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CFC

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Gary Cahill will captain Chelsea on the pitch again tonight at White Hart Lane.

The Blues centre-back revealed how Antonio Conte‘s side prepared the crucial derby against Spurs:

There is no reason why we as a squad and the manager and the staff should not feel confident going into the game.

“We are on a terrific run but we realise it is a game everyone is going to be speaking about, nothing changes there. It is a big game, we know what it is about, we have played in them before and we are looking for the same mentality.

“It is not because it is Tottenham that anything is going to change in our preparation, or the way we go about things. It is exactly the same and we expect the same from each player come kick-off time, and we will be okay.”

“I am bothered about the records,” the centre-back added.

“It is not something we have been speaking about, it is not like it is all week we say, ‘We want this record, we want this record,’ but we have just kept going and I think that is the right mentality to have.

“But being aware of the records and wanting to achieve them, there is nothing wrong with that.

“For sure I want to achieve records. We have achieved the Chelsea one and that is something we should be proud of in itself, and we have the chance to go on and achieve the league record, and every player wants to be part of records.

“I am not shy about saying that, but at the same time it is not something we speak about in the week.”

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes that his side has several similarities to next Blues’ rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

When asked about Mauricio Pochettino, Conte underlined his point of view: “We like to play from the back, to play with possession and to prepare different solutions to go and score goals”,

“After every action, there is always the work behind it. My players must be clinical, not me on the bench, because they have the opportunity to score and do the movements you prepare during the week”.

Then Conte added: “Tottenham in this part of the season were unlucky in some games, now there is this difference in the table only because we did an incredible run”.

“We have great respect for them and we showed this in the first game against them. Then it’s normal during the game you want to beat your opponent. It will be so tomorrow”.

Juventus earned 12 straight league wins under Conte’s management, while Chelsea (13 wins after Stoke City clash) are approaching Arsenal‘s Premier League record with 14 wins in a row.

“In the last season we finished with 102 points, a record in Italy. It was a fantastic championship. At that moment in the Italian league there was only Roma to try to fight for the title”.

Conte ended: “Here there is a different situation because there are six very strong teams that last season were placed above us, and also spent a lot of money. For this reason, I think it’s more difficult here now to keep this position”.

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Chelsea are set to face Tottenham at White Hart Lane tonight, when Antonio Conte will try to continue the Blues’ positive trend so far.

Venue: White Hart Lane

Kick-Off:  8pm BST on Wednesday 4th January

Tottenham

  • Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen, who both missed last clash against Watford, are now available after being suspended;
  • Moussa Sissoko is expected to start in midfield;
  • Erik Lamela remains out of squad due to a long-term injury.

Chelsea

  • Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas will battle for a place in midfield;
  • Pedro is now available after suspension, with Willian in great shape;
  • Marcos Alonso is still in doubt and Conte admitted he’ll make a final decision today.

Predicted LineUps

TOTTENHAM – Lloris, Walker, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Rose, Dier, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Kane

CHELSEA – Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz, Kante, Matic, Alonso, Moses, Hazard, Pedro, Costa

 

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José Mourinho and Arsene Wenger claimed Chelsea are favourites in their title race by a better fixture calendar: in fact, Chelsea had two days more to rest after their New Year’s Eve game respect to many Premier League teams before the game against Spurs, that will be played tomorrow night at White Hart Lane, with Tottenham playing their last game on New Year’s Day.

Arsenal dropped points against Bournemouth on Tuesday and Wenger bemoaned his side’s compact fixture list after the 3-3 draw.

José Mourinho, too, said he was looking forward to an ‘amazing’ match between Chelsea and Tottenham because he said the sides ‘must’ be very fresh for their extended break.

Conte replied to their comments claiming that probably the two rivals are a bit jealous of Chelsea table leadership and their impressive 13-wins-in-a-row run:

“I can reply that I didn’t do the fixtures,” said Conte.

“I think that’s the simple reply. The advantage is one more day of rest over Tottenham.

“That’s the advantage, if we want to speak about advantage. But for me the advantages are other things.

