Man United's win in London, Kappelhof's return and the best of the soccer weekend
By Juan Pimiento
Jan 27, 2019 | 3:45 PM
If you are a team that wear red, chances are this weekend was a lot about you.
The best of this weekend’s soccer action kicks off with Friday’s marquee match at the Emirates, followed by a key move by the Chicago Fire, an ode to Serie A’s suprise goals king and the bizarre situation in Monaco.
1. Law of exes
How else could the story of Friday’s FA Cup game at the Emirates be possibly written?
Not only did Alexis Sanchez make his return -to a chorus of boos- after leaving Arsenal a year ago, he stuck it to his former team and led Manchester United’s 3-1 victory against the Gunners.
Sanchez’s performance is a boost for him and United on many fronts.
For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who won his eighth game in as many tries, to have Sanchez show glimpses of his old self is only another boost to his cause as caretaker manager.
For Sanchez, this has to feel like vindication after the way he left Arsenal and serve as proof of what he can bring to this new United.
For United, their snowball of confidence and momentum grows more as the season reaches more high-pressure situations and gain another potential weapon as the schedules tightens.
2. Kap is back
The Chicago Fire had themselves quite the busy week of player acquisitions, but the most important move may have been keeping one of their own.
The Fire announced Saturday the return of Johan Kappelhof, one of the constantly present players in the starting lineup over the last three seasons, in a move that gives the team much-needed defensive stability.
Kappelhof figures to be one half of a strong center-back pairing with newcomer Marcelo for, at least, the next two seasons, something the Fire sorely lacked in 2018.
After reports of a possible desire to leave Chicago, Kappelhof’s comeback is another notch in Nelson Rodriguez’s belt in this high-stakes off season.
3. Thierry, we hardly knew ye
As if Monaco’s season couldn’t get any worse, the weekend provided yet another low for this once-respected club.
The embattled French side starts over yet again after sacking Thierry Henry three months into his short managing career amid poor results and locker room issues.
But the story only got more bizarre when the club hired Leonardo Jardim, the man who started the season only to be replaced by Henry, to replace the French legend and try again to save the club from an unceremonious relegation.
The next four months will prove what the true problem was, relegation or not. In the meantime, Monaco will keep throwing stuff at the proverbial wall and see what finally sticks.
4. Fountain of youth
When you’re on course to having your best season ever at 35 years old, you’re doing something very right.
Such is the case for veteran Fabio Quagliarella, who at age 35 leads the goalscorer’s table in Serie A ahead of names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ciro Immobile, Krzysztof Piatek, Mauro Icardi and others.
Quagliarella’s late-career success is truly the work of a warrior, of a man who has overcome many obstacles in his career that, perhaps, kept him from reaching his true potential.
In the meantime, Sampdoria and Serie A fans can enjoy the Quagliarella’s quality, on and off the field, after finding the fountain of youth.
5. Goal of the weekend
Bayern Munich have started 2019 on the winning track, but this weekend, one the rivals ended up stealing the headlines.
The reigning Bundesliga champions may have beaten the rivals Stuttgart, 4-1, on Sunday, but Stuttgart’s Anastasios Donis stole the show with this amazing effort (0:24) that caught everyone, including Manuel Neuer himself, completely off guard.