Three things learned: Chelsea v. Tottenham

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LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur beat Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday to end a 28-year wait for a win at their London rivals.

Alvaro Morata put Chelsea ahead in the first half but Christian Eriksen‘s stunner saw Spurs equalize right on half time and two calm finishes from Dele Alli in the second half set Spurs on their way to a historic win, their first in the Premier League era at Chelsea.

Here’s what we learned from a pivotal day in the top four race in a London derby at the Bridge.


DELE ALLI TAKES OVER FOR KANE

Both Christian Eriksen and Heung-Min Son had helped fill the void left by Harry Kane before Sunday. At Chelsea it was Dele Alli who stood tall as he scored twice in the second half to turn the game on its head.

Dele, 21, scored a sublime first goal on his 100th Premier League appearance for Tottenham as he collected a long ball over the top as delicate as an ice sculptor chiseling the final detail of their latest masterpiece before finishing with aplomb.

His second was a predatory strike, straight out of Kane’s locker, as he hung around in the box and waited for a loose ball to break to him before finishing to make it 3-1.

Eriksen’s equalizer right on half time was crucial as the Danish playmaker spanked home from distance and helped drag Spurs back into the encounter. But it was Alli who did the most damage as he regained the form which saw him win the PFA Young Player of the Year award in each of his first two season in the PL.

After being left out of England’s starting lineups for their recent internationals, Alli seems to have got the message loud and clear. He delivered a timely reminder why he is rated as the top attacking midfield talent 21 and under in Europe.

He stood tall when Tottenham needed him most to all but secure their top four spot as Spurs are the only PL team who remain unbeaten in 2018 with eight wins and three draws. On course for a third-straight top four finish as they will now certainly bring Champions League action into the new White Hart Lane next season, Kane’s goals have been a big part of their success. But Dele Alli, Eriksen and Son have all stepped up when Kane has been missing and on Sunday it was Alli’s turn.


TOTTENHAM RUB SALT IN CONTE’S WOUNDS

This wasn’t the final nail in Antonio Conte‘s coffin at Chelsea, but it was one of the final nails.

Chelsea have now lost five of their last seven games and although they impressed in the first half against Tottenham, they squandered several chances with Marcos Alonso and Willian denied and seemed to be in total control of the game until Eriksen’s stunner on half time.

As for Conte, the Italian coach hasn’t wanted to be around in West London all season long and this defeat for fifth-place Chelsea means they are now eight points off the top four with seven games to go. In other words, Chelsea’s hopes of finishing in the top four are over.

Chelsea’s season is now all but over as their focus will switch to winning the FA Cup. Of course they will try and win their remaining games but this was a massive blow for Conte and should only accelerate either his own departure from Stamford Bridge or at least the plans for life without him from this summer on.

Just under 12 months on from securing the PL title, Conte’s second, and probably his last season, at Chelsea is descending into a huge disappointment.


MORATA REGAINS MOJO

Early on he lost a few aerial challenges against Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen and there were rumblings of discontent among the home supporters. Overall, Alvaro Morata has his mojo back.

The Spanish striker made the most of a mistake from Hugo Lloris to calmly nod Chelsea ahead as he continued his good run of form following a back injury and a dip in confidence which threatened to derail his debut Premier League season.

When Romelu Lukaku went to Manchester United and Morata went to Chelsea in the summer, the debate was around who got the better deal. There’s no question that Lukaku has had a better season than Morata in terms of goals (he has 25 in all competitions to Morata’s 14) or his importance to his team.

But long term, could Morata deliver more than Lukaku?

His hold up play, like Lukaku’s still needs to improve, but he was winning flick ons and making much more of a nuisance of himself than he had done previously. He could have got a shot away early in the second half before Spurs and Dele Alli turned on the magic as a lack of confidence reared its head again, but Morata is showing signs of recovery which will be a positive for Chelsea next season.

With two goals in his last two games, Morata is back to the player Chelsea and Conte thought they had signed to not only replace Diego Costa up front but to improve in that area.

WATCH: Rooney sees red for forearm shiver, Kamara scores golazo

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Midweek MLS provided plenty to talk about on Wednesday, with two red cards and a golazo in one match alone.

