Chelsea’s forgotten men show they can be trusted

first_imgChelsea Chelsea’s forgotten men show Conte they can be trusted Nizaar Kinsella Click here to see more stories from this author Chelsea correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 06:05 12/13/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(7) Willian, Pedro, Moses Chelsea vs Huddersfield Getty Images Chelsea Premier League Huddersfield Town v Chelsea Huddersfield Town Antonio Conte Michy Batshuayi Morata Opinion The Blues saw their fringe players step up as their manager rotated on Tuesday night against the Terriers, which bodes well for the rest of the season Chelsea may have given up on the Premier League title, but a truly dominant display from some fringe players against lowly Huddersfield Town has shown that they are still taking this season seriously. Antonio Conte admitted that the title race was over for his side after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat against West Ham United, but he wanted to see improved finishing and a response from his wounded side. Eden Hazard led the line with Willian and Pedro as the 3-4-3 formation that won the title last season returned. Conte demanded to see improved finishing from his side but he had Alvaro Morata missing out due to a back injury, so it was his fringe players who stepped up, with Willian getting a goal and two assists.  Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Tiemoue Bakayoko’s run into the box caused havoc for the opener, while Pedro also netted with a stunning strike to make it 3-0 after Willian scored his first header in the Premier League.It was these forgotten men who were decisive as Chelsea dominated to get a 3-1 win at the Kirklees Stadium, where Manchester United lost and Manchester City struggled. Cesar Azpilicueta Victor Moses Willian Pedro ChelseaDavid Wagner’s men will be disappointed with their display as they looked more like a Championship team than a Premier League team on the night, but Conte’s fringe players took full advantage to stake their claim for more starts.Chelsea are going to rotate heavily all through the winter period, but when the dust settles and the schedule gets lighter, these players will be fighting for spots in the side against Lionel Messi and Co. after drawing Barcelona in the Champions League. Willian has improved in recent weeks and is giving Conte a reason to abandon the 3-5-2 and switch back to the 3-4-3 alongside Hazard and Morata. Pedro hasn’t got going after dealing with injuries this season. Meanwhile, Bakayoko has been criticised more than anyone else, but his display was great all night. His first touch of the game was to hit a lovely cross-field ball to Victor Moses which set the tone for his evening. The 23-year-old put in a display that may see him put an indifferent two months behind him in a Chelsea shirt, as that sluggish stretch seemed to weigh heavily on his shoulders. Bakayoko also has dealt with constant comparisons to Nemanja Matic, who left for Manchester United for £40 million, with the fee being reinvested in the former Monaco man. Chelsea vs Huddersfield Willian HazardFor Bakayoko, it has been a case of needing that time to adapt to English football and his responsibilities at Chelsea. Conte has previously complained about the size of his squad, which has undoubtedly been one of the factors that has seen the side’s title defence ended so early, but in some positions he can be thankful.Chelsea were so dominant that they even gave their teenage sensation Ethan Ampadu a Premier League debut. At 17 years and 89 days old, he became the club’s second youngest to appear in the Premier League.Pedro and Willian have proven that they have the required class, and they can be a force in the months to come. Chelsea have eight fewer points in the Premier League than they did last season, as they were mid-way through an incredible 13-game winning streak, but they can still achieve glory in all three cup competitions. The season isn’t over for Chelsea, and the fringe players have provided Conte with a reason to be hopeful that he can still win something important. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

The US Women Probably Werent Going To Win The Gold Anyway

Tournament favorites usually don’t win — even big ones like the U.S. women’s soccer team. Too many things can go wrong, as they did in the penalty shootout of the USWNT’s quarterfinal loss against Sweden in the Rio Olympics on Friday. A goalkeeper guesses the right way, a usually reliable shooter sends a penalty kick over the crossbar, and suddenly the team is out of the tournament. It was the USWNT’s earliest-ever exit from an Olympics or World Cup. With the Americans eliminated, the draw has opened up for new favorite Germany, which advanced to the semifinals later Friday, and host Brazil, which plays its quarterfinal against Australia on Friday night. (If Brazil wins, it could overtake Germany as the favorite, depending on the scores of its quarterfinal and Friday night’s other match, between Canada and France.) The outcome didn’t reflect the run of play: The U.S. outshot Sweden 26 to 3 and completed more than twice as many passes. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo said after the match that the U.S. had played “a bunch of cowards,” a reference to Sweden’s defensive tactics. Swedish coach Pia Sundhage, who used to coach the U.S., responded, “It’s OK to be a coward if you win.”Even if the American women had escaped Friday’s shootout with a win, they’d have had their work cut out for them, with just a 36 percent chance of winning their fourth straight gold medal, according to our Women’s Soccer Power Index projections.U.S. fans spoiled by all the team’s recent success — the 2015 Women’s World Cup title, the 2012 Olympic gold — might have forgotten that past performance is no guarantee of future results. But those wins were hard-earned and never guaranteed. The Americans reached the 2012 gold-medal match after barely avoiding the lottery that is a penalty shootout in their semifinal against Canada, with an Alex Morgan goal at just about the last possible moment. And last summer in Canada, the team went scoreless in the first half of its first three knockout games before getting second-half goals. Just because the U.S. women sometimes made it look easy — like when they romped over Japan in the World Cup final — doesn’t mean it was.In these Olympics, even while the U.S. women were going undefeated in their first three games and winning their group, their chance of winning the gold medal, counterintuitively, was declining, to 31 percent from 38 percent before the tournament. That was partly because the quarterfinal field was so stacked: All of the eight best teams coming into the tournament advanced from the group stage. Also, the U.S. showed some weakness in the group stage, including yielding a 90th-minute goal to Colombia that led to a disappointing 2-2 draw. The team’s rating declined slightly during the group stage from the start of the tournament. Sweden’s did, too, but the Swedes remained a tough opponent, with a 21 percent chance of beating the U.S. before Friday’s match — about the chance the Cleveland Cavaliers had of beating the Golden State Warriors when trailing 3-2 in this year’s NBA Finals. Upsets happen to favorites all the time. On Friday, one happened, finally, to the U.S. women at the Olympics.Additional research by Jay Boice. read more