About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Man Utd defender Marcos Rojo: I do have white line feverby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United defender Marcos Rojo says he enjoys the physical style of the Premier League.Rojo has become popular among supports for his robust style of defending.He told manutd.com: “That’s the way I play my football. That is me on the field. If you see me off the field, I’m the most laid back guy – laughing, joking all day and having fun but, as soon as I cross that white line and go on to the field, I don’t know what happens! “I’m a different person. Something happens inside me and I change. If the ball is there to be won, I go for it and give it everything I’ve got. Individual battles, individual duels, I am always up for them.”
About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say Emery admits top-four finish ‘difficult’ for Arsenalby Freddie Taylor9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveUnai Emery admits consistency is jeopardising Arsenal’s top-four chances. The Gunners’ loss to West Ham United on Sunday saw them drop three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.And Emery thinks it will be difficult for his team to qualify for the Champions League if they continue to drop points.”Now it’s more difficult, it’s clear,” he told reporters. “I think the most important thing for us is to recover our confidence and be more competitive. We need consistency over 38 matches.”Now it isn’t enough at the moment. It’s a bad result. If we can win we are playing against Chelsea [on Saturday] with a three-point maximum distance.”The big opportunity for us is that we can take in our hands the possibility to be closer to them. This result makes that more difficult.”
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Chelsea boss Lampard: Senior players still biggest influenceby Paul Vegas19 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea boss Frank Lampard is delighted with the influence of his senior players.Lampard says he has the right blend within his squad.”What you need is a strong group and then you see the leaders come from within it. Where we are quite young, the leaders are still going to come and come out of themselves more. That comes with a bit of confidence, probably with being around the first team even more,” he stated.”It seemed to have become a bit cut and dry [from outside], the young boys and the old boys, but I never saw it that way. I always trust in the players and in the squad, and you will rely on them.”Willian scored two in two, Jorginho’s influence and how he is, Azpilicueta club captain and N’Golo Kante, back in and 28 years of age. We need all those players and I expect them to deliver and take burdens throughout the season. Hopefully they’re doing that.”
McAteer: Firmino more important to Liverpool than Salahby Ansser Sadiq18 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool legend Jason McAteer believes the club would suffer more if they lost Roberto Firmino to injury, compared to Mohamed Salah.The latter suffered a niggle against Leicester City, with fans concerned that he would miss game time after the international break.But McAteer believes if they do have to miss an attacker through injury, Firmino would be the more impactful loss.McAteer told The Racing Post: “People have questioned Liverpool’s strength in depth and I don’t think it’s quite as strong as Manchester City’s, but there is cover in key areas.”Take one of their star players out of the team and inevitably it has an impact – it would at any club. But Jurgen has been able to tweak things and bring in different players and look where they are.”The one player I think is indispensable going forward is Roberto Firmino. Forget Sadio Mane or Mo Salah, it’s Firmino who makes the whole thing tick going forward. I think if Liverpool lost Firmino it would have a bigger impact than losing Mane or Salah.”Look at the Super Cup against Chelsea where Liverpool produced two completely different halves of football, the first without Firmino and the second with him. He’s a more important part of the attacking jigsaw than anyone else.” About the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your say
Man Utd tell Solskjaer plans to bring in four new signingsby Paul Vegas15 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United have told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer they plan to bring in four new signings next year.United have struggled to score goals this season and The Times says the board is willing to remain patient with Solskjaer as they acknowledge the scale of the task at hand in rebuilding his squad.The Norwegian has held meetings with the club’s hierarchy and they will be looking to make four signings next year, including a centre forward.United made three signings this summer, with Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James heading to Old Trafford. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
Cristiano Ronaldo “only wanted to play for Juventus”, claims his agent Jorge Mendes, with the decision taken to leave Real Madrid for Serie A in January.A big-money move for the Portuguese had been mooted for several years before a deal was finally done over the summer.Few clubs boasted the ambition and financial muscle to put an agreement in place, but Italian giants Juve formed part of an exclusive club. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ronaldo has made no secret of his admiration for the Bianconeri since joining their books, with the Turin outfit one he always hoped would form part of his illustrious career.Mendes was able to make that dream a reality, with there only one destination considered once a five-time Ballon d’Or winner made it clear that he wanted out of the Santiago Bernabeu.“In January 2018, I and the few people who knew what was happening thought it would be very difficult to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Juve,” Mendes told Rai Sport.“However, I want to make it clear that the idea started with the player himself. Ronaldo told me he only wanted to play for Juventus.“That’s where it began and I was in talks with the Bianconeri directors for months, so we all know how those negotiations ended up.“Now Cristiano is happy with the club and his team-mates, he is satisfied with Serie A and truly happy at Juventus.”Ronaldo has contributed 12 goals to the Juve cause this season, across 21 appearances in all competitions.Those efforts have helped to establish a standing back at the top of Serie A, while also progressing through to the last 16 of the Champions League.“Many have asked me about Juve and the Champions League. It will take a bit of luck to win it too, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival has certainly made Juventus stronger,” added Mendes.“I’d say all of Italian football has benefited from his presence.”Ronaldo will be back in action on Saturday against Roma, with Massimiliano Allegri having revealed that plans to rest the 33-year-old continue to be pushed back.
