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Mexicans Abroad: Jimenez earns Wolves point; Lozano assists in Napoli loss

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The clock was inching closer towards the 90-minute mark at the Emirates and Wolverhampton Wanderers needed a goal.

They had tried more than a dozen times, but the ball wouldn’t cross the white line.

Then, as its happened in the past, Raul Jimenez delivered the goods. The Mexican’s header inside the box flew towards the back of the net, earning Wolves a much-deserved 1-1 draw against Arsenal.

Over in Italy, Hirving “Chucky” Lozano came close to having a hero-like moment of his own; unfortunately, Napoli were playing two goals down to hosts AS Roma by the time he took the field.

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.


La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito came on for Luuk De Jong in Sevilla’s 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid on Saturday. He recorded four touches, two passes, but didn’t register a shot.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — Shortly after Chicharito stepped on the field, Herrera did so himself. The midfielder played 12 minutes in Los Colchoneros’ draw in Seville.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Betis’ captain started and all played all 90 minutes for Betis, who held Real Madrid to a 0-0 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu. Guardado completed 85 percent of his passes, but picked up a yellow card in the 85th minute.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old didn’t dress for Saturday’s match.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo started and every minute in Celta’s 1-0 loss to Getafe. The defender recorded three clearances, two blocked shots and one interception. Celta have lost four consecutive matches and are currently in the relegation zone.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli — Lozano came on in the 58th minute for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. In the 72nd minute, Arkadiusz Milk capitalized on his valiant, right-wing run and subsequent cross into the box, tapping in the ball into the back of net. Despite the goal, Napoli lost 2-1 to AS Roma.

Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers — Jimenez was instrumental for Wolves yet again. The 28-year-old went all 90 minutes and scored the leveler against Arsenal on Saturday, which is his fourth goal of the Premier League campaign.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven — Gutierrez came off at halftime due to an undisclosed injury in PSV’s 2-2 draw against Sparta Rotterdam on Saturday.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — Alvarez, too, was the victim of an injury in the Eredivisie this weekend. The 22-year-old took the field in the 23rd minute for an injured Lisandro Martinez, only to be taken off at the 63rd minute, after taking a gruesome elbow to the face. Ajax defeated PEC Zwolle 4-2.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — After starting the season as one of the team’s starting fullbacks, it seems that Tecatito is back in a midfield role for now. The 26-year-old played all 90 minutes in Porto’s 1-0 victory over CD Aves.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea started and played 76 minutes in Zulte’s 2-0 loss to Club Brugge.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Hector Moreno, Al Gharafa   On Saturday, Moreno started and played 90 minutes in Al Gharafa’s 3-1 win over Al Khor.

Pedro Arce, Panionios – Arce’s goal in the 66th minute opened the scoring in Panionios’ 1-1 draw against Aris Thessaloniki on Saturday.

Gerardo Ramirez Alonso, Roda JC – Ramirez Alonso and Roda take on Jong PSV Eindhoven on Monday.

 

What has Pulisic changed to spark Chelsea brilliance?

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Christian Pulisic has been a man reborn in recent weeks.

Following his record-breaking hat trick at Burnley on Saturday, the 21-year-old U.S. men’s national team star burst onto the scene and looks set to be a star for Chelsea.

But how has he turned things around?

A few weeks ago he was an unused substitute happy just to get minutes, and the game at Burnley was his first PL start since Aug. 31.

In the last few weeks there have been gradual signs that the penny has dropped for Pulisic from a tactical perspective. It was the same with the likes of Fabinho and Bernardo Silva, who both took time before becoming stars at Liverpool and Man City respectively.

It was going to take him time to adjust to a new team, a new country and a new league, but now he has and he’s grabbed assists and made a huge impact after coming off the bench against Southampton, Newcastle and then Ajax before his breakout at Burnley.

The biggest tactical change when watching Pulisic in the last few weeks compared to his first few months at Chelsea is that he’s no longer stuck on the flank. He’s operating more centrally and finding gaps in between the full backs and center backs which he can drive into. In previous games he was too isolated, hugging the touchline out wide and barely being involved in the play.

Sometimes something so simple can have a huge difference, and Pulisic has obviously spent his time on the bench and out of the team thinking about how he can have the biggest impact when he’s on the pitch. Fair play to him for not getting his head down and feeling sorry for himself. There was none of that and you could see the fire in his eyes as he aimed to make this season, and spell at Chelsea, a success.

He is now playing to his strengths whenever he can.

Pulisic’s best quality is his ability to dribble at pace with the ball and he can use either foot to do so, which is exactly how he scored his first two goals at Burnley. On the defensive side of the game he still has to improve, with his giveaway leading to Burnley’s first goal, and there are still concerns about him tracking back and his positional ability in defensive situations. Even though that isn’t why Pulisic is in the Chelsea team, he needs to improve in that area. And he knows it.

