Zaha

Late drama galore as Palace hold Man City

1 Comment

Crystal Palace scored a 90th minute equalizer to draw 2-2 at Man City on Saturday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Cenk Tosun had given Palace an early lead and it looked like that would be enough but Sergio Aguero struck twice in the final 10 minutes to put City 2-1 up, then Wilfried Zaha‘s run and cross was bundled into his own net by Fernandinho as the Eagles snatched a point.

With the draw Man City momentarily close the gap on Liverpool at the top of the table to 13 points but Liverpool have two games in hand. Palace sit in ninth place on 30 points.


3 things we learned

1. City’s set piece problem: Palace’s first goal summed up the issues City are having each game due to their lack of fit and in-form defenders. Gary Cahill rose above City;’s defense and Tosun was left unmarked to head home his header. For all of City’s stunning play on the ball, defensively they always look vulnerable from set piece situations. That is why they are so far off Liverpool.

2. Zaha leads Palace: Over the last few months Zaha has been superb and he really is taking games by the scruff of the beck. Palace have lost just one of their last 10 and are tough to beat and Zaha and his teammates never give up. Saturday was the perfect example of that as his probing run and cross set up the equalizer and he was a constant threat.

3. Title race will be over on Sunday: Anybody who had a slight feeling that City could get themselves back in the title race will now be feeling otherwise. Liverpool are 13 points clear of second place City and have two games in hand. Liverpool have been superb but City are dropping so many needless points.

Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha – His running, passing, crosses and general play was just stunning. Maybe he’s playing for a move away? Maybe he’s finally settled after a unsettled summer.


Man City dominated early on as Aguero’s free kick was saved by Vicente Guaita.

Kevin De Bruyne hit the crossbar from a free kick as Man City battered Palace, but the Eagles felt they should have had a penalty kick as Wilfried Zaha went down in the box. But VAR was used and said no penalty.

Palace took the lead from a set piece situation as a corner was headed across goal by Gary Cahill and Tosun nodded home his first Palace goal on his first start for the Eagles.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Sterling curled just wide as City worked hard to get back in the game, with Aguero’s shot into the ground finding Bernardo Silva but his shot was saved by Guaita.

On the break Palace almost doubled their lead as Zaha found Tosun but his shot was saved by Ederson.

A huge moment of controversy then arrived as a penalty kick was awarded for a handball against Jairo Riedewald but VAR looked at the decision and overturned it as the ball his his leg first, then deflected onto his hand.

Man City did grab a deserved equalizer as a Gabriel Jesus cross to the back post found Aguero who finished.

Late on City laid siege to the Palace goal and they went ahead. Aguero struck in the 87th minute as Benjamin Mendy whipped in a lovely cross and the Argentine nodded home his second in five minutes to complete the turnaround but more late drama followed.

Zaha raced down the left wing and crossed into the box as Fernandinho could do nothing but put the ball into his own net to make it 2-2.

Report: Neymar, PSG hoping to secure new deal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Neymar’s future has been a topic of heavy conversation this winter, with reports through the holiday season that Barcelona will once again court their old superstar come summer.

However, it’s now entirely possible that Paris Saint-Germain looks to ward off interest in the Brazilian by presenting him with a new contract, hoping to lock him down for the foreseeable future. While that won’t happen imminently, ESPN’s Julien Laurens reports that the two parties are optimistic about locking things down once talks begin.

Laurens reports that, while there is interest on both sides – notable given Neymar’s reported attempts to push his way out of Paris last summer – talks will not begin until April or May, after the club’s Champions League fate is clearer.

PSG has long coveted a spot among the Champions League elite, and it’s no secret that Neymar’s PSG tenure will be considered a success or failure largely by their progress in European’s top competition. Should they once again be eliminated early in the knockout rounds, it’s possible that one or both parties change their stance on a long-term commitment.

With his current deal set to expire in the summer of 2022, Laurens reports that “informal talks” have been held between PSG sporting director Leonardo and Neymar’s father, who serves as part of the Brazilian’s representation. While those discussions are a necessary first step, there is still a very long way to go before anything becomes more concrete. Laurens also mentions that agent Pini Zahavi, who was instrumental in Neymar’s initial move to PSG, remains close with Leonardo and will no doubt be a key figure in any potential new deal.

Neymar struggled earlier this season with hamstring problems, but he has always been deadly when on the field for PSG. He has 11 Ligue 1 goals in 12 appearances, including at least one goal in each of the team’s last six league games, plus five assists in that span as well. He was also excellent in the 5-0 Champions League win over Galatasaray to finish out group stage play, and scored a goal in the 6-1 drubbing of St. Etienne in the Coupe de la Ligue.

Laurens also reports in the article that Kylian Mbappe is facing a similar situation, with his deal also expiring in the summer of 2022 and waiting to see how the team fares in Champions League play before making a decision. However, Mbappe reportedly already has a concrete offer on the table and is simply waiting to make a decision.

