Ross Barkley

Chelsea cruises past relegation-worried Watford

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Chelsea got goals from Willian, Ross Barkley, and Olivier Giroud in a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

USMNT star Christian Pulisic drew a penalty for Willian’s goal and helped set up Barkley’s third goal in his fourth-straight start in 10 days.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – USMNT star shines again ]

Chelsea moves back atop Manchester United for fourth place, one point behind Leicester City.

Watford’s 28 points are one point better than two of the bottom three, with Aston Villa holding a match-in-hand and set to visit Liverpool on Sunday.

[ MORE: Pulisic reacts to Hazard comparisons ]


Three things we learned

1. Chelsea holds serve in top four fight: Wins for Manchester United and Leicester City meant the Blues could finish the day in either fourth or fifth. The decisive performance was a welcome one for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard following a late loss at West Ham earlier in the week. The Blues meet Crystal Palace, Sheffield United, and Norwich City before Liverpool and Wolves make for a dangerous final two league fixtures.

2. Pearson plans for midweek: Norwich City looks as down-and-out as any club right now, so it’s not likely a coincidence that Etienne Capoue and Troy Deeney came off the pitch with the score line 2-0 and 26 minutes to play. Watford will aim to find points in its home ground against a poor Canaries side on Tuesday.

3. Kante limps off: While Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have remained fit and available to Lampard, the manager won’t be happy that N’Golo Kante’s injury-hit season saw a possible concern with a 78th-minute sub for Billy Gilmour.

Man of the Match

It was either Pulisic or Willian, and we’re going to go with the Brazilian if only because CP gets a lot of run in these parts.


Chelsea – Watford recap

Christian Pulisic came out of the gates in lively form and within minutes Olivier Giroud had an odd-angled chance to head toward goal.

The Blues were all over Watford for the first 20 minutes, Pulisic, Willian, and Giroud very involved in the display.

Giroud put the Blues on the board with an experienced, spinning strike in the 29th minute. Getting the ball off a Ross Barkley feed, the Frenchman hit a cushioned low shot across his body and just inside the far post.

Pulisic played a role in the second goal, dribbling to the end line and getting manhandled by an out-of-his-mind Christian Kabasele on his cut back toward play. Penalty, Willian. 2-0.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

The second half was mostly Chelsea, too, and Willian forced Foster into a terrific 68th-minute save and corner kick to the Blues.

Watford had their moments late, including a Danny Welbeck effort that Kepa Arrizabalaga did very well to save.

Pulisic had a shot blocked in the 90th minute, and Will Hughes couldn’t convert a Welbeck-inspired play at the other end.

Instead, the American would settle for a “hockey assist,” slipping the ball to Azpilicueta inside the 18 before the Chelsea veteran set up Barkley’s exclamation point.

Barkley slides Chelsea into FA Cup semis; Pulisic gets treatment

Leicester City - Chelsea recap
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Ross Barkley’s second-half goal sent Chelsea into the FA Cup semifinals after a 1-0 defeat of Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

Chelsea joins Manchester United and Arsenal in the semis, with Man City and Newcastle to decide the fourth entrant later Sunday.

USMNT star Christian Pulisic was fantastic in the win, though he was shown getting ice on his left calf following a 72nd-minute substitution.

Pulisic finished the day with two shots, a key pass, two fouls drawn, seven-of-12 duels won, and two dribbles completed.

[ LAMPARD: Pulisic can reach Salah, Sterling level ]

An early error from Billy Gilmour sprung a first-minute chance for Leicester that Willy Caballero collected in the six.

In-form Pulisic was lively early, drawing a 16th-minute free kick in the Leicester final third. His suboptimal header of Reece James’ service was caught by Kasper Schmeichel, however.

Pulisic forced a more difficult save out of Schmeichel before the half-hour mark, both teams looking prepared to score.

[ RELATED: Liverpool win title – everything to know ]

Jamie Vardy dragged a left-footed effort wide of goal off a partial breakway just before halftime, though Caballero may have had the angle covered.

Barkley put Chelsea ahead through a slick bit of work from Willian. The 26-year-old’s fourth goal of the season is his third to go with an assist in four FA Cup outings this season.

Caglar Soyuncu came close to equalizing in the 85th minute but he was denied a clear header by a closing-in Cesar Azpilicueta.

Barkley bungled a late 4-on-2 with an errant pass before challenging Schmeichel with a drive from outside the 18.

Lampard ‘really proud’ of Chelsea win; Praises returning Kepa (video)

Frank Lampard
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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was buzzing after his men knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

Willian and Ross Barkley scored and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had a stunning three-save sequence in the win.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“I’m really proud,” Lampard said, via the BBC. “Liverpool are the best team in the league and what they are doing is incredible. So for us to put in a performance like that, the effort, the quality was something special. We know we’ve got a long way to go but you have to celebrate those moments.”

The win was especially fun for Arrizabalaga, who had dropped behind Willy Caballero in the pecking order.

Lampard wouldn’t deny that Arrizabalaga stood out from his place between the sticks.

“I was really pleased for Kepa,” Lampard said. “It’s not easy because all players want to play and a goalkeeper gets scrutinized more than any other position and he made some good saves. He’s shown good character and he played well.”

Willian’s goal was the result of a big mistake from Adrian, but Barkley’s was a rocket.

The mercurial England attacker dribbled more than 50 yards before smashing the camera with a shot from the top of the box.

“Scoring against Liverpool is massive for me,” Barkley said. “As an Everton fan, it’s always a dream to score against them.”

Chelsea plays Everton this weekend.

