MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 1 – LAFC stalwart leads by example

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that our defensive pick of the week comes from Los Angeles FC‘s stunning away win over Seattle Sounders. They become just the second expansion side to win their first away game in Major League Soccer history.

LAFC’s 1-0 saw an impressive collective performance. They were clean and simple on the ball and defended well when they didn’t have possession, as well as welcoming a little bit of good fortune at times.

A standout performance at the heart of the LAFC defence came from Lauren Ciman. The 2015 Defender of the Year has plenty of MLS experience under his belt and he remained calm at all times of the game. He made crucial blocks and chose to bring the backline up to press at the right time, while marshalling them to drop back and clear their lines when it was necessary.

How did Laurent Ciman perform in numbers? 

Ciman played the full 90 minutes as you’d expect from a centre half. In that time he made four interceptions to stop attacks, blocked two shots including a close-range effort, made six clearances and held a positive 75% pass accuracy.

His crucial block from a goal-bound Harry Shipp kept the score at 1-0 in the first half, which was a game-changing phase of play. Had Seattle scored at that point to level things it could have swung the momentum out of LAFC’s favour.

https://twitter.com/JogaBonito_USA/status/970434433940643840

Don’t miss – MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 1

Ciman’s performance was exactly what was needed from him as a captain and the LAFC faithful will be hoping to see that continue on a weekly basis. A thoroughly good, history making weekend for the MLS new comers and one for the fans to remember.

Advertisements

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Everton

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Everton

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Saturday, November 5 – 17:30 GMT (13:30 ET) 

Match Odds: Chelsea 8/15 – Draw 16/5 – Everton 19/4 

Match Preview

Chelsea welcome Everton to Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening in a fixture that has produced some classic matches full of goals in recent times.

Antonio Conte’s side continued their winning streak last weekend with their 2-0 victory over Southampton, it was their fourth consecutive Premier League win without conceding a goal.

If history is anything to go by we could be in for plenty of action in this one as there have been 23 goals in the last six meetings between the sides in all competitions.

Chelsea will want to go into the international break preserving their defensive record and will see this as a chance to increase their winning run to five games.

Embed from Getty Images

Everton ended their four-game winless run with their 2-0 victory over West Ham last time out, but they know they have a tough game on their hands here.

Ronald Koeman’s side trail Chelsea by just four points heading into this one. They have had a strong opening ten games (W5-D3-L2) and look capable of pushing for the top six this season.

Everton have struggled for positive results at Stamford Bridge, they have failed to win away against Chelsea in their last 22 attempts. This would be an ideal time to put that unwanted run to an end.

The Toffees can take heart in the fact that they have scored at least twice in their last three matches against Chelsea. If they can breach the three-man backline they will be within a great chance of picking up a favourable result.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Conte is likely to be without four players through injury as Cesc Fabregas, John Obi Mikel, Kurt Zouma and Marco van Ginkel remain in their recovery period.

Everton’s injury list seems to continue to worsen as Leighton Baines, Arouna Kone, Muhamed Besic, Tyias Browning, James McCarthy and Matthew Pennington are all expected to remain out. Idrissa Gueye is serving his one-game suspension.

Key Points

Chelsea’s last five: L/W/W/W/W

Everton’s last five: L/D/D/L/W

Key Stat: Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 22 home games against Everton in all competitions.

Key Player: David Luiz – Much was made of Chelsea resigning Luiz. The Brazilian has played an integral role since Chelsea switched to 3-4-3 and looks a far more mature player since returning to the club. The fan-favourite is showing both leadership qualities and passion that Chelsea lacked last season.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Chelsea 1-0 Everton – The Blues have been on an incredible run of form in the Premier League. They have looked far more resilient defensively and have the ability to make it five clean sheets in a row this weekend.

Did Cech make an impact in his first Premier League season at Arsenal?

Petr Cech is undoubtedly one of the finest goalkeepers to grace the game. The Czech Republic international already boasts the record for all-time Premier League clean sheets and has just swooped the golden glove for the 2015/16 season. Lewis Addley investigates how much of an impact the former Chelsea man has made at Arsenal…

Arsenal fans were filled with euphoria when the news broke that they had signed Petr Cech from London rivals Chelsea ahead of the 2015/16 Premier League season. Cech kept 162 clean sheets in 333 games in his 11 Premier League seasons at Chelsea – an average of 0.48 per game, almost one clean sheet every two games.

Now first choice at Arsenal, Cech kept 16 clean sheets in his 34 appearances in his league debut season, enough to win him the golden glove and record an average of 0.47 per game, again very close to one clean sheet in every two appearances. With these stats in mind it is evident of the presence and consistency Cech brings to a side regardless of the defence in front of him.

Embed from Getty Images

Arsenal finished the 2015/16 Premier League runners-up, one place better off than their 2014/15 finish of 3rd. So lets have a look at how their league performances differ between the two seasons.

Arsenal season comparison

Arsenal’s 14/15 and 15/16 Premier League seasons compared

Arsenal won more games, drew less, scored more goals, had a better goal difference and tallied more points in the 14/15 Premier League season but finished third. It is worth mentioning that a direct comparison won’t give completely accurate readings on position in the table as no two Premier League campaigns are the same.

In the 15/16 season Arsenal drew more games, lost the same amount, scored less, conceded the same number, had a worse goal difference and tallied less points. But with all these statistics compared, the one factor which matters most is the final position of the club come the end of the season. So in Cech’s first season at the club, Arsenal finished higher in the table.

Embed from Getty Images

Here’s how Cech shapes up against Arsenal’s goalkeepers from 14/15 and his teammate David Ospina who featured four times in 15/16 in his absence.

Arsenal 'keepers compared

Arsenal Premier League ‘keepers stats 14/15 and 15/16 compared 

In the 2014/15 campaign Arsenal used three goalkeepers, David Ospina, Wojciech Szczesny and Emiliano Martinez. The three made 39 appearances between them (*note one game more than regulation due to substitution meaning two ‘keepers featuring in one game).

Embed from Getty Images

The key statistic to look at in the comparison is clean sheets. In the 15/16 campaign Cech made more clean sheets alone than the ‘keepers in 14/15, more saves, more saves-per-goal and more punches, all of which came in four appearances less.

Now it does have to be mentioned if Cech had played all 38 games he could have conceded four more goals at his rate of 1.09 goals conceded per game – but by this rule of average he would have conceded 35, still one less than the Arsenal ‘keepers of 14/15.

Cech and Ospina combined in 15/16 bettered the three ‘keepers of 14/15 in every department apart from catches. This arguably shows the positive impact Cech made on his teammates and provides further statistics of the impact he made in his first Premier League season with the Gunners.

While Cech and his teammates were unsuccessful in delivering silverware this campaign compared to Arsenal’s previous two seasons, he looks set to be part of the squad in the long-term and his experience of consistently winning trophies can surely only have a positive impact on the club.

Has Cech made a positive impact for Arsenal? Could he be key to Arsenal winning the Premier League?