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It’s a fact Arsenal are bigger, better club than Chelsea – Gary Neville

Manchester United legend, Gary Neville has risked a huge backlash from Chelsea fans after claiming that Arsenal are a bigger club than their west London rivals, reports mirror.co.uk.

Neville’s comments look certain to anger the Blues faithful once again as they remain seven points clear at the top of the table and are 18 points ahead of the Gunners.

Arsenal have faced nothing but turmoil both on and off the pitch in recent months with Arsene Wenger’s future dominating the headlines on a regular basis.

But despite all the drama that surrounds the north London club, Neville is still adamant that Arsenal are a much bigger club than Chelsea and feels they will still attract better quality players during the summer.

“This is a better club than Chelsea,” he said on Sky Sports after Sunday’s draw with Manchester City.

“Why wouldn’t players come and play here? Look at this stadium, it’s unbelievable.

“Chelsea are a fantastic club but you’ve got to say, even Chelsea fans wouldn’t argue that Arsenal are a bigger club than them.

“Arsenal are a bigger club than Chelsea. They are, it’s a fact.

“That’s not a criticism of Chelsea. Chelsea are a club that’s really only grown in the last 10 or 15 years. They’ve done brilliantly well.

“But they’re not as big a club as Arsenal.”

Neville was one of the analysts of the match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates on Sunday.

 

Source: The Guardian

Stamford Bridge shakes as Chelsea suffer shock defeat to Crystal Palace

The fine run of Chelsea Football Club in the English Premier League was halted on Saturday as relegation battlers, Crystal Palace, handed them a shock 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

The development has seen the Blues’ lead at the top of the Premier League table cut to seven points as Crystal Palace masterfully halted their title charge

All of the goals in Saturday’s game came in the opening 11 minutes during an action-packed London derby, with Cesc Fabregas opening the scoring before Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke responded to quick goals in the 9th and 11th minute

The win also keeps Palace four points clear of the relegation zone having now won four consecutive matches for the first time since April 2015.

Elsewhere, Leicester City continued their perfect run under new manager, Craig Shakespeare; beating Stoke City 2-0 at the King Powers stadium.

Nigeria international, Wilfred Ndidi, scored his first Premier League goal in that encounter and it was a beauty to behold as he gave the Foxes a 1-0 lead by half time.

The points were effectively sealed for the defending champions when Jamie Vardy two minutes into the second half registered his name on the scorers’ sheet to give Leicester 2-0 lead and that was the final score.

In other centers, hopes of Sunderland escaping relegation got slimmer as they were beaten 1-0 by Sunderland at the Vicrage on Saturday.

Hull City on their part gave their survival chase a big boost; coming from behind to beat West Ham United 2-1.

There was no goals at Old Tafford as a stubborn West Brom side forced Manchester United to a goalless draw.

In the early kickoff, Liverpool again claimed the bragging rights in the Merseyside derby as they beat their fierce rivals Everton 3-1.

Liverpool 3 – 1 Everton

Burnley 0 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea 1 – 2 Crystal Palace

Hull City 2 – 1 West Ham United

Leicester City 2 – 0 Stoke City

Manchester United 0 – 0 West Bromwich Albion

Watford 1 – 0 Sunderland

 

Source: Premium Times

Chelsea given go-ahead to build £500m stadium

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on Monday approved Chelsea’s plans to build a new £500m 60,000-seat stadium.

The Premier League leaders are planning to build the new area on the site where Stamford Bridge currently seats 41,361 fans.

“London is one of the world’s greatest sporting cities and I’m delighted that we will soon add Chelsea’s new stadium to the already fantastic array of sporting arenas in the capital,” Khan said in a statement.

The new ground could be completed in time for the 2021/2022 season.

“Having taken a balanced view of the application, I’m satisfied this is a high-quality and spectacular design which will significantly increase capacity within the existing site, as well as ensuring fans can have easy access from nearby transport connections,” Khan added.

“I’m confident this new stadium will be a jewel in London’s sporting crown and will attract visitors and football fans from around the world.”

The new stadium was designed by Herzog and de Meuron, the architects behind the “Bird’s Nest” stadium used at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena.

“This is the latest significant step toward redevelopment of the stadium and the delivery of the extensive local community programme.

“Further steps lie ahead, both during and after the planning process, before construction work can commence,” Chelsea said in a statement.

Victor Moses extends Chelsea contract until 2021

Victor Moses, Chelsea FC winger, has been rewarded for his sterling performance this season with a two-year contract extension.

The 26-year-old Nigeria international’s previous deal was due to expire in 2019 but Moses has now extended his stay until 2021.

The wing-back has been one of the stars of the Blues’ season and has played a key part in the league leaders’ title charge.

Moses, a £9m signing from Wigan in 2012, appeared to be down the Stamford Bridge pecking order after being loaned out for three straight seasons before Antonio Conte’s arrival.

After impressing Conte in pre-season to force his way back into the Blues’ set up, the versatile Nigerian has become a regular since Chelsea switched to a 3-4-3 formation.

Moses has made the right-wing-back spot his own and has started every league game since October.

His impact and growing importance to Chelsea is underlined by the fact that his terms have been upgraded just 18 months after he signed his previous new deal.

He signed a four-year, £45,000 a week deal in September 2015 but the Blues have been quick to offer him another improved deal to reflect his new status as a first-choice pick fo Conte.

“I feel very excited. I’m delighted to be here for another few years now and to sign a new deal,” Moses said.

“Now it’s time to concentrate on the team and keep working hard to make sure we win games and try to win the Premier League this season.

“We’re having a great season, I’m enjoying my football and we have a good manager here that has given every single one of us confidence.

“I just want to keep on enjoying it and working hard for the team.”

Michael Emenalo, Chelsea technical director said, “We are extremely pleased Victor has chosen to extend his contract with us.”

“He is enjoying an excellent season and, under Antonio’s leadership, has proved to be an important member of the squad.

“This new contract is testament to Victor’s hard work and dedication to succeed at Chelsea and we believe he will be a big part of our future success.”

 

Source: The Cable

I am living my dream in Chelsea, says Victor Moses

Super Eagles’ midfielder, Victor Moses, has revelled in a wingback role, with Coach Antonio Conte presenting him with an opportunity to flourish since he was recalled to Stamford Bridge.

Moses confesses he relishing being a regular at Chelsea, claiming that he “always wanted to play for this big club”. Chelsea bought Moses from Wigan Athletic in 2012.

His signing was considered to be a way of bolstering the homegrown numbers at Stamford Bridge, although he did make 43 appearances in all competitions during his debut campaign.

Moses quickly slipped down the pecking order after that bright start, with loan spells taken in at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham. After three years away from west London, the 26-year-old has returned to prominence this term in a wingback role under Antonio Conte.He is considered to be one of this season’s biggest success stories, and Moses admits he is loving life back in favour at the Premier League leaders.

“I’ve always wanted to play for this big club, it’s one of the best clubs in the world at the moment and I’m enjoying every single minute,” he told Chelsea’s official website.

“I just want to keep on working hard and helping my team-mates out.” Moses has started every Premier League game for the Blues since October 1, helping them to open up a 10-point advantage at the top of the table.

He is, however, taking nothing for granted as Conte’s side chase down major silverware in their first season under the Italian tactician.
“We’re not looking at the table at the moment, we still have 12 matches to play and we just need to take each game as it comes,” added Moses. “We just want to stay grounded and win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season.

Eden Hazard warns Chelsea not to lose focus in title race

Eden Hazard has warned Chelsea not to lose their focus as the runaway Premier League leaders approach the final furlong in the title race, while crisis-torn champions Leicester face up to life without sacked boss Claudio Ranieri.

Antonio Conte’s side are eight points clear at the top with just 13 games remaining and they have a golden opportunity to extend that lead when they host lowly Swansea on Saturday.

Second placed Manchester City are not in action this weekend because their derby against Manchester United was postponed due to their rivals’ League Cup final showdown with Southampton on Sunday.

However, Chelsea showed a rare sign of vulnerability in a 1-1 draw at Burnley in their previous league match and Belgium playmaker Hazard insists his team can take nothing for granted as they look to regain the title.

“We just need to keep the same concentration. It’s more difficult to play away because of the fans, but we are ready, we are professional. We can deal with the pressure. Everything is going good,” Hazard said.

“We know if we want to be champions, in our home stadium we have to win most of our games.

“We can’t say all 19 because we have already lost to Liverpool, but we have to win 16 to 17 because it is our place and we are ready to deliver.”

On Monday, Leicester will start the post Ranieri era as the troubled champions host Liverpool in their first match since the Italian’s shock dismissal.

Ranieri was brutally axed on Thursday, just nine months after Leicester’s incredible title triumph, because the club’s Thai owners feared relegation was an increasingly realistic prospect.

The Foxes have lost their last five league games without scoring a single goal, plunging them to with one point of the relegation zone less than a year after the fairytale success that captivated the world.

A 2-1 midweek Champions League last 16 first leg loss in Sevilla, a defeat that could have been much heavier, was the last straw amid growing talk of player unrest at Ranieri’s tactical tinkering.

– Sympathy –

“It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season. Indeed, survival in the Premier League was our first and only target at the start of the campaign,” Leicester vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said.

“But we are now faced with a fight to reach that objective and feel a change is necessary to maximise the opportunity presented by the final 13 games.”

Assistant manager Craig Shakespeare and Mike Stowell have taken caretaker charge ahead of Monday’s clash at the King Power Stadium.

Liverpool can’t afford any sympathy for Leicester’s plight as they aim for a win that would take them back into the top four.

Jurgen Klopp’s fifth placed team ended a run of five games without a win by beating Tottenham and Reds midfielder Adam Lallana, who signed a new contract this week, is confident of a strong finish to the season.

“We have a world-class manager and coaching staff and because it’s Liverpool there is that added X-factor of the supporters and what success would mean to them when we achieve it here,” Lallana said.

Third placed Tottenham must beat Stoke at White Hart Lane on Sunday to keep alive their slender hopes of overhauling Chelsea.

“When we start a game, if you only watch 50 seconds, you don’t need to be a genius to know we may struggle and have some problems in that game,” Pochettino grumbled.

“The problem is when you start not in a good way, it’s too difficult to change that perception and then you give a very good signal to the opponent that you are not focused on the game.”

Sunderland manager David Moyes takes his bottom of the table side back to his old club Everton, while second bottom Crystal Palace face a crucial clash with fellow strugglers Middlesbrough.

“Winning the FA cup is very important to Chelsea”, says Mourinho

José Mourinho will return to Stamford Bridge for a second time this season to face his former club, Chelsea.

Manchester United, the FA Cup holders, were hammered 4-0 earlier this season at Stamford Bridge in a Premier League game.

Mourinho praised his side’s display at Blackburn on Sunday but expressed concerned over a potential fixture pile-up before the FA Cup game at Chelsea.

“No reaction,” Mourinho reacted to the FA cup draws.

“I have to play Saint-Etienne, I have to play the EFL Cup final, I have to play hopefully another opponent in the Europa League.

“I have to fight for a top-four position in the Premier League. I have so many things to think about.

“Chelsea can only think about that because they are champions and they have nothing else to fight for.

“So the FA Cup I believe is something important for them.

“The match is in one month’s time, so I don’t want to think about it.

“We’re going to fight for the FA Cup, but the League Cup is the one we have a 50 per cent possibility to win.

“And the next one is to get a result against St Etienne on Wednesday and be in the last 16 of the Europa League.”

Red Devils have not won at Chelsea since October 2012 and Mourinho was humiliated on his last visit there in October.

Antonio Conte’s side subjected Mourinho to his heaviest Premier League defeat.

“Chelsea lacks style”, Jose Mourinho takes a swipe at Premier League Leaders.

Jose Mourinho took a swipe at his old club Chelsea as the Manchester United boss accused the Premier League leaders of lacking style.

Mourinho’s side cruised to a 3-0 victory at Leicester on Sunday and he was quick to highlight the difference between the dominant United display and what he perceives as the more prosaic efforts of Antonio Conte’s men.

Frustrated by criticism of the cautious nature of his teams when he was in charge at Chelsea, Mourinho made it clear that he is unimpressed the way the Blues, currently nine points clear at the top, and also Tottenham and Liverpool, have been praised despite employing safety-first philosophies.

“My team is playing very well but for many years in my career, especially in this country, when my teams were ruthless and phenomenal defensively I listened week after week to people saying that was not enough, despite winning the title three times,” Mourinho said.

“This season it looks that being strong defensively and good on the counter attack is art. That is a big change in England.

“We are Manchester United, we want to play attacking football. This is the way the fans want us to play.

“But I don’t want to be a manager of a team that doesn’t win matches. We have to score goals. Today we did and that made the difference. Today was very important.”

Mourinho’s claims seemed a little harsh, but he was in typically mischievous mood and even referenced his demise as Chelsea boss last season, which came following a defeat at Leicester.

“The last time I was in this chair I was sacked a day later,” he said with a smirk before bringing an end to his post-match press conference at the King Power Stadium.

Mourinho’s buoyant outlook was a contrast to his sulky demeanour following last week’s draw against Hull and the key to his mood swing was Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the United midfielder who tormented Leicester with his subtle passing and clever movement.

– Emotional –
Mkhitaryan scored United’s opener and set up the third for Juan Mata after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had doubled the visitors’ lead.

Mourinho acknowledged the first goal had been crucial as it boosted his team’s belief and shattered Leicester’s already fragile morale.

“We missed the first big chance but scored the next one. That is the story of the game,” he said.

“We didn’t play better than in many other matches. We were solid, but we scored goals.

“It makes all the difference. In the second half you are in emotional and tactical control.

“You kill the emotion of the opponent and the whole game looks different.”

Having left Mkhitaryan out at the start of the season, Mourinho is now convinced the Armenian has adapted to the Premier League.

“If a player isn’t playing sometimes it can seem the manager is disturbing them, but that is not true,” he said.

“Sometimes the best way to protect the player is not to play him. Henrikh is one of these cases, you see the magic things he does.”

Meanwhile, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri insists he still has the backing of his players after their fourth successive defeat left them one point above the relegation zone.

Reports have suggested the Italian has lost some support among the troubled champions, but he is adamant they are together and can still avoid crashing out of the league a year after their shock title triumph.

“Everybody is frustrated. Of course we aren’t happy, we are very sad,” he said.

“I have said if the players don’t want me they can go to the owner, but they have not.

“We are together, solid like last season but without the results. That is the hard thing.

“We will fight until the end. Leicester is a club used to fighting. I’m confident about this.”

 

Source: Guardian

Chelsea pay tribute to retired Frank Lampard

Chelsea legend, Frank Lampard, announced his retirement from international football on Thursday.

The Chelsea record goalscorer wrote on his social media accounts: “After 21 incredible years, I have decided that now is the right time to finish my career as a professional footballer.”

Shortly after, Chelsea football club took to Twitter to pay tribute to the former Blues star.

“What a career. Thank you, Frank. #SuperFrank,” the tweet read.

A video was later posted on the Chelsea Twitter account, showing some of Lampard’s memorable goals for the club.

We are going to show Arsenal we have changed since the 3-0 defeat – Conte

Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, has urged his side to complete the job in “a big week for the club”, as they prepare to face Arsenal this weekend.

Conte’s men lost 3-0 in the reverse fixture at the Emirates last September, as the Gunners blew them away in a first-half blitz.

“We have to concentrate and prepare for Arsenal, because we face another great team – that’s what they are. They can fight for the title,” he said after their 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Tuesday

“This week is very important for us and we want to finish in the right way.

“This was a good result for sure, but we wasted a lot of energy in a difficult atmosphere, and don’t forget in the previous game we lost 3-0 away to Arsenal. This could be a good chance for us to show now in second half of season we are a totally different team if you compare the previous game.”

Conte also added that his squad is now secure until the end of the season, even though the Chinese transfer window is still open until February 28.

He added: “Is it still open in China? For us, the market is finished. Not buy, not sell, and I am very happy with that – our market is finished.”

Celtic warn Chelsea off goalkeeper Craig Gordon

Celtic have told Chelsea that goalkeeper Craig Gordon is not for sale, Press Association Sport reports.

Chelsea have been linked with the Scotland international, who has resurrected his career with the Scottish Premiership champions after a knee injury seriously threatened to end it prematurely.

The Blues could be in the market for a new keeper as backup to Thibaut Courtois after sources told ESPN that Bournemouth are looking to sign Asmir Begovic.