PSG drew Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League Round of 16, with the first leg of that matchup set to take place on February 18. PSG has never progressed past the quarterfinal of the competition, and has been knocked out in the Round of 16 in each of the last three seasons.

10-man Arsenal held at Crystal Palace

Leave a comment

10-man Arsenal had to settle on for a point at Crystal Palace on Saturday as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put them in front but was sent off via VAR as Jordan Ayew‘s second half effort grabbed a 1-1 draw for the hosts at Selhurst Park.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Aubameyang’s opener capped off a dominant first half from Mikel Arteta‘s Gunners but Palace improved after the break as Roy Hodgson‘s side battled hard and Ayew’s equalizer was deserved.

With the point Palace remain one point and one place ahead of Arsenal in ninth in the Premier League table.


3 things we learned

1. Arteta has front four purring: Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang and Ozil were on the same wavelength throughout as three of the four combined to set up Arsenal’s opening goal. From clever flicks to runs which were found by one another, Arteta seems to have found a way to get Arsenal’s top four attacking talents in the team at the same time. Even if their recent defensive improvement doesn’t last, if their front four continue to shine they will pick up plenty of points.

2. Zaha non-existent: Ainsley Maitland-Niles did a job on Zaha as the Palace winger decided to keep passing backwards instead of taking on the Arsenal defense. Maitland-Niles didn’t dive in and matched Zaha yard for yard out wide as he passed a big test in his development as a right back. Zaha, who is being linked heavily with a move to Chelsea this month, looked like his mind was elsewhere on Saturday.

3. VAR gets sending off correct, swings game in Palace’s favor: Aubameyang caught Max Meyer with a nasty tackle above his ankle and Arsenal’s captain was initially booked but VAR was used to upgrade the punishment to a red card. As the incident was shown on the big screen at Selhurst Park after the decision had been confirmed, the boos and winces from the crowd said it all. Aubameyang caught him high and the reason given for issuing a red card was the “intensity and point of contact” of the challenge. Aubameyang, Arsenal’s top goalscorer, will now be out for three games unless the Gunners appeal successfully. Had they not had Aubameyang sent off, Arsenal would probably have found a way to win this game but instead they grabbed a gritty point away from home.

Man of the Match: Either of Arsenal full backs, Maitland-Niles or Kolasinac, deserved this but I’m going with Maitland-Niles. He’s not a natural right back but he kept Palace’s most dangerous, and coveted, player quiet with Zaha hardly having a kick all game long. Superb individual defending.


Arsenal put Palace under pressure from the first whistle and that paid off.

Aubameyang finished after a flowing 18-pass move to give the Gunners the lead inside the first 15 minutes as Arteta celebrated on the sidelines.

The Gunners continued to impress in the first half as Pepe, Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang stretched Palace’s defense with their movement and clever interplay. David Luiz was also a key figure in their dominance as his distribution out of the back consistently set up attacks.

Cheikhou Kouyate had a shot straight at Bernd Leno which the Arsenal goalkeeper collected at the second attempt as Palace finally got a foothold in the game.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

At half time Matteo Guendouzi replaced Lucas Torreira in Arsenal’s midfield and in the second half Palace wrestled back some control on the game.

Ayew made the most of their pressure as his shot deflected off Luiz after hesitant defending, and set up a thrilling last 30 minutes.

Pepe’s brilliant corner was flicked just over by Luiz as Arsenal pushed hard for an equalizer late on.

Arsenal were reduced to 10 men for the final 20 minutes as VAR intervened and upgraded Aubameyang’s initial yellow card to a red as the Arsenal skipper caught Max Meyer high above his ankle.

Sokratis somehow cleared off the line as Palace threw everything at the 10 men of Arsenal late on, but the Gunners almost nicked all three points as Pepe’s shot was superbly tipped onto the post by Vicente Guaita then Palace’s goalkeeper bravely saved Lacazette’s follow up.

Top 10 players to watch in January window

Getty Images
Leave a comment

January is here and the transfer window is open again with plenty of big moves rumored as Premier League clubs aim to kick on in the second half of the season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

With that in mind, here’s a look at 10 players you should keep an eye on during this month as they could be moving to or leaving the PL.

We will keep you updated with all the latest goings on throughout this month with analysis and reaction right here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
The 33-year-old isn’t getting much game time at Chelsea and reports suggest he is being offered to plenty of clubs, including Lyon, as Chelsea want to bring in Moussa Dembele. Giroud’s ability to hold the ball up and score goals mean plenty of PL clubs will be looking at a January move, maybe on loan, as the French international is out of contract this summer. He will be desperate for minutes in the second half of the season as he pushes to start for France at EURO 2020 this summer.


Nathan Ake (Bournemouth)
Currently out injured, Ake has been a rock for Bournemouth since he arrived on loan then permanently from Chelsea. It is said the Blues have a $50 million buyback clause and given their defensive problems this season, that would be a smart buy for Frank Lampard‘s side. The Dutch international has also been interesting Man City and Arsenal and if he doesn’t leave Bournemouth this January, he will be a man in demand this summer.


