Player ratings from Chelsea’s disappointing 2-1 loss at Leicester

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This scheduled post was a lot less interesting when it first appeared on my docket than it is now that Chelsea has fallen 2-1 to Leicester City on Monday at King Power Stadium.

[ MORE: Match recap | Mourinho zaps Hazard, ashamed of Chelsea ]

Player ratings are usually a dicey proposition, even more so when a legendary English club is underachieving in relatively-massive proportions.

So let’s dig it, debate, and move on.

LEICESTER CITY

Kaspar Schmeichel — 7 — Big stop on Costa to keep game in Leicester’s favor.

Danny Simpson — 6.5 — Just kept backing off Pedrowho is a good ball-crosser Danny, and sure enough Chelsea scored on the play.

Wes Morgan — 7.5 — The big back is a big factor in Leicester’s run to the top of the table.

Robert Huth — 5 — What happened on Chelsea’s goal, Robert? Otherwise solid.

Christian Fuchs — 6 — An overlooked key component of Leicester’s success, but could’ve done something on the Remy goal.

Danny Drinkwater — 6 — Fine. Still among the best names in soccer.

Riyad Mahrez — 9.5 — Could’ve been a 10, but where was the added insurance goal? We mostly kid.

N'Golo Kante — 7.5 — Another of the Foxes’ clever pests, he was a strong man in 50/50 battles.

Marc Albrighton — 6.5 — Not his best night, but still served up some good crosses and smart passes.

Leonardo Ulloa — 7 — His strength is a huge asset when deployed correctly, and that was done today.

Jamie Vardy — 8 — The pesky, industrious Englishman netted another goal with a well-timed run.

[ MORE: Men in Blazers podcast deals with Alan Pardew ]

CHELSEA

Thibaut Courtois — 6 — Not sure what he’s supposed to do on either of the goals, but can’t give better than a six when two goals cross the line.

Cesar Azpilicueta — 4 — Someone needed to help this guy out of the jam provided by Riyad Mahrez’s Pac Man-like back-and-forth for the second goal. Alas, no one did. Baba, anyone?

John Terry — 3.5 — He’s badly regressed, was bewitched by Mahrez, and lost Vardy for the goal.

Kurt Zouma — 5 — Could’ve saved Terry’s bacon on the Vardy goal, and surely did not.

Branislav Ivanovic — 5 — His crossing’s been hit-and-miss this season, but overall he’s been the best choice at right back.

Ramires — 4 — Honestly, I forgot he played until I had to proffer a rating.

Nemanja Matic — 6 — Seemed out of the loop, but looked good when he was involved with the play.

Willian — 6 — He’s been one of Jose Mourinho’s only bright spots, but was relatively dim on the day.

Oscar — 5 — Far from miserable, and looked lively enough at times. Too inconsistent to be a focal point of a Premier League team.

Eden Hazard — INC — Injured upon the half-hour, Mourinho would’ve handed out a subpar grade.

Pedro — 7 — Came close to scoring, and provided the cross that Loic Remy knocked home.

Diego Costa — 3.5 — Nothing more than a pest, he’s failing to finish chances in surprising fashion.

Remy — 7 — Scored the goal, and deserves a start. Succeeded with consistent playing time at Newcastle.

Cesc Fabregas — 6 — His entrance into the game gave Chelsea life, and Mourinho deserves a nod for the tactical maneuver.

Benzema: ‘I’m F1’ quality compared to ‘go-kart’ Giroud

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It would appear that Karim Benzema lives for exactly two things in life: scoring goals and creating/participating in very public drama.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Benzema, who hasn’t feature for France’s national team since he was allegedly involved in a scandal to blackmail teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape in 2015, slammed compatriot forward Olivier Giroud as the “go-karting” alternative to his own “F1” quality.

His main gripe with Giroud doesn’t appear to actually be with the player himself, but the fact the two get compared to one another so frequently. In Benzema’s absence from Les Bleus, Giroud has been the main beneficiary, leading many to wonder if the team could have reached greater heights with Benzmea in the team instead — quotes from Sky Sports:

“You shouldn’t confuse F1 and go karting and that’s me being kind. On to the next topic. I’m not talking about him [Giroud] anymore. I just know that I’m F1.