Chelsea host Leicester City in their final match before Christmas on Saturday as they aim to further cement their place in the top four.Maurizio Sarri’s side were boosted by their qualification for the Carabao Cup semi-finals in midweek, with a late goal from Eden Hazard enough to see off Bournemouth in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.The Blues bounced back from the disappointment of an away loss to Wolves earlier this month by winning their last two league encounters against Manchester City and Brighton. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Leicester were knocked out of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, however, after losing to Pep Guardiola’s Man City on penalties.The Foxes have failed to win any of their last three league matches and fell to a 1-0 defeat away at Crystal Palace last weekend, a result which saw them slip to 12th in the table.The last Premier League encounter between these two sides at Stamford Bridge ended in a 0-0 draw last January. Game Chelsea vs Leicester Date Saturday, December 22 Time 3:00pm GMT / 10:00am ET Stream (US) fubo TV (7-day free trial) TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) .New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser. US TV channel Online stream NBCSN fubo TV (7-day free trial) In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be shown live as it will be played during the blackout period. UK TV channel Online stream N/A N/A Squads & Team News Position Chelsea players Goalkeepers Arrizabalaga, Caballero, Green Defenders Azpilicueta, Zappacosta, Rudiger, Luiz, Cahill, Ampadu, Emerson Midfielders Fabregas, Jorginho, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic Forwards Willian, Pedro, Hazard, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Morata Eden Hazard continues in a central striking role for Chelsea after picking up one goal and three assists in his last two appearances in that position.Centre-back Andreas Christensen was forced off with a hamstring injury against Bournemouth and Maurizio Sarri instead picks David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger at centre-back.Alvaro Morata has returned to training after recovering from a twisted knee, but he is not even on the bench.Possible Chelsea starting XI: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Pedro, Hazard, Willian. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Fabregas, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Giroud. Position Leicester players Goalkeepers Schmeichel, Ward, Jakupovic Defenders Simpson, Pereira, Morgan, Soyuncu, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Fuchs Midfielders Iborra, Silva, Mendy, Ndidi, Choudhury, Albrighton, Maddison, Diabate, Gray, Ghezzal Forwards Vardy, Okazaki, Ihenacho Jamie Vardy returns to the Leicester XI having been rested against Manchester City in midweek.There had been concerns over the fitness of Ben Chilwell and Wilfred Ndidi, who are both struggling with knee injuries and are likely to face late fitness tests, but both are deemed fit to start.Matty James and Daniel Amartey remain out.Possible Leicester starting XI: Schmeichel; Ricardo, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Choudhury, Mendy, Ndidi, Albrighton; Maddison; Vardy. Subs: Ward, Fuchs, Evans, Iborra, Gray, Okazaki, Iheanacho.Betting & Match Odds Chelsea’s odds of winning are priced at 1/3 according to bet 365, while a draw is available at 9/2. A win for Leicester is priced at 10/1.Click here to see all of bet 365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more. Match Preview A win for Chelsea here would see them leapfog Spurs into third place for at least a day, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side not playing until Sunday.It would also be a great boost for Sarri’s side to cement their spot in the top four for Christmas, with the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League set to intensify during the second half of the season.There are also signs that star man Hazard is approaching his best form again after various injury issues in recent weeks. When asked whether he felt playing the Belgian as a forward could be a long-term solution, Sarri said: “I don’t know. I was sure about City in that position we could do a good match. Against Brighton I started to see this situation in different matches.”Now I want to see it against a team very compact, in low density. We have to see.”Claude Puel will know that his side must pick up some positive results over the festive period to avoid speculation over his own future at the club.It’s been a difficult season for the Foxes on and off the pitch, but with just one win in their last eight matches, Leicester will know that points on the board are a must over the coming weeks. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Luka Modric’s wonderful goal helped seal Club World Cup history as Real Madrid beat Al Ain 4-1 to become the first team to win the tournament three years in a row.Santiago Solari’s first silverware since being appointed as Julen Lopetegui’s successor was set up by Modric’s first-half strike as Madrid comfortably triumphed in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, moving past rivals Barcelona with their fourth title in the competition.The Croatia midfielder, who added the Ballon d’Or crown to his World Cup Golden Ball this month, bent the opener into the bottom-left corner from 25 yards, with Marcos Llorente also drilling home from outside the box before a Sergio Ramos header extended Madrid’s lead. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Al Ain had a goal from Caio Fernandes ruled out for offside when they only trailed by one and Zoran Mamic’s side – who replied through an excellent Tsukasa Shiotani header – can be proud of their efforts on home soil as massive underdogs against the European champions, despite Madrid adding a late fourth through Yahia Nader’s own goal.The perfect way to cap off #TheBest year for @lukamodric10? He has @realmadriden in front in the #ClubWC final pic.twitter.com/VmlslWFoxG— #ClubWC (@FIFAcom) December 22, 2018Madrid hit the post in the third minute when Llorente got clear in the left channel, his cutback deflected on to the woodwork by fortunate defender Ismail Ahmed.Al Ain should have taken the lead when Marcelo’s mistake let in Hussein El Shahat but captain Ramos made a miraculous goal-line clearance to deny the winger, then Madrid nudged in front.Neat build-up play from Karim Benzema set up Modric and the Ballon d’Or winner curled home a beauty from 25 yards, Caio then seeing a rapid reply ruled out for offside.Benzema missed a brilliant chance to extend Madrid’s lead before goalkeeper Khalid Eisa made outstanding saves to deny both Gareth Bale and Modric before the break.Madrid effectively clinched the trophy in the 60th minute when a cleared corner fell kindly to Llorente, his thumping half-volley giving Eisa no chance and opening his professional account in some style.Ramos powered home a Modric corner to make certain of Madrid’s victory, celebrating the goal with unused substitute Isco, although Al Ain scored a deserved consolation through Shiotani with four minutes left.Madrid had the final say, though, as a cross from substitute Vinicius Jr was turned into his own goal by Nader in the first minute of stoppage time. WHAT A GOAL!!!@marcosllorente pic.twitter.com/wsel09O91H— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) December 22, 2018What does it mean? Solari up and runningThis was not always completely convincing from Madrid, but they did not need to get out of second gear. Solari’s side left too many gaps at the back and more clinical opponents may have punished them, but the coach will be relieved to collect the first trophy of his reign.Modric the man of the moment There were few arguments about Modric ending Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s dominance of the Ballon d’Or and he ended 2018 on another high note. His opening goal was superbly struck and the midfielder also forced a scrambling save from Eisa with a stunning volley as well as crossing for Ramos’ goal.Madrid survive Benzema’s baffling missRonaldo’s sale to Juventus meant Benzema would have to hugely increase his meagre goalscoring returns from last season to address the deficit. But the former France striker has struggled to step up, with an atrocious miss from Lucas Vazquez’s cross particularly worrying. Benzema – who has six league goals this season – did set up Modric’s opener, yet he is ultimately in the Madrid team to score goals, not make them.Key Opta Facts- Madrid have won the Club World Cup four times (2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018), surpassing Barcelona (2009, 2011 and 2015) to become the competition’s most successful team.- Solari is the first Argentinian manager to win the Club World Cup. The previous five Argentinians to manage in a Club World Cup final lost the game, all in charge of teams from South America.- Madrid captain Ramos is the third player to score in different Club World Cup finals, after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.What’s next?Madrid can enjoy a brief break before returning to LaLiga action at Villarreal on January 3. read more
