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Premier League

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Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea vs Everton - London, Britain - August 27, 2017 Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas celebrates scoring their first goal
 

Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas spoke after last Champions League win against Azerbaijan side Qarabag.

The Blues secured a 6-0 victory at Stamford Bridge: “It’s a good performance, a good result – Fabregas told BTSport after the game – You never know if goals [difference] will count at the end of the group stage. I think it’s a good performance from everyone. We are getting back to our best.

“We rotated five players. We have nine games in 21 days. It’s a difficult period. We weren’t used to this last year as we weren’t in the Champions League.”

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Chelsea‘s starting XI to face Qarabag has been announced. Manager Antonio Conte said earlier this week that he would have considered to change some players as he wants to pick-up the best team.

CHELSEA (3-4-3) Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill (c); Zappacosta, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Batshuayi, Pedro

Subs:  Caballero, Rudiger, David Luiz, Moses, Bakayoko, Hazard, Morata

Manager: Antonio Conte

QARABAG (4-2-3-1) – Sehic, Medvedev, Sadiqov, Huseynov, Rzezniczak, Qarayev, Almeida de Oliveira, Guerrier, Marcos Madera, Konzen Medina da Silva, Ndlovu

Subs: Kanibolotskiy, Amirquliyev, Madatov, Elyounoussi, Ismayilov, Yunuszada, Diniyev

Manager: Gurban Gurbanov

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Former Chelsea striker Gianfranco Zola is confident that new Blues’ star Alvaro Morata will make an impact at Stamford Bridge under manager Antonio Conte.

“I know he is a very talented player with amazing skills – he told talkSPORT But he has never been a regular. He played with Juventus and he wasn’t a regular, the same for Real Madrid”.

“Nobody doubts his qualities but he is still young and needs to find consistency because when you play for teams like Juventus, Real Madrid and Chelsea you have to be consistent”.

Zola adds: “Obviously Antonio Conte with his methods, his work ethic, he is helping him a lot and it seems he is going in the right direction”.

“For Chelsea, the main striker is a vital position and if he plays well then Hazard, Pedro, Willian, all the players around him, will play well also”.

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Chelsea legend Frank Lampard is convinced the Blues have got an advantage on their Premier League rivals to face Champions League.

According to the Stamford Bridge legend, who was one of Chelsea heroes in Champions League success back in 2012, the Blues structure is better than other English teams – Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs – facing the same competition:

“When I look at the other English teams in the Champions League, some of them will struggle at the back, whereas Chelsea have a great base.

“The structure that Conte set up last season with three at the back clearly works as they won the title and they have added a few players in midfield”.

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Speaking to RTE Eden Hazard reveals his main target for this season is to win the Champions League:  “Yeah, this year to win it is important…  I have only got to the semi-final when we lost to Atletico Madrid. So it’s in my head to win this trophy,” – Hazard said. – “I have won the Premier League and the title in France. Now all the big players want to win the Champions League.”

According to what manager Antonio Conte said during his press conference, the Belgian striker will start on the bench tomorrow’s game vs Qarabag.

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted he felt ‘very sorry’ after hearing that Crystal Palace has sacked Franck De Boer after just 77 days in charge at Selhurst Park and 4 Premier League games played.

“I am sorry for him, when you start to work you try to ask time and to finish the game after only 4 games is a pity. – Conte said speaking at a press conference – It’s so difficult to speak about situations of other teams but I am sorry for the man”.

The Italian manager, who had been heavily linked with the Dutchman’s former club in the Serie A (Inter Milan), added: “If you win you are top, but if you lose you are considered the worst manager, I think we need to have the right balance in the decisions. Every club must judge the work of the coach and sometimes there’s a bit of emotion when you take decisions very strong. Decsions in football should be made not only for the final result”.

And Roy Hodgson is expected to be the man who will replace De Boer at Crystal Palace, who will face Chelsea on October 14th.

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Antonio Conte led Chelsea to the Champions League last season, following their previous disappointing campaign in which José Mourinho was sacked, before Guus Hiddink took the reins sealing an unexpected 10th place.

