Marcos Alonso

Getty Images

Chelsea winger Victor Moses moves to Inter on loan

Leave a comment

Thursday morning Inter Milan confirmed yet another acquisition from the Premier League, securing Victor Moses on loan from Chelsea with an option to buy.

Moses has been on loan at Turkish club Fenerbahce for the last calendar year, moving to the Super Lig last winter. The 29-year-old made 23 appearances for Fenerbahce across all competitions, scoring five goals and assisting two more. Fenerbahce finished last season in a disappointing eighth, meaning they did not qualify for European play this season. He has not played much this season, making just six league appearances thanks to a thigh injury.

Moses, who retired from international competition with Nigeria after the 2018 World Cup, had been a consistent presence in the Chelsea lineup under former Chelsea and current Inter boss Antonio Conte, reinventing himself as a wing-back opposite Marcos Alonso in Conte’s 3-CB system. However, he was dropped from the consistent starting lineup at the start of the 2018/19 season and was sent out on loan that winter.

The former Chelsea player becomes the fourth player either sold or loaned to Inter from a Premier League club this season, joining Manchester United trio Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, and Ashley Young, with the latter joining this winter as well. It is the first time Conte has dipped into the well of his former Chelsea players. They have also been heavily linked with Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.

Conte has Inter challenging for the Scudetto this season, with the club sitting second in the Serie A table. However, draws with Atalanta and Lecce in the last two matches have seen them drop to four points back of leaders Juventus after challenging them for much of the season to date.

Guardiola praises Liverpool; injury update

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the Premier League games coming thick and fast as midweek action now takes center stage, Premier League managers have been giving us injury updates on Monday and Pep Guardiola has praised Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola has doffed his cap to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool once again, as the Reds have now moved 16 points clear of second-place Man City and have a game in hand on the reigning Premier League champions.

“We can’t deny Liverpool are extraordinary,” Guardiola said. “But everyday I live thinking about what we can do better. Some games are good, we concede few. We have scored more than Liverpool. I don’t have stats here but we concede more chances and drop points.”

In short from Pep: Damn, we should have signed more, and better, defenders this summer. Oh, and the injury to Aymeric Laporte was unlucky.

Guardiola has confirmed that Laporte is close to a return to fitness after the silky French center back missed the last four months with a knee injury. He also confirmed that both John Stones and Benjamin Mendy are doubtful for the trip to Sheffield United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

That starts our quick round up of injury news around the Premier League ahead of the midweek games…

  • Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said that Reece James has avoided a serious knee injury after coming off against Newcastle. He could play against Arsenal (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and Marcos Alonso is also back in the squad. 
  • Mikel Arteta said that Sokratis will not play at Chelsea due to illness, while Sead Kolasinac and Reiss Nelson will both be out until early February.
  • Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that star Brazilian attacker Richarlison will miss their clash against Newcastle United on Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) as he continues to recover from a knee injury. 
  • Newcastle’s injury woes continue as both Jetro Willems and Paul Dummett have been ruled out for the rest of the season. Willems has ruptured his ACL after falling awkwardly in the 1-0 win against Chelsea. The Magpies will have to do some business in January to patch up their squad.
  • Southampton look set to be without Jan Bednarek for their trip to Crystal Palace on Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com). The Polish center back, who has started every single PL game this season, has an Achilles injury. Palace welcome back Max Meyer as he’s recovered from an ankle injury caused by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s lunging tackle.
  • Bournemouth could have Lloyd Kelly back after his lengthy injury, as the Cherries take on South Coast rivals Brighton in a massive game at the bottom of the table.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v. Chelsea

Photo by Leila Coker/ MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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