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Chelsea FC

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp claims to be positive before Chelsea clash despite his team´s bad run in the last week: in just seven days the Reds lost three important games at home, the first one in the Premier League with Swansea – that was sitting bottom of the table before that match- then they lost to Southampton in the second leg of the EFL Cup semifinal, losing the chance to face Manchester United at Wembley in one month, and last Saturday they were knocked out from FA Cup by Wolverhampton ( that now will face Chelsea in fifth round),

“It’s an interesting sign of life that it can change in one month,” he said ahead of the visit of Antonio Conte’s table-toppers.

“But, of course my job here is really to put out the emotion when I judge situations.

“After a bad game, I cannot say ‘now we have to get rid of him and change everything’.

“In this moment we need, especially, as a team, to have faith, belief and all that stuff—that’s the main thing in the job: to stay calm and make the right decisions.

“We lost a few games we should have won and I think a lot of people think in this moment it could be difficult for Liverpool, and it is difficult, no doubt about this, but possible.

“The last week we have lost three home games and that feels less than average, although three different competitions is better than all in one competition.

“It’s all about point of view and how you want to see it. If you only take these three games and say ‘everything is rubbish’, I cannot change it.

“But for us it’s important that we build on the good things.

“I really think we should try everything to make the best of the base we created until now.

“Stay positive. There is no reason for anything else. Absolutely not. It will help a lot against Chelsea.”

Klopp also admitted to have a couple of injury concerns for this game:

“Ejaria got a knock in the first half [against Wolves]. At half-time he got treatment [and he said] it was good. Now he’s out for a while. [The syndesmosis] is a ligament between the shin bone and the [ankle]. It’s really painful.”

“Clyne made two running sessions to see if he could cope with the pain. I saw him yesterday and the thumb was very up, so that’s good”.

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Liverpool star Sadio Mane skipped all January games since he was involved in Africa Cup of Nations with his national team, Senegal, but Reds manager Jurgen Klopp is confident he can take part in the crucial clash against Chelsea tomorrow night:

“It’s all good so far, but of course he will be in tomorrow morning and then we have to make a decision,” the German coach said speaking ahead of Chelsea match.

“In this moment, I have no idea – I have to look into his eyes and see whatever is possible with him and then make a decision.”

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Chelsea will face Wolverhampton Wanderers in FA Cup Fifth Round.

These are the ties that will be played around the weekend of 18 February:

Burnley v Lincoln City

Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur

Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United

Sutton United v Arsenal

Middlesbrough v Oxford United

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea

Huddersfield Town v Manchester City

Millwall v Derby County or Leicester City

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Continuing our chat with ex Chelsea goalkeeper Marco Amelia we asked him about transfer market, that is closing his winter window tomorrow night, with his friend Asmir Begovic on the brink to leave the Blues after 18 months:

*If I were him, I would stay: it’s difficult to leave a team like Chelsea in a season like this, he can add some silverware to his personal trophy cabinet and I don’t think he will miss this chance, even if I understand that he would like to play more.”

Diego Costa allegedly received offers during this transfer window from a couple of Chinese clubs, this is what Amelia thinks about the Spaniard’s situation, since there are chances he can leave next summer:

“I hope Diego Costa can stay, my wish is that he will stay next summer. If he will leave I guess it´s easier for him to go back to Spain: probably he does´t like London very much and I cannot get how he could like China, so I don´t think he will go there. But it won´t be easy to leave for him, because now he´s a leader, he feels this leadership, he feels important, so if he moves it won´t be an easy choice for him, it´s more difficult to change in this moment.”

In his time at Chelsea Amelia had the chance to share the dressing room with a legend like John Terry, with whom he´s still friend, and has got only words of praise and respect for the Blues captain:

“What I liked more about Terry is that he is a TRUE captain, he arrives to the training ground before anyone else, sometimes I tried to arrive before him but I never succeed! He always beat me! He leads by example, he takes care of himself, he acts like a a real professional and shows to his team-mates that to reach certain levels you have to behave like that. This is the best example he can give to his team-mates and to the youngsters.”

And speaking about youngsters and academy talents, Amelia revealed us who is the one that most impressed him:

“Among Chelsea youngsters who impressed me more is Ruben Loftus-Cheek,” the Italian goalkeeper said.

“He´s got incredible physical and technical skills, he can adapt to play in more roles and yes, I agree with Conte, he can play as a number 9: of course he doesn’t have the moves of a proper striker, he has to learn them, he has to get more experience and maybe he´s not so fast as a modern number 9 has to be. I guess it should be better for him and other youngsters that don´t get much playing time to go on loan somewhere else to play.”

