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Chelsea FC

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Manchester United legend Gary Neville suggest his former team the way to stop Chelsea start Eden Hazard, who this season is back to top form

The Blues will visit Old Trafford in a crucial clash in their title pursuit tomorrow afternoon and the Belgian is, of course, the major threat for Mourinho‘s side:

I’m doing three things: I’m pulling my centre back very close to me, I’m pulling my right central midfield player very close to me and I’m pulling my right-sided wide player very close to me,” this is what Neville said speaking to Sky Sports, where he is a pundit now.

And then I’m asking one of them to have a tackle, then I’m coming in with a tackle and then the centre half’s coming in with a tackle (laughs). 

“It’s no different: Eden Hazard vs Gary Neville or Eden Hazard vs Valencia or Eden Hazard vs Rafael or Hazard vs Bellerin – you’re always going to be in trouble if you’re one on one with him four, five or six times in a match. 

“However, don’t be embarrassed to think that you need basically, collective grouping up on players when you’re playing against talented players. That’s how you will always deal with a world class player – is by having other players in close proximity to you to crowd him out, to snuff out danger, make him go deeper.

“Run him away the other way and make him go back – sometimes he doesn’t. 

 “So when Darren Fletcher played against Arsenal: when I’d go forward, he’d come across and sit in that channel to make sure, it wasn’t Overmars, it was Pires at the time would be there and picked up.
“You always had a tactic that would deal with it, it’s not always a one vs one. It should never be a one vs one in fact. “If I was playing against a winger that was more talented than me, which was very often, and quicker than me, which was very often, I often had to deal with him my doing something that was not directly myself. It was positioning someone else in the team. 

“Or, if you’re playing against Manchester City – stop David Silva. Stop David Silva getting on the ball because if he is feeding in passes, if De Bruyne’s feeding in passes…

“So there’s always a way of stopping an opponent. It’s not necessarily always direct and I think that ultimately against Hazard I would be looking at how I can get my teammates around me, grouping up in that area making sure that we’re compact.”

 

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Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of Chelsea visit to Old Trafford tomorrow afternoon Manchester United manager José Mourinho insists he is surprised the Blues are not criticised for they style of play, that is the same he adopted when he won trophies at Stamford Bridge:

“When I was winning titles with Chelsea you were criticising the style of play. At the moment you don’t do it.

“Now to be the best counter-attacking team in the country is not to be criticised; it is an amazing thing. The best team at the end of the season is the one who is champions and we are far from it.

“I don’t know how many points we are from Chelsea but it is obvious that this season they are a much better team than us.”

The Portuguese admitted Chelsea will be better prepared for the game as it comes just four days after United were in Europa League action against Anderlecht.

He was also asked to reflect on what would be considered success in his first season at United, with the EFL Cup already in the Old Trafford trophy cabinet.

“You can say that I won a trophy in the first season but you can forget it too soon, I don’t know what is a good season for you and for me.

“For me a good season is to be ready for every match and fight for every match for the best result and to defend Manchester United’s prestige.

“We are not fighting for the title, we are just fighting to finish top four. The important thing for this club is to fight for titles and the only title we can win now is the Europa League.

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Manchester United boss José Mourinho tried to ease the tension before Sunday’s Chelsea game and praised the Blues, claiming they are where they deserve:

“For me, it is just a game. One more game. No difference for me,” the Portuguese said to the press ahead of this important match.

“They are top of the league, it’s not just because they are fresh. It’s also because they have individual quality and they have collective quality.

 “They have a certain style of play. They stick to it, they do it very well. Not every team defends with 11 players and they defend with 11 players. Not every team is so objective in their counter-attacks.

“They are very objective in the counter-attack and they have individual players out of the context of the game that can also resolve the problems, so they are a very strong team.”

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Mourinho and Diego Costa © Francesca Ceciarini

Chelsea star Diego Costa opens up about his former manager José Mourinho.

The Portuguese coach was the one who brought Costa to Stamford Bridge in summer 2014, signing him from Atletico Madrid.

The first season together for them was fantastic, as Chelsea won the Premier League title dominating the championship from the first to the last game, with Diego scoring 20 goals in 37 matches all over the campaign.

