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PRE-SEASON: Kawasaki Inflict First Loss On Lampard.



Frank Lampard suffered his first defeat as Chelsea manager as Leandro Damiao’s late strike gave Kawasaki a 1-0 friendly win in Yokohama.

The pre-season contest had appeared to be heading for a goalless draw at the Nissan Stadium, until Brazil striker Damiao headed home with just two minutes to go.

Despite the result, however, Lampard will still have taken much from his side’s run out in searing temperatures against the J-League champions, with midfielder Mason Mount once again catching the eye ahead of the new campaign.

How Lampard suffered first reverse

Frank Lampard talking on a cell phone: Lampard saw plenty of positives in his side's loss
© Getty Lampard saw plenty of positives in his side’s loss

Lampard again opted to start with Mount – who recently signed a new five-year contract at Stamford Bridge – as part of a midfield three, and the 20-year-old impressed in a first period of few clear-cut openings.

However, it was the introduction of Ross Barkley as one of several half-time changes that gave Chelsea’s play some much-needed impetus in the second half, only for Shota Arai to thwart the visitors with a number of smart stops.

Kenedy et al. playing football on a field: Chelsea midfielder Kenedy (left) in action against Kawasaki
© Getty Chelsea midfielder Kenedy (left) in action against Kawasaki

As the clock ticked down, though, the home team sensed a famous win, twice going close when first Damiao thumped the bar five minutes from time, before Willy Caballero – standing in for the ill Kepa Arrizabalaga – produced a brilliant one-handed save.

But Chelsea – who brought on Christian Pulisic for his debut midway through the second half – did not heed the warning and from the resulting corner, Damiao was left totally unmarked at the far post to head home the winner.

Mount stakes a claim

Mason Mount caught the eye again for Chelsea
© Getty Mason Mount caught the eye again for Chelsea

Lampard clearly has great faith in his young charge, handing the England U21 international another start in midfield ahead of some more experienced players.

And the 20-year-old – who spent last season playing under the Chelsea boss while out on loan at Derby – did not let his manager down with another assured display in midfield.

Mount’s passing, running off the ball and closing down were all impressive, with his best moment coming when he nearly opened the scoring with a delightful curler that was only just off target at the start of the second half.

Frank Lampard standing in front of a crowd: Lampard with assistant Jody Morris (right) on the touchline against Kawasaki
© Getty Lampard with assistant Jody Morris (right) on the touchline against Kawasaki

And on his showings so far in preseason, Mount could very well have already played his way into Chelsea’s starting XI for their opening Premier League clash at Man Utd on August 11.

Pulisic’s long-waited Blues debut

Chelsea fans have been waiting some time to catch a glimpse of their new £57.6m midfielder from Borussia Dortmund, who they signed back in the January transfer window.

(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
© Getty (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Twenty minutes into the second half at the Nissan Stadium, though, the US international finally entered the fray to make his Blues bow in place of the tiring Mount

However, in the short time he had on the field, the cultured Pulisic impressed with some neat touches in his position on the right of a midfield three.

‘We were not clinical in front of goal’

a group of people playing football on a field: Pulisic (left) made his Chelsea debut
© Getty Pulisic (left) made his Chelsea debut

Despite suffering his first loss as Chelsea boss, Frank Lampard still saw plenty of positives in his team’s performance in Yokohama.

“Obviously we want to win matches no matter what,” he said after the game. “But 10 days into preseason, having flown into Japan three days ago, brings up a lot of difficulties for us physically.

“And that is where I was very pleased with the players today, I thought they gave everything in strong humidity. Some good individual performances, some people finding their fitness and form. The normal things in preseason that take a bit of time, which is probably being clinical in front of goal, which we were not.

“But that comes and some small details, which we will work on. So I have no fears, I was happy with big parts of the performance.”

What’s next?