Federico Chiesa’s strike 17 minutes from time earned Fiorentina their first away win of the season as AC Milan’s recent struggles continued in a 1-0 loss at San Siro.The visitors barely threatened Gianluigi Donnarumma’s goal but Chiesa jinked past Davide Calabria and fired home his first goal since September to settle the contest.The Rossoneri have now won just one of their previous six contests in Serie A and have failed to score in any of their last three. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Milan also dropped out of the top four thanks to Lazio’s win earlier in the day, with Fiorentina now just two points behind them in seventh.72’ FEDERICO CHIESAAAAAAAAA #MilanFiorentina 0-1 #NoiSiamoFirenze #InsiemeSiamoPiùForti pic.twitter.com/KIW5L94tm8 — ACF Fiorentina (@acffiorentina) December 22, 2018 Milan entered this contest on the back of two 0-0 draws in Serie A and failed to find a way through in the opening 45 minutes, despite creating plenty of opportunities.Hakan Calhanoglu spurned one of the best, firing wide in the 18th minute after a stroke of fortune saw the ball ricochet back into his path in the box following an attempted give and go with Suso.Fiorentina goalkeeper Alban Lafont brilliantly parried away a viciously struck effort from Ricardo Rodriguez while Calhanoglu was denied by Nikola Milenkovic’s clearance off the line on the stroke of half-time.It took until the 51st minute for Fiorentina to fashion their first decent opening as Kevin Mirallas hooked way over from inside the box.Lafont was kept busy at the other end, though, denying Suso at his near post and then preventing Gonzalo Higuain’s header from creeping past him.With just over 20 minutes to go Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso threw on Diego Laxalt and Patrick Cutrone in a bid to inject some life into his below-par outfit but it was Fiorentina that would claim the winner.Chiesa knocked the ball inside Calabria and his right-footed attempt crashed into the corner. Lafont then tipped Rodriguez’s header over as Milan fell to their fourth league loss of the season. What does it mean? Pressure building on Gattuso Five wins in six between September 30 and November 4 had eased the pressure on Gattuso but one win in the half a dozen since will not have pleased the Milan hierarchy. There are just two games remaining before the winter break and Gattuso will be under increasing scrutiny if Milan’s form does not pick up soon.Milan unable to find a way past Lafont Milan did have their chances but French teenager Lafont was equal to everything thrown at him. Rodriguez in particular must be wondering how on earth he did not score as Lafont parried away an attempt destined for goal in the first half before displaying terrific agility to tip over a late header from the Swiss too.Goal-shy Gonzalo fails to fire again It is now eight games without a goal for Higuain and it is no surprise Milan are toiling while the Argentinian experiences a barren spell. Of more concern to Gattuso will be how ineffective Higuain was. He had just one chance across the contest and looks like a man burdened by his current struggles.3 – AC Milan haven’t found the net in three consecutive Serie A games for the first time since November 2001. Lack. #MilanFiorentina— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 22, 2018Key Opta FactsMilan have failed to score in three Serie A games in a row for the first time since November 2001.Milan are the only team yet to score a single Serie A goal in the first half since November.Fiorentina have won a Serie A match against AC Milan at San Siro for the first time since November 2013 (0-2).Chiesa’s goal came with Fiorentina’s only shot on target fired in the match.Federico Chiesa has scored his first Serie A away goal since February 2018 (against Bologna).What’s next?Milan’s next assignment is a trip to Frosinone, who are under new management after replacing Moreno Longo with Marco Baroni this week. Fiorentina welcome Parma to Florence on Wednesday. read more
Manchester United will begin their life post-Jose Mourinho when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returns to Cardiff City on Saturday in the Premier League.The Red Devils legend took charge as interim manager following the Portuguese boss’s dismissal from his managerial post at Old Trafford, and Solskjaer’s first game in charge will be against the side that he briefly managed during an ill-fated spell in 2014.The visitors travel to Wales sixth in the table, 11 points off of a top-four spot and having registered just one win in their last five matches, while the Bluebirds sit in 16th in the table. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Game Cardiff City vs Manchester United Date Saturday, December 22 Time 5:30pm GMT / 12:30pm ET Stream (US) fubo TV (7-day free trial) TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser. US TV channel Online stream NBC fubo TV (7-day free trial) In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on BT Sport 1 and live-streamed on BT Sport Live. UK TV channel Online stream BT Sport 1 BT Sport Live Squads & Team News Position Cardiff City players Goalkeepers Etheridge, Smithies, Murphy Defenders Peltier, Bennett, Morrison, Manga, Connolly, Cunningham, Bamba Midfielders Arter, Ralls, Murphy, Gunnarsson, Damour, Camarasa, Harris, Hoilett Forwards Ward, Paterson, Reid, Madine Cardiff City XI: Etheridge, Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Cunningham, Gunnarsson, Arter, Camarasa, Hoilett, Murphy, Paterson. Position Manchester United players Goalkeepers De Gea, Grant, Romero Defenders Smalling, Jones, Dalot, Shaw, Bailly, Young, Valencia, Darmian Midfielders Pogba, Mata, Matic, McTominay, Herrera, Lingard, Pereira, Fred, Fellaini, Gomes, Hamilton Forwards Rashford, Martial, Chong, Bohui Man Utd XI: De Gea; Young, Jones, Lindelof, Shaw; Matic, Herrera; Lingard, Pogba, Martial; Rashford.Betting & Match Odds Cardiff are priced at odds of 5/1 to win, according to bet 365, while a draw is available at 3/1. A win for the Red Devils is priced at 11/20.Click here to see all of bet 365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.Match Preview Last weekend’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool in the Premier League was the final nail in the coffin for Mourinho, as they dismissed the Portuguese just 48 hours after the defeat.The former Chelsea boss endured a miserable first half of the season with the club, having lost five matches in 17 Premier League games and already conceding as many goals by December as they did during the whole of last season.The defeat at Anfield ensured United are marooned in sixth place with Mourinho admitting that top-four – let alone challenging for the title – was going to be difficult.Solskjaer’s first game in charge as caretaker manager will be against Cardiff, whom he briefly managed in 2014 but could not save from relegation.The Norwegian’s appointment has been welcomed by many Red Devils fans following the toxic and turbulent reign of Mourinho, though he has been given the massive responsibility of trying to challenge for a Champions League spot for next season as well as lifting the spirits of the dressing room.All eyes will be on whether or not the Solskjaer will decide to slot Pogba into the starting XI straightaway, after the France international fell out of favour under Mourinho.He has, meanwhile, claimed that he will not be afraid to replicate Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous “hairdryer” treatment with the players, and told reporters that he would not hesitate to “lay down the law”.Solskjaer said: “We’ve spoken about what we expect, what standards we have on and off the pitch. You prepare for every game, I trust the lads to know what they’re doing to help the team. Everything we do is to help the team.”He’s [Pogba] a World Cup winner, Paul’s a terrific lad. When I had him as a kid as well, he was always the happy-go-lucky lad and he’s not changed personality-wise.”He’s a better player, and of course he’s one I want to get the best out of. You have so many quality players that I want to try to get the best out of and he’s no different to anybody else.