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CFC

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With the focus returning to the Premier League action this weekend, we take a look at all of the full-time scores involving Chelsea’s Premier League rivals.

Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the table to seven points as they dispatched Stoke City. Eden Hazard coolly converted a first half penalty after Cesc Fabregas was fouled, and then the Belgian set up the second in the second half as he left Loic Remy with a tap in. However, whilst the score was 0-1, Stoke’s Charlie Adam stunned Stamford Bridge with an stunning goal from 60 yards, which looped over the unsuspecting Thibaut Courtois to draw Stoke level at half-time. There was more bad news for the home fans – substitute Diego Costa had to come off just 11 minutes after coming on after a recurrence of his hamstring injury. However, Remy’s goal secured all three points to take another huge step to securing the title.

Crystal Palace pulled off a huge shock by beating Manchester City 2-1 at Selhurst Park last night. City had a brilliant opportunity to cut Chelsea’s lead to six points. But, they will be rueing their missed chances as goals from Glenn Murray and a wonderful Jason Puncheon freekick were enough to secure a big three points for Palace, despite a goal from the returning Yaya Toure. It’s Palace’s third successive win, and a win which practically makes Chelsea ‘Champions Elect’.

On Sunday, Burnley held Tottenham to a dour 0-0 draw, but the point moves them to within touching distance of safety, with Aston Villa only two points away. Harry Kane took the captain’s armband as Hugo Lloris was taken off injured after half an hour, but that was the most exciting moment of the game in what was a forgettable game at Turf Moor.

In Sunday’s later game, Sunderland condemned Newcastle to their fifth straight derby defeat as they overcame their Tyne & Wear rivals 1-0 at the Stadium of Light. An outstanding 20-yard volley from Jermain Defoe was enough to gain Dick Avocaat his first win as Sunderland manager. It’s a win that may prove vital in the relegation dogfight as the Black Cats are now three points off the drop zone.

In Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, Chelsea’s London neighbours Arsenal thumped Liverpool 4-1 at the Emirates – realistically ending the away side’s Champions League hopes in the process. The Gunners jumped up to second in the table, seven points behind Chelsea (but the Blues have a game in hand). Without having to worry about Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel, Arsenal effectively killed the game off in the last 10 minutes of the first half. Young defender Hector Bellerin opened the scoring after 37 minutes, Mesut Ozil curled in a sublime free-kick after 40 minutes, and Alexis Sanchez’s strike after 45 minutes sealed the points. Jordan Henderson’s penalty grabbed a consolation for the Reds with 15 minutes left, but any hope of that providing a lifeline were extinguished when Olivier Giroud continued his good form, the Frenchman completing a fine performance from the north London side with a spectacular fourth goal.

Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton were 1-0 victors over Southampton. Phil Jagielka’s close range finish in the 16th minute was enough to seal the three points – the defeat leaving a dent in Southampton’s European hopes. This was despite Toffee’s goalkeeper Tim Howard making what some are calling the ‘save of the season’ against Graziano Pelle. Although the Italian striker scored against England during the international break, he is still without a domestic goal since December after failing to find the net for the Saints at Goodison Park.

Leicester took a huge step to possibly securing survival as they beat West Ham 2-1 at the King Power Stadium. Esteban Cambiasso’s early goal put the home side ahead, but after David Nugent had a penalty saved, the Hammers equalised through Chiekhou Kouyate. However, a late goal from substitute Andy King continued West Ham’s poor record in 2015. It’s a big win for relegation-threatened Leicester. Although still being bottom, they have a game in hand.

Manchester United moved to third after they overcame Aston Villa 3-1 at Old Trafford. An Ander Herrera double and Wayne Rooney’s goal was enough to secure the three points – it’s Rooney’s ninth goal in seven games against the away side. Villa, who themselves could be in the Championship next season, did pull one back through Christian Benteke with 10 minutes left, but it wasn’t enough to change the result. United are now one point ahead of rivals Manchester City, who have a game in hand, before the two teams meet next week in the Manchester derby.

