Thứ Sáu, 6 tháng 11, 2015

The Premier League’s biggest surprise players

The Premier League season has hardly gone according to expectations, with reigning champion Chelsea hanging on for life at times and upstarts Leicester City and West Ham staking a place at the top of the table.
Leading the way for Leicester has been Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, the latter of which has gained the admiration of English national team supporters.
The 28-year-old Vardy currently leads the league with 11 goals and his teammate Mahrez is tied for second with seven.
It didn’t take long for Anthony Martial to settle in at Manchester United, and the 19-year-old talent is quickly making other managers take notice during preparations.
Before United’s Halloween match against Crystal Palace, Palace manager Alan Pardew told the Daily Mail “We felt that if we could stop (Martial), we could stop (United)’s creative angle.” That’s high praise on a roster that features Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Memphis Depay.
Finally, it’s hard to call Kevin De Bruyne a surprise due to his performance for Wolfsburg and subsequent transfer saga with Manchester City, but the Belgian has made an instant impact at the Etihad.
According to’s match ratings, De Bruyne has been the second-best player for City this season besides David Silva, with an average match rating of 7.68. That’s better than Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and splash signing Raheem Sterling.
Weekend matchups
Arsenal vs. Tottenham
The Gunners will look to rebound after receiving a 5-1 thrashing from Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Tottenham will surely hope to add to their rivals’ misery in the North London Derby. 10:00 a.m. Sunday on NBC Sports.
Stoke City v. Chelsea
The Blues showed a bit of life, and a lot of support for Jose Mourinho, during a midweek win over Dynamo Kiev. Whether that will translate to league success against burly Stoke is another matter. 11:30 a.m. Saturday on NBC.
Golazo of the Week
A goal that is merely the best of the week here may prove to be Chelsea’s goal of the year.
After allowing Dynamo Kiev to draw level at 1-1 midway through the second half of its Champions League matchup, the prospect a group-stage exit was becoming more and more of a reality for Chelsea.
But along came Willian, who swooped in with a masterful free-kick goal to save Mourinho and his Blues in their darkest hour. The Brazilian has quietly been Chelsea’s best player this season by developing into a free kick maestro and fending off every replacement the Blues have bought for him.
National team update
For whatever it’s worth, the United States Men’s National Team dropped to No. 33 in this month’s Fifa World Rankings. They were previously ranked No. 29.
The rankings, which function more as power ratings based on a team’s recent performance, reflect a poor October where the United States lost to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup and Costa Rica.
The USMNT’s slide means little in the grand scheme, but you know times are tough when you’re ranked below heavyweights like the Cape Verde Islands and Iceland.

Pellegrini: Silva nearing his return

The Spain international is back in light training following an ankle injury and is expected to be available soon, but will miss Manchester City's trip to Aston Villa.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini says David Silva could return to action after the international break.

The playmaker is back in light training as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury he picked up while playing for Spain against Luxembourg in a Euro 2016 qualifier last month.

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque named his squad for the forthcoming friendlies against England and Belgium on Friday and did not include Silva.

And speaking ahead of Sunday's trip to Aston Villa, Pellegrini confirmed Silva remained short of fitness and is targeting the home match against Liverpool on November 21.

"Silva's ankle is not 100 per cent," Pellegrini said. "I hope after these 15 days he will be okay.

"The Spanish national team know David cannot play and so there is no problem."

Sergio Aguero remains on the sidelines alongside Silva, while Pellegrini does not believe Fabian Delph and Gael Clichy are fit to start despite returning to the bench for Tuesday's 3-1 Champions League win against Sevilla.

"Clichy and Delph are back, but maybe not ready to start," he said.

"We hope that all of the players will have recovered after the break as we play a lot of games. I hope then we can rotate more."

Delph, recalled to Roy Hodgson's England squad this week, joined City in a close-season move from Villa – performing a controversial U-turn having initially stated his intention to remain at the club.

The 25-year-old can expect a frosty reception on his return to Birmingham, but Pellegrini believes that would be unfair.

"I hope he will not receive any jeers," he added. "He played a lot of years for Aston Villa.

"Aston Villa wanted to sell him. He continued being a player that gave a lot for Aston Villa. I don't think Villa fans will forget that.

"It's good for Fabian to play for England. He played some minutes in the Champions League and maybe he will play some on>