It’s been a minute and then some since a post was made here last, but I wanted to let you know that Team Player 90 has undergone much needed structural changes, and has been reborn as Her 90 Minutes!
I am very excited to restart this ‘project’ with a clearer and more mature mind, and can’t wait to start talking about football again. Thank you immensely for your support on this site, and I hope you will carry this same energy on to the new site.
Chelsea F.C was doing great. They had not lost a match since April. They beat Real Madrid with an aggregate score of 3-1 to get to the Champions League final.
Then, they travelled to Manchester to play against the team at the top of the table, Manchester City. They won 2-1 and celebrated. Perhaps that match could even be a forecast of their Champions League final match against City?
But then, on a Wednesday night, their London neighbors, Arsenal came visiting. (Keep in mind that Chelsea had been unbeaten in their last eight home Premier League matches against Arsenal before that night, with six wins and two drawn games.) A goal by Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe, Croydon’s Kevin De Bruyne, in the 16th minute was the only goal of the match, and Chelsea’s eight game advantage ended that day.
Then, on Saturday that week, Chelsea faced Leicester City in the FA Cup final. The Blues tried their best but had no answer to Leicester’s Tielemans’ amazing goal in the second-half. Mount and Chilwell had attempts at goal but Schmeichel put paid to them. And let’s not forget the dramatic, controversial VAR decision that will probably make all Chelsea fans cringe at the sound of the term.
In a perfect case of dramatic irony, Chelsea would face the Foxes only three days later at Stamford Bridge. However, this was not the same team that lost against Arsenal and Leicester days earlier, this was a team ready and out for a win. They avenged their FA Cup loss and, to the delight of the 8,000 fans watching in the stadium that night and the others around the world, they moved, not only above Leicester City, but now sit in the Premier League’s third place, behind the two teams from Manchester.
Chelsea also stands to push out Leicester’s Champions League dreams if Liverpool win their match against Burnley (Which they did). For Chelsea, it was a full 180 of the team that played at Wembley on Saturday in a match that cost them silverware and left N’Golo Kante injured. They really gave Leicester a run for their money, though they didn’t seem all that sad after the match to be honest.
But why did Chelsea need to lose twice in two different competitions and at crucial stages before waking up to win their penultimate match? And what did they do differently in that second match against Leicester?
CHELSEA 0-1 ARSENAL
Chelsea lost at home to Arsenal with one goal to nil, which possibly was good news for Liverpool, but definitely not for Tuchel. Though it was a good, and needed win for Arsenal, they did not really deserve it to be honest.
The Gunners barely put up a fight even with their attacking 3-4-2-1 formation. They defended well enough and got lucky with a goal which was ultimately thanks to Chelsea’s slipups and mistakes.
Chelsea could have won this match quite easily to get into third place. They should have used this opportunity to seal the deal and innovative give themselves some breathing space to relax before their FA Cup final that weekend, and the Champions League final at the end of the month, but their loss ultimately put them under more pressure.
It looks like this is becoming a steady theme for Chelsea these past few months under Thomas Tuchel; to have dominance in the game and better statistics than their opponents on paper, but never really converting any of those chances into goals, instead conceding to a lackluster opponent.
This was seen in their Champions League semi-final matches against Real Madrid. Against Arsenal for example, they had 34 percent more possession, 19 total shots and 5 on goal to Arsenal’s total 5 shots with 2 on goal. Chelsea managed to complete a whopping 386 more passes than Arsenal and with that kind of performance, they were expected to score at least one goal given their efforts.
They had one attempt that hit the bar and a goals that as disallowed because it was offside. They were generally not great, and Arsenal, with much less effort, took advantage of that and won the match. Again, this would have been a chance to settle down in a Champions League spot for next season, but teams are allowed to have their bad days, and this was one of them. The most important thing is that they are able to bounce back from it.
Their performance in the first half was truthfully not that bad. Chelsea played well and had chances, but were just unable to convert them. Once Arsenal scored, the Chelsea players just switched off and things went downhill in terms of their tactical creativity and eagerness to play. If they had played for two more hours in that condition, they probably would not have been able to score.
