De Futebol Chelsea wins! Leicester City-Southampton tie!

Chelsea stayed alive in the hunt for the Champions League with a huge 2-1 win over Burnley.

Leicester City and Southampton tied nil-nil.

EPL Match Report:” Victor Moses was the hero as Chelsea moved to within five points of the top four with a 2-1 win at Burnley.

Antonio Conte’s team went into a deserved lead on 20 minutes. Moses burst down the right and his cross went in off Kevin Long for an own goal.

Nine minutes after Alvaro Morata had missed a great chance to double the lead, Burnley were level.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s 64th-minute shot to the near post was inadvertently deflected in to the other corner by Ashley Barnes.

Chelsea soon restored their lead through Moses. Emerson Palmeri’s cross found the wing-back at the far post and he fired in.

The defeat harmed Burnley’s hopes of moving sixth, above Arsenal, who are two points ahead with a match in hand. “

https://www.premierleague.com/match/22643

EPL Match Report on the Foxes and Saints draw: “Southampton stopped a run of four successive defeats, but the point from a goalless draw with Leicester City leaves them still adrift of safety.

In a match of few chances, Saints’ Shane Long was denied by Foxes goalkeeper Ben Hamer, making his first Premier League start of the season.

Ryan Bertrand drove wide from distance while Dusan Tadic also came close.

The best chance fell to Leicester’s Jamie Vardy, seeking his 18th league goal of the season, after he latched on to a long ball but his effort was well saved by Alex McCarthy.

Southampton remain 18th, four points behind Swansea City, who have played a match fewer.

https://www.premierleague.com/match/22687

De Futebol

The guys are getting ready for the upcoming season.

The Daily Mail: “They have seldom had the strength to sustain a Premier League title challenge in recent seasons, so it’s little wonder Arsenal are muscling up for the campaign ahead.

Their players hit the gym for weights and circuit training on Wednesday as the Gunners continue their pre-season preparations in Australia.

With Sydney lashed by heavy rain, Arsenal’s latest session was held partly indoors with the squad completing a sequence of pull-ups, dips and dumbbell lifts.

Olivier Giroud, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Alex Iwobi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were among the players working out.

Before that, Arsene Wenger put his players through their paces on the pitch at the Kogarah Oval in the suburb of Carlton, the home of rugby league team St George Illawarra Dragons.

New signings Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac trained with their new team-mates for the second time on a visit to Australia that sees them play two friendlies.

The FA Cup winners play A-League sides Sydney FC on Thursday and Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday, before jetting off to China for the next phase of their pre-season.

Arsenal beat Chelsea at Wembley to win their third FA Cup in four seasons back in May, but a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Premier League saw them miss out on Champions League football for the first time in two decades.

But despite breaking the club’s transfer record to bring £52million France striker Lacazette from Lyon, Wenger remains firm in his belief that winning trophies isn’t everything.

Wenger, who signed a new two-year contract at the end of the season, said: ‘We want to win trophies but you cannot live inside a club thinking we want to win the next trophy and if you don’t win it then you have lost.

‘The club is something bigger than that and has a stronger basis than that. On a personal level, I want to win every game. When we lose a game I’m absolutely mad and sad, but it is part of being a coach.

‘I’ve stayed here for a long time because of the values I hold close to me,’ he said. ‘One is to win trophies but more importantly it is to know who we are, and what is important to us in the game.

‘It is that basis which wins football games and that’s what I will do until the end of my career.’

Lacazette, who has been handed the No 9 shirt, will make his debut Down Under and Arsenal also retain an interest in Monaco winger Thomas Lemar as Wenger tries to boost his squad.

Speaking for the first time on the tour, Wenger also warned Manchester City off Alexis Sanchez and vowed that Olivier Giroud will stay.

‘The pressure starts again at the first press conference,’ he said when asked about Sanchez. ‘We’ll see. It is a continuation of what I said at the end of the season. It is in his interests to do as well as he can.

‘Nobody knows today if he will be in the final year next season because he can extend the contract with us at the start or during the season, so it is not necessarily the last year of his contract.’

Wenger, who denied reports in Chile that Sanchez had told the Arsenal boss he wants to leave, was resolute. ‘The players have contracts and we expect them to respect them,’ he said.

Doubts have been raised over the future of fellow striker Giroud, with Everton, Marseille and AC Milan ready to swoop, but Wenger wants to keep the 30-year-old.

‘We extended his contract last year,’ he said. ‘Our resolution is clear. He’s been great value to the squad and he is a great lover of the club. He’s always been determined to stay.’

Arsenal have made two bids for Monaco winger Lemar and Wenger, who also confirmed an interest in £120m-rated Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe, suggested a third was not far away.

‘There is nothing really concrete about any signings,’ he said. ‘Lemar is a player we follow.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4687852/Arsenal-muscle-new-season-Sydney.html#ixzz4mcggUug1

De Futebol

Man U is off to a good start in the summer signings according to the Daily Mail. “Jose Mourinho has completed his first transfer of his second summer at Old Trafford and if precedent is anything to go by Victor Lindelof will play a major role next season.

