Stoke City 1-0 Chelsea: Gutsy Potters hold off late Blues charge

1 Comment

Chelsea has lost three-straight matches to sink to 16th in the Premier League after a 1-0 loss to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

The Blues were without suspended manager Jose Mourinho, and gave up a good-looking airborne goal to Marko Arnautovic in the loss.

Stoke rises to 12th, with 16 points. Chelsea is as close to 20th as 10th, but should’ve been awarded a penalty when Loic Remy was cut down in the box by Jack Butland.

[ WATCH: Full match replays | Lanzini’s beauty helps West Ham draw ]

The game started contentiously, as the two sides clearly carried over some animosity for their League Cup date on Oct. 27, and was delayed for a while when Erik Pieters stooped to head a 50/50 ball and took a boot to the face for Pedro. Blood and guts and a new kit were needed for the Stoke defenders.

Ramires nearly put Chelsea up with a belted, dipping shot from just outside the 18, but Jack Butland continued his impressive play with a punch over the bar.

Neither side could do well with good service in the first half hour. Diego Costa couldn’t get on the end of a great cross from Eden Hazard in the Stoke end, and then Jonathan Walters popped-up a header off Xherdan Shaqiri‘s ball at the other.

Butland made a great sliding stop of a Diego Costa shot late in the half after the Spanish national teamer worked a classy 1-2 with Pedro.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

The Potters took the lead in the 53rd minute, as Arnautovic went sideways to hit a waist-high ball past a diving Asmir Begovic.

The Blues looked rudderless in the moments after conceding the opener, and Stoke could’ve made it 2-0 or 3-0 through Arnautovic and later Xherdan Shaqiri, but found life when Hazard found Pedro atop the arc, though the ex-Barca man blasted his shot off the far post.

Cesc Fabregas and Oscar were introduced in the 70th minute, as Chelsea took off Pedro and Baba Rahman.

A nifty bit of 80th minute passing ended with Hazard having a shot deflected out for a corner.

At the other end Walters couldn’t take advantage of a well-won ball by Ibrahim Afellay, rifling a good chance well over the bar.

And then a massive chance was missed by Loic Remy, who leapt over a sliding Butland but couldn’t collect the ball. It was a double whammy with no penalty given, and no chance converted.

Despite that foul, Butland was again tremendous. How long before he gets his chance for England?

[ MORE: Click here for full lineups, stats, box score ]  

Costa was especially poor on the evening, while Fabregas didn’t contribute much upon his arrival. Hazard looked livelier than he had in weeks, but Chelsea still had no answers.

Still, much credit should be given to the Potters. They took their chances and then sunk all 10 field players behind the ball. Even if Remy should’ve earned a PK, Stoke did more than enough to gain a point.

LIVE, UCL: Two knockout spots remain; Man City, Tottenham in play

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two more spots in the knockout round remain unclaimed as the final day of group stage play begins on Wednesday.

Groups C and D both require a second team to progress through to the Round of 16, with five teams still in the mix.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Manchester City has already won Group D, but the remaining three teams Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, and Atalanta all remain in contention for the second spot. Shakhtar currently sits second and has a home match with Atalanta, while Dinamo Zagreb host Man City in Croatia. Both those games feature in the early 12:55 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Group D, meanwhile, has a pair of sides vying for the last spot. Atletico Madrid has a point advantage, currently sitting in second with a home match against already eliminated Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow. Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, hosts group winners Juventus in Germany.

Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur has already locked up a spot in the knockout stage, locked into the second spot in Group A, and they finish out the group stage with a visit to confirmed group winners Bayern Munich. Jose Mourinho told the press he forbid his players from watching any footage of the 7-2 defeat to Bayern to begin group stage play, and is resting “a few players” ahead of the festive Premier League fixtures.

Finally, Group A has already been decided with Real Madrid confirmed to finish second behind winners Paris Saint-Germain, but the two still have to complete the fixture list. Madrid heads to Belgium to take on Club Brugge, while PSG hosts Galatasaray. The Spanish side is most likely to rest players, with a weekend visit to Valencia coming up on Sunday followed by a midweek El Clasico that was rescheduled from earlier in the season.

Below is the full schedule for the last UCL games on Wednesday, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET unless otherwise noted, and you can follow the action live by clicking on the link above.


