Every now and then there comes a match which not only has the potential to define a season but also possesses the power to force a seismic change in the football tide; and Liverpool’s visit to the Etihad tonight is one such game.
The Sunday newspapers may have made difficult reading for Chelsea and their Italian manager but the chants of ‘Antonio, Antonio’ ringing around Stamford Bridge during a routine 3-0 FA Cup fourth round victory over Newcastle suggest it is too early to write off Antonio Conte’s future in west London just yet. Transfer deadline day, mind you, looks likely to provide a better barometer.
Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Brighton at the weekend has quietened the critics who suggested there was a crisis building at Stamford Bridge but it hasn’t ended speculation about their search for a striker after manager Antonio Conte challenged Michy Batshuayi to fill the void – but also left the door open for him to leave.
In preparing to face the threat of Danish dangerman Christian Eriksen in the World Cup play-off, Martin O’Neill believes his players are entitled to take encouragement from how they coped in the recent past with other standout stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gareth Bale and the Bosnian duo of Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic.
Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea battled to a 3-3 draw with Roma to stay top of Champions League Group C. Chelsea had surrendered a two-goal lead to trail 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining after former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko’s quick-fire double.
Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona beat Las Palmas 3-0 in a game played behind closed doors after the Spanish league refused Barca’s plea to postpone the game on the day of the highly-charged Catalonia referendum.
One French media outlet labelled him ‘the unknown Irishman’, and no-one is throwing his name into the list of Golden Boot contenders, but few players are so central to their team’s hopes in France as Kyle Lafferty is to Northern Ireland.
Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez left Roma ruing a host of missed chances as Real Madrid moved into the quarter-finals of the Champions League 4-0 on aggregate with a 2-0 win last night.