2014-15 Premier League season review: Top ten midfielders

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All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2014-15 Premier League season. From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the 380 games as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League season review ]

For the full archive of our review content, just hit the link above. Now, let’s take a look at the ten men who excelled in the midfield.

Ah, the midfielders. No one dictates the pace and direction of a game quite like the men (often times) in the middle third of the field. Oh, and all those goals that fantastic goals that you love watching over and over again, there’s almost always a midfielder involved in the build-up, making beauty possible.

The 10 best midfielders from the 2014-15 Premier League season…

10. Yannick Bolasie, Crystal Palace

Bolasie was a bit of a second-half revelation. Call it the “Pardew effect,” if you will, but the DR Congo winger provided a real spark for the Eagles once Alan Pardew took over as manager. 4 goals and 6 assists doesn’t sound like an incredible season, until you realize that nearly all of them came between January and May.

[ MORE: Top 10 goalkeepers | Defenders | Forwards ]

source:  9. Jack Colback, Newcastle United

In a season where many of the Newcastle players looked completely disinterested in fighting for the club, Colback, a Sunderland youth academy product, was perhaps the most (only?) consistent Magpies performer in 2014-15. His 4 goals and 6 assists don’t even begin to tell the story of Colback, whose 91 tackles won rank 4th in the Premier League and 65 interceptions come in as 5th-most.

8. James McArthur, Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace’s midfield workhorse (88 tackles, 7th-most in the PL, and 66 interceptions, 4th-most) and foundation of possession (79 percent completion percentage, with nearly one key pass per game). Poached from Wigan for barley $10 million last summer, McArthur is one of the Premier League’s best pieces of business.

7. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Swansea City

Sigurdsson amassed 7 goals in 10 assists in his first season as a full-time Swan, which are tied-8th and 2nd, respectively, in the Premier League. That’s a 37-percent goal contribution rate, which also ranks in the top-10 of the league, easily.

[ MORE: Top 10 newcomers to the Premier League | The best (and worst) transfers ]

source: Getty Images6. Jordan Henderson, Liverpool

What an up-and-down season it was for Henderson. The 24-year-old struggled mightily as the campaign began, and by the time it ended he had been chosen the heir apparent to Steven Gerrard and given a brand new $150,000-per-week contract to stay at Liverpool until 2020. 6 goals and 9 assists from what is generally a deeper-lying midfield player is nothing to scoff at.

5. Nemanja Matic, Chelsea

With the embarrassing wealth of attacking talent ahead of him in the midfield (we’ll get to that in a moment), Matic was the midfield beast that allowed every one of Chelsea’s creative-minded midfielders to do their thing. Unsurprisingly, Matic ranks 1st in tackles won (122) and clearances (118); 2nd in interceptions (72); and 6th in passes blocked (44).

[ MORE: Premier League grades: How did each team fare this year? ]

source: Getty Images4. Santi Cazorla, Arsenal

The 2013-14 season wasn’t particularly kind to Cazorla, who for stretches looked like his best years might be behind him. Then came the 2014-15 season. 7 goals and 11 assists for the diminutive Spaniard were sorely needed when Aaron Ramsey’s production regressed from last season’s stellar performances. At times Cazorla played in a deep midfield two with Ramsey or Francis Coquelin; at times he played underneath the center forward; at times he was shuttled out onto the wing, where he still had a great impact.

3. David Silva, Manchester City

Much like Cazorla, folks seemed to have given up on Silva following a pedestrian 2013-14 season (by his standards). In 2014-15, Silva willed Man City to results at times, leading the Citizens to a second-place finish, frequently papering over the completely disinterested showings of Yaya Toure. 12 goals and 7 assists for Silva this year, and with slightly better finishing from City’s center forwards, it could have easily been 12 and 12, or 12 and 15.

2. Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea

Chelsea had all but won the league by the time March rolled around. Fabregas’s early-season performances, in which he contributed nearly all of his league-leading 18 assists, were a huge reason why the Blues held such a commanding lead and won the title so comfortably. It’s still a bit weird seeing Fabregas in Chelsea blue, but seeing the brilliant Spaniard win Premier League titles is a sight we could all get used to seeing.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback: Looking back at a memorable 2014-15 season ]

source: Getty Images1. Eden Hazard, Chelsea

By most (all?) organizations, the Premier League Player of the Year. By most metrics, it wasn’t even close. 14 goals and 9 assists this season launched Hazard’s name into the “who’s the third-best player in the world” conversation. The additions of Fabregas and Diego Costa could have cut into Hazard’s production and numbers, but the Belgian simply welcomed his new help in the attacking third and made not only himself, but everyone around him, a better player.

Inter-Ludogorets to be played in empty stadium due to coronavirus

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan announced on Monday that its Europa League match against Ludogorets will be played behind closed doors as authorities try to contain a spreading virus that has made northern Italy the focal point of the outbreak in Europe.

The Italian government is moving toward having other soccer matches played without fans in attendance in affected areas but Thursday’s match was the first to be confirmed as going ahead in an empty stadium.

“Inter announces that, in accordance with the requirements of the health authorities in the Region of Lombardy and the Municipality of Milan and with the agreement of UEFA, the second-leg clash between Inter and Ludogorets at the round of 32 stage of the Europa League will take place at 21:00 CET on Thursday 27 February behind closed doors at San Siro,” Inter said in a statement on Monday evening.

