Chelsea too much for scrappy Aston Villa

Leave a comment

Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount helped Chelsea snap a 3-match winless run with a 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The Blues improve to 29 points, six better than fifth place Wolves. They out shot the visitors 25-9, putting nine shots on target.

Trezeguet scored in the losing effort for 15th place Villa, who makes three teams just a point above the Bottom Three.


Three things we learned

1. Chelsea’s dormant Mount erupts: It had been a while since the Blues’ youngster scored, but Mount made it count. Aston Villa allowed Willian ages on the right side of the 18, and the Brazilian’s cross to Abraham wound up with Mount. He tore into the shot for his fourth goal of the year.

2. Villa finds its level: Dean Smith‘s men have the quality to stay up in their first season back in the Premier League, and are definitely more talented than many of the sides in the relegation mix. But they are now 1D-5L in their first meetings with the “Big Six.” It’s commendable that the Villans already look a mid-table side, to be sure, but that extra something special isn’t there against the top clubs.

3. Pulisic Watch: Chelsea’s “Captain America” went 85 minutes in the win, subbing off for Callum Hudson-Odoi. He wasn’t a part of the goals, but was again tidy in tight spaces and a good part of Chelsea’s possession. Pulisic forced a save out of Heaton that Abraham couldn’t finish, and nearly cashed in on a free kick rebound in tight. He finished an 88 percent passer with five shots (three blocked, one on target), winning 10 of 18 duels and making one tackle.

Man of the Match:


Chelsea was lively early, with Mason Mount getting two chances before Abraham put the Blues on the board.

Reece James whipped in a cross that Abraham headed over Tom Heaton, the ex-Villa loanee neglecting a celebration for his 11th of the season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Mount put Chelsea ahead after the break, his first in seven league matches, when Abraham trapped Willian’s cross and Mount was there to take in the spoils.

Heaton denied Willian’s free kick near the 80th minute, and Pulisic couldn’t quite win the race to a rebound chance.

Christian Pulisic named USMNT Player of the Year

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Who else could it be? Christian Pulisic has been named the USMNT player of the year for 2019.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The Chelsea star, 21, excelled for club and country over the past 12 months and after taking a few months to settle into life in England, he’s now taking the Premier League by storm on a weekly basis.

Pulisic has now won this award for a second time after first winning it in 2017 and he becomes the youngest player in U.S. men’s national team history to win the award twice.

His achievements over the last 12 months are numerous, as he dragged a struggling USMNT to the 2019 Gold Cup final and also became the youngest player to reach double figures in goals for the USMNT.

MLS veteran Sacha Kljestan signs with hometown LA Galaxy

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Carson, Calif. (AP) Veteran midfielder Sacha Kljestan has signed with the LA Galaxy as a free agent.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The 34-year-old U.S. national team contributor officially returned to his native Southern California on Wednesday.

Kljestan has scored 49 goals over 10 MLS seasons in a career that began as the fifth overall pick by defunct Chivas USA, the Galaxy’s former stadium partners. After a successful five-year stint with Belgium’s Anderlecht, he spent the past five seasons with New York Red Bulls and Orlando City.

The Huntington Beach native also has made 51 appearances for the U.S. team, playing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Kljestan will provide veteran leadership for a Galaxy roster in transition after the departures of its top two goal-scorers: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Uriel Antuna.

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

Liverpool in talks to activate Minamino’s release clause

Getty Images
Leave a comment

On the face of it, this move makes perfect sense for everyone concerned. Especially Liverpool, who get a bargain.

Multiple reports state that the Premier League leaders are in advanced talks to sign Japanese winger Takumi Minamino from RB Salzburg.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Minamino, 24, has a release clause of just $9.5 million and it has been reported that he will move to Liverpool in January with talks going well over a five-year contract.

RB Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund confirmed talks are ongoing about the transfer, with Bayern Munich and Marseille also said to be interested in signing the tricky winger.

“I can confirm that there are talks with Liverpool at the moment. It is an honor [for us] to see the caliber of clubs who are interested in our players.”

Minamino’s goals, pace and trickery pushed Salzburg to within one game of reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds and he impressed against Liverpool in both games in the UCL group stage as he scored at Anfield and gave their defense plenty of problems in the return game. His skillset would perfectly suit the way Liverpool play with his direct running, pace and nose for goal seemingly perfect for Jurgen Klopp‘s side.

With Klopp and his RB Salzburg counterpart Jesse Marsch hugging on the sidelines after Liverpool’s win in Austria on Tuesday, plus Klopp’s kind words on the job the American coach is doing at Salzburg, it’s safe to say there’s a strong connection between the two teams and their styles of play are very similar.

That’s an even better reason for Minamino to head to Liverpool as the Japanese star would slot in seamlessly and he would become the third former RB Salzburg player at the Reds alongside Naby Keita and Sadio Mane.

From the style of play of both player and the club, to the small transfer fee, this works out very well for everyone involved. Even Salzburg will be happy to become known as a feeder club to Liverpool and Europe’s other big boys as that will help them with their future recruitment.

Raul Jimenez’s future at Wolves uncertain

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Raul Jimenez has been talking about playing for one of Spain’s big boys.

That sound you can hear is Wolves fans everywhere sobbing.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

The Mexican striker was quoted by Spanish outlet Marca saying that he would one day like to return to Spain and play for one of the La Liga giants.

“I would never rule out returning to Spain. I have good memories, and I would like to go back at some point,” Jimenez said. “I want to try out LaLiga once more, as I didn’t get to play much the previous time. Returning is not off the agenda. I have played at the Nou Camp and the Bernabeu.”

Jimenez, 28, previously played for Atletico Madrid before moving to Benfica who loaned him to Wolves in the summer of 2018, and he has since made the switch to the West Midlands permanent for $40 million.

However, his manager Nuno Espirito Santo has moved to calm down fears the El Tri star will move at the end of this season.

“What he is doing is amazing – every day of his life is dedicated to Wolves so we are delighted with it,” Santo said. “Being ambitious and dreaming is something all of us have. But our present is very good with Raul here.”

The powerful Mexican striker has been superb over the past two seasons and has proved to be a phenomenal target man in the Premier League. He’s scored 32 goals in 71 appearances in all competitions for Wolves, leading them to an FA Cup semifinal appearance and seventh-place PL finish last season and his goals this campaign (15 in 27 appearances in total) have catapulted them into the top six and the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League. Aside from his goals Jimenez’s hold-up play has been vital to Wolves’ success.

It is worth pointing out that Jimenez revealed he is very happy at Wolves but the fact he is so ambitious and fancies moving on to either Real Madrid and Barcelona is a good thing for the club. This means Jimenez is striving to improve and do all he can to take his game to the next level.

Yes, Wolves will be desperate to keep hold of the Mexican star who is a fans favorite at Molineux. But if he continues to score goals and one of Spain’s big boys, or a title-chasing team in the PL, were to come calling, can they stand in his way?