Premier League Playback: Title in the bag, can Chelsea now create a dynasty?

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CAN CHELSEA CREATE A DYNASTY?

You can bet your bottom dollar that no sooner than the blue and white confetti had finished falling onto the pitch at Stamford Bridge on Sunday that Jose Mourinho was already making plans to repeat this success next season.

[ RELATED: Seven moments that defined Chelsea’s title win ]

Chelsea clinched the Premier League title by beating Crystal Palace and will be handed the trophy on May 24 following their final home game. It is their first PL title since 2010 and it was Mourinho’s third title in five seasons in charge of the English club. However his mind will now be focused on creating a club capable of replicating success year after year at home and abroad. A dynasty, if you will.

[ RELATED: Chelsea claim title in record breaking style ]

Since Manchester United won three-straight PL crowns in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09, no club has successfully defended its PL crown as Chelsea, Manchester City and United have all prospered but then failed to build on their single-season dominance. No dynasty has been created in the PL. Now, Chelsea and Mourinho has a chance to build one but unlike his first spell with the Blues when he delivered two back-to-back titles, the makeup and challenges the PL now possesses make it a vastly different landscape and Mourinho knows it. He has been lambasted by many this season for a cautious approach down the stretch and chants of “boring, boring Chelsea” from opposition fans are filled with both jealousy that their own team can’t grind out wins ruthlessly and a hint of truth about Chelsea’s cautiousness.

[ RELATED: How did Chelsea’s players grade? | Defending Chelsea ]

However, there’s no denying that the Blues were the best team in the league this season from start to finish. At the end of the season they will have lead the PL for a record number of days during the season, 274. Here’s a few factors which will determine if Mourinho can build on the domestic success of 2014-15:

  • Fending off rivals – This is a challenge Mourinho will relish. Manchester City will buy big over the summer as Financial Fair Play sanctions will have been lifted. Manchester United have the ability to sign the  est players in the world under Louis van Gaal and then there’s Arsenal. The Gunners are a few players away from being serious title contenders and all three teams will do plenty over the summer to try and claw their way back to the top of the table and usurp Chelsea. When Chelsea won back-to-back titles under Mourinho from 2004-06, United were their only serious rivals but the Blues will likely have three more next season.
  • Financial Fair Play – One of the biggest disadvantages Chelsea has is that the money it can spend on players is restricted compared to its rivals. The capacity of Stamford Bridge, among other things, impacts their spending and even though their one in, one out transfer policy in recent seasons has been managed wonderfully (remember, Juan Mata, David Luiz and Romelu Lukaku have been replaced with Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa plus a hefty profit) but soon Mourinho will run out of bargaining chips to cash in. Despite Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s incredible wealth, he cannot match the billions Sheikh Mansour is pouring into Man City and the financial juggernauts of Manchester United and now Arsenal after their debt has been whipped away. Superior spending power doesn’t always mean success but it certainly helps close the gap and will hinder Chelsea’s hopes to win championships consistently.
  • Emerging youth – John Terry, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech were dancing around at the Bridge on Sunday, celebrating their fourth PL title as Chelsea players. The latter two have played supporting roles this season but Terry has been superb. The 34-year-old captain has been the best defender in the PL and has signed a new deal for next season but Kurt Zouma is waiting in the wings. Despite the presence and importance of veterans on this title winning squad, youngsters are coming. Chelsea has won the FA Youth Cup in the past two seasons as well as UEFA’s U-19 title. Expect to see talents like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Patrick Bamford, Dominic Solanke, Nathan Ake, Lewis Baker and others in action next season. It may be a few years before any of those names become commonplace in Mourinho’s starting lineup but that’s because he still has Eden Hazard (24), Cesc Fabregas (28) and Diego Costa (26) with plenty of years ahead of them. Those three each sprinkle the stardust to offset Chelsea’s robust defense and they are all either entering their prime or have it to come. Good news for Chelsea fans.
  • Mourinho’s longevity – Due to his brash and explosive nature, Mourinho doesn’t stick around too often wherever he manages. He stayed at Porto for two years, Chelsea for three, two at Inter and three at Real Madrid before heading “home” to Chelsea. Over the past two seasons we have seen a more mellow Mourinho, with odd flashes of the exuberant egotist which makes him such a polarizing figure. Mourinho has spoken of his desire to remain at Chelsea for as long as owner Roman Abramovich wants him. If Mourinho remains at Chelsea for the next 10 years, it will have meant he has delivered English soccer’s next great dynasty. The only other challenge left for him is to manage his home country, Portugal. But at the age of 52, he has plenty of years left in him in club management before that arrives.
  • European glory – Now that Mourinho has proved he can rebuild a side and lead it to PL glory, he most now switch his attention to the one trophy he covets most but has not won as Chelsea boss: the UEFA Champions League. He has won it for both FC Porto and Inter Milan but has fallen at the semifinal hurdle on three occasions as Chelsea boss. The Blues won the UCL trophy in Mourinho’s absence after their fairytale run to the title under interim boss Roberto Di Matteo in 2012. Their Portuguese boss will now set his sights on matching that achievement.