Damiao headed a late winner against Chelsea
© Getty Damiao headed a late winner against Chelsea

Chelsea’s remaining pre-season fixtures…

July 23: Barcelona – Saitama Stadium, Japan

July 28: Reading – Madejski Stadium

July 31: RB Salzburg – Red Bull Arena, Salzburg

August 3: Borussia Monchengladbach – Borussia Park, Germany


Iran Club Signs Ex-Arsenal Striker.



TEHRAN – Former Arsenal and Real Madrid forward Emmanuel Adebayor has been linked with a move to Iranian football club Tractor.

The 35-year-old player most recently played at Turkish club İstanbul Başakşehir. Adebayor has posted an Instagram story linking him with the Iranian club.

Tractor, headed by Mustafa Denizli, are going to replace the Togolese player instead of Irish forward Anthony Stokes who left the team at the end of the last season. Adebayor has reached a two-year agreement with Tractor, reported.

He started his playing career at French club Metz and joined Monaco two years later. On 13 January 2006, Premier League club Arsenal signed Adebayor for a reported £3 million. He was given the nickname "Baby Kanu" due to his resemblance to former Arsenal star Nwankwo Kanu, whom Adebayor had idolized as a youth.

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Benitez On Why He Left Newcastle.



Rafa Benitez has hit out at Newcastle's hierarchy following his shock departure from the Premier League in June, claiming they gave him 'unfulfilled promises'.

Benitez walked out of St James' Park after three years at the club, having helped them return to the Premier League in 2017 before consolidating their strong position in the English top-flight. 

The experienced Spanish manager ended up joining Chinese Super League outfit Dalian Yifang, which led to Newcastle fans protesting against owner Mike Ashley over his running of the club.

Following his shock move, Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley heavily criticised Benitez, claiming he 'moved to China for the money' in the club programme ahead of the Premier League encounter with Arsenal.

But Benitez has since hit back at Charnley and the Newcastle hierarchy in his first column for the Athletic. 

The 59-year-old said: 'I tried to do my best every day, even staying when we went down to the Championship and saying no to other offers — bigger offers than the one I recently accepted with Dalian Yifang, by the way. 

'If I was only interested in moving "for money", as Charnley stated, I could have done it much earlier.'

Benitez, a hugely popular figure among supporters, was in talks with the club over a new contract before he departed but an agreement collapsed.

The 59-year-old had grown sick of conflicts over transfer policy, the training ground and Ashley's commitment to progressing beyond yearly relegation battles.

Following his exit, Newcastle ended up smashing their transfer record with the £40million purchase of striker Joelinton.

Charnley also claimed they were ready to sign the Brazilian five months earlier but Benitez didn't give the go-ahead on the transfer.

Benitez added: 'Newcastle's board had a year to sort out my contract but, when we met after the end of last season, they didn't make me an offer I could accept. They told me they didn't want to invest in the academy or the training ground — if they like, I can explain the reason why Mike Ashley refused to do that. 

'Their idea of a project was a policy of signing players under 24 and, in my opinion, the budget available was not enough to compete for the top 10.

'After that meeting, I knew they would not come back with a serious offer and, when it arrived, 19 days later, it was for the same salary as three years earlier and with less control over signings. 

'Charnley's comments in the programme about having a deal agreed for Joelinton in February explains a lot that I couldn't understand at that time. After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn't trust them.'

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NEYMAR TO REAL MADRID: “Anything Can Happen. – Zinedine Zidane



Zinedine Zidane has hinted Neymar could yet leave Paris Saint-Germain and arrive at Real Madrid before the European transfer window closes next month.

According to Sky sources, Real are in talks with PSG over signing the Brazilforward, who joined the Ligue 1 champions in 2017, but the La Liga club have not yet made a formal offer for him.

Neymar Jnr.

PSG manager Thomas Tuchel said he can understand why supporters are frustrated with Neymar after the Ligue 1 side began their title defence without him by beating Nimes 3-0 on Sunday.

