Authors Posts by Francesca Ceciarini

Francesca Ceciarini

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CHELSEA

– Eden Hazard is ruled out of the clash for leg injury

– Victor Moses is available despite leaving the pitch for a minor injury with Manchester United

– Another un-named player was a doubt for the game

– Cesc Fabregas could start due to Hazard’s absence

– Chelsea have only won two of their last seven games away to Stoke in all competitions.

 

STOKE CITY

- Stoke defender Glen Johnson is absent with a shoulder problem

- Marko Arnautovic should return after missing out in midweek because of illness.

– Xherdan Shaqiri is back after a six-match absence

– Wilfried Bony, who was ineligible against Manchester City, is available.

– However, the Potters have managed just two victories in 17 Premier League meetings (D3, L12).

 

Possible Line Ups

STOKE CITY - Grant; Bardley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Diouf, Cameron, Allen, Shaqiri; Arnautovic, Bony.

CHELSEA - Courtois; David Luiz, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Willian, Diego Costa, Fabregas.

 

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Venue: Bet365 Stadium

Kick Off: 3 pm GMT

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Gary Cahill is back to his top form this year © Francesca Ceciarini

Gary Cahill is leading Chelsea on the pitch this season, wearing captain armband.

The English defender is back to top form under Antonio Conte and his new tactical system and spoke before the clash with Stoke City:

“We played Stoke at home and beat them when Peter Crouch played, and he always proves difficult to play against,’ the centre-back said about the Blues next rivals to Chelsea official website.

“Naturally his size proves difficult in and around the box, but also I’ve trained with him for England many times and as everyone knows through his career he’s a great finisher and he’s got great feet for a big man.

Mark Hughes has done a great job there and I think they do go direct when they need to, but they’ve also got good technicians where he wants to play as well. It’s a tough place to go, everyone in the league knows Stoke is a very difficult place to go and get three points.

But the confidence and momentum we have going into this game means we should be concentrating on us and the work we have been doing to get us to this point. We need keep doing the same things.”

Continuing to speak about the Potters, he said:

“Everyone’s quick to say this might be their weakness or that might be their weakness. Height is dangerous in the box, of course it is, pace is dangerous, everything’s dangerous. You’ve just got to go out and do the best you can and we’ve managed to do that this season.

“Whether the opposition go with a big man up front or they don’t, the way we approach the game and the way we want to play is what we should be concentrating on. Obviously we’ve spoken about the threats they’ve got, but we’re playing well, we’re in a good moment, so we’ll continue and focus on what we’re doing.”

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Speaking before Stoke City clash Antonio Conte stressed again the importance of a player and a professional like Cesc Fabregas, who is becoming a key-part of this Chelsea success:

“Cesc is showing he has a great impact for us. I hope to finish the season in the right way and to try to win [trophies],” the Italian manager said to the press.

“But for sure Cesc has shown himself to be a great professional but, above all, a great player.

“I’m very pleased to see that in him, his commitment and work-rate. This season he faced a new situation.

The Chelsea boss continued:

“In the past, Cesc has always played every single game. It’s not easy to change.

“But, for sure, Cesc showed me that he is not only a great player but a great person.

“I think, this season, he has improved a lot in all aspects and, for me, he is a really, really important player.”

With Eden Hazard’s absence against the Potters, it’s likely for Fabregas to start again this afternoon.

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Eden Hazard © Francesca Ceciarini

A major blow for Chelsea ahead of Stoke City clash: Blues star Eden Hazard didn’t travelled to Northern England with the team last night.

The Belgian is suffering a muscle leg injury and this issue will also stop him to join his national team for the international games scheduled for next week.

Antonio Conte admitted in yesterday’s press conference that he had a couple of injury concerns to value and today we got the confirmation that Hazard was ruled out of this crucial game for Chelsea title campaign.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte spoke to preview Premier League clash against Stoke City.

The Blues manager was firstly asked about injury concerns, since Victor Moses left the pitch with some physical issues against Man United on Monday night:

“Victor Moses, today, trained well. I think he’s available but, for the game against Stoke City, it’s important to check a couple of situations and then make the best decisions tomorrow. I’d prefer to keep those to me. Excuse me, but there it is.”

Chelsea can go 13 points clear at top beating Stoke City at Britannia Stadium tomorrow, and Conte is confident about that. Anyway, the Italian manager underlined Premier League’s complexity:

“It’s important to start by beating Stoke City. It won’t be easy. They’re a really strong, physical team with great players and good technique. Stoke City, for sure, are a really good team. For this reason we must pay really great attention tomorrow with focus. The game won’t be easy, for sure. Now I think we need 24 points to win the league, and it’s important for us to see it game by game, to go game by game, without looking forward too far.”

