Mendy Shines Against Brentford As Chelsea Go Top Of Premier League

Chelsea's French-born Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy (C) keeps an eye on the ball as it pings around his goal mouth during a period of Brentford pressure toward the end of the English Premier League football match between Brentford and Chelsea at Brentford Community Stadium in London on October 16, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
Chelsea’s French-born Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy (C) keeps an eye on the ball as it pings around his goal mouth during a period of Brentford pressure toward the end of the English Premier League football match between Brentford and Chelsea at Brentford Community Stadium in London on October 16, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Thomas Tuchel saluted Edouard Mendy as the Chelsea goalkeeper’s superb display sealed a hard-fought 1-0 win at Brentford on Saturday.

Tuchel’s side had been knocked out of pole position by Liverpool’s 5-0 rout of Watford a few hours earlier.

But Chelsea had the perfect response with a gritty victory in their first league meeting with their west London neighbours for 74 years.

Ben Chilwell’s fiercely-struck goal in first half stoppage-time was enough to give Chelsea their sixth win in eight league games.

But Chelsea had to rely on a series of fine saves from Mendy in the closing stages before they could move one point clear of second placed Liverpool.

READ ALSO: Leicester Pile Pressure On Solskjaer As Man Utd Collapse

“They trouble you with long throws and set pieces. They created big chances and Mendy was the key to the clean sheet,” Tuchel said.

At the start of a five-game run of winnable league fixtures, Tuchel had warned his players not to expect an easy ride from Brentford and the Chelsea boss was proved right.

“We were very strong for 70 minutes and very lucky for 20 minutes, to sum it up,” Tuchel said.

“We escaped with the three points thanks to Edouard. It was like a cup game at the end; they took risks and the atmosphere gave them a lot of courage.

“It is better to be there at the top but there are way too many teams who are close.”

Just five months ago, the gulf between the clubs appeared huge as Chelsea won the Champions League on the day Brentford earned promotion to the top-flight for the first time since 1947.

However, Brentford had already bloodied the noses of two supposedly superior opponents this term, with Arsenal beaten at the Community Stadium and Liverpool held to a draw.

They pushed Chelsea to the brink as well with another spirited showing.

Romelu Lukaku was without a club goal in his last five games and the Belgium striker misfired with Chelsea’s first shot of the game, bending a free-kick well off target.

Brentford nearly snatched the lead when a set-piece caused havoc in the Chelsea defence and Bryan Mbeumo slammed his shot against the post.

Brentford barrage

Tuchel’s men weren’t at their most fluent as Brentford worked tirelessly to deny them time and space.

Timo Werner held his head in frustration after curling inches wide with a strike from the edge of the area after Lukaku teed up the German.

Chilwell finally broke Brentford’s stubborn resistance in the first minute of stoppage-time as the left-back extended his unexpected hot streak.

Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross towards Lukaku was only cleared to the edge of the area, where Chilwell was waiting to lash a superb strike high past Raya.

Chilwell’s second goal in his last two Chelsea games came after he also netted for England against Andorra during the recent international break.

Chelsea were without defenders Thiago Silva and Toni Rudiger, with Malang Sarr making his Premier League debut.

The Blues had conceded just one goal from open play in the league this season and the stand-ins somehow held firm amid Brentford’s second half barrage.

Mendy had to make his first save in the 73rd minute when the Senegal keeper repelled Ivan Toney’s snap-shot.

Mbeumo almost grabbed a Brentford equaliser with a low drive that beat Mendy, only to cannon back off the post before Chelsea cleared the danger.

With Brentford pouring forward, Mendy had to save again from a Saman Ghoddos effort before Trevoh Chalobah cleared Christian Norgaard’s shot off the line.

Mendy made yet another great stop, diving at Pontus Jansson’s feet to keep out the Brentford captain’s close-range shot.

Inevitably, there was more work for Mendy to do in stoppage-time and he rose to the challenge with a brilliant tip-over from Norgaard’s overhead kick.

AFP

Former Chelsea Boss Ranieri Appointed As Watford Manager

Claudio Ranieri, Leicester City
A file photo of Claudio Ranieri.

 

Claudio Ranieri is back in the Premier League after being hired as Watford’s new manager on Monday. 

Former Chelsea boss Ranieri, who led Leicester to the Premier League title in 2016, agreed a two-year contract with the Hornets to replace the sacked Xisco Munoz.

“Watford FC is delighted to confirm the appointment of Claudio Ranieri as the club’s new head coach, on a two-year contract,” a statement on the club’s website announced.

“The Italian arrives at Vicarage Road boasting a wealth of experience in charge of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, with Premier League, Coppa Italia and Copa del Rey titles among his managerial highlights.”

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Ranieri takes over with Watford in 15th place in the Premier League after earning seven points from their opening seven matches.

The 69-year-old Italian left Sampdoria at the end of last season and had been looking to return to the game since then.

