Tags Posts tagged with "title race"

title race

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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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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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Chelsea won the two important matches before international break to show, once again, they are the team to beat this year: the 1-0 win against Manchester United to gain access to FA Cup semifinals ( against Spurs) and the 2-1 last minute win against Stoke City to maintain the gap with the chasers in the league at 10 points with only 9 games to go ( the Blues have actually to play 10, as they got one game in hand).

Chelsea current pitch captain Gary Cahill stressed the importance of these two wins:

“It was good for us to send a message in these games,” he told Evening Standard.

“We have played better this season than we did in those two games but we managed both those situations well and got the job done at a crucial time of the season.

“We are pleased. Teams have tried to play in different ways and systems against us but we have coped with it really well.

“We work really hard for each other on and off the pitch, which is the main thing. It’s been a good season up to now but we know we have to keep going.”

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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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