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Unai Emery has hailed Mesut Ozil for delivering when Arsenal “needed him to” during a Premier League clash with Burnley.The Gunners headed into a home date with the Clarets looking to offer a positive response to back-to-back defeats in league and cup competition.Ozil’s role in their plans had dominated the pre-match build-up, with the German playmaker having seemingly fallen out of favour to see questions asked of his future. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Emery had, however, stated prior to the game that the World Cup winner still had an important role to play and backed up that statement by handing the 30-year-old a starting berth and the captain’s armband.Ozil rewarded that show of faith with a talismanic performance which saw him play a pivotal role in Arsenal’s first and third goals in a 3-1 victory.Emery told BBC Sport afterwards of an eye-catching showing from a man with a point to prove: “It was a big performance today and afterwards I said congratulations for your work.“Every player showed his quality and their characteristics. We needed him to work to help us today and he did.”Ozil was not the only player to deliver for Arsenal, with the Gunners’ defence standing up well to a physical battle with Burnley’s frontmen.Emery was delighted with the collective showing from his side, as they returned to winning ways courtesy of two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a late effort from Alex Iwobi.The Spaniard added: “It was a tough match. It was difficult because they pushed a lot with long balls and the second action.“But we played well with our body and our character was good. The victory was deserved and in the table we are closer to Tottenham and Chelsea.“I think we won today not because we played well but because every player had a very big commitment.“We knew Burnley are an organised team and were going to push us but we didn’t lose too many long balls from the goalkeeper.“I think we can controlled the match like we wanted. We had to make an alteration of our game plan but after I think our game plan gave us the victory.“We’re scoring lots of goals but we need more clean sheets and our defeat today was maybe that.”Arsenal remain outside the Premier League’s top four at present, but remain very much within touching distance of the Champions League spots as the games come thick and fast during the festive period. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Barcelona will seek to tighten their grip on first place in the Primera Division on Saturday when they play host to Celta Vigo.The Catalans go into the fixture fresh from thumping away wins against Espanyol (4-0) and Levante (5-0) and having had the rare luxury of a full week to prepare for the fixture.Thereafter, they will have a couple of weeks off before meeting Getafe in La Liga, but in order to enjoy the festive period as fully as possible, they must overcome midtable Celta. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Game Barcelona vs Celta Date Saturday, December 22 Time 5:30pm GMT / 12:30pm ET Stream (US) fubo TV (7-day free trial) TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) . New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser. US TV channel Online stream beIN Sports fubo TV (7-day free trial) In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be shown on television but can be streamed on Eleven Sports 2. UK TV channel Online stream N/A Eleven Sports 2 Squads & Team News Position Barcelona squad Goalkeepers Ter Stegen, Cillessen Defenders Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Miranda Midfielders Rakitic, Busquets, Roberto, Vidal, Denis Suarez, Arthur, Alena Forwards Messi, Luis Suarez, Coutinho, Dembele, Munir Thomas Vermaelen suffered a fresh injury setback this week while Samuel Umtiti is still sidelined. On the plus side, Nelson Semedo is fit and gets a starting berth.Barcelona starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, L. Suarez, Dembele.Subs: Cillessen, Alena, Brandariz, Coutinho, Miranda, Arthur, D. Suarez. Position Celta squad Goalkeepers Ruben Blanco, Alvarez Defenders Araujo, Costas, Roncaglia, Cabral, Alonso, Mazan, Mallo, Vazquez Midfielders Lobotka, Yokuslu, Radoja, Beltran, Jensen, Sanchez, Mendez, Boufal Forwards Sisto, Mor, Hjulsager, Gomez, Aspas, Eckert Celta have a full squad available for this encounter with the exception of the suspended left-back David Junca. Celta starting XI: Ruben Blanco; Mallo, Araujo, Costas, Mazan; Mendez, Yokuslu, Jozabed, Boufal; Aspas, Gomez.Subs: Alvarez, Beltran, Cabral, Hjulsager, Lobotka, Sisto, Kevin.Betting & Match Odds Barcelona have been made hot 1/8 favourites with bet365. A draw is priced at 8/1 while a Celta win is a long shot at 20/1.Click here to see more offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more .Match Preview They may have one last outing of 2018, but Barcelona’s thoughts are already drifting towards the future.On Thursday, it was confirmed that they will sign Jeison Murillo on loan from Valencia in the January transfer window to reinforce their defence, while the Camp Nou side have also been tipped to pounce for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot.Barca have kept three successive cleansheets in the Primera Division, but the spine of their squad remains paper thin and needs reinforcing.At the other end of the pitch, though, Lionel Messi continues on his merry way, having shone once again last weekend in a 5-0 destruction of Levante. The Argentine’s hat-trick carried him over the 50-goal barrier for 2018 – a figure he has achieved in eight of the last nine years – and means he has won more top-flight matches than any other player in the club’s history.“I don’t know how to label him. I don’t know how to answer the most repeated question,” head coach Ernesto Valverde said, clearly having run out of superlatives for the South American, who finished only fifth in the recent the 2018 Ballon d’Or voting.“He’s the one who makes us play, who gives us amazing goals … we just have to enjoy him.”Indeed, so prolific has Messi been alongside strike partner Luis Suarez, the duo have accumulated more goals than both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid this season.Celta’s task is to somehow find a way of halting this juggernaut, but the Galicians are confident.“The game comes at a good time because we’re in the middle of a good run of results and play, despite the recent draw against Leganes,” midfielder Jozabed Sanchez said. “Additionally, in recent years we’ve been able to make things difficult for them.”Celta may be undefeated in their last three league matches, but the likes of Huesca, Villarreal and Leganes do not measure up to the size and quality of Barca. Indeed, the last time Celta faced one of the league’s big guns, they went down 4-2 to Real Madrid at home. Barcelona, therefore, remain hot favourites – particularly with Messi in such fantastic form.
