Author Archives: mirsinho

N’Golo Kante Insists Chelsea ‘Must’ Earn Top Four Finish Along With Europa League Glory

​While claiming that winning the Europa League is a target for the club, N’Golo Kante has said Chelsea ‘must’ reach fourth place in the Premier League.

The Blues sit just outside the top four in the league in fifth position as they bid to secure Champions League football next season, while victory in the Europa League will grant them the same reward.

Despite some tough fixtures still to come in the ​Premier League, Kante claims that the essential goal for the club is a top four finish, while being just three matches from Europa League success is also something the ​Blues have their eyes on.

“Winning the Europa League is one target for the club, and for us, and it is what we are going to try to do,” the Frenchman said on the ​official club website.

“We are three games away from winning that title, but we must first go for fourth place.”

One issue that arose from Chelsea’s recent 4-3 win over Slavia Prague was Maurizio Sarri’s side’s tendency to concede goals early in the second half of matches. They did so on two occasions against Slavia while also showcasing the same failings in their league defeat at ​Liverpool, something Kante insists they must fix.

“It’s just something that has happened many times this season and something we need to manage a bit better. We still have to work on that,” he added.

N'Golo Kante

“It was important to win and to qualify. We did the job, we are happy for the win, but the second half was a little bit difficult. They scored two beautiful goals but we go through and that is the most important. We’ll go into the semi-final with confidence and we hope to qualify for the final.”

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Chelsea vs Burnley: Maurizio Sarri’s Best Available Blues Lineup

​Chelsea welcome Burnley to Stamford Bridge on Monday night, with the Blues looking to bounce back from the defeat to Liverpool in the Premier League last week.

Progression to the Europa League semi-final should have lifted the spirits of Chelsea fans on Thursday, but a poor second half performance against Slavia Prague has only raised more questions for (and around) Maurizio Sarri.

​Antonio Rudiger is unavailable as he recovers from a knee injury sustained at Anfield, with Andreas Christensen in line to continue alongside ​David Luiz in the centre of defence. ​Eden Hazard is expected to play through the pain caused by the tough tackling Prague side, giving Sarri a near full squad to choose from.

Check out how Sarri could line up his side for ​Monday’s clash against the Clarets.


Goalkeeper and Defenders

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-CHELSEA

Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) – Beaten by three long-range strikers in the last two games – although whether the Spaniard was at fault for any of them is up for debate.

Cesar Azpilicueta (RB) – ​Azpilicueta has missed just two Premier League games for Chelsea since the beginning of the 2015/16 season, and should get the start in this one.

David Luiz (CB) – Luiz will need his head screwed on against two tricky ​Burnley customers on Monday – particularly Ashley Barnes, who has been known to cause problems against Chelsea.

Andreas Christensen (CB) – The academy graduate has made just four league starts this season, with his game time mostly limited to the Europa League.

Emerson Palmieri (LB) – ​Marcos Alonso’s hugely disappointing season looks to have allowed Emerson to become the first choice left-back at Stamford Bridge.


Midfielders

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-CHELSEA

Jorginho (DM) – Rested in midweek for ​Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho had one of his best games in a Chelsea shirt at Turf Moor in October, but his form quickly spiralled thereafter.

N’Golo Kante (CM) – Given a rare Europa League start on Thursday, but ​Kante is immune to fatigue and will take the field on Monday for the 49th time this season.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (CM) – ​Loftus-Cheek is by far Chelsea’s most productive midfielder with eight goals and four assists, despite playing over 1,000 minutes less than both Kovacic and ​Ross Barkley.


Forwards

Olivier Giroud

Callum Hudson-Odoi (RW) – Only made a late cameo on Thursday, the 19-year-old has recently played his way into the starting lineup in the Premier League – starting three consecutive matches.

Olivier Giroud (ST) – With no Europa League game in the immediate future, Sarri should have no choice but to play his best and most in-form striker who has five goals and three assists in his last eight appearances.

Eden Hazard (LW) – ​Hazard was named among the nominees for the PFA Player of the Year award this week – his fifth PFA nomination in seven seasons. The Belgian is one goal away from 20 in all competitions. 


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Chelsea Reject £10m Bid From Brighton for Rising Star Reece James Following Impressive Loan Spell

​Chelsea have rejected a £10m bid from Brighton for rising star Reece James after the defender’s loan spell at Wigan came to an end.

James has enjoyed a fine season at the DW Stadium and has been identified as a top target by Brighton scout Dan Ashworth, with the Seagulls bidding to hand the England U20 international his chance in the Premier League.

Despite what is a considerable bid for a young star who is as yet untested at the top level, ​The Sun reports that ​Chelsea have flatly rejected ​Brighton’s £10m offer for James, as the Blues view the 19-year-old as an ideal alternative to Cesar Azpilicueta.

Though the youngster would provide initial backup for the Spaniard, James could potentially prove to be the 29-year-old’s long-term successor.

