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Chelsea FC

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BOURNEMOUTH – Boruc; Smith, Francis (c), Cook, Daniels; Fraser, Arter, Wilshere, Pugh; King, Afobe.

Subs: Allsop, Cargill, Ibe, Mousett, Gradel, B.Smith, L.Cook

Manager: Eddie Howe

 

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

Subs:  Begovic, Terry, Zouma, Chalobah, Fabregas, Willian, Batshuayi.

Manager: Antonio Conte

 

Referee: Andre Marriner

Venue: Vitality Stadium

Kick Off: 5.30 pm GMT

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte spoke ahead of the Blues clash at Bournemouth, a crucial game in this season title race.
First of all, an injury update, with Victor Moses that seems recovered after missing the last two games for an injury:
“Moses he trained with us yesterday and today, I have to check the situation to value, he is available.”
Speaking about tomorrow’s clash, the Italian coach said:
“Tomorrow for us is a great challenge, because it was not easy to play against Man City, a big game, and then [we must] play three days after in Bournemouth. I think we must pay great attention, if we think tomorrow is easy, we make a great mistake.
Conte was asked also about Nathan Ake, who played the first half of the season on loan to the Cherries and then came back to Stamford Bridge in January, barely getting playing time:
“I think this was the right decision because for us it’s important to have him in our squad, it’s important to check our players, we thought to stay in the squad he had the chance to show me and the club his capacities. It’s not easy when you arrive and you have ahead of you you got five really good central defenders. It’s right to give him this chance.
About the continuous rumours coming from Italy of a move to Inter for him next season, he said:
“I read this interview about Andrea Pastorello, not Federico Pastorello, I don’t know him and I don’t know why this person spoke for me, I stay here and this is the most important thing. I don’t like when another person speaks for me. I have two more years of contract with Chelsea.
“I don’t know why they link me to Inter, for the media it’s normal to put me in this situation, maybe they want me back in Italy.”
Steve Holland will leave Chelsea at the end of this season to join Gareth Southgate in England staff: rumours suggested that Italian football legend Andrea Pirlo could replace him, but Conte stated:
“In this period I am listening a lot of things. Andrea Pirlo is playing and he wants to continue to play. I don’t know why there are all these rumours, but I want to focus on the present, it’s more important than future now, I want to finish this season, hoping it will be a great season, not a good season.”
Speaking again of tomorrow’s clash, he said:
“First of all I think it’s important to get the 3 points and to reach our target, when we started the season our first target was to be back in Champions League. Chelsea must play there every season. We are talking with the club to try to have the best solutions for next season, but this one now it’s more important, we want to finish well, it has to become a great season, not just a good season.
It was rumoured that something happened between the two coaching staffs in the Stamford Bridge tunnel at the end of the Manchester City match last night, this is how Antonio Conte commented it:
“I didn’t see anything in the tunnel at the end of City’s game, I was in the changing room. It’s not important what happened in the tunnel, but what happened on the pitch, it was a great game.
“Respect is always important, it’s the most important thing in football, there is a winner, there is a loser, but both have to show respect for each other.”
Ex Chelsea and Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri visited Cobham yesterday:
Claudio is a good friend and I was very pleased to see him in Cobham yesterday, we stayed together, we chatted. Of course I asked him something about last season, I hope to see him again this season.
“We’ve spoken about our experiences in England, his and mine, about the different way to train in England and Italy, He is a good friend and I wish for him the best in the future. I think he deserves another job, he’s ready to take it.
“Ranieri my next assistant manager? He is a top manager, I can become his assistant…He is a top manager, top coach, I wish for him the best, I hope he finds a new job.
Asked if it would be an advantage to play tomorrow already knowing Tottenham’s result, he said:
“I don’t think it’s an advantage because you always have pressure if they win, but even if they lose or draw the pressure it’s the same. I think we have to look to ourselves, not the others, Spurs results are important but ours are more important.
This title race is open, now I can see two teams, Chelsea and Spurs, in this race, anything can happen because there are 24 points and other rivals can enter the race again.”
Speaking about the importance of some players in his team, he said:
Eden Hazard and Diego Costa are very important players for us, that’s sure, but I count on the team and we have very good players in the team.
Conte was also asked if Moses’ absence in the last two games changed something in the team balance:
“He showed to be an important player for us, but in the last two games we showed we can play also without him, we showed in the past we can play without any other important players. We are a team, we cannot rely on single players, because then if you miss them you are in trouble, a team must be ready to find the right solution, also when important players are missing.
I am pleased when other players come in and perform well, it means that every single player got our idea of football. I train all my 20 players in the same way, players must be reliable to play in this way. Zouma played a great game, he showed great commitment and to have understood our idea of football.”