The USMNT star knows he still has a long way to go to nail down a regular spot in the Chelsea team, with Mason Mount, Willian, Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi all battling it out with him for minutes. There will still be ups and downs and Pulisic will have to work on being more consistent.

His performances over the last few weeks suggests he has now adapted his game to the PL and now he’s a marked man after his hat trick.

That means Pulisic will have to keep on evolving to stay on top. He has all the skills to do so, and now it’s about making the most of the incredible momentum the last 10 days have given him.

The kid is becoming a man.

Champions League preview: Chelsea, Liverpool hit the road

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Frank Lampard has a selection headache amongst his wingers as he tries to figure out Chelsea’s best avenue to break down Ajax on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League.

Youngsters Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic starred in the Blues’ weekend win, and Lampard also has Pedro and Willian available at Johan Cruyff Arena before a weekend visit to Burnley.

[ MORE: Dest choosing side this week ]

From ChelseaFC.com:

“Callum gave me that in his display from the start and Christian gave me that in his display coming on, and in terms of the wingers I have, Willian gave me that, Pedro gives me that so I have good selection problems when people come on and make a difference. That is what we are all about.

“The extra level that is the Champions League, the detail, the focus, concentration for 90 minutes, making the most of tiny moments, will be a test for all the young players, not just Callum.”

The good news for Pulisic in his bid to match wits with fellow USMNT (for now) player Sergino Dest is that he’s had experience on the UCL stage with Borussia Dortmund.

The other PL side in action is Liverpool, and the Reds will be expecting to get all three points in Belgium against Genk.

But Genk drew Napoli 0-0 at home on the second match day and the Reds will be wary of a slip-up.

“It’s a really good football-playing team,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. “They are organized and brave in their positioning. They don’t play with the pressing line too much but go for second balls, have speed and good midfielders and very active full-backs.”

Klopp will not have Trent Alexander-Arnold (illness) and Joel Matip (knee).

Other highlights…

— American manager Jesse Marsch hopes to lead Red Bull Salzburg to a home win over Napoli when he matches wits with Carlo Ancelotti.

Antonio Conte‘s Inter Milan could really use a result against tricky Borussia Dortmund in Italy.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Ajax v. Chelsea
RB Leipzig v. Zenit Saint-Petersburg

3 p.m. ET
Slavia Prague v. Barcelona
Red Bull Salzburg v. Napoli
Genk v. Liverpool
Inter Milan v. Borussia Dortmund
Lille v. Valencia
Benfica v. Lyon

Report: Chelsea linked with $230 million move for Neymar

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Chelsea have been linked with a move for Neymar as soon as their transfer ban ends in the summer.

Spanish outlet Don Balon say the Blues want to sign Neymar for $230 million and after an entire year of not spending, Chelsea will certainly have some cash in the bank. But will they really have that much to spend?

Neymar, 27, wanted to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer but his move to Barcelona or Real Madrid didn’t materialize and the Brazilian superstar is now lambasted by his own fans in the French capital.

It’s clear his move to PSG hasn’t quite worked out, as his main aim was to lead PSG to the UEFA Champions League title. That hasn’t happened and in his own words every PSG home game is now ‘like an away game’ as banners and chants against him are commonplace.

Would Frank Lampard and Chelsea want Neymar at Stamford Bridge?

There’s no doubting his sensational talent and his box office name will certainly generate plenty of extra income and cover a large chunk of the transfer fee and wages. However, Chelsea may struggle to fit in Neymar’s wage demands when it comes to financial fair play.

Per the report, it says that N’Golo Kante could be sold to Real Madrid to help finance the move for Neymar, which would not be popular among Chelsea fans. And even if you take the wages of Willian and Pedro out of the equation, both of whom could leave next summer, this would still take a huge financial package from owner Roman Abramovich. The fact Chelsea’s Russian owner is currently unable to be in the UK has seen spending diminish in recent seasons, but having a year of savings in the bank should help.

Neymar would give the Blues an x-factor and would be the replacement for Eden Hazard, but what would that mean for youngsters Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount?

This doesn’t really fit in with Chelsea’s model of promoting youngsters, but that was probably only a short-term thing anyway as they had to deal with FIFA’s transfer ban.

With money in the bank, Chelsea could probably afford Neymar. But would bringing him to Stamford Bridge, and everything else that comes with signing him, be worth it?

On the pitch he will probably scored 25-30 goals per season and be a huge hit, but off the pitch it has often been another story.

Can we picture Neymar speeding down Chelsea’s Kings Road in his Ferrari after going for a Full English Breakfast on a Wednesday morning? The first part is definitely on brand…

Pulisic reacts to assist, being back in Chelsea team

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SOUTHAMPTON — Chants of “USA, USA!” were heard outside St Mary’s stadium as Christian Pulisic walked towards the Chelsea team bus on Sunday after playing his part in a resounding Premier League win for the Blues.