Ashley Young admits Manchester United have endured “a tough week”, but has called on those around him to “play for the badge” as a new era is opened at Cardiff.The Red Devils will take to the field in South Wales with a new manager at the helm, with Jose Mourinho having been relieved of his duties.Inconsistent displays from an underperforming squad spelled the end for the Portuguese, with a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool proving to be the final straw. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been drafted in as Mourinho’s successor and is being backed to bring a feel-good factor back to Old Trafford.Young concedes there have not been too many smiles on United faces of late, but told the club’s official website: “It’s been a tough week.“But we’ve got to move on now, move forward and concentrate on this game. We need to get ourselves back to winning ways.“You go out there as a player and you want to win, play for the badge, play for this fantastic club, the best club in the world and for us now it’s about looking ahead and looking at the next couple of games we’ve got coming up.“It’s a busy Christmas period and we want to get points on the board and start getting ourselves back up the table.”The Red Devils are looking for returning hero Solskjaer to make an immediate impact, with the presence of a 1999 Treble winner helping to raise spirits around the club.“I’m sure Ole is excited to be back, Mike Phelan as well,” added Young. “For Ole to walk back in here must feel unbelievable. The fans love him, he loves the club and it can only be a good thing for us.“With me being one of the older heads, I [previously] worked under Mike and it’s nice to see him back on the training pitch again.”Young has also hailed the impact of the backroom team at United, with Michael Carrick, Kieran McKenna and goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez all having important roles to play in the present and future.“Carras, Kieran and Emilio have been fantastic,” he said. “The training sessions they’ve put on have been fantastic, top notch.“I can definitely see Carras being a manager one day and Kieran has been brilliant stepping up to the first team [from the Under-18s]. He’s taken to it like a duck to water and Emilio is a fantastic goalkeeping coach. It’s nice for them to be here and work under Mick and Ole as well.“The main thing for us has been not to be caught up in everything and instead just concentrate on our work on the pitch and get ourselves fully prepared for this weekend’s game. That’s all you can do as players; be prepared and be ready for the game that we’ve got coming up.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Watford ended West Ham’s winning streak with a 2-0 victory at London Stadium which saw Javi Gracia’s side climb to sixth in the Premier League.The hosts went into Saturday’s contest on the back of four wins on the bounce, but saw their momentum halted by Troy Deeney’s emphatic first-half penalty and a late Gerard Deulofeu goal.Manuel Pellegrini’s men were left to rue a number of near-misses as their search for a goal proved fruitless, Michail Antonio coming closest as he twice hit the woodwork in the second half. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? It represents the Hammers’ first loss since a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City last month, leaving them 12th in the table.| The skipper opens the scoring #watfordfc #WHUWAT [0-1]Listen live ⤵️https://t.co/mxkU36Cmjo pic.twitter.com/O4xpJMiObF— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) December 22, 2018West Ham threatened first and Christian Kabasele made a vital sliding interception to prevent Antonio’s dangerous delivery from reaching Javier Hernandez, while Fabian Balbuena was pressed into defensive action at the other end to thwart Deulofeu.The Hornets wasted a glorious chance to break the deadlock in the 24th minute as Jose Holebas miscontrolled when he had the freedom of the penalty area after West Ham’s plan to play him offside backfired. It did not take long for the visitors to shrug off that disappointment, Balbuena’s clumsy challenge on Roberto Pereyra allowing Deeney to open the scoring with a powerful finish from the spot.West Ham twice came close to an equaliser either side of the break, Ben Foster making a smart stop to keep out Hernandez’s volley and then Antonio’s header hitting the post. Andy Carroll’s introduction in the place of Mark Noble underlined West Ham’s attacking intent and the hosts continued to press, Hernandez fluffing his lines to shoot tamely at Foster from just eight yards out. It took a fine save from Lukasz Fabianski to push Abdoulaye Doucoure’s stinging drive over the crossbar in the 71st minute as Watford sought to put the game to bed. Doucoure then made a timely intervention to deny the lively Hernandez just as the Mexican was lining up the target. There were chances for both sides late on with Deeney shooting straight at Fabianski and Foster saving from Antonio before watching his follow-up effort hit the bar, but Deulofeu had the final say with a cool finish to settle matters after being played in by Pereyra. What does it mean? Hornets flying highWith back-to-back wins under their belt, Watford now sit in the top six heading into a busy run of fixtures that will shape their season. West Ham arguably deserved at least a point and must quickly pick themselves up from a first defeat of the month.Fostering defensive confidenceIn a game of fine margins, the calm presence of Foster was key in Watford’s triumph, the Englishman making seven saves in a display that frustrated West Ham.Balbuena pays the penaltyIt was a day to forget for Balbuena, who went off after injuring himself in conceding the penalty that ultimately cost West Ham the game. His passing accuracy of 54.4 per cent spoke volumesKey Opta Facts- Watford have won five of their last eight Premier League games against West Ham (D1 L2), winning three away from home in this run (1-0 in February 2007, 4-2 in September 2016 and 2-0 in December 2018).- West Ham have failed to keep a clean sheet in 10 of their last 11 Premier League home games.- Deeney has scored in three of his last four league appearances against West Ham, with two of those goals coming at London Stadium.- Deulofeu scored in consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time in his career.- Watford ended a run of seven consecutive Premier League games in which they failed to keep a clean sheet. What’s next? Pellegrini takes his side to a resurgent Southampton on Thursday, while Watford host Chelsea on Boxing Day. read more