But they were given no encouragement by Celtic, whose manager Brendan Rodgers outlined his desire to keep Gordon on Wednesday night as he said he was not surprised by Chelsea’s interest.

“His contract is up at the end of the season but there is an option for the club,” Rodgers said.

“Craig is very much a part of what I am doing here. He is 34 years old and can go on for a number of years yet and can be a real pillar of this team.”

Moses Doing Great Job For Chelsea – Alonso

Chelsea wing-back Marcos Alonso has paid tribute to Super Eagles forward Victor Moses for his impact for the English Premier League leaders so far this term.

Moses has been a regular in the Chelsea team this term and has been one of the key performers in Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 formation.

The Nigeria international had previously struggled to make much of an impact at Stamford Bridge but seems to have blossomed under the former Juventus manager, scoring three goals in 21 league appearances from his wing-back position.

Speaking to Chelsea’s website, Alonso said: “I think it is a good balance for the team (Moses’ right wing-back role).

“There was no need for us to talk to each other before about what we were going to do. A lot of games he goes more forward and I maybe stay more at the back, but that also depends on how the other team plays and it’s good to have variation and different options.

“Victor is doing a great job and hopefully we can keep helping the team as we have been doing in the previous games.”

 

Source: www.completesportsnigeria.com

Chinese Super League Is No Different From Chelsea – John Obi Mikel

JOHN OBI MIKEL has claimed the coaching at his new club Tianjin Teda is just as good as at Chelsea.

John Obi Mikel has been placed with the level of coaching in the Chinese Super League

John Obi Mikel left Chelsea for Tianjin Teda this month signing a £140,000-a-week deal with the Chinese Super League club.

The Nigeria international’s new boss is former Porto midfielder Jaime Pacheco who has had 10 different managerial appointments in 13 years.

Mikel had grown accustomed to top class managers at Chelsea, such as Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Antonio Conte.

However, the Nigerian has admitted he’s been impressed by the level of coaching in the up-and-coming Chinese Super League.

“I do not think there’s a lot of difference in the level of coaches now,” Mikel told Chinese outlet NetEase Sports.

“I think [Jaime] Pacheco is a high-level coach and he was a very good player.

“Training is done very well, with a very high level.”

Mikel joined Tianjin Teda on a two-year deal until December 2019.

He joins former Blues team-mates Oscar and Ramires who have already made big-money moves to the Far East.

‘I Was Like a Ghost’ – Hazard Reflects on Chelsea Struggles in 2015-16

The Belgian forward admits he wants ‘to be the best again’ after enduring a tough time as the reigning PFA Player of the Year last season

Eden Hazard’s transformation from Premier League title winner and PFA Player of the Year to Chelsea also-ran surprised the Belgian as much as it did those watching from afar.

The talented forward enjoyed a sparkling 2014-15 campaign, with a 19-goal haul from 52 appearances in all competitions seeing him land prestigious personal and collective honours.

 

He was, however, to endure a humbling fall from grace last season, alongside many of his Stamford Bridge colleagues.

Hazard – having been billed as a contender to challenge Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the right to be called the best player on the planet – was a shadow of his former self as he was forced to wait until January before opening his 2015-16 goal account.

The 26-year-old admits he performed “like a ghost” as the Blues stumbled their way to a 10th-place finish in the Premier League.

He has been back on form this season, though, and is setting his sights of more major silverware, with nine goals added to a cause that has Chelsea sat five points clear at the top of the table.

Hazard told Fox Sports: “I learned a lot [from last season].

 

“Sometimes you are at the top like we were two years ago and sometimes it is difficult for everyone.

“For me, I was the best player two years ago, but last season I was like a ghost.

“I want to be the best again and win titles.”

It is not just the English top-flight crown that Hazard has in sights, though, with the FA Cup very much there to be shot at.

Chelsea have enjoyed considerable success in the competition in recent times – emerging victorious four times in six seasons between 2007 and 2012 – but Hazard only joined after the most recent of those triumphs and is yet to get his hands on the famous trophy.

 

On the back of a 4-1 third round victory over Peterborough on Sunday, he added: “The league is important, but the FA Cup even more as I’ve never won it.

“So I hope that this season I can win this trophy as I have won the league and the League Cup – now I just need the FA Cup.”

 

Source: goal.com

FULL VERSION: Read Mikel Obi’s emotional farewell letter to Chelsea fans

Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi has bidden Chelsea fans goodbye after 10 years with the London side.

On Thursday, Mikel signed a three-year, £140,000-a-week deal with Chinese Super League side Tianjin TEDA, and the move was confirmed on Friday by Chelsea.

The 29-year-old is one of a select band of five foreign players in Chelsea’s history to have reached the 300-game landmark, others being  Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Branislav Ivanovic and Gianfranco Zola.

He was a mainstay of the Chelsea squad that won the UEFA Champions League in Munich in 2012, won the FA Cup four times, the League Cup twice, and the Premiew League twice.

In total, Mikel played 372 times for Chelsea, scoring six goals.

Ahead of his departure, the Super Eagles captain wrote a moving letter to Chelsea fans

THE FULL LETTER

To my Chelsea family,

After ten years, 374 appearances and eleven trophies, it is time to say goodbye.

Where do I begin? I joined Chelsea as a 19-year-old kid from the Norwegian Premier League, making my debut in the Community Shield. I say goodbye as a champion of England, a champion of Europe, and proud captain of my national team.

To play in the Premier League, the best league in the world, is every professional player’s ambition. But to play for Chelsea, to become part of the Chelsea family, to work with some of the best managers and players in the world, has truly been an honour.

Every achievement I have been part of in my time at Chelsea holds a special memory: my first goal, against Macclesfield in 2007 (even though there were only five more after that!). The nail-biting end of the 2010 season – securing the title on the last day, scoring a record 103 goals in the process, and winning the FA Cup a week later. Didier’s extra time winner against Manchester United in the 2007 FA Cup Final. Beating two of our biggest London rivals in League Cup finals. Winning the Europa League in Amsterdam, with one of the last kicks of the game.

Then there was Munich. We were desperate to make up for the disappointment of the 2008 final, but trailing with two minutes to go, against Bayern, in their own stadium, it seemed that once more luck was against us. But that night, with lions on our chest and the fans behind us, we fought. Up popped Didier, the rest is history, and to date we’re still proudly the only team in London with a European Cup.
None of this would have been possible without the wider club’s support. To Mr Abramovich, the club’s staff, coaches, physios, and to the managers I played under at Chelsea, I want to say thank you.

But my biggest thanks must go to the Blues fans. You brought me into the Chelsea family, you sung my name, and were there with us every step of the way. Thanks to your support, on nights like in Munich, you made the impossible possible.

As you will know, I haven’t featured as much this season as I would have liked, and at 29 I still have many years in the game ahead of me. With this in mind, I feel now is the time to seek a new challenge. I’m delighted to be joining Tianjin TEDA in China, at a time that the Chinese Super League is really taking off, and I look forward to helping Tianjin TEDA continue to grow both on and off the pitch in the next few years.

To everyone at Chelea – goodbye, and thank you. You will always be part of who I am, and I wish you the best of luck. I could not be happier to be saying goodbye with the club back where it belongs – top of the league.

Keep the Blue flag flying high!

Mikel John Obi

Why Chelsea will not win Premier League title – Gary Neville

Former Manchester United defender, Gary Neville, has said he is not sure Chelsea will finish this season as Premier League champions.

 

The Blues have been in impressive form and are currently on an 11-game winning run, six points ahead of the chasing pack at Christmas.

 

Neville, however, is not convinced they have what it takes to finish the job next May.

 

The Sky Sports analyst said: “I didn’t think they would be champions at the start of the season. I’m still not sure, I wouldn’t fully trust any of them yet, but they do like they are producing the type (champions) performances.

“The Southampton away one, that’s the one where I thought, that’s a championship winning performance. But it is too early in the season to hand them the title.

 

“You still have to have doubts over them through the fact, for instance, if you got an injury to Eden Hazard, an injury to Diego Costa.

 

“You have to throw in the doubts that exist. They are such important players.”

Mikel ready to leave Chelsea – Siasia

Former Nigeria coach, Samson Siasia, has said he expects John Mikel Obi to leave Chelsea during the January transfer window.

Obi has failed to make an appearance for the Blues since the start of the season and he is likely to receive offers at the turn of the year as his 11-year spell at Stamford Bridge approaches an end.

Siasia, who has worked with Obi during his two spells with Nigeria, has revealed that Obi was already contemplating a departure in August, but feels that the midfielder can be proud of his time in West London.

The 49-year-old said: “He is ready to quit Chelsea because he said this man (Antonio Conte) does not have anything for him and that was what he told me before he came down to the Olympics.

“It will be better for him to leave now because he has done very well after 11 years at Chelsea, not even Didier Drogba did not last that long there. He already has a British passport and two girls, he has done very well and will now leave.”

Obi has made a total of 368 appearances for Chelsea since 2006.

Costa fantastic now he’s stopped fighting – Redknapp

Harry Redknapp admits watching Chelsea striker Diego Costa used to get on his nerves, but says the Spain international has been “fantastic” this season after curbing his temper.

The 28-year-old forward has retained a physical element to his game in 2016-17, but is throwing his weight around to better use.

Costa struggled but was decisive

It used to be that opponents could rile the burly frontman, with a short fuse making him a ticking time bomb.

Last season saw him collect 11 yellow cards and one red, while his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge delivered 12 bookings. So far this term, he’s been cautioned five times.

Costa has also plundered 12 goals, with that return helping Chelsea to nine successive wins and a standing at the top of the Premier League table.

“What he’s done this year, he is concentrating on playing football. He’s still aggressive you can’t take that out of his game,” Redknapp told BT Sport.

“Last year he was more interested in having fights with people than playing football. Every time I saw him he was going out and it was all off-the-ball stuff.

“Really just aggravating – it got on my nerves just watching him play.

“This year he has been fantastic.”

Costa has already matched his Premier League efforts from 2015-16, with 12 goals reached in just 15 appearances.

He will now be looking to break the 20-goal barrier for the second time in his Chelsea career and remain at the top of the charts in the race to land the top-flight Golden Boot.

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez is hot on his heels at present, with 11 for the season, while Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero is one effort further back on 10.

Chelsea are next in action on Wednesday evening, when they travel to Wearside to take on struggling Sunderland.

Antonio Conte’s men will then face Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Stoke during the busy festive period, taking them through to the end of the calendar year.

I Will like Mikel to Join Me At Watford – Ighalo

Super Eagles striker Odion Ighalo has admitted that he would welcome international teammate Mikel Obi at Watford during the January transfer window.

Mikel is yet to make an appearance for Chelsea under Antonio Conte which has sparked reports of him leaving the London-based club before the end of the current season.

Speaking as a guest on Fanzone on SuperSport on Wednesday night, Ighalo said Mikel is a player any Premier League side will wish to have.

“I will like it if Mikel join me at Watford,” Ighalo said after being asked by one of the callers to the live show if he would like his fellow Nigerian at Vicarage Road. “He is my captain at the national team. Apart from that he is a very good player, very talented.

“I have played with him and against him, he is a very good player. There is no team in the Premier League that will not want to have such a player.

“I am happy I have played with him so I will be very happy to have him in my team.”

Despite not having the best of seasons for Watford after an impressive debut Premier League campaign last season Ighalo, who has scored just one goal in 12 league appearances so far, insists he is happy and will continue to work hard to get back into the team.

“I have a five-year contract at Watford, I am happy,” he said. “Though I am not playing regularly for now, as a striker I want to be playing but things are not going the way I want. But I am working hard, the fans love me and I want to keep going and see how the season goes.”

Ighalo described his first EPL goal for Watford (in a 2-2 away draw against Everton) as one of the greatest feelings he ever had.

He also stated that Watford’s promotion to the EPL two seasons ago was one of his greatest moments at the club.

“Scoring my first Premier League goal was one of my best feelings in life,” the 28-year-old added. “I always dreamed about the Premier League when I was young back then in the streets in Nigeria. I was just hoping to play in the Premier League and wasn’t thinking about scoring goals. I played in Spain and Italy and I always said to myself that I wanted to play in the Premier League.

“In my first game in the league away to Everton, I was sitting on the bench praying to just go in there and earn my first game, I never knew God had a plan for me to score my first goal. So when after scoring my first goal, I could not sleep when I got home, I was thinking about it and I was very happy; it was a great feeling for me.

“One of my great moments at Watford was when I gained promotion with the team two seasons ago. That was my dream before I came to Watford, to play in the Championship and to gain promotion to the Premier League. So that was one of my great moments at Watford.”

On who his best striker is, Ighalo named Argentina and Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero

“Back then I always loved to watch Manchester United’s Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke, they were great strikers. But for now the best striker in the Premier League is Sergio Aguero of Manchester City. He is a good striker that will guarantee you goals. These are strikers one can learn a lot of things from. So for now I think my best striker is Aguero.”

On the current performance of the Super Eagles, who currently top their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying group, Igahlo said: “Super Eagles have been doing well presently. In the past we had great players but right now it’s all about rebuilding.

“The last time we won the Cup of Nations, nobody gave it to us but everyone could see how the young and talented squad performed. And may the soul of the late Stephen Keshi rest in peace. He built a good team and even when nobody gave them a chance they still went on to win. So I am happy with the way the Eagles are doing now and I believe the future is bright for us with young and talented players like Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon and others.”

And on why he plans to start his own orphanage home, Ighalo explained: “I know what I went through growing up. It’s not that easy back home and that is why I always try to give back. Every month end I send money to the widows , the less priviledged, the orphans. And I am planning to open my orhanage and that will be in May in Lagos. The idea is to help and give back to the society because like I said, I am privileged to be who I am today, and it is good to try and help those in need. Not because I have much but because I know how it was back then, so that is why I am trying to give to the poor and the less privileged.”

Chelsea captain Terry out for two to three weeks

Chelsea captain John Terry is set for up to three weeks on the sidelines after suffering a muscle injury.

The centre-back only recently returned to action after shaking off an ankle problem he sustained against Swansea City in September.

Terry has been limited to six minutes of Premier League action since, though he did play the entire game in Chelsea’s EFL Cup defeat to West Ham last month.

The 35-year-old featured for Chelsea’s Under-23 side on Monday, but will now not be available for at least the next fortnight.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s meeting with London rivals Tottenham, manager Antonio Conte said: “For tomorrow Terry and [John Obi] Mikel aren’t available.

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“John has a muscular problem and Obi will train with us again next week.

“It’s a pity [for Terry] because he recovered well from his last injury and now he has to start again.”

Winger Willian has not featured for Chelsea since the win at Southampton last month.

The Brazil international has been linked with a reunion with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.

But Conte said: “Willian has come back, now it’s important to find good form because in this period he was unlucky.

“It’s important now to be focused on the work, Willian is an important player for us and I count on him a lot.”

John Obi Mikel ready to leave Chelsea – Reports

Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel has told the BBC he’s ready to quit Stamford Bridge in January if he can’t force his way back into the team.

 

His comments come as Nigerian media report that he has been offered $212,000 (£170,000) a week to move to Chinese club Shanghai SIPG.

 

But Mikel says he has no regrets about deciding to go to the Olympics in Rio rather than spending pre-season with the club, a decision which is said to have upset manager Antonio Conte.

I Have No Regrets Going To The Olympics Despite Conte’s Displeasure – Mikel

Nigeria captain Mikel Obi has insisted that he stands by his decision to represent his country at the Rio 2016 Olympics instead of participating in Chelsea’s pre-season with new manager Antonio Conte.

The 29-year-old also asserts that his place in Chelsea’s history is assured after his long, trophy-laden service to the English club.

“I’m not a guy who makes excuses in life,” Mikel, who is yet to feature for Chelsea under Conte, said in a BBC World Football interview monitored by Completesportsnigeria.com on Friday.

“I never make excuses. I never shy away from my responsibilities. Yes, maybe people would say maybe I lost my place at Chelsea because I went to the Olympics, I didn’t have pre-season with the team, a new manager was coming in and was probably upset that I left for the Olympics, and probably thinks I don’t care about the team.

But I don’t want to use those excuses, I want to keep training hard and make sure I change the manager’s mind. But if it doesn’t happen,  then it doesn’t happen.

“I’ll keep doing my best and be ready for whenever I’m called upon. Let’s see what happens in January. I have to remain professional. I keep training and working hard, hoping that one day I’ll get to play.”

