Danny Drinkwater

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Reports: Drinkwater arrested for drunk driving after crash

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According to reports in England, Chelsea midfielder Danny Drinkwater has been arrested for suspicion of drunk driving after crashing his Range Rover into another vehicle.

The reports say Drinkwater was leaving a party in Manchester and driving home when he crashed around 12:30am local time on Monday morning.

Drinkwater was not in the Chelsea squad for the 2-0 win over West Ham on Monday, but that was not unusual as Drinkwater has been left out of every Premier League matchday squad but one for Chelsea this season, when he was an unused substitute back in mid-September.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops West Ham on Hazard brace ]

“Shortly after 12.30am we were called to a collision in Ashley Road in Mere,” said a spokesman for the Cheshire Police. “We arrived at the scene and found a black Land Rover estate car had collided with a wall. There was one man and two women, thankfully they just received minor injuries. A 29-year-old man from Nether Alderley was arrested on suspicion of drink driving. He is currently in custody assisting police with inquiries.”

According to reports, there were no major injuries in the crash, that involved one other car. Drinkwater was with one female in his vehicle, while a female in the other car was also unhurt other than minor injuries. English tabloid The Sun reports that the crash was “really nasty.”

Drinkwater has been told by Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri that he is free to leave the club at the end of the season. He joined in the summer of 2017 from Leicester City where he won the Premier League championship.

PL Sunday preview: Merseyside, west London derbies on tap

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A big weekend of Premier League derbies wraps up on Sunday, when Merseyside and west London showdowns take center stage with plenty of title and top-four implications.

[ MORE: Man City win, lose KDB | Man United come back, beat Southampton ]

Watford v. Leicester City — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Brendan Rodgers is set to make his return to the PL when he debuts as Leicester manager on Sunday. Rodgers, who was appointed the Foxes’ new boss earlier this week, was in attendance for his new side’s 2-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday — a result that snapped the six-game winless skid (five losses) that ultimately cost Claude Puel his job. It was Leicester’s first victory since New Year’s Day. Rodgers was hugely successful at Celtic — two league titles, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups in two-plus seasons — his first stop after being fired by Liverpool in October 2015.

Up first is a trip to eighth-place Watford, a side that went to Anfield and suffered a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Liverpool on Wednesday, just five days after hanging five goals of their own on Cardiff City. The Hornets, under first-year boss Javi Gracia, haven’t lost back-to-back games since the first week of December, a streak which included a 2-1 defeat to Leicester in these sides’ first meeting of 2018-19.

INJURIES: Watford —  OUT: None | Leicester — OUT: Marc Albrighton (hamstring), Daniel Amartey (ankle)


Fulham v. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Fulham’s first season back in the PL will almost certainly end with the west London club making an immediate return to the Championship, but that fact hardly suffices to explain the Cottagers’ struggles this season: following Claudio Ranieri‘s dismissal and the appointment of Scott Parker as interim manager, Fulham have now employed the same number of managers as they have won games (4). The deficit they must overcome to pull off the greatest escape the PL has ever seen? 10 points with 10 games left to play, beginning with a visit from nearby Chelsea on Sunday.

Speaking of managers coming under fire of late, Maurizio Sarri‘s situation at Chelsea is hardly any better these days. Not only have the fans turned on him, but the Blues have lost three of their last five league games while also falling flat in the League Cup final. That league form has seen them tumble to sixth in the PL table, now five points back of fourth-place Manchester United, though Chelsea now have a pair of games in hand. Sarri says Kepa Arrizabalaga will reclaim his place as first-choice goalkeeper in one of the next two games after refusing to be subbed off in that final defeat, giving way to Willy Caballero to keep the clean sheet in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.

INJURIES: Fulham —  OUT: Alfie Mawson (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Andre Schurrle (illness) | Chelsea — OUT: Danny Drinkwater (undisclosed)


Everton v. Liverpool — 11:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Sure, Liverpool would be delighted to complete their second double over Everton in three seasons’ time, but the Reds will have their sights set much higher than Merseyside dominance on Sunday. Now two points back of Manchester City in the PL title race, Jurgen Klopp‘s side needs all three points from one of its toughest games each season to keep pace with the defending champions and remain on pace to lift England’s top-flight trophy at Anfield for the first time since 1990 (pre-PL era). Having only beaten the Toffees in the season’s first meeting via one of the stranger goals you’ll ever see, the trip to Goodison should prove more difficult than Everton’s ninth-place standing might indicate.

