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October 18, 2018
LONDON - Arsenal and Chelsea showed more great form ahead of Champions League matches with thrashings of Norwich and Cardiff that left the London clubs first and second respectively in the Premier League on Saturday. Now unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions, Arsenal dismantled Norwich 4-1 at home while Samuel Etoo scored his first Chelsea goal and was involved in a controversial equalizer to spark a 4-1 win at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal has not lost a game since its opening Premier League 3-1 home loss to Aston Villa in August that angered the Gunners fans and might have played a role in German playmaker Mesut Ozils transfer to the club from Real Madrid. Ozil scored a brace against Norwich and has been key to Arsenals resurgence. "A few weeks ago we lost our first home game here and it was a difficult time, but we responded well and since then we have been consistent," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said ahead of Tuesdays Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund. "I like the solidarity in the team, of course we have quality, but its how much we maintain that and sustain that, that will decide our future." The Gunners are two points clear of Chelsea and Liverpool after the Reds had to settle for a point in a 2-2 draw against 10-man Newcastle. Adam Lallana grabbed a late equalizer for Southampton in a 1-1 draw at Manchester United, adding to the defending champions troubles in a lacklustre start to their title defence. Also on Saturday, Everton beat Hull 2-1, Stoke was held to a 0-0 draw by West Brom and Swansea defeated last-place Sunderland 4-0. At St James Park, Daniel Sturridges header salvaged a point for Liverpool against 10-man Newcastle, but the England striker also missed a great opportunity to give the Reds the win in the closing stages when he completely misjudged his volley after being brilliantly picked out in the area by Steven Gerrard. Yohan Cabayes long-range strike had put the Magpies ahead before Gerrard scored his 100th league goal for Liverpool, equalizing from the spot after defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was sent-off for a foul on Luis Suarez in the 40th minute. Substitute Paul Dummet restored the home sides lead in the 57th with a shot at the far post against the run of the play but Sturridge headed home Suarezs precise cross in the 72nd. Liverpool monopolized the ball after halftime and created the best chances but Sturridge, who has scored in seven of Liverpools eight league matches this season, volleyed wide before Newcastle goalkeeper Krul denied Suarezs free kick in added time with an excellent save. "Its a chance missed for us today," Gerrard said. "I thought we did enough to win it but credit to Newcastle for hanging in there. After the sending off the game changed. They started strongly but we dominated the rest of game but couldnt get enough goals to win it." Ahead of its Champions League trip to Schalke, Chelsea extended its unbeaten Premier League run at home to 13 matches after recovering from a goal down and equalizing with a controversial goal which should have been disallowed. Jordon Mutch had put the visitors in front before Eden Hazard levelled in the 33rd, being set up by Etoo who caught out Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall while he was bouncing the ball, leading to Hazard scoring from close range. FIFA rules state the goalkeeper is still in possession at that point. Etoo made it 2-1 in the 66th before Oscar put the match to bed and Hazard scored his second of the afternoon. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands before the third and four goals for berating the officials as Chelsea fans chanted "Jose Mourinho, he sits where he wants." Mourinho climbed over the dugout and opted to sit next to a fan who tweeted: "OMG morinho is sitting next to me." Manchester Uniteds disappointing start to the season continued as Southampton scored a late equalizer at Old Trafford. United had taken the lead after 26 minutes when Robin Van Persie scored from the rebound after Wayne Rooneys shot was saved by Artur Boruc. Rooney then hit the crossbar with a volley moments later and Van Persie headed against the bar in the second half before Southampton levelled in the 89th as Lallana bundled in a corner from James Ward-Prowse. "We had the opportunities to go 2-0 up. They had been knocking on the door but I thought we would see it out," United manager David Moyes said. "But if you dont defend a corner well enough, theres always a chance they will score. We had a couple of good chances where we could have finished them off and if we had scored a second it wouldve put the game to bed, but 1-0 is always a dangerous scoreline." United is provisionally eighth in the standings, eight points behind Arsenal. Cheap Air Jordan 5 Australia . 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Spieth again showed game well beyond his 20 years with a 9-under 63 on the North Course, giving him a one-shot lead over Stewart Cink going into the weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open.Im going to write in defence of Capitals RW Alex Ovechkin, if only because there have been some recent attacks and, while I can certainly live with them being directed at Ovechkin, the analytical process ought to be better, particularly if its going to be a hit piece on the leagues leading goal-scorer. Yes, Im writing to defend a player that is on pace for a 59-goal season, when the second-best goal-scorer in the NHL this season, Torontos Phil Kessel, is on pace for 43. Naturally, I didnt think that Ovechkin would be a player that needed much defending, but hes taken some hits lately. Im going to largely ignore his contributions on the power play because its not in any dispute that Ovechkin is great with the man advantage and can make a difference even when he doesnt score. On one side of the discussion, we have the Toronto Star, with their Department of Hockey Analytics, and while there are plenty of flaws in Ovechkins game, they somehow determined that his goals-for/against percentage was the way to illustrate the problem. Never mind that goals for/against