Mikel, who captained the Nigeria U-23s to bronze in Rio in August as one of the three allowed overage players, says his medal is a prized possession he will forever cherish.

“I wouldn’t trade my Olympic bronze for a place in the Chelsea team,” he said. “As a man, when you make a sacrifice,  you have to deal with it, you have to face it like a man, you have to stand by your decision. You have to live with your decision because it’s your decision.

“I have no regrets at all, not one single regret for going to the Olympics and I’d not trade my medal for anything. I deserved it, I worked so hard for it, so why would I trade it for something else?”

Mikel, who joined Chelsea in 2006 after a protracted transfer wrangle that involved Manchester United, remains proud of his time at Stamford Bridge despite not playing a single minute this season and is not fazed by the likelihood of a January exit.

“I’ve been part of the best years at the club, I’ve enjoyed the best part of the club,” he added.

“I was there when we won our first ever Champions League title. I played in the final and I was the man of the match in that final.

“I’ve written my name in the history books of Chelsea. I’ve won loads and loads of trophies, I’ve played close to 400 games for this club.

“I have no single regret, I’ve done it all. But as a player you’re still hungry, you still want to win more with the club. If that’s the way it ends (leaving in January) then that’s it. Players move on. In life you move on. I’m very relaxed about the January transfer window. I’ll speak to the club and we’ll find the best solution.”

When asked why he did not leave Chelsea in the summer despite several reported offers, Mikel replied: “I went to the Olympics and there was no communication about what the situation was, then the transfer window ended.

“The club didn’t  tell me to leave, I didn’t get anything from the club. I have one year left so I decided I didn’t want to leave just like that because I’ve been here for a while, 11 years now. It’s good sometimes to leave when you know you’ve finished your contract and your business there is done.”

Conte Shocked Mourinho Never Gave Moses A Chance

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has slammed his predecessors for snubbing Super Eagles star Victor Moses in the past.

Moses spent the last three seasons out on loan away from Chelsea while Jose Mourinho was in charge of the Blues, but he was handed a lifeline by Conte who took charge at Stamford Bridge this summer.

Conte whose side have chalked up six straight wins in the English Premier League scoring 17 goals without conceding a goal told Italian tabloid Gazzetta Dello Sport that the 25-year-old Nigerian international possesses qualities that should not be overlooked.

“I could see his potential from the first days of the summer training camp,” Conte said.

“Moses has important qualities: technique, physical strength, the ability to cover seventy meters of the pitch.

“I find it incredible that someone like him has been underestimated.”

Moses, a regular starter for the Blues since the 3-4-3 formation was adopted by Conte in October, has scored thrice in 13 appearances in all competitions this season.

Match Day: Middlesbrough versus Chelsea – Managers Speak!

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka: “I think Chelsea are definitely one of the favourites for the league, especially as they are not playing Champions League football.

 

“Chelsea is another tough challenge for us. Antonio Conte is settling in the league very well but we can show once again how we can compete.”

 

Head to Head

    Middlesbrough have lost their last six games in all competitions to Chelsea, failing to score in each match
    The Blues have only suffered two defeats in their last 17 Premier League matches against Boro (W12, D3), with both defeats coming in 2006.

 

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte on Eden Hazard: ‘I’m pleased for Eden because he’s playing fantastic football.

 

“He’s working very well in the [training] sessions, showing great attitude and commitment.

 

“He’s a fantastic player, he’s working a lot for the team and it’s fantastic when a player with his talent puts it in for the team.

 

“He has the potential to do great things in his career.”

Just In: Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte is EPL Manager of the Month [Video]

Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte has been voted as the October EPL Manager of the Month.

 

In a video posted on Twitter by the English Premier League account, Antonio Conte was seen appreciating the award he was honored with.

 

Antonio Conte has now joined an illustrious list of previous Chelsea FC bosses to be crowned Barclay’s Football Manager of the Month!

 

Watch Video Below:

 

 

Mikel Clarifies Comments Credited To Gernot Rohr About Conte

Super Eagles skipper John Obi Mikel has issued a statement debunking reports that he was punished by Chelsea manager Antonio Conte for representing Nigeria at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.

Mikel who was in action for the Super Eagles on Saturday as the Super Eagles beat Algeria 3-1 in Uyo said  Gernot Rohr’s comments over his inactiveness at Chelsea was misconstrued by the media.

The 29-year-old however claimed Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and his club were in support of his participation at the Games.

The statement reads: “I’d like to clarify that the recent media claim that I’ve been punished by Chelsea for participating at the Rio 2016 Olympics are completely inaccurate.

“Unfortunately, comments made by Gernot Rohr before yesterday’s 3-1 win over Algeria were both mistranslated and taken out of context by the Nigerian media as English isn’t Mr Rohr’s or much of the Nigerian media’s first language.

“To be absolute clear, Mr Conte and Chelsea were always in support of my captaincy of the Nigerian team in Rio.

“The manager gave me his full blessing to participate at the Olympics and even encouraged me to bring back the gold medal- something I spoke to the media about that time.

“It goes without saying that there’s nothing but absolute respect between myself, the Nigerian national team and Chelsea FC, something that was demonstrated by Mr Rohr’s recent visit to Cobhams.

“My only focus now is on winning more silverware with Chelsea and getting Nigeria to the 2018 World Cup. Two challenges I can’t wait to face.”

Since arrival from the Rio Olympic Games, Mikel is yet to be listed for the Blues this term and has been linked with several moves in the January window.

I’m ready to quit Chelsea – Mikel Obi

Nigeria captain Mikel Obi says he is ready to quit Premier League giants Chelsea in January in search of first-team football.

The 29-year-old, who guided the Super Eagles to a 3-1 victory over Algeria’s Desert Foxes in their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier in Uyo on Saturday, admits he is no longer happy at Stamford Bridge.

And Mikel says he is not happy that Chelsea’s Italian manager Antonio Conte has overlooked him, despite working hard in training.

It has been suggested Conte decided to freeze the South Africa 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner out of first-team contention because he opted to represent Nigeria at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where the Under-23 team won bronze (Nigeria’s only medal in the competition).

But the Blues’ second longest-serving player behind captain John Terry says he has no regrets over his decision, saying he is ready to leave the team in January.

“Yes, maybe people will say the new manager was upset I left and went to the Olympics, that I didn’t have a pre-season with the team,” The Sun quoted the player, who scored Nigeria’s second goal against Algeria in Uyo, as saying.

“He (Conte) probably thinks I don’t care about the team, things like that.

“But I don’t want to use those excuses. I have to keep training hard and make sure I change the manager’s mind. If not, then we’ll see what happens in January.”

Mikel added, “But, no, I would never swap my Olympic medal for a place back in the Chelsea team.

“One thing you have to do in life as a man is that when you make a decision, or a sacrifice, you have to deal with it.

“You have to stand by your decision. You have to live with it.

“I have not one single regret in going to the Olympics. And I will not trade my medal for anything.”

Meanwhile, Mikel has denied Conte decided to leave him out of his team because he went to the Olympics against his wish.

He said Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr was misquoted as saying he was being punished at Chelsea because he travelled to Rio.

“I’d like to clarify that the recent media claims I’ve been punished by Chelsea for participating at the Rio 2016 Olympics are completely inaccurate,”he said.

I’m Still A Kid – Drogba Not Thinking Of Retirement

Didier Drogba might be turning 39-years-old in March of next year, but the Ivory Coast and Chelsea legend has no intentions of hanging up his boots any time soon.

The former Elephants skipper will be out of contract with Major Soccer League (MLS) side Montreal Impact at the end of the season, but has indicated that he is not thinking of retirement just yet.

An illustrious career, that includes five English Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League winners medal, could receive even more gloss as Drogba helped the Canadian side into the MLS Conference Finals with victory over the New York Red Bulls.

Having settled his differences with head coach Mauro Biello, Drogba finally looks content on making an impact off the bench as they go in search of a maiden MLS crown.

“My contract is ending at Montreal, so I’ll be free at the end of the season. I’m thinking of continuing,” Drogba told French radio station RTL

“If we win the MLS I don’t know what I’ll do. Mentally I’m not tired. I can train for two hours…with a ball I’m still like a kid.

“I want to play, everything’s open, what I want is to take enjoyment out of it,” concluded Drogba who recently recovered from a sore back.

 

‘Playing For Nigeria Cost Mikel Chelsea Place’- Dimeji Laval

Dimeji Lawal says he is amazed by some of the criticism Nigeria captain Mikel Obi has faced as Chelsea manager Antonio Conte continues to overlook him.

Mikel, who is Chelsea’s second longest serving player after John Terry, has not featured for the Premier League giants since the beginning of the season.

The 29-year-old midfielder guided the national Under-23 team to a memorable bronze at the Rio Olympic Games on August 20 – and returned the following month to lead the Super Eagles to a 1-0 victory over Tanzania in a Gabon 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo.

Mikel starred in the Eagles’ 2-1 defeat of Zambia’s Chipolopolo in their opening Russia 2018 World Cup Group B qualifier at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on October 9.

Despite the 2012 UEFA Champions League winner’s impressive performance against Zambia, Italian manager Conte still kept him out the lineup for Saturday’s match against Leicester City, which the Blues won 3-0. The development has seen Mikel receiving more criticism back home.

And former Nigeria winger Dimeji says football fans and pundits in Nigeria should sympathise with the player rather than criticising him.

The Saudi ’89 FIFA Under-20 World Cup silver medallist claims Mikel is paying the price for abandoning Chelsea’s preseason for the Olympics.

According to the FIFA-licensed players’ agent, Conte is not happy that the South Africa 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner opted to represent Nigeria at Rio 2016.

The Olympics is not on the FIFA international calendar so clubs are not required to release players for the tournament – and many big European clubs, including Chelsea, did everything to prevent their star players going to the Games.

Mikel had admitted opting to miss the preseason was a tough choice, especially as former Italy coach Conte was new to the London side.

“It is difficult to leave Chelsea at this time,” Mikel told the Evening Standard. “But I explained to the club why I wanted to go and I thank them for their understanding and allowing me to be a part of this.”

And following the arrival of Frenchman N’Golo Kante from Premier League champions Leicester City, some the British media had predicted that Mikel had potentially sacrificed his place in the team after opting to represent his country at Rio 2016.

Former Belgium-based attacker Dimeji saluted Mikel for his commitment to the national team, saying he deserved some respect for his contribution to the game.

“Playing at the Olympics affected Mikel at Chelsea,” the former Spain-based player said on Sunday.

“I remember that Conte was always praising Mikel until he decided to play at the Olympics.

“I’m not surprised that Conte has decided not to feature him in any of his games – he probably feels let down by the player.”

Dimeji added, “It’s unfortunate that some Nigerians are criticising him. Some are saying he should be dropped from the Eagles because he’s not playing for his club.

“They are wrong. Mikel played a key role in the victory over Zambia. In the Eagles, every move begins with him.

“The young players, particularly (Alex) Iwobi and (Kelechi) Iheanacho look up to him. He deserves respect.”

EPL: Mourinho feels heat as Wenger marks anniversary

Jose Mourinho has vowed to silence the critics when Manchester United face champions Leicester, while his old rival Arsene Wenger hopes to celebrate a memorable milestone with a rare success against Chelsea on Saturday.

Mourinho finds himself under fire less than two months into his United reign after three successive defeats and an unconvincing League Cup win at third tier Northampton.

United are already trailing six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and another setback at Old Trafford this weekend would be a huge blow to Mourinho’s bid to stamp his authority on an team that has underachieved in recent years.

After winning their first three league matches under Mourinho, as well as beating Leicester in the Community Shield, United lost to City and Watford, either side of a Europa League defeat at Feyenoord.

Mourinho’s tactics and team selections have been called into question, while there have been suggestions the manager’s public criticism of individual players, including injury-plagued defender Luke Shaw, has not gone down well in the dressing room.

Seeing off minnows Northampton did little to quell the rising tide of discontent but, in typically bullish fashion, Mourinho has come out fighting.

“We had a bad week. I know the world is full of Einsteins. I know they tried to delete 16 years of my career,” Mourinho moaned.

“They tried to delete an unbelievable history of Manchester United and to focus on a bad week with three bad results. But that’s the new football, it’s full of Einsteins.”

That Mourinho is at a low ebb on the same weekend that Wenger celebrates his 20th anniversary as Arsenal manager won’t have been lost on the Frenchman.

Wenger, who has endured many barbs from Mourinho in the past, faces Chelsea looking to improve on a woeful record of five wins in his last 31 meetings against the Blues.

His last major milestone — his 1,000th match as Arsenal manager — was spoilt by a 6-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge.

But having seen a second-string team win 4-0 at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup in midweek, following a 4-1 success at Hull last weekend, Wenger is confident the depth of his squad will help restore order after a sluggish start to the season.

“We have four days to prepare for the (Chelsea) game, let’s focus on that now,” Wenger said.

“The performance shows that the players who played at Hull need to be on their toes and that’s what we want — competition for places.”

– New situation –

Chelsea go into the London derby buoyed by a 4-2 League Cup win at Leicester in which they came from 2-0 down.

One player desperate to feature at the Emirates is Cesc Fabregas, who made his name as a player under Wenger at Arsenal.

The Spain midfielder is yet to start in the league this season, but having scored twice in extra time at Leicester, he is hopeful of forcing his way into Antonio Conte’s line-up at the Emirates.

“It’s a new situation for me in my career after 13 years of basically playing all the time for my club and national team,” Fabregas said.

“And it’s been tough, I’m not going to deny it. But the last thing I will do is complain or put my hands up and give in.”

Table-topping City head to Swansea for the second time this week after winning 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium in the League Cup.

City have won all nine matches under boss Pepe Guardiola, including five in the league, and the Spaniard kept his team in south Wales to aid their recovery time during a busy period.

Even so, changes are certain as Sergio Aguero is back from suspension and captain Vincent Kompany is struggling with an injury suffered in midweek.

“I want us to recover well, and train well, prepare as well as possible for our game in Swansea, for our game in the Champions League and for Tottenham away,” Guardiola said.

Second placed Everton travel to Bournemouth aiming to bounce back from their first defeat, a midweek League Cup loss to Norwich, since Dutch coach Ronald Koeman took charge.

Fixtures (1400 GMT unless stated)

Saturday

Arsenal v Chelsea (1630 GMT), Bournemouth v Everton, Liverpool v Hull, Middlesbrough v Tottenham, Manchester United v Leicester (1230 GMT), Stoke v West Brom, Sunderland v Crystal Palace, Swansea v Manchester City

Sunday

West Ham v Southampton (1500 GMT)

Monday

Burnley v Watford (1900 GMT)

Wenger Hopes Arsenal Play Catch-Up in Title Race

Arsenal’s meeting with Southampton on Saturday marks the start of important run of six games in 18 days as Arsene Wenger’s side play catch-up in the Premier League.

The new league campaign is only three games old but Arsenal already lie five points behind Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, who have all made perfect starts to the campaign.

And while Gunners boss Wenger is far too experienced to be overly concerned by the early league table, he knows the value of developing momentum in the title race before turning his attention to the club’s opening Champions League game at Paris Saint Germain next week.

The visit of Southampton offers Arsenal the chance to get off the mark on home turf after they lost their opening league game at the Emirates Stadium against Liverpool.

And Wenger will have a much more comfortable afternoon if Chile forward Alexis Sanchez can live up to his claim he is now ready to be compared with Lionel Messi and, Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I have reached a level where I can compete with great players,” Sanchez said.

“I do not feel inferior to anybody. I liken my qualities to Messi and Ronaldo. I have the same abilities as them.”

Wenger is able to call on Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez, who both arrived shortly before the end of last month’s transfer window.

But anything less than victory will turn the focus on Wenger’s failure to once again bring in more world-class recruits, as well as the Frenchman’s long-term future at the club, just days after Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe was linked as his successor.

Mustafi, the Germany defender signed from Valencia, is likely to come straight into the team, but Perez, a Spanish forward from Valencia, may start on the bench.

Nacho Monreal, the Arsenal left-back, believes Mustafi will have no problem settling in.

“He will find it easy to adapt to the club,” Monreal said. “He has already lived abroad, he speaks the language and he knows Mesut Ozil.

“All those elements will lessen the impact of changing environments. Luckily for him, he will feel at home from the very first day.

“Mustafi is a player I like. He is experienced and really tough to beat, which makes him very suitable for the Premier League’s style.

