Cameron Jerome

Getty Images

Derby County tops Fulham 1-0 in first leg of playoff semifinal

Leave a comment

Fulham may be running out of steam at the worst possible time.

After a 24-match unbeaten run that lasted nearly half the Championship season, Fulham failed to secure automatic promotion with a final-day loss to Birmingham, and now the Whites find themselves in a hole midway through their playoff semifinal matchup against Derby County.

The Whites dominated 74% of the possession at Pride Park in the first leg of the playoff semifinal matchup, but former Stoke City and Crystal Palace striker Cameron Jerome hit against the run of play on 34 minutes, rising higher than Southampton loanee Matt Targett to head home the game’s only goal. Fulham built into the match in the second half, but could not find an equalizer as Kevin McDonald smashed the crossbar in their best chance with around 20 minutes to go.

Fulham has traditionally struggled against bunkered opponents, and the free-flowing attack was stifled by a quality defensive shape from the home side. Derby goalkeeper Scott Carson was also required to produce a fabulous save that kept out Tom Cairney in the 64th minute.

The match will see a quick turnaround as the two sides meet again at Craven Cottage, with Fulham needing a goal to force extra time and two to move on, while Derby could put one foot in Wembley with a single road goal.

Fulham, for their stunning form at times this season, has still never won a playoff match in club history, falling to Reading across two legs last season and now with a loss in the opening leg this time around. Whoever makes it through to Wembley for the playoff final will meet either Aston Villa or Middlesbrough, with those two sides set to meet for the first leg on Saturday at Riverside Stadium.

Southampton 3-0 Norwich City: Saints swarm 10-man Norwich for season’s first win

Leave a comment
  • Steven Whittaker sent off after two quick yellows
  • Graziano Pelle put Saints in front before halftime
  • Tadic put it away with a 2nd half brace
  • Southampton earns first win of the year

It’s been a struggle for Southampton early on in the new season, but they took the first step towards turning things around with their first win of the season, a 3-0 thumping of Norwich City at St. Mary’s behind a brace from Dusan Tadic.

The visitors played the final hour with 10 men after Steven Whittaker was sent off for two yellows in the span of four minutes, and it was too much for the Canaries to handle.

James Ward-Prowse nearly put Southampton up after just 70 seconds with a free-kick that caused Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy to go full-stretch to keep it out. Saints remained attacking-minded in the opening five minutes but put a pair of shots well over the bar off early corner kicks.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Cameron Jerome’s first opportunity for Norwich came on 20 minutes in the first sustained attack for the Canaries, but he mistimed Graham Dorrans’ cross and failed to get a head on it from point-blank range. Southampton remained in control and Tadic pulled a shot close but wide on the half-hour mark.

Then the match turned on its head as referee Jon Moss handed Norwich defender Steven Whittaker a second yellow card in the 31st minute. Whittaker had received his first just four minutes earlier, and was rightly sent off for holding back Tadic on a ball forward.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Southampton worked with the man advantage and finding the breakthrough in first-half stoppage time as Saido Mane fed Pelle in front of goal, and the Italian beat Ruddy at his near post from a tight angle.

With the man advantage, it was all Southampton after the halftime break as Mane continued to prove bright and found himself one-on-one with Ruddy, but the Norwich goalkeeper stopped him on the break.

[ MORE: Click here for full lineups, stats, box score

Southampton would double their lead and put things away as Mane pushed a low cross through the box and Tadic latched onto the loose ball, smashing it first-time into the top corner for a 2-0 lead. Tadic would then get a second and the team’s third minutes later as Cedric Soares sent a ball into the box that met the head of Pelle and while his thumping header was saved by Ruddy, Tadic pounced on the rebound for an easy tap-in.

Their first win put Southampton on five points for the new season and pulls them off the bottom of the table. Norwich, meanwhile, sits on four points with a win and a draw so far.

Watch Live: Southampton vs Norwich City (Lineups and Live Stream)

1 Comment

Struggling Southampton meets newly-promoted Norwich in a battle of teams looking to build momentum at St. Mary’s, live at 8:30am E.T. on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Last year the Saints made noise by qualifying for the Europa League despite selling a host of high-value players in the summer. This season, things aren’t going as well as the club has already crashed out of Europe, have yet to win in Premier League play, and continues to bleed important players.

