Authors Posts by Francesca Ceciarini

Francesca Ceciarini

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Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois defends his team-mate Diego Costa, often accused to have a bad temperament on the pitch.

The Spanish striker had some issues with Stoke City player last Saturday:

“They were very physical and it was hard to find our usual game,” Courtois said.

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Barcelona star Neymar admits he would love to play in the Premier League.

The Brazilian striker revealed huge respect for some of the English top clubs and hinted he would like to join one of them:

“It’s a championship that surprises me,” he said at a PokerStars event.

“I like the playing style and the teams.”

Recente rumours claimed that Manchester United and José Mourinho were really keen on the Brazilian international and Neymar included the Red Devils among his favourite Premier League sides, as well as Chelsea and a couple more:

“I admire Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool: these are the teams that are always fighting for the title.

“And then you have top-level coaches like Mourinho and  Guardiola. These are coaches any player would like to play for.

“Who knows? I’d like to play there.”

 

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Ex Manchester United defender Gary Neville reckons it’s almost impossible to stop Chelsea from winning the league now and also that everything is going into the Blues favourable direction.

“Chelsea have looked like champions for the last 20 matches,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“There’s still quite a bit to go, don’t think we can give them the title yet.

“However they are not picking up the injuries, a month ago I thought could stop them.

“Everything you would point towards in a championship winning team is happening.”

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Chelsea Premier League game at Stamford Bridge against Southampton has been rescheduled for Tuesday 25th April at night.

The clash against Saints will be played at 7.45 pm and will be broadcasted on Sky Sports in the UK.

Southampton had been due to head to Stamford Bridge two days earlier, but the game had to be moved due to the Blues’ involvement in the FA Cup semi-finals that weekend.

Other Premier League games against Southampton were rescheduled for those days:

Wednesday 26 April

7.45pm Arsenal v Leicester City 
7.45pm Middlesbrough v Sunderland
8pm Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur

Thursday 27 April
8pm Manchester City v Manchester United 

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Despite the ten points gap in the league table with other ten games to play, Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen and his team-mates don’t give up on title race:

“We had to work very hard,” he told Sky Sports after the 2-1 win over Southampton today.

“Southampton are a great team with great players.

“We were lucky to be 2-0 up at half time and then had to get the third one but didn’t.

The Tottenham defender continued:

“Chelsea are favourites for the title but we won’t give up until they lift the trophy.

“We are doing well and have to aim for the highest place possible and keep winning our games.”

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Ex West Ham and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand claimed that he doesn’t see other teams as consistents as Chelsea in the Premier League:

“These boys are running away with it,’ the former English centre-back told BT Sport.

“There’s no one consistent enough to stay with them in the league.

“They’ve found a way of playing, a formula, an understanding of the manager’s ideas.

“I think he [Conte] has to take huge credit, the season before… terrible season, so far off the pace.

“He’s come in and, based on repetition, built an understanding of how he wants the team to play and the players are really putting it in, he’s run away with the league this year.”

 

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Chelsea forward Pedro revealed what made Blues so successful this campaign, claiming huge part of the merit is Antonio Conte‘s:

“The mentality has changed, we’re more confident on the pitch, and that confidence is probably the secret as to why we are top of the league.

“Conte speaks a lot with the players, also on the pitch and on the training ground, preparing very well for the games. It’s important for us, when not in the Champions League, to have the time to prepare for the games.

“This is good for the team, but Antonio is a very good coach with good mentality, good ideas as to how to play and win the games. This is the right way.”

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STOKE CITY – Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, M. Indi, Pieters; Ramadan, Cameron, Allen, Arnautovic; Walters, Berahino

Subs: Given; Muniesa, Whelan, Afellay, Adam, Diouf, Crouch

Manager: Mark Hughes

 

CHELSEA – Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Willian, Diego Costa, Pedro.

Subs: Begovic, Zouma, Ake, Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas, Batshuayi

Manager: Antonio Conte

 

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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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