Xisco had led Watford to promotion from the Championship last season, but he was axed on Sunday after only 10 months in charge.

Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Leeds prompted Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, to act, with the club claiming a “negative trend” in performances had convinced them to move on from Xisco.

Ranieri is Watford’s 13th permanent manager since the Pozzo family took control of the club in 2012.

He boasts a wealth of experience, with clubs such as Napoli, Fiorentina, Valencia, Juventus, Roma, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid also on his CV.

Ranieri established Chelsea as a Champions League club during his spell from 2000 to 2004, but he was axed by Roman Abramovich to make way for Jose Mourinho.

His greatest triumph came when he masterminded Leicester’s stunning title success five years ago.

The Foxes were 5,000-1 outsiders and had battled relegation the season before Ranieri arrived in a move that was widely panned by pundits.

Despite Leicester’s incredible success, he was sacked just nine months after the title glory following a poor run that left the club just outside the relegation zone.

Ranieri last worked in the Premier League during a brief stint at Fulham in 2018-19.

He lasted just 106 days at Fulham after being unable to steer them away from relegation trouble.

Watford’s first match with Ranieri in charge will be against Liverpool at Vicarage Road on October 16.

Ranieri will be joined at Watford by Assistant Coaches Paolo Benetti and Carlo Cornacchia, as well as Fitness Coach Carlo Spignoli.

smg/lp

© Agence France-Presse

Chelsea Boss Tuchel Urges Werner To Keep Improving

Chelsea's German head coach Thomas Tuchel takes a training session on the eve of the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland on August 10, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel takes a training session on the eve of the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland on August 10, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Thomas Tuchel warned Timo Werner he must keep improving after the Chelsea striker’s first Premier League goal since April helped seal a 3-1 win against 10-man Southampton on Saturday.

Werner saved Chelsea from a frustrating end to a difficult week when he netted six minutes from full-time at Stamford Bridge.

Tuchel’s side had been pegged back to 1-1 after James Ward-Prowse’s second-half penalty cancelled out Trevoh Chalobah’s early opener.

Ward-Prowse was sent off with 14 minutes left for a nasty lunge on Jorginho and Chelsea laid siege to the Southampton goal before Werner slotted home from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross.

Ben Chilwell’s last-minute goal wrapped up the points as Chelsea moved top of the Premier League, two points ahead of second-placed Liverpool, who host Manchester City on Sunday.

“We are all relieved, him and me and the whole club. Every time he scores we have the feeling there is a VAR decision to take it away from him, there have been a lot of very narrow decisions,” Tuchel said.

It was a much-needed victory for Chelsea after successive defeats against City and Juventus.

After a troubled first season at Chelsea, it was a rare upbeat moment for Werner, whose relief was clear as he celebrated wildly after scoring and then smiled and joked with fans while conducting pitchside interviews.

The former RB Leipzig star has been forced to play second fiddle to Chelsea’s club-record signing Romelu Lukaku since the start of this season, sparking reports Tuchel might be willing to offload him.

For a player who has had a remarkable 16 goals disallowed since he joined Chelsea, Werner will surely benefit from the jolt of confidence that will follow his second club goal of the season.

But Blues boss Tuchel has no intention of letting the 25-year-old relax after his match-winning heroics.

“It was a very important goal for us to secure the win. And on the other hand, he was there when he needed to be,” he added.

“We’re happy and relieved that he scored. He has to keep on going and a lot of things to improve.”

‘Positive spirit’

Tuchel was rewarded for making five changes to the team that lost 1-0 at Juventus on Wednesday.

Chalobah, Chilwell and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all added energy and enthusiasm to a Chelsea team that had looked stale in their previous two games.

“They can help us because they have this kind of totally positive spirit and they don’t feel the pressure. Of course, we lost the last two games and we felt something was lacking,” Tuchel said.

Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech were two of the victims of Tuchel’s cull and the manager admitted both players had experienced a dip in form.

“We always try our best to bring the players in the best shape, but after some chances, we have to admit that Kai and Hakim are not in their best moment,” Tuchel said.

“It is not even their fault. They lost a bit of belief or confidence. We will not stop boosting them, we are not angry with them and there are no major concerns.

“But we have to pay attention to actual form and we need to win the games. At a club like Chelsea you need to be sharp every few days and fight for your place.”

AFP

Man Utd Stumble Again As Chelsea Top Premier League

Players from both teams exchange words after Manchester United’s Scottish midfielder Scott McTominay fouled Everton’s French defender Lucas Digne during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Manchester United were held at home by Everton on Saturday after Cristiano Ronaldo was dropped to the subs bench as Chelsea scored two late goals against Southampton to top the Premier League table.

Elsewhere, Brighton drew 0-0 with Arsenal to end the Gunners’ recent winning streak while Leeds earned their first league win of the season.

United’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford continues an unimpressive run of home results including a League Cup defeat by West Ham and last week’s shock Premier League loss at the hands of Aston Villa.

