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Premiership

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Clyne has been a regular starter for the Saints this season

Nathaniel Clyne has spoken about a potential transfer away from Southampton by saying he is happy on the south coast.

Clyne, who has impressed at Southampton this season, is a target for both Chelsea and Manchester United this summer, according to reports and has looked up until today a near certainty to join the list of good players that have left St Mary’s for bigger clubs. However, Clyne is quoted in the Manhester Evening News as claiming to be content where he is.

“I am enjoying my football for Southampton, playing week-in, week-out and it is an up-and-coming club. I am happy playing for Southampton and happy to stay at Southampton as well,” says the full-back.

The 23-year-old’s current contract runs out at the end of next season, and a new one is being talked about. He continues:

“My agent is negotiating, so I will just leave it with my agent and I am just going to concentrate on playing my football.”

Both Chelsea and Manchester United are keen to strengthen at the back and Clyne would be a good addition to either side, should he leave.

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When the final whistle went at the end of Chelsea’s Premiership title clinching win over Crystal Palace last Sunday afternoon, one sight was more prescient than most. John Terry falling to his knees, to be embraced by Thibaus Courtois and his fellow defenders,  was an expression of joy that best represented the relief that swept around Stamford Bridge at the end of five years of Manchester dominance and the return of the league trophy to west London.

It was even reminiscent of something similar seven years ago when Chelsea lost on penalties to Manchester United in the Champions League final, then to Terry sat on his knees with his arm across his face. That was in despair and the teammates that stood around him did so to console rather than celebrate. When Sunday’s game finished it was yet another game where Terry performed impeccably as he marshaled his team to a critical victory.

This season has been more than just a victory for Chelsea, it has also been a season of vindication for their captain and further confirmation that he belongs in the same sentence as the other great defenders that have graced English and European football. His importance to Chelsea cannot and should not be underestimated.

His quality as a captain is well known, the many managers Chelsea have had since Terry was first given the armband in 2004, all of whom retained his services in that role, will testify to his ability to organise and inspire those around him, especially during difficult moments. What this season has shown is his consistency and durability, and his value to the club going forward. He has played every minute of every game, something remarkable for a 34-year-old, and done so with distinction. His absence from the five nominations for the PFA Player of the Year award was striking.

If one is to point to moments of weakness this season it would be the 5-3 defeat at Spurs, where he and Gary Cahill were pulled all over the back line by the home side’s centre forwards quick attack, his lack of pace being on painful display. That Chelsea responded from the New Year’s Day defeat to win the league with three games to spare is testament to Terry’s leadership. He has been described by Chelsea legend Ray Wilkins as Jose Mourinho on the pitch and Sky Sports pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher are in agreement as to his importance this season. Some have described him as the best centre back since the founding of the Premiership and suggested that the near post position, from where Terry has marked strikers out of the game should be named after the Chelsea captain.

What is certain, however, is that Terry is paramount to Chelsea’s current success, just as much as he has been in the past. His new contract, which he signed recently, is proof of the club’s continued belief that without Terry’s input Chelsea would lose some of its spine, if not some of its soul. There are improvements to be made in Chelsea’s squad, and further things to achieve if this generation is to reach and surpass the Chelsea team that both Jose Mourinho and John Terry led together ten years ago, such as progress and success in the Champions League, but with their talisman at the back Chelsea’s chances of achieving just that are significantly improved.

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Douglas Costa
Douglas Costa has been a key man for Shaktar this season

Chelsea are lining up Brazilians Douglas Costa and Luiz Adriano as they seek to improve only just confirmed as Premier League champions.

The Shakhtar pair are reportedly wanted by Mourinho after impressing in the Ukranian Premier League, but the Portuguese will face competition from rivals such as Manchester United and Arsenal for at least one of the two, most likely Costa.

The attacking midfielder will cost up to and perhaps over £20 million, according to the Metro and face stiff competition from Fabregas, Willian and Oscar for playing time should he move to Stamford Bridge.

Adriano is perhaps a more likely deal as he will be out of contract at the end of the season, and Chelsea will need a striker if they are to retain their Premiership title and push on in the Champions League next season as the other Costa, Diego, has had recurring trouble with his hamstring.

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Former Chelsea captain Ray Wilkins has praised John Terry’s performances for Chelsea this season and believes the current skipper is the main reason why Chelsea have regained the Premier League title.

The 34-year-old has played every minute of every game this season, proving many, including Rafael Benitez, Chelsea manager in 2012-2013, that he is past his best, as the Blues won the league with a game to spare with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace yesterday.

Wilkins, who worked with Terry as Assistant First Team Coach the last time Chelsea won the league in 2010, had this to say about Chelsea’s current captain to Sky Sports News:

“John has been the outstanding defender in the league, not only for this season but the last X amount of years.

“He’s a fantastic leader and that’s what a lot of people don’t see, the way he controls the dressing room for Jose Mourinho, he is Jose on the pitch – they are both winners.

“What Jose did when he came back in was to get hold of John immediately and tell him he was the man for him and that has been displayed by John all season.”

