The former Blues defender believes his old club can still finish strongly (Picture: Sky Sports)Ashley Cole has backed former club Chelsea to finish in the top four despite Sunday’s defeat to Liverpool if they can maintain the levels they showed at Anfield.Although the west Londoners were on the wrong end of a 2-0 defeat, they had chances to score against the Premier League leaders, with Eden Hazard hitting the post, and Cole felt there were encouraging signs to build on.However, the result means Chelsea would fall out of the top four if Arsenal win their game in hand against Watford – though Cole is backing them to finish strongly. Advertisement Ashley Cole urges Chelsea to build on Liverpool display in Premier League top-four race Chelsea lost their eighth Premier League match of the season at Anfield (Picture: EPA)‘It’s tough but like you see, they’re three points ahead,’ said Cole on Sky Sports, with Chelsea’s goal difference currently four worse than rivals Arsenal.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENT‘Okay, Arsenal could overtake them, but I think they’ve got to take heart out of that performance. They played well.More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man City‘If they can keep playing like this, then I think they’ll be okay. But again, they’ve got difficult games as well.’Maurizio Sarri has come under fire for not playing Chelsea’s youngsters more often, though both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek started at Anfield, and Cole believes giving youth a chance could be key to Sarri keeping his job. Comment Advertisement Metro Sport ReporterMonday 15 Apr 2019 8:10 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link455Shares Sarri has given more game time to Chelsea’s youngsters recently (Picture: Getty)He continued: ‘I think the fans are probably more pleased than before, you can see the younger kids getting chances and I think they’re good enough to play.‘But whether he [Sarri] stays at the end of the season… it’s a tough job to be in. But if he keeps playing the young kids and kind of investing in them, then maybe he’s got a chance. But to come top four is still difficult.’More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing Arsenal
“Goal Line Stands” runs Mondays. If you would like to comment on this story, visit DailyTrojan.com or email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. As senior quarterback Matt Barkley ran into the locker room after a 50-6 rout against Colorado, he was all smiles. And why wouldn’t he be? He had the game of his life and set records that should stand for years.Historic mark · Senior quarterback Matt Barkley set the Pac-12 record for most career touchdown passes against Colorado on Saturday. – Carlo Acenas | Daily TrojanBarkley threw his 100th career touchdown pass, making him the school’s all time leader, and the Pac-12 leader as well, surpassing former Trojan signal caller Matt Leinart. He went 19-20 on the day, giving him the highest completion percentage in conference history as well with a 95-percent clip. His efficiency rating was a staggering 319.16, the best in conference history by nearly 15 points. Oh, and he threw six touchdown passes, tying his own mark for the most in USC single-game history.Yes, Saturday was about Barkley and his fellow star, junior wide receiver Robert Woods, who set the school record for receptions with his 217th. But in the grand scheme of things, it was all about Barkley. The four-year starter sits at 102 touchdown passes currently, and is one of only 15 quarterbacks in Football Bowl Subdivision history to throw 100 or more touchdowns. Barkley is going to leave USC as the leader in pretty much every statistical quarterbacking category. His name will be all over the record books, and he’ll go down as the best signal caller in school history.Beyond the numbers themselves, however, Saturday was about Barkley’s legacy and what he has meant to the USC program. I don’t know if a record such as the one he set yesterday for career touchdown passes will ever be equaled by another quarterback who graces the conference, but I do know this: No other player will throw a more meaningful 100 touchdowns than Barkley has.Coming out of Mater Dei high school in Santa Ana, Calif., Barkley was destined to be a star. He was the top quarterback in his recruiting class and was on everyone’s All-American list. He came to USC, seized the quarterback job and got off to a fast start. His first career touchdown came in his first career game against San Jose State back in 2009, when the future was bright for the Trojans, who had just come off a Rose Bowl victory against Penn State in January. Pete Carroll was still at the helm, and USC was ranked in the top 10. He finished with 15 touchdown passes and was named a freshman All-American. The future was bright indeed.Then, disaster struck. The NCAA sanctioned the Trojans, Carroll left to coach the Seattle Seahawks