WATCH LIVE: Southampton vs Norwich City live on NBC Sports Live Extra

Victor Wanyama remains out of the Southampton squad after rumors he wishes to leave, with manager Ronald Koeman saying he isn’t “physically or mentally good enough to play.” In his place remains Oriol Romeu who makes his second start in the midfield after receiving his full debut last week against Watford.

Jay Rodriguez sits this week in favor of Graziano Pelle up front. Jordy Clasie has a hamstring issue and cannot make the squad, while young Matt Targett continues to deputize for Ryan Bertrand.

For Norwich City, they have an important win over Sunderland thus far into their new Premier League campaign, and followed it up with a solid draw against Stoke City last week as the club looks to gain momentum and points early in the season to ease their burden later. Lewis Grabban has been suspended by the club for walking out on the team prior to a cup match midweek, which brings Ricky van Wolfswinkel onto the bench in support of starting striker Cameron Jerome.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Stekelenburg, Cédric, Fonte, Yoshida, Targett, Romeu, S. Davis, Ward-Prowse, Tadić, Mané, Pellè.
Bench: 
K. Davis, Long, Rodriguez, Martina, Reed, Juanmi, Caulker.

Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Bassong, Brady; Redmond, Tettey, Dorrans, Howson; Hoolahan; Jerome.
Bench: 
Rudd, Wisdom, Johnson, Hooper, R Bennett, O’Neil, van Wolfswinkel.

Watch Live: Norwich City vs. Stoke City (Lineups and Live Stream)

Leave a comment

Carrow Road is the venue for Saturday’s matchup between Alex Neil’s Canaries of Norwich City and Mark Hughes’ Stoke City Potters. (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).

Wes Hoolahan will help conduct the Norwich attack behind Cameron Jerome, while ex-WBA man Graham Dorrans is also in the midfield for the Canaries.

USMNT veteran Geoff Cameron is on the back line for Stoke, which has Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic to help hassle the Norwich defense.

WATCH LIVE AND ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA AT 10 A.M. ET

LINEUPS

Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin (c), Bassong, Brady; Redmond, Tettey, Dorrans, Howson; Hoolahan; Jerome. Subs: Rudd, Wisdom, Johnson, Grabban, Hooper, R Bennett, O’Neil.

Stoke City: Butland; Johnson, Cameron, Muniesa, Pieters; Whelan, v.Ginkel; Shaqiri, Afellay, Arnautovic; Diouf. Subs: Given; Ireland, Joselu, Wilson, Adam, Crouch, Wollscheid.

Premier League Playback: Just how severe are Chelsea’s issues?

3 Comments

MOURINHO’S MIND GAMES DERAIL CHELSEA

After a turbulent week following medic-gate, it couldn’t have ended on a worse note for Chelsea and Jose Mourinho.

A 3-0 shellacking at the hands of title rivals Manchester City tells its own story, as the reigning Premier League champions have just one point from their opening two games. That equals the worst start by any defending PL champ, and Chelsea’s problems are mounting.

Most of them are self-inflicted. And most of them, predictably, all come back to the feet of one man: Jose Mourinho.

[ WATCH: Stream every PL game via Live Extra

Following his decision to publicly criticize and then demote two members of his medical staff — Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn — after an incident late in the opening game against Swansea, Mourinho has been under pressure all week. It showed. After attending both his pre and post-match press conference around the City game, I could tell the strain of the situation was weighing Mourinho down. Sure, the usually stern Portuguese coach stayed defiant in the line of fire but with his agitated demeanor and attempts to walk out of press conferences, he’s in a bit of a bad situation.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from City’s win vs. Chelsea ]

That was made even worse by some of his decisions against Manchester City on Sunday. Not playing another holding midfielder alongside Nemanja Matic was a big mistake. Less than 20 seconds into the game Sergio Aguero was clean through but stand-in goalkeeper Asmir Begovic saved well. Aguero would have three more chances in quick succession before finally netting with a moment of individual brilliance in the 31st minute. At half time, with Chelsea reeling and their defense being shredded apart by Aguero, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Yaya Toure, Mourinho made a big call: he subbed off captain John Terry for the first time in 176 games as Chelsea boss.

[ MORE: Mourinho – Defeat to City was “completely fake” result ]

It was a huge call to take of the 34-year-old who has captained Chelsea to four PL titles in the past 10 years. Many believe Terry could become the next Mourinho scapegoat, as he decided that he had to have Kurt Zouma on the pitch due to the Frenchman’s pace over Terry or Gary Cahill. In the end he plumped to take off Terry and Mourinho explained the decision after the game as he acknowledged how he has resurrected Terry’s career since returning to Stamford Bridge for a second spell as boss in 2013.

