Chelsea Can Overhaul City – Courtois

Manchester City look to be in an “unstoppable” run of form but Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois says there is plenty of time for the London club to reel the leaders in and retain their Premier League title.

City took the early lead in the title race last season and was eight points ahead of Chelsea after the opening six games before Antonio Conte’s team went on a 13-game winning run to climb to first place seal the league trophy.

This season, Pep Guardiola’s team have a nine-point advantage over Chelsea but Courtois said City might lose steam as the season goes on.

“Last year we were eight points behind City at one stage and then we went on a winning run. I hope we can do the same,” Courtois told the club’s website. (www.chelseafc.com)

“We have to hope now they drop points. At the moment they are a bit unstoppable, they are playing very well and scoring goals.

“But the season is very long, they could have injuries, play a bit worse and lose some games. We have to be there and keep winning our games.”

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte also dismissed media reports linking him to AC Milan after Sunday’s win over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea returns to league action after the international break with a trip to West Bromwich Albion on November 18.

 

 

 

Source: SuperSport

Chelsea Hope Moses Will Join Drogba In History Books

The Nigerian in Chelsea right wing-back Victor Moses who is among 30 players dueling for the title of 2017 African Player of the Year.

Chelsea, the Premier League champions were delighted their number fifteen has been nominated for the prestigious accolade, and hope he will join former player Didier Drogba in the history books by winning the award.

”As well as his success at club level, Moses was an integral part of the Nigeria squad which qualified for next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia,” Chelsea stated on their official webpage.

”He scored a brace in their 3-1 qualifying win over Algeria, as well as netting as they recorded a 4-0 victory against Cameroon.

”Moses will be aiming to become only the second Chelsea player to lift the award after Didier Drogba took the prize on two separate occasions, in 2009 and 2006.

”Both John Mikel Obi and Michael Essien finished in the top three at various points.”

Previous Nigerian winners of the African Player of the Year award are Rashidi Yekini, Emmanuel Amuneke, Nwankwo Kanu and Victor Ikpeba.

Conte Pleased With Youngsters

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was impressed with the strong performances of his young players during Wednesday’s 2-1 League Cup win over Everton and says he will use the cup competitions to continue their development.

Conte rotated his team after last Sunday’s 4-2 win over Watford in the Premier League and rested several key players, handing starts to 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu along with Brazilian Kenedy and Charly Musonda.

Ampadu, who was making his first start, and Kenedy played the full game while Musonda was substituted in the 70th minute as Chelsea held on to beat Everton despite a late goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

“I am very happy – tonight I saw a lot of positive things – the young players’ performance. Charly Musonda, Kenedy, Ampadu – he is only 17 years old – they all played a very good game,” Conte told reporters after the match.

“It is important to trust in these players and I am happy because I had a good answer, the answer I was waiting for.

“I think that in these type of games the young players are improving – to see Ampadu tonight is important because we know we have many young players we can improve and give them opportunities.”

Conte said midfielder N’Golo Kante was making steady progress in his recovery from a hamstring injury but the Italian was happy with the performance of Danny Drinkwater, who made his debut against Everton.

“The other good news was to see Danny Drinkwater,” Conte added.

“We will have three games before the international break and to see him fit 100 percent maybe after the international break. I can count him in games now. If I decide to play with three midfielders, it’s very important.”

Chelsea returns to league action with a trip to Bournemouth on Saturday.

 

Source: SuperSport

Chelsea’s Goalkeeper Says Batshuayi Need Time To Prove self

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has urged patience regarding fellow Belgian Michy Batshuayi.

Courtois is convinced Batshuayi has the ability to prove himself Chelsea class.

He told Reporters: “I think sometimes it is too easy to criticise somebody. When you join a team like Chelsea people expect a lot of goals straight away.

“Michy is young and he needs to be given time. Not every striker will have the same impact at the same time.

“But he is doing well, he has scored some important goals. Obviously, he has to keep on working and doing what the manager asks of him.

“But sometimes he has played in games where as a team we haven’t had enough possession or we can’t reach him well enough.”

Courtois also spoke of Batshuayi’s strop during the defeat at Crystal Palace.

He added: “After Crystal Palace, people criticised him and that is not easy. He showed a lot of spirits to come back from that.