Jarrod Bowen (Hull City)
Teams in the bottom half of the table usually take a punt on a player doing really well in the Championship. Bowen, 23, fits the bill as he’s scored 17 goals for Hull City so far this season and bagged 22 last season. A real poacher in and around the box, Bowen has been linked with a move to Leicester, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Newcastle among others. He has come up through the ranks in non-league and seems capable of making the next step up.


Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)
A veteran striker with undoubted quality, both Arsenal and Man United have been linked with El Matador. So too have Atletico Madrid and Inter Miami, but Cavani, 32, playing in the Premier League would be very interesting. He is more physical than Gonzalo Higuain but injuries have hit him hard in recent months. Would he would be worth a gamble for a team pushing to get into the top four?


Moussa Dembele (Lyon)
The former Fulham and Celtic forward is a man in demand after another fine season in Ligue 1 for Lyon. Chelsea and Man United are said to be interested in signing him this month even though Lyon have said they don’t want to sell until summer, if they’re going to at all. Dembele, 23, is a clinical finisher who hovers around the box and he also has the ability to make clever runs behind opposition defenders. Would cost way over $70 million.


Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Available on a free this summer, Eriksen could well stay at Spurs and see out his contract but chairman Daniel Levy loves a good deal and if they can get a transfer fee for Eriksen now perhaps he will leave. Eriksen has been indifferent throughout this season as he’s been linked to Man United, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and other giant clubs across Europe. He has all of the ability to excel wherever he ends up and maybe it would be best for everyone if he moved on this month.


Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
Perhaps the man most coveted in this window, Zaha wanted to leave in the summer but Arsenal and Everton didn’t match Palace’s valuation. After a fine few months leading up to January he will probably go for close to $110 million and Chelsea are the frontrunners to sign him. Zaha’s pace and trickery are his main strengths and he is desperate to return to a team challenging for trophies and playing in the Champions League. At 27 years old, now seems like the perfect time for Zaha to make the step up.


Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid)
The French winger has reportedly been offered to Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and other Premier League clubs as Atletico try and move on the man they paid Monaco $66.5 million in the summer of 2018. Lemar, 24, has got regular minutes for Atletico but has only scored three times in 49 La Liga appearances. Surely, Spurs and maybe even Chelsea will see this as a cheaper, and very decent, alternative to buying someone like Sancho or Zaha.


Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham)
Crystal Palace, Southampton and others have been linked with a loan move for Spurs’ young right back who hasn’t been able to jump ahead of Serge Aurier. Walker-Peters needs game time to keep his development going and it is unlikely he will leave permanently. A no-brainer for PL clubs further down the table who want some extra help in defense.


Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)
Another January, another loan move on the cards for Batshuayi. The Belgian international has joined Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and Palace in recent windows and the likes of Palace and Aston Villa have been linked with a loan move for him this time around. Batshuayi is second-choice behind Tammy Abraham and Chelsea will not be willing to let him go if they fail to bring in Dembele, or someone else, in attack.

Juventus rules out January sales of Can, Rabiot

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Juventus has ruled out any more business this January, squashing a number of rumors, mostly regarding potentially outgoing players.

Level with Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A table, conventional wisdom would suggest that Juventus may wish to make some precision edits to the squad hoping to squeeze every last point out of the rest of the season. However, it appears they are content with the players on the books for the second half of the season.

Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici told Sky Sports Italia before their match on Monday against Cagliari that “our window is closed” before going into a few more specifics. He named Adrian Rabiot and Emre Can, saying both will stay at least until the end of the season.

The midfield pair has been used sparingly, with Rabiot racking up just over 700 total minutes this season across all competitions and Can even less with just seven total appearances. Still, Rabiot started the Cagliari match as part of a diamond midfield, and Can is valuable cover for the likes of 32-year-old Blaise Matuidi and oft-injured Aaron Ramsey.

“I can exclude Emre Can leaving, as he will certainly remain with us,” Paratici said. “On an international level, he is one of the most wanted players, but I think he can be important for our project. Rabiot arrived here after not playing for eight months. It’s only natural on a physical level he should take time to adapt. He paid the price for that, but he has done well when used.”

While Paratici did not mention other players by name, his words also seemed to rule out a sale of defender Merih Demiral, who has been linked to a number of clubs including Leicester City and Borussia Dortmund. Demiral started in place of the benched Matthijs de Ligt against Cagliari and seems likely to stay in Turin for the remainder of the season.

Juventus did make one purchase this window, securing the services of Dejan Kulusevski from Atalanta, who will stay on loan at Parma for the rest of the season. Paratici confirmed that Juventus attempted to bring him in this January, but it was impossible to release him from his season-long loan.

The Juventus bench is bursting with talent, with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Gianluigi Buffon, Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi, and Daniele Rugani all named among the substitutes for the Cagliari match alongside de Ligt and Can. Therefore, it’s surprising they have concluded January business just six days into the window, but credit the front office for making quick decisions.