Former West Ham United striker Dean Ashton has said that he is not surprised by the ongoing speculation linking Willian with a move to Barcelona. The Brazil international has been one of the Blues’ most consistent performers over the past five years and Ashton believes the attacker has been more important to the Blues than Eden Hazard.
Speaking on TalkSPORT, he said: “There is no surprise Barcelona are after Willian. He’s maybe more important to Chelsea than Hazard. I think over the last three seasons he’s actually been more consistent in his performances. Willian goes under the radar because of Hazard’s brilliance at times. I feel like Hazard is very in and out, it’s whenever he fancies turning it on. For Chelsea, I think a player like Thibaut Courtois is replaceable – but you can’t lose Hazard and Willian. You just can’t lose them both.”
Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard has said that Tunisia’s need to win helped Belgium secure a comfortable 5-2 friendly in the group stage of the World Cup. The Red Devils had already registered a 3-0 triumph over Panama in the tournament opener and the victory over Tunisia has certainly assured their place at the World Cup finals, barring a miracle of some sort.
Speaking after the game, Hazard was impressed with the overall performance of the team and he most notably praised Romelu Lukaku, who bagged another brace to become the joint top-scorer alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup. He said: “I think the match was easy because we scored after five minutes and we knew Tunisia needed to win and would leave spaces and would be open. Our strength was to counter and move up very quickly.
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson believes midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek should be picked by England for the upcoming World Cup finals in Russia. The 22-year-old joined the Eagles on a season-long loan from Chelsea last summer and he has since been one of the club’s standout performers despite missing four months of action with a knee injury.
Speaking ahead of Palace’s game against West Bromwich Albion, Hodgson suggested that Loftus-Cheek should be considered by the Three Lions and he would have done so, should he have remained in charge of the national team. Hodgson said: “Yes. I don’t wish to suggest anybody to (England boss) Gareth Southgate, because it’s his decision alone, and I don’t want to be seen to be pushing any player towards him. (But) if it was a much more specific question; if it was me selecting the squad, would I find a place for him in the squad, I would.”
Loftus-Cheek’s performances have certainly not gone unspotted this campaign and he was offered his maiden cap with England back in November where he put in a man of the match display against Germany. The Chelsea graduate could not replicate his showing in the next outing versus Brazil but he nevertheless impressed Southgate, who believed his progress was halted at Stamford Bridge.
England are presently short of efficient options in midfield with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain already ruled out with a season-ending injury and this could bring Loftus-Cheek into the mix, considering Southgate does not have a fitness assurance when dealing with the likes of Adam Lallana and Jack Wilshere.
Liverpool’s James Milner has been another talked out in the media but the 32-year-old is not keen on coming out of international retirement after the way he was treated at the European Championship in France. The ex-Aston Villa man managed just three minutes for England during a dismal tournament where they suffered a shock exit to Iceland in the round of 16 stage.
Belgium international Eden Hazard has indicated that he wants the clarity over the situation at Chelsea before deciding on whether to commit his future to the club. The attacker was the standout performer for the Blues last season with 17 goals and seven assists and he scored the match-winning penalty in the FA Cup final win over Manchester United.
Despite this, the Blues experienced an average season by their standards as they could only manage a fifth place finish in the Premier League and Hazard is now on finding out how the club may improve next term. Obviously, there is plenty of talk of Antonio Conte being replaced and the attacker is now eager to witness fresh recruits who can transform the club next season.
Chelsea favourite Roberto di Matteo believes his former club should stick with Antonio Conte beyond the current campaign. The Blues have underperformed during Conte’s second season in charge of the club and there has been strong speculation that the Italian could be replaced in the summer.
Despite this, Di Matteo believes the 48-year-old should be offered another year at the helm with the opportunity to become their head coach for the long-term, he told Sky Sports: “It’s great, I think it’s good (if Conte is still in charge). I hope he can stay on as well, I hope he stays. I hope he’s going to be the long-term manager at the club.So I think it’s the way forward. But I don’t know really, this is just my opinion.” Continue reading
ESPN Pundit Alejandro Moreno admitted that he was wrong to suggest that Alvaro Morata would turn out to be a success with Chelsea during the ongoing season. The Spain international was brought in as a straight replacement for compatriot Diego Costa from Real Madrid, and he made an instant impact with the Blues, scoring seven goals in his first eight appearances.
However, he has since struggled to find the scoresheet regularly, owing to injuries, fitness and a loss of form, and he is currently on 13 goals across 39 games through the season. Speaking on the ESPN FC show, Moreno admitted that Morata has underperformed during his maiden English campaign, and believes his struggles have been due to Conte’s management as well as his average showing in the frontline, he said: “I have to say I was wrong on Morata. I thought he would be better than he has been. Now, Conte hasn’t exactly done him any favours. But Morata himself his performances individually have not been good.”
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted that his team will struggle to finish in the top-four after their defeat at Manchester United. He said that the league is more competitive than ever and that his team will have a hard time qualifying for the Champions League.
Chelsea is now fifth in the table and two points behind the fourth team Tottenham Hotspurs. He said that at the moment the objective of Chelsea is to finish in the top four and that it is important that the players remain focus until the end of the season. He said that the Premier League is a competitive one and that it is not easy to finish in the top four. He said that they had a unique opportunity to get three points against a direct contender for the Champions League place and that unfortunately they were defeated.
After another season full of the usual shocks, surprises and general drama, the Premier League is coming to an end once again. It’s a shame to have to say goodbye to one of the country’s most celebrated pastimes but at least we have the consolation prize of the World Cup, which will set sail in a few short weeks.
The more regular punter will set out their bets prior to the weekend’s action getting underway, so it makes more sense than ever to take a look at the Premier League fixtures in the run-up to the final weekend of the season. Choosing your own bets can be difficult, especially to the newcomer, but that’s where sites like Footy Accumulators step in, providing their own football tips for today, tomorrow, and any day where football is in full flow, with their own recommended bets, betting tips and insightful previews. Continue reading
Spanish defender Marcos Alonso believes Chelsea have taken a lot of positives from their Champions League experience against Barcelona. The Blues played with intensity over the course of the double-legged round of 16 tie but they were a tad unfortunate to have lost by a 4-1 scoreline, after hitting the woodwork on three occasions.
Speaking after the game, Alonso highlighted that the Blues will take the exit on a positive note, and feels the club can make the top-four of the Premier League, should they maintain the same intensity for the rest of the season, he said: “I think there have been a lot of positives in both games against Barcelona and I think we have to show this desire in the next games.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte had admitted that he is a bit of a disaster when it comes to persuading his club’s hierarchy to spend on top quality recruits. The Blues had been linked with a couple of high-profile signings during the winter transfer window, but Conte ultimately had to contend with the arrivals of Ross Barkley, Emerson Palmieri, and Olivier Giroud.
In the lead-up to the West Brom game, Conte admitted that he learns to be more persuasive with the Blues’ board especially with the big spending being done by some of their league rivals, he said: “I have to speak more with the managers who are very, very good at persuading their clubs to spend money to buy top players. I think I’m a bit of a disaster to convince the club to buy players. I think that in this aspect I can improve a lot. I have to learn a lot from the other coaches, the other managers, in that aspect.”