EPL: Chelsea set to extend streak

first_imgRelatedPosts EPL: Crystal Palace stun sloppy Man U EPL: Red Devils attack Palace Townsend: Eze’s an incredible talent Chelsea vs. Crystal PalaceVenue: Stamford BridgeKick off: 1:30PMChelsea play host to Crystal Palace this afternoon having recorded five successive victories in the Premier League – a run which has taken the club into fourth position in the standings.Meanwhile, as a result of last weekend’s defeat to Leicester City, Palace make the trip to Stamford Bridge sitting in ninth place.While Chelsea remain far from the finished article under Frank Lampard, few of their supporters have reason to complain with maximum points being recorded in the Premier League since September 28.There is an argument that the Blues have enjoyed a favourable run of fixtures, with Brighton & Hove Albion, Southampton, Newcastle United, Burnley and Watford all coming in succession.Nevertheless, Lampard and his players were under pressure to start turning performances into results, something which has proven easier since they narrowly lost out to leaders Liverpool.Despite the natural positives, however, Chelsea are yet to convince in front of their home supporters – a trend which continued against Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday night.Lampard was quick to praise the character of his side, who came back from a 4-1 deficit, but their opponents had outclassed them for much of the game until the freak double dismissal of each of their centre-backs.Chelsea’s frailties at the back were also exposed once again, with two own goals coming as a result of their lack of concentration at set pieces and a further double being conceded due to poor defending.Nine goals have now been shipped from four outings in all competitions, leaving Lampard under pressure to find a solution if his team are going to remain in the hunt for second position.Overall, it has been a strong few weeks for the west Londoners, although that outlook may change if they fail to see off Palace.Meanwhile, a three-match winless streak has left Palace back down in mid-table, Roy Hodgson will still be relatively satisfied with his side’s start to the campaign.Their biggest priority was to stay clear of the relegation zone, and the Eagles currently find themselves seven points clear of the bottom three.With just two points separating Palace and fifth-placed Arsenal, Hodgson and his team now have the freedom to attempt to break into the top six at a time when the majority of the clubs around them are producing their best form.The likes of the Gunners, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur may eventually put together a run of results which catapults them back into the mix further up the table but for now at least, Palace have the opportunity to make the step up that they have always threatened since Hodgson’s arrival.Seven points have come from away games at Arsenal, Man United and West Ham United this season, and it would not come as a huge surprise if Palace emerged victorious against one of their London rivals.Despite the one-sided defeats to Manchester City and Leicester City at Selhurst Park, Palace have come from behind to earn four points from losing positions in their last two derby showdowns.As well as wanting to end Palace’s streak without a clean sheet, Gary Cahill will be keen to impress against his former club having sat out much of his final year at Chelsea.Aware of possible interest from the Blues, long-serving Wilfried Zaha may also relish the chance to finally net his first goal of the season. Chelsea possible XI: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Palmieri, Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Abraham.Crystal Palace possible XI: Guaita, Ward, Tomkins, Cahill, Van Aanholt, McCarthy, Kouyate, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Zaha, Ayew.Tags: ChesleaCrystal Palacelast_img read more

For overall improvement, SU’s offensive line performance pivotal

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ To Adam Rosner, one number from last season has to change: 87. That’s the number, the position — despite the presence of Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey in the backfield — Syracuse finished in rushing offense last season. To Rosner, it’s a direct indictment of the Orange’s offensive line. ‘Eighty-seventh in the nation doesn’t look good,’ Rosner said. ‘So we want to get in there and step it up. We’re ready to go.’ For Syracuse to improve its total offense from a poor 94th showing overall last season — and to improve its chances at a bowl for the first time since 2004 — Rosner, center Ryan Bartholomew and even head coach Doug Marrone know where it has to start: the offensive line. Running game, passing game, or on special teams, it all begins in the same place. With a young offensive line that returns just one starter, it won’t be easy. Two starters, left tackle Justin Pugh and left guard Zack Chibane, are just sophomores. And even that one returning starter, Bartholomew, shifts to a new position — from guard to center — this season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text With his young group, offensive line coach Greg Adkins set goals for the team with each conditioning session in the offseason and with each day of camp. ‘You set goals on a daily basis of what you’re trying to accomplish in football practice,’ Adkins said. ‘It may be, ‘Hey, we’re going to win these one-on-one battles today.’ That was the focus of one particular practice. ‘Hey, (the) ideal is, on these third downs, how many balls are we going to get off and not let the defense touch our quarterback?’ ‘Whatever.’ As a three-year starter on the line for the Orange, Marrone himself understands the unit’s importance. And it shows in the offensive line’s meetings. Though Marrone tries to spread out his work with each unit evenly, Rosner notices the extra interest in the line. It’s Marrone’s Jekyll and Hyde impersonation. ‘Absolutely, Coach Marrone is a big part of our meetings,’ Rosner said. ‘He shares his knowledge of the (NFL) and explains each detail to us step by step, making us better. He contributes a lot. I feel really comfortable with him as a head coach, because he always says he’s a head coach, and when he comes to the O-line room, he’s an O-line coach. It’s like Jekyll and Hyde, but he’s a great model to learn from.’ With Bartholomew leading the way, captain’s practice was called at various points during the summer. The unit worked on sets, coming off the ball and specific play calls. The goal: to be far ahead come the start of camp. ‘We did a lot of things on our own to make sure that when we got into camp, we weren’t starting over,’ Bartholomew said. ‘Because when you start over, that means you have a much further path to where you want to go.’ Because it all comes back to 87. In the numbers game, 87 has to improve for other numbers to improve, namely four (wins) and eight (SU’s finish in the Big East last season). ‘I believe as the line goes, the offense goes,’ Bartholomew said. ‘The better we are, the better, overall, the offense will be. And with that, the better the team will be. It’s very important for us as an offensive line to be the best that we can be.’ This and that On Tuesday, Delone Carter said he is ‘absolutely’ 100 percent in football shape heading into Saturday’s contest at Akron. Marrone had officially named Carter the starter on the depth chart on Monday. ‘I’m going to approach it just like any other game,’ Carter said. ‘I’m not going to try to step outside myself.’ … With a new head coach in Rob Ianello, there hasn’t been much film for SU to watch or much history for the Orange to study. For linebacker Doug Hogue, ‘you study everything. You have to be ready for anything and everything they throw at us. Trick plays, running right at us. … There’s not a lot of film, so you just have to go out there and play. The first game is always the hardest to prepare for.’ [email protected] Published on August 31, 2010 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Commentslast_img read more