Tags Posts tagged with "title race"

title race

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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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Leicester City winger Marc Albrighton found it hard to take positives from their 1-3 loss against Chelsea.

Albrighton put the Foxes ahead in first half stoppage time, but goals but Didiet Drogba, John Terry and Ramires secured a vital three points for the visitors, who are now just three points off the title.

Albrighton said: “We gave ourselves a good foothold in the first half and we couldn’t see it through. So it is difficult to take heart from the game to be honest.

“They scored the early goal and it got them back in the game. We will look to redeem ourselves in a couple of days against Newcastle.”

The defeat ended a four match winning run for Nigel Pearson’s side, which saw them climb out of the relegation zone last weekend after beating fellow strugglers Burnley.

But, with four games left of the current season, former Aston Villa winger Albrighton knows that what happens next is up to them:

“You can take a little bit from the performance but we have put ourselves in a position where we need points. Performances aren’t important – we just need the points and obviously we haven’t taken any tonight.

“Staying up is still in our hands, we have got a massive game against Newcastle here at the King Power and the fans will be behind us.”

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TERRY CAHILL
Terry has played every minute of every game in Chelsea's league campaign this season

Chelsea captain John Terry praised the performances of his side after Chelsea beat Leicester 1-3 at the King Power Stadium.

Marc Albrighton put the Foxes ahead just before half time, but Didier Drogba, Terry and Ramires all scored in the second half to put Chelsea 13 points clear at the top, and one win away from the title.

Terry said: “We are almost there. They were a tough side and they kept fighting. We got a telling off at half-time and we came out and played excellently in the second half. It wasn’t good enough in the first half but listen, we got the three points.”

Terry’s rather unconventional finish meant that he has now scored in 15 consecutive seasons, but he says it has been a team effort:

“We’ve been the best side all season. We deserve a lot of respect, we’ve been very good all year. Let’s hope we win it on Sunday.”

 

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In his post-match interview with Sky Sports, José Mourinho sought to remind viewers that Chelsea are focused on winning the title, regardless of how far ahead they are:

Prior to the game, Mourinho commented on the state of potential relegation survivors: “we are in form and we fight for our lives too” – a sign that Mourinho aims to stay disciplined until Chelsea are officially champions

After an exciting second half leading a 3-1 win, the manager stated: “It’s phenomenal what they’re doing… I think it’s fantastic”

“I think, in a very pragmatic way, I think we are what every team would like to be” – the fact that Chelsea have never left the driving seat in the premier league this season shows that the champions elect are role-models to winning a league title.

However, Mourinho yet again notified the importance of staying disciplined leading into a weekend game that, given a win, would declare them champions: “I think Stamford bridge must be ready to push the team…we need to win and we need Stamford bridge to not be celebrating we need bridge to push us.”

 

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Injuries dictate the team selection once more as Mourinho has decided to play it safe with the benching of Courtois and Oscar, leaving Costa off the sheet entirely while Leicester’s starting eleven is unchanged in their fight to escape relegation.

Although a point will not necessarily have either team reach their campaign goal, it will be valued by a Leicester side without the striking experience of David Nugent, as well as a Chelsea side who are perhaps privileged to have PFA player of the year Eden Hazard while notable members of the attack force battle with injury issues.

The line ups are as follows:

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Wasilewski, Huth, Morgan (c), Albrighton, King, Cambiasso, Drinkwater, Konchesky, Vardy, Ulloa.

Substitutes: Schwarzer, De Laet, Hammond, Mahrez, James, Wood, Kramaric.

Manager: Nigel Pearson

 

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Ramires, Matic; Willian, Fabregas, Hazard; Drogba.

Substitues: Courtois, Filipe Luis, Zouma, Ake, Mikel, Oscar, Cuadrado.

