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Chelsea's Fabregas, Cahill out of Norwich clash, says Conte

Published in England Premier League
Wednesday, 17 January 2018 11:37

Chelsea were dealt a double blow on Tuesday with manager Antonio Conte saying that midfielder Cesc Fabregas and defender Gary Cahill will miss Wednesday's FA Cup third round replay against Norwich City because of injury.

England international Cahill was substituted in the first half of last Saturday's stalemate with Leicester City in the Premier League while Spaniard Fabregas was taken off in the second.

"Cahill (is injured), but his problem is not too serious. Cesc had a little problem in his hamstring and is not available," Conte told reporters.

Chelsea have recorded four goalless draws in their last seven fixtures across all competitions, dropping to fourth in the league and facing a must-win fixture against Norwich at home to progress to the FA Cup fourth round.

"This is a real problem for us. We are not conceding but the bad news is that we are not scoring," Conte said. "We have to improve in this aspect.

"If you compare to the past every single player has scored less than last season."
The Italian said that he would have to rotate his squad heavily ahead of the league trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

"Tomorrow is another game in a busy period for us. I have to make many changes. We have to play against Brighton after two days," Conte added.

"This is the great risk to make rotation, a lot of rotation. If you want to face and try to go to the next round in every competition this is the only way we can do."

Meanwhile, media reports have linked Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez with a move to Chelsea this month but Conte is unsure of the transfer.

"I don't know but I don't think so," Conte replied when asked directly if Chelsea were trying to sign the Chile international.

"About the transfer market I prefer to talk to the club and give an opinion and I repeat I don't want to give my opinion on that."

Conte also said that newly-signed midfielder Ross Barkley is unavailable for Wednesday's match as the England international was not registered in time.

The 48-year-old refused to comment on striker Michy Batshuayi's future, who has been linked with a move away, saying the Belgian along with Welsh teenager Ethan Ampadu were likely to play against Norwich.

Andreas Christensen pens new long-term Chelsea deal

Published in England Premier League
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 10:12

Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen has signed a new long-term contract, the Premier League club have announced.

The 21-year-old Denmark international has been rewarded with a new four-and-a-half-year deal after breaking into Antonio Conte's first team at Stamford Bridge this season.
Christensen, who joined the club as a 15-year-old in 2012, is now tied to the Blues until 2022.

Christensen has so far made 22 appearances for Chelsea this season, and could be involved again in Wednesday night's Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg clash with Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

"It feels really good to sign a new contract and I'm just happy to be committed to Chelsea for the future," Christensen said on the club's official website.

"I have played a lot of games, I am enjoying it at the club and everything is working well."

Christensen returned to Stamford Bridge from two seasons on loan at German club Borussia Monchengladbach, where he played in the Champions League against opponents that included Manchester City and Barcelona.
The Dane, who arrived in England from Brondby, was part of Chelsea's successful FA Youth Cup and Under-21 Premier League squad in 2014.

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia feels Christensen can go on to become an important player for the Blues.

"This contract is reward for the excellent form Andreas has shown in the first half of the season," Granovskaia said.

"He showed immense potential when he signed for Chelsea in 2012 and is now enjoying the benefits of the dedication and professionalism he has shown since.

"After two seasons on loan in Germany we were convinced he was ready to be a part of the squad this season and he has grasped the opportunity with both hands.

"We are delighted he has chosen to commit his future to Chelsea."

Ross Barkley completes Chelsea move, takes No 8 shirt

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 06 January 2018 11:21

Ross Barkley has completed his move to Premier League champions Chelsea, signing a five-and-a-half year contract and taking the No. 8 shirt.

Barkley was reportedly close to a move to the Blues last season, but the plug was pulled at the last minute.

Having not played all season due to injury, Barkley has now completed his move for a reported fee of £15 million.
He signs until 2023 and will wear the No 8 shirt recently worn by Frank Lampard and Oscar.

Barkley told the club's website:

" I'm overwhelmed, I'm looking forward to it and I'm really excited to get started. To be given a fresh start at a new club like Chelsea, it's unbelievable for me. I'm looking forward to continuing where I left off at the end of last season and hoping to improve and add more goals to my game."
Club director Marina Granovskaia added: "Ross is a player we have long admired and are certain he will prove to be an important player for Chelsea. He possesses outstanding technical and physical attributes, matched with good experience of the Premier League and a strong desire to succeed at the highest level. We welcome him to the club and look forward to seeing him in action."