All four of Mourinho’s signings 12 months ago went on to contribute significantly to a campaign that ended with two pieces of silverware but the Swedish defender is only the initial move in the Manchester United manager’s plans for a genuine title challenge.

Winning the Europa League and League Cup transformed an underwhelming domestic season into something positive yet Mourinho knows his team must now vie to become Premier League champions and progress well in the Champions League. Here are seven steps to take.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury heightened the importance of securing a new No 9 and Alvaro Morata has been identified as that man. His arrival for £60million appears imminent and though Real Madrid could not find a regular starting place for him he will sharpen United’s attacking edge.

The 24-year-old scored 15 La Liga goals in 27 games, where 12 were made off the bench, and also struck three times in the Champions League. While the flirtations with Antoine Griezmann ended in a slightly disingenuous ‘it’s-not-you-it’s-us’ parting Mourinho clearly wants a strong focal point to make up for 28 goals going out of the side and Morata provides that.

Finding how best Marcus Rashford works amid all this is also paramount.

Lindelof’s arrival gives Mourinho a surplus of central defenders and raises the prospect that Chris Smalling or Phil Jones will be sold.

The Portuguese may have been speaking in jest when revealing his plans for the Europa League final against Ajax but publicly criticising Smalling’s ability to play from the back does not bode well.

There would be a number of Premier League takers for the 27-year-old, who also bore Mourinho’s sharp tongue over fitness. Luke Shaw’s future also looks uncertain.

In that interview with Tribuna Expresso Mourinho made clear just how much attention he pays to the opposition, even a side United are expected to beat without much fuss.

That was the case last season, but the tailored approach only truly worked in the home victory over Chelsea, with costly draws against Hull, West Ham, Burnley, Stoke, West Brom and Swansea symptomatic of a side with the handbrake on.

Mourinho’s pragmatism will never allow his players unfettered freedom but infusing more attacking verve is essential, especially at Old Trafford.

There seems little danger of United arriving for the first match of the Premier League season undercooked. Protecting from burnout and jet-lag is Mourinho’s dilemma.

United will have played eight pre-season games before facing West Ham at Old Trafford on what is scheduled to be August 12, just four days after facing Real Madrid in the Super Cup in Skopje, Macedonia.

United get back to action a month earlier on July 15 in a contest against LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center, then comes Real Salt Lake in Utah on July 17, Manchester City in Texas on July 20, Real for the first time back in California on July 23, Barcelona in Maryland on July 26, Valerenga in Oslo on July 30, then Sampdoria in Dublin on August 2.

That is some frequency of football and flying and not the ideal preparation for a demanding campaign.

Paul Pogba was a lightning rod for much criticism last season, understandably so given he arrived for a world-record fee and infrequently played to a standard to justify it. But the 24-year-old’s performance in dominating England in Paris illustrated just what he can do when given the ball in a system that suits.

For United, as Mourinho is not shy to admit, midfield can be bypassed if circumstances dictate, thus depriving Pogba the direct skill-strength combat with others that makes him shine. Ryan Giggs feels Pogba is ready to upgrade displays after a full season back in England and that predication is sure to be echoed by Mourinho.

It does appear Real have backed away from the expected bid for David de Gea, but given the years of strong and persistent speculation United would do well to ensure that transpires to be the case.

The Spanish goalkeeper has been the club’s best player of the last five years and for all that Sergio Romero performed well in the Europa League, United would be weaker without De Gea. His departing seemed inevitable towards the end of last season but Keylor Navas’s contributions to Real’s success has lessened demand. Mourinho should hope it stays that way.

It does appear Real have backed away from the expected bid for David de Gea, but given the years of strong and persistent speculation United would do well to ensure that transpires to be the case.

The Spanish goalkeeper has been the club’s best player of the last five years and for all that Sergio Romero performed well in the Europa League, United would be weaker without De Gea. His departing seemed inevitable towards the end of last season but Keylor Navas’s contributions to Real’s success has lessened demand. Mourinho should hope it stays that way.

Wayne Rooney’s anticipated parting is no longer certain but Mourinho will still find use for his captain at certain moments. Even if he stays, Mourinho might wish to address who wears the armband regularly. Rooney will not start and vice-captain Michael Carrick will play sparingly.

Technically Smalling is third in line but Antonio Valencia was skipper for the Europa League final and it may be time to give responsibility to someone who would be an automatic in the first XI.

Step forward Ander Herrera, the fans’ player of the year after a season that made him a firm favourite at Old Trafford. Herrera has the quality but also the belligerence to be a leader and, at 27, has years ahead of him to cement that status.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4607184/Manchester-United-manager-Jose-Mourinho-s-list.html#ixzz4kAAtWPvw

De Futebol

Jose Mourinho told the Daily Mail how he beat Ajax to win the Europa League. “Jose Mourinho has shared the tactical secrets which helped Manchester United cruise to victory in the Europa League final against Ajax, revealing he watched his opponents eight times.

