Three things we learned from Chelsea’s win vs. Arsenal

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LONDON — Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-0 on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, and although that seems like a fairly routine scoreline, the game itself produced pandemonium throughout.

[ MORE: Mourinho has dig at “crying” Wenger ]

An intense battle in the sun in West London played out between the two capital clubs, as Gabriel’s red card, Kurt Zouma‘s header and Eden Hazard‘s late effort saw the reigning Premier League champs come out on top.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s what we learned from the Bridge in a tight battle between two title contenders.

CLEVER COSTA RETURNS

Right on the stroke of half time a flash-point arrived as Chelsea’s combative forward Diego Costa first bumped chests with Laurent Koscielny, which saw the latter go down easily and then Gabriel got involved as both he and Costa were booked. As that duo walked to the halfway line to restart play, Gabriel kicked out at Costa right under the nose of Michael Dean and the referee had no option but to show him a straight red-card for violent conduct. Costa was guilty of flailing his arms around and catching both Koscielny and Gabriel in the face which, if spotted by Dean and his officiating crew, was surely worth a red card. However, they didn’t see it. Costa is an old hand at this and is a master of the dark arts. Gabriel’s decision to kick out at Costa right under the nose of Dean was flabbergasting and naive. He played into Costa’s hands perfeclty. It’s exactly what he wanted and gave Chelsea the man advantage they took full advantage of.

[ RECAP – Chelsea down nine-man Arsenal ]

During the second half Costa was booed every single time he touched the ball and Arsenal’s fans made their displeasure towards the Spanish international well known. After losing the ball in front of the 4,000 Arsenal fans behind the goal Chelsea were attacking, he stood tall and puffed out his chest in an Eric Cantona-esque pose. 

His role of the pantomime villain was complete when he was taken off in the final 10 minutes and Mourinho gave him the thumbs up and warmly embraced his striker who he later named as his “Man of the Match.” Arsene Wenger lambasted Costa and called his antics “disgusting” but the Spanish striker proved that he is an elusive master of the dark arts, and his actions, although risky and unsavory, were crucial in grabbing Chelsea a vital win. He’s a player you’d love to have on your team but is a nightmare to play against and despite only scoring once so far in the PL this season, Saturday’s display was Costa’s biggest contribution for Chelsea in quite some time. 

ZOUMA READY TO REPLACE TERRY

In the 38th minute, Theo Walcott raced clear of Chelsea’s midfield and towards their last line of defense. In his way stood the towering presence of 20-year-old center back, Kurt Zouma. The French international slipped. Time stood still and the home fans at Stamford Bridge let out a gasp. But Zouma recovered, got up from a sprawling position on the floor and somehow caught up with Walcott to make an inch-perfect sliding tackling which not only won the ball but set Chelsea on the attack. As Mourinho warmly applauded him from the edge of his technical area, the home fans chanted “Zoummaaaaa” in a booming, one-syllable chant. They were screaming it even louder in the 53rd minute as Zouma rose highest at the back post to head home Fabregas’ free kick for his first PL goal for Chelsea. The Frenchman, just like the man he replaced for this match, John Terry, proved he had a penchant for popping up and scoring big goals in the big games.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Moments like those prove that Zouma, brought as an 18-year-old for $18 million from Saint Etienne in 2014, is ready to replace 34-year-old Terry. The TV cameras panned straight to the long-time Chelsea captain as Zouma wheeled away to celebrate and JT applauded the young center back. Zouma’s emergence could spell the end for Terry’s illustrious career.

GUNNERS JADED, NAIVE

Once again at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal’s players let their temper get the better of them. Three-straight defeats away to Chelsea since Mourinho returned to the PL (with zero goals scored and 10 conceded) mean that Wenger has now failed to beat “The Special One” in 14 competitive matches. We already talked about Gabriel’s naivety in getting sent off, but with 10 minutes to go Santi Cazorla crunched into a needless tackle on Fabregas to reduced the Gunners to nine-men. Arsenal had lost their cool, once again, and Wenger’s men have now picked up 10 points from a possible 18 in a lackluster start to the season.

The Frenchman will be concerned with firing a blank and in truth, the Gunners never got going as they looked jaded from their midweek defeat in Zagreb which saw Olivier Giroud sent off before half time. That extra effort they exerted on Wednesday impacted them against Chelsea and they hardly threatened Asmir Begovic in goal. Worrying signs for Arsenal as despite finally agreeing to shake Mourinho’s hand before the game, Wenger’s hoodoo against the Portuguese coach continues.

Reports: Ajax, Barcelona reach agreement over USMNT’s Dest

Sergino Dest Barcelona
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Ronald Koeman couldn’t convince Sergino Dest to represent the Netherlands over the United States, but the Barcelona boss has reportedly talked the Ajax back into choosing the Blaugranas over the Bavarians.

Dest, 19, has been widely linked with Bayern Munich in recent weeks, though Barcelona was also mentioned with the caveat that Koeman would have to sell players to bring others in due to the La Liga outfit’s salary problems.

[ MORE: Mendy to Chelsea analysis ]

Wolves’ pursuit of Nelson Semedo and Atletico Madrid’s move for Luis Suarez may have opened the door for Dest, and multiple reports say Ajax and Barcelona have reached an agreement on a $22 million transfer with another $6 million in incentives in the deal.

Dest was named Ajax Young Talent of the Year last season and is also a member of the 2020 Golden Boy shortlist. He has two goals and six assists in 37 senior appearances for the club after coming through its vaunted academy. He’s also been linked with moves to Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur.

Capped thrice by the United States after the Yanks won a recruitment battle with the Netherlands, Dest went 90 minutes in eight of Ajax’s last 10 Eredivisie matches and came off the bench in their opening two Eredivisie matches of the 2020-21 campaign. That’s likely due to transfer issues.

Dest would become the second American to represent Barcelona on a matchday 18, just missing out on the honor of being first. Barca academy product Konrad de la Fuente signed a contract with the club this summer, and was an unused sub when the Blaugranas beat Napoli in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg on Aug. 8.

 

League Cup: Manchester United wins; West Brom, Watford bounced

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Luton Town made Manchester United work for its spot in the League Cup fourth round, while another lower league side simply ended another Premier League side’s tournament in Tuesday’s FA Cup results.

[ MORE: Mendy to Chelsea analysis ]

West Bromwich Albion is out of the tournament after blowing two leads and losing in penalties at home to Brentford, while West Ham blasted Hull City after an alarming COVID-19 moment and League Two side Newport County dismissed Watford.

Then there’s Tottenham and Leyton Orient, who didn’t even get to play. It’s all in the FA Cup wrap.


Luton Town 0-3 Manchester United

The score line does not tell the story here (aside from, you know, the goal total).

Brandon Williams won a late first-half penalty that Juan Mata smashed home as the Red Devils labored to a win over the Championship’s Hatters.

Marcus Rashford came off the bench to ice the game off a feed from fellow sub Mason Greenwood, who was later assisted by another sub in Bruno Fernandes.

Dean Henderson made an outstanding save in his long-awaited Manchester United senior debut.

The 23-year-old has been United property since he was 14 and has taken loans with four clubs including a highly-celebrated two years with Sheffield United.

Henderson did not have to make a save until the 81st minute, when he made a big stop to keep United on top at Kenilworth Road.

Mata’s goal came in his 200th appearance for the Red Devils. Donny van de Beek made his first Manchester United start in the win.

West Ham United 5-1 Hull City

Andriy Yarmolenko scored twice and set up two others as the Irons showed no ill effects of learning that David Moyes, Issa Diop, and Josh Cullen tested positive for coronavirus (The club says all three are asymptomatic).

Yarmolenko now has nine goals and five assists in just over 1700 minutes with West Ham. He missed 2.5 months with a muscle tear last season.

Sebastien Haller had a brace and Robert Snodgrass scored the other goal as West Ham’s “second string” continues to beat up on lower league competition while awaiting chances off the bench in the PL.

Mallik Wilks had brought Hull within two in the 70th minute only to see Haller and Yarmolenko complete their braces in stoppage time.

League Cup results
West Ham United’s Andriy Yarmolenko (center front) with Felipe Anderson, Haller, and Lanzini (Photo by ALASTAIR GRANT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Newport County 3-1 Watford

The Hornets had little going for them despite having the better of possession, outshot 12-2 by the time League Two’s Exiles reclaimed their two-goal lead with 25 minutes on the clock.

Adelberto Penaranda came off the bench to score for Watford after the Exiles built a 2-0 lead through Tristan Abrahams and Josh Labadie. Padraig Amond bagged County’s third goal to turn the screws on the former Premier League side.

Stipe Perica sealed Watford’s fate with an 88th-minute red card. The Hornets have a win and a draw in their return to the Championship and will focus on that until the FA Cup.

West Bromwich Albion 2-2 (4-5 pens) Brentford

The Bees couldn’t catch the Baggies in the race for the automatic promotion last season but kept scrapping en route to a pair of equalizers at the Hawthorns on Tuesday.

Brentford made all of its penalties, its fifth sealing the win after Grady Diangana’s effort was saved by David Raya.

Hal Robson-Kanu scored both of West Brom’s goals but answers came from Emiliano Marcondes and Marcus Forss to have it level with 17 minutes left in scheduled time.