and players were free to leave the program without having to sit out a season. Ultimately, Barkley decided to stay and weather the two-season bowl ban. The Trojans trudged through a tough first season under new head coach Lane Kiffin and finished 8-5, their worst record since 2001. Barkley threw 26 more touchdowns, but questions still remained as to whether he was the answer to USC’s current problems.For Barkley, 2011 was his defining year. Ineligible once again for the postseason, Barkley and the Trojans lost an early game at Arizona State and then lost a triple-overtime heartbreaker to the Andrew Luck-led Stanford Cardinal.But it was after that when the legend of Matt Barkley formed.He led USC to wins in the rest of its games, including an on-the-road upset over then-No. 4 ranked Oregon. He defeated UCLA 50-0 and finished sixth place in the Heisman Trophy voting. He was a third-team All-American and set a conference record for single-season touchdowns with 39. Expected to be a top-five pick in the 2012 NFL draft, people presumed that Barkley’s collegiate career was over. He would finish with 80 career touchdown passes — a solid number, but not enough to break records. He would be a three-year starter who won games but didn’t lead the Trojans to the promised land.During December 2011, Barkley held a press conference to announce his intention to leave USC, once again leaving the Trojans in disarray.Except he didn’t announce his intent to leave. He instead said he had “unfinished business.” That was when Barkley ‘s legend solidified.The school record for touchdown passes was clearly within reach, seeing as he was only 19 away from tying Leinart when the season started. The fact that he was going to break the record is unimportant; it’s the way in which he did it.If Barkley had left USC for the NFL, not only would he not have set the records he set Saturday, but USC would have been in disrepair. With all of the players coming back from a potent offense, the most important piece of a potential national title contender would be gone, leaving USC back at square one. But “Matty Trojan,” as Kiffin has affectionately called him, wanted to finish what he had started.So when Woods caught that touchdown in the second quarter to give Barkley number 100, it meant far more than just a record. It didn’t just mean he had more scoring tosses than conference legends like Leinart, Dan Fouts, John Elway, Jim Plunkett and Gary Beban. It meant he had stayed all four years at USC. It meant he hadn’t left when he could have gone elsewhere and competed for a postseason bowl berth. It meant he had refused a chance at the NFL for the chance to be the greatest USC player of all time.Most importantly, however, it meant through tough losses and sanctions, there was no other place he would rather be than at USC. Touchdown records are great, but the reason Barkley was here to break them is what matters. He did not give up and refused to quit on the school he loves, showing not only a desire to win but the true spirit of a Trojan.Barkley is likely to throw a lot more touchdowns this year, considering USC might play in seven more games. But his 100th scoring toss should be a moment to remember forever. That perfect spiral represented dedication, heart and everything good about college football. And who knows when we will ever see that again.
Patrick Maroon may no longer be with the Blues, but he’s always from St. Louis.The 31-year-old forward, who grew up in the town but the left the Blues to sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning over the offseason, was honored before the Lightning’s game against St. Louis, receiving not only a tribute on the big screen but something much more significant: his Stanley Cup ring. MORE: Patrick Maroon’s journey to the Stanley CupAlongside a few of his former teammates, Maroon received his ring from Blues general manager Doug Armstrong in a pregame on-ice ceremony. Prior to the game, he told reporters that he’d only seen photos of the ring. The #HometownHero gets some new bling. #stlblues pic.twitter.com/UItIBI3SiZ— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) November 20, 2019The hometown hero received a standing ovation in his return to Enterprise Center and emotional responses from his former teammates, to boot.Another look of Ryan O’Reilly tearing up after the ring presentation for Pat Maroon:(Thanks for the gif @stlsportscntrl ) pic.twitter.com/2W0j7HMfjZ— Joey Palazzola (@Palazzola_RTN) November 20, 2019In 74 regular-season games with St. Louis last season, Maroon registered 10 goals and 28 points. After that, he went on to post seven points in 26 playoff games en route to the team’s first Cup title, including the series-winning overtime tally in Game 7 of the second round against the Dallas Stars that propelled the team to the Western Conference Final.He has four goals and seven points through 15 games with the Lightning so far this season.