Mourinho told his United players to target young Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt while instructing his own centre-back, Chris Smalling, not to play out from the back.

Portuguese Mourinho was speaking as a guest lecturer at Lisbon’s Faculdade de Motricidade Humana University, and was happy to disclose parts of his tactical approach as United won 2-0 at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.

The 54-year-old was criticised for opting to discard United’s Premier League campaign by picking his fringe players during the run-in, but the victory over the Eredivisie club secured Champions League football next season.

In quotes attributed to Portuguese publication Tribuna Expresso, the two-time Champions League winner revealed how he turned to his assistant Rui Faria and shook his hand after 80 minutes against the Dutch side, knowing the game was won.

Mourinho told MA students on a day dedicated to high performance football coaching: ‘I watched eight Ajax matches. In England, I tend to watch two to three matches because I already know the opponent, but not in Europe. To me, analysing the opponent is key because the way I practice and play is influenced by it.

‘We wanted to create instability. We would let them play out from the back while blocking De Ligt, their right centre-back, making them play through Davinson Sanchez who had more trouble.’

Mourinho had made it known in his press conferences that his side went into the Europa League final after a gruelling 67-game season with just 15 fully fit players, and the manager has now revealed how his training sessions were fixed on Ajax during the run-in.

In the morning, he would carry out a 20-minute video analysis session of his side’s next opponents (on the first day leading up to the game, he composed a dossier of his rival’s offensive qualities, turning to their defensive organisation on the second day and tactics on day three).

After breakfast, he would conduct a 75-minute training session and tell his players precisely what he wants to see in the upcoming game. After lunch, Mourinho would return to his office for another 20-minute session with statistical analysis of his opponents and the strategies they would adopt.

Ajax duly struggled to create clear-cut goalscoring opportunities with their more influential attacking players Davy Klaassen and Kasper Dolberg kept quiet in Sweden, and Mourinho opted to play Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera in midfield.

The former Chelsea boss wanted his players to allow Sanchez to have the ball at the back, feeling that his defence would be able to handle long balls because ‘we’re taller and dominant in that area’.

Pogba broke the deadlock with a fortuitous strike which deflected off Sanchez, and the France international was asked to track danger man Klaassen’s movements between the lines.

Mourinho added: ‘We’d make our full-back close down well that central space and if the ball entered a wide area for their winger, the full-back would close him down and Herrera would be the one covering that space in midfield.

‘But what matters is that my players understand we cannot have doubts there – defensive creativity only in emergency situations.

‘We prepare a game better when we’re aware of our own weaknesses. Everyone said Ajax played beautiful football and that the beauty of the game matters and bla, bla, bla. I told my players that, for me, beautiful is not giving our opponents what they want.

‘I even joked with Smalling – “With your feet, we’re for sure not playing out from the back!”

‘That’s where we won the game. During the initial stage of the build-up we never played from our centre-backs to our midfielders, because they are great at recovering possession pressing high. In our midfield they didn’t recover the ball once. If the ball isn’t there, what are they going to press?’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4602908/Man-Utd-boss-Jose-Mourinho-reveals-tactical-secrets.html#ixzz4k16KWIJJ

De Futebol

He is a little piece written by the Guardians Michael Cox. “ Chelsea’s domestic campaign ended on a sour note, with last Saturday’s 2-1 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal denying Antonio Conte the double in his first campaign at Stamford Bridge. But it is Conte who has been Chelsea’s superstar this season and his decision to switch from 4-3-3 to 3-4-3 in autumn should be considered among the most decisive tactical moves in the 25-year history of the Premier League. After changing to that system, Chelsea steamrollered their way to the title and eventually recorded 93 points – the second-most in the Premier League era.

Conte, however, is unlikely to rest on his laurels and will strive to improve Chelsea further next season. It is notable that no one has retained the Premier League since Manchester United won it in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and Conte will need to create a stronger squad to cope with the added demands of European football if he is to defend the league title successfully.

Indeed, since that decisive switch to 3-4-3 in the second half of a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal in late September, Conte essentially used only 13 players to any great extent. As with Leicester in 2015‑16, it is easy to identify Conte’s first‑choice starting XI, with only a minor debate about whether Willian or Pedro should start on the right and a late flourish from Cesc Fàbregas testing Conte’s faith in his regulars.

Conte’s main task now will be developing his squad for next season for a Champions League challenge and he may even prioritise European competition as a personal mission, considering his inability to take Juventus past the quarter-final stage. Either way more rotation will be required. Chelsea appear well‑stocked in defence, with Nathan Aké and Kurt Zouma likely to play a more significant role next season, but Chelsea are woefully short of midfield back-ups after the mid-season departure of Oscar to Shanghai SIPG. Up front, Michy Batshuayi provided some decisive contributions from the bench but Conte will need to use him more next season.

