Tags Posts tagged with "Premiership"

Premiership

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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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VAN GAAL MOURINHO HUG
Van Gaal and Mourinho hugs in Old Trafford in October 2014 © Francesca Ceciarini

Louis van Gaal has praised Chelsea for the consistency that has brought them to within one win of the Premiership title but warned that his Manchester United side will improve next season.

Speaking ahead of the weekend’s football, van Gaal accepted his side haven’t been good enough to keep up with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea and described his former understudy’s team as being “far superior.”

The Dutchman is quoted by the BBC as saying:

“This year we have not challenged Chelsea but we are very close to second position. Chelsea are far above the other clubs. Next year it can be different. Next year we shall be better prepared.”

Manchester United are currently fifteen points behind Chelsea and are in a battle to finish in the top four and thus qualifying once again for the Champions League. At no point this season have the Red Devils appeared likely to challenge Chelsea for the title but have played well in recent weeks.

They have recorded victories over Liverpool and Manchester City, as well as only going down 1-0 away at the soon-to-be champions of England in a spirited performance a fortnight ago, raising hopes that next season could the one where they return to the glory days of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

Whether or not they do will depend on how they strengthen an already talented but unbalanced squad; the beginning of the summer transfer window will no doubt be the first struggle between Chelsea and Manchester United with both clubs linked to more or less the same players.

 

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Jose Mourinho has warned against celebrating Chelsea’s title success too early in the wake of his side’s 3-1 win at Leicester City, a win that mean they are just three more points away from winning the league.

Many Chelsea supporters will arriving at Stamford Bridge on Sunday believing the title is secure, but the Portuguese believes it is wrong to adopt that attitude, saying they haven’t won the trophy yet and if anyone wants to celebrate they should do so for the League Cup victory in February.

“I cannot touch it, we need to win. We need two or three more points so I would say we need three points to be completely safe,” he said.

“I think we all had it in our mind to try to do it at Stamford Bridge. Today, the great motivation was exactly that.

“Stamford Bridge, they can’t celebrate yet. If they want to celebrate they have to celebrate the Capital One Cup.

“I hope they don’t go there to celebrate, I hope they go there to play the match with us and push the team.”

 

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Sky Sports pundit and Manchester United legend has dismissed claims that champions-elect Chelsea are boring and claimed that only winners are remembered.

Neville, who spent his whole career at Old Trafford where he won several Premiership titles, was commentating on Chelsea’s 3-1 win away at Leicester City when he praised the Blues style of play earlier in the season and used his own experience to emphasise the point.

“It’s absolute nonsense,” he told Sky Sports. “People called the Newcastle team of 1996 with Kevin Keegan exciting but they were exciting losers; nobody remembers them now.”

Manchester United famously chased down Newcastle United who had a 12 point lead in the 95/96 season to deny them the league title. Many at the time considered Newcastle to be the better side.

Neville continued:

“The fact of the matter is that people remember winners. People will remember this Chelsea team. They were exciting earlier in the season, the style was good.

“They have hit a blip in terms of the rhythm in their game and what you would call ‘football form’ in the last couple of months but their run of results is fantastic and that’s all that matters, as far as I’m concerned. You’re never going to go through a full season [playing] brilliant.

“The rest of the league has been poor. It doesn’t say a lot about the rest of the league that they’re going to get an easy ride at the end. It’s a poor reflection on the other teams that are chasing them or supposedly competing with them.”

Chelsea were jeered off the pitch by Arsenal ans after the 0-0 draw at the Emirates on Sunday, thus ensuing a wider debate about the aesthetics of football and whether the team at the top of the table has a responsibility to entertain as well as win.

Last night’s result means they will claim their first Premier League title in five years with a win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.

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TERRY
Chelsea legend and captain John Terry © Francesca Ceciarini

Courtois: 7 – Had very few big saves to make but was there when the team needed him.

Azpilicueta: 8 – A good game overall, was very rarely found out at left back.

Terry: 8.5 – A brilliant display from the Chelsea captain, gave the Arsenal attack no space and organised his defence brilliantly when it was under intense pressure. Man of the Match.

Cahill: 8 – Improving as the season draws to a close, played well.

Ivanovic: 7.5 – Gave away a couple of fouls when up against Alexis Sanchez but nothing that cost the team.

Matic: 7.5 – Another solid display, barely put a foot wrong.

Fabregas: 7.5 – Played well and made a number of very good passes, particularly for Oscar early on. Unlucky to be booked for diving when he was tripped in the area.

Ramires: 7.5 – Missed a great chance in the first half. Probably Chelsea’s most ambitious midfielder.

Oscar: 7 – Should have been awarded a penalty when he beat Ospina to the ball. Taken off at half-time.

Willian: 7.5 – A good, industrious performance.