Ronaldo has scored five times in six games in all competitions since rejoining the club in late August but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he did not regret resting the 36-year-old — who scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner against Villarreal in midweek.

“You make decisions throughout the season, you’ve got to manage the players’ workload,” said the Norwegian manager. “The decision was, for me, the correct one today.

“We have started better than last season, but it is still not what we wanted.”

Everton created plenty of chances in the opening period but fell behind shortly before half-time when surprise pick Anthony Martial curled home his first Premier League goal since February from a Bruno Fernandes pass.

Solskjaer called on Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho 12 minutes after half-time as he looked to put the game beyond Rafael Benitez’s men but Everton ruthlessly exposed United’s frailty on the counter-attack.

Demarai Gray won the ball back on the left and freed Abdoulaye Doucoure into acres of space in midfield. Doucoure played in Andros Townsend to fire home his fifth goal in nine appearances.

Townsend performed a Ronaldo-style “Siuuu” goal celebration and said it was done in tribute to the Portuguese superstar, whom he said was his “idol”.

Everton thought they had won it late on but Yerry Mina’s close-range finish from a Tom Davies pass was ruled out for offside following a VAR review.
– Chelsea strike late –

Chelsea ended a miserable week on a high, with Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell striking late in a 3-1 win against Southampton, who are still without a league victory this season.

The three points lifted the Stamford Bridge club to the top of the Premier League on 16 points, two clear of Liverpool, Manchester United, Everton and Brighton.

Thomas Tuchel’s side, tipped by many to win the Premier League in the early weeks of the season, were well beaten by Manchester City last week and lost to Juventus in the Champions League in midweek.

But they returned to winning ways in London on Saturday, helped by a second-half red card for Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse.

Trevoh Chalobah nodded Chelsea into an early lead but Ward-Prowse levelled from the penalty spot just after the hour mark before he was sent off in the 77th minute for a dangerous tackle on Jorginho after a VAR check.

Werner provided the decisive moment, sliding in from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross before Chilwell volleyed in from close range on 89 minutes to secure the victory.

“After two defeats we had to be careful that we didn’t start being too sad or too worried because there was a chance to be on 16 points,” Tuchel told the BBC.

“It was important to have a better performance than the last two games, that we sharpened our mindset so that we are not afraid to lose. It was nice to play the way we did and get a deserved win.”

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal were bottom of the Premier League table after three matches before three consecutive wins lifted them to the comfort of mid-table.

But they found it tough to break down high-flying Brighton in a soggy evening contest on England’s south coast and Arteta admitted his team did not deserve to win.

Earlier, Leeds beat Watford 1-0 thanks to a first-half strike by Diego Llorente while Hwang Hee-chan struck twice as Wolves beat struggling Newcastle 2-1.

Norwich stopped the rot against Burnley after six straight league defeats but they remain rock bottom of the Premier League table with just a single point from seven games after a 0-0 draw.

Liverpool host Manchester City in the pick of Sunday’s Premier League matches.

AFP

Chelsea Lose To Juventus, Record Second Defeat In A Row


Juventus players acknowledge fans at the end of the UEFA Champions League Group H football match between Juventus and Chelsea on September 29, 2021 at the Juventus stadium in Turin.
Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Federico Chiesa proved to be a big game player once again with the only goal in Juventus’ 1-0 Champions League win over holders Chelsea which could kick-start their faltering season. 

Sat 10th in Serie A after a succession of unconvincing performances domestically, Juve top Group H with a perfect six points thanks to a superbly taken winner 10 seconds after half-time from Chiesa, one of Italy’s stars at Euro 2020.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side took down the European champions, despite missing starting forwards Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata, with a disciplined performance that sucked the life out of the Blues and restricted them to very little in front of goal.

“We showed the Juventus spirit tonight, and that’s what the coach asks of us,” Chiesa, who has been criticised by Allegri this season, told Amazon.

“There has never been any problem between me and the coach, I do what he asks of me. When Juve start off poorly there is always a lot of unnecessary noise: we all want to take the club back to the top.”

Juve are three points clear of both Chelsea and Zenit, who they play in Saint Petersburg in three weeks.

“The players put in a great performance against the European champions. We were solid defensively and conceded very few chances. (Wojciech) Szczesny barely had a save to make,” said Allegri to Amazon.

“We also missed some really good chances on the counter but I’m happy. We haven’t conceded a goal, we have six points, it’s another step towards qualifying.”

Chelsea dominated the ball in the early stages but it was the home side who had the first real chances of the game, both of which came after pouncing on sloppy passes in midfield.

Chelsea Held At Bay 


Chelsea’s Moroccan midfielder Hakim Ziyech (L) tackles Juventus’ Brazilian defender Alex Sandro during the UEFA Champions League Group H football match between Juventus and Chelsea on September 29, 2021 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Adrien Rabiot was barracked by the home crowd in the 16th minute when after sprinting away on a break with almost the entire Chelsea team still upfield, he elected to play a pass to Federico Bernardeschi which was completely mishit and rolled to Edouard Mendy.