In a tactical sense, too, Chelsea may need to evolve. If it would be unfair to suggest that opponents have found out their system, it is clear the 3-4-3 did not work quite so effectively after Christmas, with Tottenham, Manchester United and then Arsenal all genuinely outplaying Conte’s side. It is notable that Chelseawent 11 games between January and the end of April without keeping a single clean sheet, an amazing statistic considering they kept six in a row immediately after the change of system.

Opponents exploited weaknesses in the 3-4-3 more readily: Spurs successfully exposed Gary Cahill’s lack of mobility and César Azpilicueta’s lack of height. Other sides have caused Chelsea problems with energetic pressing and have exposed Fàbregas’s tactical indiscipline when he has started in a central role, and Manchester United man-marked Eden Hazard very effectively, leaving Chelsea without genuine creativity. Arsenal used Danny Welbeck up front to prevent Chelsea’s defence from keeping a high line and then, when Conte asked his players to press, Chelsea lack compactness and Arsenal played through them easily.

The level of opposition scouting and data analysis in modern top‑level football means systems can be considered unbeatable one month and fundamentally flawed the next, and top-class managers are always seeking to evolve their side and keep opponents guessing.

How, then, will Conte change things next season? First, Diego Costa may depart and the nature of his replacement may cause a fundamental restructuring of Chelsea’s attacking play. A pure speedster up front, for example, might mean Conte is more likely to field a defined midfield playmaker. On that note, Fàbregas has proved almost irresistible in recent weeks, having been excluded from the starting XI at the start of the campaign, although in big games the Catalan surely needs two defensive midfielders behind him, which would necessitate a change of formation.

Conte could, therefore, turn to a 3‑5‑1‑1, a system he used in the second half of matches in recent weeks, with Fàbregas as a third central midfielder and Hazard floating behind the main striker – which might allow the Belgian more freedom to evade opposition man‑marking. This was a formation Conte occasionally turned to at Juventus, albeit without significant success.

However, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Conte could ditch his three-man defence entirely. With Marcos Alonso capable of playing left‑back and Azpilicueta a natural right-back, Conte can switch from a back three to a back four seamlessly, and it is slightly surprising he has not done so more regularly this season – that flexibility has clearly benefited Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham. Perhaps, with Conte’s 3-4-3 proving so successful, he simply hasn’t needed to. But Conte had planned to use 4-2-4 and 4-1-4-1 at Chelsea – and if he suspects opponents have sussed out his 3-4-3, we could see something radically different for 2017-18.”

https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/jun/01/antonio-conte-premier-league-chelsea-tactics

De Futebol

Wenger signs a new two-year deal with Arsenal. The Guardians David Hytner wrote:” Stan Kroenke “won’t rest” until Arsenal have made it to the pinnacle of the game in England and Europe, and insists Arsène Wenger is the best man to take them there.

The club’s majority shareholder made his comments as the club confirmed Wenger would remain in charge for another two years. Wenger’s contract had been due to expire on 30 June and the uncertainty over whether he would sign up for another cycle has cast long shadows over the past season

Even Wenger has admitted it was not the best move to leave the announcement until the end of it, which came on Saturday with the FA Cup final victory against Chelsea. For the first time under Wenger, Arsenal finished outside the Premier League’s top four and missed out on Champions League qualification. Their fifth‑placed finish has put them in the Europa League for next season.

Kroenke and Wenger are keen to look forward and they know winning the league for the first time since 2004 has to be the priority. To many supporters, the decision to persist with Wenger will be vindicated only if the club win the title.

“Our ambition is to win the Premier League and other major trophies in Europe,” Kroenke said. “It’s what the fans, players, staff, manager and board expect and we won’t rest until that is achieved. Arsène is the best person to help us make that happen. He has a fantastic track record and has our full backing.”

The club said the chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, had – together with Wenger – carried out a “full review of our on- and off-the-pitch activities to identify areas for improvement to build a sustained title challenge”. This touched on Gazidis’s “catalyst for change” reforms; he believes that, after a disappointing season, there must be tweaks to various structures around the manager.

The precise nature of the changes are unclear but it is understood Wenger has had to agree to certain alterations regarding his back-room staff. The most likely casualty is the goalkeeping coach, Gerry Peyton, and there could be others.

Wenger is fiercely loyal to all his staff but it felt significant to hear him say: “We are looking at what we do well and how we can be stronger everywhere.”

He added: “I love this club and I am looking forward to the future with optimism and excitement. This is a strong group of players and with some additions we can be even more successful. We’re committed to mounting a sustained league challenge and that will be our focus this summer and next season.

“I am grateful to have the support of the board and Stan in doing everything we can to win more trophies. It’s what we all want and I know it’s what our fans around the world demand.”

The club are keen to complete their summer transfer business as quickly as possible and they have finalised a deal for Sead Kolasinac, the Schalke left-back, who will join as a free agent. They also stressed in their statement on Wenger that they had made a “record £110m investment in players” last summer. It was when they signed Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi, Lucas Pérez and Rob Holding, although the widely quoted fees for that quartet add up to £90m.