Hazard: 7.5 – Worked very hard to get back and defend when not without the ball, held the ball up well when he had it and generally did well in a rare start as a lone striker.

 

Substitutes:

Drogba: 7 – Brought on at half-time and worked hard without threatening.

Zouma: N/A – Brought on very late on.

Cuadrado: N/A – The same as above.

 

Manager:

Jose Mourinho: 8.5 – Prepared his team very well in setting up not to lose. Playing Hazard up front was probably the best option without Costa and Remy available. He probably brought on Drogba too early but this might have been because of the knock Oscar took from Ospina.

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Chelsea have drawn 0-0 away at Arsenal in a game that once again tested their character and strength in depth, meaning two more wins will confirm them as champions.

The game’s first opening came when Arsenal won a free-kick on the left hand side after Branislav Ivanovic fouled Alexis Sanchez, which went straight into the arms of Thibaut Courtois. As expected, Chelsea started the game sitting back in their defensive half inviting the home side to attack in order to catch them on the counter. Their first attempt to do so resulted in Oscar being denied what appeared at first a clear penalty, when he was tripped by Hector Bellerin. But, closer inspection suggests that it would have been a soft penalty had it been given by referee Michael Oliver.

There was another penalty claim just over five minutes later – this one far more obvious – when a superb pass from Arsenal’s former captain Cesc Fabregas put Oscar in again. The Brazil international was clattered by the oncoming keeper David Ospina, who made no attempt to play the ball which was eventually cleared off the line to consternation of Jose Mourinho. Referee Oliver made it a hat trick of penalties and a brace of bad decisions when Fabregas was tripped by Santi Corzorla in the 22nd minute, the referee then compounding his error by incorrectly booking the Spaniard for diving.

Arsenal had their own appeal for a penalty after the half hour mark when Gary Cahill appeared to block an Olivier Giroud shot with his arm, but the referee waved it away before the half’s best chance fell to Ramires who ran on to a pass from Willian, the toe poke on goal being too weak however.

The first half was generally fast paced with both sides willing to get forward in order to create chances. The most productive approach play came from Chelsea as the home side, though having the bulk of possession, created little early on in the way of clear chances on goal, the best coming from Mesut Ozil just before the break after a series of neat passes resulted in a shot that was easily caught by Courtois.

The second half got under way with the substitution of Oscar for Didier Drogba, which gave Chelsea more options up front. The boos from the home supporters perhaps a recognition of the Ivorian’s famous goal scoring record against Arsenal. The restart did not offer the same thrilling speed as the first in its initial moments, but Chelsea did begin to take more attack without first inviting pressure from the oppsition. A cross fro Ramires was headed down by  just beyond the feet of the on running Fabregas, and Eden Hazard’s shot seconds later from the edge of the box went well over the cross bar.

Arsenal’s first second half opening was scuppered by John Terry who got ahead of Sanchez to a cross from the left, and good approach play from Chelsea led to a Drogba shot which was far too weak to trouble Ospina. Ozil ventured into the area on 67 minutes but dithered on the ball and gave Terry the chance to tackle, and Per Mertesacker missed a great chance from the edge of the box as the game fell back into the pattern of the first half. Arsenal almost broke the deadlock on 75 minutes when Cazorla found himself with the ball in space inside the box, the pressure proving too much as he shot well wide.

Chelsea were happy to play the game with the professional stoicism they are famous for, giving Arsenal almost no space to create chances as the game approached its conclusion. Danny Welbeck, brought on in the last ten minutes, found himself in the six yard box with the ball late on but couldn’t take a shot on goal that would have won the game.

When the final whistle went it meant that Chelsea remained 10 points clear of their London rivals and needed just four points to regain the Premier League title.

 

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker (c), Monreal (YC), Coquelin (YC) (Welbeck, 76′), Cazorla (YC), Ramsey (YC), Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud (Walcott, 84′)

Unused substitutes: Szczesny, Gibbs, Debuchy, Wilshere, Flamini

Manager: Arsene Wenger

 

Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic (YC), Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas (YC) (Zouma, 90′), Ramires; Oscar (Drogba, 45′), Willian (YC) (Cuadrado, 93′), Hazard

Unused Substitutes: Cech, Felipe Luis, Zouma, Loftus-Cheek, Mikel,

Manager: José Mourinho
Referee: Michael Oliver

Attendance: 60, 066

 

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ARSENAL v CHELSEA

Chelsea have made a good start to the London derby against Arsenal at the Emirates, even if they have so far failed to score in what has been a frantic first half.

The game’s first opening came when Arsenal won a free-kick on the left hand side after Branislav Ivanovic fouled Alexis Sanchez, Thibaut Courtois easily gathering the freekick. As expected, Chelsea started the game sitting back in their defensive half inviting the home side to attack in order to catch them on the counter. Their first attempt to do so resulted in Oscar being denied what appeared at first a clear penalty when he was tripped by Hector Bellerin, but closer inspection suggests that it would have been a soft penalty had it been given.