Then Conte added: “If we can afford to three games? If I imagine this? Thought this? To arrive at this point to have lost only three games is good because, don’t forget, this league is very tough. Every game you can lose, you can lose. For this reason I’m very happy with this result. The league has to finish and there are 11 games to go and, tomorrow, we will have a test. A tough test. Very important. We must pay great attention.”

About Rojo’s stamp on Hazard, the Italian manager claimed: “It’s important to underline that I spoke about the situation, about Eden Hazard, when you asked me if the double yellow card was right. I replied in this way, that in the first 20-25 minutes I saw only this type of situation for him, and it was impossible for him to play football. But I understand in football there are this type of situations. I don’t like this, and I always want to face a team who want to play football and to beat us playing football. I think that’s important.”

Eden Hazard is impressing with the Blues so far, also Conte reckons the importance of the Belgian starlet: “Eden is showing great football but also great character and great personality in every game. I think he is growing a lot in this aspect. For him, it’s fantastic. Not only for him, but also for the team.”

“It’s too early to reply to this question. I hope that, at the end of the season, one of my players could be player of the year. It would mean we’ve won the league and, for me, it would be a great satisfaction to have one of my players winning this award. Until now it’s important to be concentrated on the league and try and play game by game, to be focused. They are important but, if you don’t win, they are not important.”

About decisions to sell players like Lukaku or De Bruyne in the past, Conte said: “But it’s always very difficult to take always the best decision. Sometimes it can happen that you think one thing and then, in the future, something else happens. A different situation. I think, above all, in football it’s not simple to give always a correct evaluation for players. Sometimes a player who, in the last two years or so, didn’t play well goes on to have a fantastic season. That happens. But it’s not right to talk about mistakes.”

 

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Former Spurs and West Ham boss Harry Redknapp didn’t like the attitude of Chelsea fans toward their former manager Jose’ Mourinho.

The Blues supporters insulted and called “Judas” the Portuguese coach during the FA Cup game against Manchester United last Monday and Mourinho showed them three fingers, a way to remind them he won three leagues with the Stamford Bridge outfit.

When asked about this in the post-match press conference, Jose’ said:

“I am Manchester United manager and I have to defend my club, but I would like to remind Chelsea fans that until a coach will win 4 Premier League titles with them, Judas will be their number 1.”

Harry Redknapp explained that Chelsea fans behaviour was not fair:

“I didn’t like to see Chelsea fans giving their former manager so much stick either,” the English coach told Evening Standard.

“But this is the world we live in now, that’s how the game is.

“You go back somewhere and people give you grief.

“How can they give him stick after the job he did there?

“I didn’t blame him for reminding them how many titles he won in two spells by flicking three fingers.”

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Chelsea current pitch captain Gary Cahill praised his team-mate N’Golo Kante after the French midfielder was, once again, determining scoring the winner against Manchester United in FA Cup quarter finals tonight:

“N’Golo has been fantastic,” the English defender said to BBC Sport after the game.

“You saw what he did last season but he has kicked on again this season. He is so important, especially to us at the back.”

Cahill said that Chelsea had complained about the treatment dished out to Eden Hazard before Herrera saw red:

“There was a few fouls leading up to that, maybe it was silly to go in and make a foul again,” he said.

“We complained that Eden was getting harassed early on. There was many fouls, no dangerous ones.”

 

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Speaking to BBC Sport after the final whistle match winner N’Golo Kante admits Herrera’s red card helped Chelsea to take control of the game but, especially, to be pleased to have scored such an important goal for the Blues:

“I’m happy to score again,” the French midfielder claimed after the win on Manchester United.

“I’m happy for the win and for the fans it was a very beautiful win.

 “It was difficult, Manchester is a good team, it was a tough game but we won. When Herrera was sent off, it was more easy.

“It’s a pleasure to go to the next round, hopefully we can go to the final and see who we are going to play.”

 

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Former Chelsea boss José Mourinho took a dig at his ex fans after he was defeated with Manchester United in tonight’s FA Cup quarter finals game at Stamford Bridge.

The Manchester United manager was asked an opinion about some Blues supporters considering him a Juda for joining Red Devils last summer:

“Do they call me Juda? Well, until someone will win 4 league title with them I will be their number one coach”.

 

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Speaking after the end of the game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tonight former Blues manager José Mourinho refused to comment referee Michael Oliver’s decision to send off Ander Herrera at 35´, an episode that changed the history of the game:

“I don’t speak [about the red card] I just want to say that I’m really proud of my players and the Manchester United fans,” the Portuguese coach said to BBC after the final whistle.

“We have a very important match on Thursday and I want to try to rest a bit and prepare for it.

“Everybody, we can analyse in different perspectives.

“But I think we all watched the match until the red card and after the red card and then we can compare the decisions of these two yellow cards.

“In this case the second yellow card, with other ones that were not given, but I don’t want to go in that direction.”

 

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