Arsenal had a good win, and though most of their time was spent defending, they did defend well and scored a goal. Chelsea on the other hand, had higher possession and more chances to score but failed to convert it.
CHELSEA 0-1 LEICESTER – FA CUP FINAL
As usual, Chelsea dominated the game but their attack was toothless and so were ultimately beaten by Leicester with a truly game winning goal from Tielemans.
Chelsea played in their regular 3-4-2-1 formation, with Reece James as center-back to cover Jamie Vardy’s base. Leicester played in a 3-4-1-2 formation and played very defensively, only having 36 percent possession throughout the game.
Whenever Leicester attacked, they would usually go through the right side so they could open up the play for Vardy, who likes to play in from the left side. Leicester continuously played high up on the pitch whenever Chelsea came forward, so it was hard for them to play back to their defenders and all their forward passes were blocked, which meant that they would lose possession before they could even reach Leicester’s back line.
Leicester switched tactics and sat deep in a 5-3-2 formation, leaving Chelsea to struggle to find space to get to the back line. This meant that Chelsea’s defenders had to step into Leicester’s half, which is exactly what the Foxes wanted, so that Vardy could run in and play, but Reece James was always on Vardy. Leicester’s style of play meant that Chelsea could not control the game’s tempo as they would have wanted.
In the second half, Kante pushed forward a lot more as Chelsea was looking for a goal to redeem themselves. As they pushed forward however, it left a gap in their midfield. They had no promising chances to score, and were unlucky not to get the handball decision just before Tielemans scored the only goal of the match.
After Leicester’s goal, Chelsea changed formation to a much more pointed one, unlike how they switched off against Arsenal some days earlier. Leicester on the other hand compressed their play even further and sat deep in a 5-3-1-1 formation, leaving only Vardy in front.
Chelsea was unable to make a way through their opponents’ defensive play, even after bringing on three very creative players: Havertz, Hudson-Odoi, and Pulisic. There is no doubt though that Havertz’s aerial prowess and ability to hold on to the ball would have come in very handy earlier in the game.
Thus, Chelsea suffered their second FA Cup final defeat in a row. If they don’t find the bite their attack desperately needs, they might end up losing the Champions League final as well, and without a fight.
Chelsea’s problem was that they were unable to convert their chances and lacked creativity in front of goal. Even though they dominated the games, little slip ups and mistakes caused their opponents to score at least one goal and then defend and lock their side down.
The interesting thing is that the teams Chelsea played against came prepared to defend against them and played quite conservatively, only scoring because they took advantage of Chelsea’s mistakes. So, what did they do to win 2-1 against Leicester only three days after their FA Cup loss?
CHELSEA 2-1 LEICESTER
In this match, Chelsea was able to get revenge for their FA Cup final loss and gained a massively useful three points in the final days of their Premier League top four chase.
Tuchel again used his usual 3-4-2-1 formation with Rudiger, Silva, and James at the back, the same positions that they played in the FA Cup final, but this time Pulisic was at the point of the formation, replacing Ziyech.
Leicester came on with their 3-4-2-1 formation that put Maddison up front as the primary attacker instead of Ihenacho who struggled at the weekend. This game saw Chelsea dominate the game as usual, and played their usual “press the backline, draw them out” tactic, they never really pressed forward with the expected intensity.
As the game progressed, Chelsea employed a new extremely interesting tactic where the defenders would lay back, being pressed by Leicester, and would pass to Jorginho, who would fall back to support them and move forward with the ball. This allowed Chelsea to dominate in a way that was different from the way they usual did this season.
With their defense and Jorginho having plenty of touches on the ball, they regularly looked to find Timo Werner, who would also drop back in a much deeper position than normal. He did excellently well and greatly helped Chelsea progress through the middle. Werner playing in that position made sure that Kante could break forward through midfield to join the attack.
Before his injury, Kante looked quite threatening when he made runs forward through midfield and used his energy to help move the attack. His replacement, Kovacic, did a great job continuing the play and moving the ball forward just like Kante did.
Chelsea progressed with the ball easily and steadily up the pitch, allowing Mount to leave his starting position on the left to drift across to the other side and continue to drive the attack forward.
