Authors Posts by Francesca Ceciarini

Francesca Ceciarini


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Manchester United defender Chris Smalling

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling spoke to ManUtd TV ahead of the important clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, revealing the Red Devils are very confident to get a good result in London:

“Stamford Bridge is a notorious place and Chelsea have probably been the best team in the league this year.

“But we are going there with that confidence and belief that we can actually get something with the way we have played.

“I think their team are well balanced and they are also a physical team. They can play good football but they can also change it up. They do score from a lot of set-pieces.

It is a difficult place to go but I think, we’ll go there with a lot of confidence.”

Smalling has forged a regular place in the United starting line-up, scoring his side’s fourth goal in their impressive derby win over Manchester City.

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Chelsea play Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (17:30 KO), in a tie that is huge for both teams.

If Chelsea win, they take a huge step towards winning the title. If United claim the three points, they all but secure Champions League football next season.

Team news

Chelsea: The Blues are set to be without top scorer Diego Costa (hamstring) and Loic Remy (calf).

They have no other injury concerns.

Manchester United: United are still waiting to see if Michael Carrick will be fit, as the midfielder picked up a knock late on against Manchester City last weekend.

Striker Robin van Persie and defender Luke Shaw have returned to training, and could feature in some capacity.



Saturday’s meeting will be the 165th game between the two sides in all competitions. United have the edge, having won 68 of those games. Chelsea have won 48 times, with 50 draws.

The earlier game this season was a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 11 matches (W5, D5), and they are unbeaten at home all season. United have only lost one in their last 10, and they have only drawn one in the same period.

The Reds have won their last six consecutive games, including victories over Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City. They have scored 15 goals and conceded just four times in those games.

United have only won once at Stamford Bridge in 10 previous top-flight fixtures.

As Arsenal don’t play until the 26th April, Chelsea could extend their lead at the top of the table to 10 points. United could go into second with a win, but Arsenal would have a game in hand.


Last time out

Chelsea (vs. QPR, away, won 0-1): Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Matic, Willian, Fàbregas, Hazard, Drogba

Manchester United (vs. Manchester City, home, won 4-2): de Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Blind, Carrick, Mata, Herrera, Fellaini, Young, Rooney






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Clyne has been a regular starter for the Saints this season

Nathanial Clyne has been given an ultimatum by manager Ronald Koeman, who says that he must sort out his future before the end of the current season.  

The 24-year old is reportedly a target for a host of Premier League clubs, including Chelsea and Manchester United.

His current contract runs until 2016, but Clyne is reportedly reluctant to sign a new deal as he is aware of the interest shown by other clubs. He has also said that he believes that playing in the Champions League would be the “next step” in his progression.

Saints boss Koeman, who dropped Clyne from the Southampton squad for the game against Hull last weekend, told BBC Radio Solent: “We are talking to Clyne and his agent. We can’t wait until the end of the season.

“It’s not like we need to know today or tomorrow but we are talking to them and we will try to do everything to keep the player but you need both parties for that.”

The south coast club are in no hurry to sell, but Clyne is reportedly looking for a move away. Earlier this week, he said: “flattered by the interest from the big clubs. It shows that I’m doing well and I’ve had a good season.”

He also said: “I’m definitely ambitious. Every player would love to be playing in the Champions League and winning trophies and titles. That’s what you play football for – that’s the dream.

“I think I need experience playing European football. We’re doing well with Southampton and hopefully we can get there.

“That would be great. So I’m just concentrating on Southampton. There are a few more games to play, so I’m just concentrating on getting to the fourth spot.”


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Hazard has been a key man for the Blues this season

Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard has been shortlisted for both the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year.

Manchester United keeper David De Gea, Tottenham striker and Liverpool attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho could also win both awards.

Hazard has now been on the shortlist for three consecutive seasons, previously losing out to Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez.

The 24-year old joins a series of Chelsea players to make the PFA shortlists – the Belgian joins fellow teammates Diego Costa, who is on the senior list, and Thibaut Courtois, who is on the young player’s list.

Two of Chelsea’s Ladies have also made it on to the senior shortlist of the Female Player of the Year award.