Thibaut Courtois willing to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge

Published in England Premier League
Friday, 05 January 2018 13:32

Thibaut Courtois has indicated his willingness to extend his stay at Chelsea.

The Belgium goalkeeper's contract expires in June 2019 and he has been linked with a move to Real Madrid.

Courtois also says "irreplaceable" compatriot Eden Hazard is eager to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge too. Hazard's deal runs until 2020.

"I'm happy at Chelsea and a deal is close," Courtois said in the London Evening Standard.

"Has it been a distraction? Not for me. I'm just calm and relaxed because I'm tied to Chelsea.

"Despite the rumours and everything, I am focused on Chelsea and I'm happy here.

"Do Eden and I encourage each other to sign? Yes. He will say 'if you sign, I will sign' and I say the same to him.

"I think we are both happy at Chelsea, we both have a good part to play. We have been champions twice in the four seasons I have been here and can have our peak years together at Chelsea."
Should Courtois and Chelsea fail to agree a new deal by the summer, the Blues could sell the goalkeeper or they would risk losing him for free in 2019.

Courtois showed his value in Wednesday night's 2-2 draw at Arsenal, making a number of fine saves.

But the goalkeeper reckons Hazard could not be replaced, even if he is sold for an astronomical fee, with Real rumoured to be courting the playmaker.
"Losing a player like Eden would be bad for us, the club," Courtois added.

"Eden is irreplaceable. With the money he will raise, you can buy five players but none of them will be like Eden.

"It would be like Barcelona losing Lionel Messi or Real Madrid losing Cristiano Ronaldo.

"If you excel, there will always be teams interested in signing the biggest players.

"But that's why if Chelsea have ambition to be the best club in the world, these kind of players have to stay."

Arsenal grab stoppage-time point in classic against Chelsea

Published in England Premier League
Thursday, 04 January 2018 10:57

The full-back steered home from the edge of the box after Eden Hazard's disputed penalty and Marcos Alonso's sixth league goal of the campaign had seen the visitors come from behind to lead with six minutes to play.

Jack Wilshere had earlier continued his resurgence as part of the Gunners midfield with a rasping opener just past the hour.

It was a sensational final third of a match packed with incident and talking points that had looked like being the tale of two superb goalkeeping displays at the interval.

Alvaro Morata had a night to forget in front of goal as he missed three clear openings while Arsene Wenger was clearly irritated by the award of another debateable penalty when Bellerin was adjudged to have caught Hazard.

Substitute Davide Zappacosta almost won it for Chelsea, but his 93rd minute follow-up came back off the bar.

The result means Chelsea remain third, a point behind second-placed Manchester United. Arsenal stay sixth and are five points adrift of the top four.

PLAYER RATINGS
ARSENAL: Cech 7, Holding 6, Mustafi 6, Chambers 6, Bellerin 7, Xhaka 6, Wilshere 7, Maitland-Niles 7, Ozil 8, Sanchez 7, Lacazette 7. Subs: Welbeck n/a, Walcott n/a.

CHELSEA: Courtois 8, Cahill 6, Christensen 6, Azpilicueta 7, Moses 6, Kante 6, Bakayoko 6, Alonso 7, Fabregas 8, Hazard 8, Morata 5. Subs: Zappacosta 7, Drinkwater 6, Willian n/a.
KEY MOMENTS
14' - CHELSEA CHANCE! Arsenal's defence goes completely AWOL and Morata is allowed to race clean through onto a long ball over the top. The Spaniard has time to pick his spot but somehow contrives to fire well wide with just the keeper to beat.

17' - ARSENAL CHANCE! Maitland-Niles goes down in the Chelsea box. The home crowd screams for a penalty, but it looks like he caught his own heel. Arsenal play on and Sanchez sees a goal-bound strike from close-in tipped onto the woodwork by Courtois. It rolls across the line, hits the other post and is pounced upon by the Blues stopper.

63' - GOAL! Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea. Ozil and Holding combine to tee up Wilshere on the left side of the area, who flashes a rising shot past Courtois at the near post.

67' - GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea. Hazard levels from the spot as he coolly fires down the middle with Cech diving to his left. Wenger is fuming on the touchline as he felt Bellerin's challenge on Hazard didn't warrant a penalty.