“We really needed to bring a centre back to the club considering Per Mertesacker and Gabriel’s injuries, as well as Calum Chambers’ departure on loan.

“I hope he feels happy here from the very beginning so he can do for us what he does best.”

Alex Iwobi is set to return after recovering from the hip injury he suffered against Liverpool, but Aaron Ramsey is expected to again miss out with a hamstring problem.

Claude Puel is still looking for his first league win since taking charge at Southampton and is hoping it comes against Wenger — his former manager at Monaco.

“It’s the first time that we can play one against one as I haven’t met him in an international game or Champions League game so far,” Puel said.

“It’s the first time we can compete against each other and it’s a pleasure of course because he was a very important person for me and he’s a great manager.

“Arsene is an example for all the coaches because for so many years he’s done really well in the Premier League, with Champions League secured every season.

“People don’t sometimes realise how good his work with Arsenal has been, and I really think he’s a good example for all the other trainers.”

EPL Transfer Funds: “Rivals’ Budget Quite Scary” – Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says “it’s quite scary” to look at the money being spent to strengthen his Premier League rivals ahead of the new season.

 

Wenger spent £30 million on Granit Xhaka in May, but has yet to make another major signing, while the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea have both brought in several expensive reinforcements.

 

Manchester City are also closing in on a big-money deal for John Stones that could reach as much as £50 million, while United have agreed a record-breaking fee of €120m to buy Paul Pogba from Juventus, sources have told ESPN FC.

 

Wenger is still searching for a striker and a forward as the Gunners try to improve on their second-place finish with a first Premier League title since 2004. But the Frenchman has acknowledged that the money being spent by other clubs will make things a lot more difficult in the upcoming campaign.

 

“It’s a big ask, because when you look at the Premier League, every club is hugely ambitious,” Wenger said after Arsenal beat the MLS All-Stars 2-1 in San Jose, California.

 

“You look at the cheques that everybody signs and it’s quite scary. That’s what the Premier League is about at the moment.”

 

Wenger is entering the final year of his contract and is under huge pressure to deliver a big title. When asked if another top-four finish in the league — which he has delivered in all 20 of his previous seasons — would be enough this time, the Arsenal boss said: “It’s never enough. I personally believe that no matter what you do, it’s never enough.

 

“You have to give absolutely everything to take the best out of the team. I believe that we know what we have to do, because we were second last year, we had 18 teams behind us.”

 

The Gunners will have to make do without Per Mertesacker for several months after the centre-back sustained a serious knee injury and Wenger reiterated in an interview with ESPN that he still wants an offensive and a defensive signing before the end of the summer transfer window.

 

“We were a bit short on goals scored [last season], so we will try certainly to strengthen a little bit in that department,” Wenger said. “Defensively we need to bring some more experience into our squad. I think in the middle of the park we have enough players.”

 

Meanwhile Arsenal’s rivals continue to splash the cash.

Official: Antonio Conte Confirmed As New Chelsea Manager

The Italy coach will remain in charge of the Azzurri at Euro 2016, after which he will take the reins at Stamford Bridge having beaten off plenty of competition to land the job

Antonio Conte is the new manager of Chelsea, the club have confirmed, with the Italy boss ending months of speculation by finally penning terms in London on Monday.

The 46-year-old has put pen to paper on an THREE-year contract but will not take charge of the club until after the European Championship in France this summer, where he is looking to guide the Azzurri to only their second continental win.

Chelsea have been looking for a long-term successor to Jose Mourinho since the Portuguese was sacked in December, with popular interim boss Guus Hiddink unwilling to take on the job permanently.

The Blues are still unbeaten in the Premier League since the Dutchman took over – their 15-game streak is the longest undefeated run in the division this season – and still have a slim chance of qualifying for Europe.

The lack of Champions League football has not put Conte off, however, with the Italian beating off competition from the likes of Copa America-winning coach Jorge Sampaoli to land the Stamford Bridge job.

Conte arrives in England with a hugely impressive CV, having won the Scudetto in three consecutive seasons with Juventus between 2011 and 2014 and helping lay the foundations for the Old Lady’s recent dominance of Italian football.

He fared less well in the cup competitions, however, losing the Coppa Italia final to Napoli and failing to progress further than the quarter-finals of the Champions League – even crashing out at the group stage in his final season at the club.

After replacing Cesare Prandelli as Italy manager two years ago, Conte oversaw an unbeaten qualification campaign for Euro 2016, though he will step down to take charge of Chelsea after this summer’s tournament.

Lampard Backs Mourinho For Manchester United Job

The Chelsea legend says the Portuguese has all the attributes to succeed at Old Trafford, and voiced his support for John Terry in the defender’s contract standoff with the Blues

Chelsea icon Frank Lampard believes that former coach Jose Mourinho would rise to the challenge at Manchester United should the club turn to him to revive their flagging fortunes.

The Portuguese has long been the front-runner to replace former mentor Louis van Gaal since ending his second spell at Stamford Bridge in December with the Blues languishing in the bottom half of the table.

Lampard, who won two leagues titles and three domestic trophies in Mourinho’s first spell in charge at Chelsea between 2004 and 2007, is convinced that the unemployed coach would be a success at Old Trafford should United decide to part company with Van Gaal at the end of the 2015-16 season.

“I think Mourinho can manage anywhere in the world,” the New York City FC midfielder, who was in attendance at the FIFA Interactive World Cup finals, told Goal when asked if Mourinho could return United to their former glory.

“I think he’s shown it with his record and whether it’s with Porto, a so-called smaller team in Europe; Chelsea, the success he had there; Inter, again taking a team that’s hardly won the Champions League to go and win it; Real Madrid.

“No job will be too much for him. [Manchester United is] not an easy job, similar with Antonio Conte with Chelsea [the Italian is expected to take over in the summer], but he certainly has the attributes to do it.”

Meanwhile, Lampard’s former Chelsea and England team-mate John Terry has been locked in a dispute over whether to extend his Blues contract, which is set to expire in June. The centre-back has been vocal in his desire to re-sign at Stamford Bridge, while the club appear to be reluctant to meet his demands.

However, Lampard thinks Terry’s talent and experience could be crucial in recovering from the disappointment of a season spent in mid-table obscurity.

“It’s a difficult one with John Terry,” he said. “I think, for me, he’s been probably the best defender at Chelsea again this year. I think he’s a leader, he has a huge presence with the club.

“For me, I would [give him another contract], but it’s a decision for the club to make. I know John wants to stay. I think he’s a help for the young players at the club, I think he’s a link with the fans at the club, but the decision will be made by the owners. Same as what happened with me, eventually your time comes. I’m not sure now is his time. I’ve seen him perform this year, and I think he’s done very well.”

Lampard left the Premier League behind in 2015 to join MLS franchise NYCFC midway through its debut season.

One of his team-mates at Yankee Stadium is Italy, Juventus and AC Milan legend Andrea Pirlo and the Englishman freely admits that he has been left in awe of his former World Cup and Champions League rival.

“Pirlo is great,” Lampard said. “I have huge respect from playing against him for many years, and playing with him is an absolute pleasure. His passing, his work ethic, which I didn’t know until I played with him, how hard he works in the week in training and in the gym. As a player, he’s a genius with the ball.”

‘I Was Scared Meeting Terry, Drogba, Shevchenko’ — Mikel

Nigerian star, John Mikel Obi has revealed that he was consumed with fears on his first day at Chelsea’s dressing room becuase of the presence of superstars, such as John Terry, Michael Ballack, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Andrily Shevchenko among others.

The latest edition of the official magazine of the club, known as ‘Chelsea’, features an exclusive interview with John Mikel Obi. The elegant enforcer will reach the 10-year mark in the summer.

In fact, the Nigerian can still remember vividly his first day at our Cobham training round when he joined as a fresh-faced 19-year-old.

‘I came into the dressing room that day literally shaking,’ he recalls. ‘I saw the players that were in there – the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Claude Makelele, Geremi, Michael Essien, Michael Ballack, Andriy Shevchenko – it was crazy. And I was just 19

‘I was shaking the whole day because I couldn’t talk to any of them. I didn’t know what to say to guys like that. They were really nice guys, but it was scary. It can be tough coming into a dressing room like that as a younger player. You had to earn the right to be among them.’

He has certainly done that over the years, and this season he has played a key role in the Blues’ improved form in the new year. Guus Hiddink has spoken about him in glowing terms and Mikel is pleased with his role in the team.

‘I love doing my defensive duties, but at the same time I love having the ball and always trying to be available so we can play out from the back,’ he said. ‘This is something we’ve talked about, something the manager has stressed – trying to play out from the back so we can always be in control of the game. I think doing this we have much more possession of the ball.

‘I like having the ball and making the team play. When I was young, my natural position wasn’t as a defensive midfielder so maybe that gives me a bit of an edge.’

‘I Had To Foul Lucas!’ – Mikel Unfazed By PSG Error

The midfielder conceded the free kick which Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored from, via a deflection off the Chelsea man, only to cancel out the strike in the 2-1 loss

John Obi Mikel has dismissed criticism over his part in Paris Saint-Germain‘s opening goal asChelsea lost in the Champions League last-16 first leg, insisting he had to foul Lucas Moura.

The midfielder was penalised for bringing down the Brazilian just over 25 yards from goal, before turning his back on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s strike which deflected off him and into the net.

Mikel, though, made amends with the last action of the first half, taking advantage of slack defending in the PSG penalty area to hammer home from a corner.

“I had to fall in because Lucas was going deeper and deeper into our 18-yard box,” Mikel told BT Sport. “I had to – if not get the ball – foul him, which I did.

“Then the free kick just skipped off my feet and went into the back of the net. But we came back strong as well, but we’re very disappointed to have lost the game.”

Chelsea fell to a 2-1 loss, with substitute Edinson Cavani netting a late winner, but Mikel insists it was a case of mission accomplished after securing a valuable away goal.

“Our aim was to come out here and get a goal and we’ve done that,” he said. “We still have the second leg to play, so we have to take that back home and capitalise on.

“We must make sure we build on that. We know they’re a very good team.”

Manuel Pellegrini To Chelsea: ‘Chilean On Blues Managerial Wishlist This Summer’

Outgoing Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is likely to be linked with the Chelsea post in the coming weeks as the Blues search for a long-term successor to José Mourinho.

The Portuguese was sacked in December after a disastrous Premier League title defence saw Chelsea languish closer to a relegation struggle than the title race. Guus Hiddink is currently interim manager but the Dutchman has expressed little desire to take the position beyond the end of the current campaign.

Pellegrini can boast the third best win ratio in the Premier League era – behind just Mourinho and former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson – and offers clubs a brand of off-field tranquillity of which Mourinho is often incapable.

The Express speculate the Blues are considering an intriguing swoop for one of football’s elder statesmen next summer if a move for first-choice target Antonio Conte, the Italy manager, fails to materialise. 63-year-old Pellegrini is thought to be reluctant to retire when he leaves the Etihad this season and may be inclined to rival his former employers for honours in England.

Conte is preparing to lead the Italian national side to the European Championship in France this summer with bookies placing them as sixth-favourites at this early stage.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew has revealed he will try to tempt out-of-contract captain John Terry into signing at Selhurst Park.

The 35-year-old announced following the 5-1 victory against MK Dons in the FA Cup fourth round that Chelsea have notified him they will not offer him a new contract.

Speaking ahead of his side’s encounter with Bournemouth on Tuesday night, Pardew said he has failed to lure the former England skipper to join him on several occasions.

“He always sniggers at the suggestion. Of course I will ask one more time. I’m sure I’ll bump into him again and ask the question.”

Terry joined the Blues at the age of 14 and played 696 games for the club along the way to lifting four Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Champions League with the Blues. He says he will look abroad for new employers, however, out of loyalty to Chelsea.

‘Terry Could Still Earn A New Deal’ – Chelsea

The Blues captain announced that he would be leaving the club at the end of the current campaign but the Premier League champions have issued a response

Chelsea have hinted that captain John Terry could yet be offered a new deal at Stamford Bridge, despite the defender confirming that he will be leaving the club when his current contract expires at the end of the 2015-16 season. 

Following Chelsea’s 5-1 FA Cup win over MK Dons on Sunday, the club captain told reporters that he had been made aware that his deal at Stamford Bridge would not be renewed and indicated that he would look to continue playing outside of the Premier League.

But following Terry’s revelation, Chelsea have issued a statement hinting that the door may still be open for the 35-year-old to sign a new deal at the club.

“He is a fantastic servant of Chelsea Football Club and a superb captain and, as such, the club will keep the channels of dialogue open,” the statement read. 

“While no new deal currently on the table, that situation could change in the coming months.”

In an emotional admission following the MK Dons game, Terry had admitted that the situation around his contract could change, should a new manager come into the club and want the 35-year-old to stay on.

“They said that when the new manager comes in, things might change. It’s a no at the minute,” Terry said. 

“Unfortunately it was a no. It’s not going to be a fairytale ending, I’m not going to retire at Chelsea.”

Ifreke Inyang: Mourinho; Of Betrayal And The Last Supper – The Man Many See As Jesus?

To many, Jose Mourinho is the modern-day Jesus Christ.

An instant miracle worker. Good luck convincing Porto fans, who saw their own lift the Champions League in the 2003/2004 campaign. I dare you to argue with Chelsea fans, who celebrated back-to-back Premier League titles after he arrived.

Heck, he even resurrected Inter Milan. They won an unpredecented Treble with ‘dead bones’.

It gets better.

While we expect the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, Mourinho has been there and done that.

He was sacked at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, making him the first manager in recent history to be axed by one club twice.

The procession to his crucifixion began on Monday night. Chelsea were defeated 2-1 by Leicester City. The home side, managed by his predecessor at Stamford Bridge, Claudio Ranieri, were everything he hoped to be. Hyperactive. Slick. Ruthless.

“My work was betrayed,” he lamented afterwards.

“I worked four days on this match. I prepared everything related to the opponent. I identified four movements where they scored almost all their goals. My players got all that information, you can ask them, they are honest guys who will tell you it is true.”

Who be the Judas Iscariot in the group be? Eden Hazard who substituted himself off? John Terry who allowed the trigger-happy Jamie Vardy ghost past him for the first goal?

While we were trying to demystify that, the club held its Christmas dinner on Thursday.

Mourinho joined his players and staff at their annual party at their Cobham training ground.

It proved to be his Last Supper.

Chairman Bruce Buck and Eugene Tenenbaum arrived at about 2pm and delivered the news: it is finished.

The Internet was in raptures. Some Chelsea fans celebrated and rival fans trolled and posted memes.

Guus Hiddink might be announced as Interim Manager soon. Ah, a familiar messiah. He came in and did a decent work in 2009.

This time around, Chelsea, looking up from their 16th position in the league, need salvation.

'Ifreke Inyang tweets via @Ifreke

News Alert!! Jose Mourinho ‘Sacked By Chelsea’

The Portuguese boss, who has been under fire following the Blues’ poor start to the season, has been relieved of his duties by club owner Roman Abramovich

According to widespread reports, Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Chelsea following the club’s latest defeat, a 2-1 loss to Leicester City on Monday, capping off a poor start to the season that leaves the reigning Premier League champions 16th in the Premier League.

The Blues boss has been under increasing pressure in recent weeks as the club have slumped to nine defeats in sixteen league games, following a 2015-16 campaign in which the Blues swept to the title.

After the latest defeat, to Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester, the Portuguese manager publicly criticised his players, suggesting that members of the playing squad had “betrayed” him and indicating his belief that last season’s form was due to excellent managerial performances, raising the players above their natural level.

Following those comments, Mourinho’s relationship with the Chelsea boardroom and Roman Abramovich came under increasing strain and now the club have acted to remove their league-winning manager.

More to follow…

EPL: The Top Four Is Gone, Says Mourinho

Jose Mourinho conceded Chelsea have no chance of finishing in the Premier League’s top four after Monday’s 2-1 defeat at Leicester left them languishing just outside the relegation zone.

Mourinho’s side are 14 points behind fourth placed Manchester United with 22 matches remaining and even the Blues boss has given up on the crisis-torn champions’ hopes of making up that gap.

Goals from Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez condemned Chelsea to their ninth defeat in 16 league games and they are now just one point above the bottom three.

“The top four is gone, clearly,” Mourinho told Sky Sports.

mourinho

“I don’t accept we are in a relegation battle.

“You look at the table and we are there but you think you are in a relegation battle if you think you are there for three or four months. I don’t think that.”