Swansea stayed in eighth as they overcame Hull 3-1. Ki Sung-Yueng’s goal and the first of Bafetimbi Gomis’ brace put the home side in charge before half-time, before Paul McShane pulled one back for Steve Bruce’s side. But, the away team may have pressed the self-destruct button minutes later as midfielder David Meyler was rightly sent off for a wild challenge on Swansea defender Kyle Naughton. The Swans then finished the game off as Gomis grabbed his second in stoppage time.

QPR stunned West Brom as the London side also took an important step to Premier League survival as they claimed an impressive 1-4 win, in what was only the Hoops’ second away win so far this campaign. Eduardo Vargas, Charlie Austin and a stunning strike from Bobby Zamora put Rangers 0-3 up at half time, before WBA midfielder Youssef Mulumbu was sent off just 13 minutes after coming on as a substitute following an elbow on Joey Barton. Coincidentally, it was Barton who struck at the very end of the game to top off an impressive win. This was despite Victor Anichebe pulling a goal back for the Baggies just before the hour mark.

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Jordan Henderson has become a member of Liverpool's regular starting XI

Chelsea have reportedly been linked with Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson.

According to reports in the Daily Star, the 24-year old has reportedly turned down an £80,000-a-week contract with Liverpool – putting several teams on high alert. Henderson is apparently looking for pastures new, with the chances of Champions League next season at Liverpool practically extinct.

The past few weeks haven’t been the greatest for Liverpool fans – this new rumour coming straight after a series of rumours and speculation surrounding Raheem Sterling.

Henderson has made 151 appearances in a Liverpool shirt, with 19 goals, and the Reds’ vice-captain has only one year left on his current deal.

The former Sunderland player has been a key part of Liverpool’s season so far. But the Reds have failed to live up to the standards they set themselves last season.

Reports from the Star say that “more talks are planned but Chelsea are monitoring the situation closely.”. If true, the prospect of playing Champions League football and possibly winning the Premier League while earning lots more money will surely appeal.

No official bid or inquiry has been made, but with such a plethora of midfielders already at the club, some may wonder as to how Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho would implement Henderson into his squad.

 

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HAZARD_STOKE

Mario Melchiot has praised the skill of Eden Hazard, but claims the Blues star makes the side unbalanced.

Hazard was the star of the show against Stoke as he scored one and set up the other in their 2-1 win over Stoke at Stamford Bridge.

The 24-year-old opened the scoring from the penalty spot and the put the second on a plate for Loic Remy.

Chelsea captain John Terry hailed the Belgian after the game on Saturday, comparing him to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Blues legend Melchiot believes Mourinho needs to sign a right winger of similar ability to fully compliment Hazard.

He said: “Going forward it’s all about Hazard. That’s why sometimes they miss a little bit of balance because they also need someone on the right who can create as much difficulty and problems for the opposition as Hazard does on the left.”

The former Dutch defender made 130 appearances for the Blues between 1999-2004, and admires Hazard:

“I am a big fan of Hazard. Whenever I watch Chelsea play I always feel when he gets on the ball they really start clicking.”

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DIEGO COSTA
Diego Costa was a key-player for Chelsea in the last season © Francesca Ceciarini

Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Diego Costa will miss at least two weeks of football, including the visit of Manchester United to Stamford Bridge.

The clash between the current first and third placed teams in the Premier League is likely to be crucial in deciding the destination of the league trophy, with the Red Devils’ recent good run of form leading their manager Louis van Gaal to insist the trophy is not out of his team’s reach.

Chelsea are currently seven points clear at the top, a lead that will be reduced to six should Manchester City beat Crystal Palace tonight. Costa, who Chelsea signed for over £30 million in the summer from Athletico Madrid and scored 19 goals this season, was brought on as a substitute at half-time of Chelsea 2-1 win over Stoke City on Saturday. But, the Spaniard was forced to leave the pitch with a recurrence of his long term hamstring injury.