Chelsea’s attackers could move forward and narrow in on the goal because their two wingbacks were getting forward, providing width on the sides. Azpilicueta on the right, for example, regularly looked to get into this sort of position on the wing before passing into the box to the forwards who by then, were narrowed in on goal. Chilwell did the same on the left and even ended the match with 7 attempted crosses.
Leicester’s defense spread out to spread out to give room for Schmeichel to come out between them, so when Chelsea’s forwards came in their narrow shape, the ball could just be chipped out wide to one of Leicester’s defenders on the wider ends, by passing the Chelsea players press.
By doing this, they drew Chelsea’s wingbacks behind and this was the only way Leicester could move forward during the match. The Foxes also played narrow in Chelsea’s half with Maddison and Perez moving towards to support Vardy, but this unfortunately had no real impact in the final third. Tielemans would move forward to assist up in front, attempting a total of 9 crosses during the match.
Despite this though, Vardy was often left out alone in the front of Chelsea’s goal and never really caused any trouble. This was a constant struggle for them during the match, and despite late pushes, Leicester never really ruffled Chelsea.
At a point the final third was completely empty, save for Vardy and a couple of Chelsea’s defenders. Leicester ultimately failed to create chances and Chelsea finished the match as well-deserved winners.
This is a happy outcome for Chelsea, bouncing back from disappointment on the weekend and getting into the Premier League’s Top 4.
So, though it has been a successful season for Chelsea thus far, reaching both the FA Cup and Champions League finals, they had some rocky bits. They won against Leicester because they converted and creatively adapted to the situations. They were innovative in their style of play and ultimately got the rewards for it.
They face Aston Villa today, and hopefully can win against them as well, not just for the points, but even for the team’s morale.
On Sunday March 14 2021, Manchester United hosted West Ham.
To say West Ham lacked ambition in the first half would be an understatement.
Manchester United had put in a lot of effort and deserved to lead at the break, but an awful miss and a brilliant save did not let that happen.
Though West Ham found the net, it was unfortunately their own. McTominay thought he had scored it though, and celebrated, and for a while no one was really sure that he hadn’t. Dawson’s mistake cost the Hammers greatly.
United won by an own goal, but they definitely deserved the 3 points they got, and solidified their position in second-place, while West Ham remain in 5th place.
Yes, it is back and yesterday was the first match of the season.
League runners-up Liverpool hosted promoted side Norwich City at Anfield for the first match of Matchday 1.
Liverpool got the first goal of the season after just 7 minutes, but it was through no effort of their own.
Norwich City’s Grant Hanley tried to clear the ball but sliced it past his own keeper instead.
Grant Hanley (left) looks dejected as Bobby Firmino celebrates Hanley’s own goal. (Photo: REUTERS)
Liverpool went on to score 3 goals before halftime, showing absolutely no mercy to the new kids on the block.
However, it came at a cost. Liverpool goalkeeper, Alisson slipped while trying to get the ball and sustained an injury to his calf. He had to be substituted by new signing Adrian.
The visitors managed to get one back near the end of the game, but by then, the damage was already done.
Liverpool won their first match of the season with 3 goals difference and the first goal of the new season was an own goal. A sign of things to come or can this ominous beginning be changed by future matches?
He literally came with instructions and he blew it. He had one job: drink water.29-year old footballer Danny Drinkwater has been charged by the Stockport Magistrate Court for drink-driving after crashing his Range Rover into a wall about 30 minutes after midnight on 8 April, causing damages worth £50,000.He claimed to have been on his way back from a function and his friend was supposed to drive him back, but was unable to, so Danny decided to drive himself and two female passengers while drunk.The prosecutor, Subi Chowdhury said Drinkwater had called emergency services himself after the incident and admitted to drink-driving while talking to the police.When he was tested at Middlewich Police Station, he had 87 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millimeters of breath while the legal limit is 35 microgrammes only.He suffered a graze to his forehead and the two female passengers were treated for minor injuries as well.His defense lawyer, Robin Sellars, said Danny Drinkwater has had no previous convictions and asked for him to be punished with a fine rather than community service, adding that the footballer was “fully compliant” with the police.