So, we had the great Liverpool side of the 1980s, the superb Manchester United squad of the 1990s and then a lot of back and forth over the past 15 years as United threatened to create another dynasty but never quite sustained it as Chelsea and Man City muscled in. Now, can Chelsea finally deliver a dominant side which will be the champions of England for an elongated period?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

It is a tough challenge but if anyone can deliver trophies, find a way to win that best suits the strength of the players at his disposal and deliver sustained success, it’s Mourinho.

NEWCASTLE’S “SITUATION”

Premier League Schedule – Week 35

Result Recap & Highlights
Aston Villa 3-2 Everton Recap and watch here
Chelsea 1-0 Crystal Palace Recap and watch here
Hull City 1-3 Arsenal Recap and watch here
Leicester 3-0 Newcastle Recap and watch here
Liverpool 2-1 QPR Recap and watch here
Man United 0-1 West Brom Recap and watch here
Sunderland 2-1 Saints Recap and watch here
Swansea 2-0 Stoke Recap and watch here
Tottenham 0-1 Man City Recap and watch here
West Ham 1-0 Burnley Recap and watch here

Deary me. What is going on up at St James’ Park? Every season at least one club in the Premier League turns into a soap opera and the 2014-15 campaign has seen Newcastle United become the main attraction. In previous seasons the anger of locals towards owner Mike Ashley and former manager Alan Pardew made the headlines. Now it is caretaker boss John Carver who is the main protagonist.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Carver “lost the plot” following Newcastle’s 3-0 defeat at Leicester City on Saturday, as he insinuated that central defender Mike Williamson got himself sent off on purpose and questioned the commitment of the players at his disposal. That prompted a statement to be released by the club on Monday claiming that “frank dialogue” with Carver, the club and senior players has been had over the past few days.

The long-time assistant coach and local lad has been thrust into the spotlight as Newcastle’s season goes from bad to worse. Since Carver took charge in January the Magpies have picked up just nine points from a possible 48 and the players seemed to have downed tools as uncertainty around the direction the club is heading in goes on.

The buck stops at the owner and Ashley’s insistence to almost write this season off when Pardew walked out of the door to join Crystal Palace in January says it all. The players are coasting and they will probably just stay up despite a collapse unlike any seen in PL history. Empty seats and protests from fans are warning signs that this lack of investment in players from Ashley can’t go on but will he ever change? Unless he sells the club, Newcastle’s fans will be unhappy for a very long time.

In the video below our analysts break down Newcastle’s demise and wonder if they might be the club who slips into the bottom three after eight-straight defeats heading into the final match of the season. They also touch on the sticky situation Newcastle’s north east rivals, Sunderland, find themselves in.

RACE FOR FOURTH

Well, the top four race is back on. With Manchester United losing to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, suffering three-straight defeats in the Premier League for the first time since 2001 in the process, Louis van Gaal’s men have reignited hopes of finishing in the top four for Liverpool.

[ RELATED: Latest PL standings ]

Brendan Rodgers’ side are four points behind United with three games to go but seem to have a more favorable schedule than the Red Devils. Here are the remaining games for both sides:

Man United

  • Crystal Palace (Away)
  • Arsenal (Home)
  • Hull City (Away)

Liverpool

  • Chelsea (Away)
  • Crystal Palace (Home)
  • Stoke City (Away)

If United lose to Arsenal on May 17 and succumb to the cauldron of Selhurst Park this weekend, this race for fourth place could go down to the final game of the season. Liverpool will likely need to pick something up at Stamford Bridge against the champions but if they can do that and United slip up then they could sneak into the the Champions League via the backdoor at the expense of their bitter rivals.

Below are the highlights from Week 35 in the PL, just in case you missed anything.

WAVE GOODBYE TO QPR, BURNLEY

Mathematically, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers are both still Premier League clubs but in reality their days in the top-flight are over.