70' - CHELSEA CHANCE! Morata out-muscles Chambers and rampages towards Cech, but once more he can't find the finish as he fires wide of the near post.

84' - GOAL! Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea. Zappacosta races onto Willian's long pass to the flank. He bamboozles Maitland-Niles and drills in a low cross that Alonso meets first-time to flash beyond Cech.

90+2' - GOAL! Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea. The pressure tells as Alonso's header drops for Bellerin to steer a shot into the far corner from just inside the area. What an incredible match this is!

90+3' - CHELSEA HIT THE BAR! Morata is clear again - but he fires straight at Cech. Zappacosta races onto the rebound but smashes it against the bar!
KEY STATS
Wilshere scored his first goal in his last 43 Premier League games, since netting v West Brom in May 2015.

Hazard (63 goals, 37 assists) has been directly involved in 100 goals in 192 Premier League appearances.

Since the start of last season, Marcos Alonso has been directly involved in 16 Premier League goals (12 goals, 4 assists), 4 more than any other defender.

Arsenal have conceded a joint-high 4 penalty goals in the Premier League this season (level with Watford and West Ham).

Eden Hazard rejected Chelsea contract extension claims father

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 30 December 2017 07:44

Eden Hazard's father claims his son has rejected a contract extension at Chelsea to enable a transfer to Real Madrid.

After a stellar run last season, ending with his team taking the league title, Hazard's has been linked with a move to the Bernabeu, though the 26-year-old's current contract runs until 2020.
Hazard's father, Thierry, was quoted by Belgian newspaper Le Soir, as saying: "What I can reveal about Eden is that he refused a contract extension.

"This was so that, if necessary, he could follow the interest of Real, whom he could see himself playing for."

However, he added that at present, no approach had been made by the La Liga team.
He said: "As of right now, there is no contract from Real Madrid - Eden is only one of the parties involved in his future."

The comments will no doubt stoke further speculation as to the Belgium international's future, having previously admitted his respect for Real Madrid, in what was seen as a "come get me" plea.

Hazard said in November: "Everyone knows the admiration I have for Real Madrid."
Currently 15 points adrift of table-toppers Manchester City, Chelsea face Stoke City on Saturday.

Antonio Conte coy over Eden Hazard future after claims he rejected new Chelsea contract

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 30 December 2017 07:39

Antonio Conte refused to discuss Eden Hazard's future despite claims from his father that he has rejected a new contract at Chelsea.

Hazard's father Thierry has told Belgian newspaper Le Soir that the offer of a new deal was turned down because of "interest" from Real Madrid.
Chelsea insist no new contract offer has been made, because his current deal still has two-and-a-half years to run.
Asked about Hazard senior's comments, Conte said: "This is a private conversation - between the club and the player, and the agent of the player.

"I'm proud to have him in my team, in my squad, and I'm very happy to work with him. He's a really good guy and has a lot of space for improvement, to become one of the best players in the world. But, I repeat, on this issue: this must be a private conversation between the player, the player's agent and the club."
The future of fellow Belgium international Thibaut Courtois also remains the subject of speculation, and Conte added: "Courtois has a contract, also for next season, with the club. With Chelsea. We are talking about one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

"Me and my staff are proud to have him as goalkeeper. For sure, I hope to have all the players for the next season.

"This is the type of conversation for the agent to have with the club. If you ask me if I hope Courtois stays? Yes, for sure. We are talking about a fantastic goalkeeper, a really good guy, and I'm happy to work with him."

"I don't know about this issue [surrounding Courtois' family living in Spain]. For sure, when you are in a great club and you trust in the project, you want to stay. You want to continue to play for this team. The family is not a problem. But I repeat, this is a private conversation between the player, his agent and the club. My only hope is that I continue to train him because I'm very happy with his commitment, his behaviour.

"You are talking about two important players for us. Yes, for sure, it will be very important to continue with this type of player, especially if your ambition is to try and compete for something important. It's very important to try to improve your team, to strengthen your team, and not to sell the best players."

Morata and Alonso earn Chelsea win against Brighton

Published in England Premier League
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 08:55

Second-half goals from returning striker Alvaro Morata and compatriot Marcos Alonso earned Chelsea three points in the Premier League on Tuesday, their headers breaching Brighton and Hove Albion's disciplined defence after a fallow first half.