Four minutes later it was Chiesa’s turn to show the Blues a clean pair of heels after pinching the ball, only for his low shot from a tight angle to drift just wide.

Juve’s gameplan of sitting in and stopping Chelsea from getting a passing rhythm going worked but they initially lacked a focal point and too often let off the hook a Chelsea team missing the dynamism of N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount.

However they got the goal they deserved immediately after the break through Chiesa, who has had an uncertain start to the season but confidently met Bernardeschi’s through ball to lash home the opener at the near post.

Chelsea responded by again pressing Juve back into their box but again struggled to break through the hosts’ well-drilled backline.

It was Juve who were wondering how Bernardeschi didn’t double their lead in the 64th minute when he tripped over his own feet with the goal at his mercy.

And they were breathing a big sigh of relief with six minutes left when after a prolonged spell of Chelsea dominance Romelu Lukaku thumped wide after being nicely set up by Mateo Kovacic.

The home crowd roared at the poor finish of Lukaku, former striker at their fiercest rivals Inter Milan, and right after Kai Havertz headed over the bar let out another shout of joy at the final whistle.

AFP

Man City Lay Down A Marker By Exacting Revenge On Chelsea


Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus celebrates with team mates after he scores his team’s opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in London on September 25, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Manchester City retain the hunger to fight off challengers to their Premier League title, manager Pep Guardiola said after beating Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge to take revenge for losing last season’s Champions League final to the Blues.

Gabriel Jesus’ deflected effort eight minutes into the second-half separated the sides, but City should have been more convincing winners as they laid down a marker after losing to Chelsea three times towards the end of last season.

The most painful of those came in Porto as Chelsea lifted the Champions League to deny City the crowning glory of the club’s rise since an Abu Dhabi takeover in 2008.

Thomas Tuchel’s men had also got off to a better start this season, but City bounced back from a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Southampton last weekend to move level on points with Chelsea, Manchester United and leaders Liverpool, who face Brentford later on Saturday.

“Today the guys were outstanding. At this stadium and against this opponent, to do what we have done makes me so proud,” said Guardiola, who became the City boss with most victories in the club’s history with 221.

“I still have the feeling the players are ready try to do again another good season. It gives us the awareness to say we can do it again, we are still here.”

Guardiola was fiercely criticised for his decision to start without a natural holding midfielder when the sides last met in May.

That error was rectified with the return of Rodri and the Spaniard’s poise helped Guardiola’s men completely dominate possession.

However, City’s lack of a prolific goalscorer to turn that dominance into goals was again exposed.

Guardiola bemoaned on Friday that his side lack a “weapon” of the likes of Chelsea’s record signing Romelu Lukaku or Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo to decide games inside the box.

Instead, City have to rely on the collective of a richly assembled squad of creative midfielders as Guardiola named Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva in his starting line-up.

Rather than stepping into the shoes of the departed Sergio Aguero, Jesus has found himself deployed as a right winger so far this season.

The Brazilian should have done better with City’s best chance of the first-half when he sliced well wide after controlling Silva’s cross to the far post.

However, Jesus got the break City’s performance deserved to open the scoring on 53 minutes as his effort deflected off Jorginho to leave Mendy flat-footed.

That was just the 15th Premier League goal Chelsea had conceded in 25 games since Tuchel took charge.

READ ALSO: Usyk Ends Anthony Joshua’s Reign As World Heavyweight Champion


Referee Michael Oliver (C) placates players during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in London on September 25, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

But there could have been plenty more but for a combination of wasteful finishing and some brilliant last-ditch defending.

“We were excellent, but only in the last 20 metres of the pitch not the other 80 metres,” said Tuchel. “Part of the performance is to make your opponent underperform and City did that.

“We lacked belief and confidence to escape (the pressure). With every mistake we did, we lost more confidence. In the end we defended the box and the goal very well but it was too deep.”

City’s £100 million summer splash on Grealish rather than a goalscorer has been questioned, but the England international came to life after the break and only two stunning saves by Mendy prevented the visitors doubling their lead.


Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus celebrates with team mates after he scores his team’s opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in London on September 25, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Jesus’ lack of a killer instinct was also exposed when he appeared to have an open goal after another dangerous Grealish burst, only for his low finish to allow international teammate Thiago Silva to clear off the line.

But the Premier League champions’ profligacy was not punished and United’s shock 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa capped a stunning Saturday for Guardiola’s men.

AFP

Chelsea Face Man City Test As Liverpool, Man Utd Bid To Keep Pace

A photo combination of Chelsea and Manchester City players.

 

Chelsea host Premier League champions Manchester City in a stiff test of the leaders’ title credentials on Saturday as Liverpool and Manchester United bid to keep pace with Thomas Tuchel’s side.