Burnley is eight points off safety with three games to go, QPR seven. There’s no saving themselves now. A miraculous escape would result in them winning all three of their final matches and the likes of Sunderland, Leicester City, Hull City, Newcastle and Aston Villa not picking up any more points. Stranger things have happened, but a quick return straight back to the Championship awaits. Burnley have been frugal and their downfall has been a lack of goals as Sean Dyche’s side have battled beyond their means and the PL is set to lose its smallest town. As for QPR, well, severe mismanagement from both former boss Harry Redknapp and at the director level has seen them spend extortionate amounts of money on players who have under performed. Interim boss Chris Ramsey is a good manager and has added belief in recent weeks that the R’s could get out of danger but they will come up short. The bigger issue is Financial Fair Play and whether or not they will be allowed to compete in the Football League next season due to the rash over-spending of owner and chairman Tony Fernandes. That story will rumble on this summer.

As for the rest, it seems like one from five will join QPR and Burnley in being relegated. Wins for Sunderland, Leicester City and Aston Villa at the weekend were much-needed, while West Brom’s shock victory away at Man United all but secured their survival. With Newcastle’s season spiraling out of control and Sunderland’s final two games of the season away at Arsenal and Chelsea, the two north east clubs look the most vulnerable to go down as Villa and Leicester has hit form at the perfect time of the season.

Here’s how things stand with three games to go as the race against relegation will take center stage in the final weeks of the PL season.

source:

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

Transfer news: Liverpool line up double swoop, Morales in demand

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The latest transfer news continues across the Premier League and here’s a look at some of the juiciest rumors.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Liverpool have been linked with a double swoop on Borussia Monchenglabach.

German outlet Express claim that Jurgen Klopp is keen on signing Denis Zakaria and Marcus Thuram from ‘Gladbach this summer as the deal could be close to $110 million for both players. Thurman, 22 and Zakaria, 23, have been mainstays as Monchenglabach have hung in the top four race in the Bundesliga and they are both coveted by many of Europe’s top teams as rising stars.

Zakaria is a Swiss international who is a holding midfielder, while Thurman (son of France and Barcelona legend Lillian) is a center forward who has scored 10 goals in all competitions.

Manchester United and Arsenal are said to be interested in signing Zakaria who is a tall, powerful holding midfielder. Central midfield is an area where Liverpool need to strengthen as James Milner is nearing the end of his career, while Fabinho’s 2019-20 has been impacted by injuries and a loss of form and Naby Keita’s Liverpool career continues to falter.

As for Thuram (his agent is Mino Raiola) he would be seen as a back up striker who could step in for Roberto Firmino. Any player arriving at Liverpool will know it will be difficult to dislodge the front three of Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah but a young forward like Thuram will be eager to play his part and wait for his chance. With Rhian Brewster, 20, out on loan at Swansea City and still developing, Liverpool only currently have Divock Origi as a back up striker.

Klopp loves recruiting players from his homeland in Germany and sporting director Michael Edwards is also keen on trying to sign Timo Werner and Jadon Sancho in the coming months. Zakaria and Thurman would perhaps be easier targets to sign given the fact they’d be fine with initially being squad players and working their way into this Liverpool side.


Colombian striker Alfredo Morales is reportedly set to leave Glasgow Rangers as Steven Gerrard is lining up a replacement for him, as Liverpool’s young striker Rhian Brewster could be a loan option.

According to talkSPORT, Leicester, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa are all interested in a move for Morales, while Sevilla, Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan are all said to be keen on signing the hot-headed forward. Morelos has been sent off five times this season alone, but he has scored 29 goals in all competitions for Rangers who are reportedly resigned to losing him when the transfer window reopens.

Morelos, 23, has been a huge hit in Scotland and was a big part of Rangers’ run to the last 16 of the Europa League before the season was halted. El Bufalo is a physical player with an eye for goal and his close dribbling and pace suggests he would be a hit for a midtable Premier League club.

Leicester seems like a good landing spot for Morales, especially as the Foxes look likely to be able to offer Champions League action next season. Jamie Vardy, 33, continues to defy father time with his incredible 2019-20 campaign so far but even though Ayoze Perez, Harvey Barnes, Kelechi Iheanacho and James Maddison have chipped in with goals, Leicester badly miss Vardy when he’s out. Morelos could also partner Vardy, as Brendan Rodgers has shown plenty of flexibility with his formation.

Liverpool reverse furlough decision

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Liverpool have announced they will no longer seek financial help from the UK government to pay non-playing staff during the coronavirus pandemic with the furlough scheme.

Over the weekend Liverpool announced they would take advantage of the furlough scheme from the UK government, which will pay 80 percent of wages of any staff impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Liverpool had announced that staff not needed over the next few weeks would be paid 80 percent of their wages by the UK government and they would make up the remaining 20 percent as part of the furlough scheme.

That decision by their billionaire American owners the Fenway Sports Group (FSG) enraged Liverpool’s fanbase.