“When he came off against Palace, I don’t think he was reacting towards the coach as some have made out, but he was just disappointed with his game, that he couldn’t make an impact.

“So it is good that he worked hard during the following week and tried to fight again. He had another opportunity against Watford, scored twice and that’s important.

 

I’ve Been Judged Harshly – Mourinho

Jose Mourinho says he is judged by a different set of standards from his rival managers in the Premier League because of his previous successes but insists that criticism does not upset him.

The Manchester United manager was widely criticised for his approach in grinding out a goalless draw against Liverpool at Anfield last weekend.

The approach was compared, unfavourably, to that of Pep Guardiola, whose league leaders Manchester City have been playing a scintillating brand of football, beating Stoke 7-2 on the same day.

But a midweek Champions League win at Benfica stretched United’s unbeaten start to the campaign to a dozen games, 10 of them victories, and Mourinho, whose side had been scoring freely before the Liverpool match, believes he has become a victim of his own success.

“I think it’s my fault because people are used to my teams getting good results and winning titles,” said Mourinho.

“Other people have more time than I have. Other people have different standards than I have and that’s not a problem for me at all.

“We are going to lose matches, that’s obvious, and I can imagine we are going to have even more criticism than we have now.”

Mourinho, whose side lie second in the Premier League table, two points behind Manchester City after eight matches, said the criticism was not a problem for him.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

“In relation to the last match, speaking about the Champions League I would like to know — because I don’t know — when United last won two consecutive matches away?

“I would like to know the last time United won nine points from three matches in the Champions League? We are doing OK.”

Mourinho found himself unwittingly embroiled in a war of words with Antonio Conte this week after his comments that certain managers complain about injuries to key players were relayed to the Chelsea manager, who responded angrily.

“I don’t speak to him. I don’t know why he speaks to me. That’s no problem,” said Mourinho, whose team travel to Huddersfield on Saturday.

“Maybe it’s not his fault. Maybe it’s the journalists’ fault when probably they’ve passed him a wrong message.

“I know what I said after the match, which is the reality. There are managers all over the world that, by philosophy, they prefer to speak about injuries, prefer to try to find excuses of a hypothetical failure based on injuries.

“I moan and cry about other things. I moan about the fixtures, moan about no time to rest. I moan about why I don’t understand why we play Saturday after Wednesday when we should play Sunday.”

Veteran forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is making progress in his recovery from surgery on a knee ligament injury and is expected to return before the end of the calendar year while Mourinho said he was unsure when Paul Pogba would be back in action.

Chelsea: Manager Takes Blame For Sloppy Show

Antonio Conte took the blame for Chelsea’s failure to protect their lead in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Roma in the Champions League.

Blues boss Conte opted to deploy Brazil defender David Luiz in midfield in a bid to solidify his injury-hit team.

Luiz gave Chelsea the lead at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, but although Eden Hazard doubled the hosts’ advantage before halftime, Roma hit back impressively.

Aleksandar Kolarov’s deflected strike reduced the deficit before Edin Dzeko netted with a brilliant volley and then a glancing header to put Roma ahead.

It took a late Hazard equaliser to stop Chelsea suffering a third successive defeat in all competitions, and Conte admitted his tactical switch had backfired.

“I didn’t like the type of football we did for a lot of the game, but it’s right to take the responsibility for this,” Conte said.

“I tried on one hand to protect my team, to become more solid and to move our central defender into midfield. On the other hand, we lost totally our style of football.

“Sometimes you have to find the right solution to try to protect your team.

“Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. Roma deserved this result.”

Chelsea remains top of Group C, two points above Roma ahead of their second clash in Italy later this month.

But Conte is well aware Chelsea are in a difficult moment, with injuries and erratic performances threatening to derail their Premier League title defence and slow their progress in Europe.

Already without the injured N’Golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater and Victor Moses, the last thing Conte needed was more fitness problems in the Roma match.

But that’s exactly what he got as Luiz suffered a calf injury that forced him off in the second half.

Tiemoue Bakayoko played on despite a groin problem, while Gary Cahill finished the game with his head heavily bandaged after a knock.