The Blues look well-equipped to end the season as English champions for the first time since 2017 after signing Romelu Lukaku to add a cutting edge to their attack.

But Liverpool, the 2020 title winners, and Manchester United are matching them, with all three teams locked on 13 points after five games.

AFP Sport takes a look at some of the talking points ahead of the weekend action.

No Fears for Tuchel’s Blues

 

Chelsea’s German defender Antonio Rudiger (C) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal with Chelsea’s German striker Timo Werner (R) during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on September 19, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Even though the season is still young, former England captain turned TV pundit Alan Shearer predicts Chelsea are going to be difficult to stop.

Tuchel’s team beat Manchester City three times last season — including in the Champions League final.

Since then they have signed Lukaku from Inter Milan and have also been miserly at the back — conceding just one goal in the league.

“Lukaku is not the only reason they are so formidable,” Shearer wrote in his BBC Sport column.

“They won the Champions League in May without him. But his arrival means they don’t have a weak link in their team, and they have such strength in depth too.”

READ ALSOMan Utd Crash Out Of League Cup, Spurs, Chelsea And Arsenal Advance

It is too soon to call the match at Stamford Bridge a title decider, but City boss Pep Guardiola will not want to leave London six points behind one of his main rivals.

Norwich’s Unwanted Record

Norwich City's English midfielder Ben Godfrey scores an own goal during the English Premier League football match between Norwich City and Burnley at Carrow Road stadium in Norwich, eastern England on July 18, 2020. (Photo by Julian Finney / POOL / AFP)
File photo: Ex-Norwich City’s English midfielder Ben Godfrey scores an own goal during the English Premier League football match between Norwich City and Burnley at Carrow Road stadium in Norwich, eastern England on July 18, 2020. (Photo by Julian Finney / POOL / AFP)

 

Norwich have lost their past 15 Premier League games under Daniel Farke — the longest losing run by any side in English top-flight history under a single manager.

That horror streak encompasses the end of the 2019/20 season, when the Canaries were relegated to the Championship. They immediately bounced back.

Norwich were given a hideous task on their return to the English top-flight, with their four first matches against Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester and Arsenal before last week’s loss to Watford.

The Canaries are only three points behind 16th-placed Wolves but must turn their form around soon, with Farke saying their leaky defence is the main problem.

“We need to be harder to play against,” he said ahead of this weekend’s trip to Everton.

“We need more steel, and we need to be nastier. We also need a result for the confidence.”

Can Kane Reignite Spurs?

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane (R) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the English League Cup third round football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on September 22, 2021. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Harry Kane has endured a slow start to his season for Tottenham after a move to Manchester City failed to materialise and is yet to score in the Premier League.

But Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo believes the England striker is still getting up to speed after Euro 2020.

“He has much more to give and it’s about the game, improving and growing together,” said Nuno as he prepared for Sunday’s north London derby against Arsenal.

“In terms of the squad and preparation we have players who have 65/70 sessions and we have players who have 15 sessions.”

After three games, Tottenham were top of the Premier League and Arsenal rock bottom.

Since then Spurs have suffered consecutive 3-0 defeats against Crystal Palace and Chelsea, while Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have stopped the rot with 1-0 wins over Norwich and Burnley.

Arteta said confidence levels were rising after his side won their League Cup third round tie against AFC Wimbledon in midweek.

“Now the boys have won three matches in a row so credit for how they have handled that situation and now they are really looking forward to playing on Sunday, which is the biggest day of the season for us so far at home,” he said.

EPL Fixtures This Weekend (all times GMT)

Saturday

Chelsea v Manchester City (1130), Manchester United v Aston Villa (1130), Everton v Norwich, Leeds v West Ham, Leicester v Burnley, Watford v Newcastle, Brentford v Liverpool (1630)

Sunday

Southampton v Wolves (1300), Arsenal v Tottenham (1530)

Monday

Crystal Palace v Brighton (1900)

AFP

Chelsea Outclass Tottenham, Move Top Of League Table


Tottenham players react as Chelsea players congratulate Chelsea’s French midfielder N’Golo Kante after he scored their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on September 19, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Chelsea produced a masterclass on Sunday, beating London rivals Tottenham 0-3 in a Premier League showdown. The victory catapulted the European champions to the top of the table with 13 points after five games.

Both clubs also paid an emotional tribute to their former striker Jimmy Greaves on Sunday.

Thiago Silva put Chelsea ahead early in the second half before N’Golo Kante bagged his first club goal since December 2019.

Antonio Rudiger rounded off Chelsea’s dominant display with a stoppage-time strike as Thomas Tuchel’s latest tactical masterclass paid rich dividends.

Tuchel’s unbeaten side sit top of the Premier League after winning four of their first five games.

Chelsea have only conceded one league goal so far this season despite a tricky fixture list that featured trips to Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal.

They face another test of their title credentials next weekend when champions Manchester City visit Stamford Bridge.