“During a season different situations can happen when you can have advantage but for sure not this.

“I think that now they [Chelsea’s rivals] are angry for our position [in the table] not for the fixtures.”

 

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Speaking to Sky Sport Italia in an exclusive interview, Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo stated that Antonio Conte was always the Blues first choice after the club parted ways with José Mourinho one year ago:

“I approached him when he was Italy’s coach and he was always our first choice, despite the club having contacted other managers.

“He works really hard and everyone loves him at Chelsea, the players love him and we love him as well.

“I was surprised by his capacity to turn everything into positive and by his energy, passion. 

“There is a chance he can stay here forever.”

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Cesc Fabregas made his 100th Premier League assist against Stoke City, an historical record that has to be remarked.

Writing his column for Daily Mail, ex Liverpool and Spurs player Jamie Redknapp, now a football pundit, praised the Spanish midfielder as well as other players of the Chelsea squad for the incredible job they are doing this season:

Cesc Fabregas always seems to be singled out for what he can’t do. He is criticised for not covering every blade of grass, or not always tracking his runners.

 “What he does have is the ability to pick a pass in a pressure moment to win a game. To reach 100 assists in the Premier League is a phenomenal achievement.

“A third of his Chelsea assists have been for Diego Costa and that doesn’t surprise me.

“You never see Costa running in behind when N’Golo Kante or Nemanja Matic get on the ball as he knows they won’t find him.

“As soon as Fabregas gets on the ball Costa sets off. He knows the midfielder will pick him out.

“His pass to set up Costa at Man City was worth the admission fee alone.

“This year he has had to knuckle down but keeps showing he is still a match winner.”

 

 

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Diego Costa shows his passion celebrating the winner against WBA © Francesca Ceciarini

Diego Costa revealed he was close to leave Chelsea last summer and this how his manager, Antonio Conte, reacted to this while speaking to NCB Sports:

“When Diego decided to stay, he said he wanted to fight for this club and for his shirt. I wasn’t concerned,” the Italian boss said.

“He is showing great patience in the right way, in every moment of the game. We are happy for this. He is completely focused on the game.”

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte reveals that Marcos Alonso will be available for tomorrow’s derby against Spurs despite picking up a small injury against Stoke City in the New Year’s Eve’s game.

“Yes, he’s available for tomorrow,” he said when asked about the Spanish wing-back.”

The Italian manager also revealed that another centre-back, David Luiz, has been playing in the same condition for a month:

“David is playing in this situation [with pain] after the game against Manchester City. Now, I think he’s improving.

“Now he’s getting better, his physical condition and his pain is improving a lot.”

Conte will have to put one among Pedro and Willian on the bench tomorrow, but he’s happy to have the problem to take this decision:

“I prefer to have this problem and for sure now we have Pedro or Willian, Hazard, Diego Costa.

“They are in good form, they are in good shape. I have to decide the starting eleven. But I think you win the game in 95 minutes and it’s important to have all my players available.”

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Chelsea are confident they can beat Arsenal to sign Wolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez this month, according to reports in England.

The Switzerland international is contracted until June 2019 and Chelsea are reportedly lining up a £21m bid to land the left-back  to Stamford Bridge.

With Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta in that position, Rodriguez could represent a new back-up in Antonio Conte‘s five-man midfield.

Conte is said to be interested also in Genoa midfielder Diego Laxalt as Chelsea could place a huge bid for the Uruguayan star next summer.

 

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Former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, speaking to Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport, described Antonio Conte‘s work at Stamford Bridge as ‘extraordinary’.

The current Bayern Munich manager, who led Chelsea to the Premier League title and FA Cup in the 2009/2010 campaign, said: “Conte is doing an extraordinary job at Chelsea,”

“He has determination, ideas, personality and experience. He’s mature as a coach now and I’m truly happy for him” Ancelotti added.

Conte will try to extend the Blues’ positive trend against Tottenham tomorrow night, with Chelsea currently five points clear at the top of Premier League table with still one game in hand.

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