The Chelsea manager is hoping the Spain international will return after a fortnight but that will probably not be soon enough for the Manchester United match on the 18th April.

“He will be out for sure a couple of weeks, but we have seven weeks until the end of the season.” the Portuguese said.

Defending his decision to bring on Costa, Mourinho continued:

“The player trained two days 100 per cent with the team, the medical department was convinced that he was ready. Sometimes as a manager I have to risk things. Medical departments have to do the same, if they want to be top medical departments like our department is.”

Costa’s fitness was also the subject of speculation before Chelsea’s match with Manchester United in October, a match where Chelsea were left to rue missed chances after Robin van Persie equalised in stoppage time to secure a 1-1 draw.

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Didier Drogba’s Chelsea future has been cast into fresh doubt after Jose Mourinho admitted the Ivorian is yet to be offered a contract for next season.

Drogba returned to Stamford Bridge after a two year absence last summer, having left Galatasaray on a free transfer. His first spell in west London resulted in 157 goals, and a legacy as one of Chelsea’s greatest ever players following that memorable night in Munich, when he scored the winning penalty to give the club it’s first Champions League victory. He also won three Premier League titles and was notable for his contribution in big games, both domestically and European.

Drogba has so far added six goals to his Chelsea tally this season, and has often been used as a third choice striker behind Diego Costa and Loic Remy. Now, rumours about his next step have been abound; retirement, coaching, or a return to Ligue 1 – where Chelsea signed him from in 2004 – among them.

“Drogba’s future is to train Tuesday and to play against QPR.” Mourinho answered when the question was put to him, notably not committing either way on what the club’s plans are for the 37-year-old. Playing time for Drogba is likely to be more available until the end of the season after Costa aggravated his hamstring injury in the victory over Stoke City on Saturday.

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Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu has been a fringe player at Chelsea

Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu has suggested he may leave Stamford Bridge this summer.

Romeu, a signing from the reign of Andres Villas-Boas, signed for the club back in 2011 from Barcelona for £5 million. But, the 23-year old has made only 24 appearances for the Blues. Consequentially, Romeu has spent the last two seasons on loan, and is unsure if his future lies with the London side.

The Star reports the player as saying: “In June I’ll speak with Chelsea to know their intentions.”

“After two seasons on loan, the ideal would be settling into a club to get some stability. Every player needs continuity.”

The Spaniard signed a three-year contract last summer, but may struggle for first team opportunities with the Blues boasting one of the best midfields in Europe, and looking to add to that this summer.

Romeu has made 23 appearances for Stuggart this season, after featuring 13 times for Valencia the season before.

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HAZARD
Hazard has been integral in Chelsea's title-winning season. © Francesca Ceciarini

After Chelsea’s 2-1 Premier League victory against Stoke City, Eden Hazard spoke to the official Chelsea website about the hard fought win at Stamford Bridge.

The Belgian midfielder scored the first and set up the other of Chelsea’s goals, either side of an outstanding goal from Stoke’s Charlie Adam. With there being only a few games left of the 2014-15 Premier League season, Hazard said:

“It’s always difficult when you go away with the national team and come back.”

“Stoke are a very good team with some good players. We did very well, the score was 2-1 but it could have been more, especially in the first half because we created a lot of chances.”

“When we went back in the dressing room at 1-1 it wasn’t good because we’d had a lot of chances and possession but only scored one goal, so there was some frustration.”

“We now have eight games in which to win the title and we want to be at the top of the league at the end of the season.”

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JOSE MOURINHO
Ex Chelsea manager José Mourinho © Francesca Ceciarini

Chelsea manager José Mourinho gave an interview to Chelsea official website to analyse the situation of his team in the title race, with only the last crucial matches remaining:

“We believe in ourselves. We have strong mentalities. We try to cope with the difficult moments we have during the whole season. This is a difficult moment but it’s a difficult moment that we can handle in the best possible way. We are ready to play, we are ready to fight, to suffer together.

