Marcos Alonso

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Hazard, Kepa, Giroud train with Chelsea at Harvard

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Chelsea has brought a strong squad to the Boston, Massachusetts area to take part in a friendly match to raise awareness and funds to fight antisemitism and hate around the world.

Chelsea is in the U.S. as part of a charity match titled the “Final Whistle on Hate,” which was set up by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and New England Revolution owner Robert Kraft. Both owners are Jewish and the game was set up shortly after the terrorist attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Proceeds from the match will be donated to 15 different anti-hate organizations, including the Anti Defamation League, Kick it Out, and the Holocaust Education Trust. Both Kraft and Abramovich have pledged to donate $1 million each.

Ahead of the match, Chelsea is spending time training at Harvard University’s facilities, meeting with fans both at training and at a Boston Chelsea fan club event on Monday evening.

Here’s Chelsea’s squad for the match against the New England Revolution, set for Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. Chelsea still has two weeks before heading to Baku, Azerbaijan for the Europa League final against London rival Arsenal.

Kepa Arrizabalaga, Willy Caballero, Rob Green, Marcos Alonso, Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Gonzalo Higuain, Eden Hazard, Pedro, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mateo Kovacic, Olivier Giroud, Davide Zappacosta, Willian, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Emerson Palmieri, Marc Guehi, Reece James, Ike Ugbo, Trevoh Chalobah, Conor Gallagher.

Solskjaer confirms De Gea will start for Man United against Huddersfield

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Ole Gunnar Solakjaer has confirmed that under-fire goalkeeper David De Gea will keep his place as Manchester United hosts Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The Spaniard has struggled over the past few weeks, with errors leading to goals that open fresh wounds from this past summer’s World Cup, where De Gea also performed poorly. Most recently, De Gea fumbled a deep effort from N'Golo Kante on Sunday against Chelsea that led to Marcos Alonso‘s 43rd minute equalizer in the eventual 1-1 draw with Chelsea. De Gea was seen shaking his head after the mistake, leading some to speculate the mistakes could be having an effect on his mentality, but the Manchester United boss hoped to shoot that down.

“Of course we do [trust De Gea], he’s been fantastic this season,” Solskjaer said in his pre-match press conference after confirming he will start. “Towards the end now he’s been in the headlines maybe for the wrong reasons, but as I’ve said so many times he’s got to deal with that. The goalkeeping department, they’re a fantastic group together with [goalkeeping coach] Emilio [Alvarez] and Sergio [Romero] and Lee [Grant] and David, they’ve been such a tight knitted group so they’ve experienced better times obviously but he’s ready for Sunday.”

Solskjaer did conveniently mention that Sergio Romero, de Gea’s backup, has a knee injury, leaving options quite limited should they decide the Spaniard needed some time on the sidelines. The only other goalkeeper in the squad is 36-year-old Lee Grant who joined from Stoke City in the summer. 20-year-old Paul Woolston is the starter for the U-23 squad, having signed in November as a free agent.

The boss was asked whether Romero would have started if he was fit, but dodged the question, sayin, “Ifs and buts and hypothetical questions. Sergio knows how highly I rate him.”

De Gea’s struggles have mounted for some time, with errors and poor moments in big games of late. He was beaten twice at his near post in the derby against Manchester City a week ago, with Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane both scoring on shots De Gea would like to have back. He saw a Lionel Messi shot squirt right under his outstretched body as Barcelona trounced the Red Devils 3-0 in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal the week before that.

Despite the mistakes, De Gea has been a monstrous figure in goal for Manchester United for nearly the past decade. Since joining in 2011, he has made at least 28 Premier League appearances in every single season, and has hit the 34-game mark in each of the past six seasons. The 28-year-old has played every minute of the league campaign this season, but his seven clean sheets are by far the lowest of his Red Devils career, with at least 11 clean sheets in every season since moving to Old Trafford.

Three things learned: Man United v. Chelsea

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An intense battle to finish in the top four of the Premier League saw Manchester United and Chelsea grind out a draw at Old Trafford, with Chelsea the happier of the two teams with a point.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Juan Mata put United ahead but Marcos Alonso equalized after a mistake from David De Gea, as the top four battle remains intense with two games to go.

Here’s what we learned from a tense battle which summed up the tight race for UEFA Champions League qualification.


ANOTHER DE GEA HOWLER COSTS UNITED

By his own very high standards, David de Gea is having a horrible few weeks. High-profile mistakes against Barcelona, Man City and now Chelsea have seen the man who is so often United’s savior cost them dear.

De Gea, 28, is in the midst of plenty of speculation regarding his future as his contract situation rumbles on, and it would be a little too easy to point to that being the main reason for this poor run of form. It is a reason, but this poor form has arrived sporadically dating back to the end of last season as it surfaced during the 2018 World Cup.

The Spanish goalkeeper has been named United’s Player of the Season in five of the last six seasons for a reason. He is their rock in defense and among all of their problems, his stunning form was the one constant United could rely on. Not anymore. And that’s probably why United won’t finish in the top four this season, the main aim for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after he took over in December. At a crucial time of the season, United’s most reliable star has endured a nightmare spell and has probably cost them being among Europe’s elite next season. Whether he will be at United next season or not remains to be seen, but this is far from vintage DDG.


NOBODY WANTS TO WIN THIS TOP FOUR RACE

Tottenham and Arsenal lost in disappointing fashion this weekend, and neither United or Chelsea could make the most of their slip ups in the top four race. It’s almost like these teams don’t want to play in the UEFA Champions League next season…

The lackluster second half displays from United and Chelsea summed up this top four race. Teams are running out of steam and are inconsistent and whoever does finish in fourth will have limped over the line.