Another penalty was not given just over five minutes later – this one far more obvious – when a superb pass from Arsenal’s former captain Cesc Fabregas put Oscar in again. The Brazil international was clattered by the oncoming Gunners keeper David Ospina, who made no attempt to play the ball which was eventually cleared off the line, to consternation of Jose Mourinho. Referee Michael Oliver then made it a hat trick of penalties and a brace of bad decisions when Fabregas was tripped by Santi Corzorla in the 22nd minute, Oliver compounding his error by incorrectly booking the Spaniard for diving.

Arsenal had their own appeal for a penalty after the half hour mark when Gary Cahill appeared to block an Olivier Giroud shot with his arm, but the referee waved it away before the half’s best chance fell to Ramires who ran on to a pass from Willian, the toe poke on goal being too weak however.

The game has generally been fast paced so far with both sides willing to get forward in order to create chances. The most productive approach play has come from Chelsea as Arsenal, though having the bulk of possession, have created little in the way of clear chances on goal, the best coming from Mesut Ozil just before the break after a series of neat passes resulted in a shot that was easily caught by Courtois. Chelsea have been able to find space in the Arsenal back line and this gives hope that it will be Chelsea to break the deadlock in the second half.

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Arsenal play-maker Mesut Ozil believes Sunday’s London derby between his side and Chelsea will be memorable despite it being relatively inconsequential in the title race.

Chelsea go into the game 10 points clear of their hosts at the top of the table. A win will mean all the have to do is defeat Leicester City on Wednesday to be champions of England. Arsenal’s recent challenge for the title has come as a surprise to many after it was believed they would settle for fourth spot this season. They are second due to a very good run of form in the past weeks as well as Manchester City’s collapse.

Whilst a few Arsenal fans are still retaining the slightest of hopes their team could overcome the deficit, Ozil described the chances of finishing first as “theoretical”.

“Even if we only have a theoretical chance of winning the Premier League, the meeting of the two teams with the most points of the league is something special.”

Ozil signed for Arsenal for over £40 million from real Madrid in the summer transfer market of 2013 and helped the club win the FA Cup last season.

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COURTOIS
COURTOIS

Former Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer believes the form shown by Thibaus Courtois in his first season in England shows he is the best in the Premiership, better even than Manchester United’s David De Gea.

The Belgian was brought back to Stamford Bridge after three very successful years in Spain for Atletico Madrid where he won the Europa League and the La Liga titles, as well as being minutes away from taking the Champions League crown.

Schwarzer, who spent one season at Chelsea last year where his most notable performance was keeping in the 2-0 win at Liverpool which turned the title race away from the Reds, believes the superb first season Courtois has had puts him ahead of the man he replaced at Atletico Madrid.

Talking to TalkSport, the Australian said:

“For me, it’s Thibaus Courtois,” when asked who was the best shot stopper in the League.

“Even in the short time he’s been playing in the Premier League, he’s shown how well he can adapt.

“Coming from La Liga to the Premier League is a huge step and you saw with David de Gea how difficult he found it in his first season. Courtois has taken it in his stride though.

“He’s performed extremely well. He’s come in and replaced Petr Cech, who’s been phenomenal at the club, is a legend and has won everything.

“Every opportunity [Cech] has had to play in a game he’s performed extremely well, so the pressure is always there. But Courtois has always come back in and performed at the level he’s needed to.”

Schwarzer signed for Leicester City after leaving Chelsea and could be present if and when the Blues secure the Premiership title at the King Power Stadium.

 

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Mourinho-Diego_Costa
Mourinho-Diego_Costa

Paul Merson believes Diego Costa’s absence from the Chelsea team will be decisive in the Blues’ quest to secure a first Premiership title since 2010.

Merson, who served the Gunners for many in the 1990s, says Chelsea will set themselves up to stop Arsenal scoring when they visit the Emirates on Sunday without their main striker, as they did against Man Utd at home last week.

“If Costa’s fit it’s a different game, but if he’s not fit I can’t see any goals,” Merson told the Express.

“Last week, Chelsea had 30 per cent of the play at home but Man Utd never looked like scoring.”

Chelsea have missed Costa when he has been unable to play this season, and injury and suspension have kept the Spain international out a various points since he joined the club last summer. Chelsea are also missing Loic Remy, also injured, and could be without veteran striker Didier Drogba after reports he picked up an ankle injury in training, meaning they could start with the promising 17-year old Dominic Solanke as the main man up front. There is also the option of deploying Eden Hazard as a striker but Mourino has been reluctant to do this in the past two seasons.

 

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