EPL Recap

Chelsea 2 – Crystal Palace 1

No Diego Costa? No problem. Chelsea won without their top striker, the Premier League’s leading goal-scorer.

Jose Mourinho’s side proved it has the depth necessary to hoist the trophy when it’s all said and done.

“There is a general feeling that our team improved because of Diego and [Cesc] Fabregas,” Mourinho said after the game. “And it’s right and it’s true and it’s fair to say that … It was good for the group, as a group, to have an important victory without one player that ’til this moment, has scored so many goals and given us so many points.”

At 7-1-0, aiming for the title is one thing; the best ever record is also within reach at this rate. Chelsea won 29 games in the 2004-05 and ‘05-06 seasons.

A lovely free kick from Oscar gave the visitors the lead in the sixth minute. The Brazilian whipped the ball over the wall and past the keeper in a single stroke of genius.

Cesar Azpilicueta slid into Mile Jedinak with both cleats up earning a straight red card as the clock approached halftime. However, Damien Delaney foolishly pushed Willian down from behind and picked up his second yellow of the game. 10 vs. 10.

Cesc Fabregas used a give-and-go with Oscar to find space in the box and give Chelsea the breathing room they needed for their seventh win in their first eight Premier League matches.

Chelsea won’t have Costa back for their mid-week UEFA Champions League clash with Maribor. That shouldn’t stop the Blues from continuing their good form.

Chelsea are rightfully the favorites in England at this point in the season.

Southampton 8 – Sunderland 0

High-scoring Manchester City doesn’t have the second best goal-differential in the EPL after league-leading Chelsea. It’s Southampton!

The Saints earned their biggest ever EPL win, thoroughly dismantling Sunderland, 8-0.

Graziano Pelle, the Barclay’s Premier League Player of the Month for September, responded to the honor by netting a brace. He now has six goals in eight league games.

Perhaps Sunderland felt the holiday spirit as they gifted two own goals, including Santiago Vergini’s epic fail in the first half. Honestly, it might’ve been the most well-struck goal of the game.

Ronald Koeman was the manager of the month for September. He has the Saints in third in the table and with two games left this month — both against mediocre Stoke City in the EPL and the Capital One Cup — they could easily remain in UCL position as the calendar turns to November.

And if you’re wondering, yes, there is plenty of room on the Saints bandwagon. Come join me!

Manchester City 4 – Tottenham 1

Sergio Kun Aguero has all the talent to be in the Ballon d’Or conversation. I personally picked him to win the Golden Boot this summer at the World Cup. On Saturday, he showed why he can be mentioned with Messi and Ronaldo as one of the premier goal-scorers in the world.

Aguero scored all four goals — two came from the spot — all emphasizing his incredible skill.

Both Hugo Lloris and Joe Hart saved penalty kicks in the game. Lloris was the only reason Aguero didn’t have five on the day.

A plethora of scoring options makes you a contender, and even won City the league twice. However, if they’re going to take the next step and advance to the later stages of the UCL, having a true, world class striker like Aguero will be key.

Liverpool 3 – Queens Park Rangers 2

The final seven shouldn’t make Liverpool fans any less nervous about what they saw over the course of the full 90. QPR battle valiantly conjuring up a multitude of scoring chances throughout the first half and into the second. Only a Richard Dunne own goal — his 10th career own goal — gave Liverpool the lead in the second half.

Eduardo Vargas’ leaping effort in the 86th minute leveled the match. Just two minutes later, Philippe Coutinho drove into the box and his low drive angled itself into the bottom corner to give Liverpool the lead in the 90th minute. It was the Brazilian’s first EPL goal of this campaign.

With extra time waning down, Eduardo Vargas redirected a corner kick with the perfect touch of his head for an unlikely second QPR goal. Raheem Sterling, at the center of the Club vs Country during the international break, raced down the left side of the field as the final moments were ticking and his cross found the foot of QPR’s Steven Caulker. A second own goal. The decisive goal. Three points to Liverpool.

In the 62nd minute, Mario Balotelli had a chance with goalkeeper Alex McCarthy down in the box. About eight yards from goal and not a defender in front of him, Balotelli struck the ball well over the net.

One of the easiest sitters of all time. How long before the pending explosion comes?

It’s been far from smooth sailing since he returned to England. Liverpool fans and media have been relatively patient, but with Luis Suarez about to debut for Barcelona in five days, you can bet that every time Suarez scores and Balotelli doesn’t, the pressure will increase.

La Liga Recap

Real Madrid 5 – Levante 0

Cristano Ronaldo’s double helped ensure Real Madrid three points ahead of El Clasico. The favorite for the Ballon d’Or didn’t allow his team to look ahead in the schedule. Madrid cruised to 5-0 win over Levante.

Only Barcelona (22 goals) and Valencia (17 goals) have scored more than CR7’s 15 so far. That’s right. Only two teams have scored more than the superstar has this season in league play.

Lionel Messi set the single-season La Liga goals record with 50 back in 2011-2012. Ronaldo is on pace for 71.

Now, they can focus on Barcelona, a team that has yet to allow a single goal in Spain this season. Ronaldo will have to be extra special as Real Madrid will be without Gareth Bale.

Barcelona 3 – Eibar 0

Ronaldo could be looking to make history this season, but Messi is close to another mind-boggling record himself.

The magician has been playing top-flight soccer for just over 10 years now. With a goal against Eibar, he’s now one goal shy of tying the La Liga scoring record of 251 set by Teimo Zarra. And his 11th professional season is only eight games old.

What a story it would be if he broke it against Madrid on Saturday.