Men’s Player of the Year shortlist:

Diego Costa (Chelsea), David De Gea (Manchester United), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)

Men’s Young Player of the Year shortlist:

Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), David De Gea (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)

Women’s Player of the Year shortlist:

Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Jess Clarke (Notts County), Karen Carney (Birmingham City), Kelly Smith (Arsenal), Ji So-yun (Chelsea)

Women’s Player of the Year shortlist:

Freda Ayisi (Birmingham City), Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), Aoife Mannion (Birmingham City), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal)


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After the last two first-legs of the Champions League Quarter Finals, we round up all of the scores from another enthralling couple of nights of European football.

Last night, Athletico Madrid held their city rivals Real to a 0-0 draw at the Vincente Calderon. Gareth Bale came closest to breaking the deadlock after just three minutes, but he was beaten when one-on-one by Athletico keeper Jan Olbak, who excelled throughout. In a game where tempers were unsurprisingly high, Sergio Ramos was seen to have kicked out at Koke and Dani Carvajal was seen to have punched and reportedly bitten Athletico striker Mario Mandzukic. However, the defender escaped any retrospective action. It’s only the second game in 47 Champions League appearances that Real have failed to score, but their poor record against their fierce rivals continued as they take the second leg to the Bernabeau without an away goal. Since winning their 10th Champions League against Athletico, Los Blancos are without a win against their close rivals in seven games.

Juventus narrowly overcame Monaco 1-0 in Turin. An Arturo Vidal penalty just before the hour mark was enough to give Juve a slender lead after Ricardo Carvalho tripped up Alvaro Morata. The Italian outfit, who were looking to bounce back from a shock league defeat against bottom-placed Parma, missed several good chances throughout but regardless take a lead into the second leg in Monaco. The French outfit have now only conceded eight goals in nine Champions League games, but a stout defence will be needed to resist the Juve frontline when the teams meet again.

Paris Saint Germain were defeated 1-3 by Barcelona at the Parc des Princes. The Spanish side are looking to get into their seventh semi-final in eight seasons, and they may already have sealed their place. Neymar opened the scoring after just 15 minutes, and two superb goals from Luis Suarez gave the La Liga side a confident lead. Lionel Messi also hit the post. It’s Neymar’s 28th goal of the season, and Suarez’s 13th goal in 15 games. Without talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the French champions struggled in front of goal, Gregory van der Wiel providing a late deflected consolation near the end of the game.

Porto claimed a surprise victory over Bayern Munich, winning 3-1. The Portuguese side, who haven’t reached the final of the competition since 2004, took control early on as Ricardo Quaresma converted a penalty after Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer tripped up striker Jackson Martinez. Quaresma then doubled the home side’s advantage after dispossessing Dante and coolly slotting home his second after just 10 minutes. Thiago pulled a goal back for Pep Guardiola’s side just before the half hour mark, but Martinez sealed the game after 68 minutes when he scored a brilliant third.


The second leg ties will be played on Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd April.


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Klopp retired as a player in 2000 and joined Dortmund in 2008

Borussia Dortmund have announced that manager Jurgen Klopp is to leave the club at the end of the season.

The German has been in charge of Dortmund since 2008, and in his time at the club he has won two Bundesliga titles. He also took the club to the final of the Champions League in 2012-13, where they lost 2-1 to domestic rivals Bayern Munich. Before Dortmund, he managed FSV Mainz, also for seven years.

However, the side were bottom of the table for a spell this season, with many calling for him to go. In February, they staged a mini-revival, but they currently lie 37 points off leaders Bayern in 10th.

His contract had been due to run until 2018.

The club announced the news in a press conference earlier today. Klopp said: “It’s not that I’m tired, I’ve not had contact with another club but don’t plan to take a sabbatical.

“I always said in that moment where I believe I am not the perfect coach anymore for this extraordinary club I will say so.

“I really think the decision is the right one. This club deserves to be coached from the 100% right manager.”

Referring to the departures of Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich over the past two summers, he added: “I chose this time to announce it because in the last few years some player decisions were made late and there was no time to react.”

The 47-year old is regarded as one of the talented managers in Europe.

He has been linked with a host of clubs, including Real Madrid and Premier League clubs. Manchester United was touted as a possible destination before the appointment of Louis van Gaal, as was Arsenal during poor runs of form at the Emirates.

He may be linked with a move to Manchester City in the coming days and weeks, with current City boss Manuel Pellegrini reportedly walking on a tightrope at the reigning Champions. The Chilean is apparently to be sacked in the summer, with Klopp’s imminent departure providing another possible replacement.