[ MORE: Europa League schedule

The decision was widely expected and Ludogorets had announced shortly before that Inter had sent it a letter stating that the city’s health authorities have allowed the match to go ahead behind closed doors.

Ludogorets added that UEFA has said it is monitoring the situation and will react immediately if anything changes.

Inter leads 2-0 from the first leg of the round of 32 clash.

Civil protection officials said at least 229 people have tested positive for the virus in Italy. State television on Monday night reported the seventh death of an infected person – that of a 62-year-old man who already had serious health problems. The other six victims, also with pre-existing medical conditions, were elderly.

The majority of those known to be infected with COVID-19 hail from two main clusters – some 10 towns in Lombardy and another area in the neighboring region of Veneto. Italy has the highest number of cases outside Asia.

Four Serie A match scheduled for last Sunday were postponed, including Inter’s home match against Sampdoria.

Inter’s key match at Juventus next Sunday will likely also be played behind closed doors, as well as several other matches in northern Italy.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Man United release latest financial results

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Man United have released their latest financial results and revenue has fallen by 20 percent year-on-year, while net debt has also risen.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

What is clear from the results is that not being in the UEFA Champions League has hit United hard but they continue to make money with commercial revenue on the up seven percent.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward revealed the latest results as Man United’s financial might is clear for all to see even.

“We have continued to make progress on our squad rebuild … the foundation for delivering the long-term success that we are all working towards is in place as we implement our plan and our footballing vision with Ole,” Woodward told investors. “We are pushing for a strong finish in the Premier League, the Europa League and the FA Cup as we enter the final third of the season.”

Man United are currently in fifth place in the Premier League table ahead of a pivotal run of games which will decide if they will once again dine at Europe’s top table under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. On the pitch they’ve beaten Chelsea and Watford in the last week without conceding and things are coming together nicely with new signings Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Daniel James and Bruno Fernandes making a big difference. 

Man United face Everton, Man City, Tottenham and Sheffield United in their next four PL games and that will be crucial in deciding if they’re going to reach the Champions League next season. Given Man City’s European ban and the potential for a UCL spot to move down to fifth-place, Man United are exactly where Solskjaer hoped they would be right now.

Below we have a look at the main takeaways form the financial results, which are always a huge talking point among United fans all over the world.

Main talking points from Man United’s Q2 results:

  • Revenues of $218.3 million, down 20 percent year-on-year
  • Operating profit of $47.3 million
  • Commercial revenue up 7 percent
  • Broadcast revenue down 37 percent due to no UEFA Champions League qualification
  • Matchday revenue down 15 percent due to fewer home games
  • Player wages down 9 percent
  • Net debt is $506.9 million, up $94.6 million, 23 percent

USMNT’s Arriola likely will miss MLS season, six World Cup qualifiers

Paul Arriola
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WASHINGTON (AP) D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola had major knee surgery Monday and likely will miss the entire Major League Soccer season and the United States’ first six qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup

The operation was to reconstruct his right anterior cruciate ligament. The team said there was no additional cartilage damage.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 25-year-old midfielder injured his knee Feb. 15 during D.C. United’s preseason match against Orlando in Tampa, Florida.

Arriola has been a regular starter for the U.S. national team under coach Gregg Berhalter. Arriola has five goals in 33 international appearances.

After failing to reach the 2018 World Cup, the U.S. starts qualifying for the 2022 tournament this year. The Americans have two matches each in September, October and November, then complete qualifying with two games apiece in March and September 2021.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

State of play in CONCACAF Champions League

CONCACAF Champions League
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Four of five Major League Soccer clubs alive in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 are in fine shape to reach the quarterfinals after one leg.

The fifth has a tall hill to climb.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

LAFC trails Club Leon by two and did not collect an away goal in Mexico during first leg play last week.

“It’s 2-0, but we’re going to work hard,” said LAFC attacker Latif Blessing. “We’re going to prepare ourselves to win the next game. … We did good, but we want to win. It couldn’t happen that way but we’re going to prepare next game to win this game. We need to win.”

The second leg in L.A. is one of the last two matches of the round, kicking off at 10 p.m. ET Thursday just as Seattle Sounders square off with Olimpia.

The Honduran side managed a controversial comeback in the 2-2 draw with Jordan Morris-fueled Seattle last week, but the Sounders will be happy to have those two away goals and home field.

Montreal Impact has the same situation for Deportivo Saprissa’s visit at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, while Atlanta United scored an away goal in a draw with Motagua and hosts the visitors from Honduras’ capital at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday.

That leaves us with NYCFC, who got a Heber hat trick amongst five away goals at Costa Rican side San Carlos in a 5-3 win. The second leg begins at 6 p.m. ET Wednesday at Red Bull Arena (yes, you read that correctly).

Elsewhere, Liga MX sides don’t have it much better. Cruz Azul leads Portmore 2-1 heading back to Mexico, while Club America scored an away goal in a draw with Comunicaciones.

Finally, Tigres UANL trails 2-1 after one leg with Alianza in El Salvador.

CCL second leg schedule
all times ET

Atlanta United v. Motagua (1-1) — 8 p.m. Tuesday
Cruz Azul v. Portmore United (2-1) — 10 p.m. Tuesday
NYCFC v. San Carlos (5-3) — 6 p.m. Wednesday
Montreal Impact v. Deportivo Saprissa (2-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Tigres UANL v. Alianza (1-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Club America v. Comunicaciones (1-1) — 10 p.m. Wednesday
Seattle Sounders v. Olimpia (2-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday
LAFC v Leon (0-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday