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

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LONDON — Southampton stunned Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as the Saints piled the pressure on Jose Mourinho with a famous win.

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Willian‘s superb free kick gave Chelsea the lead, but Saints came roaring back as Steven Davis volleyed home before half time and then goals from Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle stole the show.

[ MORE: Mourinho – “If they want to sack me… sack me” ]

Here’s three things we learned from an entertaining encounter at the Bridge, as Chelsea’s woe continues.

BRAVE SAINTS REWARDED

With John Terry back marshaling Chelsea’s defense after being left on the bench for four of the last five games, the thought was that the skipper could supply some stability to a leaky Chelsea backline. Wrong. Time and time again Southampton carved open Chelsea’s pedestrian defense, as Mane should have had a penalty in the first half after Branislav Ivanovic caught him, then Saints had two glorious chances at the start of the second half. Buoyed by Davis’ brilliant volley on the stroke of half time which brought them level, Mane ran at the heart of Chelsea’s defense on countless occasions as Pelle flicked balls on and the central defensive duo of Terry and Gary Cahill, who looked so untouchable for most of last season, didn’t know what to do.

Yes, Chelsea was bad at the back, but full credit must go to Southampton for forcing the issue as they secured a first win at Stamford Bridge since 2002. With the scores tied at 1-1 at half time, Koeman’s men could have sat back and settled for what they had. But, like many teams have found out this season, Chelsea’s solid defensive core which was the cornerstone of their title-winning season last year, has evaporated. Mane’s pace gave Terry and Cahill kittens, and there was only so many times Begovic could bail his defense out. He saved from Mane in the 48th minute when the Senegalese forward was clean through on goal, then Dusan Tadic turned Ivanovic inside out on numerous occasions and Mane then ripped Chelsea apart. First Dusan Tadic and Pelle forced Cahill into a mistake, as Mane raced cleared and scored Saints’ second. For their third he picked up the ball 10 yards inside his own half and ran at Chelsea’s ragged defense, slotting it wide to Pelle who rifled home the third. Manchester United tried to make a late bid for Mane in the last transfer window which Saints rejected. After this display, the lynch-pin of Saints’ fluid attacking unit will be have added a few more zeros to his value. Saints threatened to sneak into the top four last season but wobbled to finish seventh. The confidence they will gain from this win should reignite their season.

HOME FANS TURNING ON MOURINHO

With five defeats in their opening 11 games of the season in all competitions, the unthinkable has started to happen: the home fans have started to turn on Jose Mourinho. “The Special One” seemed certain to have a job for life at Chelsea following their title win last season. Now, with unrest on and off the field, things are unraveling quickly in west London as he even admitted earlier in the week that this was “his worst period” in management. Results have gone against him, sometimes that happens and Chelsea’s fans have stuck by him throughout the Eva Carneiro situation and everything else in-between. On Saturday however, the home fans booed his decisions as he replaced Willian with Pedro and then subbed off Nemanja Matic with 20 minutes to go, after he only brought the Serbian midfielder on at half time. Those theorists who predicted at the start of the season that Mourinho would endure the “third-season syndrome” at Chelsea and things would unravel — as he made enemies with players, staff and everyone else — were laughed at. Now, they’re looking pretty smart. After eight games of the PL season, Chelsea has lost four times and Mourinho, who had lost just once in the PL at home throughout his previous five seasons with the Blues has now lost to Crystal Palace and Southampton in the opening four home games of this campaign.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]  

The alarms bells are ringing at the Bridge and one fan summed it up perfectly when he walked past the press box in the dying stages of the game: “Rubbish. Rubbish. Rubbish. Just write that down, that’s what we are!” At this point in time, it’s hard to disagree with him as the champions are imploding and Mourinho is under more and more pressure with every demoralizing defeat.

HAZARD, FABREGAS, CAHILL HIGHLIGHT ISSUES

What are the reasons for Chelsea’s sensational drop-off this season? Simply put, many of their star players aren’t performing anywhere near their level. Cahill was spun all over the place by Mane and Pelle. Cesc Fabregas was bullied in midfield and couldn’t get hold of the ball. Eden Hazard hardly had a kick and had no support. Those were the most noticeable of the poor displays, but every Blues player, not for the first time this season, had an off day. Only goalkeeper Asmir Begovic could walk off the pitch with his head held high for the home side. There is no simple answer for Chelsea to try and turn this around. They are stuck in a rut and big changes need to occur if they’re going to get back among the top four. After eight games they are now seven points off the top four. For those saying: “Chelsea will come good, they will finish fourth at the worst.”

Really? Are you sure?

Man City to sign Ruben Dias for $84 million

Ruben Dias to Manchester City
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Ruben Dias to Manchester City has been confirmed by Benfica, as the Portuguese international center back will complete his $84 million transfer to the Premier League.

Given their 5-2 mauling at home against Leicester City on Sunday, City need defensive help. Big time.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Dias, 23, is regarded as one of the best central defensive players in Europe and Pep Guardiola’s Man City have moved swiftly to try and address their defensive issues.

In a statement on their website, Portuguese giants Benfica confirmed the sale of Dias as the formalities of the move will now be ironed in the coming days.

“In the first statement (10:59 pm) it informed that it had reached an agreement with Manchester City for the sale of the central defender Ruben Dias for 68 million euros, plus an additional 3.6 million euros, depending on the achievement of objectives related to the sporting performance of the English club. This agreement is dependent on the signing of the player’s sports labor contract with Manchester City.”

Benfica also announced that they have bought Man City defender Nicolas Otamendi, 32, for $17.5 million to replace Dias.

“In the second statement (11 pm) Sport Lisboa e Benfica – Futebol, SAD informed that it has reached an agreement with Manchester City for the signing of the central defender Nicolas Otamendi for 15 million euros. This agreement is dependent on the signing of a sports labor contract with the player and the completion of medical examinations.”

After spending $53 million on center back Nathan Ake already this summer, Guardiola is still trying to fill a Vincent Kompany sized hole in his defense. 12 months on, Man City are still struggling defensively.

Kalidou Koulibaly was linked with a move to Man City but it is believed they couldn’t agree a deal with Napoli and have instead gone for Dias. With Aymeric Laporte close to a return to full fitness, there is no doubt Man City’s defense will improve in the coming weeks and months.

And my goodness, it has to. If Pep Guardiola’s side have any chance of winning the Premier League and challenging for the Champions League they simply have to get better at the back, and the current players have shown they aren’t up to the task.

Dias is a confident defender on the ball, which will suit City, but more importantly they need him to hit the ground running and be a dominant defender.

Liverpool – Arsenal: How to watch, start time, odds, predicted lineup

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Liverpool – Arsenal: Two heavyweights clash at Anfield on Monday (Watch live at 3pm ET online via Peacock) as both team have a perfect record with two wins from two so far.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Reigning champions Liverpool have perhaps been more impressive as they’ve beaten upstarts Leeds United and then Chelsea, while Arsenal eased past Fulham but struggled past West Ham.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

When it comes to Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta, their playing philosophy as managers could not be more different as Arsenal beat Liverpool on penalties at Wembley to win the Community Shield last month.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of a massive early-season clash as Arsenal look to put down a marker.


Team news: Liverpool – Arsenal (INJURY REPORT)

Liverpool will be hoping center back Joe Gomez will be fit after he missed the win at Chelsea last weekend, while this game will come too soon for fellow defender Joel Matip. Judging by the early reports, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson should also be fit to start.

Arsenal could have Kieran Tierney back fit for this game, which would be a big boost. Pablo Mari, Calum Chamberls, Gabriel Martinelli and Shkodran Mustafi all remain out injured.


Predicted lineup

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Thiago, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Arsenal (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Understandably Liverpool are the heavy favorites (-210) given their long unbeaten home record at Anfield. That said Arsenal (+520) do seem a high price after they beat Liverpool during ‘Project Restart’ and also in the Community Shield final. The draw at +360 is intriguing and the value perhaps lies there.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Liverpool – Arsenal prediction

Arsenal have a lot more grit under Arteta and they ware capable of bending but not breaking. This is a huge test for them, though, and Gabriel against the fluid front three of Salah, Firmino and Mane will be his biggest test yet. Arsenal have the attackers to make the most of any more slack defending from Liverpool but I expect Klopp’s side to have just too much in midfield and attack. Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal.


How to watch Liverpool – Arsenal stream and start time

Kickoff: 3pm ET Monday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Fulham – Aston Villa: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

Fulham - Aston Villa
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Fulham – Aston Villa: How early is too early to call a game “must-win” in the Premier League? Perhaps we will find out on Monday (Watch live at 12:45 pm ET, online via Peacock), when bottom-of-the-table Fulham host Aston Villa at Craven Cottage.

