Marcos Alonso

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Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v. Chelsea

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Chelsea visits surprising Newcastle United in a marquee match Saturday at St. James’ Park (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The hosts have scrapped their way to 26 points, five points both clear of the drop zone and back of seventh place. A draw at Wolves last weekend snapped a three-match league losing streak.

Chelsea maintains a five-point gap over Manchester United in its bid to claim a Top Four place, with the Red Devils meeting unbeaten Liverpool this week. The Blues are seeking back-to-back league wins for the first time since Nov. 9.

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Newcastle has had a fair bit of success against the big boys this season, beating Manchester United and Spurs while drawing Man City.

Christian Pulisic stole the ball en route to Marcos Alonso‘s late goal in a 1-0 win when the two sides met at Stamford Bridge in October.

Pulisic, of course, is still out injured for Chelsea and Lampard says the American could return near the club’s February break. Newcastle has electric winger Allan Saint-Maximin back in the fold after more than a month on the sidelines. Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey are also available.


Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle United: OUT — Paul Dummett, Dwight Gayle, DeAndre Yedlin, Fabian Schar, Jetro Willems, Javi Manquillo. QUESTIONABLE — DeAndre Yedlin, Yoshinori Muto.

Chelsea: OUT — Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N’Golo Kante, Pulisic. QUESTIONABLE — Marcos Alonso.


Probable lineups

Newcastle United: Dubravka; Willems, Clark, Lascelles, Fernandez, Ritchie; Hayden, Shelvey; Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Almiron.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, James; Jorginho, Willian, Mount, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi; Abraham.


What they’re saying

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce on his meeting with owner Mike Ashley: “It went very well. We showed what we are trying to do, and he was fully supportive. We have plates spinning and hope to add to the squad by the end of the month. We have said that the targets have to improve us. He has been fully supportive of the remit. He agrees we buy quality not quantity. That has to be the mantra.”

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard on Newcastle’s many injuries: “It is still an opportunity, but this is vital. Every game brings challenges, going to Newcastle, the emotion of the crowd and they are an organized side. We won’t take it lightly. We have to take every game head-on. We don’t underestimate there. Bournemouth were down to the bare bones and we lost, it can bring out a different feeling. They have done very well and I don’t look at the bare bones.


Prediction

St. James’ Park has been a tough place to play, but the Blues shake off any travel to collect a 2-1 win over the Magpies.

Report: Chelsea in pursuit of Bayern Munich’s David Alaba

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A new, natural left-back may be on his way to Stamford Bridge this winter.

Chelsea are weighing in on placing a $78-million (£60 million) bid for Bayern Munich’s David Alaba, according to a report.

Longtime left-back favorite, Marcos Alonso, has fallen in Frank Lampard‘s pecking order, making just eight Premier League appearances this season. As a result, the 41-year-old has recently instead shifted captain Cesar Azpilicueta from his natural right-back position to the left side.

20-year-old Reece James now features as the Blues’ right-back, a glaring indicator that Lampard isn’t sold on either Alonso or 25-year-old Emerson Palmieri.

Alaba, 27, has a contract with the German giants until the summer of 2021, meaning that the transfer price is not coming at a reduced price.

Debuting for Bayern’s first team in 2010, Alaba has since made 250 Bundesliga appearances, scoring 22 goals and jotting 25 assists. This season, he’s featured 17 times for the champions throughout all competitions.

At the age of 17, Alaba earned his first cap with Austria; since then, he’s registered a total of 72 caps.

The Blues are free to engage in the transfer market after their appeal on a two-window transfer ban was ratified by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in early December.

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 18

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We learned a whole heck of a lot about some teams this past weekend as the festive fixtures are now upon us.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Pep Guardiola is more malleable than we thought, and reports of Man City’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Conversely, Brendan Rodgers still has some growing to do.  Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta have a LOT of work to do, and so does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer because WOOF Manchester United.

Here’s a look at where the clubs rank in relation to one another, because no, you aren’t necessarily what the table says you are at this point in the season.

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Aston Villa -Not all four match losing streaks are alike. Losses to Chelsea, Leicester City, and even Sheffield United can be written off in a relegation battle. Losing to Southampton? Not so much. The festive fixtures are very, very kind to Aston Villa, and thus, they are ENORMOUSLY important. Dean Smith must right the ship.
Last week: 18
Season high: 8
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-1 v. Southampton
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

19. Norwich City – Losing on a late Raul Jimenez winner isn’t exactly a bad omen, and following up a draw against Leicester City, things are looking up, but they have one win since mid-September, and that’s not sustainable. Emiliano Buendia’s back is going to start hurting sooner or later.
Last week: 19
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Wolves
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

