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Premier League

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Chelsea are losing 2-1 after the first 45 minutes against Crystal Palace.

Everything seemed to go into the right path after four minutes, with Cesc Fabregas netting the ball with a touch in front of the goal after a super play by Eden Hazard on the left.

Only five minutes later Zaha equalised with a great strike even if marked by three Blues players in the box.

Not even two minutes later Benteke scored the goal that gave the lead to Eagles with a perfect lob in front of Courtois after a mistake by Chelsea defence, who didn’t seem as strong as in other games this year today.

Chelsea can complain for a penalty not conceded by referee Craig Pawson, with Townsend blocking the ball after a shot by Pedro with the arm a couple of metres in front of his goal: it should have been penalty and red card for the ex Spurs player, but the referee and his assistant didn’t see the handball.

Antonio Conte’s guys tried to come back with all their efforts but they weren’t very lucky in front of Hennessey, that helped his team to keep the positive score with a couple of good saves.

Anyway, Palace played a good first half at Stamford Bridge, going close to score the third goal in a couple of occasions.

Now a second half that can give us a lot of emotions is waiting for us.

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Ahead of a crucial clash like the one against Crystal Palace today, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte stressed again the importance to be focused just on title race and this end of the season and not to be distracted by transfer market rumours or other things that can decrease the team’s concentration in this very delicate part of the season:

The most important thing is to try to win the league. When the season finishes, myself and the club together will talk about the right way to try to improve the team and squad.

“It will be very important but I don’t see any problems because this club has great ambition, it has in the past and it will in the future. I’m very happy to be coach of this club.

“Now I think we are doing very well, every single player is giving me 120 per cent and it’s great. For sure, when the moment arrives to talk about next season, together we will look for the right solution to improve and be stronger than this season.”

About rumours of an Eden Hazard‘s Chelsea exit and a possible move to Real Madrid he said:

“I think in a situation it’s always very important to understand whether it’s just speculation or if it’s true. In this situation, what’s very important is the will of the player because if the player is happy and the player wants to stay at a great team with great ambition, I don’t see any problem.

“I think it’s very important to feel you are staying at the right place. When you arrive to be a top player then you want to fight to win, and to be competitive for every trophy. I think together we are building something important and we have just started our building work, we are putting the foundations in place. If we are able to win the league this season we are building an incredible path.’

On Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce, he claimed:

“I’m learning a lot when we play against English teams and English coaches, I’m finding new solutions in these type of games. I have great respect for English coaches and for me it’s been very important, I feel more complete.”


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In the eve of the derby at Stamford Bridge Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce claims that Chelsea are doing a fantastic season thanks to their absence in European competitions:

“I think that if you look in context about what they are achieving, and I don’t want to take anything away from what the Chelsea players, or Mr Conte are achieving, because they are doing magnificent, but they haven’t played in Europe.

“If that doesn’t tell you what it means playing in Europe and in cup matches and the effect it may have on one competition, what they have done this year shows that if you are not in Europe, you are free to concentrate on the most important thing, which for them is winning the Premier League this year.

“By not being in Europe it has helped him pick the same players because they have had fewer injuries and they have been fitter longer, they have had better rest.

“He has had better time to do his coaching and to get his point across and maximise that to 100 per cent.

“It has been a factor for him that he hasn’t had to compete in Europe and that has been a help to him by the messages he has been able to get across and it is one of the reasons why they are there.

It is not the only thing, but having not played in Europe has helped an awful lot.”

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Celtic striker Moussa Dembele has been linked to a move to Chelsea in the winter transfer window. The Blues are also among the Premier League’s teams which want to sign the young French player in the summer transfer window.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, however, believes Dembele will stay at Celtic also next season.

“I believed when Moussa came that he probably had two-year cycle,” – Rodgers said. – “That’s what I saw. For me, I still think that’s the case. All the conversations I have with him I have no doubt he loves it here. He needs another year of Champions League experience and the confidence of scoring goals and playing for such a big club, and probably then it’ll be time to fly. That’s the modern game. The big clubs in Europe are always crying out for a centre forward”.

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Antonio Conte reveals he is not sure to have a full squad to select for the clash against Crystal Palace, that will be played at Stamford Bridge tomorrow afternoon.

The Italian boss admitted they had a difficult week at Cobham, with many players that were away for the international break and others that got some injuries that now are concerning him:

“We got two-three situations that we have to value tomorrow,” the Chelsea manager said during today’s press conference.

Conte was probably speaking about Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois, who picked up minor injuries with their national teams: the Spaniard in his ankle and the Belgian goalkeeper in his hip.

“This week wasn’t easy to work, with the international break, some players came back with some problems, I have two-three situations to value.

“I think is important to check the situation with these players, John [Terry] is good, he trained all the week, for some others is important to value the situation.”


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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte revealed that the last one wasn’t an easy week for the Blues, that couldn’t have a full squad available for the derby against Crystal Palace tomorrow:

“We got two-three situations that we have to value tomorrow. This week wasn’t easy to work, with the international break, some players came back with some problems, I have two-three situations to value.

“I think is important to check the situation with these players, John [Terry] is good, he trained all the week, for some others is important to value the situation.”

About rumours of Eden Hazard moving to Real Madrid, he said:

“I repeat the same thing, now it’s important to be focused on the present,  we don’t have to look too far forward, Eden is our player, we aee happy with him, he’s happy with us, I don’t see problems about him.

