AP Photo/Tim Ireland

Everton, Chelsea scrap to stalemate

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  • Chelsea with 13-6 edge in attempts
  • Morata offside to thwart goal
  • Chelsea sinks

Chelsea will not join Liverpool on 30 points after Everton stifled the Blues in a scoreless draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

A chippy affair, both teams had their chances in London. Chelsea has 28 points and will finish two points back of Liverpool and at least one behind Man City. Everton stays ninth.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chelsea had most of the ball, and earned a dangerous free kick when Yerry Mina collected a yellow card for a 22nd minute tackle on Eden Hazard. Unfortunately for the Blues, Marcos Alonso‘s attempt zipped wide of the near post.

Jorginho saw his own yellow when Gylfi Sigurdsson picked off a lazy David Luiz pass. The Italian clattered into Sigurdsson’s foot, and it might’ve earned him a red card on another day.

Marcos Alonso ripped a shot across goal in the 40th minute, a rare bit of attacking danger in a half more noted for a series of hard fouls. Bernard and Antonio Rudiger were shown yellow cards after the former went head-to-head with the latter, while Alonso stuck his studs into Theo Walcott.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jordan Pickford denied an Alvaro Morata chance in the 46th minute, and Sigurdsson took a vicious shot that Kepa Arrizabalaga handled in the 57th.

Chelsea had the ball in the net but would-be goal scorer Morata was offside in the 72nd minute. Moments later, Hazard sliced a shot a yard wide of the far post with the outside of his boot.

Europa League preview: Arsenal, Chelsea aim to stay perfect

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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Arsenal and Chelsea will both clinch their Europa League groups with victories on Thursday.

The Gunners are at home to face a Sporting Lisbon side it defeated in Portugal two weeks ago, while the Blues head to Belarus for a rematch with BATE Borisov.

[ MORE: Champions League Weds. wrap ]

Chelsea will use Eden Hazard, but has left Cesc Fabregas, Alvaro Morata, Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Toni Rudiger and Victor Moses back in London. Here’s manager Maurizio Sarri:

“Sometimes it’s better for the players to train rather than just play, to train on some particular physical qualities. If they only play they will lose that physical quality they need, and that’s been proved scientifically over a 21-day period.”

Arsenal will use Alex Iwobi in its match, the Nigerian playing very well in Unai Emery‘s system.

Iwobi credits Emery’s training sessions:

“Unai’s very intense in training and he’s demanding because he knows how good we are. He always wants us to be at 100 per cent, giving our best. It’s not just him, though. We know what we expect from each other, so we’re also trying to get the best out of each other in training.”

Up in Scotland, the Old Firm rivals are facing markedly different challenges on Thursday.

Steven Gerrard‘s Rangers are in Russia to face a group-bottom Spartak Moscow who can leapfrog their visitors with a win. And Celtic needs to attack after losing at RB Leipzig, with the Bundesliga side visiting with a three-point advantage on the third place Bhoys

Full schedule

10:50 a.m. ET
Fenerbahce vs. Anderlecht
Astana vs. Jablonec

12:55 p.m. ET
Spartak Moscow vs. Rangers
Lazio vs. Marseille
Malmo vs. Sarpsborg 08
Genk vs. Besiktas
Dynamo Kiev vs. Stade Rennes
Rapid Vienna vs. Villarreal
BATE Borisov vs. Chelsea
MOL Vidi vs. PAOK
Apollon Limassol vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Krasnodar vs. Standard Liege
Akhisar Belediyespor vs. Sevilla

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen vs. FC Zurich
Real Betis vs. AC Milan
Slavia Prague vs. Copenhagen
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Spartak Trnava
Rosenborg vs. Red Bull Salzburg
Vorskla Poltava vs. Qarabag
Arsenal vs. Sporting Lisbon
Celtic vs. RB Leipzig
Olympiacos vs. F91 Dudelange
Bordeaux vs. Zenit St. Petersburg
Ludogorets vs. AEK Larnaca

Chelsea beat PAOK in Europa League opener

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It is six wins from six for Maurizio Sarri as Chelsea manager, with the Premier League side winning 1-0 at PAOK Salonika in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.

Willian‘s early goal was enough to grab the win for a dominant Chelsea side, with Alvaro Morata having several chances but failing to score.

Next up for Chelsea in Group L are Videoton, who they host at Stamford Bridge in two weeks time. PAOK travel to BATE Borisov, who beat Videoton in Hungary in their opening game of the competition.

[ MORE: Europa League standings ] . 

Chelsea had the perfect start as Ross Barkley ran free and slipped in Willian brilliantly and the Brazilian finished low under PAOK’s goalkeeper Paschalakis to make it 1-0.