Speaking after Real's penalty shootout defeat to Roma in their final pre-season friendly, Zidane suggested Neymar moving to Madrid remains a possibility, with three weeks to go until the transfer window closes for European clubs.

"Neymar is not [in our squad] but until September 2, anything can happen," Real's head coach said.

"We are with the squad that we have and we are only thinking about that."

Meanwhile, Gareth Bale featured for the first time in four pre-season matches against Roma, which comes after the Wales forward's proposed move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning collapsed earlier in the window.

EIBAR, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 24: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between SD Eibar and Real Madrid CF at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Eibar, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

The 30-year-old's future in Spain remains uncertain, while his team-mate James Rodriguez has been linked with a host of European clubs, and was recently included as part of a £27.6m offer from Real Madrid for Manchester United's Paul Pogba.

Zidane said: "Bale and Rodriguez are two players in our squad, but anything can happen [until the end of the transfer window]. James Rodriguez is a Real Madrid player under contract, he was not called but everything can change."

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EPL’19/20: Liverpool – 4, Man City – 5, Man United – 4, Match Day 1 Review.



LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool opened its bid to end a 30-year English title drought by beating Premier League newcomer Norwich 4-1 on Friday but lost goalkeeper Alisson to injury. In his first game since Brazil's victorious Copa América final a month ago, Alisson was forced off in the first half at Anfield with a calf injury. The severity of the injury isn't known yet but it will rule him out of the UEFA Super Cup match against Europa League winner Chelsea on Wednesday in Istanbul.

It was the only blot on Liverpool's start of the attempt to be champions of England for the first time since 1990, having been beaten to the trophy in May by Manchester City by one point before winning the Champions League. Liverpool was gifted an opener seven minutes into season when Grant Hanley deflected Divock Origi's cross into his own net.

Mohamed Salah steered in the second goal in the 19th minute after Roberto Firmino slid the ball behind the Norwich defense. Salah turned provider in the 28th, swinging in a corner that Van Dijk headed past goalkeeper Tim Krul. After Liverpool had to change its goalkeepers — with Alisson replaced by Adrian — Krul conceded again before halftime when Origi slipped his marker to meet Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross.

On the video-assistant referee system's Premier League debut, there was a delay to the start of the second half when a problem with the audio feed to assistant referee Simon Bennett led to his headset being replaced. VAR's only task on the night was to run unobtrusive checks after each goal, with no stoppage to play and no need for referee Michael Oliver to consult his monitor.

Promoted as League Championship winners, Norwich had an uncomfortable return to the Premier League after a three-year absence. But Norwich stemmed the flow of goals in the second half and scored one of its own. Emi Buendia slid the ball through the Liverpool defense and Teemu Pukki controlled before shooting past Adrian in the 64th.

In London, Manchester City’s bid to win a third consecutive Premier League title got off a bright start with a comfortable 5-0 win at West Ham. Goals from Gabriel Jesus, a hat-trick from Raheem Sterling, and a penalty from Sergio Aguero sealed victory for City, who also fell foul to the first VAR disallowed goal in Premier League history.

No more than two minutes and two seconds had passed since Sterling’s first strike and City had the ball in the back of the net again, only for Jesus’ effort being ruled out with Sterling having been adjudged to have been offside.

But City would soon see the other side of the coin, too. City fans waited on nervously after Sterling chipped Fabianksi brilliantly to find the net, but this time is was greenlighted and they had a three-goal advantage.

Their fourth benefited from VAR also. Aguero’s penalty – initially saved by Fabianski – was retaken due to encroachment, and the Argentine made no mistake at the second attempt. City then added a fifth as Sterling completed his hat-trick, as they bettered the goal difference sustained by title rivals Liverpool in their opening match, with Jurgen Klopp’s side having beaten newly promoted Norwich City 4-1 at Anfield on Friday night.

