Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is determined to start the new season on a high in order to avoid a repeat of the 2015/16 campaign where the Blues slumped to a lowly 10th in the league standings.
The Blues had been crowned champions during the 2014/15 season, and none would have predicted what would happen next as the Blues lingered near the drop zone when Jose Mourinho was axed in December 2015.
Conte took the Blues to the Premier League title during his maiden season in English management last term, but he is expecting a tougher challenge next year with the Champions League adding the extra pressure of games. The former Juventus boss cited that he would like to avoid a similar season to that of Mourinho’s in 2015/16 whilst he will also try to keep his managerial position unlike Mourinho and Claudio Ranieri, who were sacked within months of their respective league triumphs for Chelsea and Leicester City respectively.
“We know the difficulty of the next season and for sure we want to avoid the Mourinho season with Chelsea. Continue reading
Tottenham Hotspur are keen to sign Romelu Lukaku as they look to secure a top for finish next season, the Mirror understands.
The North London club look set to miss out on qualification for the Champions League this season, as they sit six points off the place having played more games than all of the sides directly around them.
The club are on the lookout for a new forward, and have made Lukaku, who is currently on loan at Everton, their number one target.
The Belgium international, who enjoyed a superb season at West Bromwich Albion last year, has hit twelve goals in all competitions for the Toffee’s this season – more than Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres or Demba Ba has managed, but is still not certain of a future at Stamford Bridge.
Lukaku moved to the Premier League in August 2011 when the Blues bought him from Anderlecht, but he has made only a handful of starts for the club.
Newcastle United are also reportedly considering making a move for the 20 year old, with the North East club unlikely to be able to keep hold of Loic Remy, who has attracted interest from both Spurs and Arsenal.
An injury time goal from club captain John Terry was enough to give Chelsea all three points against top-four hopefuls Everton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
The result keeps the Blues in first place in the Premier League, after their three nearest challengers also secured home victories over the weekend.
Arsenal thumped relegation threatened Sunderland 4-1, Manchester City, like Chelsea left if late to beat Stoke City 1-0 and Liverpool edged out Swansea City in a seven-goal thriller on Merseyside yesterday afternoon.
Jose Mourinho’s men will now turn their attention to the first leg of the Champions League last sixteen tie against Galatasary on Wednesday evening, while they return to league action three days later with the short trip bottom-of-the-table Fulham.
Meanwhile, Inter Milan veteran Javier Zanetti has dismissed speculation linking him with a move to Stamford Bridge by insisting that he is happy at the Serie A club, Sky Sports understands.
The 40 year old full-back had reportedly been a target for his former manager Jose Mourinho, who was said to be considering offering the Argentinian a one-year deal with a view to him becoming a coach.
However, Zanetti has said there has been no talk of a possible transfer, and has assured Inter fans that he will be staying put.
Jose Mourinho will have almost a fully fit squad to choose from for tomorrow lunchtime’s visit of Everton, with John Terry expected to return to the Blues starting line-up after missing the last three games with a muscle injury.
Marco van Ginkel, who is out for the season with an ACL injury is set to be the only absentee, as the Premier League leaders look to open up a four point lead at the top.
Second place Arsenal face Sunderland at home later in the day, while Manchester City in third welcome Stoke City to the Etihad Stadium.
Roberto Martinez’s men, who themselves hold aspirations of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, ran out 1-0 winners when the sides met at Goodison Park back in September.
That was the Toffee’s fourth win in their last eight league meetings with Chelsea, who saw their unbeaten run of twelve games ended by Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup last weekend.
Romelu Lukaku, who is currently out injured, would be ineligible to face his parent club regardless.
The Belgium international, who is yet to make an appearance for the Blues, has scored nine goals in twenty appearances so far this season.
Manchester United are determined to pip Chelsea to the signing of England U21 international Luke Shaw, the Metro understands.
The Blues have been considering a move for Shaw as they look for a long term replacement for Ashley Cole, while United are making plans for when Patirce Evra moves on.
With both club’s respective senior left backs linked with exits as soon as this summer, the race is on to see who will secure the 18 year old’s services.
The Southampton man is a Chelsea fan, which could give Jose Mourinho the edge though bookmakers have David Moyes as odds on favourite to complete the deal.
Meanwhile, the Blues’ boss has revealed that he is unsure how long John Terry will be out of action for, according to the Metro.
The club captain has missed the last three games through injury, having previously played every minute of the club’s Premier League campaign so far.
Jose Mourinho’s men take on Everton on Saturday lunchtime, though Mourinho is unsure whether Terry will be available for selection.