Conte knows the competition as manager and player with Juventus and he also lifted the trophy in 1996: “Yes, I played Champions League with Juventus, but when I played with them they were not this Juventus. – he said – We were at the beginning of our path, they were not the team they are now”. 

“We dropped against Bayern Munich, then we reached Europa League semi-final against Benfica. I have more experience in the competition as a player than a manager.

We must be pleased to be back and proud to be in the Champions League, for sure is very tough.

We are building something important, when you play in the competition you have try to win every game, to go step by step you need time to do this: we all start the competition in the same position”.

Conte believes Chelsea must be focused on the Premier League: “My previous experience with Champions League was in Italy, but when you face a medium team in Premier League you have to know that you risk to lose the game, the league is though here.

In England you can’t be relaxed, even if you would rest, we have to play FA Cup and League Cup games, then Champions League. We need to rotate players and they must be involved.

We are starting a path building something important, we have to go on step by step to be competitive in a short time, not in 3,4 or 5 years”.

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When asked whether upcoming Premier League clash against Arsenal will influence Antonio Conte’s lineup against Qarabag, the Italian manager said: “I think the only game that could have influenced us is Leicester clash, in which we used up a lot of energy. We prepared some rotations and I trust all the players in my squad, there’s necessity to rotate and play game by game. We have six more games in September and there’s a necessity to look at it game by game”.

Then will Michy Batshuayi replace Alvaro Morata in the attacking third? Conte admitted he has to ‘check situations’ ahead of tomorrow’s game: “I think Alvaro is playing very well, he’s totally involved in our style of football but we must consider that he also played a whole game with Spain and against Leicester. I have to check the situation and make the best choice ahead of next game. I am very calm about this”.

Conte believes Qarabag are a good team as he ‘knows very well’ several players: “Qarabag are a good team, is the first time for them to play this competition. I played against Azerbaijan when I was the coach of Italy national team so I know several players because they play for their national team.

 It will be a tricky game and we must pay great attention, we played two days ago and then after Qarabag we have an important game against Arsenal and against Stoke. We also have the Carabao Cup game against Nottingham Forest in September”.

Is rotation a risk?

“When you make the decision there is always the risk. The risk could be to play with the same team of Leicester game and then if we lose you will ask me: ‘why didn’t you change the squad?’. Our previous experience is important to make the best decision: in football if you win you are the best manager, if you lose the worst. I must be realistic, I must be calm and make the best decision for the 7 games we have over September”.

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Antonio Conte spoke ahead of his first Champions League game as manager of Chelsea, with the Blues set to face Qarabag.

“We have all the players available except for Drinkwater. – the manage said – He had a muscular problem in his calf and we are waiting to check the problem, but it’s the only problem”.

“Eden Hazard is in the squad and working very well to find the best physical condition, he needs more time to be fully fit and we must avoid to take a stupid risk with him, but bow he’s available and will be on the bench”.

More on Hazard: “Eden played an amazing season last campaign, he’s a top player and we are looking forward to having him in our squad [in every game], he’s an important player for us but we have been forced to play without him through injury and we tried to win every game”.

Then Celsea’s head of communications Steve Atkins, when Conte was asked about the anti-Semitic chant in tribute of Alvaro Morata, added: “The language is unacceptable, anti-Semitic. We will take actions and we will be happy to support the police and criminal persecution if there’s evidence that ticket holders or members are found guilty of signing it or do in the future.We must be clear, it must stop”.

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After his three games suspension in Premier League, Gary Cahill is now ready to be back. 

This will happen tomorrow night when the Blues will face Qarabag at Stamford Bridge for their Champions League opener:

“I am delighted to be back and available. Season starting now and itching to get back involved” – Cahill told the media during today’s press conference -. “Any footballer will say the most frustrating thing is not play. We have important fixtures. We are working well and trying to build well. We realise that the squad is ready to play and trying to build the momentum. Nothing has changed for me, the way that I train and prepare it doesn’t change. I want to win and that’s how I play over my career”.   

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