Chelsea’s latest flop in a dismal season left Mourinho admitting he was growing increasingly frustrated by an astonishing slump that could lead to his sacking.

“When some of your players don’t hit the levels they are capable of it is hard to see,” he said.

“This season we are doing so bad for some reason, although not all of them.

“We were the best team for 20 or 25 minutes, maybe for a maximum of 30 minutes. Then Leicester were the best team for an hour.”

Already beset by reports that he is close to being axed by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, Mourinho hoped he had bought himself some breathing space after leading his side into the Champions League knockout stages last week.

But the loss to Claudio Ranieri’s surprise leaders will turn the heat back up on Mourinho and he responded by vowing to work even harder on the training ground.

“To turn things around, I know only one way: working at the top level,” he added.

“Day by day in training I have no complaints with them. But is it frustrating to see what they are doing in training and what they do in matches, then clearly yes.”

‘Fake’ Mourinho Is Finished As A Coach – Adrian Mutu

The Romanian, who was sacked by Chelsea for testing positive for cocaine in 2004, accused the Blues boss of only knowing of negative ways to draw a reaction from players

Jose Mourinho is “fake” and “finished” as a coach, according to former Chelsea player Adrian Mutu.

The Romanian, who currently plays for Pune City in the Indian Super League, endured a difficult relationship with Mourinho during their brief spell together at Stamford Bridge in 2004 which culminated in Mutu being sacked after testing positive for cocaine.

The 36-year-old accused the Chelsea manager of lacking man management skills and taking a negative approach to drawing a reaction from his players during periods of poor form.

“He has been a great coach in the past but, as a person, he is fake,” Mutu told the Mirror .

“He only looks after himself, and has no consideration for how his players are feeling and thinking. You could not go and talk to him

“As a coach, he is finished. There is no way back for him. How do you come back from something like this [current form]?

“You can see now how many of his players look unhappy. Why? He is the reason. He cannot talk to players like they should be spoken to.

“The first thing he does is he goes to the biggest player in his team, and tries to make him angry.

“No matter who it was, John Terry, Frank Lampard, it is just what he does for fun. That was just his way of doing things, and he won’t change .

Drogba To Manage Chelsea

Former Chelsea  striker Didier Drogba says he has an agreement to return to the club once he finishes playing and wants it to be as manager.

Drogba, who now plays in Canada, scored 164 goals in two spells with the Blues.

“I want to give back to the club which has given so much to me. I have agreed that with the club directors,” the 37-year-old told BBC Africa.

“Why not manager? Why not sporting director, trainer at the academy or maybe an advising role for strikers?”

Drogba scored the penalty that won the Champions League for Chelsea in 2012 and won his fourth Premier League title on returning to the club last season before he joined Montreal Impact in Major League Soccer.

Credit: Vanguard

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “It Is Too Late For Premier League Move”

The striker has been linked with a move to England but says it’s unlikely he will play there at this stage of his career

Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has all but ruled out a move to the Premier League at the end of the season.

The 34-year-old’s contract with PSG expires at the end of the season and he has yet to make a decision about his long-term future.

Ibrahimovic has been linked with a move to Manchester United, but a transfer to England now appears unlikely.

“I think it is too late to come to England,” the striker told Sportsmail. “I am very happy at PSG. I have six months to go on my contract and we will see what happens afterwards.

“I am enjoying it, I enjoy every day on the field. While I am playing at the top level I just want to enjoy it and do my thing. I do not know where I will finish my career, let’s wait and see.”

Ibrahimovic netted twice in Sweden’s 2-2 draw with Denmark on Tuesday to send his county through to Euro 2016 and he has admitted he will probably retire from international duty after the tournament in France.

“I am looking forward to the Euros,” he added. “It is probably going to be my last tournament with the national team and I am very excited because before these two play-off games there was all this kind of talk that we were not able to beat Denmark.

“Now we are very happy and I am satisfied. It will be magic for everyone.”

‘Premier League Is My Number One Choice’ – Ancelotti

The former Chelsea manager admits that he wants to return to English football but will not take on a managerial role before the start of next season

Carlo Ancelotti has admitted he would love to return to the Premier League next season.

The Italian, who was sacked by Real Madrid at the end of the 2014-15 campaign, spent two years in charge of Chelsea between 2009 and 2011.

With his former club languishing in 16th place under Jose Mourinho this term, Ancelotti has been linked with a possible return to Stamford Bridge.

But while the 56-year-old claimed that he is eyeing a move back to England, he insisted that he would not take a job this season.

“I had a fantastic experience in France and Spain,” Ancelotti told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“The most important thing is to start; to find a club with a good project and be competitive. If it’s in England, it’s better.

“I will stay out until the end of the season and try to find another club next season.

“Not just in England, it can be in another country, but my idea is not to start now.”

Ancelotti, who won the Premier League title with Chelsea in 2010, was also supportive of Mourinho, who he labelled the “best person” for the job.

The Blues have won just three of their 12 top-flight games so far this year, but the former Milan and Paris Saint-Germain coach backed the Portuguese to turn things around.

“Chelsea are used to competing at the top level. They have lost a little bit of confidence in their play and arrived at bad results. Slowly they can move on from this situation.

“Mourinho is the best person to manage this because he is the one involved, he knows the situation and the condition of the players and the club took the right decision to stay with Mourinho.”

Chelsea Are The Tiger Woods Of Football – Gullit

The Blues fell to their seventh defeat of the season against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and the former manager has now spoken out on the crisis

Ruud Gullit feels opposing teams no longer fear Chelsea and has compared the ailing Premier League champions to golfing icon Tiger Woods.

Woods, a 14-time major winner, was widely regarded as the finest golfer to play the game for much of his career, but a massive slump in form has seen the American fall to number 362 in the world rankings.

Chelsea have endured a nightmare start to the 2015-16 season, with their loss at Stoke City on Saturday their seventh in just 12 Premier League games this term.

Jose Mourinho’s side sit 16th in the table – some 13 points off a top-four place – and Goal understands that the Portuguese is now hanging on to his job by a thread following a player revolt.

And former Chelsea boss Gullit told Sky Sports: “Chelsea are like Tiger Woods.

“In the beginning everybody who was competing with Tiger Woods already knew that they had lost the game. Now people see him and Chelsea and think: ‘We can beat them.’

“They lost that aura of invincibility. They lost it. You can feel it. You can sense it. The players also sense it that the opposition is not afraid of you anymore. You only get it back by getting results.”

However, Gullit feels that Mourinho is the man to turn the Blues’s form around in the coming weeks and months.

The Dutchman added: “In Holland there is a saying, Mourinho he has to drink the last drop of the cup of poison. To the last drop. If the last drop is done then things will change. I think he is the only one who can change it.  He can change it.

“If he had said after the last game: ‘I’m wrong. I didn’t need to do that. I was emotional. You’re right. I should have this punishment.’ Then everyone would forgive him.   

“In the past when the team won with Mourinho, it was Mourinho who won. When they lost, it was Mourinho who lost. All of a sudden this year, he was blaming the players. Now it was Mourinho who won and the players who lost. That was a bit of a difference I saw. He was criticising his players. Beforehand he always guarded his players. Protected them.”

Mourinho: I Might Not Watch Chelsea’s Clash With Stoke

The former Real Madrid manager is banned from the Britannia Stadium due to an FA disciplinary charge, but says his assistants are prepared for all circumstances

Jose Mourinho admits he does not know if he will watch Chelsea‘s clash with Stoke City after rejecting the chance to appeal his stadium ban.

Mourinho saw his appeal against a suspended stadium suspension relating to comments made to the media rejected on Thursday, and he insists he “already knows the result” of a potential second appeal after being punished for his behaviour during the club’s 2-1 loss to West Ham.

The Blues boss will travel with the side to the Britannia Stadium before leaving the team in the hands of his assistants, and claims he has made no plans as to where he will watch the match.

“I have no plans, maybe I sit in street corner with my iPad, I don’t know,” he told reporters.

“If I cannot contact with the game maybe I don’t even watch the game. I can’t contact with the game so what’s the point? Live score, results, maybe.”

Mourinho, though, says the Blues are well-prepared for every eventuality, with the Portuguese having thoroughly briefed his backroom team.

“If the first 10 minutes we are playing with seven men they are not prepared for that, they have to decide themselves. The game isn’t predictable, you don’t know the direction but we can try to reduce that and that we did,” he added.

“The most incredible scenarios that you can imagine, let’s go to extreme scenarios. At half-time winning 4-0, at half-time losing 4-0 and in between those you have 1000 options. Be dominating and controlling the game, being dominated and not having control, having problems in this area, in that area, injuries, four red cards, we went through all these different scenarios and they are prepared.

“What I think is important is for them to feel protected by the fact that it is my responsibility and it is just for the players to play and for the assistants to be with them and be supportive.”

Chelsea were knocked out of the League Cup by Stoke on penalties, but rubbished the suggestion that his side would go in search of revenge, insisting they have nothing to avenge.

“Revenge for what? What’s the problem? Why? We played a good game, people were nice to us, our supporters were fantastic, no problems between supporters, a great football match, a good referee, a good show for everyone,” he added.

“One team scores one more penalty, one team left happy, one team left unhappy, everything was normal, revenge for what?”

Lampard: Why England Wasted My Partnership With Gerrard

The midfielder is still at a loss as to why him and the former Liverpool man failed to click for England, but says they were let down my a succession of managers

Frank Lampard admits he has regrets over his England career and his inability to form an effective midfield partnership with Steven Gerrard.

The pair – who now ply their trade in MLS for New York City FC and LA Galaxy respectively – were talismanic figures for Chelsea and Liverpool but didn’t click together at international level.

A succession of England managers failed to get the best out of the two men while playing in the same side, though Lampard believes more could have been done by the coaches he played under.

He told Sky Sports‘ ‘Monday Night Football‘: “I think there were times when they [England managers] could have done something different. I certainly would take personal responsibility if I don’t reach certain levels.

“I think there were times when we could have been managed better, there could have been a way to get the best out of us.

“When we were both in our prime playing regularly for Chelsea and Liverpool, scoring goals, being involved heavily, we went away with England sometimes and you’d play in a 4-4-2, Stevie’s asked to sit, Stevie’s on the left.

“I played with Capello for years in the holding role and I was never playing like that for Chelsea ever. There was something missing, I felt, when I look back at my England career.

“I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s because we play against each other every week and there’s little groups, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea.

“And when you’re Argentinian, and they are all playing all over the world, they come home, it’s a big family, and there’s a different spirit. I’m not sure we ever managed to get that togeth

Chelsea striker, Diego Costa, hospitalised due to rib injury

Chelsea FC striker Diego Costa was rushed to the hospital after sustaining a rib injury during the League Cup holders’ penalty shootout defeat at Stoke City on Tuesday, manager Jose Mourinho said.

 

The Brazil-born Spain striker appeared to hurt himself after a collision with Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland and went off in the 33rd minute, after initially playing on.

He was replaced with Loic Remy.
“He’s in the hospital,” Mourinho told his post-match press conference at the Britannia Stadium. Asked how Costa had sustained the injury, he replied: “I don’t know. I think he punched himself.”
Chelsea lost 5-4 on penalties, with Butland saving the decisive spot-kick from Eden Hazard after the game had finished 1-1 in normal time.
Costa, 27, was Chelsea’s top scorer last season with 21 goals in his first campaign after signing from Atletico Madrid, but has found the net only three times in all competitions this season.

‘Guardiola Will Move To The Premier League… Sooner Rather Than Later’ – Henry

The Arsenal legend thinks the Catalan boss’ competitive streak and desire to win trophies will not allow him to stay away from English football for much longer

Thierry Henry expects Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola to manage a Premier League club in the near future.

Guardiola’s contract with Bayern expires in June, and the former Barcelona boss has indicated he is in no rush to sign an extension.

And Henry, who won two league titles and the Champions League under Guardiola during his time at Barca, believes the 44-year-old is well suited to Premier League football.

“I think eventually he will come,” Henry told Sky Sports News. “He’s a competitor, he will want to win a title in every league possible.

“It will suit him, being here in the Premier League. He’s a great guy, [and he has a] great view of the game. He’s one or two steps ahead, he’s in control of everything, the way he loves the game is second to none.

“He is one of the best managers I’ve ever had. One thing that strikes me with him that you don’t see, he’s one of those guys who’s very demanding and [the] discipline that he has is on point. You need that amount of discipline to perform on and off the field.”

Henry added: “He already speaks English, by the way… maybe that’s one thing that tells us he will come sooner rather than later.”

I’ve Taken Over From Suarez As Premier League Villain – Costa

The Spain international feels he has assumed the mantle of the league’s bad guy from the now Barcelona star, voicing concerns over his treatment

Chelsea striker Diego Costa believes he is unfairly treated by some in England and has now taken over the role of Premier League villain from Luis Suarez.

Costa has been the centre of controversy on a number of occasions during his time in London – most recently earning a three-match ban for his clash with Laurent Koscielny in last month’s derby with Arsenal.

The 27-year-old also tangled with Gabriel, attracting criticism from Arsene Wenger and sections of the media, and Costa has now echoed complaints made by ex-Liverpool man Suarez before his move to Spain.

“I think Luis Suarez left this country because of how he was treated and made out to be the bad guy,” he told the London Evening Standard.

“Do I feel like I have taken his place? That is crystal clear. It is obvious that there are people after me. If you do something wrong and it makes the papers, then okay, that’s fair.

“But when people are after you all of the time, when you’re always the headline that’s not fair. I hope they’re not after me. I hope it’s not the case. I hope it’s something that’s just in my head.”

Costa’s behaviour against Arsenal was branded “unacceptable” by Wenger prior to his ban, with the Brazil-born frontman always ready to make his presence felt among opposition defenders.

“The critics have to carry on what they do but they should always be truthful,” he continued.

“If I do something wrong, I am the first one to accept the criticism, I have no problem with that.

“For example, my behaviour in the game against Arsenal [where he earned his ban for raising his hands towards Koscielny] was not the best. I know that, but it was not just me. There was someone else involved.

“Many, many times I get kicked, I get elbowed – that’s part of football. It happens on the pitch but I never complain. Football is a contact sport and people have to understand they can’t change it into theatre.

“Football has always been a contact sport, these things have always happened. But we are professionals and what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch. So after the game it’s all good.

“But if I keep getting banned for three games, it’s going to be hard to maintain my level.”

Children’s Football Coach At Chelsea Repeatedly Raped School Girl Atleast 15 Times

A children’s coach at Chelsea repeatedly raped a 12-year-old girl at their training centre in Surrey, a court has heard.

Shane Hughes, 31, allegedly abused the girl 15 times over four months in a physiotherapy room, where she was supposed to be getting treatment for a knee injury.

Prosecutor John Livingstone told the court that the first attack happened after he told her to take her clothes off and get on the massage table.

Mr Livingstone added: ‘She said “No, what is happening?” He then pushed her back on the massage table and told her not to scream and, though she did, he put his hands over her mouth and forced her clothes off.’

It alleged that he raped the girl and forced her to perform a sex act, Kingston Crown Court heard.

Hughes, who is the Premier League club’s children’s coach, is said to have carried out the offence in 2011 at their training headquarters in Cobham, Surrey.

The girl is now 16 years old, and Hughes is facing 14 counts of rape in relation to a child under the age of 13. He however denied raping her while the case was adjourned for continuation.

Chelsea Were Denied A Penalty – Terry

The Blues skipper believes that the club should have been awarded a spot kick for a challenge on Cesc Fabregas in the first-half of the stalemate

John Terry feels Chelsea should have been awarded a penalty in the 0-0 Champions League draw withDynamo Kyiv on Tuesday.

Cesc Fabregas was seemingly brought down by Dynamo defender Sergiy Rybalka inside the area during the opening 45 minutes at the Olympic Stadium, but referee Damir Skomina opted not to blow his whistle.

“We kept a clean sheet which is a positive and it is not a bad result, but I think we deserved to win,” Terry told the Chelsea website.

“The first half was a lot better than the second. We created a few chances, Willian’s free-kick hit the bar, and there was the penalty that for me maybe was one, that wasn’t given. 

“We were unlucky not to score and we are disappointed not to win, even if they had a couple of half-chances as well. We came here to win the game and there were some good performances.”

The draw in Kiev, together with Porto’s 2-0 win at home to Maccabi Tel Aviv, leaves Chelsea third in Group G with four points from three matches played. Terry though is confident they can progress to the knockout stages if they win their home games.