Premier League is, in this moment, the most fascinating championship in the world and Amelia told us why, in his opinion, the English league was able to overcome Serie A, that was the best league in the world over a decade ago:

“First of all, the stadia are better: to have the fans so close to the pitch, without fences, it´s incredible and give the team lots of adrenalin, in Italy many stadia got the athletics track.

“Furthermore, in England there is less tactical exaggeration, the training sessions are more physical because you must be physically tough but you need also good technical skills and all this benefits good performances, the “Premier League show”.

“I had some managers that were too obsessed with the tactic and this damaged the performances, the freedom of the players to express their talents and the show”.

Speaking about managers and tactical magicians, we got now two of them managing the two sides of Manchester even if, until now, they probably didn´t fulfill all the expectations football fans had about their new adventures:

“I guess Mourinho will do very well at Manchester United, Amelia said about the ex Chelsea boss.

“When you have to put players like [Paul] Pogba and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic into your squad and tactical system you have to find the squad balance again: they were a little unlucky in autumn, they lost many points and so the chance to be in the title race, but this happened because of what I just said and once they found their balance they started to play better and win. Usually, he wins and does better in the second year. One of his qualities is to make everyone feel important, so everyone is ready to fight if needed.

Guardiola, instead, got some issues to adapt to English football,” the 2006 World Champion says about the ex Barcelona and Bayern manager.

“Mainly because he is trying to bring a different mentality. I don´t think that this is arrogance, it´s just his way to work, he wants to bring his style wherever he goes.”

Thibaut Courtois, David de Gea and Manuel Neuer are, at the moment, in the world goalkeepers top 3 and when asked about who, among the youngsters, can reach their level, Amelia has got no doubt:

“Among the new goalkeepers I like very much [AC Milan´s] Donnarumma: he´s just 17 and already a top player, he´s got tons of personality.”

Amelia is 34 but has no intention to retire from played football: at the moment he is a free agent and trains with a team near Roma, where he currently lives with his family.

The Italian keeper, anyway, knows what would make him happy again:

“My dream is to come back to play in England: I was really close to join Sunderland last summer, but then I had to go back to Italy also for some personal issues, because there are things that are most important than football. I negotiated also with a Championship side and I hope to sign for some team there soon: I am free agent now and I can find a new team until the end of March.

“I cannot go to China or Arabic leagues because they got some rules for which they cannot sign foreign goalkeepers, USA are fascinating but when you have to take these decisions you have to think also about your family, so I would prefer England.”

Do we have a chance to see him at Chelsea should Begovic leave? Everything will be revealed tomorrow night.

(Click HERE to read the first part of our interview with Marco Amelia that was published on Saturday)

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Tomorrow night’s clash at Anfield comes in very strage moment of the season, since it will be played in the last hours of this January transfer window.

Branislav Ivanovic and Asmir Begovic are in negotiation with other teams and have a chance to leave Chelsea before Liverpool’s match asked if they will be selected for the game against Reds,  Conte replied:

“Until now yes, after the training session I will decide for this.”

Asked if Ivanovic already took a decision on his future, he said:

“I spoke to him about this decision, he’s in talkings with other clubs but until now we don’t know anything and we have to wait.

“He gave a lot to Chelsea, we have to see if he’s able to play for many years, at those levels, if you are not playing a lot you can decide to make the decision to go for another team.

“When you start the season and you start to train with a group of players, you create a bond, so you are sorry to see them go, the same was for Oscar and Mikel, so we have to prepare for the situation.”

When asked about Begovic’s situation, Conte replied:

“Until now I haven’t news about Asmir, he wants to go to play every game, but he knows our situation really well, if we are able to find a good replacement he goes, otherwise he stays with us to fight with the team, to fight in the title race.

“I’ve been in football for many years and I am used to this kind of situations for players and managers, if I can help my players to be happy I am glad, but I have also to be sure the situation don’t penalise the team.

Asked how it feels to play such an important game during the last hours of the transfer window, Conte said:

“Tomorrow at 11 pm this transfer window shuts down, it’s very strange that it finishes after our game, it’s very strange.

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Chelsea are going to face a tough game at Anfield tomorrow night, and this clash against Liverpool comes in a very strage moment of the season, since it will be played in the last hours of this January transfer window.

Branislav Ivanovic and Asmir Begovic are in negotiation with other teams and have a chance to leave the Blues before tomorrow night, asked if they will be selected for the Anfield clash, Conte replied:

“Until now yes, after the training session I will decide for this.”

Asked if Ivanovic already took a decision on his future, he said:

‘I spoke to him about this decision, he’s in talkings with other clubs but until now we don’t know anything and we have to wait.

“He gave a lot to Chelsea, we have to see if he’s able to play for many years, at those levels, if you are not playing a lot you can decide to make the decision to go for another team.

“When you start the season and you start to train with a group of players, you create a bond, so you are sorry to see them go, the same was for Oscar and Mikel, so we have to prepare for the situation.”

