Chelsea 2-1 West Ham: Costa rescues Blues in Conte’s Premier League debut


Diego Costa probably shouldn’t have even been on the field in the first place, but Diego Costa wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Premier League’s favorite heel survived a potential second yellow card to rescue the Blues with an 89th minute winner, giving new manager Antonio Conte all three points in his first Premier League match.

Eden Hazard buried a penalty to give Chelsea a first-half lead, but it looked a howitzer from James Collins against the run of play with 13 minutes to go would force the two sides to share the points. Conte was unmoved, making tactical adjustments along with pacey substitutions, and the players delivered.

The game was hotly contested from the opening minute. N'Golo Kante received a yellow card just three minutes into the game for pulling down Andy Carroll on a breakaway.

The Blues had the first real chance on goal 12 minutes in as Branislav Ivanovic wrong-footed his defender on the edge of the area with a nice cutback and tried to squeeze a shot inside the near post, but Adrian reacted quickly to keep the game scoreless. Five minutes later Oscar went down at the top of the box looking for a penalty, and in the aftermath Diego Costa earned himself a yellow card, and Collins was cautioned for bringing down the striker on 20 minutes.

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Just past the half-hour mark, Hazard rifled just wide from a tight angle after slicing past three Hammers defenders. The rest of the first half was quiet, but the second half started with a bang.

Just a minute in, Michail Antonio barged into the back of Cesar Azpilicueta in the penalty area, leaving the referee no choice but to award a penalty. Hazard buried the spot kick, and Chelsea had its lead, as well as a milestone goal.

Antonio was yanked by West Ham manager Slaven Bilic just minutes later for Sam Byram, and many on social media noticed the stark lack of communication between the two as Antonio came off the field.

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There was a bit of controversy surrounding – guess who! – Diego Costa, who scythed down Adrian while already on a yellow. It appeared a heavy challenge, but the referee left it unpunished other than awarding a common foul.

In the 77th minute, the game changed. Chelsea seemed in control, but the Hammers earned themselves a pair of set-pieces. Dimitri Payet – on as a substitute – was unsuccessful with a free-kick just outside the box, but moments later the Frenchman delivered a corner that ping-ponged around the box, eventually falling to Collins near the penalty spot who ripped a fizzing equalizer into the back of the net.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Chelsea began to bypass the midfield in an attempt to get back on top, pumping the ball forward over the final 10 minutes, and while the first few attempts were sloppy, substitutes Victor Moses, Pedro, and Michy Batshuyai were used effectively for their pace and technical abilities. Pedro came close in the final five minutes, but Chelsea would have their moment.

A long ball from midfield found the head of Batshuyai, who laid it off to Costa outside the top of the box. A pair of West Ham defenders failed to close him down, and the Spanish international let rip a low effort past Adrian and into the far corner. The goal sent Stamford Bridge into a frenzy, and Conte predictably participated in the pandimonium with a wild celebration.

Season restart preview: Brighton and Hove Albion

Brighton season restart
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Brighton is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Seagulls when it comes to the season restart.

Outlook: If there’s a team whose results don’t show the way they’ve played, it’s Brighton. Graham Potter’s Seagulls have the sixth-best possession percentage in the league, are a tidy seventh in passing, and are mid-table in tackles per game, interceptions per game, and shots per game.

[ MORE: Ranking every Brighton player in 2019-20 ]

The expected goals stats show even less reward for good work, with Brighton scoring 8.35 goals less than expected in open play and 4.38 less from corner kicks.

Despite all these good things, Brighton is two points clear of the drop zone with nine matches to play and has a terribly challenging schedule especially at the Amex Stadium.

Tactical analysis: Graham Potter has put the Seagulls in myriad formations this season, though he’s been utilizing at least four at the back since the calendar turned to 2020. He’s ready to attack but pragmatic given the club’s hopes of staving off the teams below it in the fight for PL survival.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Brighton’s chances ]

Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Ryan —–

— Montoya — Webster — Dunk — Burn —

—– Propper —– Mooy —–

— Trossard — Gross — Alzate —

—– Maupay—–

Glenn Murray and Alireza Jahanbakhsh are excellent weapons to have on the bench, and Brighton’s also got a very good center back in reserve in the form of Shame Duffy and an underrated center mid in Dale Stephens who will see playing time, too. On paper, this team is too good to go down.

