Tags Posts tagged with "title race"

title race

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Joey Barton claims Chelsea star N’Golo Kante is overrated.

The France midfielder, 25, has been one of Leicester City heroes in their shock title win last season and now he’s become a key-player for the Blues in this fantastic campaign that will probably lead them to some silverware:

But Barton, whose Burnley team held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw last month, stated:

“At the moment, in England, people only swear by N’Golo Kante. It’s the fashion.

“For pundits, he’s the best midfielder in the world. Oh! He’s very good, but I played against him three weeks ago, and that’s not the case.

“He’s a fantastic destroyer in a phenomenal team, but not a creator.”

 

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Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois defends his team-mate Diego Costa, often accused to have a bad temperament on the pitch.

The Spanish striker had some issues with Stoke City player last Saturday:

“They were very physical and it was hard to find our usual game,” Courtois said.

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Ex Manchester United defender Gary Neville reckons it’s almost impossible to stop Chelsea from winning the league now and also that everything is going into the Blues favourable direction.

“Chelsea have looked like champions for the last 20 matches,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“There’s still quite a bit to go, don’t think we can give them the title yet.

“However they are not picking up the injuries, a month ago I thought could stop them.

“Everything you would point towards in a championship winning team is happening.”

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Despite the ten points gap in the league table with other ten games to play, Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen and his team-mates don’t give up on title race:

“We had to work very hard,” he told Sky Sports after the 2-1 win over Southampton today.

“Southampton are a great team with great players.

“We were lucky to be 2-0 up at half time and then had to get the third one but didn’t.

The Tottenham defender continued:

“Chelsea are favourites for the title but we won’t give up until they lift the trophy.

“We are doing well and have to aim for the highest place possible and keep winning our games.”

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Ex West Ham and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand claimed that he doesn’t see other teams as consistents as Chelsea in the Premier League:

“These boys are running away with it,’ the former English centre-back told BT Sport.

“There’s no one consistent enough to stay with them in the league.

“They’ve found a way of playing, a formula, an understanding of the manager’s ideas.

“I think he [Conte] has to take huge credit, the season before… terrible season, so far off the pace.

“He’s come in and, based on repetition, built an understanding of how he wants the team to play and the players are really putting it in, he’s run away with the league this year.”

 

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CHELSEA

– Eden Hazard is ruled out of the clash for leg injury

– Victor Moses is available despite leaving the pitch for a minor injury with Manchester United

– Another un-named player was a doubt for the game

– Cesc Fabregas could start due to Hazard’s absence

– Chelsea have only won two of their last seven games away to Stoke in all competitions.

 

STOKE CITY

– Stoke defender Glen Johnson is absent with a shoulder problem

– Marko Arnautovic should return after missing out in midweek because of illness.

– Xherdan Shaqiri is back after a six-match absence

– Wilfried Bony, who was ineligible against Manchester City, is available.

– However, the Potters have managed just two victories in 17 Premier League meetings (D3, L12).

 

Possible Line Ups

STOKE CITY – Grant; Bardley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Diouf, Cameron, Allen, Shaqiri; Arnautovic, Bony.

CHELSEA – Courtois; David Luiz, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Willian, Diego Costa, Fabregas.

 

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Venue: Bet365 Stadium

Kick Off: 3 pm GMT

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Gary Cahill is back to his top form this year © Francesca Ceciarini

Gary Cahill is leading Chelsea on the pitch this season, wearing captain armband.

The English defender is back to top form under Antonio Conte and his new tactical system and spoke before the clash with Stoke City:

“We played Stoke at home and beat them when Peter Crouch played, and he always proves difficult to play against,’ the centre-back said about the Blues next rivals to Chelsea official website.

“Naturally his size proves difficult in and around the box, but also I’ve trained with him for England many times and as everyone knows through his career he’s a great finisher and he’s got great feet for a big man.

Mark Hughes has done a great job there and I think they do go direct when they need to, but they’ve also got good technicians where he wants to play as well. It’s a tough place to go, everyone in the league knows Stoke is a very difficult place to go and get three points.

But the confidence and momentum we have going into this game means we should be concentrating on us and the work we have been doing to get us to this point. We need keep doing the same things.”

Continuing to speak about the Potters, he said:

“Everyone’s quick to say this might be their weakness or that might be their weakness. Height is dangerous in the box, of course it is, pace is dangerous, everything’s dangerous. You’ve just got to go out and do the best you can and we’ve managed to do that this season.

“Whether the opposition go with a big man up front or they don’t, the way we approach the game and the way we want to play is what we should be concentrating on. Obviously we’ve spoken about the threats they’ve got, but we’re playing well, we’re in a good moment, so we’ll continue and focus on what we’re doing.”

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Speaking before Stoke City clash Antonio Conte stressed again the importance of a player and a professional like Cesc Fabregas, who is becoming a key-part of this Chelsea success:

“Cesc is showing he has a great impact for us. I hope to finish the season in the right way and to try to win [trophies],” the Italian manager said to the press.

“But for sure Cesc has shown himself to be a great professional but, above all, a great player.

“I’m very pleased to see that in him, his commitment and work-rate. This season he faced a new situation.

The Chelsea boss continued:

“In the past, Cesc has always played every single game. It’s not easy to change.

“But, for sure, Cesc showed me that he is not only a great player but a great person.

“I think, this season, he has improved a lot in all aspects and, for me, he is a really, really important player.”

With Eden Hazard’s absence against the Potters, it’s likely for Fabregas to start again this afternoon.

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Eden Hazard © Francesca Ceciarini

A major blow for Chelsea ahead of Stoke City clash: Blues star Eden Hazard didn’t travelled to Northern England with the team last night.

The Belgian is suffering a muscle leg injury and this issue will also stop him to join his national team for the international games scheduled for next week.

Antonio Conte admitted in yesterday’s press conference that he had a couple of injury concerns to value and today we got the confirmation that Hazard was ruled out of this crucial game for Chelsea title campaign.

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Eden Hazard was one of the protagonists of Chelsea win at West Ham last night: the Belgian international opened the scoring after a thrilling counter-attack at minute 25.

It is easier for me to move inside,” said Hazard while speaking to Sky Sports after the game.

“Sometimes when I play wide I am alone. In this system we know what to do, we try to pass to each other all the time.”

Asked by Chelsea lenged Frank Lampard if they might beat the Premier League record of 95 points with which they won the title under José Mourinho in 2004/2005, the Belgian forward said they were not setting any targets other than winning the Blues’ sixth top-tier title.

“We are top and we want to stay there. We have 11 games left, and we will try to win the title as quickly as possible.”

“Tonight we played a good game, maybe not the best of the season but we scored two goals and won.”

 

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