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Chelsea FC

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte spoke today before the FA Cup against Wolves.

The Blues manager revealed that the whole squad is fit for this crucial game but, anyway, he will give rest to some players:

“John Terry is fit for this game, he is ok.

“All the players are available but there are situations that is better to keep under control, Marcos Alondo and David Luiz will rest, we gave him [Luiz] a week to recover well and prepare for next game, all the players are in good form and I will make the best decisions for the game.

“Luiz is better, his knee after Man City game was bad compared to now, it’s normal to control the situation, but he’s good,  he’s working with te physios and the situation is under control.

“I don’t know about Diego Costa’s new contract situation, I think now it’s very importat to look at the present and not to look so forward, all people at Chelsea must focus on the present, then we will see the situation.

“I am confident for him to stay, but now it’s important to keep a great concentration for the present, and the present is tomorrow’s game against Wolves, we must go through the next round.

“Would I like to win the double? I like to win, I like to win with my team, every competition, in every season, it won’t be easy to win the league and the cup, of course I will like to win both, because when you are at Chelsea you need this winning mentality.

“There are six teams in the title race, all very strong, and in the cup there are 16, but tomorrow it won’t be easy, don’t forget Wolves won against Liverpool and Stoke away, we must pay attention because this team showed in the past they can beat great teams like Liverpool and Stoke City, I hope tomorrow the other side will be different and Chelsea going to the next round.

Conte was asked if it would be possible to see him to manage in the Premier League at 67, like Arsene Wenger is doing, but the Italian manager was evasive in his answer, where he praised the Gunners boss:

“I have great respect for him, I think he did a great job in 20 years for Arsenal and he’s still doing it, he’s one of the best in the world, we all know that in some moments the results are not good, but it’s important to not forget the job that a manager, and players, did in the past.

About Mark Clattenburg quitting his referee role in English football, he claimed:

“It’s a pity Clattenburg is leaving because he’s a really good referee, it’s a pity that he wants to go and he took this choice, it’s not a good news for us, because it’s important to have the best [referees], and he’s one of the best referees in this country and seeing him go away it’s a pity. I am a bit sorry for this.

Dominic Solanke’s contract with Chelsea is expiring next June and the striker allegedely asked 50.000 pounds per week, an amount that the Blues director believe is outrageous for a young kid with no much first team experience:

“I don’t know his future,” Conte said”We should have a crystal ball to predict it, he’s a Chelsea player now, I wish him and his family the best.

“I am not sure he will leave, but I think this is his will. I think it’s better to ask this question to him. I’ve been here only for seven months, I think to stay in a team like Chelsea is a great opportunity, but we have to respect every decision by the player, anyway, I don’t know his future. I spoke to him to try to understand his will but, I repeat, we must have a great respect for every decision a player can take. His contract expires in June.

Wolves manager Lambert was playing in Borussia Dortmund when they beat Juventus, Antonio Conte’s team, in 1997 Champions League final, even if the Blues coach didn’t play because he was recovering from a knee injury:

“I remember that game very well, it was one of the three finals I lost: they were underdogs but they won very well, Lambert was playing for them and he was a great midfielder. I don’t think the result would have been different if I played, they played a really good game and had many great players, some of them ex Juventus players like Kholer, Paulo Sousa, Moller.

“And no, there is no revenge[in tomorrow’s game], I wish for him the best, after this game, of course, tomorrow it’s an important game for us, for Wolves. For me it would be a great pleasure to shake his hand.

Conte also revealed he will play some reserves’s in tomorrow’s clash:

“FA Cup would be a good opportunity to see some players that didn’t play so much, but we want and must go to the next round, for the club, for the fans and the team.

Chelsea U21 progressed in the Youth Cup during the week and when asked abou the great job that has being done at the Blues academy, Conte said:

“The academy is doing a great job in these years, we got players like Chalobah, Ake, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ola Aina, it’s important to have this link betweenfirst team and academy and to exploit their good job.

“These players stay with me, with the first team, because they deserve it, not because I want to give them a gift.

Conte reveales that Charly Musonda is not selected for tomorrow’s game and explained why:

“Musonda is not in the squad for tomorrow, he is working very well, very hard in the training sessions but he is having supplementary work with a fitness coach, probably he will be with us in the next games, if he deserves to stay with us.

The Italia manager also explained the importance of a football coach mental job:

“Every manager has to do a mental job on his squad, not justo n th e physical, technical and tactical aspect. It’s important to work on the mentality, during the game, during training sessions, it’s an important aspect of our job.”

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Real Madrid forward James Rodriguez has been linked to Chelsea for a couple of years, mainly because of the lack of playing time at the Merengues: the Colombian struggled under Zinedine Zidane‘s management but, with Gareth Bale‘s injury as a contributing factor, he has found more space on the pitch since the new year began.

Speaking after the Champions of Europe’s 3-1 win over Napoli last night, James ruled out a possible exit from Real Madrid:

I think that everything is fine,” he claimed.

Real Madrid is a great club and I always wanted to play here.

‘The good and bad times always come, but I want to stay here long term”.

 

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Sharing the dressing room with him every day at Borussia Monchengladbach Eden Hazard‘s younger brother, Thorgan, knows Chelsea loanee Andreas Christensen really well and is ready to bet him as one of the future top defenders:

“I think he has a great future. He can play at a top, top level at a top, top team. When a 19-year-old comes into defence like this and does this, I am very confident about his future,” Hazard said to Goal.com.