Things fell out last year, where the Blues has their worst season start in their recent history and Mourinho was sacked, with the Spaniard accused to be one of the players that let him down:

“In all honesty I always tell people that I am grateful to Mourinho because he helped me a lot,” Costa said ahead of the game at Old Trafford against Jose’s current team, Manchester United.

“As a player when you want to improve you always look for the best coach and Mourinho is one of the best.

“I wanted to come to Chelsea because of Mourinho. When I considered Chelsea I thought about the fact that Mourinho was here.

“He is a coach that demands a lot from his players, he wants the maximum.

“He helped me a lot and then what happened is that the following season didn’t go well, these things that happen, but the truth is that Mourinho helped me a lot to improve as a player.”

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Manchester United star Zlatan Ibrahimvoic was the key-man for the Red Devils during this season, with 28 goals scored in 49 games played so far: a super achievement for a 35-year-old at his first campaign in the Premier League.

The Swedish striker claimed he’s like Benjamin Button, meaning he’s getting better while growing older and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, who will visit Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, says he has to agree with him:

“I agree, I’ve always told this, he’s in the top of his form, his career. He plays for the team, it’s always good to have this kind of players, he plays a lot for the team, for me he’s one of best players in the world.”

When asked if he’s got any plan on how to stop Zlatan, Conte replied:

“We must have a good defensive organisation, when he attacks the ball he’s very dangerous, and also when he receives the ball, my players must play great attention and concentration to stop him.”

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte claims Old Trafford clash against Manchester United is a game like another one in this title race, where the Blues could get crucial three points.

First of all, the Italian manager revealed he’s a couple of injury concerns:

“I’ve got no injury for this game, just I couple of situations we must value, of course I cannot say which ones.”

Conte was asked what does he think about Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante making the shortlist for PFA Player of the Year award:

“It’s great for them to be in the shortlist for the best player of the year, it’s important for them but the most important thing for the team, it means we did a good job.°

Asked which of the two Chelsea players desevers to win the award more, he replied:

“I don’t like to make a choice with my players, I think it’s not fair, they are having a good season, all my players are having a great season and they deserve the best. I’m pleased because it’s a fight among my players, I want to see who is the winner.

Conte also recalled the only time he visited the Theathre of Dreams against Manchester United ( he played also a Champions League final there with Juventus, against AC Milan, with the Rossoneri winning at the penalties)  in 1999 when he played a Champions League semifinal with Juventus, scoring also the goal that gave his team the temporary lead:

“I played a semifinal at Old Trafford, I scored and then Ryan Giggs equalised at last, then we lost 3-2 in Turin and they won the Champions League.

Speaking about Sunday’s clash, he said:

“I think this game is like another game, the most important thing for us is the 3 points, we face a really strong team, they are very good technically, we have to pay great attention. I think both United and Chelsea will put both their best team to try to win the game.”

Asked if he would steal any player from Man United squad, he said:

“I think my players are the best in the world, they got a lot of good players, top players°

Red Devils star Zlatan Ibrahimvoic claimed he’s like Benjamin Button, meaning he’s getting better  while growing older and Conte said the Swedish striker was right:

“I agree, I’ve always told this, he’s in the top of his form, his career. He plays for the team, it’s always good to have this kind of players, he plays a lot for the team, for me he’s one of best players in the world.

On rumours about Lukaku returning to Chelsea next summer, with Didier Drogba claiming the Belgian forward wants to prove himself successful at Stamford Bridge, he replied:

“It’s not the correct time to speak about this, I have great respect for Didier because he’s a legend for Chelsea, I can’t talk about this because we always need to respect the tema, the club the players.

It seemed Eden Hazard was targeted by Manchester United players in the FA Cup quarter final at Stamford Bridge one month ago, asked he will prepare something special to prevent this he said:

“It’s very difficult to prepare this kind of situation, we prepare the game on the tactical aspect, we are trying to find the best solution, the situation can be very tough for both teams. I haven’t prepared nothing.

Manchester United played last night in Bruxelles in Europa League quarter finals against Anderlecht and Conte was asked if this could be an advantage for Chelsea:

“In this part of the season is very difficult to understand when ti’s the right moment to play with one team or another.

Any plan on how to stop Ibrahimovic?