For West Ham, though, there were both signs for encourage and pessimism. Manuel Pellegrini’s side started brightly and were the better side for much of the first half, but returned sluggish after the restart. While Sebastien Haller impressed in attack, the Hammers failed to seriously test Ederson in the City goal until after he hour mark, when the Brazilian pulled off a sensational double-save to deny substitute Javier Hernandez and Manuel Lanzini.

To add insult to injury, literally, the Hammers also lost Felipe Anderson to a suspected thigh injury in the second half.

Such was the consistency and dominance of Manchester City and Liverpool over the chasing pack last season that dropping even two points on the opening day would have been seen as a serious blow to Tottenham Hotspur.

City had thrashed West Ham United and Liverpool had swept past Norwich City, so losing at home to newly-promoted Aston Villa after 72 minutes to a John McGinn goal was not a good look for Spurs. That is not to take anything away from Villa, who showed enough, particularly in the performances of McGinn and Tyrone Mings, to suggest they will be able to compete in the Premier League.

But Tottenham cannot afford to do anything but respond to City and Liverpool with victories if they are to at least close the gap on last season’s top two. They achieved a deserved three points in the end thanks to debutant Tanguy Ndombele and Harry Kane, who scored his first goals at the club’s new stadium.

John McGinn of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Kane had been frustrated by Mings, until he finally put Tottenham into the lead in the 86th minute and struck again at the death.

Ndombele had struggled at times on his first competitive appearance since becoming Tottenham’s £55million record signing this summer, but he made an impact when it really mattered by curling in the 73rd-minute equaliser. Other than the goals of Ndombele and Kane, this comeback victory owed much to the introduction of Christian Eriksen, who had started the game on the substitutes’ bench.

A little bit of a boycott and an awful lot of rain ensured that Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United reign began in downbeat mode as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang emphasised his enduring importance to Arsenal by cutting through the gloom and registering an exquisitely incisive winner.

If it hardly bodes well for Bruce that Unai Emery’s supposedly vulnerable backline managed that real north Londoner’s collector’s item, a clean sheet on the road, at least the sight of the watching Andy Carroll keeping his ponytail dry by wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the word “Icon” hinted at the prospect of potentially better days ahead.

Unfortunately for Newcastle, their newly returned local hero is injured – yet again – and, despite tantalisingly brief cameos redolent with glittering promise, their overall lack of attacking ruthlessness appeared suggestive of a long, hard, slog ahead. The inclement weather made Sunday a bit grim for both sides, contributing hugely to some mutually incoherent passages of early play.

Then Bruce’s team began finding a foothold in the game and started pressing Arsenal high up the pitch whenever possible. Joelinton, Bruce’s marquee £40m attacking signing from Hoffenheim, headed wide from a Matt Ritchie cross, Miguel Almirón was booked for diving as the crowd screamed for a penalty and Bernd Leno diverted Jonjo Shelvey’s swerving shot away for a corner.

Unai Emery’s side did little of note but, despite a decided sluggishness, not to mention nervousness in possession, still contributed the more dangerous moments, little flashes of passing, movement and sharp acceleration hinting at much greater menace to come. Yet if Arsenal had been unsettled by the security scare that kept Mesut Özil and Sead Kolasinac at home in north London, their hosts seemed to derive a measure of reassurance from the fairly secure looking 3-5-2 framework within which Bruce had configured them.

That structure proved sufficiently robust to keep the score goalless at half time on a day when Mike Ashley, Newcastle’s owner, will have been fairly satisfied to note that a proposed boycott of the game by supporters variously dismayed by Rafael Benítez’s departure, Ashley’s stewardship of the club and Bruce’s appointment. Despite the noticeable empty seats more than 47,000 had still filed through the turnstiles while a pre kick-off protest march from Ashley’s Sports Direct in the nearby city centre to the ground attracted only around 300 dissenting fans.