David Brooks scored both goals as Bournemouth ended a three-game losing run in all competitions with a 2-0 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion.A fine finish in each half from the 21-year-old secured all three points for Eddie Howe’s side, who had lost back-to-back league matches before going down 1-0 to Chelsea in the EFL Cup this week.Brighton were unlucky to be behind after a good first-half showing, but they rarely looked likely to get back into the game once Lewis Dunk was sent off with 17 minutes of normal time remaining. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Chris Hughton’s side have now failed to beat Bournemouth since a 3-2 win in England’s third tier back in January 2008.Asmir Begovic made good saves to deny Yves Bissouma and Jurgen Locadia before Brooks broke the deadlock 21 minutes in, beating Leon Balogun before blasting home left-footed from the edge of the area.It was a goal that was at odds with Brighton’s control over much of the first half, and only another fine sprawling stop from Begovic prevented Dunk from heading in an equaliser before the interval.Bournemouth assumed control over proceedings after the break, though, and Brighton’s task appeared to be beyond them when Dunk was given a second booking for lunging to trip up Callum Wilson.Brooks made certain of the win four minutes later, racing to meet substitute Ryan Fraser’s cross and looping a header over Mat Ryan and into the right-hand corner of the net.What does it mean? Bournemouth in top eight for ChristmasA run of seven defeats in their last eight games, and no goals scored in their last three, had left Bournemouth feeling a little blue ahead of the Christmas period.However, this victory over their south-coast rivals means they will be in the top eight of the table come December 25, which fans would almost certainly have signed on for before the season started.Brighton have a nine-point cushion to the bottom three, but Hughton will be a little concerned by how little his side threatened in the second half after playing so well in the first.Brooks shows a clinical touchBrooks’ goals each showcased a very difficult skill that this impressive young winger managed to make look easy. He is fast becoming Bournemouth’s most important player.Dunk leaves Brighton in troubleDunk’s crude attempt to stop Wilson running away from him left the visitors with little chance of salvaging a result, and his imminent suspension comes at a time when Shane Duffy has been banned for the last three games. Not ideal for Hughton.Key Opta Facts- Bournemouth registered a clean sheet in the Premier League for the first time in eight games, since a 3-0 win against Fulham in October.- Hughton has never beaten Bournemouth in his managerial career, losing four and drawing once (all while in charge of Brighton). – Brooks has netted five goals in his last 11 league appearances, after managing just three in his previous 35.- Josh King has been directly involved in 44 Premier League goals for Bournemouth (35 goals, 9 assists), 10 more than any other player (Wilson on 34). What’s next?Bournemouth head to Wembley to take on Tottenham on Boxing Day, while Brighton host Arsenal read more
Mesut Ozil has expressed his joy at helping Arsenal to a 3-1 win over Burnley on Saturday.The Germany international’s future has been called into question in recent weeks, with the attacking midfielder struggling for game time under Unai Emery.Ozil was on the bench against Bournemouth, and missed Premier League clashes with Tottenham, Manchester United and Huddersfield Town with a back complaint. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? However, the 30-year-old was back to his brilliant best against Sean Dyche’s side.Ozil wore the captain’s armband during the game, which Arsenal won 3-1, and produced a phenomenal pass in the build-up to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opening goal.Following the match, Ozil wrote on Twitter: “YaGunnersYa (sic). Very valuable 3 points won. Glad I could help the team today!”The Germany international has been heavily linked with a January loan move away from the Gunners, as the club looks to get his £350,000-per-week wages off of their bill.Turkish club Istanbul Basaksehir are keen on a deal, with president Goksel Gumusdag claiming the club are ready to offer Ozil the world to convince him to move to the Super Lig.”Mesut Ozil is a precious player,” Gumusdag said, as quoted by Bild .”I hope one day our paths will cross at Basaksehir.”If he wants to be with us as well, we would do anything to get him.”Ozil has scored four goals and provided three assists thus far this season, while Arsenal currently lie fifth in the Premier League table. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s resuscitation of Southampton gathered momentum as they climbed three points clear of the Premier League drop zone with a 3-1 win at Huddersfield Town.The Saints led from the 15th minute through Nathan Redmond and navigated a nervy spell in the second half to deservedly prevail in a match with clear relegation implications.Danny Ings, twice on target in last weekend’s 3-2 victory over Arsenal, converted his side’s second from the spot before half-time and it proved a decisive buffer. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Philip Billing’s bamboozling of Alex McCarthy briefly offered the Terriers a lifeline in the 58th minute but, as is often the case, they failed to build on a positive period and were consigned to a fifth straight Premier League loss when teenager Michael Obafemi buried his first professional goal.The confidence Southampton gained from overcoming Arsenal was evident in Redmond’s emphatic finish for the opener, the winger punishing Terence Kongolo’s ungainly attempt at cutting out Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s pass.28 – Nathan Redmond has scored his first Premier League goal of the season with his 28th shot. Persistence. #HUDSOU pic.twitter.com/no0V8teC4V — OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018 Huddersfield were struggling to exert any kind of attacking threat and another defensive blunder cost them three minutes before the break.Mathias Jorgensen miscontrolled Ings’ wayward pass and compounded his error by tripping the Saints striker, who coolly sent Jonas Lossl the wrong way from the spot.McCarthy made an instinctive save from Jorgensen’s close-range header soon after the interval but the goalkeeper was far less impressive in allowing Billing’s swerving shot to beat him.That instigated a period of Huddersfield pressure that was relieved through a third mistake at the back.Christopher Schindler was all too easily robbed of possession, Redmond selflessly squared and substitute Obafemi was on hand to tuck away a landmark goal, leaving the hapless hosts four points from safety.That first #PL goal feeling #HUDSOU pic.twitter.com/J3yVYJGXLc— Premier League (@premierleague) December 22, 2018What does it mean? Terriers in serious troubleSouthampton scoring three times for the second straight match made Huddersfield’s attacking woes all the more regrettable.Still, that concern will fade to minor irritation for manager David Wagner in comparison to the headaches served up by his defence, who could have prevented each goal.Hojbjerg at the heart of Saints’ successSouthampton were blessed with several impressive performers and chief among them was Hojbjerg.Wearing the captain’s armband, the former Bayern Munich man was a real leader in midfield as he got through a power of defensive work while registering an assist for Redmond’s opener.Jorgensen sets poor standardA defender of Jorgensen’s experience should have known better than to have been sucked into the challenge that allowed Ings to double the margin in the first half.The mistake plunged Huddersfield into a hole they were unable to escape from, and losing more than half of his duels did little to help.Key Opta Facts- Southampton have registered back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since April 2017, when they were managed by Claude Puel.