“He only had himself to blame. He understands he’s done wrong.He instructs me he will be employing a driver.”- Robin Sellars in Drinkwater’s defense
But District Judge Mark Hadfield rejected this and sentenced him to a 12-month community order with 70 hours’ community service.The former Manchester United trainee was also ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs and an £85 victim surcharge.Mr Hadfield said: “You knew when you got behind the wheel of that vehicle you should not have been driving.”Danny Drinkwater was handed with a 20-month driving ban and 70 hours of community service.
He was a product of Manchester United’s youth academy but never made a senior appearance as he went on loan to Huddersfield, Watford, Cardiff and Barnsley, eventually ending up in Leicester City in 2012. He was among Leicester City’s Premier League winning team in the 2015-16 season under Claudio Ranieri and was called to England’s senior team for the first time as a result of his performance with Leicester.He made his debut against Norway in 2016.He left Leicester for Chelsea in September 2017 in a £ 35 million deal following in the footsteps of teammate N’ Golo Kante.He played 22 times in all competitions as his first season was disturbed by injury, but under new manager Mauricio Sarri, he hasn’t gotten any Premier League playing time, just a Community Shield appearance.
And it’s all over. The Premier League season is done and what an interesting season it has been.
We’ve gone through managers and players, some even switching teams during this season, and we’ve had happy times and heartbreaks.
There are some major talking points from this season, the most important being…
MANCHESTER CITY WON THE LEAGUE!!
And by only one point over Liverpool. But the Reds have assured the second time champions that they are still very much around and will be coming back with a vengeance. This makes it City’s 4th Premier League win and their second one in a row.
MANCHESTER UNITED WAS BEATEN BY A RELEGATED TEAM
Winning has really not been United’s forte these recent times, as they’ve only won 3 out of 23 league fixtures. They decided to end the league by losing 2-nil at home to 18th placed Cardiff City who won’t even be here next season. Well Ole has a whole summer to sort his squad out so let’s hope next season is better.
EPL GOLDEN BOOT WON BY THREE AFRICAN PLAYERS
Three African players shared the top-scorer title: Mohammed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool), Sadio Mané (Senegal, Liverpool) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon, Arsenal) all scored 22 goals to emerge as the joint winners of the EPL Golden Boot. Great news for Jürgen Klopp to have two of his players as top goal scorers at the end of the season. It just goes to show how close Liverpool was to winning the league.
There were other Premier League awards given on Sunday, like the Golden Glove which went to Liverpool’s Alisson Becker who had 21 clean sheets this season and the EPL Playmaker Award went to Eden Hazard from Chelsea for his high total of 15 assists this season.
Yesterday all teams played their final matches and here are all the scores:
The Europa League semi-finals were played on Thursday night. And what a night that was.
Two Premier League teams, Chelsea and Arsenal played against Eintracht Frankfurt and Valencia respectively.
Chelsea and Eintracht met again and with a one-all score from the first leg so the reunion was acted out on a level playing field.
The Germans came out pulling all the stops but it was Chelsea who had the lead by half-time, with a goal from Ruben Loftus-Cheek. This definitely put pressure on the visitors to produce a response. And they did.
With the score at 1-1 and the aggregate at 2-2 at full time, the two teams played for an extra 33 minutes and even then there was no headway.
The game went into penalties, with Chelsea winning 4-3.
Arsenal’s story however, was not so unpredictable.
They went into the second leg with a 3-1 advantage and so had the obvious upper hand over their La Liga hosts.
Valencia had a shaky start in the game and if not for the unexpected dramas and sagas in the Champions League, Arsenal could have been so sure of the final.
At half-time, the score was 1-1, but Arsenal showed how much they wanted this by beating the La Liga team 4-2, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring 3 goals and striking partner Alexandre Lacazette completing the score.
That left the aggregate at a whopping 3-7 and Arsenal joining their London brothers in the Europa League final.
What a time for English football, especially considering their World Cup heartbreak last year.
To have two English teams in the Champions League final and two English teams reach the Europa League finals as well, it seems like England is in full control of Europe right now.
So you probably already know this, but unless you’ve been under a rock and just came out, today’s trending football headline is about Tottenham Hotspur. Why?