What their ineptitude does is set up the top four race for a thrilling finish to the campaign. With two games to go Tottenham in third are five points ahead of Man United in sixth, with just three points between Chelsea in fourth and United.

With Spurs in the UEFA Champions League semifinal against Ajax and both Arsenal and Chelsea in the semifinals of the Europa League, Man United could have the edge with their remaining games easier, on paper, than their top four rivals. But this draw for Chelsea puts them in a very good position.

Here are the games the four teams fighting for third and fourth have remaining:

  • Tottenham – Bournemouth (A), Everton (H)
  • Chelsea – Watford (H), Leicester (A)
  • Arsenal – Brighton (H), Burnley (A)
  • Man United – Huddersfield (H), Cardiff (A)

CHELSEA’S ATTACK STUTTERS, BUT SARRI COULD BE A SUCCESS

Gonzalo Higuain just couldn’t stay onside for most of the game on Sunday, let alone score a goal. We all know the Argentine striker loves to play on the shoulder of the last defender, but he yet again failed to offer that much in attack and Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard couldn’t get going underneath him.

It looks like Chelsea are now favorites ahead of Arsenal and United finish in the top four, and coupled with their run to the League Cup final and Europa League semifinal, Maurizio Sarri‘s men aren’t doing too badly at all. If he stays, which is looking more likely, Sarri can turn things around at Stamford Bridge after a rough few months.

But the Italian coach knows his attack may well look very different next season with Eden Hazard likely to leave, Christian Pulisic coming in and the futures of Higuain, Olivier Giroud and Callum Hudson-Odoi still up in the air. Unless Hazard scores, Chelsea struggle to score and that is the main problem for Sarri to sort out this summer. For all of their intricate play in midfield and solid defensive outings (at least in recent weeks), Sarri must find a way to reignite Chelsea’s attack if they’re going to be genuine title contenders next season. They are the lowest scorers in the top six and still have a Diego Costa size hole in their attack.

Stalemate as Chelsea peg Man United back (video)

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  • Mata put United ahead
  • Alonso equalized
  • Chelsea fourth, United sixth

Manchester United were pegged back by Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday, as the Red Devils and Blues played to a 1-1 draw.

Juan Mata gave United the lead but Marcos Alonso equalized after a huge error from David De Gea to grab a point for Chelsea.

With two games of the Premier League season to go, Chelsea sit fourth on 68 points and United sit in sixth on 65 points, as the top four battle will go down to the wire.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Lukaku had a huge chance early on as Luke Shaw sent in a wonderful pass for the Belgian forward who ran in on goal, but Kepa smothered and saved.

United didn’t have to wait too long after to take the lead, as Mata scored after 10 minutes. Lukaku’s lovely chip played in Shaw who got free in the box and passed across goal, where Mata took his time and stroked home against his former team.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Pogba then glanced a header just wide as United pushed hard for a second, while some tasty challenges flew in from Cesar Azpilicueta and Matteo Kovacic.

Chelsea were then handed a lifeline as Antonio Rudiger‘s shot from distance was spilled by David de Gea (his poor form continues) and Alonso swept home to make it 1-1.

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At the start of the second half neither team grabbed the initiative, and some injuries disrupted the fluidity of the game. Rudiger reinjured his left knee and was replaced, while David Luiz went down, Marcus Rashford was replaced by Alexis Sanchez, Eric Bailly suffered a nasty knock and was replaced, and Kovacic also went down.

When the substitutions were made and played resumed, the speed of play never really returned.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

In stoppage time Marcos Rojo‘s header was cleared off the line by Pedro, while Gonzalo Higuain was denied by De Gea, and that was as close as either team came to scoring in the second half.

Honors even.

Europa League: Alonso gives Chelsea advantage over Slavia Prague, and more (video)

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In what had been a quiet affair, it was Marcos Alonso of all people who popped up late to score the winning goal.

Chelsea defeated Slavia Prague, 1-0 on a header in the 84th minute by Alsonso, latching onto a terrific cross from Willian to find the breakthrough. The win puts Chelsea in the driver’s seat to advance to the Europa League semifinals, with a lead and an away goal.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The goal is a big boost for Marcos Alonso, who has struggled mightily at times this year and has been benched in recent Premier League games for Emerson as the team’s left wing back. In addition, it cools the coach’s seat ever more for Maurizio Sarri, who could still secure a top-four finish and even potentially win the Europa League.

Slavia Prague was lively and energetic in the opening half hour, putting pressure on Chelsea’s defense and pinning the Blues back in their own half for long stretches. However, Slavia never managed to get a good shot on target, with strikes either right at Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa or wife of the net.

Willian, who was dangerous all night along the wings, hit a shot off the crossbar in the 25th minute, but that was the extent of Chelsea’s dangerous chances. That is, until Eden Hazard was introduced 14 minutes into the second half. Hazard’s dribbling ability and skill on the ball forced Slavia to shade his way, which led to more Chelsea chances down Willian’s side, and eventually may have played a role in the winner.

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Elsewhere, Benfica’s 19-year-old budding star Joao Felix had himself a day, scoring a hat-trick as Benfica topped Eintracht Frankfurt, 4-2. Felix scored a hat-trick, fired home a laser into the bottom corner, and then scored on a low strike in the box. Felix also had an assist off a corner kick that was headed in. It was a heck of a match for the teenager, and if Europe’s biggest clubs weren’t already on his radar, they are now.

In Spain, former Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla scored a penalty kick but it wasn’t enough as Valencia picked up a confidence-boosting 3-1 win on the road over Villarreal. Portugal international Goncalo Guedes finished with two goals for Valencia.