percentage is essentially measuring plus-minus. Ill get to that in a moment but, first, also peruse the Hockey News piece by Ken Campbell who, after Ovechkin was minus-5 against Columbus, decided that Ovechkin has to decide what kind of player he is. After all, Ovechkin was minus-17 on the season after that game. Whats odd about using plus-minus to denigrate Ovechkins contributions is that anyone doing serious analytical work in hockey has been against using plus-minus because it involves so many factors beyond an individual players control (not least of which are the contributions of nine other skaters and two goaltenders when the game is 5-on-5) and, generally, involves small samples because goals are relatively rare events. Its funny to find myself in this position, because I can be a bit of an apologist for plus-minus. You spend enough time around the game and that thinking can be pretty common, and when the sample is large enough, you can get a pretty decent list of players at both ends of the spectrum. (For example, heres the list of players with the best cumulative plus-minus since 2000, and here are the worst.) But, Ive at least learned that there are many other factors that go into whether a player is a plus or minus player, and they must be considered if youre going to attempt to pass judgment on a single season or, especially, a portion of a season. So, lets take a look at some factors that are at play to make Alex Ovechkin a minus-17. First off, the shooting percentage of others on the ice with Ovechkin at 5-on-5 is ridiculously low. His 6.3% is only ahead of fourth-liners Aaron Volpatti and Jay Beagle among Capitals forwards. The suggestion could be made -- and of course it has been -- that Ovechkin isnt making those around him better, but here are the 5-on-5 on-ice shooting percentages when Ovechkin has been on the ice for the past five seasons: 10.36%, 8.62%, 8.05%, 11.76%, 9.09%. Youre really going to have to dig for reasons, other than poor luck and ineffective shooters, to explain even-strength shooting effectiveness declining by 40% over last season, especially when Ovechkin himself is shooting 10.6% (18 goals, 170 shots) at 5-on-5. Taking away Ovechkins 18 goals on 170 shots, leaves the other Capitals to score eight goals on 242 shots (3.3%) with Ovechkin on the ice. Marcus Johansson, his most common left winger, has one goal on 51 shots. This undeniably effects plus-miinus, right? Of course it does.dddddddddddd Give Ovechkin an average on-ice shooting percentage (say, 8%) and that is a difference of about seven goals. At the other end of the rink, Ovechkin is getting burned with a .909 save percentage at 5-on-5. Naturally, the argument will be that Ovechkins defensive play is what leads to that low percentage. Keep in mind, that percentage is well below career norms for him (.922 over the past five seasons, including this one) and ranks near the bottom on the Capitals roster. Use that typical save percentage, on 439 shots against, and that becomes a difference of 5-6 goals. So, why not take a look at where the shots are coming from with Ovechkin on the ice? According to Some Kind of Ninjas Shot Tracker, shots against the Capitals with Ovechkin on the ice at even strength, come from an average distance of 34.5 feet. In the previous five seasons, it has been 34.2, 36.6, 35.8, 34.6 and 35.9 feet on average. There can be an argument made, based on those average shot distances, that Ovechkins most effective defensive performances were in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 (the Dale Hunter season), but there really isnt a huge difference; goaltenders arent suddenly flummoxed by 34-foot shots when 36-footers are easy pickings. On top of that, best of luck trying to identify those particular seasons as anything close to Ovechkins best. Why? Because he scored 70 goals and 150 points in 157 games over those two seasons, producing the two lowest point scoring rates of his career. Yes, even lower than this season, when virtually no one else puts the puck in the net with him on the ice. Of course Ovechkin is not a defensive whiz, but that shouldnt stand as an indictment any more than it has for elite offensive players throughout the history of the game. Seriously, take a look at the Top 10 goal-scorers in the league, none of whom put the puck in the net like Ovechkin, and identify the ones that are notably strong backcheckers. Some are: Joe Pavelski, Alexander Steen, Patrick Sharp, but theres no reason to believe that right wingers Kessel or Corey Perry or Patrick Kane are doing brilliant work in the defensive end. Heres the thing: theyre all great players! Part of the trouble for Ovechkin is that the Capitals havent been able to win in the postseason, so he gets painted with the brush of failure for a whole host of team shortcomings. Thats what comes with being a superstar. This Capitals team is flawed. They rank in the bottom third of the league in Fenwick Close (measuring shot attempts, not including blocks, at even strength, with the score close), which is a good indication of team puck possession, yet Ovechkin has relatively solid possession numbers. If you want to break down a players overall contribution, and feel that you must use one statistic in order to do so (better yet, dont), then at least reduce the impact of others on the ice and look at the possession stats, because it wont matter that linemates arent finishing or that, for whatever reason, goaltenders arent stopping the puck. Shooting and save percentages fluctuate and while they affect perception -- just ask Tyler Bozak -- they dont get to the bottom of a players on-ice contribution, and so it is with Ovechkin this year, who is having a fine season, no matter what his plus-minus says. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. China NFL Jerseys Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys NFL Jerseys Cheap Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap Basketball Jerseys Online Stitched Hockey Jerseys Wholesale Baseball Jerseys Football Jerseys Outlet College Jerseys For Sale Cheap MLB Jerseys Wholesale Soccer Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys For Sale Wholesale NFL Jerseys ' ' '
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