Four things learned: Chelsea v. Man United

Leave a comment

LONDON — Chelsea secured a dramatic late 2-2 draw against Manchester United, as Ross Barkley scored a 96th minute equalizer at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Maurizio Sarri‘s unbeaten record in charge of the Blues remains intact, while Jose Mourinho’s United side performed well but will be disappointed to let in a late goal which cost them their first win at Chelsea since 2012.

Sarri’s men took the lead through Antonio Rudiger‘s header but United struck twice through Anthony Martial‘s in a much-improved second half display from the Red Devils. Barkley then equalized as wild scenes on the touch saw one of Chelsea’s assistants, Marco Ianni

Here’s what we learned from a dramatic encounter in the sun in west London.


MARTIAL ISSUES TIMELY REMINDER

Anthony Martial scored twice to remind everyone of what he’s truly capable of. With his contract set to expire this summer (although United have an option to extend it for a further year) and talks not progressing, his agent will be waiting by the phone intently over the next few days. Martial’s clinical finishes reminded us of the teenager who burst onto the scenes in 2015 after United signed him from AS Monaco. That season he scored 17 times and he now has four in his first nine games of this campaign in all competitions. Martial is still just 22 years old and just as impressive as his cool finishes was his tracking back. That earned him a pat on the back and a warm embrace from Mourinho when he worked back on the left flank in the second half.


DEFENSIVE ERRORS CONTINUE TO HAMPER CHELSEA

It is something Maurizio Sarri has stressed time and time again since he took charge in July, but Chelsea do not seem to be improving defensively. With limited time to work with his squad on defensive shape they have instead focused of possessing the ball and getting the best out of Eden Hazard. That has worked well all season but without Olivier Giroud as the targetman they seemed to lose a cutting edge to their attacking play on Saturday with Alvaro Morata shackled and bullied by Chris Smalling. But it was a sense of panic in the box which saw Chelsea come unstuck, as they failed to clear on numerous occasions for United’s first goal and were then completely caught on the counter for the second.

As much as David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger are comfortable on the ball, they need to stop being turned around so easily as United’s powerful midfield ran at them time and time again in the second half. If Sarri’s Chelsea are to be serious title contenders this season in the Premier League, they need to shore things up defensively.


MOURINHO FIGHTS BACK WITH MORE BANS LIKELY

As Barkley equalized in the 96th minute to keep Chelsea’s unbeaten run intact, a member of Chelsea’s coaching staff, Marco Ianni, celebrated in Mourinho’s face and that of the United bench.

What came next was an huge melee as Mourinho stood up for himself and his team. It would be a shock of Ianni isn’t banned for this.

As Mourinho came off the pitch he then responded to jeers from Chelsea’s fans by reminding them how many titles he had won in charge of the Blues. Classic Jose.


POGBA REMAINS INFURIATING

The way Pogba threw his arms in the air and stamped his feet after Antonio Rudiger scored the opener for Chelsea told the whole story. Pogba lost Rudiger from the corner and he looked to be blaming Victor Lindelof as David Luiz blocked his run slightly. Instead of putting his hand up and taking responsibility for a lapse in concentration Pogba launched a tantrum a toddler would be proud of. In the second half Pogba was again at his infuriating best as he hurdled clear of two Chelsea challenges and was running at the heart of their defense. He then tried a clever flick which went straight to a Chelsea defender when an easy through ball to Marcus Rashford was on. It is a moments like this when you realize why Pogba must enrage Mourinho so much. Yet as the game opened up late on he got on the ball more and did cause problems with his slaloming runs but his passes were off. This was a display full of flaws from Pogba as he proved how infuriating he can be.

Carlos Vela scored a celestial goal. We are blessed to have seen it

Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Carlos Vela is making all other spectacular individual MLS seasons look run of the mill.

I mean, look at the gumption on this guy.

[ VIDEO: Rooney sent off, Kamara scores golazo ]

The Cancun-born playmaker left the San Jose Earthquakes back line on the beach with a soft shoe routine to give LAFC its third goal in a 4-0 win on Thursday

Vela, 30, now has 25 goals and 11 assists in 25 league matches for LAFC this season. He added two goals and an assist in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play.

But this one, yeah, this one takes the cake.

First, there’s Vela’s non-chalant dummy before picking up the pass.

Then, there’s Florian Jungwirth’s body language during and after his being cooked with a nutmeg. That’s an entire mood.

Next, Vela dribbles around the keeper and allows a slide tackler so glide past him before finishing with aplomb.

Diego Rossi also had a goal and an assist, while Mark-Anthony Kaye continued his strong season with an assist to ex-Fiorentina prospect Joshua Perez. It’s a first MLS goal for the California-born Perez, now 21.

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

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

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.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

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

Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

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

Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

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