18 Watford – What a weird game. Watford probably deserved at least a point, but they actually closed out a victory for the second time this season. It will take far more than that to earn safety, but that’s about as solid a jumping off point as they could have asked for.
Last week: 20
Season high: 17
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Manchester United
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

17. Bournemouth – Bournemouth produced maybe the worst attacking performance of anyone this entire season against Burnley. Did not see that coming. Gross.
Last week: 15
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Burnley
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

16. West Ham United – West Ham was scheduled to play Liverpool last weekend, so they got a much-needed rest ahead of the festive fixtures, where they’ll play Crystal Palace, Leicester City, and Bournemouth.
Last week: 16
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 at Southampton [off last week]
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

15. Southampton – Just when you’re out on Southampton, they pull you back in. Just in time for a brutal festive fixture stretch.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 3-1 at Aston Villa
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

14. Everton – We haven’t learned much about Everton over the last few weeks, except that they do have signs of life. A 0-0 draw with Arsenal doesn’t tell us much more. Carlo Ancelotti now takes charge and has a very soft schedule to land on his feet.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Drew 0-0 v. Arsenal.
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

13. Arsenal – No goals in Arsenal’s last two games. Mikel Arteta has SO much work to do.
Last week: 13
Season high: 4
Season low: 13
Last match: Drew 0-0 at Everton
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

12. Crystal Palace – They actually played well against Newcastle and came up just short. Zaha had an off day (4/14 dribbling). It happens. On to the outrageously soft festive fixtures, where they can shoot up the table.
Last week: 10
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Newcastle
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

11. Newcastle United – Miguel Almiron got a goal! That’s cool! Three wins in the last four is even cooler. Now comes the hard part – their next five matches are Manchester United, Everton, Leicester City, Wolves, Chelsea. Have fun, Steve Bruce!
Last week: 11
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

10. Brighton & Hove Albion – Brighton held nearly 70% possession against Sheffield United and managed two shots on target. They’re 13th in the table, but just five points above the drop. The Seagulls can ill afford slips like that.
Last week: 9
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Sheffield United
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

9. Manchester United – GACKKKKKK. That’s it. That’s the blurb.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Watford.
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

8. Burnley – Beating Bournemouth isn’t exactly a world-shifting result, especially with a performance that would get FDA approval to cure insomina, but a pair of clean sheets is exactly what the doctor ordered for the team that gave up 9 goals to Spurs and Man City. Can they sustain it? If so, they’re a threat to any side. This team has moxie on its day.
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Newcastle
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

7. Sheffield United – Three straight wins against Norwich, Aston Villa, and Brighton. This team has emphatically staked a claim above the bottom sides in the Premier League. What a job Chris Wilder has done.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 1-0 at Brighton & Hove Albion
Up next: Full festive fixture list her

6. Tottenham Hotspur – Not quite sure what Jose Mourinho sees in Eric Dier. Time to give Lo Celso a run in the side. It’ll be nice to have Erik Lamela back too.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Chelsea
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

5. Chelsea – The Blues saw that Nick had them at 8 last week, and went about fixing that silly mistake. Pulisic benched in the win. Marcos Alonso had his best performance of the season. Hmmmm.
Last week: 8
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Won at Tottenham 2-0.
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

4. Wolverhampton Wanderers – This team is physically incapable of playing anything other than a close game. Nuno deserves more credit than he’s getting for keeping this team a Premier League force despite a taxing Europa League campaign.
Last week: 5
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-1 at Norwich City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

3. Leicester City – Brendan Rodgers was firmly out-coached by Pep Guardiola; maybe things aren’t always as they seem. Jamie Vardy scored again; maybe things are as they seem. Leicester City will be fine, although seeing Wilfried Ndidi and Caglar Soyuncu humbled more than once was new.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

2. Manchester CityPep Guardiola firmly out-coached Brendan Rodgers, restoring the natural order for now. This team is still a juggernaut.
Last week: 4
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Won 3-1 v. Leicester City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

1. Liverpool – Even without playing a Premier League fixture, Liverpool remains on top of the world. Literally. They won the Club World Cup. What Jurgen Klopp is doing with a banged up squad will be regarded as one of the great managerial feats of our time years from now – if he can finish the deal. Everyone is all eyes on Boxing Day for Liverpool, and rightly so, but this team has a brutal stretch coming up: Leicester City, Wolves, Sheffield United, Spurs, Manchester United, Wolves. Make it through that, and they just might be in the clear.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Watford [“off” last week]
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

Chelsea dominate Tottenham

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Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 on Sunday as Frank Lampard got one over his old manager Jose Mourinho.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The Blues dominated from start to finish as Willian‘s early goal set the tone and his penalty kick right on half time sealed the victory. It was the first time Jose Mourinho had lost against one of his former teams at home, as his former star player Lampard totally got the better of him tactically.

