Friday’s soccer news starts with Christian Pulisic’s Chelsea at Zack Steffen’s Manchester City tomorrow in a top of the table meeting in the Premier League. City has a ten-point lead over Chelsea with both on 21 games played. Liverpool is a point behind Chelsea in 3rd-place, a point behind Chelsea with a game in hand.
“Man City opened the gap not over the last months, they opened the gap over the last years and I wasn’t ever shy to say this,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said. “We try to close it. We were self-confident enough to say we will try to close it from the first day of the season. This is what we did and we did it very good.”
With all due respect to Tuchel, Manchester City lost at home to Crystal Palace on October 30. Since then, City has put together an 11-game winning streak piling on the points in this era of Premier League parity. Meanwhile, Chelsea has lost twice this season, most recently at West Ham on December 4. Their home loss was a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea on September 25.
“We minimized the champions of Europe when they had all players fit,” Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said. “It was really exceptional, but at that moment we were below them, we knew the difficulty if we didn’t get points at Stamford Bridge. Our commitment with and without the ball was exceptional. That’s why we won, unfortunately it was a small margin because we could have scored more. The victory was nice but tomorrow will be completely different because we learned from that. We can do better, especially in attack.”
City doing better should resonate across the Premier League. The manager of the league leaders thinks that they’re not doing enough. That puts the pressure on every other potential contender to keep pace with a team that is no longer in the habit of dropping points.
FIFA released its annual report on the transfer market. “These 18,068 transfers involved a new record high of 4,544 clubs from 185 different associations, compared to 4,162 clubs in 2020, with 15,617 players representing 179 different nationalities,” FIFA’s press release read. Transfer fees decreased for the second consecutive year in 2021 to USD 4.86 billion, a fall of 13.6% from 2020 and 33.8% from the all-time high of 2019.”
SI’s Avi Creditor reports on the USMNT as they work toward the next round of qualifying. MLSsoccer’s J Sam Jones with a team-by-team guide to the MLS preseason. The Independent’s Miguel Delaney explains Manchester City’s influence on the Premier League. iNews’ Daniel Storey with the interplay between England’s League Two and the National League. Football Italia’s Lorenzo Bettoni has AS Roma training behind closed doors. FIFA announced The Best Men’s Player nominees, Robert Lweandowski, Lionel Messi, and Mohamed Salah. The Athletic’s Matt Slater asks about club valuations.
WEEKEND SOCCER TV
Saturday has the Premier League on USA: Newcastle vs Watford at 10am. Aston Villa vs Manchester United is on NBC at 12:30pm.
Super Lig on beIN Sport: Sivasspor vs Trabzonspor at 8am. beIN en Espanol has Antalyaspor vs Fenerbahce at 11am. Ligue 1 on beIN Sport: St Etienne vs Lens at 11am and PSG vs Brest at 3pm. Primeira Liga on GolTV: Boavista vs Gil Vicente at 10:30am, Benfica vs Moreirense at 1pm, and Estoril vs Arouca at 3:30pm.
Liga MX on TUDN: Atlas vs San Luis at 6pm. Univison has Tigres vs Puebla at 8pm and Cruz Azul vs Juarez at 10pm. Tijuana vs Leon is on ESPN Deportes at 10pm.
Sunday has the Premier League on USA: Liverpool vs Brentford at 9am.
Ligue 1 on beIN Sport: Rennes vs Bordeaux at 7am, Monaco vs Clermont at 9am, Troyes vs Lyon at 11am, and Marseille vs Lille at 2:45pm. Primeira Liga on GolTV: Vizela vs Sporting at 1pm and Belenenses vs Porto at 3:30pm. Supercopa de Espana final on ESPN2: Real Madrid vs Athletic at 1:30pm.
Liga MX on Univision: Toluca vs Santos Laguna at 1pm and Pachuca vs Chivas at 6pm.
Monday has Cup of Nations on beIN Sport: Burkina Faso vs Ethiopia at 11am. All Times Eastern
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Photo by Martin Rickett – PA Wire via ZUMA Press – ISIPhotos.com