Terry recently signed a new contract that will no doubt keep him at Stamford Bridge for the rest of the season.

 

 

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Courtois 7- Was only called upon a few times throughout the game but was reliable when he was needed.

Azplicueta 7- Defended his side well and was willing to get forward.

Cahill 7- A generally good performance at centre back, especially late on.

Terry 7- Commanded the defence well throughout and didn’t allow the pace of Palace’s front line get the better of him.

Ivanovic 6- Struggled against Zaha in the first half but benefited from the cover given from Mikel in the second half.

Cuadrado 6- Worked hard but offered little, taken off at half-time.

Willian 7- Worked hard throughout and was an effective outlet for Fabregas’ passes.

Matic 7.5- Covered the defence brilliantly. 

Fabgregas 7- Showed moments of skill and generally controlled the pace of the game in second half.

Hazard 8- Produced the moment of skill that brought about the goal and the win, fitting considering he has been Chelsea’s best attacking player all season. Man of the Match.

Drogba 6- Worked hard but is showing his age more and more every single game.

Substitutes:

Mikel 7- Played well and almost scored a rare goal. Gave crucial cover to defence.

Zouma 7- Brought on with six minutes left but made a few very good tackles and was an extra body when Palace put pressure on.

Luis N/A- Brought on in stoppage time, barely touched the ball.

Manager:

Jose Mourinho 8- Prepared the team well and had the foresight to bring on defensive cover when defending the lead was paramount.

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Chelsea are Premier League champions

Chelsea are Premier League champions after beating Crystal Palace 1-0 in a tense but decisive encounter at Stamford Bridge.

Both teams started the game with the intention of getting forward and creating chances with no sign that  Chelsea would sit back and counter attack, or that Crystal Palace would allow the game to be a procession to the title.

Whilst it was the home team that began brighter, pressing high up the pitch from all areas, it was the visitors that threatened early on winning a series of corners that Chelsea struggled to deal with at first. The pace of Palace’s attack was a source of concern to Chelsea defence.

The first quarter of the game produced more free-kicks and corners than clear-cut chances on goal, and it was from one of those that the first opening came- a bizarre situation in the 23rd  minute when the Palace defence got their offside routine completely wrong the ball was not cleared by Speroni the goalkeeper and Nemanja Matic had his back to an open goal expecting the referee’s whistle, and when none came the Palace back four had regrouped and the attempt was blocked. A Drogba attempt, from another free-kick, brought about a fumbled the rebound from which John Terry couldn’t reach.

From Crystal Palace’s perspective the first opportunity came shortly afterward on the half-hour mark when Jason Puncheon’s shot from just outside the penalty area was blocked by John Terry, cue penalty appeals from the away side. A Cuadrado shot from distance went just over the bar as Chelsea struggled to find space in behind the Palace defence. With the game drifting towards a half-time stalemate there came a moment of inspiration from a familiar source. Eden Hazard collected the ball and had one of the bursts of speed that has caught out so many defenders this season, passing and receiving the ball quickly from Willian in the process, before he was brought down in the penalty area by McCarthy to the consternation of the Palace defenders who believed it was Hazard who dragged his leg to the right thus causing the collision.

Hazard took and missed the resulting penalty, but was the first to the rebound as he headed the ball into the corner, away from Speroni’s flailing arms to the immense relief of almost everyone inside Stamford Bridge, especially the PFA Player of the Year who swept his brow with wry grin on his face in celebration.

It was a goal that Chelsea just about deserved and one that gave them the lead going into the break despite an under-par performance. Jose Mourinho brought on Jon Obi Mikel for the struggling Cuadrado to give the defence greater cover in the middle and also down both wings. The second half began with greater authortiy in Chelsea’s play as Palace were unable to create the openings that they did early in the first. The substitute Mikel found himself in possession on the edge of the area but could only roll the ball into arms of Speroni.

Chelsea’s most crative outlet remained the Hazard-Fabregas axis, supplemented by the hard work of Willian and Drogba. The latter struggled with the pace with which his teammates moved the ball, often finding himself with space to run in behind but held back by his 37 years.

Palace’s greatest threat came from counter attacks and the wide areas. Jason Puncheon tried his luck from outside the box and the ball was only inches wide, Terry had a to clear a dangerous cross from the right and Courtois smothered a shot from Zaha. As the minutes ticked by Chelsea looked less and less likely to increase their lead, although Ivanovic came close with a left-footed shot after Cahill’s attempt was blocked. Zouma was brought on for Willian with five minutes to go and the final moments of the ninety were nerve wrecking as Palace forced a series of corners but the team held out to claim their first league title since 2010 and their fifth in total to the delirium of the Stamford Bridge crowd.