When asked about Begovic’s situation, Conte replied:

“Until now I haven’t news about Asmir, he wants to go to play every game, but he knows our situation really well, if we are able to find a good replacement he goes, otherwise he stays with us to fight with the team, to fight in the title race.

“I’ve been in football for many years and I am used to this kind of situations for players and managers, if I can help my players to be happy I am glad, but I have also to be sure the situation don’t penalise the team.

Asked how it feels to play such an important game during the last hours of the transfer window, Conte said:

“Tomorrow at 11 pm this transfer window shuts down, it’s very strange that it finishes after our game, it’s very strange.

“This week we face two great opponents, tomorrow it will be tough, because they [Liverpool] come from three defeats, they are a really good team, for sure they will be fighting in the title race and for a place in Champions League. Tomorrow’s result is important, but the league doens’t end after these two games.

Chelsea lost two games in a row back in September, with Liverpool and Arsenal, but after those defeats Conte was able to find the key and the Blues won 13 games in a row, becoming the undisputed Premier League leaders:

“I think we are a different team from the September’s game, not Liverpool, we improved a lot. We became a team after the match with them and Arsenal, we improved our confidence and identity a lot. It’s incredible because it’s not easy to have that kind of defeats and then become a team like the one we became.

Liverpool had a terrible week, with three defeats in a row at Anfield: the first one against the team that was sitting in the bottom of the table, Swansea, then they couldn’t reach EFL Cup Final due to their defeat with Southampton in the semifinal second leg and, eventually, they were knocked out from the FA Cup by Wolverhampton – a Championship side- on Saturday afternoon.

A very tough week, that will give the Reds lots of will of redemption:

“It’s very difficult to explain their latest results,” the Italian manager said.

“It’s a really tough test against a tough team, for me they are a good team, with a good coach, they will fight for the title.

“Is their title race over if they lose? After this game there are 15 games, so there are a lot of points, for sure it would be a hard hit mentally [if they lose].  There are 45 points after this game, so this [match] doesn’t decide the season.

Arsenal’s derby is next game after Anfield, two really difficult clashes in four days that can influence Chelsea season a lot:

“I hope to keep the same position after these two games, tomorrow it’s important for us to get continuity and get a good result, it’s important for us to have continuity and get three points, for sure it’s not easy.”

Asked if Chelsea have to prove something against top teams, since they collected three defeats with Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham, Antonio said:

“It’s always important to win this kind of games because when you face a top level team it’s important to win also for the confidence, the difficulty is high when you face this kind of opponents.

“I guess that against Spurs the game was balanced, we didn’t approach it with a defensive tactica, I want to make the team more adapt to this kind of game, Liverpool and Chelsea have both to give 110% to win this kind of game.

“Also Liverpool have an identity, they play with 433 there are teams that prefer to change their system but I think when you change too much you can lose your identity, when you adopt a system, you find more time to improve your system, you can find solutions every day.

“Injuries? Until now no, after the training session I can reply to this question.”

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Nathan Ake in action with Chelsea last season © Francesca Ceciarini

A satisfied Nathan Ake spoke after starting in the FA Cup win against Brentford: it was the first appearance since he´s been back for the Dutch midfielder, that hailed Chelsea boss Antonio Conte in a post match interview:

“On the first day I was back he called me into his office and explained the different positions he sees me in and what he expects from me when I play there,” Ake said of Conte.

“He said that for him age doesn’t matter and I have to show him that I’m ready to be here. That’s what I do in training, I try to train hard, play well and hopefully he’ll see it.

“It was positive that he called me back from Bournemouth. That gave me confidence. You’ve seen Nathaniel [Chalobah] and Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] getting games this season so it’s good.”

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Cesc Fabregas © Francesca Ceciarini

Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas spoke after the FA Cup 4-0 win over Brentford, claiming the team approached the game with the right spirit even if it was a League One rival:

“It is better to learn from other teams’ mistakes like what happened to Liverpool and we saw that.

“It is a big lesson before you go onto the pitch that you have to give 100 per cent.

Speaking about the game the Blues will play at Anfield on Tuesday night, the Spanish midfielder said:

“We have three days to prepare well and I am sure the manager and the team will do the best we can to prepare for what I hope will be a fantastic game and a win for us.”

 

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte gave a hint about transfer market after the win against Brentford in FA Cup this afternoon.

Speaking of Blues legend Branislav Ivanovic, that today scored the third of four goal and that is considering offers from a couple of clubs, he said:

“Ivanovic is a legend here. He has played a lot of games and won a lot.

“In this season he is not playing in the same way as the last few years.

“We must wait over these next three days and we will see. It is the same for Asmir [Begovic].

“He is important for us. In his position we need to find the right substitution, otherwise he is happy to stay with us.”

 

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