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Remaining schedule
Home: Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle
Away: Leicester, Norwich, Southampton, Burnley

Predicted finish: They’ll do enough to get by, though that home fixture list is simply brutal. Safe before the final weekend.

Social media wrap: All 20 Premier League clubs, many players stand against racism

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The protests in the United States have inspired anti-racism statements from around the world, including all gestures from all 20 Premier League clubs and many players and managers.

There have been ongoing protests and horrible violence in the U.S. since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

Newcastle United’s American defender DeAndre Yedlin issued an emotional thread (below) as one of a great deal of players to express hopes for change and solidarity, while Schalke’s Weston McKennie explained his wearing a black armband reading “Justice For George” in the Bundesliga this weekend.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

From Ancelotti to Zaha, Antonio to Yedlin, Arsenal to Wolves, we’ve collected many of their sentiments below in what we hope serves as universal disdain for racial prejudice.

Some players like Leicester City’s Wes Morgan and even entire clubs (Arsenal) changed their online identity photos to reflect these troubled times.

All PL clubs issued messages of solidarity, many using the Black Lives Matter hashtag and making no bones about where they stand.

And we’ll start with a longtime PL club currently in the Championship, who blasted a season ticket holder’s rejection of their unifying Tweet.

Here are some other clubs and players worldwide to have noticed what’s happening in the United States.


Season restart preview: Bournemouth

Bournemouth season restart
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Bournemouth when it comes to the season restart.

Outlook: Tough sledding for the Cherries, who face zero of their fellow bottom-six sides (though 13th place Newcastle and 14th place Saints both visit the Vitality Stadium).

There’s been an element of bad luck to Bournemouth’s woes, with its expected goals stats showing Ryan Fraser, Joshua King, and Callum Wilson have deserved better end product and that the Cherries’ 14 goals from open play should be closer to 22. The defense has been bad and xG says it could’ve been worse, too. Injuries had hit Bournemouth’s defense corps in a big way, too. How much better will they be after the break?

[ MORE: Ranking every Cherries player in 2019-20 ]

Tactical analysis: Eddie Howe utilized a 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders for much of the early season, but has gone between a lone striker with a packed-in midfielder and a 4-3-3 when he thinks an opponent is exploitable.

Howe started a 4-4-2 against almost all of the Cherries’ remaining opponents, choosing a 5-4-1 against Wolves and Man City. There’s no guarantee he’ll continue that, especially when some matches may dictate a draw or limited goal differential damage over wins.

Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Ramsdale —–

— Smith — S. Cook — Ake — Rico —

—– Lerma —– Billing — L. Cook —

— Fraser —– C. Wilson —– King —–

Howe prefers to attack when at all possible, but the points will be at a premium against some very challenging opponents. It’s a safe bet that he’ll ask a lot from his forwards while trying to deploy his three relentless midfielders together whenever possible. The question here is whether Aaron Ramsdale returns quickly from his COVID-19 positive test, or if it’ll be Artur Boruc or someone else between the sticks.

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Remaining schedule
Home: Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Spurs, Leicester City, Southampton
Away: Wolves, Manchester United, Man City, Everton

Predicted finish: The Cherries stay up, just, as King and Callum Wilson deliver the goods in front of a determined and improved midfield.

Premier League clubs will reportedly be allowed preseason friendlies

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Premier League clubs will be allowed to play preseason matches ahead of the 2019-20’s restart season later this month.

There will be strict protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, and the matches will likely be officiated by club coaching staffs (We have so many Jose Mourinho as ref quips to make here, but let’s keep going anyway).

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Sky Sports says clubs will be limited to opponents within 90 minutes of their venue, and that players will have to drive themselves to the stadiums and go directly to the field in uniform.

With the League One and League Two seasons still hanging in the balance, it’s likely PL sides will be limited to each other and Championship sides. Presumably clubs will not want to meet others still on their fixture list.

We assume some players will get dressed in their vehicles outside the ground, but allow yourself some levity in these challenging times and imagine a fully kitted-up Virgil van Dijk driving the roads from Liverpool to Wigan Athletic.