“I don’t know if you ask many questions to [Rafa] Benitez, Andre Villas-Boas or Roberto Di Matteo, to the ones that never played him. I am the one you shouldn’t ask, because I am the one who played John every game, made him captain, recovered him from a difficult situation with other managers and have the right to say I want Kurt Zouma on the pitch.

“I have to decide who is the fastest player in our defensive line. So when you are going to play with a high line, your fastest player has to be on the pitch. We were defensively poor in the first half. But the point was not to take John out, but to put Zouma in. I want to have my fastest player on the pitch and not on the bench. I know they are going to play counter attack and long balls to [Sergio] Aguero, so I want my team to be dominant. It was clear for me Zouma has to play, then I have to bring one out and I brought my captain. He was on my bench and still the captain, because the armband is just the armband.”

Mourinho’s claims about the result being “completely fake” only added to the mood of delusion. He’s playing a dangerous game by taking Terry out, as it threatens to upset the balance of not only Chelsea’s backline but the entire squad dynamic. Terry is the glue that knits Chelsea’s notoriously strong team spirit together. Did his exclusion and subsequent arrival of Zouma make a big difference? In each of the first and second halves, City had nine shots with four on target. So, basically zero difference when purely looking at the stats. Another theory is that Mourinho was making a point to owner Roman Abramovich that Chelsea need to sign John Stones from Everton for upwards of $45 million. By leaving Terry out and showing their, in his own words, “defensive fragility” maybe Mourinho will get what he wants.

It’s too early to say Chelsea is unraveling and City will now run away with the title after two imperious 3-0 wins to open the season. However, it is also on point to say Mourinho has issues to address with not only his backroom staff and his playing staff, but also himself.

FIRED-UP CITY REGAIN HUNGER

Premier League Schedule – Week 2

Result Recap & Highlights
Aston Villa 0-1 Man Utd Recap and watch here
C. Palace 1-2 Arsenal Recap and watch here
Liverpool 1-0 B’mouth Recap and watch here
Man City 3-0 Chelsea Recap and watch here
Saints 0-3 Everton Recap and watch here
Sunderland 1-3 Norwich Recap and watch here
Swansea 2-0 Newcastle Recap and watch here
Tottenham 2-2 Stoke Recap and watch here
Watford 0-0 WBA Recap and watch here
West Ham 1-2 Leicester Recap and watch here

We’ve focused on Chelsea, but we must take a moment to look at City. Manuel Pellegrini punched the air with delight as he walked off the pitch and into the tunnel, with the expanded Etihad Stadium (it now holds over 55,000 thanks to an expansion of the South Stand) raucous throughout as Aguero and Co. put on a show and at times embarrassed the reigning Premier League champions.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news

In midfield is where City really bossed the game. After the game I asked Pellegrini his thoughts on Fernandinho’s display and the Chilean manager had the following to say as his defensive midfielder managed to shackle Cesc Fabregas, rile Diego Costa and he even spanked in a beauty for the third and final goal.

“Fernandinho is working very hard. Last season after the World Cup was not his best,” Pellegrini said. “He was very shocked after what happened in Brazil but this season, after coming back from the Copa America, he is the same as he was two seasons ago: he can play, he can mark, he can score.”

Alongside Fernandinho was David Silva buzzing around mischievously and Yaya Toure powering up and down, as once again he looked like the player who led City to the PL title in 2012 and 2014. Mourinho believed both Fernandinho and Toure should have been sent off, but maybe that was simply to mask an inept display from Fabregas who wandered around aimlessly while Matic dashed around like the Tasmanian Devil trying to put out fires on his own. There was a hunger and anger about City’s play. Captain Vincent Kompany said last week that they have a “point to prove” after finishing second last season. With so many of City’s best players purring in the opening two games, plus new signing Sterling slotting in well and the likes of Eliaquim Mangala settling down, all of a sudden you get the sense that it is City’s title to lose this year.

Even the usually restrained Pellegrini — who just signed a contract extension at the start of the season — fired back at Mourinho’s jibes to issue a simple, damning line: “We always dominate Chelsea.”

SPURS’ OVER-RELIANCE ON KANE WORRYING

Mauricio Pochettino caused quite the stir on Saturday when he said that Harry Kane came off in the second half of Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Stoke City because he was “tired.”