‘We are ready for everything, so really we believe in ourselves, and we believe that the most difficult job is the job of the others that come from behind, because the others, if they draw one game, they are in trouble. They have to win every game so it’s more difficult for them than for us.

Mourinho also explained that he avoided the rotation of the two midfielders for a matter of stability:

“For me football is not just mathematics, and when some people write that  Fabregas has dropped his level because the number of assists are not the same, the number of assists are probably not the same because the player that he assists doesn’t score.

“I think he’s playing wonderfully well for us. I never had doubts about his importance for us in the team, and Matic, he was suspended, and after the suspension he was injured celebrating in the final, so he went back and he was not in the best condition.”

“He went back, he was out for two or three weeks so it takes time, but I always think stability is very important in a team, and it’s not in April that you are going to make important changes in the team. April is a moment of stability and obviously I keep faith in the people that I trust from the beginning of the season.”

Mourinho also took time to praise Loic Remy, that scored very important goals in this season, especially in the last two games:

“He’s a striker, every striker has this in them, so when Eden recovered the ball you could see immediately he sprinted to score what I call an easy goal, but I love strikers to score easy goals. The tap-in when the goalkeeper has an incomplete save, attack the ball in a low cross, rebounds – I love the easy goals from a striker, so I’m really happy with him.”

“He trains fantastically well. He keeps himself in great condition to come to matches, even without many, many minutes to be ready for us, so I’m really pleased and everybody’s pleased for him. He’s a great boy and his contribution for us is already crucial with these two match-winners in the last two matches.”

Then a look to next game, the derby at Loftus Road next Saturday:

“I’ve never played at QPR as a Chelsea manage, but I know history and I know that for QPR to play against Chelsea is a special match.”

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Loic Remy was again decisive in the win against Stoke City, where he scored the winning goal in the second half to secure a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.

This second “three-points-goal” from the French striker comes after the one against Hull City two weeks ago:

“I’m really pleased to have scored the winning goal and I need to thank Eden [Hazard], who gave me the assist. We worked very hard and deserved the win. After we conceded the goal it was difficult in the second half but the attitude of the team was very good. It was a difficult game against a good team.” he commented on Chelsea’s official website.

“To stay ahead of the teams behind is a good thing because they are all trying really hard to catch us. Between now and the end of the season we want to win every game, they are all tough. You have to always fight and I think that’s why we are top of the league, because we never give up.”

Remy also spoke about Diego Costa’s new hamstring injury:

“It’s a shame for the team because we all know Diego is a very good player and he’s scored so many goals for us this season. When I play I just try to do my best and it’s a great opportunity for me to show I can be important for the squad as well.”

“I don’t see it from a personal point of view, we are a team and whoever plays tries to do their best. But, I’m happy to give my team what they expect from me, and I’m a striker so I want to score goals.”

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EDEN HAZARD
Eden Hazard © Francesca Ceciarini

Eden Hazard claimed the Premier League title is Chelsea’s to lose after his penalty helped the Blues overcome Stoke.

Hazard signed from LOSC Lille in 2012 for £32 million, and has been a huge hit at Stamford Bridge since his arrival. The pacey and skilful winger scored the opening goal with a calmly converted penalty and then set up the second on Saturday as Chelsea maintained their lead at the top of the table, extending their lead at the top of the table to seven points in the process.

The Belgian will be a strong candidate for Chelsea’s player of the season and has 11 goals to his name this season already. Overall, in 152 appearances in a Chelsea shirt, the 24-year old Belgian has scored 47 goals.

CHELSEA v STOKE CITY - Premier League 2014/2015

Speaking after the 2-1 win over the Potters, the midfielder said that the team has the belief to finish off the season: “We are confident. We are first in the league and we take it game after game. We have the title in our hands.”

“We want to bring the trophy to Stamford Bridge.”

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