The two main talking points from the New York Red Bulls’ 2-1 win over DC United weren’t really part of what led the victors to three points.

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How? Well, one of the world’s marquee names earned a red card via VAR and a returning star scores an absolute stunner, that’s how.

Here’s Ola Kamara’s debut marker for the Black-and-Red, adding to a record which included 49 goals in 97 matches between Columbus and the LA Galaxy before moving to the Chinese Super League for a wildly disappointing time with Shenzhen FC.

All of that is forgotten.

As for the Rooney incident, the Red Bulls already led 1-0 when DC’s star striker went forearm shiver on Cristian Casseres Jr.

It’s the second red of the season for Rooney, who is set for Derby County in January.

Amro Tarek was later sent off for the Red Bulls, who moved ahead of DC in the standings. Kaku and Daniel Royer had RBNY’s goals.

Newcastle takeover could be back on if in holiday relegation battle

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How much do Newcastle United supporters dislike their owner Mike Ashley right now?

Enough that this report is likely to condemn many to hoping their favorite club in the world is in the Bottom 3 come Christmas.

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The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas speculates that Ashley will lower his asking price for the club if it is in a relegation fight come December — something that looks certain after the Steve Bruce-led Magpies got bossed around by promoted Norwich City.

Nothing But Newcastle transcribed Douglas’ chatter from his podcast, in which he says,

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear more in December because there are still people sniffing around that football club and if the team are in the bottom three, there’ll be people thinking they can get a bargain out of Mike Ashley again. … He will probably more open to listening to lower offers in January and December which is what happened last December. He was basically saying ‘take it off my hands, you now have to take the risk’'”

This is notable for two reasons. First: the social experiment of wondering how many fans could see themselves rooting for their team to take a major and perilous back step just to see the back of a man they perceive is at the root of their failures (and that perception is widespread in this case).

But second, we can see if this rumor comes true because it’s difficult to imagine Newcastle as comfortably mid table by Christmas.

Fan protests and anger are nothing new, but here’s an effort to show how wobbly Ashley’s reputation is on Tyneside: Fans have taken to selling a black and white striped shirt with player name and number but no sponsor just so they can have a Newcastle jersey that doesn’t put money into Ashley’s pockets. And this is after he broke the club’s transfer record twice in one year.

If we’ve learned anything from the past few seasons, though, it’s that boycotts and anger will spur Ashley into insisting that he’s willing to sell and just conveniently enough it will be before the January transfer window. He “won’t be able to buy any players” with the takeover in play, and talks will hit a wall come late January, when they’ll loan a couple young players from Top Six sides.

Yes he spent significant money on Joelinton, Allen Saint-Maximin, and others this summer, but one decent window doesn’t make a culture. Count us amongst the skeptical, for now.

Messi back in training, could be fit for Betis

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi was back in full training again on Wednesday and may be fit to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Messi had been training separately from the squad since injuring his right calf in the preseason.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener on Friday.

Barcelona has not said how long it expects Messi to be sidelined.

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Coach Ernesto Valverde is also dealing with injuries to forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.

Dembele is certain to miss Sunday’s match at the Camp Nou because of a left thigh injury that should keep him out for about five weeks.

Suarez also isn’t likely to play this weekend because of a muscle injury sustained before halftime of Friday’s game in Bilbao.

Two-time defending champion Barcelona hadn’t loss a league opener in 10 seasons.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Inter, Man Utd yet to find wage agreement for Alexis loan

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How close are we to an Alexis Sanchez-Romelu Lukaku reunion in Italy?

Depends if you think about $236,000 a week is a reasonable amount of money to pay a guy to not work for you.

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Inter Milan is ready to offer that figure — half Alexis Sanchez’s salary — per week to take the Chilean on loan from Manchester United, but the Red Devils don’t really like the idea of paying the player that much.

We wouldn’t be surprised if Inter wouldn’t want to go much higher than that, and that’s a weight United needs to bear considering they greenlit the wild wages when they sent Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Arsenal in exchange for Sanchez.

The 30-year-old entered the summer with the sixth-highest salary in football. Only Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Paul Pogba, and Andres Iniesta make more.

Put in perspective further, Lukaku’s new deal at Inter is reportedly close to $309,000 a week.