“We move on and it is important now we go back to the Bridge and we have to win our home games. Big Champions League nights in front of our home support, under the floodlights, is where we want to be so it is in our hands and we feel comfortable with that.

“We are a great side and we will get there with the hunger and the ambition that is in the squad. You don’t win trophies year after year without that hunger in the belly. We are collectively together, the players, the manager and the fans and we will be alright.”

Chelsea’s next match in the Champions League is the return fixture at home to Dynamo on November 4.

Ifreke Inyang: 5 Things To Look Out For As The EPL Returns This Weekend

1. Flying without Ings

What a welcome Jurgen Klopp has received. But that will count for nothing, if he does not get a positive result at Tottenham in the early kick-off on Saturday. Already, the former Dortmund boss has to deal with a double injury blow, as Danny Ings and Joe Gomez are both out for the season. Roberto Firmino, Christian Benteke and Jordan Henderson are all unavailable this weekend. But the media will be unforgiving if it goes wrong. He needs to hit the ground running.

2. Are they Gunner beat Watford?

It is almost a surprise that Arsenal are second in the league, after such an uncertain start to the campaign. But this is the Premier League and anything can happen. Before the international break, the Gunners were at their mesmeric best, tearing Manchester United apart at the Emirates. Up next is a trip to Watford, with an in-form Odion Ighalo. Let’s see how they square up to a different challenge.

3. Martial arts

Anthony Martial has been rewarded for his excellent start to his United career, with the September Player of the Month. The 19-year-old has brought pace and directness to Louis van Gaal’s side, although he could not save his team, as Arsenal ran riot the last time. It is time to fight back though. They are away at Everton. And Roberto Martinez’s men enjoying playing against the big boys.

4. Mou misery for Chelsea?

Jose Mourinho looks like a man possessed these days. The Portuguese is renowned for his caustic soundbites and mind games, but nothing seems to be working. Chelsea has come out to back their manager, but you do feel that anything other than a win against Aston Villa on Saturday might spell the end for the Special One.

5. Salt to injuries?

It has been a bad international break for Manchester City and Manuel Pellegrini. Sergio Aguero – who scored five times against Newcastle – and David Silva will miss the next month through injuries. Vincent Kompany does not appear fully fit either. The table toppers welcome Bournemouth to the Etihad this week and will be eager to put their injury woes behind them.

——–

‘Ifreke Inyang tweets via @Ifreke

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor is associates

Ololade Ajekigbe: A Special Headache For The Special One

It is no longer news that the self-proclaimed “Special One” has been having some not-so-special moments as the coach of the defending champions, Chelsea since the beginning of the 2015/16 English Premier League season. The blues have won two, drawn two, and lost four of the eight games they have played so far this season. A shock to many and their worst start to a premier league season in 37 years! Jose Mourinho’s seven-minute rambling to one question was reminiscent of a man clutching at straws out of desperation. He cut the figure of one afraid of getting the boot after his second coming to a club he clearly loves so much. It looked almost likely that the Chelsea boss would be on his way out of Stamford bridge, and effectively become the third manager to bite the dust after the sacking of Dick Advocaat of Sunderland and Brendan Rodgers of Liverpool.

The usually composed Portuguese went on and on about the unfair treatment constantly meted out to Chelsea by match officials and insisted that he would not resign unless he was fired, maintaining that he is still the best man to lift the club out of the quagmire they currently find themselves. Even though his “first-to-attack” strategy of literally asking the club management to either back him or sack him seems to have paid off, as the Chelsea board have issued a statement reiterating their full support for him and affirming his position as manager of the club, one cannot help but wonder how patient Roman Abramovich will continue to be should Chelsea fail to win their next two games at home to the equally relegation threatened Aston Villa and away to West Ham United.

The Russian Billionaire has in time past been quick to wield his “red card” when Chelsea have looked unlikely to make top four; the unceremonious exit of Felipe Scolari, Andre-Villas Boas and Roberto Di matteo are cases in point. Feelers have it that the only reason why Mourinho is still being retained as the coach of the Blues is because the Chelsea owner has opted to be cautious about making a hasty decision this time around, considering the way he parted ways acrimoniously with the “Special One” during his first spell at the club. Apart from the veiled threat to his position at his beloved Chelsea, the 52- year old also has to contend with the charge of misconduct against him by the English Football Association. If found guilty, he could face a stiff penalty after his comments about referee Robert Madley’s failure to award a penalty to his team during their home game against Southampton which they eventually lost 3-1.

Apart from the much publicised row and subsequent fall out with popular team doctor Eva Caneiro, which not a few people have blamed Mourinho for, there have been rumours about all not being well in the dressing room, especially regarding the dropping skipper John Terry, as well as some senior players for some crucial games; most importantly, their Champions league clash with Porto. But the Chelsea captain has come out to say that the players believe in their coach and his ability to get them out of the doldrums of the bleak situation that they have found themselves. The continued selection of Branislav Ivanovic for matches despite his obvious poor run of form have also raised a few eyebrows.

Nevertheless, what is worrisome is that Mourinho doesn’t seem to have identified the problem with his team at the moment; a prerequisite for finding the solution to the problem, for how can one solve a problem that he has not identified? Another school of thought which consists of the former Inter Milan, England and Russia manager Fabio Capello believe that the Portuguese is usually bereft of ideas during his second season at a club, an opinion I find difficult to agree with given the successful spells the Chelsea coach had both in his first and second seasons at Porto and Chelsea.

I am of the opinion that if anyone can turn Chelsea’s season, it certainly would be Jose Mourinho.  As a matter of fact, I believe Chelsea can still clinch a champions league spot this season. Apart from his thorough understanding of the Blues having spent a good number of years with them. His impeccable career achievements as a fantastic coach who ranks among the world’s best when it comes to getting results is certainly not in doubt. Very few managers can boast of Mourinho’s pedigree! The stats speak for him! Which is why he is also regarded by many players, coaches and commentators as one of the greatest and most successful managers in the world. The charismatic Portuguese is one of only five coaches to have won the Champions League with two different teams. Not forgetting the fact that he has won league titles in four different countries!

Quite a number of people also believe that Mourinho’s “many sins” have come to find him out; citing his flippant tongue and friction with a couple of people (especially Eva Caneiro and Arsenal coach, Arsene Wenger) as reasons for his teams recent misfortune. But for now, I am glad that the controversial Chelsea boss gets to keep his job. Aside his obvious knack for grinding out results and unquestionable knowledge of the game, what would the Premier League be without the shenanigans of the “Special One?” I am also not ready to see his rivalry with Wenger fizzle out just yet; an almost certain prospect if Mourinho were to leave Chelsea now.

One thing is sure at the moment; Jose Mourinho needs to put his money where his mouth is and find an immediate solution to his faltering side, or he might just be the third managerial casualty of the Premier League season sooner than later.

Ololade Ajekigbe

l_ajeks@yahoo.com

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

Mourinho Hits Back At Capello After ‘Burnout’ Criticism

The Blues coach has suggested that the former England and Russia boss should respect fellow managers and not comment on bad spells

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has hit back at Fabio Capello, after the Italian suggested that the Portuguese lacks longevity because he burns players out. 

Capello indicated is belief that Mourinho’s players become burnt out after a spell of 18 months or two years of working with the Blues boss, hinting that such a problem affected the 52-year-old’s time at Real Madrid. 

But the Chelsea manager has hit back at the Italian, suggesting that the former England boss should respect the work of fellow managers, especially when they are enduring difficult spells.

“I read what Capello said. I think a coach with his story had better talk about football without comment on the work of his colleagues,” Mourinho told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I could have commented on his job as coach for England or the Russian one, and I never did. Because I prefer to respect the negative moments of my colleagues.

“I prefer to talk more of Fabio Capello in the many beautiful moments of his career, full of extraordinary success.”

Mourinho was also drawn on the public vote of confidence he recieved from the Chelsea board following the 3-1 defeat to Southampton, worryingly indicating that he has failed to find an explanation for Chelsea’s poor results. 

“That makes me proud. It shows the confidence of Abramovich in the manager who has won three Premier League titles with this club. I thank him and I keep working.

“I do not know why the results with Chelsea at the moment are really bad. I can not nor want to hide the reality. And I struggle to find an explanation.

“But I assure you: I’m working like never before and we will come out of it.”

Chelsea Can Still Win The Premier League – Mata

The ex-Blues midfielder is refusing to rule out his former club challenging for the league this season, even with the defending champions trailing the leaders by 10 points

Manchester United star Juan Mata feels his former club Chelsea should still be considered contenders for the Premier League title.

Jose Mourinho has admitted the champions will struggle to retain their title after a start to the season that has seen them pick up just eight points from as many games, the Chelsea boss insisting a top-four finish has become their priority.

Mata, though, does not think the west Londoners should be discounted from the race to win the trophy when they still have so much time to recover their form. 

“Chelsea are in an unusual situation,” the 27-year-old, who swapped Stamford Bridge for Old Trafford in January 2014, told Onda Cero.

“It is somewhat circumstantial and I do not think it will go on for an extended period of time. They do not have a squad that should have them in that position in the Premier League.

“We have seen the gap of 10 points arrive in two months and I think Chelsea will come out of that situation quickly. In fact, I do not rule them out of the title fight.”

Mata spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Blues prior to joining United and said Mourinho, who was in charge for his final season at the club, is just one of many big characters in the game today.

The Spain international continued: “He is not the most incredible character I have ever encountered in football. There are many characters in football, though perhaps they are not all as well known.

“Journalists always say in England that he gives them a lot of work and play, so I guess he is good for journalists.”

‘This Is The Worst Period In My Career’ – Mourinho

Jose Mourinho has admitted that Chelsea’s currently run is the worst he has experienced since he became a manager.

The Blues suffered a 2-1 defeat in the Champions League against Porto on Tuesday, coming off the back of a disappointing start to the Premier League in which the Stamford Bridge outfit have earned only eight points from seven matches and lie 14th in the standings.

“I define it as the worst period in my career, with the worst results in my career,” Mourinho said.

“I take it as a fantastic experience, but I don’t want to repeat it, I want to finish it tomorrow and start winning matches again. I think it comes too late, to come after 15 years is too late.

“It should happen after two, three or four but it is something that is helping me to be better. Not the hardest challenge, no, just the worst results.”

The Portuguese also refused to come down too harshly on his players – and in the process took a swipe at the media.

“Players know when they make mistakes. I don’t know what it’s like in your offices, but nobody seems to care about your mistakes.”

Meanwhile, ahead of the visit of Southampton to Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, he confirmed that he will have a full squad to work with, save injured goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, while he hinted there could once again be changes in his panel.

“My assistant reported that [Loic] Remy, Oscar and [Radamel] Falcao trained fantastically well when the squad was in Porto,” the former Real Madrid boss reported, having omitted the trio from his travelling party.

More to follow…

‘Mourinho Is Obsessed With Wenger’ – Ian Wright

The two managers have clashed repeatedly in recent seasons and their war of words has continued following Chelsea’s recent 2-0 win over Arsenal

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright says Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is “obsessed” with Arsenal bossArsene Wenger.

The two managers have clashed repeatedly in recent seasons, with the latest spat between the pair coming on the back of Chelsea’s 2-0 win over the Gunners two weeks ago.

Mourinho was incensed that Diego Costa received a retrospective three-match ban after Wenger had urged officials to punish the striker in the aftermath of the game following an incident involving Laurent Koscielny.

The Portuguese then claimed his rival boss receives preferential treatment from officials before again criticising his failure to win the Premier League in the last 10 years.

“His obsession with Wenger is mystifying. I just can’t understand it,” Wright told The Sun.

“There’s something that happens with him whenever he talks or thinks about Arsene. He gets antagonised all the time.

“I think the big problem is that Jose looks at Arsene and his treatment from the media.

“Jose rightly feels Arsene hasn’t achieved as much as he has. I think his issue is that Arsene has not won as much or achieved as much as he has – yet still gets as many plaudits. It just irks him that Arsene doesn’t get more criticism.

“What I can’t understand is why it irks him so much when he’s got the medals to show everybody what he’s about. He just can’t be happy with himself, for some reason, even though what he does is brilliant.”

Zouma Sorry For Costa ‘Cheat’ Remark

The defender says he didn’t mean to label his team-mate a “cheat” after attempting to defend him over his role in Gabriel’s red card in Chelsea’s victory over Arsenal on Saturday

Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma has apologised for calling Diego Costa a “cheat” while trying to defend him in an interview on Monday.

Costa was roundly criticised for his part in Gabriel’s red card as the Blues beat Arsenal 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, and has repeatedly been singled out for his aggressive behaviour during his time in both La Liga and the Premier League.

But Zouma, who scored the opening goal against the Gunners, insisted he and the rest of his team-mates were happy with the striker’s confrontational style.

Asked whether he was shocked by Costa’s actions by beIN Sport, he replied: “No, we’re not surprised because we know Diego.

“Everyone knows Diego and this guy likes to cheat a lot and put the opponent out of his game.

“That happened in the game but he’s a really nice guy. We’re proud to have him, like the other players, and we’re happy to win this game.”

However, in a message later posted on Twitter, Zouman apologised for his use of the word “cheat” but reiterated his support for Costa.

Mourinho Slams Gerrard Talk Of Terry Rift

Talk of a potential rift between the Chelsea captain and the Portuguese coach has been denied by the Stamford Bridge boss.

Jose Mourinho has dismissed Steven Gerrard’s suggestion of “friction” between the Chelsea manager and captain John Terry, claiming the pair get on fine. 

Terry watched the 4-0 Champions League win over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Wednesday from the bench, while the experienced defender was hauled off at half-time as Chelsea were beaten 3-0 at Manchester City in the Premier League last month.

Gerrard, a former England team-mate of Terry’s, expressed his disbelief in the pre-match build-up that the 34-year-old skipper had been dropped for the Maccabi Tel Aviv clash. 

“There’s certainly a bit of friction behind the scenes because for me, you play John Terry week in, week out. He’s your captain,” Gerrard said on BT Sport.

But Mourinho has played down talk of a rift, saying: “Steven is wrong. 

“I have a very good relationship with him. He’s wrong, because we have no problems.”

Mourinho made a number of changes to his starting XI following poor form in the Premier League, which sees champions Chelsea trailing leaders Manchester City by 11 points after five games.

Eden Hazard once again disappointed with an early penalty miss on Wednesday, but goals from Willian, Oscar, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas secured a comfortable win for the Blues.

Chelsea Target Stones, Hands In Transfer Request At Everton

Having become frustrated by the Merseysiders’ determination to block his move to Stamford Bridge, the 21-year-old has now made his desire to leave official

John Stones has handed in a formal transfer request to Everton as he bids to force through a summer move to Chelsea, Goal understands.

Chelsea have already seen offers of £20 million and £26m rejected for the 21-year-old defender this summer but earlier this month Goal reported that the Premier League champions were confident an improved bid of £30m would be enough to persuade Everton to sell their prized asset.

Stones informed boss Roberto Martinez earlier in the summer that he would like to move to Stamford Bridge and has now made his desire to leave Goodison Park official.

The 21-year-old’s decision comes only a day after West Brom confirmed that they had rejected a similar request from striker Saido Berahino amid persistent interest from Tottenham.

Everton are likely to follow a similar course but despite Martinez’s public insistence that Stones is going nowhere, there is a growing acceptance around Goodison Park that Chelsea will get their man with an offer around the £30m mark.

Jose Mourinho has identified Stones as the perfect long-term replacement for club captain John Terry, whose first-team future is the subject of renewed speculation after his half-time substitution against Manchester City and straight red card for hauling down Salomon Rondon against West Brom on Sunday.

Martinez has expressed his anger on several occasions with Chelsea’s public pursuit of Stones, who has started all three of Everton’s Premier League matches this season despite the uncertainty over his future.

But the pressure on the Merseysiders to accept the departure of one of English football’s brightest young talents will only increase now the player has taken matters into his own hands.

Pedro Has Changed The Dynamics At Chelsea – Azpilicueta

The ex-Barcelona forward is looking forward to a new test at Stamford Bridge after starring on his Blues debut, according to the Premier League champions’ first-choice left-back

New signing Pedro has “changed the dynamics” at Chelsea, says compatriot Cesar Azpilicueta, who has also called upon the Premier League champions to improve their form after a difficult start to the 2015-16 season.