 

Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (C), Azpilicueta, Cuadrado (Mikel 45), Matic, Willian (Zouma 84), Fabregas (Luis 90), Hazard, Drogba

Unused substitutes: Cech,Loftus Cheek, Ake, Remy

Manager: Jose Mourinho

 

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa (Kelly 60), Dann, Delaney (C) , Ward, Ledley, McArthur, Puncheon (Sanogo 70), Mutch (Murray 61), Zaha, Bolasie

Unused substitutes: Hennessey, Hangeland, ,Lee, Jedinak

Manager: Alan Pardew

 

Referee: Kevin Friend

Attendance: 41,566

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Felipe-Anderson-Lazio
Felipe-Anderson-Lazio

Chelsea transfer target Felipe Anderson has revealed he is open to a move away from Lazio, but claimed Chelsea is not his most likely destination.

The midfielder has been in fine form this season and has been linked with a transfer to most of Europe’s biggest clubs, despite professing his loyalty to Lazio in the past. However, it appears he is on his way out after confessing in an interview with Goal.com that he would like the join one of his suitors, in particular Barcelona, if an offer came in.

“There has been a lot of talk.

“At the moment I’m only thinking about Lazio. However, if an opportunity to play for a big club like Barcelona presented itself, I’d be happy.”

The Brazilian was not pressed on which other clubs he would be interested in joining, as the current La Liga leaders are prohibited from signing any new players until the summer market of 2016. But, reports have linked him most strongly with Chelsea and Manchester United.

Barcelona’s great La Liga rivals Real Madrid are reportedly under threat from being given a similar embargo, along with inter-city rivals Athletico, and if that happens a move to England could be on the cards.

Whoever does sign him will probably have to pay a substantial sum – he recently signed a new contract that keeps him at Lazio until 2020.

 

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jose-gaya
jose-gaya

Chelsea target Jose Gaya will decide where he will play next season in the next few days, with reports that he is set to reject the opportunity to play in England.

Valencia left-back Goya has been the subject of transfer speculation all season with a number of Premier League clubs interested in acquiring his services, Chelsea being the most prominent of which. Real Madrid have also expressed an interest and Gaya is believed to have a buy-out clause of £13 million.

A move to either London or Madrid at the end of the season appeared a near certainty just weeks ago but reports in both Spain and England claim the 19-year-old will turn down all moves and sign a new contract at the Mestalla.

The new contract will considerably increase Gaya’s wages and raise his buy-out clause to roughly £30 million, according to Spanish football website Superdeporte.

Chelsea, on the verge of winning the Premiership title, have been linked with several players this summer will undoubtedly strengthen their squad, regardless of Gaya’s decision.

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Pellegrini
Pellegrini

Manuel Pellegrini has conceded the Premier League title and congratulated Chelsea on winning it from them.

Chelsea are thirteen points ahead at the top of the table and will secure the league title with a victory at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Pellegrini, who won the league last season with Manchester City, albeit in a less commanding manner than Chelsea have this, accepts that Jose Mourinho’s team has been the best this year. Speaking ahead of his team’s trip to White Hart Lane to play Tottenham Hotspur, which they must win to maintain a Champions League qualification place, Pellegrini had this to say:

“I think that Chelsea was the best team. He (Mourinho) deserves to win the title because they have been the most consistent team with very good players.”

Pellegrini’s comments could be interpreted as a criticism of Manchester City’s owners who failed to strengthen the squad whilst remaining within the laws of Financial Fair Play (FFP). He praised Chelsea’s benefactor Roman Abramovich.

“I congratulate his owner because he is always improving his squad,’ he said. ‘And I congratulate his fans and Jose Mourinho and the players because they deserve absolutely the title.”
Pelegrini responded to criticism from Mourinho. with who the Chilean has clashed several times in Spain and England since the Portuguese replaced him as Real Madrid manager, regarding the Citizens’ breach of FFP laws in a typically prosaic manner.

“Every manager can say what he wants about Financial Fair Play rules.”

Mourinho has suggested City should be docked points for breaking the laws on spending.

 

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PETR CECH
Cech left Chelsea last summer after eleven years and many trohpies

Petr Cech believes being crowned Premier League champions this season will be the beginning of a new era of glory for Chelsea and that that the wait for this year’s success has been too long.

Cech, who has largely been second choice goalkeeper behind Thibaus Courtois this season after a ten year spell as being Chelsea’s number one, says that winning the league on Sunday will push the latest group of Chelsea players to greater things.

“This one is hopefully the start of a new era, another generation of players, because there is only me, JT and Didier left from the team who have been here for the last decade.

“You can say this is a new Chelsea generation. Hopefully we will win the title on Sunday and this team will continue to grow.”

Cech has been the subject of fervent transfer speculation following his spell on the sidelines and it is now generally accepted that he will leave Stamford Bridge this summer with PSG and Arsenal among his suitors.

However, despite his lack of chances  Cech still feels he has contributed to the team’s success and that the five years without the Premier League is far too long.

“It’s always nice to be there and make a contribution to the club’s success. At certain stages of this season, we have all contributed with moments that help us to be where we are.”

“The last title we won was back in 2010, so it has been a long time.”

Cech played in Chelsea’s 3-1 win at Leicester City and win the title with three points against Crystal Palace.

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