[ MORE: How do Pulisic perform? ]

The 21-year-old USMNT star came on and grabbed an assist in his first Premier League minutes since August 31, and after a spell on the bench and out of the squad completely last week at Lille in the UEFA Champions League, Pulisic impressed in his brief cameo on England’s south coast.

Pulisic recorded a lovely assist in his 15 minutes on the pitch, cleverly finding Michy Batshuayi to make it 4-1. The celebrations with Batshuayi, his teammates and the coaching staff at the final whistle showed how happy Pulisic is and he was delighted to make an impact after coming on.

“I did the best I could with the minutes I got. I tried to get in and help the team as best I could and I was happy I could do that,” Pulisic said. “I’m happy. I want to continue to work harder and I never want to stop and I want to continue to get more minutes.”

Pulisic jumped on the back of Jorginho after the game and was ecstatic to be back on the pitch and making the most of his minutes. Maybe this stint on the sidelines was what he needed. Maybe this is all part of Frank Lampard’s masterplan.

After telling Pro Soccer Talk it was ‘very frustrating’ to be on the bench as an unused sub in recent weeks, Pulisic was asked if he’s been surprised to be left out after starting plenty of games at the start of the season.

He just wants to do everything he can to make sure he gets on the pitch.

“Of course, as a professional player you want to play, you want to be on the field and be a part of the team as much as you can. It hurt not to be there but I’m happy I got my opportunity today,” Pulisic said. “I want to be starting every game. I’m working hard in training. I want to be there. I hope everyone can see that. With moments like this I hope I can continue to make a case for myself.”

He now has four assists in his last six appearances for Chelsea and leads the Blues in the assist category this season.

Does he feel like he’s performing well when he’s on the ball in the final third?

“That’s my job in an attacking role. I’m going to do the best I can to try to get goals and assists. That has been good so far, so I want to continue to push,” Pulisic added.

Blues manager Frank Lampard has said Pulisic will get his chance but admitted the $73 million addition from Borussia Dortmund has to continue to show up in training. Pulisic agrees with his manager and is eager to impress.

“Frank likes players who work very hard and show a lot in training. I want to be a part of that and I just have to continue to do that, be the best I can be in training and just try to earn my position. That’s all I can do,” Pulisic added.

Has it been tough settling in at Chelsea since his summer move from Dortmund and the Bundesliga?

“Culture wise it has been easier than Germany to be honest,” Pulisic smiled. “From the football side of things, I guess you can say that. Obviously I haven’t been getting as many minutes, like you guys said, but I’m just going to keep going and pushing and I know my time is going to come.”

Some reports in England had suggested that Pulisic may move on in January if he’s not a regular at Chelsea, but he laughed that off too.

“I’m not just going to throw a fit and give up. Ever,” Pulisic laughed. “If I’m on the bench it doesn’t mean the gaffer doesn’t think I’m part of the team. It means that’s what it is right now and I’ve just got to keep pushing and earn my spot.”

With plenty of fans on social media asking why he hasn’t been playing and a huge transfer fee hanging over his head, Pulisic is trying to take it all in his stride and focus on getting better while also battling with Willian, Pedro, Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount for minutes.

“This number doesn’t mean anything to me,” Pulisic said of the transfer fee. “Obviously I go out and try to give my best every time I go out onto the pitch. I’m not sure what that price tag means to you guys, but I’m just going to keep trying to perform as best I can for myself and for the team.”

What about the constant chatter on social media and a little frustration from USMNT fans as to why he’s not starting?

“You can’t completely ignore it. I don’t live under a rock. I hear things and I see things,” Pulisic added. “I do my best to block it out. I’m doing my best for myself because the outside opinions don’t matter as much to me as what’s in the team and myself and the people who care about me. I’m just going to keep working and do my best to not worry about it.”

But through all of the ups and down early on in his Chelsea and Premier League career, Pulisic is glad the likes of Hudson-Odoi, Willian, Pedro and Mount are pushing him to get better.

“Competition in the team is only going to make me better. That’s what makes great teams,” Pulisic said. “Guys who are maybe not the second man or the third man, but they are pushing each other in training every single day. That is what a great team is all about.”

Pulisic is contributing for this Chelsea team as they aim to be great and he’s certainly happy to be back on the pitch and getting minutes and assists.

Chants of “USA, USA!” continued as he signed autographs and posed for photos outside St Mary’s and an American fan yelled: “Christian, we love you baby!”

The great hope of American soccer is battling for minutes at Chelsea with a smile on his face.

He is truly embracing the challenge and if he can contribute regularly, off the bench or from the start, he and Chelsea will be smiling a lot more.