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club

Just 155 minutes into the season, Spurs’ only recognized center forward being “tired” is not a good sign. With Roberto Soldado sold to Villarreal in the week and Emmanuel Adebayor interesting West Ham United, even the signing of Cameroon forward Clinton Njie on Saturday did little to improve the pessimism around White Hart Lane surrounding their lack of attacking options. When Kane was replaced, midfielder Nacer Chadli went up top and Spurs squandered a 2-0 lead in the final 12 minutes. Credit to Stoke, they battled back superbly and after being high-pressed and totally dominated by Tottenham in the first half the Potters fought back valiantly and could have even won it late on.

[ MORE: Standings | schedule | stats ]  

For Tottenham, that’s one point from their opening two games and no goals for a tired Kane. Their over-reliance on the young Englishman who had a breakout season in 2014-15 is clear. Their lack of cover for him is even clearer and, extremely worrying if you’re a Spurs fan.

NEW BOYS ADAPTING WELL

Overall, it was a decent weekend for the new boys. Norwich City went up to Sunderland and were the better team from start to finish as Alex Neil’s side won 3-1 and perhaps got that little bit of luck which evaded them in their opening day defeat to Crystal Palace. The Canaries looked solid at the back and were dangerous on set pieces, plus the pace of Nathan Redmond and bullish play of Cameron Jerome gave them an attacking outlet. Another newcomer struggled in attack as Watford battered West Bromwich Albion in their first home game of the season but couldn’t break through and drew 0-0 with the Baggies. Quique Flores will be happy with two points from two games for the Hornets, but his side should probably have beaten Everton away and West Brom at home. Their next three games are against Southampton, Manchester City and Swansea, all tough games, but Watford will be happy with their start.

New offside rule for 2015-16 season – “A player in an offside position shall be penalized if he: Makes an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.”

Then, there’s Bournemouth. The Cherries just haven’t got the rub of the green so far, have they? On the opening day they dominated Aston Villa but were hit by a Rudy Gestede sucker punch late on, then against Liverpool they seemed to have a perfectly good goal disallowed from skipper Tommy Eplhick five minutes in at Anfield and were then undone by a controversial goal from Christian Benteke. That moment arrived in the first half as Henderson’s cross from the left went towards Philippe Coutinho in an offside position but even though the Brazilian lunged in and missed the ball, Benteke tapped home his first goal for Liverpool. It should have been disallowed. In the past, even if Coutinho didn’t touch the ball but was in an offside position, the goal would have stood. But that’s changed. Confusion over that rule change (see above) meant luckless Bournemouth suffered two defeats in a row to begin life in the Premier League.

CAUTION: RED-HOT FOXES

There’s no doubt about it, after their impressive 2-1 win at West Ham United on Saturday, Leicester City is the hottest team in the Premier League. Since April 2014 they have picked up 28 points with nine wins from their last 11 games, that’s more points than any other PL team. That is four more points than City have managed in that time-frame, seven more than Chelsea and eight more than Manchester United.

Claudio Ranieri’s side are one of just four PL teams to start this season with back-to-back wins (Liverpool, Man City and Man United the others) but the Italian manager must be careful complacency doesn’t set in. The Foxes look solid and with the addition of Shinji Okazaki, he adds real pace alongside Jamie Vardy up top. Riyad Mahrez is the PL’s top scorer with three goals in two games and everything is rosy at the King Power Stadium right now. In a slightly comical moment, Ranieri was asked afterwards about his thoughts on the perfect start to his reign as Leicester boss and reaching 40 points. Here’s the exchange.

Ranieri: “We want to achieve the 40 points — to maintain Premier League (status) is our goal. That is important for us. Now we have six points, 36 left.”

Interviewer: “34.”

Ranieri: [laughs] “34, but I want a little more.”

USMNT UPDATE: MIXED BAG FOR GUZAN, HOWARD, GC

A trio of U.S. national team players had a mixed bag of results across the weekend as Brad Guzan and Aston Villa lost 1-0 to Manchester United under the “Friday Night Lights” at Villa Park. Guzan made a good sliding tackle on Memphis Depay in the first half and could do little about Adnan Januzaj’s winning-goal. As for his fellow USMNT goalkeeper, Tim Howard and Everton enjoyed a superb result at Southampton, winning 3-0 thanks to two goals from Romelu Lukaku and another from Ross Barkley. Howard kept his 127th clean sheet in England.

Geoff Cameron played the full 90 minutes at center back once again for Stoke City, as they rebounded to draw 2-2 after trialing 2-0 at half time.

Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here