FA Cup wrap: Liverpool loses again; Almiron drives Newcastle win

Liverpool
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Previously impermeable Liverpool allowed three goals for the second-straight match in bowing out of the FA Cup in the fifth round.

Chelsea beat the Premier League leaders 2-0 at Stamford Bridge as one of two FA Cup matches on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Joining the Blues and Arsenal in the hat for the quarterfinal draw is Newcastle United. Sheffield United and Reading are in extra time at the Madejski Stadium, so check back for updates.

They don’t use a hat. They used to. Those were the days to be a haberdasher.

Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool

Liverpool has lost three in four in all competitions after an even match at Stamford Bridge.

Both sides turned to their depth after weekend disappointments, and Chelsea’s responded with a fine showing.

The opener came thanks to a series of Liverpool errors, Willian‘s hammered shot hitting Adrian square in the hands and finding its way over the line.

Kepa Arrizabalaga had a three-save sequence to keep it 1-0 at the break.

Barkley then seized on an unlucky Van Dijk flick and raced sixty yards past a sleepy Fabinho and cautious Joe Gomez to smash a rocket off the in-goal camera.

Pedro was denied 1v1 by Adrian before Olivier Giroud smashed off the bottom of the bar.

Liverpool brought on Roberto Firmino and James Milner in the 70th minute in a late bid to reverse the Reds’ fortunes. Mohamed Salah entered 10 minutes later, all to no avail.

Reading 1-1 Sheffield United (currently in extra time)

Hard-luck Blades striker David McGoldrick finally got his goal, the 32-year-old taking a Ben Osborn feed to make it 1-0. McGoldrick has an expected goal mark of more than seven in Premier League play, but had not found the net.

Reading leveled the score just before halftime through a George Puscas penalty. That was it for the goals in regulation.

West Brom 2-3 Newcastle United

Newcastle had several big chances early and were justly rewarded when Allan Saint-Maximin slipped Miguel Almiron into the box for a clinical finish past Baggies keeper Jonathan Bond.

Almiron made it a brace when Joelinton backheeled a pass toward the penalty spot for the Paraguayan’s sliding finish.

Valentino Lazaro got his first Newcastle goal within two minutes of restart thanks to a Bond error.

Longtime West Brom servant Matty Phillips pulled one back in the 74th minute off a Kenneth Zohore assist.

The Baggies took the slimmest of hopes from a pretty stoppage time connection from Kyle Edwards to Zohore, but a late penalty shout went unheard and the Championship-leading Baggies left the tournament.

 

UCL Preview: An American at Anfield, Chelsea in France

Jesse Marsch
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American manager Jesse Marsch leads Red Bull Salzburg into Anfield on Tuesday for a UEFA Champions League clash with Liverpool, and he understands well that the building his team is walking into is half-cauldron, half-cathedral.

In fact, both managers are making Anfield a character in the story of Tuesday’s 3 p.m. ET kickoff.

[ MORE: Tuesday UCL wrap ]

“Anfield is a special stadium,” Marsch said. “Today we had the opportunity to get used to the dimensions and the myth. Tomorrow, the atmosphere is added. We will absorb all that.”

Marsch admitted that there will be temptations to lose focus for his young team, but stressed that if his club sticks with “our strengths and not let ourselves be scared, then we are dangerous.”

Salzburg, of course, is the former club of Liverpool star Sadio Mane, and the Senegalese winger admits that he still follows the Austrian side closely.

And Jurgen Klopp said that Salzburg’s next up-and-coming attacker, Erling Braut Haland, is just one more reason to be wary of the visitors.

“He is young, hungry, fast and direct,” Klopp said of Haland. “He is very dangerous. Nonetheless, it is our job to make Salzburg feel that they are here on Anfield.”

There are other Americans in action in the UCL, though Lille’s Timothy Weah will miss a chance to match up with Christian Pulisic and Chelsea on Tuesday.

That’s if Pulisic plays in France, where Frank Lampard will be laser-focused on a result after Ross Barkley‘s missed penalty helped doom Chelsea in the opener.

Barkley’s been in the news for other reasons this week, having reportedly been escorted to an ATM by police after refusing to pay a taxi driver following an incident with french fries in the back of a vehicle.

“The lads were given a day off on Sunday. He hasn’t committed a crime other than eating chips in the back of a cab, which is probably a bit out of order for the cabbie, but on a serious note what he has done from my point of view is be naive to be out on that evening in the buildup to a Champions League game.”

Sounds like Barkley’s going to get some leeway from his boss, who will need an improved showing out of the former Everton man if he wants to collect points in France.

In Spain, there will be a huge clash between Antonio Conte‘s well-running Inter Milan and a challenged Barcelona who is facing turmoil on-and-off the pitch but did pick up a much-needed win over the weekend.

Finally, there’s one more American likely to make a UCL appearance on Wednesday, though the bigger story here will be whether Ajax’s Sergino Dest is named in Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT squad.

Dest, 18, only made a substitute’s appearance against Groningen at the weekend and is a likely starter at Valencia. The right back played left back for Berhalter during the last international break, but expressed hesitance to commit to the USMNT when the Netherlands could come knocking. If he accepts a call-up for the CONCACAF Nations League games next week, he could be cap-tied to the USMNT for life.

UCL on Wednesday

12:55 p.m. ET
Slavia Prague v. Borussia Dortmund
Genk v. Napoli

3 p.m. ET
Liverpool v. Red Bull Salzburg
Lille v. Chelsea
Zenit Saint-Petersburg v. Benfica
Valencia v. Ajax
Barcelona v. Inter Milan
RB Leipzig v. Lyon