With Chelsea in the midst of a hectic period that includes matches against Watford, Everton, Bournemouth and Roma before the end of October, Conte was left to once again bemoan his growing injury list.

NO EXCUSES

“You know very well our situation (with injuries). I have to praise my players because they showed a big commitment, otherwise we lose the game,” Conte said.

“After the first half, the doctor told me Luiz had a pain in his calf, the same for Bakayoko in his groin.

“It was a good decision to protect Luiz. In this moment it is very important to protect the players.

“We must realise we had three important players out. This situation gives us problems, but I’m not looking for excuses.”

Despite the frustration of seeing a memorable victory snatched away by Hazard, Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco believes his side’s fightback proves they are capable of slugging it out with Europe’s top teams.

“We could easily have secured the three points but we should not forget we were 2-0 goals down,” he said.

“We had the right mentality. We have to grow from this performance. We made individual mistakes but the players who made those bounced back.

“They showed the right character. We are definitely on the right track.”

Key to Roma’s revival was a powerful display from former Manchester City striker Dzeko.

“We know Edin scores lots of goals. It was a very good game by him,” Di Francesco added.

“When we go through difficult spells he can really overwhelm opponents and help the team.”

“I’m Afraid Of My Retirement” – Cesc

Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas admits he fears retirement.

Speaking with News reporter, Cesc concedes he is determined to play for as long as he can.

He explained: “I’m afraid of my retirement, I still feel in good shape, both physical and mental, but I know it’s going to be one of the saddest days of my life.”

Cesc was also asked about his relationship with Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho.

“He was my enemy when he was coaching Real Madrid or Chelsea, do not get me wrong, but to compete I wanted to beat him. From there I became his player at Chelsea and went with him to death. I learned a lot, I have a very positive memory of him.”

 

 

Hazard Anxious To Shine In Champions League

Disheartened by his past failures, Chelsea star Eden Hazard has been urged to finally stamp his mark on the Champions League.

While Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar have cemented their legendary status with headline-stealing performances in Europe’s elite club competition, Hazard remains one of the tournament’s biggest enigmas.

Hazard’s quality is without question and the Belgian midfielder has been shortlisted for the 2017 Ballon d’Or award after playing a key role in Chelsea’s Premier League title triumph last season.

But despite tormenting defenders in domestic competitions, since Hazard made his Champions League debut with Lille in 2011, the game’s grandest stage has seen frustratingly few glimpses of that exquisite talent.

With that in mind, Chelsea’s clash with Roma on Wednesday offers Hazard a chance to change the narrative.

Aware that Hazard is now in his prime years, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has issued a public challenge to a player sometimes known for letting his diffident personality have a negative effect on his performances.

“I think last season Eden played a really important season. He played very well and was really important for us to win the league,” Conte said.

“For us, he showed in every game great talent and to be a really good player. This competition is very important for him and for the team.

“This competition brings you on another level and I think he has all the possibility to do this. He is a top player. I think it is the right moment.”

Hazard’s maiden Champions League voyage ended with the youngster failing to score a single goal as Lille bowed out at the group stage.

Yet, convinced of Hazard’s potential, Chelsea signed him just weeks after they won the Champions League in 2012.

However, Hazard went goalless in Europe that season as Chelsea was embarrassingly eliminated at the group stage.

False dawn

Hazard netted his first Champions League goal against Schalke in 2013 and had one of his more influential campaigns, with Chelsea reaching the semi-finals.

That proved a false dawn as disappointing last-16 exits to Paris Saint-Germain in 2015 and 2016 featured more underwhelming efforts from the Belgian.

Conte made his plea for more urgency from Hazard as Chelsea look to recover after their Premier League title defence was dented by successive defeats to Manchester City and Crystal Palace.

Significantly, Hazard has been unable to replicate last season’s mesmerising form as he struggles to rediscover his sharpness following an ankle injury.

The 26-year-old needed surgery in the close-season and has been limited to only four starts for Chelsea in the current campaign.

Hazard has yet to score in eight appearances for Chelsea this term and still looked well short of his peak form when the Blues crashed to a shock 2-1 loss at Palace on Saturday.

Fortunately for Chelsea, Hazard’s slow progress has not hampered their Champions League ambitions.

He was a substitute when Conte’s side crushed Qarabag in their Group C opener before playing 82 minutes of their impressive 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid.