In the second half the game was secondary as Heung-Min Son was sent off via VAR for kicking out at Antonio Rudiger and then the Chelsea player was allegedly subjected to racist abuse from someone in the home end. Multiple announcements were then made to fans to make them aware of the incident.

With the win Chelsea strengthen their grip on a top four finish and move six points ahead of Spurs.


4 things we learned

1. Shameful racist incident: Three announcements were made in the final 20 minutes as it is alleged Antonio Rudiger was subjected to racist abuse by a home supporter. Players from both teams made a complaint to the officials about the incident, and then three announcements were made over the PA system to warn supporters that “racist behavior from spectators is interfering with the game.” After the recent incident at the Manchester Derby there is absolutely no place for this in society or the Premier League. More details on the protocol in place and what action will be taken will follow, but this incident soured an otherwise lively and heated London derby.

2. Lampard wins the tactical battle: Setting Chelsea up in a 3-4-3 was a brave move and it worked a treat. The apprentice got one over the master. Chelsea played Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta and they both dominated the wide areas, while Mount and Willian kept popping up in dangerous areas going forward. Defensively Chelsea looked more solid and the clean sheet was their fourth of the season in the PL. Lampard may have to stick with this system going forward but even if he doesn’t, it worked a treat to get the better of Mourinho and Spurs.

3. Willian on a different level: His first goal was trademark Willian and the Brazilian, who almost joined Spurs before a last-minute change of heart to move to Chelsea, was the best player on the pitch. His quick feet and ability to whip in crosses and pick out teammates in the final third caused Spurs so many issues and this display will remind Chelsea’s hierarchy that they need to lock him down and push the boat out to sign him up to a new contract. Willian was wonderful.

4. Costly errors from Gazzaniga, Son: It was clear Spurs weren’t at it, at all, but silly mistakes from Gazzaniga right on half time and then Son in the second half cost them dear. Gazzaniga made a huge error when he could have caught the ball but instead karate kicked Alonso in the chest to concede a penalty kick. Had Spurs gone in just 1-0 down at the half, it would have allowed them to regroup. Then Son reacted badly to a strong challenge from Rudiger and kicked out. It wasn’t that violent but the intent was there and he will now not play in the PL again until Jan. 10.

Man of the Match: Willian – Scored twice but did so much more than that as he set the tone for Chelsea’s display. Gave Serge Aurier so many problems defensively and kept popping up in dangerous areas. Boy, Willian really made Spurs pay for not signing him…


Chelsea started well and took the lead as Willian got the ball from a corner, wandered into the box and curled home an unstoppable effort into the far corner.

The Blues continued to look the more likely to score next as Tammy Abraham was causing problems in the air and the likes of Willian and Mason Mount were finding gaps in the Spurs defense.

Kane had Spurs’ first big chance of the game as Moussa Sissoko crossed but Kane shanked his effort off target and Heung-min Son slammed an effort over as the home side couldn’t cope with Chelsea’s new 3-4-3 shape and never got going.

Right on half time Chelsea doubled their lead in bizarre fashion as Paulo Gazzaniga aimed a flying kick at Marcos Alonso to give away a penalty kick, awarded by VAR, and Willian slotted home his and Chelsea’s second of the day.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Spurs threw caution to the wind as they switched to a back three and had Lucas Moura at left wing back.

Gazzaniga made another big error as he spilled the ball when trying to save Alonso’s shot and although Abraham slotted the rebound home, he was offside.

A bad day got worse for Spurs and Heung-min Son was shown a straight red card after a VAR check as he caught Antonio Rudiger.

Later on there was an announcement made over the PA system in the stadium as reports stated that Rudiger was subjected to racist abuse from some of the Tottenham fans.

Michy Batshuayi had a late chance to put a little extra gloss on the scoreline but Chelsea never looked in danger of letting their lead slip as Lampard was left to celebrate with the away fans at the full time whistle.

Watch Live: Willian stunner, Gazzaniga error has Chelsea ahead at Spurs

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Willian‘s superb curler and an awful error from Paul Gazzaniga have Chelsea ahead at Tottenham at half time, as the Brazilian sent a trademark shot into the far corner to make it 1-0, then Gazzaniga came flying out to clatter Marcos Alonso right on the break to give away a penalty kick which Willian dispatched.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Frank Lampard‘s switch to a 3-4-3 formation is working a treat as Spurs and Jose Mourinho are reacting to Chelsea’s every move in the London derby,

Click on the link above to watch the second half of a pivotal clash in the top four battle, while you can see Willian’s goal by hitting play on the video above and Gazzaniga’s huge error which went to VAR before a penalty was awarded.