It was fitting that two of Greaves’ old clubs met on the day he passed away aged 81.

Hailed as “the finest marksman this country has ever seen” by Tottenham, Greaves is the club’s record scorer with 266 goals in 379 appearances between 1961 and 1970.

The charismatic Londoner started his career with a prolific spell at Chelsea and netted 44 times in 57 appearances for England, featuring in their 1966 World Cup-winning squad.

An image of Greaves wearing Tottenham’s famous white shirt was displayed on screens inside and outside the club’s north London stadium before kick-off.

In a moving tribute, several former Tottenham greats, including Greaves’ old team-mate Martin Chivers, lined up on the touchline to join both teams and the 62,000 crowd in a minute’s applause.

“Jimmy was an incredible player, a legend for club and country. It’s frightening really how good he was,” said Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who is second behind Greaves with 223 goals for the club.

READ ALSO: Ronaldo Scores Third League Goal As Man United Edge West Ham
Former England Striker Jimmy Greaves Dies At 81

Clinical Instincts 

Tottenham players react as Chelsea players congratulate Chelsea’s French midfielder N’Golo Kante after he scored their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on September 19, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Kane had urged Tottenham to “put in a great performance” in Greaves’ honour.

But the England captain was unable to land his first league goal this season as Chelsea showed the kind of ruthless instincts Greaves would have approved of.

In a tight first half, Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen shot just over from the edge of the area before Kai Havertz poked narrowly wide after Marcos Alonso’s cross caused chaos in the Tottenham defence.

With Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy absent after complaining of a hip injury in midweek Champions League win over Zenit St Petersburg, Kepa Arrizabalaga made his first start this season.

Tottenham’s frenetic tempo meant Kepa had to stay alert and he rushed off his line to save bravely at Son Heung-min’s feet after the South Korean sprinted onto Giovani Lo Celso’s pass.

In a game-changing move, Tuchel sent on France midfielder Kante for Mason Mount at half-time, neutralising Tottenham’s high press in the process.

Where Chelsea had found it hard to take control before Kante’s introduction, now they were in the groove and Silva struck in the 49th minute.

Alonso’s corner found the Brazilian eight yards out and he rose above Dele Alli to thump a superb header past Hugo Lloris.

It took Eric Dier’s agile goal-line clearance to deny Chelsea a second when the defender blocked Alonso’s close-range strike from Cesar Azpilicueta’s pass.

But Chelsea were rampant and they struck again in the 57th minute when Kante’s 25-yard drive took a wicked deflection off Dier and trickled past the wrong-footed Lloris.

Tottenham lost heart as their second successive league defeat loomed and Rudiger rubbed salt into the wounds with a fine finish from Timo Werner’s cross in the final moments.

AFP

Ronaldo’s Man Utd Seek Response, Chelsea Look To Lukaku In Spurs Clash

File photo:  Manchester United’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League Group F football match against Young Boys at Wankdorf Stadium in Bern, on September 14, 2021. SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

 

All eyes are once again on Cristiano Ronaldo as Manchester United aim make amends for a shock Champions League defeat to Young Boys when the Premier League leaders head to West Ham on Sunday.

Second-placed Chelsea are behind United only on goals scored and will look to extend their unbeaten start in a London derby at Tottenham.

Liverpool and Manchester City will not expect to be troubled when Crystal Palace and Southampton visit Anfield and the Etihad respectively on Saturday.

But the pressure is on under-fire Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta when the Gunners travel to fellow strugglers Burnley.

 United must do better

File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts at the final whistle during the English League Cup semi final first leg football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Ol d Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 6, 2021. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has demanded an immediate response from United after the optimism engendered by Ronaldo’s return was punctured in Bern.

Solskjaer’s side had won three of their first four matches in an unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign, including a Ronaldo-inspired rout of Newcastle on the Portuguese superstar’s Old Trafford return last weekend.

Ronaldo was on target again in Bern, but United succumbed after Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card to lose to the lowest seed in their Champions League group.

“Our attitude is like you’d expect; focused, a little disappointed but not too downbeat,” Solskjaer said. “It’s a setback, we have to do better.”

It was Jesse Lingard’s woeful backpass that condemned United to defeat against Young Boys.

Lingard is back at United after shining on loan at West Ham in the second half of last season.

The Hammers were keen to sign Lingard on a permanent basis, but Solskjaer convinced him to stay and retains his faith in the England international.

“We really want to see the best of Jesse this season and we hope to see him, we support him, and we hope to keep him here with us. He’s a Red through and through,” Solskjaer added.

READ ALSO: Man Utd Dealt Shock Champions League Loss As Lukaku Boosts Chelsea

Lukaku v Kane

File photo: Chelsea’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (R) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 22, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku will go head to head with Tottenham’s Harry Kane in a fascinating shoot-out between two of the Premier League’s leading marksmen.

Lukaku has made a flying start on his return to Chelsea following his club record £98 million ($135 million) move from Inter Milan.