Wednesday Champions League action

Group A

Club Brugge v. Real Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain v. Galatasaray

Group B

Bayern Munich v. Tottenham Hotspur
Olympiakos v. Red Star Belgrade

Group C

Dinamo Zagreb v. Manchester City (12:55 p.m. ET)
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Atalanta (12:55 p.m. ET)

Group D

Atletico Madrid v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Bayer Leverkusen v. Juventus

Late goalkeeper strike seals knockout spot in UEFA Youth League

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Club Brugge goalkeeper Senne Lammens may just be 17 years old, but he just lived every goalkeeper’s dream: to score a dramatic equalizer in the dying seconds of a game to send the club through to a European competition’s knockout stage.

The young goalkeeper came forward on a corner in the 94th minute of a game against Real Madrid in the UEFA Youth League Wednesday morning in Belgium. With the visitors leading 2-1 and added time just about expired, Brugge needed to score an equalizer to secure passage to the knockout stage, lest they be left at the mercy of Galatasaray’s match against PSG.

Lammens delivered. The corner swung in to the top of the six-yard box and the youngster was on hand to head home a pinpoint effort inside the far post.

The header was quite literally the last act of the game, with stoppage time already creeping more than 60 seconds past the minimum three added minutes.

Lammens has shuttled back and forth between the youth squad and the senior squad this season serving occasionally as an emergency third goalkeeper behind Simon Mignolet and Ethan Horvath. Mostly, though, he’s been with the youth squad appearing in five of their six UEFA Youth League games, with three wins and a draw.

Report: Arsenal not interested in Ancelotti “profile”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to The Athletic reporter David Ornstein, Arsenal is not interested in a manager of Carlo Ancelotti’s “profile.”

The Italian was recently let go by Napoli after a disappointing first half of the season despite qualifying for the Champions League knockout stage.

Ancelotti has won a Premier League title, three Champions League titles, and a Scudetto during his career but apparently a manager with his resume does not interest the Gunners, who may be looking for a more youthful boss with a longer-term strategy and potentially stronger club or domestic ties.

At 60 years old, Ancelotti has been fired from posts at Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and now Napoli over the last four years. Over those four seasons, he has just one league title, the 2016/17 Bundesliga crown he won with Bayern in runaway fashion, and has exceeded expectations in very limited capacities, instead seeing things turn sour at each job relatively quickly. This season at Napoli, the club sits seventh in the Serie A table, mired in a horrible seven-match winless run that has seen them tumble further from the Champions League places.

Ornstein’s report also touched on the timeline of a potential hire, with the club apparently still deciding on whether to see out the season with interim manager Freddie Ljungberg or make a mid-season appointment. He states that the club “want situation settled asap” but also prefer “right man over quick decision.” He does not identify who the number one target is, but suggests that if that person is available at this point in time, they will make the hire mid-season, otherwise there will be a waiting game.

Jorge Sampaoli resigns as Santos boss

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brazilian club Santos confirmed Tuesday evening that manager Jorge Sampaoli has resigned as boss.

Sampaoli, who won the 2015 Copa America in charge of Chile but could not recreate that success with the Argentinian national team, signed on with Santos a year ago and guided them to a second-place finish in the Brazilian top flight, 16 points behind runaway champions Flamengo. His contract had another year, expiring in the winter of 2020, but with reports of offers from multiple clubs, he has stepped down.

The most widely reported destination is fellow Brazilian club Palmeiras, whom many believe Sampaoli has already entered talks with. He has also been linked with Argentinian club Racing, and his name has cropped up on occasion with the Arsenal vacancy, although that seems like a longshot. It was said in late October that Sampaoli had an offer from an unnamed La Liga club, but those rumors have cooled.

His reason for leaving Santos after just one successful season in charge is unconfirmed, but rumors are circulating that Sampaoli had incredibly ambitious transfer plans for the offseason, and when club president Jose Carlos Peres could not guarantee his support, the relationship became strained.

The 2019 season was mostly successful for Sampaoli at Santos, finishing second in the league table, but the secondary competitions were somewhat disappointing. They received a tough first-round draw in the Copa Sudamericana, falling to River Plate on away goals. They were also ousted from the Copa do Brasil in the Round of 16, falling 2-1 to an Atletico Minero side that finished 13th in the league table.