Well it’s partly because Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino chose to use 5-foot-10 Kieran Trippier to mark spritely 6-foot-2 Matthijs de Ligt, but it’s mostly because of this:
They had a 1-0 aggregate from the first leg of the semi-finals and then a goal from 19 year old Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt (pronounced Matthias Delete) in the 5th minute and another in the 35th by Hakim Ziyech pushed their goal deficit up to 3.
Spurs’ Brazilian Lucas Moura proceeded to completely blow the minds of all watching and all who would later hear of this story by scoring a hat-trick.
His first goal in the 55th minute was quickly followed by another 4 minutes later, causing Spurs to equalise with their Dutch hosts at the Johan Cruyff (Dutch: Cruijff) Stadium.
10 minutes to the end of the game, Spurs had hounded Ajax continuously and looked quite ragged. That didn’t stop them from making some really close attempts though, as Hugo Lloris had to pay attention to their attacking.
Lucas Moura and Dele Alli set up a goal and a lot of people don’t know how exactly it went in (and in the 6th minute of their allotted 9 minutes of extra time at that). That doesn’t matter now because it did go in and Tottenham reached the final on away goals.
This result is especially amazing because they were not at home and the only other team in the history of this competition to lose the first leg of the semis and then progress to the finals is Ajax.
Also, this final is now the third European competition final with two English teams in it (1972: Spurs vs Wolves in the UEFA Europa League and 2008: Manchester United and Chelsea in the Champions League).
The entire stadium was a whole mix of emotions and the pitch was flooded with tears. Tears of sadness from the heartbreak felt by Ajax and actual tears of joy from Tottenham.
And their usually tight-lipped manager, Mauricio Pochettino, well he was the picture of elation, and after the match he kept saying that his players were superheroes.
Matthijs de Ligt however, felt that Ajax should have scored more goals and didn’t deserve to get their dreams crushes like this after everything they’ve come through.
The away dressing room was loud and full of celebrations, rightfully so as that epic comeback means they are on their way to their first ever Champions League final.
So the first thing I thought when I saw the scores was ‘No way’. And then I saw the scorers and I said ‘No way’ again. And then the realisation hit, but even now it doesn’t feel real that Liverpool could make Barcelona bow like that – but they did.
In last night’s epic match, (possibly the biggest comeback match in European Cup/Champions League recent history), a seemingly disadvantaged Liverpool destroyed the 3-0 lead advantage that Barcelona had going into the second leg match.
Two unlikely players which a lot of mainstream football fans probably won’t know of: Divok Origi (Belgian born son of Kenyan footballer Mike Origi) and Georginio Wjinaldum (pronounced whine-al-dum) were in the spotlight.
Origi has become sort of a Liverpool cult hero among fans now considering he made the Spanish Giants look like a mismatched bag of limbs and scored two very important goals.
He scored the first goal in the 7th minute, after Barcelona keeper Ter Stegen blocked an attempt on goal by pushing the ball right back to him. There was a penalty call when Sadio Mané went down and many other fouls during the first half. Barca was still trying to score at this time.
But it was still obvious they were not great. Messi, whom everyone seems to be hounding at the moment, looked like he had weights tied on him and was moving much slower than a person who wanted to get his team to the finals of the Champions League.
At half-time, there was still hope, as Liverpool had to score at least 2 goals to even have a chance and although they were playing better, no one could have thought the visitors wouldn’t fight back. But we were mistaken. So very mistaken.
Not only did they retreat and release Alisson Becker from stress by shooting at the air, their defending was porous and sad. The Scousers took good advantage of this and half-time substitute Wjinaldum actually scored 2 goals.
He came on in the 46th minute for Andy Robertson who was unable to continue and with help from Xherdan Shaqiri, he scored 2 goals in 2 minutes less than 10 minutes later.
At this point, Liverpool had already levelled; their future was secure. Thanks to youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold’s daring confidence and quick thinking, Divok Origi scored again thereby effectively sealing the fate of their Spanish visitors.
As is expected, everyone had something to say, even people who don’t like football or even properly understood what exactly went down. However, there were also comments from the actual authorities in the sport.
Former Manchester United and Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho compared Barcelona to an under-14 team, focusing on the goal which Alexander-Arnold set up.