Everton have a bit more confidence now than they would have had this, the 233rd edition of the derby, been played earlier this week. After losing three straight, by a combined score of 6-1, Marco Silva‘s side bounced back with a 3-0 thrashing of Cardiff on Tuesday — a result that might have just bought the first-year Portuguese manager a bit of time. Of particular worry for Everton: star forward Richarlison, who paced the side with 10 goals until Gylfi Sigurdsson‘s brace against Cardiff pulled him one ahead, went without a goal for the entire month of February and has scored just one PL goal since Boxing Day.

INJURIES: Everton —  QUESTIONABLE: Leighton Baines (ribs) | Liverpool — OUT: Dejan Lovren (hamstring), Joe Gomez (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Roberto Firmino (ankle)

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Arsenal interest in Navas; Drinkwater to leave?

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Unai Emery is reportedly in the market for more than just a centerback in January.

According to El Confidencial in Spain, Emery is interested in signing Real Madrid goalkeeper Kaylor Navas. The veteran Costa Rica international starred for Real Madrid in their three UEFA Champions League titles in as many years and yet, he’s found himself second-choice this season behind former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The report states that Real Madrid would let Navas leave for around $16 million, a bargain considering his experience and talent. The report then goes on to say Real Madrid would invest that money in signing Brahim Diaz, a reserve at Manchester City who hasn’t made it into Pep Guardiola‘s first team plans.

The idea of signing Navas for Arsenal is a bit of a head-scratcher. While he’s clearly a talented goalkeeper, it would be surprising for Emery to have moved on from two international-caliber goalkeepers in the span of six months. Petr Cech started the season but after a few errors, Bernd Leno, signed last June from Bayer Leverkusen took over. Leno has had some mistakes in the past few games, but most managers would back their goalkeepers to overcome the errors.

If the reports are true, Emery apparently believes he needs a fresh pair of hands in net.

Here are some more transfer stories around the Premier League:

(more…)

Sarri: Jorginho or Cesc, not Kante to play in center of midfield 3

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Following a stronger-than-expected start to the season, Chelsea came back to earth last weekend with a 3-1 drubbing from Tottenham at Wembley Stadium.

Dele Alli was one of the stars of the show for Spurs, winning numerous midfield battles with his Chelsea counterpart, Jorginho as the Brazilian-born Italian international was constantly overrun. The defeat increased calls for Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri to place N'Golo Kante back in his more natural position in the center of a three-man midfield, or in a two-man holding midfield pair.

[READ: Steffan to Man City? It’s worth the risk, writes Nicholas Mendola]

Instead, ahead of Chelsea’s Europa League match against PAOK of Greece, Sarri is sticking to his formula.

“I want to play a central midfielder who is a very technical player, so for me, the central midfielder is Jorginho or (Cesc) Fabregas,” Sarri said in his press conference. “I don’t want Kante in this position.”

In Sarri’s ideal 4-3-3 system, with a triangle in midfield, he wants the base of the triangle, the center, to be a player like Jorginho, who can set the pace and tempo of the attack and pick out a pass all over the field. In front, he wants two players who can attack and defend up and down the field, on either side of Jorginho. This season, Kante has been spending most of his time covering the right side of the field, instead of having the freedom to break up passes and make tackles all over midfield.

On one hand, Sarri has given a boost to Jorginho, who had one of his worst matches in a Chelsea shirt and will surely rebound from this and produce better performances in the future. On the other hand, it’s wild to hear a coach, with arguably the best holding midfielder in the world, not use Kante in the position to get the best out of him. Just like in American sports, with Sarri, it’s system over player.

“Maybe it’s only a question of time, but Kante has to stay near to Jorginho, especially when the ball is on the other side. When the ball is on the left he has to stay very close to Jorginho.”

For N’Golo Kante, he’s either going to have to adjust to playing more of a box-to-box midfielder role or potentially seek a move away from Chelsea, where he can play in his preferred position. With Leicester City and at the World Cup, he played in a 4-2-3-1, playing alongside another holding midfielder, while under Antonio Conte, he was paired in central midfield with players such as Fabregas, Danny Drinkwater or Tiemoue Bakayoko.

What did we learn from PL Saturday?

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What did we learn from the eight Premier League games on Saturday?

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Below is a look at the key takeaways.

Chelsea is back, Liverpool’s real, the title race is a thing

In theory, it takes at least a dozen serious matches for a club to find its identity under a manager, which makes what Chelsea is doing after 10 with Maurizio Sarri something pretty special.