“He has his career, he does what he wants and scores the goals that he wants to score. He’s in his corner and I’m in mine, I’m not thinking about him. If we’re talking about playing style, his suits France well.

“It’s good because there are fast players like (Kylian) Mbappe and (Antoine) Griezmann who play out wide or feed off the centre-forward. When Giroud is up front, he’s a handful for defenses, which gives the other two plenty of space to show what they can do.

“He occupies defenders and it works. It might not be brilliant to watch and you won’t say, ‘Wow, that was incredible.’ Does everyone like that style of play? I don’t know, but it suits France well.”

Giroud: 39 goals (third-highest) in 97 appearances for France. Benzema: 27 goals in 81 appearances.

Guardiola: ‘We will come back stronger, kinder … and a bit fatter’

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Through all of the innumerable challenges and tragedies the world is currently facing during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is doing his best to not only help the fight back in his native Spain, but also give everyone a chance to smile and laugh at their own expense.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Guardiola, who last week donated $1.1 million to fight the virus in Catalonia, released a video message of encouragement and hope on Monday — encouraging everyone to stay inside, and hopeful of returning to a sense of normalcy in short order:

“We miss football. We miss the life that we had a few days ago but now is the time to listen, to follow our scientists, doctors and nurses.

“You are my football family and we are going to do everything possible to make you feel better. We’ll come back from this stronger, better, kinder … and a little bit fatter. Stay inside, stay safe.”

Germany’s UCL clubs pledge support for cash-strapped clubs

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DUSSELDORF, Germany — Four German soccer clubs have pledged a combined $21.9 million to support other teams struggling to stay afloat after games in the country were suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen will forgo $13.7 million in as-yet undistributed TV money and add another $8.2 million from their own funds. All four clubs played in the Champions League this season, giving them extra income.

The German Football League, which oversees the top two divisions, will decide how the money is distributed. The league has previously said it fears many clubs could face financial collapse if games can’t resume.

“In these difficult times, it’s important that the stronger shoulders support the weaker shoulders,” Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on Thursday.

It’s the latest in a string of gestures to help those in need in German soccer. Players at clubs including Bayern, Borussia Monchengladbach and second-tier Karlsruhe have agreed to voluntary pay cuts to help other staff.

[ MORE: Tottenham offer stadium to help with coronavirus effort ]

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said clubs had a responsibility to keep other teams running in what could be a long period without income from ticket sales and sponsors.

“We have always said that we would show solidarity if clubs, through no fault of their own, should run into difficulties that they can no longer overcome themselves,” Watzke said in a statement.

“BVB is currently having a major impact on society through a wide range of initiatives. And naturally we are prepared to help out other professional football clubs if it is ultimately a matter of cushioning the financial effects of the pandemic.”

Transfer rumor roundup: Sancho to Man Utd; Madrid’s Haaland backup plan

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A roundup of all of Monday’s biggest transfer rumors, including those involving Premier League clubs…

[ MORE: Tottenham offer stadium to help with coronavirus effort ]

Jadon Sancho is a virtual lock to leave Borussia Dortmund and return to the PL this summer, and the 20-year-old winger will almost certainly command a transfer fee of more than $150 million just three years after signing from Manchester City for just $10 million. Today, it’s Manchester United who are rumored as frontrunners for Sancho’s services, based upon reports that Sancho has “unofficially confirmed” he will choose to join Man United when the transfer window opens.


Updating a transfer rumor from last week, Real Madrid are still very much in on another Dortmund starlet, Erling Haaland, but that doesn’t mean they’re putting all of their eggs in one basket. Los Blancos are reportedly eyeing Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a former Dortmund man himself, as a backup option should Haaland remain at Dortmund or land elsewhere this summer. Aubameyang, who’ll turn 31 this summer, isn’t likely to move for less than $60 million, which could prove a stumbling block.


If the rumors are to be believed, this summer will be a costly one for Man United, who are also interested in Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez. The price tag on the 25-year-old? Close to $170 million. It would seem unlikely that United could afford Niguez (at that price) without getting $100 million (at least) for Paul Pogba.


Another current Arsenal (and former Dortmund) player, midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, hopes to turn his loan to Roma into a permanent move this summer. Arsenal are expected to ask $22 for the 31-year-old, but the Serie A side is hoping to pay closer to $12 million instead.