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CFC

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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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Tottenham responded to Chelsea‘s message with a 2-1 win against Southampton at White Hart Lane today.

Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli secured Mauricio Pochettino’s side a crucial win in the title race as Spurs are now 2nd with 59 points, 10 less than Chelsea.

Southampton went close to leveling the game but failed to get the 2-2 after James Word-Prowse scored in the second half.

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Spain have announced their squad to face Israel and France next week, with Chelsea stars Cesar Azpilicueta, Pedro and Diego Costa regularly selected by Julen Lopetegui.

Pedro returns to the first squad after being left out in November, while both Cesc Fabregas and Marcos Alonso didn’t make the cut despite their outstanding performances under Antonio Conte this season so far.

Goalkeepers – Pepe Reina (Napoli), David De Gea (Manchester United), Sergio Rico (Sevilla)

DefendersNacho (Real Madrid), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Javi Martínez (Bayern Munich), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

MidfieldersAnder Herrera (Manchester United), Asier Illarramendi (Real Sociedad), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Isco (Real Madrid), Thiago (Bayern Munich), David Silva (Manchester City), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)

Strikers – Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid), Gerard Deulofeu (AC Milan), Vitolo (Sevilla), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Pedro (Chelsea), Iago Aspas (Celta)

 

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SkySports pundit Guillem Balague has revealed Real Madrid would have targeted both Manchester United star David De Gea and Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois as they want to find a long-term solution after the departure of Iker Casillas in 2015.

Balague is quoted to have said: “I’m not sure if there is a preference towards 1 because they have targeted both, and that’s a normal approach.”

 

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Chelsea are now 13 points clear at top of Premier League table despite having played only 2 games this month.

Gary Cahill told the club’s official website that the Blues’ win against Stoke City will give ‘an extra bit of pressure’ since both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have to win their games today.

“It’s crazy we only have two Premier League games this month and we spoke about what the gap could be – he pointed out – We managed to get the two wins, that was the target at the start of the month and we can sit back and watch the games [on Sunday] now,”

“I’m sure there will be pressure in those games and they may respond to that, but I’ve played in situations before where a team gets a result before and you have to go out. It gives that extra bit of pressure”.

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Chelsea captain and match winner Gary Cahill spoke after his side’s late win against Stoke City at Bet365 Stadium yesterday.

The defender conceded a penalty after hitting Potters’ striker Walters in the first half:  “When you make a mistake, I felt it was a soft penalty, but nevertheless you want to make it right in some way, somehow, – Cahill admitted – So I’m delighted to get the goal”.

“The most important thing is the win but I was delighted to get the goal. I felt I’ve showed character time and time again this season just as we have as a team, and you get the rewards sometimes”.

Diego Costa was accused of ‘black arts’ by Stoke manager Mark Hughes, while the game ended with 27 fouls committed and 6 yellow cards shown by referee Anthony Taylor.

Cahill added: “It was exactly how we expected it, we knew it was going to be tough. I watched the City game and they frustrated them, they were really well organised and it was the same again today”.

“They caused us a few problems but we kept trying to play and create and we did that thankfully. The wins are all that matter at this stage”.

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Stoke City manager Mark Hughes believes that Diego Costa is a master of the dark arts following the Chelsea’s striker imposing performance against Potters today.

The manager reckons that the Spaniard knows how to get fouls on the pitch: “Diego Costa draws fouls and tries to make most of contact when they are not fouls, – Hughes claimed – He is adept at the dark arts and everyone in football recognises that. He has many elements and factors, you have to put up with them.”

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Antonio Conte spoke at press conference after Chelsea away win against Stoke City.

“For sure this is an important win. – the Italian manager said – Against a strong team, it is not easy in this point in the season to come here and to play in Stoke against a strong team with a good quality and tactical organisation”.

“We showed from the start a great will to win, from the start to the end. I am very pleased with this, as they showed me a good will to win but that they were prepared to fight to win this game, because it wasn’t easy.”

Referee Shawcross Stoke

When asked whether Stoke City defenders tried to hustle Diego Costa during the game, Conte replied: “It is not easy to reply to this kind of question. I think that the it is normal to try to bring a player to be angry and then to react and to commit another foul. It’s normal this”.

“I think the great news is that Diego is showing to be a great player, also in this aspect. I know in the past sometimes he has received two yellow cards and he has not finished the game, but this season, honestly, I have to be pleased for him and for his beahviour.”

Conte brought on Cesc Fabregas switching to a 4-3-3 formation in the second half.

“This is not the first time as this happened also against Burnley. – the Italian manager pointed out – When you want to take more risks, to try to take three points and not only one, to try to change”. 

“For sure there is the great possibility to score the goal, but also to concede a goal. You must know this but then I prefer to decide and risk to take three points. In other situations I decide to keep the result.”

 

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Antonio Conte denied rumors that Eden Hazard would have suffered an injury in the F.A. Cup game against Manchester United last week.

The Italian manager, speaking after the game against Stoke City, confirmed that Hazard has a calf problem which was picked up at Cobham.

“Hazard? He felt a big problem in his calf in the last training. That is the reason he didn’t play today” Conte said.

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte put his thoughts on last Blues’ win against Stoke City.

“I am pleased because to play Stoke at this point of the season, you have to be prepared mentally and physically – Conte said speaking after the game – For this reason, we won today. It was a tough game, we tried to play football and deserved to win. We faced a really good team”.

Gary Cahill scored a late and crucial goal to secure Chelsea a narrow win in a very tough clash.

“I am pleased for Gary Cahill – Conte added – Because we conceded a penalty after a little push from him. To score the winning goal is great for him and our team”.

Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has admitted he believes Chelsea won the Premier League title today, but Conte is focused on the next game as usual.

“We need to take 21 points for the title win – he added – There are 10 games to go, today was a great win, a good signal but it is important to continue with the same commitment and work rate as a team”.

“To have a 10 points gap, 13 at the moment, but I like to think our opponents will win tomorrow. We have to look at ourselves. We are happy. We must be ready to fight, today we were ready.”

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