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After Christian Eriksen, also Jan Vertonghen admitted that Spurs are not giving up on title race:

Chelsea is looking very strong but we can’t stop pushing and dreaming of the league,” Vertonghen said after the important win over Swansea last night.

“They had a big win [2-1 against Manchester City] but they have a couple of difficult games coming up.

“We have to keep winning and hopefully they get a bit stressed.”

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Real Madrid star Alvaro Morata and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte didn’t crossed their paths at Juventus for a couple of days when, back in summer 2014, the Spanish striker signed for the Bianconeri just a few days after the current Chelsea coach left in the middle of the pre-season for some misunderstandings with the board.

After improving his playing in the two years spent in Italy, where he scored 27 goals in 93 appearances, Morata joined Real Madrid back last summer.

The Spaniard was often linked to Chelsea but, as Spanish outlet AS reports, he dismissed those speculations adding a malicious comment on the current Blues manager:

“If Conte is continuing to call me then it will be my old mobile phone because nothing has come to me.

“He won’t have my new number.”

The 24-year-old also claimed he is in a good situation in the Spanish capital now:

“I feel good at Real Madrid and that is the important thing. I’m getting goals, I feel important and I have to keep it that way.

“I cannot think about next season when we have the most important and hardest part of this season in front of us now.

“The most important thing is that we have won against Leganes. Now we have a difficult schedule and have to win everything possible. That is what we are here for.”

 

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Gary Cahill is becoming the new leader of Chelsea game after game in this incredible season and the current pitch captain commented the important win over Manchester City last night:

“We created some good chances and we defended very well when we had to,” the English defender said after the game.

‘It was a close game and I thought there was some fantastic football being played out there by both teams. Ultimately we were delighted with the result.

“Things don’t always go to plan and that was the case in the Crystal Palace game, but we needed a response and this was a huge game. It is a massive result against a very, very good team. It is probably physically one of the hardest I have worked at Stamford Bridge for a long time, which shows you they asked a lot of questions. The concentration level had to be high, and they gave us a tough game.

“Naturally as the game goes on, Man City are going to be pushing and committing more men forward, and we are going to try to see the game out, and it worked fantastically well for us. It was a fantastic response from us.”

The Blues centre-back revealed that in his half-time speech Antonio Conte reinforced the importance of paying attention to the key areas where Man City were trying to get on the ball:

“It is very difficult sometimes with the ability that they have, they drift everywhere and it is difficult to keep hold of them. That was where they were going to unlock us if they could so it was important to be aware of that.”

On title race, where Chelsea still maintains seven points over Spurs, Cahill said:

“We expect that Tottenham are going to push us all the way. They are never going to give up and we know that, so we just have to look after ourselves. We need to look at what we are doing and win our games. 

“We have to show the same commitment and work-rate as against Manchester City, and also the ability. We match everyone doing the dirty stuff in the game – the hard work, the running back and the concentration. Our ability should take care of itself. We have some great players, we need to keep focused, we need to worry about what we are doing and try to get the job done.”

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Last night Spurs showed they don’t give up in title race: the Pochettino‘s side was down 1-0 at Swansea until 88′ but they completed an incredible comeback on the Welsh team in just a couple of minutes with goals by Dele Alli ( 88′) and Heung-Min Son ( 90′), Christian Eriksen fixed the score on 3-1 in the injury time.