Peter Moore, the chief executive officer of the runaway Premier League leaders, announced on Monday that the decision would be reversed after talks which included supporters groups, the Mayor of Liverpool and FSG.

“We believe we came to the wrong conclusion last week to announce that we intended to apply to the Coronavirus Retention Scheme and furlough staff due to the suspension of the Premier League football calendar, and are truly sorry for that,” Moore said. “Our intentions were, and still are, to ensure the entire workforce is given as much protection as possible from redundancy and/or loss of earnings during this unprecedented period. We are therefore committed to finding alternative ways to operate while there are no football matches being played that ensures we are not applying for the government relief scheme.”

Moore added that Liverpool will be financially impacted by this crisis and they are trying to find ways to offset the loss of revenue due to the season being suspended.

“But in the spirit of transparency we must also be clear, despite the fact we were in a healthy position prior to this crisis, our revenues have been shut off yet our outgoings remain. And like almost every sector of society, there is great uncertainty and concern over our present and future. Like any responsible employer concerned for its workers in the current situation, the club continues to prepare for a range of different scenarios, around when football can return to operating as it did before the pandemic. These scenarios range from best case to worst and everything in between,” Moore continued.

“It is an unavoidable truth that several of these scenarios involve a massive downturn in revenue, with correspondingly unprecedented operating losses. Having these vital financial resources so profoundly impacted would obviously negatively affect our ability to operate as we previously have. We are engaged in the process of exploring all avenues within our scope to limit the inevitable damage. We thank the many amazing people in our club, at all levels, who are committed to helping us do just that, despite the complexity and unpredictability in the world and our industry.”

The backlash against Liverpool’s decision follows plenty of criticism for Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur who did the same, as many leading voices believe that the billionaire owners of Premier League clubs should be paying their staff during this unprecedented pandemic instead of getting help from the government.

Many Liverpool’s fans and former players slammed the initial decision so it is good to those concerns have been addressed, as the Reds recorded a pre-tax profit of $51 million last year alone and $153 million profit the year before that.

VOTE: Premier League March Madness playoff final

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Our Premier League March Madness tournament began on Monday and we had some early drama in the relegation playoff semifinals.

The opening two games of our bracket produced two surprise winners, as #20 Norwich City edged out #17 Watford after winning 50.48 percent of the vote, while #19 Aston Villa comfortably beat #18 Bournemouth with 62.14 percent of votes.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub

That means Norwich will now face Aston Villa in the final, and Villa won both of their meetings in the Premier League this season. The first with a 5-1 win at Carrow Road, the second with a undeserved home win at Villa Park.

What do the winners get? If you win the relegation playoff final you are exempt from relegation and finish as the 2020 tournament as #17 seed, while the runner up will be relegated along with the two semifinal losers.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final
Tuesday: Sweet 16
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

Plus, our own Nick Mendola handicapped the field and here is who he thinks will be the favorites to win it all and which teams you should look out for as dark horses over the next few days. His predictions are wild and Arsenal fans will want to prove he is correct and they pick up a first piece of silverware under Mikel Arteta.

Okay, vote below (until 3 p.m. ET) for the two relegation playoff finalists as our Premier League March Madness tournament continues!

Report: Premier League prepares for June return

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The Premier League is reportedly preparing to return to action in June as the current season remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Multiple reports across the UK, including this one from the Daily Mirror, claim that the government has given the Premier League the green light to return to action from June, provided the situation has improved as expected by then.

Per the report, Premier League clubs have been told that they should prepare for games to be played from June 1 onwards behind closed doors and there is a ‘tentative agreement for the top flight to resume behind closed doors after the 20 clubs mapped out a plan with senior officials on a resumption of matches.’

The report adds that ‘in principle, with government health officials hopeful of a coronavirus peak in the UK in the next few weeks, they will sanction games under strict guidelines.’ 

Plans are in place for players to be isolated together and away from the public, as they could begin training in May so they can prepare for the current campaign resuming.

With the situation in the UK deteriorating over the last week and the country on lockdown, these tentative plans can of course change quickly.

Premier League players have had differing views on what should happen to the 2019-20 season and Luke Shaw is the latest to say games should not be played behind closed doors. But if teams play two games per week in empty stadiums or training grounds from June 1, there is the real possibility the season could be finished by the start of July and then FA Cup and Europe competitions could follow.

The overwhelming feeling from Premier League clubs, the league itself and many other individuals is that the 2019-20 season should be finished whenever it is safe to do so. Recent PL club meetings came to that agreement and that is the official stance.

However, the next big question is whether or not fans will be able to attend games for the rest of the season and this report seems to suggest that is totally off the table and if the current campaign is concluded, fans will not be present.