“I think that this is a part of our game, that other people report these rumours to influence player’s minds, but I think we have experience, also my players got experience, it’s logical in this part of the season rumours about our players start, I am very happy because it means we are doing a great job and my players are doing very well.

“I don’t see any problem about our players, we all know we are in a great club with great ambition, there is a great will to do great things in the future, don’t forget there are some games to play, we hope to finish the season with great success for us.

“I think it’s positive, when another top team wants your players it means you are doing a very good job, but I repeat, I think that now we are already in a great club, with great ambition, they want to do something important, for the present and the future, I think we just started our path.”

About the title race and common opinion that Chelsea will be champions, he stated:

“In my past I lived two different experiences, one positive and another one negative, we need 21 points to be champions, tomorrow we will play a very tough game for us, it’s not easy [to play]after international break, we had a lot of problems this week, tomorrow it will be a very difficult game for us, for many reasons. Palace will a game of fundamental importance for us.

“Football is strange, it’s full of surprise, in my experience as a footballer I won a lot but I think I lost more, for this reason I want to keep our feet on the ground, also because in this part of the season there are many difficulties to overcome the problems. I think we deserve to win, but for sure our opponents don’t want to accept that Chelsea are champions, I think it’s important to get three points tomorrow.”

About Eden Hazard’s form, Conte said:

“I don’t think it’s important to talk about him, it’s important to speak about this game, that is crucial, he missed last game with Stoke and we have to check his form, we hope he’s in shape tomorrow, so he can play great football. I’m confident not only he will play, but he will play really good.”

About John Terry’s future, the Chelsea manager said:

“I think the club is working very well to solve many situations we have to face, I like to talk about John Terry for this season because he’s helping me a lot, he’s doing a great job, in and out the pitch.

“I think John knows my thought about him and I think the most important thing is that him knows my thought.”

Conte was asked an opinion about Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce:

“I met him in my travel in England [when he was Italy’s coach] and I stayed with him two days in West Ham training ground. I think he’s a top coach, for sure it’s a pity he was sacked from the national team after only one game, I know how is that, it’s a great feeling. For sure it will be good for me to meet him before and after the game tomorrow.”

Finally, an opinion on Crystal Palace:

“I remember very well the game against Crystal Palace back in December, I think we deserved to win but we suffered. They got really good players, like Benteke, Zaha, Townsend, Cabaye...a lot of great players. I don’t know why they are in this position, it’s very strange, but it can happen, last season happened to Chelsea, for example.

“We have to pay great attention, in the last three games they won and in the last three games they are sixth, so we have to pay attention, we are coming from international break and we got a lot of problems this week.”


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Crystal Palace’s keeper Wayne Hennessey is confident his team can get a good result tomorrow at Stamford Bridge vs Chelsea.

“They’re flying but it’ll be a good game. – Hessessey told Palace official website – We’ve played there a few times and won there last season so it’ll be a fantastic game to watch but hopefully we can get a win and a clean sheet”.
The Eagles have won and they have not conceded goals in the last three games
“A couple of wins and clean sheets gives everyone a massive boost, and we’re going there really high and trying to get three points. – Hennessey continued – We always play quite well against the teams that are above us rather than in-and-around us in the table, but hopefully that might work in our favour. These are the games that you want to play in and everyone will be fit and ready to play”.


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Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Chelsea boss Antonio Conte adopted a tactical approach already used by the Spurs last season.

Pochettino said: “People say now Chelsea changed the system, but no we played always the three in possession. Out of possession, Eric [Dier] moved in front and without the ball he tried to press and play like a midfielder”.

“I created a system that [Dier] felt comfortable in. He played like a midfielder without the ball, but with the ball he was a third centre back. You can see in possession he dropped in between the centre backs or between the full back and the centre back, and always we play with three”

Then he added: “Then we signed Wanyama and played both, but we had some injuries like Toby [Alderweireld] and Jan [Vertonghen], and Eric was the perfect player to play as a centre back. That is a good thing for the player, the possibility to play in different positions and do well in every one.”

Several Premier League teams started playing three defenders following Chelsea system, but Pochettino believes he is due credit as he started playing a similar system before Antonio Conte was appointed as Blues’ manager.

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Borussia Monchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl had his own say about loanee Andreas Christensen, who is reportedly set to head back to Chelsea at the end of current season.

“He must go back to Chelsea FC, – Eberl said speaking at press conference – Dahoud [who will join Borussia Dortmund in summer] and Christensen are the two players that we have to replace in the summer”. 

“There are no others and we don’t want any others to leave.”

It is understood also Barcelona and Bayern Munich are tracking the Danish international, who has made 74 appearances for Gladbach over two seasons so far. With Chelsea still interested in Southampton’s van Dijk and Napoli star Koulibaly, Christensen could represent a low-cost solution.

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Chelsea target Virgil van Dijk could miss the rest of season after being ruled out with an ankle injury since January.

Southampton manager Claude Puel speaking at press conference said: “It’s a long injury. We will see if he comes back before the end of the season,” 

It is understood Chelsea are lining a summer move to land the 25-year-old to Stamford Bridge and his ownership is esteemed around £50m by Southampton.

Some reports in England suggested the Blues are considering to insert Nathan Ake as part of the deal for van Dijk.


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