony returning from the Africa Cup of Nations will rejuvenate the Citizens ahead of their huge UEFA Champions League last 16 clash against Barcelona on Tuesday.

Bigger challenges than a hapless Newcastle at home lie ahead for City, with a trip to Anfield to play in-form Liverpool next up in a real test of their title credentials. But if they carry on scoring boat loads of goals, City won’t be far off top spot when May 24 comes around.

Premier League Playback comes out every Monday as PST’s Editor and Lead Writer takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here.

Europa League: Wolves knocked out by late Sevilla winner

Europa League Wolves
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Europa League: Wolves’ magical run through the Europa League came to an end on Tuesday, as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side was knocked out in the quarterfinals by UEL specialists Sevilla.

[ MORE: Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-1 Sevilla

Sevilla were quite comfortably the better side on the night, the side with the vast majority of the scoring chances, and thoroughly deserving semifinalists. Julen Lopetegui’s side will face Manchester United in the semis on Sunday.

It didn’t come easily for Sevilla, though. The game remained level at 0-0 for 87 minutes, until Lucas Ocampos rose above the crowd to head home his 16th goal of the season in the 88th minute.

Wolves had the game’s first — and virtually their only — chance to go ahead inside the first quarter-hour, but Raul Jimenez was denied from the penalty spot in the 12th minute. The real story here, however, is the ease with which Adama Traore left the pack behind and dribbled the ball 81 yards before Diego Carlos cut him down from behind.

Jimenez’s blunder from the spot was one of just two shots on target — both by Jimenez — that Wolves could muster in the game.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available ]

Sevilla began to ramp up the pressure after halftime and went dangerously close to breaking the deadlock just after the hour mark, as Youssef En-Nesyri weaved his way through traffic inside the penalty area before firing a low strike on goal. Fortunately for Wolves, Rui Patricio was all over and denied En-Nesyri his wondergoal.

Ever Banega forced Patricio to make a vital save of his curling free kick in the 77th minute, but again the Portuguese was up to the challenge. He scrambled across goal and rose high to get a hand on the ball and push it over the crossbar.

Shakhtar Donetsk thrashed Basel 4-1 in Tuesday’s other quarterfinal. They will face Inter Milan in the second semifinal next Monday.

Other Europa League scores

Shakhtar Donetsk 4-1 Basel
Man United 1-0 Copenhagen (Monday)
Inter Milan 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Monday)

Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David

Lille sign Jonathan David
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Lille sign Jonathan David: Lille announced on Tuesday their signing of Canadian star Jonathan David from Belgian side Gent for a reported transfer fee of $35 million.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available ]

The fee paid is a record not only for a Canadian player, but also makes David Lille’s club-record signing and the most expensive player ever sold by a Belgian club.

David had been linked with a move to dozens of clubs across Europe, including a handful of Premier League sides, in recent weeks but it would appear that Lille’s recent success with young players starring in the first team, before selling them to those bigger European sides for massive profits, was an important factor in David’s decision to move to Ligue 1.

[ MORE: Spurs sign Hojbjerg from Southampton; Walker-Peters to Saints ]

The 20-year-old operates predominantly as a center forward but has, on rare occasions, played as a second striker underneath the main man. David racked up 48 goals and 20 assists in his two seasons at Gent, including a number of standout performances in the Europa League.

Wolves – Sevilla: How to watch, start time, prediction

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Wolves – Sevilla should be an epic UEFA Europa League quarterfinal on Tuesday (start time, 3pm ET) in Duisburg, Germany as both teams will fancy their chances of winning the trophy if they advance.

Remember: these ties are one-legged encounters so the winner on the night will advance to the semifinal.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

Nuno Espirito Santo and Wolves have come through the qualifying rounds to get this far as the Premier League side have been in the 2019-20 Europa League for over a year, while Sevilla are the unofficial top dogs in the competition having won it more times than any team in history.

The La Liga side finished fourth this season in Spain under Julen Lopetegui, while Wolves finished seventh in the Premier League and know the only way they will be playing in Europe next season is if they win this competition and there qualify for the Champions League.

Ahead of a huge night for Wolves, below is a look at how to watch Wolves – Sevilla in the USA, the betting odds, prediction and much more.


Team news

What they’re saying

Nuno Espirito Santo praised Sevilla and knows his team have a big challenge ahead, while he backed his team to take the next step on their three-year journey together:

“It’s been a long journey, not only this season. A long journey that started three seasons ago in the Championship. It’s basically the same group of players. It was about trying to build a team, creating an identity, and we look forward to tomorrow to compete well and play a good game. We’ve been able to create an identity. It’s one of the most precious things in football – having an identity, based on a style of play and how we deal and socialize with our rules and tasks, how we deal with problems that happen. Trying to create a team, recruiting players, some take time, some not, but this is what it’s all about. We have to manage the result and I’m very proud of how we’ve done things and now I can say we have our own identity. It’s based on strong foundations of respect and hard work, and this is what we want to show tomorrow – a good team, with an identity, committed to the challenge.”

Sevilla star Lucas Ocamps on the threat Wolves possess: “Anyone who watches a little football has already seen them play. I feel like they are very competitive and physical. They have great players and they come here hungry for glory to beat us. I think it will be evenly matched because we’ll have the same desire and it’s going to be tough.”


Odds for Wolves – Sevilla – Full Europa League, Champions League odds

Wolves are the underdogs (pardon the pun) as they are +235 to beat Sevilla who are +120, but the tie at +230 is interesting. We can see this going to extra time and maybe even penalty kicks.


Prediction for Wolves – Sevilla

Wolves love upsetting the odds and Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore will be looking to exploit Sevilla on the counter, but Sevilla are a savvy team and are third favorites to win the Europa League yet again. Wolves are dangerous but I’m going for a Sevilla win after extra time. 2-1.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com

Spurs sign Hojbjerg from Southampton; Walker-Peters to Saints

Spurs sign Hojbjerg
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Spurs sign Hojbjerg: Tottenham Hotspur announced on Tuesday their capture of midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Southampton, who will reportedly receive a small cash fee plus right back Kyle Walker-Peters in return.

[ MORE: Premier League transfers: Every deal from all 20 clubs ]

Hojbjerg, 25, had been heavily linked with a transfer to Tottenham in recent weeks as Jose Mourinho rebuilds after finishing sixth in his first (partial) season at the club. He joins Spurs after four seasons at Southampton, where he proved himself to be a reliable ball-winner — something Spurs have desperately needed for quite some time.

The fit of Hojbjerg sitting deep in midfield should offer the likes of Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele — provided the latter remains at the club through the summer transfer window — all the defensive cover required to better affect games in the opposition half of the field. Too many times in 2019-20, Spurs lacked a player like Hojbjerg to break up play and make the simple pass to a pair of star midfielders and let them be on their merry way.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available ]

Walker-Peters spent the second half of the 2019-20 season on loan to Saints from Spurs, and clearly he impressed Ralph Hasenhuttl and convinced everyone at St. Mary’s Stadium he is a Premier League-caliber starting right back. He made a dozen PL appearances for Spurs over the last three years, but never managed to break all the way into the first team as Mauricio Pochettino’s side rose higher and higher into PL and European ranks.