The Danish midfielder claims that Tottenham still believes in the title and won’t quit until mathematics will give them a chance:

“We know if we lose a point anywhere now it’s going leave us a long way off, so all the points are important”, he told Spurs TV.

“We’ll try to take all the points we can get. Luckily, we turned it around tonight.”

Eriksen went on to add that Alli’s last-gasp equaliser gave Spurs the belief that they could go on and snatch a late victory in Wales.

“Yes, the equaliser fell just before 90 minutes and then the board showed another seven minutes and that gave us extra energy to keep going”, he continued.

“Dele’s goal made a big difference for our belief and we’ve proved time after time now that we’re not going to lay down until the game is over.”

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Chelsea star Diego Costa will not face any retrospective FA action after appearing to kick out at Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany in last night win over Pep Guardiola‘s side.

There had been suggestions Costa could miss next two-three games in the title race after appearing to kick out at Citizens defender Kompany, but the striker will not face any sanction.

The reason is that match referee Mike Dean saw the second-half incident and dealt with it at the time, meaning FA cannot take any retrospective action.

Neither Chelsea boss Antonio Conte nor City manager Guardiola saw the Spaniard striker catch Vincent Kompany with his studs in midfield.

“I didn’t see it, but during the game it’s very difficult,” Conte said after the game.

“Yes, you see this kind of contact but it’s impossible to tell, to judge this kind of contact.”

costa_kompany_kick

Former English referee Mike Webb commented:

“If there was a foul before, and this happens afterwards, then maybe the FA might want to look at it as an act of violent conduct.

“But because this is the foul that Mike Dean penalises, then he has seen it, made a judgement on it and the FA don’t review situations where the referee has seen it.

“Is it violent conduct? It’s a subjective call but he puts his foot and doesn’t really follow through. I think it is worthy of a yellow card but probably just short of violent conduct.”

 

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Steven Gerrard revealed what is the main difference between Chelsea and Manchester City and what Pep Guardiola‘s side are missing to be a real top team:

“You need a world class goalkeeper, Chelsea have one and Manchester City don’t,” Gerrard said on BT Sport.

“Any goalkeeper that this level will be unhappy parrying that back to Hazard from the penalty.

“He’s [Guardiola] obviously got no faith in Joe, he doesn’t rate Joe. He’s got more faith in Bravo and Caballero and he didn’t even give Joe a chance.

“I don’t rate those two. He’s probably performed better than the two City keepers at the moment.”

 

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admitted that title race is over for his team after tonight’s defeat at Stamford Bridge:

“Today the Premier League has gone,” he said after the game.

“It’s between Chelsea and Tottenham now. Now we have to think about qualifying for the Champions League and finishing in the top four.

“Were we the better side? Absolutely. But they got six points against us [over the two games], and we got zero. And football is about results. But the way we played, I was happier today with the way we played at Arsenal on Sunday – and we got a point less. 

“We created enough more than Chelsea, to win the game. It’s an honour to have the amazing players I have. We came here to Stamford Bridge and play the way we have, with huge personality. I’m a lucky guy to manage these guys.

“It’s encouraging for the future. I’m optimistic. It’s been like this all season but in the boxes we are not good enough. We created enough to score goals. It’s our problem. But my players play in one way and that’s why I want to be here – to help Man City for years.  

“The people who are watching us must be proud of our fans. We did everything.”

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte praised his guys’ reaction after the defeat with Crystal Palace: the win against Manchester City tonight meant another step toward the title:

At this time of the season it’s easy to be nervous. There’s a lot of pressure. In the last game we lost and we didn’t deserve to,” the Italian manager told Match of the Day.

“Our reaction was very good. Our look was strong. We showed what it is to be a good team. When you face this type of team, it’s not easy. I want to thank to the crowd because they pushed us.

“Now with eight games to go, we know Tottenham can win eight so we need to take 18 points to have it mathematically. 

“I think it’s right to think we will be pushed to the end. When you see your opponents continue to win, you must win to win the title. That’s all we have to do.”

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