The former Barcelona forward starred on his Blues debut with a goal in Sunday’s 3-2 win at West Brom to help Jose Mourinho’s side to record their first win of the campaign.

Chelsea have four points from a possible nine this term after conceding seven goals and collecting two red cards already but Azpilicueta – who also scored his first league goal in England at the Hawthorns – is confident that his side will be fighting for the title with Pedro.

“It is clear that [Pedro] personally wanted to start a new adventure, another experience,” Azpilicueta toldCadena SER. “Pedro decided to come to a team from a different country and is very happy with a move to Chelsea.

“In a team like Chelsea, [to] get a point from a possible six, no-one is happy. We wanted to change the dynamics. Against West Brom we got three very important points that will give us confidence going to face the next matches and to rectify this bad start.”

Azpilicueta – who initially joined Chelsea as a right-back – faces competition in his current left-back slot from new signing Baba Rahman but is working hard to retain his first-team role.

“From the beginning, Mourinho has shown me his trust and I tried to return it in every practice and every game,” he added. “At the end of the day, all we fight for is to win titles.”

Pedro: I Won’t Be Missed At Barcelona

The new Chelsea signing believes Luis Enrique’s squad boasts more than enough quality to cope without him and admits facing them would be difficult

New Chelsea signing Pedro does not believe he will be missed at Barcelona due to his former club’s quality within the team.

The Spain international enjoyed a memorable debut for the Blues when he scored in the 3-2 victory over West Brom after completing his transfer from the European champions last week, having grown tired of a role among the substitutes at Camp Nou.

Speaking at a farewell press conference, the 28-year-old claimed he never thought the time would come to leave Barca but accepts his absence will not be keenly felt.

“At the start it felt strange to wear the Chelsea shirt, because I had never imagined I would leave Barca,” Pedro said.

“I’m going with my head held high. I have always given my best, in every game and every training session. But I’m happy with what I have achieved and everything I have learned from my team-mates.

“I don’t think the team will miss me as there are great players here. I will miss them though, that’s the sad part.”

Pedro lifted five Liga titles and three Champions Leagues in a glittering career at Camp Nou but he was reticent to name a favourite moment.

“There are many [great memories]; it’s hard to single out one. I have shared so many great times with some great players,” he said.

The Tenerife-born forward also underlined that the Barca board were eager for him to stay at the club, before admitting that facing his old team-mates would be an unwelcome feeling.

“The board and the staff at Barcelona insisted that I stay, and for that I thank them,” Pedro added.

“I prefer not to return to the Camp Nou wearing another shirt. It would be strange. But if that’s what destiny holds…”

Pellegrini Hails ‘Unbelievable’ Aguero After Chelsea Display

The Argentina international had the chance to score a hat-trick against the defending champions before the half-time whistle, according to his Sky Blues boss

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini praised striker Sergio Aguero following his side’s 3-0 win overChelsea, claiming the Argentinian could have scored “three or four” in the first half.

Following repeated attempts to get past the impressive Asmir Begovic, the former Atletico Madrid forward finally opened his account after half and hour before Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho netted two late goals to add gloss to a convincing victory.

Pellegrini’s side have moved to the top of the Premier League table and five points clear of champions Chelsea with the win and the boss was delighted with his striker’s performance.

“The first 45 minutes from Aguero were unbelievable,” the 61-year-old coach said. “It was just the three important saves from Begovic didn’t allow him to score three or four goals.

“[The result] was very satisfying because it’s not easy to beat the champions. Chelsea are the best team. They won the title last season and I think that the first 45 minutes we played deserved at least three goals.

“We played really well without conceding any chances for Chelsea to score and we created at least four clear chances.

“It was just Begovic had a great performance and we couldn’t score more goals.

“Second half we had maybe some restrictions by the yellow cards, but in our worst moments Chelsea didn’t have chances and finally we scored the two other goals that we deserved in the first half.”

However, Pellegrini is reluctant to claim the result sends a warning signal to any other would-be champions and played down the importance of the early-season victory.

“We are not sending a message to anybody, we are just playing the way we always try to,” he added.

“We have only played two games this season, but in both games we scored three goals and I think we have more concentration in defending, so that’s why we also have clean sheets in the two games.

“[But] nothing is significant until the end of the season.”

Mourinho: I knew Chelsea Were In Trouble After 10 Seconds

The Blues boss pinpointed Sergio Aguero’s early one-on-one with Asmir Begovic as the moment that he began to fear for his side after their humbling at the Etihad Stadium.

Jose Mourinho insists he knew Chelsea were in trouble just 10 seconds into their 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Premier League title rivals Manchester City.

Goals from Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho saw off the Blues as Manuel Pellegrini’s men made a powerful early-season statement in their bid to claim a third league title in five years.

But Chelsea might have been dead and buried by half-time; Aguero missed several clear chances in the first 45 minutes including one in the opening moments when he raced onto a David Silva pass and fired a low shot against the shin of an onrushing Asmir Begovic.

Mourinho afterwards revealed this was the point at which he feared for his side and voiced his frustration at their uncharacteristically slack defending.

“When the game started and 10 seconds later you have Aguero behind the defensive line and facing Begovic, immediately you get the notion that the start wasn’t good,” the Chelsea boss told reporters. “After that he made two or three saves because of that fragility.

“I was the first one to be disappointed. All week you are speaking about movements, directions of the game, mechanisms, Aguero’s runs and Aguero’s positions, the wingers coming inside, and after 10 seconds Aguero is in the face of Begovic. We were defensively poor in the first half.”

Mourinho also elaborated on his surprising decision to substitute captain John Terry for tactical reasons at half-time as Chelsea pushed for an equaliser.

“The point was not to take John out it was to bring [Kurt] Zouma in – I wanted my fastest player on the pitch, not on the bench,’ he added. “It was clear for me that Zouma has to play. I had to bring one out and I brought out my captain. He was on the bench and still my captain because the armband is just the armband.

“I can tell you that he was not dancing in the dressing-room, and I can tell you also that he was not having a bad reaction. He did what everybody does. The manager says ‘this guy comes in and that guy goes out’, and they all do the same. They wait for the team to go out, they shower and change and go back to the bench.

“My decision was proven right because we controlled the depth of the game and the counter-attack totally. But John is a player with my entire confidence for sure. With me, he was never substituted but with other managers he was not even selected. He was not playing or people thought his career at Chelsea was over.

“I don’t know if you ask many questions to [Rafa] Benitez, [Andre] Villas-Boas, [Roberto] Di Matteo, the ones who never played him. I’m the one you shouldn’t ask because I’m the one who played him every game, made him captain and recovered him from a difficult situation with other managers.

“I’m the one who has the right to look at the game and to say I want Zouma on.”

News Alert: Mourinho Plays Down Chelsea Medical Row

Jose Mourinho has responded to the criticism he has received for a row that developed between him and his medical staff in the 2-2 draw with Swansea.

He told reporters: “I don’t want to run away from it. I accept the question, and understand.

“First of all, I want to say I have a fantastic medical deptartment, with top doctor, more than a dozen professionals, a very good relationship with them and, as they tell me all the time, they were never praised so much as in last few years. I praise them lots of times. They don’t forget that, I don’t.

“We have disagreements during this period, we need disagreements to improve. We work together.

“Your question about the bench. For some people it’s important. For others, it’s not… It’s my decision.

“I have seven assistants, only four can go on bench. Seven kitmen, only two. Medical, only two on bench Dr Fearne and Dr Carneiro will not be on the bench, but doesn’t mean for rest of season.

“My decision [this weekend] does not mean they won’t be on the bench in the future.”

More to follow…

Mum Begs Chelsea Fans After Missing Son Was Spotted In Crowd At Stamford Bridge

A heartbroken mum has pleaded for the help of Chelsea fans in finding her missing son – who vanished 11 months ago – after she ‘spotted’ him in the crowd at Stamford Bridge.
Lesley Edwards, 54, has been desperately searching for Jon Anderson Edwards after he disappeared without a trace while working in Lagos, Portugal, in September 2014.

The chef, originally from Arbroath, Scotland, suffered head injuries in a fall and the 31-year-old then
failed to turn up for work.

His friends later discovered he had left his clothes, passport and phone in his apartment and a police search in both Portugal and the UK has so far drawn a blank
But Lesley, who initially travelled to Lagos to search for Jon, believes she may have spotted her son among Chelsea supporters in a picture taken at a recent game.
She told Mirror Online:

 “We’ve been searching for him for almost a year now and we’ve had so many wrong sightings and different twists and turns but I saw that picture last night and said ‘God that looks like John’.
“My heart skipped a beat and I was up half the night. Even if we can find the information to discount it at least we can move on but if it’s not him it’s his absolute double…

Lesley is looking for help from anyone who may be able to confirm or rule out the sighting and an appeal has already been shared more than 1,500 times on Facebook.
She said:

 “The search was really well publicised over in Portugal but we’ve never had any information, it’s a mystery.
“He went out on a Friday night and had a fall and said he’d been feeling sick and dizzy afterwards. He went missing without his phone, clothes and passport.How he’d have got back into the country I don’t know as the Portuguese police still have his passport.
“We’re contacting the club and police to try and get to the bottom of it but we’re hoping someone out there who was at the game or recognises him may be able to help us.”

Wenger : Chelsea Are Favourites For The Title

The Gunners boss believes that Jose Mourinho’s side are the team to beat this season but insists that the Gunners are ready to push them all the way.

Arsene Wenger has vowed that Arsenal are ready to fight for the Premier League title but concedes that Chelsea remain the favourites to retain their crown.

He told reporters: “Chelsea won it by a margin last year so they must be favourites.

“We are ready to fight for the championship. We missed our start to the season last year, let’s try to start strong. But we have a difficult start with two derbies and Liverpool in our first three games.”

More to follow…

Beating Arsenal & Wenger Is Nothing Special – Mourinho

The Frenchman is yet to beat his Chelsea counterpart in 13 attempts, with the two set to face off in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday

 

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says beating Arsenal and Arsene Wenger is “nothing special” as he prepares to take on the Gunners in Sunday’s Community Shield at Wembley.

Mourinho and Wenger have a long-standing rivalry, with the Frenchman yet to beat his counterpart in 13 attempts, while the Blues manager described the 65-year-old as a “specialist in failure” 18 months ago.

The pair come face to face this weekend as Arsenal look to win the Community Shield for the second consecutive year, but Mourinho is unconcerned by the make up of his opponents with silverware on the line.

When asked if he takes pride in his record against Wenger, Mourinho replied: ”No. It doesn’t matter, Arsenal, the manager, whoever.

“I think [the Community Shield is] in between. It’s more than a friendly, like with Barcelona and PSG [friendlies], but it’s less than a league game. Different motivation.

“Who knows?” he said when questioned on Wenger’s ability to win. “I’ve never made a special thing about wins over Arsenal. I don’t explode with happiness when I beat them, and I won’t make drama when I lose.”

Mourinho has confirmed that Gary Cahill and Diego Costa will be fit to play on Sunday after picking up knocks against Barcelona.

Credit – goal.com

Jose Mourinho Vows To Change Transfer Strategy

21-year old John Stones. Everton boss Roberto Martinez had accused Chelsea of trying to unsettle stones by making their £20 million bid for the young central defender public.

“Our strategy for the Premier League is going to change next year,” Mourinho told reporters in New York on the club’s preseason tour. “Next year we are going to make the first bid on the day after the window closes. On that day, we will do a bid for the season later.

“Because at this moment [it seems] the market is closed. We are all in a strange world. We are all in a strange world. We think it [the transfer market] is open but it is not open it is closed. So the day after it closes, we are going to make a bid for the next season.”

Chelsea’s bid was earlier rejected, with Everton asking for about £30 million, a price Mourinho is not pleased with. “That is the market. And you only pay it if you want,” Mourinho accepted. “If you don’t want to pay it, don’t pay. It’s as simple as that.

“The market has no rules or limits from season to season. And not even the introduction of financial fair play rules is able to control the market. The market is where it is and it’s up to the clubs to decide yes or no. For ourselves there are certain rules.

“It’s a good market. That is why smaller other clubs if they have interesting young English players they use that in the right way for them. I don’t even criticise them. They play the market for themselves.

“And if the big clubs don’t want to go over certain limits, they have to make a decision. And that is maybe why none of the top clubs are not full of young English players. But that is the market.”

Petr Cech Joins Arsenal: Key Dates For The Goalkeeper After Chelsea Move – Including Stamford Bridge Return On 19 September

Petr Cech has confirmed his move to Arsenal, moving for a reported £11m.

The 33-year-old leaves the Blues after 11 trophy-laden years at the club. As a goodwill gesture, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich allowed Cech to decide his own destination when he left, with PSG also interested.

Cech’s preference was to stay in London – PSG were also interested in the Czech international.

So, what are the first batch of key dates for Arsenal’s new signing next season?

Sat 25 July – Lyons

A potential debut against the Ligue 1 side in front of the home support as part of the Emirates Cup friendly competiton. If he does not feature against Lyons, there is always

Sunday 2 August – Chelsea (Community Shield)

The Community Shield at Wembley Stadium. Time for Cech’scompetitive debut, straight in against his former side.

 

Saturday 22 August – Liverpool (h)

In the Gunners third Premier League game of the season, Cech will come up against Liverpool at the Emirates. Will there be a certain strikeforce of Christian Benteke and Daniel Sturridge to keep out?

Saturday 19 September – Chelsea (a)

In the Gunners sixth Premier League game of the season, they travel to Chelsea for Cech’s return to Stamford Bridge. A warm applause from the home support is to be expected.

Saturday 3 October – Manchester United (h)

The Gunners will be looking to lay down a marker in their quest for the Premier League title against rivals United.

Lessons From Mayweather And Chelsea FC By Ololade Ajekigbe

The much hyped fight between the Filipino eight division world champion, Manny Pacquiao and the undefeated American five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr finally took place as scheduled on the 2nd of May. At the end of the twelfth and final round, the Money man Mayweather was adjudged the winner in a unanimous decision by all three judges. A lot of people felt that the boxing bout didn’t exactly live up to its billing as the “Fight of the Century” as dubbed by its promoters. Those who were expecting to see a technical knock out ended up disappointed, but at the end of the day, the man tagged the best pound-for-pound fighter by many sporting news and boxing websites took the day.
In similar fashion, Chelsea Football Club literally wrapped up the race for the English Premier League title by winning their match against Crystal Palace on Sunday, with three matches still to play before the season eventually winds up. Boxing and Football are two entirely different sports, but the two winners in this scenario became champions in pretty much the same way – doing the needful to achieve the desired result! Many have criticized Mayweather’s fighting style on Sunday, saying that he clearly avoided really getting into the bout with the much more offensive Pacquaio who appeared to be fearless and brazen regardless of his underdog status, just like Chelsea, under the irrepressible Jose Mourinho have been taunted and tagged as boring despite putting up the most consistent performance this season having spent 253 days so far at the top of the Premier League. However, all that matters is that they emerged champions at the end of the day irrespective of what anyone thinks!
For the sake of argument, had Manny Pacquiao done his homework well he would have realized that his opponent has always been more of a defensive fighter who blocks and deflects most of his opponent’s punches while waiting for his opportunity to land accurate punches, (which explains why he always had relatively few scars and was nicknamed “Pretty Boy” by his amateur team mates) and would have found a way to circumvent his technique rather than fight “blindly.” Mayweather has always been known for his defensive techniques, he was taught to be that way by his boxer father and uncle and that is not likely to change soon.
Champions play to their strength regardless of how conservative or negative it may appear to others, as their goal is to win and not merely participate. This was evident in the result which showed that Pacquaio threw far more power punches – 236 in all, but could only land 63, while Mayweather with a more conservative 168 punches was able to land 81 of them! While the total punches for the two fighters also proved that the Money man was able to connect 34% of his punches as opposed to the Pacman’s 19%. Hence, the reason why Mayweather clearly won.
Champions don’t expend energy needlessly… you don’t have to like Chelsea to admit that they have been by far the best team in England this season. In the earlier part of the season when they needed to be more attack minded, they were. Towards the latter part of the season when they needed to be more defensive in their approach to games, they pulled it off perfectly. They may have been slightly boring as many have said, but I choose to see it as being pragmatic and ruthlessly efficient. One thing mattered to Chelsea – winning the league. And that they did it in their own style. This reminds me of how they won the 2011/2012 Uefa Champions League which pundits never predicted they would win by using the same defensive strategy.
Champions don’t play to the gallery, they play for themselves; a look at the track record of Floyd Mayweather who now has 48 wins and no losses in his professional career reveals a man who is all about results. So also is the philosophy of Chelsea Football Club under Jose Mourinho who has now won 2 titles in 2 years. Love them or loathe them, it is obvious that these ones have found the right formula when it comes to winning and cannot be bothered about changing it and risking the possibility of losing just to please the fans.
At the end of the day, everybody wants to win. Results are all that matter. It’s like having a baby – whether a woman decides to go through the rigorous and painful process of labour or opts for a Caesarean section, what matters is that a healthy baby is born. Ten years down the line, no one is going to remember how the baby was born! Ambitious people don’t go through life wanting to be remembered for just passing through and achieving nothing substantial in the process. What Floyd Mayweather and Chelsea have taught us is to channel our energies in the right direction in order to achieve the desired result.

