Sarri’s Barkley Call Rewarded As Chelsea Beat Southampton

Chelsea’s English midfielder Ross Barkley (3R) scores his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on October 7, 2018. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Maurizio Sarri has got little wrong in the three months since he was appointed Chelsea head coach and the Italian was in credit again after starting Ross Barkley in a 3-0 Premier League victory at Southampton on Sunday.

Barkley has operated largely as understudy to Mateo Kovacic in recent weeks but, having been selected ahead of the on-loan Real Madrid man, the England international responded by setting up Eden Hazard’s 30th-minute opening goal before adding the second — his first for the club — just before the hour.

Alvaro Morata came off the bench to complete the win at St Mary’s in added time.

Hazard’s goal was his eighth of the season, seven of which have come in Chelsea’s opening eight Premier League games, and continued his outstanding form since Sarri succeeded Antonio Conte as Blues boss in July.

But Barkley’s performance was also a major factor in Chelsea’s victory that ensured they maintained the pressure at the top of the Premier League immediately before fellow title-contenders Liverpool and Manchester City met at Anfield later Sunday.

This was only Barkley’s fifth league start since his £15-million ($20 million, 17 million euros) transfer from Everton in January, a move that had been put on hold from the previous August while the player continued his recovery from a serious hamstring injury.

But having shown promising signs earlier in the season, the midfielder, who was recalled to the England squad last week, offered compelling evidence at Southampton he is nearing a return to his best.

Kovacic has performed excellently since arriving at Stamford Bridge but Barkley’s display suggests the options available to Sarri are increasing as Chelsea look to build on their unbeaten start to the league campaign.

Chelsea were always expected to beat a Southampton side who have so far failed to reverse last season’s woeful home form, but Arsenal’s comprehensive 5-1 defeat of Fulham earlier in the day only added to the pressure on Sarri’s side to collect three points.

Yet while this initially looked as though it would be a stroll for the visitors, Southampton could easily have made it a more uncomfortable afternoon had they made the most of a number of good chances.

 Ings miss 

The confidence and belief that has grown within Sarri’s side during the opening weeks of the season was evident in the way Chelsea overwhelmed Southampton during the opening stages of the game, denying the hosts the opportunity to establish any kind of foothold.

Resolute, desperate defending by the Southampton back five together with Chelsea’s tendency to over-elaborate denied the visitors the early lead.

And had Danny Ings not somehow managed to lift the ball over the bar after meeting Ryan Bertrand’s left-wing cross when just four yards out of an open goal, Chelsea would have been playing catch-up.

As it was, the missed opportunity drew a swift response from Sarri’s side. Barkley moved quickly to close down Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg inside the Saints half before delivering a well-weighted ball into the path of Hazard who finished with ease.

Southampton adopted a more positive approach after the break but Barkley capped a well worked free-kick routine to effectively secure victory.

Willian floated a ball towards the far post where Olivier Giroud acrobatically volleyed back across the face of goal, allowing Barkley to add Chelsea’s second from close range.

Morata replaced Giroud and wrapped up the points with a chipped finish in added time after being sent clear by Hazard.

AFP

Ross Barkley Heads Everton Into Comeback Draw

Ross Barkley Heads Everton Into Comeback DrawRoss Barkley’s late header cancelled out a wonderful Robert Snodgrass free-kick as Everton fought back to draw 2-2 at Hull City.

The Everton midfielder connected with Leighton Baines’ deep cross with six minutes left, after Snodgrass curled a free-kick superbly into the top corner on 65 minutes.

Michael Dawson rifled in his third goal of the season to put Hull 1-0 up on six minutes, before goalkeeper David Marshall deflected a corner into his own net for Everton’s equaliser in first-half stoppage time.

Not long after hitting the post with another superb set piece, Snodgrass put Hull 2-1 up, but Everton’s pressure was rewarded late on. The result lifts Hull into 19th place. Everton remain seventh.

Mahrez, Vardy Dedicate PFA Awards To Teammates

Jarmie Vardy Riyad Mahrez PFA AwardsLeicester City players, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have dedicated their English football’s PFA awards to their teammates.

Mahrez, who is an Algerian, becomes the first African player to win a Professional Footballers Association (PFA) players award.

The Leicester City winger beat teammate, Vardy, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Arsenal midfielder, Mesut Ozil to clinch the award.

Scoring 17 goals with 11 assists, Mahrez has been one of the main reasons behind Leicester’s phenomenal rise to the top of the English Premier League, sitting eight points clear with three games remaining.

Vardy, who has 22 goals for the league leaders was also honoured by the PFA for becoming the first player to score in 11 consecutive premier league matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile, Leicester City fans in Thailand are confident the team would lift their first league title this season.

Hundreds of blue-shirted Thai fans watched the league leaders’ 4-0 win over Swansea City on live screens in Bangkok.

The fans believed it was time to do the unthinkable in their club history.

Riyad Mahrez Wins PFA Player Of The Year

Riyad MahrezLeicester City attacking midfielder, Riyad Mahrez, has won the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award.

The Algerian has scored 17 goals with 11 assists in the Premier League this season and has been a key force behind the Foxes’ unheralded title challenge.

Mahrez was voted by fellow professionals ahead of fellow nominees and team-mates Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante, along with Harry Kane, Mesut Ozil and Dimitri Payet.

Mahrez becomes the first African player to bag the prize. He said, “Its a pleasure to achieve this award.

“I want to thank my team mates because without them I wouldn’t achieve this.

“We are like brothers, it’s everywhere on the pitch. That’s our strength.

“If sometimes we are not good, we know we are going to run and make effort for our team-mates. That is the secret of our success.

Tottenham midfielder, Dele Alli picked up the PFA Young Player of Year award in his debut season in the Premier League.

The England youngster came out on top ahead of team-mate Harry Kane, Jack Butland, Philippe Coutinho, Romelu Lukaka and Ross Barkley.

Alli has scored 10 goals in 32 top-flight games to help Spurs challenge Leicester for the title. He has also made six senior appearances for England, scoring in a 2-0 friendly win over France in November 2015.

With a crucial game on Monday night, Alli could not attend the event to receive his award but former Spurs player and manager Ossie Ardiles collected the prize on his behalf.

Arsenal Beat Everton 3-1 To Secure Asia Trophy

Arsenal Beat Everton 3-1 To Secure Asia TrophyEngland giant, Arsenal FC, have secured a 3-1 victory on Saturday over city rival, Everton, in the Asia Trophy final held in Singapore.

Theo Walcott 22′, Santi Cazorla 58′ and Mesut Ozil 62′ goals set a clear pace for Coach Arsene Wenger’s side, but Ross Barkley scored a consolation for Everton in the 75′.

Wenger said on Arsenal’s website that he was pleased with the team’s performance because the focus in pre-season was to recover the quality of their game.

The Arsenal manager expressed joy that the FA CUP winners had been playing in a very convincing way and with good team play for long periods.

He added that they shared the same vision on the pitch of the game they want to play, stressing that it was positive.

Arsenal had sealed their position in the final after beating a Singapore Select XI 4-0, while Everton got a victory against Stoke City after a penalty shootout.

The Singapore XI lost 0-2 to Stoke in the third-place play-off earlier on Saturday, after goals from Steve Sidwell and Marko Arnautovic sealed the game.