The Belgian has already scored four times in four appearances, including a perfectly-timed header to break Zenit Saint Petersburg’s stubborn resistence in the Champions League in midweek.

After the debilitating struggles of Chelsea’s misfiring forwards last season, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel admits Lukaku has been a breath of fresh air.

“He was the type of player and profile we were missing,” Tuchel said.

“He’s also super humble. He is always open to everybody and that creates a certain energy and atmosphere that we are proud of.”

While Lukaku is living out his dreams at his boyhood club, Kane is having to make do with another season at Tottenham after the England captain’s failed attempt to engineer a move to Manchester City.

Kane, frustrated by Tottenham’s 13-year trophy drought, was desperate to join City, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy refused to grant his wish.

With Tottenham looking to recover from last weekend’s chastening 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace, Kane’s first Premier League goal of the season would be timely for both the striker and his team.

Arteta ‘Sees The Light’

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta on the sidelines during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) /

 

Besieged by calls for his head after Arsenal opened the season with three successive defeats and not a single goal, Arteta earned a modicum of breathing space when the Gunners narrowly beat Norwich last weekend.

But the Spaniard knows that 1-0 win will quickly be forgotten if Arsenal lose to a Burnley side still looking for their first win this term.

Arteta was given more money to spend than any other Premier League manager in the transfer window and is adamant there are better days ahead for his young squad.

“I can really see the light,” he said. “I’m telling you I’m very positive most of the time.

“There can be bumps in the road within that light, but I can see a lot of light.”

Fixtures (1400 GMT unless stated)

Friday

Newcastle v Leeds (1900)

Saturday

Wolves v Brentford (1230), Aston Villa v Everton, Burnley v Arsenal, Liverpool v Crystal Palace, Manchester City v Southampton, Norwich v Watford

Sunday

Brighton v Leicester (1300), West Ham v Manchester United (1300), Tottenham v Chelsea (1530).

AFP

Man Utd Dealt Shock Champions League Loss As Lukaku Boosts Chelsea

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (L) reacts after Young Boys’ US forward Jordy Siebatcheu Pefok (unseen) scored a goal during the UEFA Champions League Group F football match between Young Boys and Manchester United at Wankdorf stadium in Bern, on September 14, 2021. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

Manchester United slumped to a shock 2-1 loss at Young Boys despite a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo in their Champions League opener on Tuesday, while Chelsea kicked off their title defence by beating Zenit.

Robert Lewandowski struck twice for Bayern Munich as the German heavyweights inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Barcelona at Camp Nou in their first European game since the departure of Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo, the leading scorer in Champions League history, bagged his 135th goal in the competition after 13 minutes in Bern, but Swiss champions Young Boys hit back after the sending-off of Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

The United defender saw red for a dangerous tackle on Christopher Martins before half-time. Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu equalised in the second half before Jordan Siebatcheu snatched the winner with the final kick.

“It’s the first game in the group. We’ve got many games to bounce back and we must do,” said United captain Harry Maguire.

“We’ll try and pick up three points in our next game and build momentum from there.”

United host Villarreal in two weeks. The Spaniards, who beat Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men in last season’s Europa League final, drew 2-2 at home to Atalanta in the other Group F match.

Remo Freuler gave Atalanta the lead but Villarreal responded with goals from Manu Trigueros and Arnaut Danjuma. Robin Gosens popped up with a late equaliser.

Romelu Lukaku broke the deadlock for Chelsea after 69 minutes at Stamford Bridge to earn the holders a 1-0 victory over Zenit, whose Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg is the venue for next May’s final.

Lukaku headed in Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross to give Thomas Tuchel’s team a winning start in Group H.

“The guys who are there to score regularly for their teams are so important because one goal changes the whole momentum of the match,” Tuchel said of Lukaku.

Juventus top the section after the opening round following their 3-0 win away to Malmo of Sweden.

Bayern roll Barca aside

Alex Sandro headed Juve ahead and Paulo Dybala converted a penalty before Alvaro Morata notched a third for a side that has picked up just one point from three games in Serie A.

Bayern stretched their record unbeaten away run in the Champions League to 19 games by sweeping aside Barca in the first meeting between the clubs since the Germans triumphed 8-2 in a one-off quarter-final last year.

Thomas Mueller put Bayern on top on 34 minutes and Lewandowski netted twice in the second half to send Julian Nagelsmann’s side top of Group E.

“We came to win this game and we knew that we had to show respect to Barcelona,” said Lewandowski.

“When you play at the Camp Nou against them they are always dangerous. But we had this game under control and we showed we were here for the three points.”

Dynamo Kiev had to settle for a 0-0 draw at home to Benfica after Ukraine international Mykola Shaparenko’s injury-time effort was ruled out for offside.

Sevilla rode their luck in an eventful 1-1 draw against Salzburg.

The Austrians missed two of three first-half penalties, with Karim Adeyemi firing wide from the spot and Luka Sucic hitting the post having earlier converted Salzburg’s second penalty.