- Huddersfield have lost nine of their last 12 home Premier League games (W1 D2), netting just four goals in that time.- Hasenhuttl has won two of his three Premier League matches in charge of Southampton (L1) – only one fewer than Mark Hughes managed in 22 attempts as Saints boss.- Since the start of last season, Huddersfield have had more different players booked for diving than any other Premier League team (4 – Rajiv van La Parra, Alex Pritchard, Laurent Depoitre and Chris Lowe).What’s next? Huddersfield must contend with a daunting trip to Old Trafford on Boxing Day, while Southampton will eye a result at home to West Ham the following day. read more
Andros Townsend scored a sensational goal-of-the-season contender as Crystal Palace dealt Manchester City’s Premier League title defence a body blow with a stunning 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium.City enjoyed a regal dominance up until Ilkay Gundogan’s 26th-minute opener but Jeffrey Schlupp levelled six minutes later before Townsend turned the contest on its head with an outstanding long-range volley.Luka Milivojevic increased City’s misery and delight at Anfield with a 51st-minute penalty that means Liverpool will celebrate Christmas with a four-point lead at the Premier League summit. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Kevin De Bruyne’s overhit cross sailed in five minutes from time but Pep Guardiola’s side were unable to undo the damage in the late rally that followed.Gundogan was involved alongside Bernardo Silva in carving through Palace for Leroy Sane to shoot wastefully into the side-netting in the 10th minute.The Germany midfielder showed his countryman how it was done when he eased into the box to head home Fabian Delph’s searching cross.Schlupp allowed Gundogan to run off him for the opener but more than atoned by shifting outside a tired Kyle Walker challenge and arrowing a strike into the bottom right corner.If that finish was impressive, Townsend’s remarkable goal 10 minutes before half-time was something else altogether as he put his left foot sweetly through an audacious volley, leaving Ederson with no chance.Unreal.@andros_townsend #MCICRY pic.twitter.com/Tu80gBXpMC— Premier League (@premierleague) December 22, 2018Pep Guardiola introduced City’s record goalscorer Sergio Aguero for centre-back Nicolas Otamendi early in the second half but the reshuffle led to confused defending as Townsend headed Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross against the post.Walker made a dreadfully rash challenge as Max Meyer sought to retrieve the rebound to concede a penalty and Milivojevic, who had a penalty saved by Ederson in a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park last season, made no mistake.City’s response was disjointed before Sane cracked the outside of the right post with a 77th-minute free-kick.De Bruyne’s freak goal then set nerves jangling and Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus spurned free-headed chances for Palace to hold on.What does it mean? Advantage LiverpoolThere is still a long way to go in the title race but City now have two defeats to set against Liverpool’s unbeaten record. Back-to-back away games are on the horizon and they cannot afford to lose any more ground before hosting Jurgen Klopp’s men in a blockbuster clash on January 3. The “can City be stopped?” fatalism of a couple of weeks ago now feels preposterous. Talking of fatalism, many Palace fans would have dismissed the notion of sitting six points clear of the drop zone at Christmas. Combative and composed Wan-Bissaka stars for PalaceTownsend will rightfully hog the headlines but Wan-Bissaka did much to enhance his burgeoning reputation, keeping the in-form Sane on a short leash and making a succession of brave challenges. The 21-year-old’s teasing cross also paved the way for Palace’s game-sealing third goal.Landmark 2018 takes toll on ragged WalkerA key figure in City’s record-breaking Premier League campaign last season and England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals, Walker looked to be running on empty as he was at fault for the two avoidable Palace goals. Danilo is back to fitness as an unused substitute and it feels like time for Guardiola to take an often excellent performer out of the firing line.Key Opta Facts- City have lost two of their last three Premier League games (W1) – as many as in their previous 61 combined.- Palace registered their first away league win at City since December 1990, having drawn three and lost nine since then before today.2010 – Roy Hodgson is the first English manager to win a Premier League game at the Etihad since Harry Redknapp in May 2010 (P39 W0 D3 L36, before today). Jungle. pic.twitter.com/Txlw2eKNVz— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018- This was City’s first home Premier League defeat against a non-big six side since February 2016, when they lost 1-3 to Leicester City under Manuel Pellegrini.- Townsend has scored 17 Premier League goals – with 10 of those coming from outside the box.- Since his Premier League debut, Milivojevic has scored 13 penalties – five more than any other player in that time.What’s nextGuardiola’s men travel to Leicester City on Boxing Day, a week on from winning a penalty shoot-out in the EFL Cup quarter-final at the King Power Stadium. Palace return to Selhurst Park for a potentially pivotal clash against Cardiff City. read more