“We must have a good defensive organisation, when he attacks the ball he’s very dangerous, and also when he receives the ball, my players must play great attention and concentration to stop him.

Any unsettled conflict with Mourinho?

“It’s a football match, not me against him, we both want to try to win, it’s normal there are conflicts during the game, but it’s just sport thing, just game conflicts.

It’s common opinion that not being involved in European competitions during this season was a big advantage for Chelsea:

“I’ve been hearing this story since I was Juventus coach in my fist season, but Liverpool are in our same situation, for sure we have more time to work with the team, it’s important because it’s my first season here, but if you think this is the only reason why we’re in the top of the table, this si a great mistake. I prefer to play Champions League.

After his last visit to Stamford Bridge José Mourinho stated that until someone will win four Premier League titles he will still be the N.1 manager in Chelsea history:

“Which was my reaction to this statement of his? Nothing. He won a lot with this team, this club have always showed him great respect for his past, I said the same before and this doesn’t change, I have a great respect for him.

“The game at Old Trafford is important for us because we would get 3 points that are really important in the title race, after this game we have other 18 points to get, for us it will be very important.

AC Milan was sold to Chinese investors yesterday and an Italian journalist asked a comment about this:

“It’s very difficult to reply this question because you know better than me that Berlusconi was a great owner for Milan, they won a lot in Italy, Europe and in the world, another era is starting with this group, they paid a lot to buy Milan, so I hope they will do good.

And when asked about Inter kinks, again he replied:

“Rumours about Inter are just rumours, they are old.”

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Marcos Alonso fears Chelsea will face a very tough match at Old Trafford this Sunday.

Manchester United will be hungry for “revenge” after the 4-0 humilation back in October and the FA Cup’s elimination one month ago at Stamford Bridge:

“It will be tougher this time around. They are one of the best teams in England, no doubt. It will be a very hard game, even more so after losing twice against us.

“They will give even more to try and beat us. We will have to do the same or more than before to get another win.

The Red Devils won’t be fresh as Chelsea will be, since they are playing Europa League in Belgium tonight, but José Mourinho can rotate his players in the two games:

“They’re playing at Anderlecht tonight but they have a big squad, full of good players.

“They will be hard to beat, no matter who they pick or the fact they’re playing in the Europa League just three days before. We will have to be ready.”

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Chelsea legend Didier Drogba backs a Romelu Lukaku‘s return to Stamford Bridge.

The former Ivorian striker believes the Everton star could be “great” for his club:

“If he comes to Chelsea it will be great for the club,” said Drogba.

“He knows the house already and I think he wants to prove he can be successful here, he didn’t get the chance to do it.”

Lukaku spent three years at Chelsea earlier in his career before he followed a season on loan with the Blues by moving to Everton on a permanent deal for £28m back in summer 2014: now the Toffees are asking a £80m fee to let him go.

“He wants to be the best. He’s really working hard to become the best.

“I am always challenging him. When he scores one goal, I expect him to score two. We have a very good relationship.

“I think he’s my little brother. He’s a really good guy. He’s a very good player, but also a great man.

“I know him very well and I know what he’s planning.”

But when asked by Sky Sports whether he would reveal Lukaku’s intentions, Drogba replied: “No.”

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Thibaut Courtois reveals that Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is helping his squad to stay hungry and focused during this title race.

The Belgian keeper explained how the Italian manager works on them during the week:

“A lot of players have the will to win, but sometimes if winning becomes a habit, the hunger might drop and you will lose some games,” Courtois said.

But it’s always nice to have a manager who keeps the players at the level they need to have, who keeps our focus and doesn’t allow us to drop our guard.”

Courtois also urged his side not become apprehensive as they edge ever closer to the finish line.

“To win the title, we just have to do the same as we have done over the last few months. We have to stay calm, whatever happens.

“We just have to keep our winning mentality and fight until the end.”

 

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Chelsea stars Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante appears in the PFA Player of the Year shortlist that was announced this morning.

Their  efforts in the Blues Premier League title tilt have been recognised with nominations for this prestigious award.

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Spurs’ Harry Kane and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku made the list as well.

Tottenham’s Dele Alli, Chelsea’s Diego Costa and Liverpool’s Sadio Manè are the three excellent exclusions in the nominations for this year.

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