Even if his club’s ex-striker amazing late hit (VIDEO) stopped the Blues from going atop the Premier League in Saturday’s 1-1 draw, both Sarri’s Chelsea and his opponents underscored the fact that several teams can lay claim to contender status this early season.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool ]

Prior to Saturday, the Blues had lost points just twice under Sarri, once in the Community Shield against Manchester City and the other occasion last weekend’s scoreless draw with West Ham.

How would they react to that disappointment? Chelsea responded with a comeback win against the Reds at Anfield in the League Cup before taking a smaller bite out of Liverpool’s ambitions on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea needed a pair of goal line clearances to get there, and it wouldn’t be wrong to judge the result the same way many viewed the 3-2 home win over Arsenal early in the season. Though that one was said to have shown the holes in both sides’ defense, perhaps like this match it just shows that there are a number of teams who can rightly make a claim to contender status (especially given Arsenal’s rise up the table).

The fact that between Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea, Man City, and Arsenal, we’ve seen just a handful of their fixtures against each other opens up plenty of excitement and open-minded thinking as to who can survive the season and come out on top. It also, however, may point to Man City retaining its crown considering Pep Guardiola’s men are properly weathering the absence of Kevin De Bruyne (and won’t have to rush him back).

The point is better for Liverpool than Chelsea, but both will feel every bit the threat to Man City’s throne after Saturday in London.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Manchester City 7 6 1 0 21 3 18 4-0-0 2-1-0 19
 Liverpool 7 6 1 0 15 3 12 3-0-0 3-1-0 19
 Chelsea 7 5 2 0 15 5 10 3-1-0 2-1-0 17
 Tottenham Hotspur 7 5 0 2 14 7 7 1-0-1 4-0-1 15
 Arsenal 7 5 0 2 14 9 5 3-0-1 2-0-1 15

Manchester United has a top-to-bottom problem

There is not a single figure actively involved in Manchester United who can dodge responsibility for the club’s current mess following a 3-1 defeat at West Ham United.

Chairman Ed Woodward failed to supply manager Jose Mourinho with his top targets this summer, while the boss has seemingly been more interested in excuses and intrasquad squabbles than tactically moving the Red Devils forward.

For the most part, star player Paul Pogba has performed despite such obstacles. The Frenchman, however, was quite poor on Saturday and Mourinho removed him before the match was complete.

When it’s going wrong for Mourinho, even seemingly innocuous lines seem to call for concern. Was he really praising West Ham’s recruitment policies when he complimented their scouting, or taking a jab at United’s? When starting Anthony Martial over struggling Alexis Sanchez is a topic, even if the former has earned the opportunity.

It’s a top-to-bottom mess at Manchester United right now, and the club badly needs a rudder. Can Mourinho or Pogba be that piece, or are both too far gone? A loss to Valencia next week could eliminate the former’s chances.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Leicester has set itself up well for trio of litmus tests

It isn’t exactly a feather in your cap to keep Newcastle United off the scoreboard, but Leicester City’s win comfortable 2-0 win showed exactly why the Foxes will compete for a Top Seven spot (perhaps better should Manchester United not right its ship).

Claude Puel‘s men are four points off the Top Four, having lost to Liverpool, Manchester United, and Bournemouth. You could argue they deserved points in the first two (There’s no argument they should’ve lifted a point from a clunker at the Vitality Stadium, however). More importantly, the Foxes are taking three points almost every time it’s expected of them.

The club has successfully transitioned from the old group that won the title to a mix of experience and youthful energy. They’ve sold Danny Drinkwater and Riyad Mahrez while replacing them with a number of pieces able to do their jobs.

Thriving in, or at least surviving, the next three fixtures versus Everton, Arsenal, and West Ham United will shows us whether the Foxes will be more of a factor in the Top Six or just the top half.

The January transfer window will again decide the relegation race

Is your struggling club willing to spend?

This isn’t the only solution for point-starved clubs, but both Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town can only lean on their managers’ tactical acumen for so long.

Fulham is finding goals no problem but has already conceded 16 times and remarkably has allowed two or more goals in all but one league match this season.

The Magpies are punchless up top, missing something between the long-field vision of Jonjo Shelvey and the crafty but unpredictable work of Ayoze Perez.

The Terriers, too, need an answer in attack. At a time where it looks like wins, not draws, will decide which few teams are involved in a relegation scrap, goals will very much be at a premium for Newcastle, Huddersfield, Cardiff City, and the teams which may also be fighting for their lives (Southampton? Burnley? Brighton and Hove Albion?).