Keen to buy himself time to rediscover his rhythm, Hazard has tried to play down Chelsea supporters’ expectations.

“I missed football for three months and it’s not easy to come back after a big injury but I did,” he said. “I just want to play football. I will miss some games, I will play badly for some games.

“I just want to play and try to bring the best of me.

Chelsea Hopes Morata’s Injury Brings Better News

Chelsea will make their own assessment of Alvaro Morata’s hamstring injury later this week after the striker was ruled out of international duty with Spain.

The 24-year-old was substituted after 35 minutes of Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Manchester City in the Premier League last Saturday.

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte expressed hope Morata’s departure had come prior to serious injury to his left hamstring.

But the results of a medical assessment by the Spanish Football Federation suggest Morata could be out for around four weeks. No time frame for his recovery has been given.

Morata met up with Spain on Sunday, where an MRI scan at the Sanitas University Hospital of La Moraleja in Madrid diagnosed “a grade II myofascial injury in the hamstring muscles”, the Spanish Football Federation said.

He was immediately ruled out of Spain’s World Cup qualifiers with Albania and Israel.

Chelsea will conduct their own tests once the striker returns from Spain, where he has other commitments.

The Blues, six points behind Premier League leaders City, next play on October 14 at Crystal Palace in the first of six games in 18 days.

Morata has scored seven goals since signing for £58million from Real Madrid as a direct replacement for Diego Costa, now at Atletico Madrid.

His possible absence will give Michy Batshuayi an opportunity, if Conte selects the Belgian who has netted five times this season, including the winner at Atletico last week.

Batshuayi was overlooked against City as Willian was sent on as a substitute for Morata, while Conte has also spoken of using Eden Hazard as a ‘false’ nine.

A month-long absence for Morata could impact Chelsea’s Champions League hopes – two of the six games before the end of October are against Roma – but the other matches are more favorable.

As well as winless and scoreless Palace, Chelsea faces Watford and Bournemouth in the Premier League, plus Everton in the Carabao Cup fourth round.

Perez Places Harzard On Priority List For R’Madrid

Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard is back on the agenda of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.

Perez has been pushed by coach Zinedine Zidane over the past 12 months to bring Hazard to Spain. The Frenchman rates the Blues ace as a priority target.

However, any move for Hazard over the summer was put on the backburner due to his ankle injury and Perez’s pursuit of Kylian Mbappe before his move from Monaco to PSG.

The Chelsea ace is now back on the agenda, with Perez and Zidane discussing him this week after seeing Hazard’s playing return over the past month.

Just this weekend, Hazard told SFR Sport: “I still have a career to do, I still have several years to go, I am at Chelsea for now, but I do not know where I can finish later.”

Interestingly, talk of a new contract for Hazard has gone quiet in recent weeks.

 

Conte Wants Chelsea To Play On After Terror Attack

Chelsea coach Antonio Conte says Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Arsenal should go ahead on Sunday despite an explosive device being detonated on a tube train near the club’s west London stadium.

At least 22 people were injured after a bomb exploded on a packed London Underground train during the morning rush hour on Friday in what police are treating as a “terrorist incident”.

Witnesses reported seeing a “wall of fire” and passengers with facial burns at Parsons Green station in west London after the explosion.

Parsons Green is only a short distance from Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge home.

But Chelsea manager Conte believes it is important for the Premier League champions to play Arsenal if possible to prove that terrorists can’t disrupt the fabric of society.

“I’d like to say all our thoughts are for the people affected in the incident on the tube,” Conte told a press conference at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground on Friday.

“For sure this type of situation is very dangerous, your mind goes to the people in this situation.

“I think we have to try to think only to play the game. This is the best way.

“We have to continue, to show we are stronger than them (the terrorists).”

The Premier League have given no indication that they are considering canceling the match, while a Chelsea spokesman encouraged fans to arrive at the stadium earlier than usual due to a likely increase in security checks.

“For sure there is great disappointment about this (incident). A lot of the time it is very difficult to understand why (it happens),” Conte said.

“I remember when I was the Italy coach, there was a terrorist attack and we had to play against Belgium.

“In this case, it is important to continue.”

 

 

Source: The Guardian