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Eden Hazard won the Player of the Year Award last season © Francesca Ceciarini

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has named Eden Hazard as his PFA Player of the Year.

The TV pundit is the latest to give his opinion on who should claim the award, with multiple pundits and players naming their choices over recent weeks. Chelsea captain John Terry took to social media to share his opinions.

In an interview with talkSPORT, the 37-year old, who a legend on Merseyside, said that although there was room for debate, he would pick Hazard over all others this season:

“I go for [Eden] Hazard. I think he’s been the best player in the league.”

However, Carragher stayed loyal to his Liverpool past as he said no one could surpass the season of former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who some may argue carried Liverpool to second place single-handedly last season. He scored 30 goals as Liverpool narrowly lost out on the title to Manchester City before moving to Barcelona last summer.

“But while I think he’s been brilliant this season, I don’t think there’s been anyone like [Luis] Suarez was last season, where it was obvious to everyone. There’s a debate this year.

“Hazard is Chelsea’s best player, and it looks like they’re going to go and win the league. I’d go for him.”

The Belgian has been a key part of Chelsea’s side this season, as they look almost certain to win the title. They are currently seven points clear of second-placed Arsenal with a game in hand. The 24-year old has 12 goals and eight assists this season.

Harry Kane, Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez are also all reportedly in the running for the award.

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Bamford has piqued the interest of a number of clubs after his loan spell at Middlesbrough.

Daily Mail are reporting today that Chelsea opened talks with Patrick Bamford to extend his contract.

The striker, 22, is undergoing an impressive campaign at Middlesbrough -where he’s playing on loan- where he already scored 17 goals to help them to fight for the Premier League promotion.

Bamford’s contract with the Blues will expire next year and he’s currently earning 7.500 £ per week, but Chelsea are keen to improve his wages and extend the deal to secure him for the next seasons.


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Arsenal legend Martin Keown, now a pundit for BBC, stated that Chelsea will have to watch out from Gunners in the next season, since Wenger side will be serious title contenders.

Arsenal have having an impressive run in the Premier League in the last two months: since the defeat with Spurs in the beginning of February they put 8 wins in a row,  keeping also 6 clean sheets in 2015: a form that projected them to the second place in the table, just 6 points behind Chelsea – that still got a game in hand- and with clash to play at Emirates against the Blues in ten days.

Asked about who will will the Premier League title this year, Keown replied:

Chelsea will win it now but if you ask them next season they won’t fear anyone but they will be aware of Arsenal. They will want to challenge next season and they will want to start well next year”

“They need to strengthen in one or two positions but I’m not talking about wholesale changes which some others may have to make if they want to compete”.



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Courtois claims Chelsea aim to more titles next season © Francesca Ceciarini

Thibaut Courtois was the protagonist of the big interview in the latest Chelsea FC official magazine.

The Belgian goalkeeper explains what are his main ambitions for his career, the goals that motivate him at Chelsea and with Belgium, his national team:

“Last season, I was part of a team who lost the Champions League in the last minute, so that’s something I still want to win, and to be able to play for a Premier League title every season is also a big motivation”

“To win a European Championship or a World Cup with Belgium is another goal. But, it is true, when I was a young kid I dreamed of playing in finals and it’s nice to have won the Europa League and Super Cup, and won a final against Real Madrid, but hopefully I can achieve much more now”

“Every year I’ve won one trophy, so it’s nice we won the one at Wembley. But, of course, the Premier League would be much bigger so hopefully we can add that this season”

“It’s nice to get individually recognised, but you only do that if your team is doing well. Of course, if the goalkeeper is playing well, then it helps the team also to get trophies, but football is a collective sport, so I would give up all my individual trophies to be able to win a Premier League, Champions League or a World Cup. The team victories and trophies are always more important than the individual ones”

About the difference of playing for a normal team or a top team he stated:

“I think it’s true that, if you play for a top team to win championships, the goalkeeper has to interfere less and there are always players who shine more in the team, like the strikers”

“As a goalkeeper, you might only have to make one or two saves a game,-but sometimes really important ones – so, of course, it’s nice that people see it and recognise it”

“The concentration as a goalkeeper needs to be very high. We work on the focus in training and it’s good because, in big teams, one save maybe in minute 88 can be decisive, so it’s very important”.




Chelsea are plotting a move to sign Daniel Sturridge from Liverpool when the transfer market window reopens in January, according to reports in the Daily...