Gazidis said: “There is no complacency anywhere at this club. Our goal is to compete for and win trophies here and in Europe. Everything we do is designed to make that happen and we will be working hard on and off the pitch this summer to improve and make a strong challenge next season.

“The club has grown beyond recognition in every aspect in recent years and we have the platform to be successful and meet the ambitions we and our fans share.

“When you look at the world of football, and you think about the great candidates that there are – and there are many great coaching candidates in the world and Arsenal is a club that all of them would want to work for because of the things we represent in football. But when you look around and make that assessment, you don’t find any better candidates than Arsène Wenger.

“Let’s put the club above everything else. Let’s get behind this team because they deserve our fans’ support. Together, we can achieve great things.

“Remember, the motto of this football club is ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’, victory through harmony. We need to restore that harmony by getting behind the team to achieve success together. That’s where we have a chance.”

Alisher Usmanov, who holds a 30% stake in the club but does not have a seat on the board, welcomed the confirmation of Wenger’s contract but warned that unless Wenger was supported fully in the transfer market the manager would risk tarnishing his legacy. Usmanov recently launched an unsuccessful takeover bid and he remains frozen out of any decision-making.

“I am pleased Arsène Wenger will continue to manage Arsenal for the next two years as he is one of the very best coaches in Europe,” he said. “What is now of paramount importance is that he receives the full support of the board and majority shareholder. He has a great opportunity to deliver the success the fans deserve and the legacy his long contribution merits. However, without the right support there remains a real risk his legacy will be tarnished. If the support is not forthcoming, we stand ready to step in and do everything we can to deliver success on and off the field.”

Santi Cazorla has said he has undergone another operation in a bid to rectify the achilles problem that wrecked his season. The midfielder was injured in the Champions League game against Ludogorets in October and he told a Spanish radio station it was the eighth operation he had endured. Cazorla remains under contract at Arsenal for one more season after the club took up the option they had on the 32-year-old. Wenger confirmed in January the option had been activated.

“It’s been a difficult season,” Cazorla said. “Since I last played, I’ve been through surgery eight times. I have not been told [comeback] deadlines. It is very difficult to put exact dates but I don’t think it will be more than five months.”

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/31/arsene-wenger-signs-contract-stay-arsenal-manager

De Futebol

Huddersfield gets promoted to the EPL.

The Daily Mail: “Ten grueling months, 46 games, the nerve-shredding agony of the play-offs… and the final pass for the Premier League was decided by 10 penalties in a shootout.

Huddersfield won it when Christopher Schindler — a German, naturally — stepped up to calmly convert the decisive kick and bring to an end the Yorkshire club’s 45-year exile from the top flight.

It had not been the prettiest of Wembley showpieces but it was dramatic and by the time Schindler placed the ball on the penalty spot, an air of inevitability had descended. Reading slumped, beaten and distraught.

Football has no emotional crash quite like a defeat on penalties in the Championship play-off final. For the winners, a share of the Premier League’s billions and weeks of giddy anticipation as they await fixtures, the Match of the Day cameras and the arrival of the best footballers in the land.

For the losers, the realisation that it was for nothing. They go back to zero, having been so close. Reading were ahead in the penalty shootout when goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi saved from Michael Hefele, another German centre half, who did his best to destroy the national stereotype.

Hefele, a player who basks in a cult status in Huddersfield, beat his fist into the turf, furious with his incompetence, missing at the end where Germany’s penalties had beaten England at the old Wembley in Euro 96.

It was level again when Liam Moore blazed over. Then, Aaron Mooy scored and Town keeper Danny Ward, the shootout hero in the semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday, saved from Jordan Obita.

German manager David Wagner, dressed all in black, designer spectacles and open-necked shirt, linked arms with his staff on the touchline, confident they had done all they could. His opposite number Jaap Stam could barely watch. The Dutch hate penalties almost as much as the English.

Stam paced around restlessly, unable to settle and watch, perhaps recalling the one he skied when Holland lost to Italy in the semi-final of Euro 2000. He can at least offer words of consolation for Moore and Obita.

Schindler clinched it and up in the Royal Box, chairman Dean Hoyle crumbled to the floor in tears. Hoyle, 50, has supported the club for nearly 40 years and has been chairman for eight. He took the risk to appoint Wagner, who has repaid his faith with promotion in his first full season, with a budget of little more than £10m.

Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart, applauded the prospect of seeing his beloved Huddersfield beamed into the Premier League for the first time. They have been rewarded for their enterprise, although it may have been a smoother win had they taken one of two close-range chances in the opening few minutes.

They first headed wide by Hefele from a free-kick delivered by Mooy. Five minutes later, came an even simpler opportunity. Elias Kachunga firing a low cross to Izzy Brown who was only a yard out with the goal gaping but somehow contrived to miss as the ball skidded off the turf, hit his left boot and flashed wide.