FULHAM – ASTON VILLA STREAM LIVE

Scott Parker’s side has had a torrid start to life back in the PL — not at all dissimilar to the way their last stint ended — and find themselves with zero points and seven goals conceded after their first two games. Losing 3-0 to Arsenal on the opening day of the season wasn’t altogether surprising, but following that defeat with four more goals conceded to Leeds United last weekend will undoubtedly have done a number on the Cottagers’ confidence.

Villa, on the other hand, have played just once and secured a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United earlier this week. A win on Monday would see Dean Smith’s side start the season with back-to-back PL victories for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Fulham – Aston Villa this Monday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Fulham – Aston Villa (INJURY REPORT)

Fulham – No injuries or suspensions

Aston Villa – OUT: Bjorn Engels (thigh), Tom Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), Ahmed Elmohamady (thigh)


What they’re saying: Fulham – Aston Villa

Scott Parker, on a “must-win” game: “I don’t see it as drastic as a must-win. We want to win. I know it’s either high or low in a drastic world, but we need to stay level and take realism of where we are in the campaign and where we are as a team. We will try everything we can to take some points and be up to the challenge. I don’t think we’re the only team at this present moment in time who have let in some goals in the first two games. It’s not ideal, of course not. Villa at home on Monday is a game we’re going to try to get three points.”

Dean Smith, on needing another signing: “We’re always looking in the market, we’re probably one short in the squad at the moment so we’ll keep looking at that. I think there’s seven days left until the window shuts internationally, another seven days domestically. Our sporting director at the moment has got his finger on the pulse, hopefully we might get one more in and maybe a couple more out.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

This one is just about a coin flip with Fulham (+185) ever so slight underdogs to Villa (+150). In a game that could go either way like this one, the draw (+225) might just be the safe middle ground.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: Fulham – Aston Villa

There’s not much to separate these two sides right now, and there likely won’t be much ground between them come the season’s final table. There should be a few goals, but that’ll be more down to poor defending than excellent attacking quality from either side. Fulham 2-2 Villa.


How to watch Fulham – Aston Villa stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:45 pm ET Monday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Serie A: Lozano scores twice for Napoli; 10-man Juve drop points to Roma

Cristiano Ronaldo - Juventus
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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Serie A, where Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to save a point for Juventus and Hirving Lozano also scored twice in Napoli’s 6-0 victory…

[ MORE: Suarez plays just 20 minutes, scores two goals in Atleti debut (video) ]

Roma 2-2 Juventus

Juventus overturned a pair of deficits to salvage a point from their trip to Rome, but Andrea Pirlo might just feel his side should have taken more from the game if not for Adrien Rabiot’s red card in the 62nd minute.

Jordan Veretout fired Roma ahead from the penalty spot in the 31st minute, but Cristiano Ronaldo matched him with a spot kick of his own in the 44th. Veretout made it 2-1 less than a minute into the second half, with thanks to an assist from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Rabiot got his second yellow card of the game 15 minutes later, but it didn’t stop Ronalado from scoring his second equalizer in the 69th minute.

Regardless of the country, league or club, we’re seeing some of Europe’s greatest powerhouses struggle through uncharacteristically slow starts to the 2020-21 season. The safe assumption is that the cream will inevitably rise to the top after working out the early kinks, but it might just open the door for an unlikely title challenger or two as well.

[ MORE: Saturday in Serie A: Inter win 7-goal thriller in 89th minute ]

Napoli 6-0 Genoa

Napoli went top of the table (after two games) by way of Sunday’s beatdown of Genoa.

Mexican superstar Hirving Lozano opened the scoring in the 10th minute and added his second goal on the game in the 65th. In between his two tallies, Piota Zielinski (46th) and Dries Mertens (57th) also scored.

Eljif Elmas (69th) and Matteo Politano (72nd) each scored not much later to complete the scoring and the rout.

Crotone 0-2 AC Milan

Franck Kessie converted from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time and Brahim Diaz added an insurance goal five minutes into the second half to give AC Milan their second 2-0 victory in a row to start the season. All appears to be going too well for the Rossoneri right now.

Other Serie A results

Spezia 1-4 Sassuolo
Hellas Verona 1-0 Udinese