Manager: José Mourinho

 

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Venue: King Power Stadium, Leicester, UK

Kick Off: 7:45pm BST

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JOSE MOURINHO
Ex Chelsea manager José Mourinho © Francesca Ceciarini

Chelsea boss José Mourinho spoke before Leicester clash that will be played tomorrow at King Power Stadium, that was postponed to this date for the Capital One Cup final on 1 March.

First of all, a look to Oscar condition after the collision with Ospina

“I really don’t know how Oscar is but the most important thing is that he is not in hospital”

‘He went immediately to his house yesterday – Sunday-  slept at home, and he should be arriving [today]”

‘I don’t know about Diego Costa. I have to think about if it deserves a gamble or if we wait a few more days to be completely sure. If it was a player without an injury history I would play him tomorrow, but because he is a player with a history I have to think about that”

“I don’t plan to make many changes. I know Leicester played on Saturday and we played on Sunday, but we will try to recover the players as best we can. We go today to St George’s to prepare as best we can”

“We will leave the young players here to play their cup final against Man City so we don’t take them with us. Our squad is very short with the injuries we have and so there is no space for a lot of rotation”

Mourinho analysed Leicester:

“I was surprised with their bad position. They are a good team with good players. I played them very early in the season at Stamford Bridge, and I could immediately feel the quality of the team”

“I am not surprised they are out of the relegation zone, and I will not be surprised when they stay in the division”

“They have lots of players. Their squad is a good squad, with options for every position, and they are playing well. They have more matches at home than away, at home to teams in the same area as them. The game against Chelsea is an extra game for them”

“If we can get one point or three points on Wednesday it would be very good for us”

Mourinho then spoke about Cambiasso – now at Leicester City – that was a key player during his Inter spell, that ended with a magnificent treble:

“I won the treble with Cambiasso. He belongs to my golden team, was fundamental in my golden team”

“He’s one of the players who means a lot to me, and he’s been phenomenal for them. I’m very happy for him”

“Next season, for sure, he will play for Leicester in the Premier League again”

Then Mourinho went on speaking again about the Arsenal game, replying also to some people that are saying Chelsea are not playing a good football:

“This morning I met an Arsenal fan of more than 50 years, a gentleman that lives almost next door to me. He congratulated me for my press conference [yesterday] and said I was spot on”

‘Sometimes I ask myself about the future: maybe the future of football is a beautiful green grass carpet, without goals. On that beautiful grass pitch the team with more ball possession wins the game”

‘People say ‘my team played fantastically well, we had great ball possession’, Good “

“But it looks like the goals are not there. It’s a big contradiction. Sometimes you speak about a team like us who have scored so many goals being boring, but you don’t consider a team that has 70 per cent of the ball possession but cannot win the game boring”

“I ask myself in the future, when I am a granddad at home with my grandsons, maybe football will be played without goals, and we will just enjoy seeing people passing the ball. Maybe to put the ball into the net won’t be an objective, and maybe stopping the ball going into your own goal won’t matter”

“For me, I’m simple in my analysis: football is about putting the ball in the net of your opponent and stopping the other team putting the ball in your net”

“Barcelona, beautiful every week? When was their peak? When Real Madrid were champions?”

“For me, the beautiful game is to know exactly the way you have to play and what you have to do. At Arsenal, we were brilliant. We were brilliant from the first minute”

Style and flair, what is it? The way people analyse style and flair is to take the goals from the pitch. It is the football they play on the moon — and the surface is not good. Some holes. But no goals”

‘It comes from you (the media) or from some managers who can only teach their guys to keep the ball.