Brown, on loan from Chelsea, appeared to be just as stunned as the rest of the 76,000 fans inside the stadium when it dawned on him the ball was not in the net.

A goal at this stage might have opened up a thrilling contest. As it was, what unfolded was a cautious duel, low on incident. Reading feasted on possession but at a slow and deliberate tempo.

Lewis Grabban curled an effort wide but Stam’s team created virtually nothing until John Swift cut through to the edge of the penalty area and forced a diving save from Ward, early in the second half.

Stam’s team improved after the break and Grabban went close. Nerves were raw and players were falling with cramp. Huddersfield lost captain Smith to injury in the closing stages of normal time.

Hefele blocked from Yann Kermogant, Chris Gunter headed over and, in extra time, Garath McCleary pulled a left-footer wide from the edge of the box. These were the best of Reading’s opportunities, none of them taken.

Wells missed a good chance for Huddersfield before it went to penalties but he will not spend the next three months dwelling on what might have been.

Huddersfield are bound for the Premier League for the first time, bringing with them a blend of charm, terrier spirit and German technique from the penalty spot.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4552580/Huddersfield-0-0-Reading-aet-4-3-pens.html#ixzz4iZ89cM5f

De Futebol

Jose Mourinho is trying to get it right at Man U. Many may not like it but this cat is a proven winner.

Man U won the Europa League to prove my point.

The Daily Mail wrote:” The bad news for Manchester United and Jose Mourinho is that this league season looks like being the club’s worst for 26 years. Not since the 1990-91 campaign have a United team finished so far behind the champions as the 24 points that currently separate them from Chelsea.

For those who like to look for omens, meanwhile, there is some encouragement to be found in symmetry.

Back in 1991, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team did finish 24 points behind champions Arsenal but they also reached the final of the League Cup and then won a major European trophy, the Cup-Winners’ Cup.

So as Mourinho and his players head to Stockholm to contest the Europa League final next Wednesday, they will hope history repeats. United have already won the modern version of the League Cup this season but only victory over Ajax, it seems, will save Mourinho from scorn.

United, it must be said, have rarely looked less like United than they have recently. Treading water in games against Southampton, Tottenham and Arsenal that their manager effectively said they could not win, United’s soporific football has left Mourinho open to suggestions that he is betraying club traditions. It has also left United with their fewest number of wins ever in a Premier League season.

Struggling for form is one thing, looking like you are not at full throttle is quite another and as United prepare to close their domestic season with Mourinho begging Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace for mercy on Sunday, two different arguments are at play.

One surrounds Mourinho’s persistent bleating about fixture congestion and his claim that it was impossible for his team to push for progress in the Premier League and in Europe at the same time.

The other refers to the nature of United’s play throughout the whole campaign, one that currently sees his team boast a poorer home record than relegated Hull City.

Certainly, his complaining about fixtures is tiresome. Once he feels a grievance, the Portuguese rarely undersells it and he has reverted to type here.

Big teams have often found themselves stretched as they chased trophies at the back end of a season. Some have cracked it while others have merely cracked, but it is worth noting here that when Ferguson’s team won the treble in 1999, they played more games than Mourinho’s United have this season.

Ferguson was no stranger to complaints about fixture congestion himself. Prior to a Premier League game against Everton in 2013, he suggested he would like his team ‘not to turn up’ rather than damage their chances in a game against Real Madrid that followed.

But during that incredible surge towards glory in 1999, Ferguson always made it clear he felt the monotony of game after game helped his players.

One of those players, defender Wes Brown, said: ‘If you keep winning, everyone’s playing well and there’s a good team spirit, it just carries on and carries on. It just keeps ticking. That’s what happened for us. You don’t really have a chance to think about tiredness or any negatives, you just think, “We can do this”.’

Mourinho sees it differently. He believes the Premier League should help United by moving domestic fixtures to maximise rest before European ties and he is not alone in this.

But he also believes — or claims to believe — that players can’t cope physically and mentally with what has recently been put before them.

The cynical will say the United manager has effectively thrown recent Premier League games because he knew he had no chance of catching Liverpool for the final top-four place. If you are going to lose out to your greatest rivals you may as well do it by pretending not to try.

Others will argue that by telling the world that all that matters is one game in Stockholm, Mourinho is focusing his players’ minds for one big night of glory and the Champions League place that will be handed out along with the trophy.

Whatever the case, the sight of United drifting aimlessly through recent league games has been strange and just about unprecedented.

United looked a decent bet for a surge into the top four when they won well at Burnley on April 24 but subsequently have tailed off so badly that their three recent games have resembled training matches.

It is this that takes Mourinho into dangerous territory more than any general accusations about style or tactics.

The notion that United managers must ask their teams to play a certain way is absolute bunkum. United managers are simply hired to win trophies.

Though many will tell you otherwise, those of us who sat through the second half of Ferguson’s reign at Old Trafford will testify that it was not all champagne and roses.