Ivan Rakitic levelled for Sevilla with another spot-kick before the interval. Youssef En-Nesyri was sent off early in the second period for the home side.

“It was a very strange game. When you have three penalties against you, a red card, I think you have to be happy with a draw,” said Rakitic.

“I think it’s a record, three penalties (conceded) in 36 minutes, I don’t think it’s ever happened to me.”

French champions Lille and Bundesliga leaders Wolfsburg drew 0-0 to leave all Group G teams level on one point.

AFP

Champions League: Lukaku Lifts Chelsea Past Stubborn Zenit

Chelsea’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (R) heads home the opening goal of the UEFA Champions League Group H football match against Zenit St Petersburg at Stamford Bridge in London on September 14, 2021. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Romelu Lukaku enlivened an otherwise flat Chelsea performance with the only goal to beat Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 and get the Blues’ Champions League defence off to a winning start.

Lukaku never made a Champions League appearance during his first spell at Stamford Bridge but is quickly making up for lost time since returning to Chelsea for a club-record £97 million ($134 million) last month.

The Belgian striker now has four goals in as many games and his predatory instincts 21 minutes from time papered over the cracks of a disappointing display from Thomas Tuchel’s men.

Tuchel urged his players not to rest on their laurels after their surprise run to become European champions last season.

However, the glory of their victory over Manchester City in Porto was hard to shrug off as the German, Edouard Mendy, and Jorginho were presented with awards on the pitch before kick-off as UEFA coach, goalkeeper, and player of the year respectively.

Chelsea certainly have the squad depth to be able to challenge on all fronts this season and Tuchel made five changes from the side that beat Aston Villa 3-0 in the Premier League on Saturday.

Captain Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Reece James, Jorginho, and Mason Mount returned to the starting line-up, but there was still little verve to Chelsea’s attacking play throughout.

The first half came and went without the home side even registering a shot on target.

Centre-back Antonio Rudiger looked to take matters into his own hands with a rampaging run forward five minutes after the break, but the finish let the German international down as he blazed wide.

Lukaku showcased his mix of pace, power, and precision in front of the goal to score his first Stamford Bridge goal for Chelsea against Villa at the weekend.

Zenit had kept the 28-year-old quiet for nearly 70 minutes, but all he needed was one teasing cross from Azpilicueta to get off the mark in the Champions League for his new club by planting a header past Stanislav Kritsyuk.

Zenit boss Sergei Semak threw on the towering presence of Artem Dzyuba in search of an equaliser and it nearly paid off.

But even the six-foot six-inch (1.97 metre) Russian international couldn’t stretch to get a clean enough contact on Sardar Azmoun’s cross 10 minutes from time and the ball dribbled wide.

Tuchel immediately shut up shop with the introduction of Thiago Silva and Chelsea held out for a fourth clean sheet in six games this season.

AFP

Tuchel Wants Chelsea To Recreate ‘Addictive’ Champions League Win

Chelsea's German head coach Thomas Tuchel takes a training session on the eve of the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland on August 10, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP
File: Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said on Monday the high of winning the Champions League is addictive as he urged his players to keep the hunger required to defend their title.

The Blues begin their Champions League campaign at home to Zenit Saint Petersburg on Tuesday after making a bright start to the Premier League season.

Tuchel made a huge impact after only arriving at the club in January to transform Chelsea from a side struggling in mid-table in the Premier League into Champions League winners.

The German had reached the final the year before with Paris Saint-Germain but said he underestimated the difference going one step further would have on his squad.

“I reached a final with my team the season before and I had the feeling that it was a big achievement but to not do the last step is a huge difference when you realise what it means when you do it,” Tuchel said at his pre-match press conference.

“The most important thing is not to look back but to keep the hunger because that feeling creates a hunger for more and more.

“It’s addictive. This game is about winning because winning changes your feeling, it changes your work atmosphere in the building and gives you natural confidence.”

Chelsea are second in the Premier League with 10 points from their opening four games and are strong favourites to cruise through Group H against Russian champions Zenit, Swedish title holders Malmo and a Juventus side struggling without Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, Tuchel warned against basking in the glory of their 1-0 win over Manchester City in last season’s final in Porto.

“It’s absolutely necessary to forget it and start from scratch, to show this mentality again. This is what I demand from myself and from everybody else around, that we don’t change in terms of hunger,” he said.

“We will have this experience together forever and we can create a bond out of it but it’s about looking ahead in sport and taking up the challenges which are coming and the next one is tomorrow.”

N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic will miss the Zenit clash due to injury, but Ben Chilwell could feature for his first minutes since May.

Chilwell was part of England’s Euro 2020 squad but did not feature and had to spend 10 days of the tournament in self-isolation.

Tuchel said the left-back returned to pre-season “mentally tired” but is now “in the race now” to challenge Marcos Alonso for a place in the side.

AFP