Alvaro Morata was subject to ridicule after he missed a golden opportunity to give Chelsea the lead against Tottenham with a free header only yards out. This weekend, he was once again hailed as a saviour for the Blues after an inspirational performance which showed his true quality.
Where he was anonymous against Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen at Wembley, he was imperious against Ashley Williams, Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane at Stamford Bridge. Winning two aerial challenges up against three of the Premier League’s strongest aerial defenders was no mean feat.
Primarily, Morata also showed his ability to bring others into play. A clear example of that came in the 27th minute when he combined with Cesc Fabregas in a neat one-two. Morata showed superb initiative to react with a header after his initial pass was deflected, playing a perfectly weighted knock down into the path of the former Barcelona midfielder to poke the ball into the far corner of the net.
Only 13 minutes later, the creator turned to poacher. Morata had dropped deep to pick up the ball before launching a move forward, ghosting into the box just as it was knocked back for Cesar Azpilicueta to deliver an inch perfect cross onto his forehead for him to glance it beyond the helpless Jordan Pickford.
His second headed goal in as many games at Stamford Bridge, Morata looked confident again and showed his clear technical ability as he looked to hold the ball up and bring in the likes of Willian and Pedro as they bombarded forward on the counter attack. He was content not being the talisman looking to finish the opportunities, and in fact made more key passes than shots.
If Morata can consistently produce this kind of form, he will be up at the top of the goalscoring charts competing with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero. What’s more, and what makes him more of a threat than Diego Costa, he could be high on the list of assists too.
Crystal Palace’s hopes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek return boosted after latest comments
The midfielder is unlikely to get what he’s after at his parent club.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has boosted Crystal Palace‘s hopes of securing his services for another season, after claiming he will only remain with Chelsea this summer if guaranteed a regular first-team spot at Stamford Bridge next season, in quotes via Sky Sports.
The 22-year-old spent last season on loan at Selhurst Park after making just 31 appearances for Chelsea since his debut in 2014, and his immense talents have earned him a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad this World Cup.
“I want to play as much as I can,” revealed Loftus-Cheek. “Even this past season just gone, I didn’t play as much as I would have liked because of injuries. So I still feel I need a proper season of playing, wherever it is.”
Loftus-Cheek made 25 appearances for Roy Hodgson’s outfit last term, and is still unhappy with the amount of minutes he managed, so it’s pretty safe to assume Chelsea – given the disastrous domestic season they’ve just had – won’t be bettering his previous return, or be prioritising taking chances on academy products next season.
And Palace will be keen to offer the stylish midfielder a deal to extend his stay with the former England manager, where, if available, he will continue to be considered one of the first names on the team-sheet.
Palace are likely to face competition from rival clubs though, as Loftus-Cheek is emerging as a star on the biggest stage of all in Russia; having flourished in his brief cameo against Tunisia. And he’s now considered likely to start against Panama, with Dele Alli nursing a slight injury.
Aston Villa could reportedly owe John Terry £560,000 in wages
The owner may have to sell shares in the club.
Aston Villa’s financial mess looks likely to continue, as the cash-strapped club could now owe captain John Terry a whopping £560,000 in wages, unless he transfers to a different club this summer, according to reports from the Times.
Villa are said to have reached an agreement with HMRC to postpone a payment of £4 million last week, but a further payment is expected this week and the club owner Tony Xia may have to go as far as to sell shares in the club to ensure all debts are paid.
The ex-Chelsea legend announced his impending departure from the midlands club last month, after they failed to secure Premier League promotion in the play-offs and his current contract is due to expire at the end of the month. But he is said to be entitled to a further month’s pay.
His weekly-wage packet was said to be worth £70,000 at Villa Park, meaning the overdue payments from the last two-months add up to over half-a-million for the 37-year-old defender. However, the outstanding July payment will only stand if Terry retires or remains a free-agent, meaning Villa will be keen to land him a new club.
Villa reportedly need £40 million in order to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations (Birmingham Mail), after gambling that they would gain promotion to the Premier League this season.
England must start Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek after Panama reveal tactics
England must opt for creativity after the Panama captain’s comments
Panama have revealed plans stifle England with a physical approach in their upcoming clash on Sunday, in quotes from captain Roman Torres on the Telegraph, and Gareth Southgate should ensure the Three Lions’ approach is suited to the style of opponent.
The Central Americans were beaten 3-0 by a star-studded Belgium outfit on Monday in their World Cup debut, meaning a win against England is pivotal in ensuring they remain in the competition beyond the group stages. And England will have a tough task taking the lion’s share of points on the day.
“England are a bit more direct than Belgium. They try to make use of the pace they have. We’ll need to be compact and limit their space,” revealed Torres told the Telegraph.
And as a result England must employ the right tactics. Creativity and bravery will be key, as they will undoubtedly have the majority of possession, and Southgate will want to make it count. Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added instant impetus to a languid outfit, after coming on late against Tunisia.
The team’s performance became full of purpose and directness in the last 20 minutes, with both taking the responsibility of carrying the ball forward and creating, and from that arrived the corner and subsequent winner from Harry Kane.
The end product from the likes of Rashford was missing in the opening stages of the game also, as team-mate Jesse Lingard squandered a number of key opportunities to put the game to bed early, and Southgate will not want a repeat this time around.