Serie A Recap

Inter Milan 2 – Napoli 2

The two teams battled for a scoreless stalemate up until the 79th minute. Jose Maria Callejon broke the deadlock as he found his way past Nemanja Vidic and coolly slid the ball under Samir Handanovic to give Napoli the lead.

Freddy Guarin came on late and rewarded Walter Mazzarri with a goal on his first touch of the game to level things.

Callejon scored again as stoppage time began, but then Hernanes’ header salvaged a much needed point for Inter.

There’s plenty of time left to climb out of the middle of the table and challenge for a European spot for both clubs, but it won’t be easy. Not with the stranglehold Juventus and Roma have on Italy.

Juventus 1 – Sassuolo 1

Juventus blew a chance to capitalize off their 3-2 win over Roma a couple weeks ago. Instead, the club failed to defeat relegation-zone Sassuolo.

Arturo Vidal, the man linked with a massive move to Manchester United since the summer, had to squash talk of discontent with the club. He was not part of the team for the game just as he was left off the squad that downed Roma.

Vidal tweeted a lengthy response.

“My relationship with everybody at Juve is very good. My teammates, the coaching staff and the club have faith in me, and I in them. The club have never fined me. Reports on this subject are incorrect and, in many cases, ill-intentioned.”

Olympiakos looms on Wednesday and Vidal is indeed expected to play in that UCL match.

Roma 3- Chievo 0

Roma responded to their loss to Juventus last week with a resounding 3-0 victory over lowly Chievo.

Rudi Garcia didn’t rest some of his key players ahead of their Champions League clash with Bayern Munich this week. The ageless wonder, Francesco Totti, played 60 minutes and scored in his third straight game for Roma. Totti set up another goal during the game as well.

Roma responded well after their first league loss and inched closer to Juventus, and sit just one point behind them in the Serie A table.

Up next, Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Bundesliga Recap

Bayern Munich 6 – Werder Bremen 0

Philipp Lahm could go down as the best German defender of all time. You won’t find any arguments against that here. But would you believe that before Saturday’s match against Werder Bremen, the full back had scored just 10 league goals through 320 club appearances in the Bundesliga?

Lahm scored twice as Bayern Munich hardly broke a sweat against bottom-of-the-table Bremen.

Mario Gotze also scored a brace for Pep Guardiola’s side, though his best work may be ahead and come off the field. According the the Daily Mail, Gotze is keen on bringing his German national teammate Marco Reus over to the German giant from chief rival Borussia Dortmund.

FC Cologne 2 – Borussia Dortmund 1

Dortmund continued their plummet down the table as they lost to FC Cologne, 2-1. Though perhaps no team has dealt with more key injuries than Dortmund — save maybe Arsenal — that’s not an excuse for a team of Dortmund’s stature to be sitting in 14th place out of 18 teams, and tied for the most league losses with five through eight games.

Reus was back in Jurgen Klopp’s lineup, and Ilkay Gundogan returned from a 14-month absence, but it still wasn’t enough.

Somehow Klopp is not receiving nearly the amount of blame for the club’s struggles as managers in the EPL or MLS face. Just a few months ago, he was as desirable as any manager in the world. He might be one of the world’s best, but if things don’t change soon, you can bet some top suitors will fade.

Bayer Leverkusen 3 – VfB Stuttgart 3

Klopp’s star status certainly won’t fade faster than Bayer gave away a three-goal lead. Just ahead of their UCL match with Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday, Bayer conceded three second half goals to Stuttgart, throwing away two precious points and a chance to move up to third in the league.

South Korean Son Heung-Min scored two goals in the game’s first nine minutes. But things unraveled quickly in the second half, and Martin Harnik’s header sealed the draw for Stuttgart in dramatic fashion.

Two of Germany’s top clubs entering the season — Dortmund and Bayer — are struggling mightily.

MLS Recap

LA Galaxy 2 – Seattle Sounders 2

The battle for the MLS Supporter’s Shield came to one conclusion: There’s no separating these two clubs.

However, the green machine has the edge thanks to their 19 overall wins compared to 17 for the Galaxy. On the other hand, Bruce Arena’s Galaxy have lost just six games this season, the fewest in MLS.

With LA leading by two, Clint “Captain America” Dempsey burried a cross, his 15th of the season, from DeAndre Yedlin, to regain some momentum for the home side.

Lamar Neagle scored a few minutes later to tie the game up.

The intensity was palpable. Obafemi Martins is fourth on the goal scoring list this season with 17. He and Clint Dempsey were part of a run forward about 19 minutes into the game that fizzled in the box. The two had a heated exchange in the middle of the pitch afterward with the ball still in play. Yet after fighting back for a draw, the captain was only looking forward.

“We take confidence in that if you keep playing and that if you keep moving and keep creating, you are going to get you opportunities, and I think we showed that. We don’t give up we keep fighting,” Dempsey said after the game. “I feel good about our team’s character, and look forward to the challenge of the next game.”

That next game just happens to be against the Sounders.

D.C. United 2 – Chicago Fire 1

Ben Olsen has officially taken United from worst to first. After a historically bad season, United will enter the playoffs with the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Last season the club won three games. This season, 17 so far. Last season, the club scored an abysmal 22 goals. This season, they’ve found the net 51 times. In fact, they’re the only Eastern Conference team with a positive double-digit goal differential.

Bill Hamid has also found the form that has him on Jurgen Klinsmann’s radar for 2018.

Vast improvement on every side of the ball. A recipe for securing the biggest single-season turnaround in MLS history. 42 points. Now if they could only find a way to build a new stadium …

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