As opening games go, Manchester United will have to be happy with this one. They won, they kept a clean sheet and Ole Gunnar Solskjær was noisily serenaded by all four sides of the ground. Sure, there was the impertinence of José Mourinho, in his new role in the television studios, opining that Manchester City’s B team would stand a better chance of winning the Premier League. Yet this was the fifth season in a row United have won their first game of a top-flight season and the last time that happened was 1910 - the very year that Old Trafford opened for business.

Not that anyone should be getting too carried away just yet. Or, indeed, thinking that Mourinho might necessarily have been mistaken. A 4-0 winning margin does not quite tell the full story, particularly when taking into account a first half in which Chelsea’s players often gave their opponents the run-around, hitting the woodwork twice as well as creating all sorts of danger.

Ultimately, though, it turned into a chastening experience for Frank Lampard, taking charge of his first match as Chelsea manager. Marcus Rashford, in particular, profited from the shortcomings of the away side, opening the scoring with a first-half penalty and then racing away to put in the third goal barely a minute after Anthony Martial had doubled United lead. Lampard had to endure the now-familiar ‘sacked in the morning’ chant after Daniel James confirmed United’s second-half superiority with a debut goal eight minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Yet the more pertinent song, perhaps, came a few minutes earlier when the Stretford End made it clear what they thought of Graeme Souness, the long-term critic of Paul Pogba. Pogba had just supplied the best pass of the match to dissect the entire Chelsea defence, resulting in Rashford slipping the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga to make it 3-0. Pogba also supplied the decisive pass for James to score with a deflected shot and, on this evidence, maybe even Souness might be forced to concede the French World Cup winner brings more good than bad to this club. Pogba was the last player to leave the pitch, lingering to applaud the section of the Stretford End where he has not always been applauded so warmly. It felt like a man who wanted to repair some of the damage from a summer in which he openly stated he wanted to find another club.

That second half was a strange capitulation on Chelsea’s part because the paradox of this game is that for long spells they passed the ball with more authority. They certainly had the better of the opening 45 minutes but still found themselves behind after Kurt Zouma brought down Rashford just inside the penalty area. It was a straightforward decision for the officials monitoring the VAR screens and, though Kepa dived the right way, Rashford’s penalty was struck with enough power to beat the goalkeeper to his right.

Until that point, Lampard must have been encouraged by the adventurous way his team had started the match. Tammy Abraham, spearheading their new-look attack, had flashed a 20-yard shot against David de Gea’s post. Mason Mount, operating in the number 10 role (albeit wearing number 19) looked determined to show he could flourish at this level, while Ross Barkley and Pedro were quick to support Abraham when the team broke forward.

United, in comparison, needed the opening goal to bring them alive and, even then, Chelsea had enough chances to feel aggrieved to be behind at half-time. Emerson, in particular, was unfortunate with a rising left-footed shot that beat De Gea but ricocheted off the crossbar. Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s saving tackle on Barkley drew an almighty cheer from the home crowd and Harry Maguire, another debutant in United back four, certainly won his fair share of headers on a day when Solskjær did not even include Chris Smalling, Phil Jones or Marcus Rojo among the home team’s substitutes. Overall, however, the opening hour was not easy whatsoever for United’s new defence and they rode their luck at times. Chelsea were just too naive, perhaps – too open, too wasteful in attack, too obliging with their marking.

Plus there is a great statistic from the Premier League era that United have never lost after having a half-time lead at Old Trafford (winning 264 times now and drawing the other 16). More and more, it also became evident how Solskjær intends to line up his attack. Here, he started with Andreas Pereira just behind Martial. However, there were times when Jesse Lingard, who started on the right, exchanged positions with Pereira whereas Martial and Rashford did the same on the left. Martial has taken on Romelu Lukaku’s number nine shirt and he certainly finished like one when Pereira swung over the cross for United’s second goal. Pereira had justified his selection. Scott McTominay did, too, alongside Pogba in midfield and Old Trafford, once again, felt like a happy place.

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