Chelsea, spearheaded by the lively Eden Hazard, enjoyed the lion's share of possession with nine first half shots, but Tiemoue Bakayoko, Victor Moses and Cesc Fabregas all wasted chances.

Goal scorer Morata, back after suspension for Saturday's 0-0 draw at Everton, sprang to meet Cesar Azpilicueta's diagonal ball in the 46th minute and Alonso's near-post glancing header from a corner by a fourth Spain international, Fabregas, made it two 11 minutes later.

The win increased pressure on second-placed Manchester United who could only manage a 2-2 home draw with Burnley.

Conte said there was "great motivation, to try to stay there, to try to fight until the end" but said the challenge to overhaul Manchester City's 13-point advantage over Chelsea - having played a game less than the Londoners - looked too great.

"We fight for a place in the Champions League next season. There are four places for six top teams," he said.

Thibaut Courtois expecting tight games against Brighton and Stoke

Published in England Premier League
Monday, 25 December 2017 11:47

Thibaut Courtois has warned Chelsea to expect more of the same against Brighton after a frustrating stalemate with Everton on Saturday.

The reigning champions were unable to find a way past Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford at Goodison Park despite having 25 shots and owning 68 per cent of possession.
Sam Allardyce's side proved to be a resolute unit that Antonio Conte's Blues were unable to break down and goalkeeper Courtois is expecting the Seagulls, who visit Chelsea on Boxing Day, and Stoke, who make the trip to Stamford Bridge four days later, to operate with similar tactics.

"We want to finish the year well," Courtois told Chelsea TV.

"It's two difficult home games. Brighton is a team that are doing well in the Premier League. I think it will be the same - a defensive team trying to counter-attack us, and Stoke will be the same.

"We just have to try and recover well. Everything comes fast after the new year so I think the manager will try to use all the players he has available.

"We have to be ready and show the manager we can play. If everyone does that we will be fine."
verton failed to muster a single shot on target in a home game for the first time in six years as Courtois recorded his 50th clean sheet with Chelsea.

"It's a nice milestone," Courtois added.

"Goalkeepers and defenders like not to concede goals so clean sheets are nice. I'm very happy with the 50th clean sheet and hopefully soon we can have 100!"

Chelsea will have top scorer Alvaro Morata back against Brighton after the Spaniard served a one-game ban having accrued five yellow cards.

Simply honest to say Chelsea not in title race, says Conte

Published in England Premier League
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 10:48

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte denied he was being negative when he said the club were not in the Premier League title race and insisted, after Tuesday's 3-1 win at Huddersfield Town, that he was simply being realistic.

Conte had reacted to Saturday's 1-0 loss at West Ham United, by saying Chelsea were not in a position to overhaul runaway leaders Manchester City and that his team's bid had "never started".
Although a comfortable victory at the John Smith's Stadium leaves Chelsea 11 points behind Manchester City, who visit struggling Swansea City on Wednesday, Conte does not believe it is realistic to talk of catching Pep Guardiola's side.

"This is the truth. Manchester City in 16 games they have won 15 and drawn one. In 17 games, we have lost four games," said the Italian.

"When you have a competitor like Manchester City that every game they are winning, it is very difficult to think that you can fight for the title. You can say it's negative or this is positive but its bulls***," said Conte.

"We must be realistic and to tell always the truth. I prefer to tell the truth rather than a good lie. I am this way. Sometimes I can be too honest but I like to speak very honestly with my players, with our fans also," he said.
Conte added that the reality did not stop his team, who are also in the last 16 of the Champions League where they will face Barcelona in February, from fighting till the end.

"It doesn't mean that we don't want to try to catch them but we have to hope to have a big slip (from City) and then for us to win every game -- in this league.

"In this league don't forget it is very difficult. In every game you have to put 120 percent of yourself otherwise you risk dropping points," he said.

The former Juventus and Italy boss was pleased with the way his team had bounced back on Tuesday after the West Ham reverse with goals from Tiemoue Bakayoko, Willian and Pedro.

"I think we must be very happy for the performance because from the start of the game we showed a great personality and desire to win the game against a very good team,” he said.

"They beat Manchester United and City struggled to win against them. To win this way is very important as it improves our confidence after a defeat against West Ham," he said.

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