There was plenty of very good football and then there were long stretches when United managed to win seemingly out of habit and sheer will alone.

Ferguson was committed to attacking football, Mourinho less so. But United knew that when they hired him. As last season drew to a close under the broken figure of Louis van Gaal, United needed Mourinho more than even he needed them. So why should he change?

So far, he has delivered a Community Shield and League Cup.

Already, he has kept a good chunk of his part of the bargain while other, supposedly more progressive clubs, such as Liverpool and Tottenham, have won precisely two major trophies between them in the last 11 years.

Mourinho did not come to Manchester to turn the world’s most famous football club into the Harlem Globetrotters. He came to mend what was broken, rebuild an identity and ease a broken-down first-team squad back into a forward gear.

To a large degree, he has done this and, with that, has come the return of a little pride.

Mourinho’s recent behaviour has been complicated to say the least and he definitely needs to come away from Stockholm with the big prize next week for the ends to have justified the means.

But this is what you get with the 54-year-old. Mourinho was never going to mould himself to Manchester United. It was always going to be the other way round.

And for those who like to look at history for comfort and reassurance, it is worth noting that, in 1993, two years after trailing in so far behind champions Arsenal, Manchester United won the Premier League.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4520218/Is-Jose-Mourinho-betraying-Man-Utd-s-spirit-adventure.html#ixzz4hXcOh5Fl

De Futebol

The Reds took care of business in a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough to finish in fourth place to secure their spot in the Champions League.

The Daily Mail: “In the end it took just one pure strike of a football to change a game, a season and, who knows, maybe a future. It came from the right foot of Georginio Wijnaldum and it almost took the roof off the net at the Kop End.

Deep in stoppage time at the end of the first half and this was threatening to turn in to one of those sapping, frustrating and ultimately highly damaging Anfield afternoons that we have seen far too many of in recent weeks.

Middlesbrough were camped in their own half, essentially playing six across the back when they didn’t have the ball, and Liverpool could not find a way through.

With the ghosts of recent failures here against Southampton and Crystal Palace seemingly lurking round every corner, Jurgen Klopp’s players looked inhibited and anxious. In the stands, they checked their phones grimly.

Arsenal winning, Manchester City winning, Liverpool out of the Champions League places.

So when Nathaniel Clyne and Roberto Firmino combined with rare fluency down the right hand side, Liverpool supporters will have looked on more in hope than in expectation. Wijnaldum was clear on goal but the angle was tight and the Dutchman had, up until that point, not had a particularly good game.

It looked at first as though he may look to pass inside. That would have been the easy option, the safe option.

But when the stakes are high sometimes it takes a little courage to get things done and so it was that Wiljnaldum placed his faith in his own technique and tore a rising shot up beyond Brad Guzan in the Middlesbrough goal.

It was a magical moment, a moment that a stadium felt fear lift from its shoulders. It didn’t win the game on its own but it changed the game.

It gave Liverpool the confidence and, more importantly, the space to take Middlesbrough apart in the second half. Liverpool scored two more goals but could have scored a few more as they finally grabbed the fourth placed Premier League finish that was the minimum requirement at the start of Klopp’s first full season.

A place in the Champions League changes everything for this club. Liverpool still have a qualifier to negotiate but the prospect of a place in European football’s Blue Riband competition will help them buy players and indeed keep players. It makes Liverpool more attractive and it lends them a bit of financial clout, too.

So this was a very big win for Liverpool on a day when the prospect of failure must have stalked them. Before the game James Milner said his team-mates were relaxed and confident. But before Wijanldum’s goal, they didn’t look it and it must be said that they benefited from a huge call by referee Martin Atkinson midway through a first half in which they found fluency and potency hard to come by.

Liverpool had enjoyed almost all the possession but Middlesbrough’s blanket defence was holding them at arm’s length. And when a rare break by the visitors in the 24th minute suddenly found Patrick Bamford in a yard of space behind Dejan Lovren the whole game hung in the balance.

Lovren definitely clipped Bamford’s ankles, causing the Middlesbrough forward to crash to earth. It looked like a foul at the time and replays only hardened that view. Had Atkinson given the penalty then he would have had little choice but to send Lovren off, too.

But it appeared the referee may have had his view impaired by retreating Liverpool defender Joel Matip so he waved play on, judging the incident to have been what they like to call ‘a coming together’. On a day when Liverpool were always going to need the odd moment of fortune, this was perhaps the biggest one of all.

Later on, the second half passed by like a procession. Once they were behind, Middlesbrough were effectively spent. It seemed as though they had to come to Liverpool with just one game plan and once that was gone they seemed short of an alternative.

Liverpool took them apart after the break. They played the kind of fluent, intelligent football that bewitched us in the opening half of the season and all of a sudden chances began to arrive like trains rolling in to a station.

Phillipe Coutinho scored goal number two with a free-kick that Guzan may have saved in the 50th minute and then, six minutes later, Adam Lallana finished off a move that typified everything that is good about this team.