Leyton Orient (ppd) Tottenham Hotspur

A raft of positive COVID-19 tests for the hosts put this tie in doubt Monday and we’re still awaiting the plan.

For now, health aside, Spurs are probably quite happy to have day off given a wild fixture list across three competitions which includes a trip to Macedonia for Europa League action on Thursday.


Next League Cup third round fixtures

All times ET

Wednesday
Preston North End v Brighton — 2 pm
Millwall v Burnley — 2 pm
Fulham v Sheffield Wednesday — 2 pm
Stoke City v Gillingham — 2 pm
Chelsea v Barnsley — 2:45 pm
Leicester City v Arsenal — 2:45 pm
Fleetwood Town v Everton — 2:45 pm
Morecambe v Newcastle United — 2:45 pm

Thursday
Bristol City v Aston Villa — 2 pm
Lincoln City v Liverpool — 2:45 pm
Manchester City v Bournemouth — 2:45 pm


League Cup fourth round draw

Lincoln City/Liverpool v Leicester City/Arsenal
Millwall/Burnley v Manchester City/Bournemouth
Brentford v Fulham/Sheffield Wednesday
Fleetwood Town/Everton v West Ham United
Bristol City/Aston Villa v Stoke City/Gillingham
Leyton Orient/Tottenham v Chelsea/Barnsley
Newport County v Morecambe/Newcastle United
Preston North End/Brighton v Manchester United

USMNT learns Nations League dates, says no October friendlies

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CONCACAF’s summer is going to be red-hot as its top sides will scrap multiple times on the road to World Cup qualifying.

In other words, we might see the USMNT meet Mexico twice in a month.

The USMNT, Mexico, Honduras, and Costa Rica are among the group of sides waiting to see who advances from the postponed first stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. The final round of World Cup qualifying had already been postponed.

It was revealed Tuesday that the quartet will now play the first ever CONCACAF Nations League Finals in June, three months behind schedule and just before the 2021 Gold Cup.

[ MORE: How 7 Americans fared in Bundesliga Wk 1 ]

The Gold Cup was previously postponed to June 10 – July 1 and the draw is set for Monday.

The Nations League semifinals see No. 1 seed Mexico against No. 4 Costa Rica and the No. 2 Catrachos of Honduras meeting the third-seeded USMNT.

A U.S. Soccer Federation release said the move is to put the focus on first stage of qualifying (It also gives all of the participants more time to figure out the pandemic atmosphere if it, as anticipated, reaches into a second year dramatically affecting sporting competitions):

This official competition Finals event will take place in a centralized location in the United States in June 2021. Concacaf will now work with our stakeholders to finalize the location and specific dates for this competition.

Playing this competition in June 2021 will enable the First Round of the Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup, which involve 30 Concacaf Member Associations, to take center stage in March 2021.

Concacaf remains in discussions with FIFA to agree a new schedule for the Concacaf Qualifiers which retains the current format.

[ WATCH: Gooch’s solo goal for Sunderland ]

U.S. Soccer also announced that it will not play any matches or train in the October international break, aiming for a November return. That means Christian Pulisic will have even more time to find top form for Chelsea.

General manager Brian McBride says Gregg Berhalter’s group may have an additional December camp with its January camp, which is great news for MLS players hoping to cement their statuses in Berhalter’s mind while the European talent continues to play overseas.

“After extensive conversations about holding a men’s national team camp in October, we ultimately determined the unique challenges created by COVID-19 as it relates to hosting international opponents and getting our players together wouldn’t allow us to move forward,” men’s team general manager Brian McBride said, via the Associated Press. “While we won’t have the team together in this upcoming window, we are making considerable progress for November.”

West Ham manager Moyes, two players test positive for COVID-19

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West Ham United’s preparations for Tuesday’s League Cup match against Hull City were rocked by positive COVID-19 tests for three members of the first team.

Irons boss David Moyes, center back Issa Diop and midfielder Josh Cullen all were informed of positive coronavirus tests before the match. All were sent home and said to be asymptomatic.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

The match went on with assistant manager Alan Irvine taking the reigns.

Diop is by far the most significant name on that list when it comes to West Ham’s competitive fortunes (Yes, we know Moyes in the manager).

West Ham stressed that it’s been vigilant when it comes to COVID-19:

The Club’s measures and protocols around COVID-19 remain stringent. This included offering to test the Hull City team ahead of tonight’s fixture – an offer which they opted not to accept.

Diop went the distance in both of West Ham’s PL matches this season, while Cullen has not featured for Moyes. The Irons lost 2-0 to Newcastle and 2-1 to Arsenal.