“Who scored the most beautiful goals? Is that a criterion? If so, Chelsea did it collectively with the beauty of some of the goals we scored. Or you go to Charlie Adam, and that is obviously the goal of the season”

“If the number of goals decides if a team is good, bad or boring, Manchester City scored more, but 18 scored fewer. Then, we have 18 teams more boring than us”

“If it is the team with more points we are the best. If it is the team with most victories we are the best. If the best team has the fewest defeats, we are the best”

“If the best team are the champions, not yet, but the team that leads, we are the best team. If the best team has the fewest goals conceded, we are the second best team. In any point of analysis, any criteria, we are the best team or the second best team”

The Portuguese manager finished looking back at the PFA awards, where Chelsea had six players in the team of the year:

“There should have been more. Just as an example, for Cesc Fabregas not to be there after the season he has had is strange.That team would not win (the title). It is without balance. It is missing a midfielder, and that midfielder should be Fabregas”

“But I look now as a fan, not a manager. It looks like I’m in a pub discussing things that aren’t important. The important thing is to be champions”.

 

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ST GEORGE PARK TRAINING CENTRE
St. George's Park Training Centre

Chelsea squad will train in St. George’s Park training centre in these two days ahead of Leicester clash.

The trip was done to avoid a longer journey tomorrow evening, since the venue that usually hosts English national team in their training camps is just one hour from King Power Stadium, a lot shorter trip than Cobham.

José Mourinho and his boys travelled earlier this afternoon from London and Chelsea will stay at the on-site Hilton Hotel and have full access to the centre’s state-of-the-art facilities during their stay.

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TERRY
Chelsea legend and captain John Terry © Francesca Ceciarini

Speaking to Chelsea TV after the game, Chelsea captain John Terry analysed the game against Arsenal, where he had a stunning performance:

It was a really big point, stepping in the right direction, we’re where we wanted to be after today’s result”

“They’re a good side, they made it difficult for us but we defended well, we attacked well, we performed wisely, I think it’s up there with the best”

Terry also reflects on the words of manager Jose Mourinho, who praised his captain’s performance saying it was one of his best performances in a Chelsea shirt:

“Yes, I felt good, it’s funny because before the game I havent’ felt so good, I was kind of sicky…delighted because firstly I got through the game, secondly for the result, I think the game was not good just for myself, I think collectively [we were good]: Thibaut [Courtois] lighted on, Cesar [Azpilicueta] has been different class, everyone, literally everyone, they all dug deep, it was a great performance by everyone.

“The mindset coming in, I think you could see by the set up, was not To defend like we did in the Manchester United game. I think we came here to hit them on the counter attack, to open them up a little bit.

“The first half was a little bit too much end-to-end than what we would of liked, but we got a lot more possession and were a lot more comfortable.

“The main thing coming here today was not losing, or giving them a chance or hope that there’s belief in their dressing room, so hopefully we have taken the wind out of their sails today and deflated them a little bit. Two games and we’re there, we’re almost there but it’s a tough game on Wednesday.”

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ARSENE WENGER

Following a goalless draw, ending any realistic title hopes for Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger spoke to Sky Sports:

“It was a game where both teams defended well and lacked maybe, something in the final third.” Despite winning every game since dropping out of the Champions League, it’s apparent that Wenger’s side still have not been able to catch the Blues, having not won against Chelsea in 13 attempts.

When asked if this would be a fixture that Arsenal may have lost earlier in the season, he replied: “Yes; certainly,” before making the remark that the team’s efforts to not be naive may have taken something from the attack.

With regards to Chelsea, he stated: “They’re a good side because they defend very well. In their recent games they didn’t concede goals and today again they defended very well.”

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The Chelsea boss

After the 0-0 draw with Arsenal which extended Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten run against them to 13 games, the Chelsea boss discussed the result with Sky Sports, following a competitive game at the Emirates.

He said “It’s a point. We need five to be champions” – the exact amount that would come from drawing all remaining games.”

When asked if he felt that his team deserved more than a point, Mourinho replied: “I’ll leave it for you to analyse; I just think my team performed very well against a very good team.”

Chelsea now need five points to win the league, and despite not claiming all three today, Mourinho was hugely pleased with the defensive work from the team, particularly the skipper, John Terry: “Even without goals scored, his defensive performance was absolutely amazing.”

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