He said if that had happened to an under-14 team, everyone would have said, “The kids are sleeping. They are not playing well.” And now we have a team like this playing like that.
Divok Origi chose to describe last night as “special and unbelievable” and one he surely won’t forget in a hurry.
Manager Jürgen Klopp who had said 4 goals were needed to advance, got what he asked for and thanked the fans as well after the game.
“We know this club is the mix of atmosphere, emotion, desire and football quality. Cut off one and it doesn’t work – we know that.
I’ve said it before. If I have to describe this club then it’s a big heart and tonight it was obviously like crazy, pounding like crazy. You could hear it and probably feel it all over the world.
I’m so happy we could give the people this experience and I’m really happy about having another chance to get things right from our point of view.”
– Jürgen Klopp
This makes Liverpool the second English club to consecutively reach the Champions League finals, after only Manchester United in 2008 and 2009.
Honestly they shouldn’t be asked to play that last Premier League game. They should just be given the trophy based on this performance.
Now you didn’t think we had forgotten about the Europa League, did you?
As the ‘younger brother’ of the Champions League, it often gets looked at as the second-rate League for second-rate European League.
Aaron Ramsey (14), Kalidou Koulibaly (25 own goal)
Arsenal scored two early goals to see them get an advantage over Napoli in the second leg.
Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette combined forces, and Ainsely Maitland-Niles finally set it up for Aaron Ramsey to return and score from inside the box.
Ramsey and Maitland-Niles had both been blocked from scoring by Kalidou Koulibaly before their combined effort provided a goal in the 14th minute, proving that if at first you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again, literally.
And then, Lucas Torreira won the ball in the Napoli half, broke up the play and sped towards the goal, before hitting home – but, and this is a big but- there was a deflection off Kalidou Koulibaly, a Napoli player of ‘colour’. And then this led to some racist remarks against him.
Arsenal and Napoli had other chances but failed to convert them. The home team definitely looked more dominant, but the second leg will ultimately determine who goes forward.
Slavia Praha 0
Marcus Alonso (86)
Chelsea gave a sub-par performance, in tune with their English team counterparts in the Champions League.
Slavia Praha started quickly, with two minutes being enough to attempt a goal, but Simon Deli could not direct his header into the net.
In the first half, Chelsea sputtered and fumbled without a single shot on target besides Willian’s shot at the goal post.
When the visitors came out in the second half, however, they returned with renewed vigor, as they began to look like the superior team. Olivier Giroud’s attempt went wide, and Antonio Rudiger shot low but was blocked by Kolar’s feet.
Alonso ghosted into the game in the 86th minute, to catch a cross from Brazilian teammate Willian and headed it past Slavia’s keeper.
With this result, Chelsea has the advantage for the next leg and hopefully for their Premier League match against Liverpool on Sunday.
João Félix (Penalty goal-21, 43, 54), Rúben Días (50)
Eintracht Frankfurt 2
Luka Jović (40), Gonçalo Paciência (72)
It was a busy night for two main people on the pitch on Thursday night: João Félix and referee Anthony Taylor.
Teenager João Félix, a graduate of Benefica’s academy, set a record in Europe, as the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick in the Europa League at 19 years and 152 days. (The days are important!)
The record was previously held by Marko Pjaca who played for Dinamo Zagreb against Celtic in 2014 at 19 years and 219 days.
English referee Anthony Taylor awarded one penalty and a red card against Eintracht’s Evan Ndicka.
Santi Cazorla (Penalty goal-36)
Gonçalo Guedes (6, 90+3), Daniel Wass (90)
Valencia scored their goal first in the 6th minute, being the quickest to rebound to Villareal’s Dani Parejo’s penalty miss, but Villarreal equalised through a successful penalty of their own.
The game looked an agreed draw, until Valencia took it upon themselves to score in the match’s dying minutes, effectively shattering the dreams of their hosts. (Not very polite.)
This has been the song Villarreal has been singing for a while now; feeling that the victory is theirs until it is snatched away from them.
Another English referee, Michael Oliver, was the main man on the pitch, as he awarded two penalties.
By the way, what do you think about the new match score format? Is this way better or worse?
Please let me know in the comments and thanks for reading.