“They give their opportunity to play in a great club, great atmosphere and a great championship. Most of the guys are very good. It is a high level.”

Thorgan knows really well also Charly Musonda jr, that was is team-mate at Chelsea and also in Belgium national team:

He decided to return to Chelsea and he decided to take a place in the squad,” Hazard said about the Musonda’s decision to end his loan spell at Betis.

“I know Charly and I think he is a winner. He will fight for that and I hope he can do this (play for Chelsea).

“I think he knows also that there are very good players in his position, so he needs to fight very, very hard. My brother, Willian and Pedro and it is a lot of players.”

 

 

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Bayern Munich star Arturo Vidal was often linked to Chelsea over the past months, mainly because of the great respect between him and Blues boss Antonio Conte, since the pair have already worked together at Juventus.

Furthermore, the Chilean midfielder is not a regular starter anymore since former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti took charge at Bayern but, despite this, he dismissed any rumour linking him to the Stamford Bridge side:

“These are just rumours that are emerging quickly,” Vidal told SportBild.

“After all, I played four very successful years under coach Conte at Juventus.

“But there is no reason for me to leave Bayern. I wear this jersey with pride. I feel happy, my wife feels happy, and the children are happy. And I still have big goals in Munich.”

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John Terry didn’t get much playing time during this season and, despite this, it’s understood he rejected some good offers from the US to remain at Chelsea and help the team to fight in the title race.

MLS sides like LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and Orlando City approached him in the past months but the Blues skipper rejected their offers to lead his team in the Premier League pursue.

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Ex Ballon d’Or winner Michael Owen explained why Chelsea legend Didier Drogba changed the way people thought about strikers in English football:

“When I was growing up there was always two strikers who worked together – a big man and a little man,” the former Liverpool and Real Madrid forward said in a documentary produced by Four Four Two.

“But I think the introduction of Drogba at Chelsea changed the way people thought about strikers. Managers began to realise they could get a big man to do a little bit of everything.”

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Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann has been linked to Chelsea and Manchester United more than once, but the French striker reveals he is not really interested in a Premier League move, as he prefers Spanish football:

In Spain, Barcelona have Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, and a move to Real Madrid would be impossible because I play for Atletico.

“Germany is not a league that appeals to me. France, not right now. As for England, I do watch the Premier League but I have doubts about the lifestyle. Rain, bad weather; I need to be happy off the pitch.

“I like the style of play in England and that the referees let the game flow and the grounds are always full, but the Spanish league is better suited to my style of play.”

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Diego Costa‘s goal drought doesn’t concern another Chelsea legend, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who spoke about the not really positive moment of the Blues star with Sky Sports News:

“Always as a striker you get those little spells where you don’t score,” the Dutcham said.

“You have to look at the attributes, at the amount of work he does and how much he creates.

“He’s missed a penalty [against Liverpool] but that can happen. For me, pound-for-pound he’s the best striker at the moment in the Premier League.”

“Chelsea have found a way of how to play, and they are very calm and relaxed within that, very confident.

“I don’t see them losing three games out of the 13 games they have left. I think they will be too far ahead for the others,” he added.

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Speaking to Spanish media Radio Onda Cero Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso said he hopes one of his most important Blues team-mates won’t leave Stamford Bridge to join Real Madrid next summer:

“I really hope [Thibaut] Courtois doesn’t move to Real Madrid because he is great goalkeeper and he is helping us every game,” Alonso told Onda Cero show Radio Estadio when asked about the rumours linking the Belgium international with a move to the Blancos.

Alonso grew up in the Merengues academy but left in 2010 to join Bolton, then moved to Fiorentina, Sunderland and eventually Chelsea.

Since I left there I have had no contact with the club and now I am very focused on Chelsea. We have a very important season ahead,” he revealed.

Speaking about the current Blues season he claimed:

“The team are playing very well. We have adapted very well to the idea of the coach and we hope to continue this way until the end of the season. We are training a lot and very well. The team has understood perfectly what the coach wants and we are proving that every weekend,” Alonso said while hailing the hard training sessions of Conte as the key behind their success.

“It is clear that not playing Europe is an advantage over other teams but we are training very well, and I think that’s the most important thing. That’s what is allowing us to stay free of injuries and play with almost the same eleven every weekend.

“It is not easy to bring the methods of a new manager to the Premier League. We are seeing that with Pep Guardiola and other new coaches. In the Premier League it is not easy to innovate (like Conte is doing with the 3-4-3). But we are doing things well, we train a lot and that is helping us.”

 

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Gary Cahill is back to his top form this year © Francesca Ceciarini

Chelsea current pitch captain Gary Cahill claimed the title race won’t be simple as it seemed until one month ago, especially if the Blues will face tough rivals like Burnley but, with eight-nine points gap on the chasers, the English defender remains positive for the final success:

“There’s 13 games left so we’ll chalk them off, hopefully with the right result.

“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel in a way, but it’s been a reminder (at Burnley) that it’s not going to be easy to cross the line.

“It was a tough game when we had to roll our sleeves up and do the dirty stuff as well as trying to play football.

“We knew it was always going to be a tough game. Sometimes you have to dig in at places like this to get the point and maybe it is an important point, we’ll have to wait and see.”

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