PAOK struggled to recover from that early deficit as Chelsea dominated the ball and Alvaro Morata should have scored a second but he headed Pedro‘s cross wide.

Morata then dragged a shot wide of the far post after a clever ball from Antonio Rudiger as Chelsea continued to push PAOK back. Marcos Alonso found Pedro before the break but the Spaniard’s effort was saved by Paschalakis and from the resulting corner Morata headed inches wide.

Right on half time Chelsea were a little lucky not to give away a penalty kick as Barkely looked to pull the shirt of a PAOK attacker in the box.

In the second half Chelsea poured forward in search of a second but Willian blasted over the bar and Alonso’s effort was deflected just wide.

Paschalakis saved Pedro’s shot late on but Chelsea held on for victory in Greece ahead of their London derby at West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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With Week 4 of the 2018-19 Premier League season done and dusted, it is time to focus on the star performers.

[ MORE: Full Power Rankings archive ]

Heading into the international break there are a ton of new entries in this list, with 12 of the top 20 coming into our latest rankings.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League and based on them actually playing in the previous Matchweek. If they didn’t play due to injury or suspension, they aren’t going to make this list. Simple.

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.

  1. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – Up 2
  2. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Up 11
  3. Romelu Lukaku (Man United) – New entry
  4. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) – Up 6
  5. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) – New entry
  6. Jorginho (Chelsea) – Down 4
  7. Lucas Moura (Tottenham) – Down 8
  8. Alex McCarthy (Southampton) – New entry
  9. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) – New entry
  10. Kyle Walker (Man City) – New entry
  11. Troy Deeney (Watford) – New entry
  12. Ruben Neves (Wolves) – Down 1
  13. Raheem Sterling (Man City) – New entry
  14. Andre Schurrle (Fulham) – Down 8
  15. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Even
  16. Jean Seri (Fulham) – New entry
  17. Danny Ings (Southampton) – New entry
  18. Joe Gomez (Liverpool) – New entry
  19. Glenn Murray (Brighton) – New entry
  20. Ben Foster (Watford) – New entry

After perfect start, Sarri talks about Chelsea’s title hopes

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So far, Sarri ball is perfect at Chelsea.

Maurizio Sarri will be a happy man on Saturday evening in west London after a fourth-straight victory to start the season, but will he be a happy man at the end of the 2018-19 Premier League season?

[ RECAP: Chelsea edge by Bournemouth ]

The new Chelsea manager has had a perfect start to his career at Stamford Bridge and although the Blues struggled at times to break down Bournemouth in their 2-0 win, their quality showed in the latter stages.

Speaking to the BBC after the game, Sarri revealed he is happy with his players but still believes they can improve.

“I’m really very happy with my players. For us now it’s not important to think of matchday four, it’s important to think of the next match,” Sarri said. “They were very organized and they defended very well but usually in this match you have to be patient because you can win in the last 20 minutes. At the moment we are doing very well but we can improve. For example, in the first half we needed to move the ball at a faster speed.”

What about Chelsea’s title hopes this season?

With the Blues on 12 points from 12, it’s a perfect start and Sarri is certainly happy to have the talented squad at his disposal. But can they seriously challenge Man City, Liverpool and others for the title?

“We won the first three matches so now we are more confident. At the moment I am lucky because I can choose Willian or Pedro, or Giroud, Loftus-Cheek or Morata,” Sarri said. “I am here – the club wanted to see me here. We are at the beginning of the season, and the gap between us and Man City was 30 points last season – it’s difficult to close that gap in one season.”

Based on what we’ve seen so far, Sarri’s boys will no doubt close that gap to Man City this season.

Their high-pressing style gradually grinds their opponents down and Bournemouth did have chances on the break and from set pieces, but Marcos Alonso, Jorginho, Eden Hazard and Pedro had the quality to be patient and pick their moments.

Hazard, in particular, was superb and after a summer of rumors linking him with a move to Real Madrid, the Belgian star is eager to carry Chelsea’s title bid this season.

“I’m feeling confident, I’m enjoying my football, we have a new manager and lots of good players,” Hazard said. “I know when I play good the team play good, so I need to be ready for everything. The season is long, but we will fight to the end, and we will keep improving.”

If Chelsea do keep improving then they will push Man City and Liverpool all the way for the title.

The next big challenge for the Blues is the UEFA Europa League as Sarri will get to rotate his squad and give plenty of youngsters a chance to develop.

For now, wins against Huddersfield, Arsenal, Newcastle and Bournemouth have given him a great start to life in England.