Should he miss the game, David Luiz is likely to retain his place alongside Gary Cahill at the heart of defence as Chelsea look to strengthen their grip on first place.
Roy Hodgson has suggested that Ashley Cole may miss out on travelling to next summer’s World Cup finals, the Guardian understands.
The England manager has maintained that he would not write off the defender’s chances of making his squad, but has admitted that it is the 33 year old’s ‘turn to sit back’ after being first choice for so many years.
Everton’s Leighton Baines is Cole’s strongest competitor for a starting berth at left-back, while Luke Shaw of Southampton, who has emerged as one of the brightest talents in that position over the past twelve months, is set to be named in England’s squad for next month’s friendly against Denmark.
Cole has not started any of Chelsea’s last four games due to the continued form of Cesar Azpilicueta, who Jose Mourinho has selected ahead of him on a number of occasions this season.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s inability to take all three points from their clash with Premier League champions Manchester United means that the Blues remain top of the table going into FA Cup fifth round weekend.
Manchester City were also unable to capitalise after their game against Sunderland was postponed due to the appalling weather conditions in the North West, while Liverpool moved to within four points of first place after beating Fulham 3-2 at Craven Cottage.
Chelsea have kept pressure on leaders Arsenal after coming from a goal down to beat Liverpool 2-1 at Stamford Bridge yesterday evening.
The visitors took the lead on three minutes through Martin Skrtel, before goals from top scorer Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto’o swung the game in favour of the hosts before the break, and that is how the score remained.
Chelsea stay third, one point behind Manchester City, who edged past a resurgent Crystal Palace 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, and a further point behind Arsenal who beat Newcastle United by the same score-line at St James’ Park yesterday.
Everton moved into fourth place with victory over Southampton while Liverpool, who topped the table just four days ago, have slipped to fifth.
The Blues will now turn their attention to their trip to St. Mary’s on New Year’s Day when they take on Southampton, before travelling to in-form Championship side Derby County in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon.
They then return to league action against Hull City the following weekend before welcoming Premier League champions Manchester United, who appear to be getting their season back on track, to Stamford Bridge on January 19th.
Eden Hazard’s 29th minute strike was enough to see Chelsea beat Swansea City, and secure a fifth win in seven league games for Jose Mourinho’s men.
The Blues remain two points off the top of the Premier League after Arsenal moved back into first place following a 3-1 win over West Ham United.
Manchester City are second, a point behind the Gunners and ahead of the Blues after a 2-1 win over Liverpool, who slip to fourth while fifth place Everton stay fifth after a shock defeat to bottom of the table Sunderland.
Chelsea now turn their attention to Sunday afternoon’s match against Liverpool, a side who they have beaten just twice in their last thirteen clashes in the league.
Ramires will miss the game through suspension after picking up a fifth yellow card of the season in the Boxing Day victory over Swansea.
Mourinho is likely to continue rotating his squad, with Cesar Azpilicueta expected to be recalled in place of Ashley Cole at left-back, while Fernando Torres could also return to the starting line-up.
This will be the first meeting between the sides since the 2-2 draw at Anfield back in April – the game where Branislav Ivanovic was bitten by Luis Suarez.
Tags: Arsenal, Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Eden Hazard, Everton, Fernando Torres, Liverpool, Luis Suarez, Manchester City, Ramires, Swansea City
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is likely to rotate his squad for this afternoon’s game against Swansea City with Sunday’s clash with Liverpool in mind.
Ashley Cole could be recalled at left-back, while Michael Essien is available after serving a one-match suspension.
The Blues are currently in fourth place, and sit two points behind leaders Liverpool, who themselves face third place Manchester City this evening while second place Arsenal travel to West Ham United.
Anything other than three points for Chelsea may could see the slip out of the top four with Everton hot on their heels.
Meanwhile, Mourinho is lining up a £48m move for Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain, according to the Mirror.
The pair worked together for three years at Real Madrid before both moved on to pastures new in the summer.
The Argentina international has been in fine form since joining Rafael Benitez’s side, scoring thirteen goals in twenty-one appearances in all competitions.
However, the Serie A side are reportedly willing to do business as it would secure them a quick profit of around £13.5m.
Only Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored more goals than the 26 year old during qualification for next summer’s World Cup finals, and will be keen to continue impressing with the tournament in Brazil fast approaching.
Tags: Arsenal, Ashley Cole, Everton, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi, Liverpool, Luis Suarez, Manchester, Michael Essien, Napoli, Swansea City