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

Liverpool Can Finish Top Four Despite Defeat – Rodgers

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is refusing to write off their chances of finishing in the top four of the Premier League after their 1-0 defeat at Hull City.

However, it is significant that he is already planning how to strengthen his team ahead of next season.

Rodgers is realistic enough to know that their Champions League ambitions are surely over as they lie seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United with an inferior goal difference and only four games to play.

A place in the Europa League is also far from assured, underlining why Rodgers is under pressure after a season when they have not been able to cope with the sale of Luis Suarez and injuries to Daniel Sturridge, the two men whose goals were so important to Liverpool last season.

“You can’t hide the fact we’ve lost over 50 goals,” said Rodgers.

“Even with those players we weren’t tipped to get in the top four and we haven’t got those players now. We have to work with what we’ve got.

“Now we have to look to improve the squad and it’s always great if you can get marquee players to come in and help you. The owners will support that.

“We want to be in the top four, but that was always going to be difficult because we were playing catch up for a lot of the season.

“We lost a couple of big games which dented our confidence a bit. I need to build a team that can get through the rough waters as well. We need a team that can get through the smooth and the rough.

“That will be my challenge – to rebuild a group that can get through the rough waters.”

Whether they will be able to lure them to Anfield without the attraction of the Champions League is debatable, but the fact that Liverpool require at least two of those ‘marquee men’ was obvious in their latest setback at the KC Stadium where Michael Dawson scored the 37th minute winner for Hull.

Dawson’s goal was his first in 16 months and Hull manager Steve Bruce insisted that it earned them a success that their performance warranted.

“We deserved it because of the way we played,” said Bruce, who has had a tough season a year after guiding them to the FA Cup final.

“We caused a threat all night and defended well, which you have to do against Liverpool,” he said.

“We have 34 points but I don’t think 34 is enough, so we still need a couple of results, but we are certainly in a better position that four days ago. The job isn’t done and got to stay resilient for the next four games.”

Dawson said: “We really needed this win because back-to-back wins are so hard to get in this league and we’ve done it against a top team.

“If you give Liverpool too much respect, they will hurt you because they have good players, but the commitment from back to front was great,” added the former Spurs captain.

Steve Harper, the Hull goalkeeper who was 40 last month, was also a key influence on the outcome as he made several excellent saves.
“He was coolness personified. You could tell he wanted to keep a clean sheet,” Bruce said.

God Doesn’t Care Who Wins: Jose Mourinho Admits He Never Prays for Chelsea

Statistically speaking, Chelsea football manager Jose Mourinho is the most successful club manager in world football. He has won the league titles in each of the four countries where he has managed – his native Portugal, Italy, Spain and England. He has won the Champions League twice.

You would think he talks to God every time before his wins, however, in a new interview, Jose says the reverse is the case –  he talks to God every day, but never about football and never discusses the game with his wife.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mourinho admitted that he has a strong faith in God and he tries his

best to separate his professional and his family life. The 52-year-old football manager and father-of-two said:

‘I believe totally, clearly. Every day I pray; every day I speak with Him. I don’t go to the church every day, not even every week. I go when I feel I need to. And when I’m in Portugal, I always go.’ 

What does he pray for?

“For my family! For my kids, for my wife, for my parents, for happiness and a good family life. But I can say the reality is I never go to the church to speak with Him about football. Never!”’

Despite his intensely arrogant persona on the sideline, Mourinho also claims that he is a good person.

‘I think so. I try to be. And I think I am. I don’t have problems with family or friends. I am a good family person; I am a good friend. I try to support people that I don’t even know. Do I make mistakes? Yes. My professional area is not only very competitive – it is competitive and emotional and [you must] push people for a certain kind of behaviour – absolutely, yes. But the professional life is only part of a person; a person is much more than that.’

Chelsea are currently top of the league and are playing struggling QPR this weekend.

Mourinho and his wife, Matilde, were teenage sweethearts, growing up a street away from each other in the coastal town of Setúbal. They have been married for 26 years, and have two teenage children, also named Matilde and José.

Mourinho: ‘We Deserved to be Punished’ But There is ‘No Time to Cry’

Well, that was … something.  Weird night.  For all the talk of Chelsea not being good enough on the day in a general sense, it was still two set piece goals that undid our 2014-15 Champions League campaign.  And that certainly is not good enough under any circumstance.

Here are some post-match thoughts from the Chelsea manager.

“They deserved to win.  When a team cannot defend two corners and concedes two goals from a corner a team doesn’t deserve to win.”

“We couldn’t cope with the pressure of playing with one player more and playing at home. For me it was a surprise.”

“For them it was easy with 10 men – defensive organisation, two lines of four, Cavani in attack, waiting for the right moment at a corner or from a mistake. Mentally they had nothing to lose. I know that feeling having played with 10 men in the Champions League. They were experienced, they were good. We deserved to be punished.”

While I loathe the idea of deserving things in a sports setting, there is a saying that goes, “you deserve what you accept,” and that I feel is fairly apt in this case.  We simply did not put up the proper fight tonight.  The hunger, the desire seemed to be lacking.  Mourinho shouted his head off on the sideline, but the 11 Chelsea statues were unmoved.  Here was an almighty scrap that lasted a little over 120 minutes, and we did not emerge as the winners, conceding twice in the final five minutes of, first, regulation, then extra time.

“The players felt the responsibility of the game too much especially when the opposition had 10 men. Clearly some of the players couldn’t cope with that. The individual performances were not good enough.”

“There was no accumulation of matches; there was a normal period of training using the same methodology that has pushed us to be top of the league since day one. Apart from Matic who trained only one day, every player was training normally. It’s obviously not a physical situation, that’s not the reason.”

“When you concede two goals from two corners it’s even more evidence of what I’m saying. It’s about lack of concentration, it’s about lack of responsibility to cope with the markers and the space you have to control.”

Read Moreweaintgotnohistory

Henry Backs Chelsea For The Treble After League Cup Win

Thierry Henry believes Chelsea are capable of adding the Champions League and Premier League to their League Cup triumph this season.

Jose Mourinho’s men took the first step towards a potential treble by beating Tottenham 2-0 at Wembley on a day that saw Manchester City lose ground on the league leaders with a 2-1 loss to Liverpool.

The Champions League last-16 tie between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain is finely poised at 1-1 after the first leg and Henry, now working as a media pundit, believes Chelsea can go all the way both at home and abroad.

“I think they can,”Henry told Sky Sports. “They have all of the quality required to win the treble. Time will tell.

“I’m so eager to see that game against Paris Saint-Germain. That will be massive. If they beat PSG, you have to go through maybe Bayern Munich, then Real Madrid and Barcelona.”

Chelsea Losing To Tottenham Is Not An Option – Mourinho

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has warned his team that losing to Tottenham in Sunday’s League Cup final is not an option.

The Portuguese is seeking his first trophy in his second spell as Blues boss, having not visited Wembley for a major cup final since winning both the FA Cup and League Cup in 2006-07.

He told reporters: “It is a final we have to play and a final we have to win.

“This is the only moment since I arrived in July 2013 that I don’t think about the future of this club,” Mourinho added. “I just think about the moment, I just think about this game.

“We have a final to win on Sunday and nothing else matters.”

Mourinho hopes that reaching the national stadium each season will become an expectation within the Chelsea team as his current group of players develop and mature.

“Chelsea cannot win everything and cannot win every season,” he said. “If you want to do that we have to change country to where the competition is not so hard.

“Chelsea, in the last 10 years, won just the League Cup twice but was many times at Wembley and won FA Cups, won Premier Leagues and the European Cup.

“We try to build with this new generation of players and try to make Wembley something normal for us and try to go there year after year.”

The 52-year-old, who confirmed that John Obi Mikel would not be available to replace the suspended Nemanja Matic due to injury, also spoke of his respect for Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino.

“He’s a guy that I respect,” Mourinho remarked. “He’s doing his work the same as many people. We don’t have problems.

“I think it will be an easy job for the fourth official because between both benches there will be peace.”

Paris Racism Victim To Lodge Complaint Against Chelsea Fans

The victim of a racist incident involving Chelsea football fans in the Paris métro earlier this week did not know the scene had been filmed and has told French daily Le Parisien he will lodge an official complaint with police.

“I don’t speak a word of English … but it was clear to me they [Chelsea football fans] were picking on me because of the colour of my skin,” the victim, identified by Le Parisien as Souleymane, 33, said.

The Paris prosecutor’s office has started an investigation to find the people responsible for chanting: “We’re racist and that’s the way we like it” as they pushed Souleymane and prevented him from boarding a Paris métro train on Tuesday evening.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has since apologised for the shockingly racist action apparently committed by UK nationals.

Chelsea Football Club has also condemned the incident, but the club itself may still face disciplinary action from The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

The scene was captured on video by British expatriate Paul Nolan, another passenger on the platform at the Richelieu-Drouot métro station before English club Chelsea faced Paris St Germain in a Champions League match at the Parc des Princes in the French capital. Nolan told FRANCE 24 that the rowdy fans were already intimidating passengers and staff well before the racist incident took place.

“No one really dared to get on the métro. Even the métro staff were keeping their distance because it looked like a fight could break out at any point,” he said. “It would have been nice if people had gotten involved [to help Souleymane] but the Chelsea fans thought they owned the métro and any provocation probably would have ended in violence.”

PSG Can Still Eliminate Chelsea – Verratti

Marco Verratti is convinced Paris Saint-Germain have every chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the expense of Chelsea after the clubs played out a 1-1 draw at Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

The Ligue 1 champions failed to beat Chelsea over two legs last term after a 3-1 home-win, yet Verratti believes it could be an advantage that PSG head into the return as the underdogs this time around.

“We know we are a strong team, as are Chelsea. We will go to Stamford Bridge to win the match. That’s the only result that will allow us to qualify. We will give it our best. We have a great opportunity,” Verratti told the official Uefa website.

“We prepared the match exactly like this. We wanted to wait a bit for Chelsea and try not to give them any space, because they have players in attack who are difficult to get if you leave them space.

“And when we were in possession, we wanted to attack their defence. I think we created some good chances, but we couldn’t take advantage of them.

“But we’re satisfied. We managed to fight back after we fell behind. Now we will play for qualification in London. I think now that we travel there knowing that we have to win if we want to succeed. Last season, maybe people thought it was all over because we had the two-goal advantage and that was a bad thought.”

The return in London will take place on March 11

Chelsea Racist Fans Prevent Black Man Boarding Paris Metro Train #Video

Amateur footage shows Chelsea football fans preventing a black man from boarding a Paris metro train shortly before the Champions League fixture between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. The unidentified passenger attempts to squeeze on to the train, only to be pushed forcefully back on to the platform at the Richelieu-Drouot station. The fans then chant: ‘We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it’

See video at http://www.theguardian.com/football/video/2015/feb/17/chelsea-fans-prevent-black-man-boarding-paris-metro-video?CMP=share_btn_tw

Messi Admits he Could Leave Barcelona

Lionel Messi saw arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo beat him to the Ballon d’Or in Zurich on Monday and then reignited speculation over his own future by saying: “I don’t know where I’ll be next year.”

Barcelona and Argentina superstar Messi appeared to row back on his own comments made 24 hours earlier that rumours that he could leave the Camp Nou for Chelsea or Manchester City were “all lies”.

“I always said that I would finish my career at Barcelona and then at (his home town club in Argentina) Newell’s,” Messi told reporters after Real Madrid’s Portuguese icon Ronaldo lifted the world footballer of the year title for the second year in succession at a glittering FIFA awards ceremony.

“But I don’t know where I’ll be next year.

“As Cristiano (Ronaldo) said recently, football has many twists and anything can happen,” added the Barca talisman, who himself won the Ballon d’Or four years in a row from 2009.

After a superb performance in Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Spanish champions Atletico Madrid on Sunday, Messi had angrily dismissed talk that he wanted to leave after clashing with Barca’s manager Luis Enrique and the club’s board.

“I have never demanded anything to ensure that I stay because I never had any intention of leaving,” he told Barca TV after the match.

Messi’s relationship with Enrique had come under scrutiny after the forward was benched for the 1-0 defeat at Real Sociedad a week earlier. The rumours grew after Messi missed the first training session after that match, citing a stomach bug.

“I have heard it said that my dad has spoken to Chelsea or Manchester City. It is all lies. I have taken this chance to deny it so that everyone knows the truth,” Messi said Sunday.

But his latest comments are sure to regenerate interest from a number of cash-rich English Premier League clubs.

Manchester United are reportedly one of the few that could afford the buyout fee from his contract, reportedly set at 250 million euros (195 million pounds, $296 million), without falling foul of UEFA’s financial fair play rules.

With Messi commanding a reported salary in the region of 20 million euros a year the total cost of acquiring his services on a five-year deal could be a world record-shattering 350 million euros.

Credit: Yahoo Sports

Finding the Truth in the Lionel Messi Follows Chelsea on Instagram Mystery

On Monday,  Lionel Messi started following Chelsea. And then the soccer world went berserk.

The context of this impossibly minor 21st-century occurrence – Man Follows Something on Social Media! – does indeed add some levity. Although Messi is a one-club man – unless you count his exploits with Newell’s Old Boys back in Argentina before he hit puberty – Messi is said to be unhappy in Catalonia. How anybody would actually know this is unclear since Messi never ever speaks to anyone about anything. (He was so shy when he arrived in Spain that his teammates thought he was a mute for several months.)

But things are not well at Barcelona. New manager Luis Enrique has introduced a new, more direct style – getting further away from the tiki-taka, HORROR OF HORRORS – which doesn’t seem to suit Messi as well. On Sunday, Barca lost its third game of the league season at Real Sociedad. Messi sat for the first half. On Monday, he skipped practice with something written off as stomach trouble of some kind kind. Funnily enough, club stalwart Xavi had said only a few days prior that gastroenteritis is typically an excuse for some other issue.

Now consider that last November, the avid 27-year-old collector of ancient goal-scoring records had said that he wasn’t sure if he’d finish out his career with Barcelona. He was apparently angry about its handling of his tax fraud case and that new arrival Neymar was rumored to be making about the same amount of money as he was.

Nevertheless, this appears to he just another calculated ploy by Messi’s conniving camp. The tiny maestro has strong-armed the club into extending – and upgrading – his contract in each of the last two seasons, even though his original deal still ran until 2016. With his latest deal signed last May, he is now under contract until 2019, with a buyout clause of some $300 million – about 2½ times the world record fee paid by Real for Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Consider also that Messi is literally and figuratively irreplaceable for Barca. Figuratively, because he is Messi. Literally, because the club is banned from buying new players until 2016 for wrongdoings in recruiting underage players like, erm, Messi.

This, then, is probably a play of some sort by Messi’s people, trying to get something done that we might never find out about. Maybe he wanted a better parking spot. Or that corner office.

Besides, you don’t think the hermit-like Messi actually handles his own Instragram account, do you?

Credit: Yahoo News

Van Gaal Slams EPL December Fixtures

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, has labelled the Premier League’s December fixtures as ‘crazy’.

The Red Devils are preparing to play six league games in December, starting with the visit of Stoke City on Tuesday.

United will also play three matches in the space of eight days over Christmas against Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur.

“I cannot change it, I don’t think it is good for the players that they play within two days of a match,” said Van Gaal.

“December shall be like that, and we have also family. I also have a wife, and kids and grandchildren and I cannot see them at Christmas.

“But, I want to work in the Premier League so I have to adapt and I shall adapt.”

The Old Trafford outfit are not in the Champions League this season, but the 63-year-old insists it does not give them any advantage in the league.