Jamie Vardy scored on his 250th Leicester City appearance as the Foxes ended an 18-year wait for a Premier League win at Chelsea in a 1-0 triumph.The former England striker had been starved of service until clinically finishing a brilliant Leicester counter early in the second half, which ultimately proved enough to clinch a first win at Stamford Bridge since 2000.It was a hugely frustrating afternoon for Maurizio Sarri’s side, who controlled large periods of the game and saw Eden Hazard – one shy of 100 competitive goals for the Blues – hit the crossbar in the first half as well as Marcos Alonso strike the post in the 91st minute when clean through. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Chelsea, who lost a league match at home for the first time under Sarri, consequently head into Christmas 11 points behind leaders Liverpool, while rumours that Leicester were planning on sacking Claude Puel may subside after this much-needed win.The Blues’ play was sharp if lacking in incisiveness early doors, although David Luiz was desperately close to meeting Pedro’s flick on from a Willian corner.1-0 to #lcfc@Madders10 @vardy7 #CheLei pic.twitter.com/mzxhsZi4Ij— Leicester City (@LCFC) December 22, 2018Leicester had an almighty let-off when Hazard pounced on Harry Maguire’s poor control and rifled an effort against the crossbar.Neither team had a shot on target until the 41st minute with Kepa Arrizabalaga’s strong hand keeping out Wilfred Ndidi’s stinging 30-yard drive.Willian tamely struck at Kasper Schmeichel after a fine team move, while Jorginho’s well-hit half-volley forced the Leicester keeper into action again as Chelsea finished the half strong.The Blues were caught cold six minutes after the break, though. Leicester launched a counter-attack that led to James Maddison slipping in Vardy to emphatically fire past Kepa when one-on-one.Schmeichel was sharp to keep out Hazard’s left-foot effort from a tight angle, and at the other end Kepa’s spill from Marc Albrighton’s cross needed swift action from Cesar Azpilicueta to deny Vardy.Leicester’s goal lived a charmed life in the closing stages with Antonio Rudiger heading wide from point-blank range and Alonso fluffing his lines by striking the left post when one-on-one.What does it mean? Relief for Puel, but Blues’ title hopes stungPuel has faced rumours this week that squad disharmony and a return of one league win in six could lead to his sacking, but a big triumph here is a much-needed early Christmas present. There will be little festive cheer for the hosts, though, who are 11 points off the top and stewing over a first home defeat since April.Christmas party time for VardyLeicester fans love to affectionately sing ‘Jamie Vardy’s having a party’ and he had cause for celebration with a typically clinical counter-attacking goal. The Foxes had done little to provide chances for Vardy until his goal, but when it came he did not disappoint. Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell also impressed for the away side.Kante paying a high priceThere is arguably no better defensive midfielder on the planet than N’Golo Kante. But Sarri’s insistence on playing the France international in an advanced position to slot Jorginho deeper in his midfield is not bringing the best out of the former Leicester star. On a few occasions, Kante found himself high up the pitch but lacking the attacking quality to break the Foxes’ rear-guard.Key Opta Facts- Chelsea have failed to find the back of the net in two of their last four home Premier League games, as many as in their previous 21.- Jamie Vardy has scored 13 goals in his last 15 Premier League appearances. – Leicester midfielder James Maddison has created 41 goal-scoring chances in the Premier League this season, more than any other English player. What’s next?The festive season kicks into gear with Chelsea making the hop across London aiming to bounce back at Watford on Boxing Day, while the Foxes will look for another unlikely win at home to Manchester City. read more
Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona to a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo as Ernesto Valverde’s side restored their three-point lead at the summit of LaLiga.With Atletico Madrid having won earlier in the day to move level at the top, Barca reasserted their authority as first-half goals from Ousmane Dembele and Messi paved the way for a routine victory at Camp Nou.Messi was again at the heart of the hosts’ best play, his shot being parried to the feet of the grateful Dembele to apply the finish inside the opening 10 minutes. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? The Argentina star got in on the act himself in the final minute of the first half as Barca all but sealed the points before the interval.Barca quickly seized the initiative as Dembele pounced to nutmeg Ruben Blanco after the goalkeeper had kept out Messi’s low drive. The visitors narrowly escaped further punishment when Blanco rushed out to thwart Dembele, with Jordi Alba turning the loose ball towards goal where Nestor Araujo was on hand to intervene. Marc-Andre ter Stegen was finally called into action in the 24th minute and the Barca keeper proved equal to Maxi Gomez’s effort. Messi doubled Barca’s lead late in the half, calmly finishing from the edge of the box after Alba’s searching pass had left Celta exposed. Telepathy The Messi-Alba Connection!#BarçaCelta pic.twitter.com/uKYPPnN2WE— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) December 22, 2018Luis Suarez proved uncharacteristically wasteful when presented with a glorious chance to put the game to bed just past the hour mark, the forward shooting wide of the target with only Blanco to beat.Blanco had stay sharp to deny Messi a second in a brief goalmouth scramble while Celta, despite enjoying more of the ball, continued to struggle in the final third.Brais Mendez’s effort had Ter Stegen diving low to his left, but that save was as comfortable as Barca’s whole evening had been. What does it mean? Barca go clear againBarca did not seem to take too kindly to having company at the top of the table after being joined there by Atletico, but this win restored their cushion and provided a fitting end to the year. Celta, meanwhile, remain mid-table.Magnificent Messi does it againHaving played a significant role in the opener, Messi got himself on the scoresheet before the break in a display that highlighted just what a threat he is, cementing his spot at the top of the LaLiga scoring charts.Suarez outshoneSuarez was as industrious as he always is, but while Dembele and Messi both found the back of the net, the Uruguay international’s finishing was wayward, failing to find the target with two attempts at goal. Key Opta Facts:- Messi has reached 15+ goals in LaLiga for each of the last 11 seasons.- Barcelona have scored 102 league goals in 2018, more than any other team in the top five European leagues.- Messi has scored 47 goals in 49 games in 2018 in all competitions, more than any other player from those five divisions.- Barcelona have kept four consecutive clean sheets in LaLiga for the first time since January.- Valverde has not lost any of his 16 games as a head coach against Celta in LaLiga (W11 D5).What’s next?The two sides can enjoy a festive break now and will return to action in January, with Barca heading to Getafe in their first game of 2019, while Celta host Athletic Bilbao. read more