A quick break following a Middlesbrough corner seemed to break down when Fabio intercepted Lallana’s cross. But the England international was alert enough to win the loose ball and when it was headed back towards Daniel Sturridge by Wilnaldum, the striker let it run across his body for Lallana to close in and score from 12 yards.

It was a goal created by energy, purpose, desire and selflessness. There was more of that to come, too, as Liverpool enjoyed the freedom of a final half an hour played without any of the pressure that had inhibited them so much prior to Wijnaldum’s goal.

There were no more goals but it didn’t matter. Since the scoreless draw with Southampton that looked so damaging two weeks ago, Liverpool have scored seven without reply. As such, they are in the Champions League on merit.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4527500/Liverpool-3-0-Middlesbrough-Reds-secure-Champions-League.html#ixzz4hk8fFzjE

De Futebol

Man U ended the EPL season on a high not a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

The Daily Mail: “On a day when it was all about the spirit of youth at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho once again demonstrated a knack for behaving rather childishly when the mood takes him.

Having given four youngsters their full Premier League debuts in team with an average age of 22 years and 284 days, Mourinho was rewarded with a handsome win in the sunshine.

Here was an opportunity to salute a quite wonderful goal by Josh Harrop or a fine second-half save from Joel Pereira. The energy of Demetri Mitchell and midfield presence of Scott McTominay, or perhaps to pay tribute to Wayne Rooney on what was almost certainly his Premier League farewell as a United player after 13 years. Instead, Mourinho somehow managed to draw attention to himself once again.

The United manager was conspicuous by his absence from the traditional lap of appreciation, which was led by Rooney carrying his baby son Kit.

While the media kept watch on proceedings on the pitch, Mourinho slipped quietly away through a deserted tunnel and had left Old Trafford within 25 minutes of the final whistle.

There was no interview for the Match of the Day cameras and the post-match conference room was practically empty when he breezed in and out again without receiving a single question.

United’s in-house television station managed to intercept Mourinho for all of 17 seconds. ‘Let me go home, I am in a final now,’ he said with a smile before leaving to prepare for the Europa League decider against Ajax on Wednesday.

He had, in theory, fulfilled his media commitments by showing up, but this appeared to be another demonstration of his displeasure with how United’s season has been assessed.

He used his match programme notes to take aim at the pundits – notably Graeme Souness – for not giving United more respect for battling through a 64-game season at home and abroad. ‘It’s not my fault if their managerial career was very poor,’ was the surly put-down.

It formed an unfortunate undercurrent for what should been a day of celebration at Old Trafford. A celebration of the latest academy recruits to come off the United conveyor belt, and a celebration of Rooney’s career at the club.

The United captain saluted all four corners of the ground when he came off in the 88th minute. He will be back for Michael Carrick’s testimonial next month but that will surely be it.

In what felt like a symbolic moment, Rooney was replaced by Angel Gomes who, at 16 years and 263 days old, became United’s youngest debutant since Dave Gaskell 61 years ago.

Mourinho’s plans to give Rooney a send-off were almost scuppered by an injury to Eric Bailly seven minutes after half-time. Having already used two substitutes just before the interval to give Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard a rest ahead of Wednesday’s final in Stockholm, Mourinho only had one left.

The stretcher was sent away and then so was substitute Matty Willock as Bailly decided to continue after a rather stern exchange with his manager on the touchline.

The game was almost won by that point against an all-too-compliant Crystal Palace side who were almost as inept defensively as they were on their last appearance in town two weeks ago when they were dismantled 5-0 by Manchester City.

There is certainly no cause for the Premier League to be concerned about weakened teams. The kids did Mourinho proud, none more so than Harrop who marked his big day with a fabulous goal after quarter of an hour.

Pogba slid the ball into Harrop’s path and the 21-year-old teased Martin Kelly before cutting inside the Palace defender with a little shimmy and dispatching a clinical right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

United were two ahead four minutes later and this time the scorer was a little more familiar to their supporters. Lingard broke forward and tried to play in Pogba as he surged to the edge of the box.

Joel Ward seemed to have the situation in hand but stumbled at the crucial moment, leaving Pogba clear on goal. The Frenchman steadied himself before sliding the ball into the bottom corner for what was only his fifth league goal of the season.

Palace had their moments in the second half – Pereira diving to his left to pluck Luka Milivojevic’s free kick out of the air and Christian Benteke striking the foot of the post with a downward header – but their work was done after escaping relegation.

‘There wasn’t the same pressure on the players today,’ said manager Sam Allardyce. ‘It’s just a shame we didn’t do a bit better. We’ll be making decisions on a few players in the coming days, then dipping into the transfer market.’

By then, Mourinho had already left the building. We can only hope he has something more to shout about in Stockholm on Wednesday.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4527404/Man-Utd-2-0-Crystal-Palace-Josh-Harrop-dream-debut-strike.html#ixzz4hk7WRwe0