The rising star is unlikely to feature in Chelsea’s senior setup before the end of the current campaign, but he could well feature more prominently under Maurizio Sarri should the Italian opt to offload compatriot Davide Zappacosta.

Reece James,Jack Clarke

The Italian has hardly been given the opportunity to establish himself as a key figure in the Blues’ backline, but the full back has not particularly impressed when given the chance since arriving from Torino in 2017.

Chelsea’s impending transfer ban would mean that the west Londoners could not sign a replacement for Zappacosta if they decide to sell him in the summer, though it appears that James is viewed as an internal solution.

It is suggested that the Blues’ plans would also come as a setback to ​Crystal Palace, who had identified James as a potential replacement for Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The Eagles right back has been linked with a move away from Selhurst Park after enjoying his own breakthrough season.

James, who was named in the Championship team of the year, is apparently happy to wait for Chelsea to make a decision on his future, though it could largely depend on whether or not they are able to dip into the transfer market in the summer.

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Chelsea vs Burnley: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

​Chelsea host Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, as the race for the Premier League top four enters the final straight.

The Blues go into the game just one point behind Tottenham Hotspur in third, but with Arsenal and Manchester United playing on Sunday, Maurizio Sarri will need to take all three points if he is to keep hopes alive of a Champions League qualification spot.

Maurizio Sarri,Eden Hazard

​Burnley’s controversial win over ​Cardiff City last weekend looks to have secured their ​Premier League survival for another season, with the Clarets needing just a single draw to reach the fabled 40-point mark.

Sean Dyche’s side have caused a couple of problems against the ‘big six’ this season, drawing away at Old Trafford and beating ​Spurs at Turf Moor last month, which may be cause for concern for ​Chelsea.

Chris Wood


Where to Watch

​When Is Kick Off? ​Monday 22 April
​What Time Is Kick Off? ​20:00 BST
​Where Is It Played? ​Stamford Bridge
​TV Channel/Live Stream? ​Sky Sports Premier League
​Referee? ​Kevin Friend

Team News

​Eden Hazard will have needed some serious TLC over the past few days after the attention paid to him by Slavia Prague players in Thursday’s 4-3 Europa League win, but Sarri confirmed the Belgian should be fit and ready for Burnley’s visit.

Monday’s fixture may come too soon for defender ​Antonio Rudiger, who suffered a knee injury against ​Liverpool last weekend, but the German international should be available for the trip to ​Manchester United next Sunday.

Sean Dyche has a fully fit squad disposal with changes likely to be limited, if there are any, from the 2-0 win over Cardiff.


Predicted Lineups

Chelsea ​Kepa; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Christensen, Emerson; Jorginho, Kante, Loftus-Cheek; Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Hazard.
Burnley ​Heaton; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Wood.

Head to Head Record

Historically, it’s Burnley who just about edge Chelsea out in this contest with 38 wins to the Blues’ 36. However, the Clarets have won just one meeting since 1983, which came on their last visit to Stamford Bridge last August.

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-BURNLEY

On the opening day of last season, Burnley famously beat the defending champions Chelsea 3-2 in a game which set the tone for Antonio Conte’s second season in charge.

This season’s reverse fixture was an entirely different story – a 4-0 Chelsea romp at Turf Moor – but this was during Sarri’s rosy unbeaten start in October, when the Blues were looking like title contenders. How times have changed.


Recent Form

After a strong run of four consecutive wins, Sarri appeared to have galvanised his Chelsea team for the business end of the season, but the defeat to Liverpool and a dismal second half display against Slavia Prague has dampened the mood once more at Stamford Bridge.

Meanwhile, Burnley are in great form – picking up three wins from three at the perfect time – and look to have escaped a relegation battle in which they were very much involved for most of the season.

The Clarets are also looking strong on the road, losing just two of their previous six away from home.

Here’s how both teams have performed in their last five fixtures.

Chelsea Burnley
​Chelsea 4-3 Slavia Prague (18/4) ​Burnley 2-0 Cardiff (13/4)
​Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea (14/4) ​Bournemouth 1-3 Burnley (6/4)
​Slavia Prague 0-1 Chelsea (11/4) ​Burnley 2-0 Wolves (30/3)
​Chelsea 2-0 West Ham (8/4) ​Burnley 1-2 Leicester (16/3)
​Chelsea 3-0 Brighton (3/4) ​Liverpool 4-2 Burnley (10/3)

Prediction

Chelsea should have enough quality and motivation to bat Burnley aside on Monday night, but despite still being in contention for a top four spot and a Europa League trophy, their frailties are clear as day and Burnley are definitely a team who can exploit that.

FBL-ENG-PR-BURNLEY-CHELSEA

If the Blues turn up and play as confidently and freely as they did against West Ham last Monday, there should be no contest. But unfortunately for Chelsea fans, those days are few and far between under Sarri.

Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Burnley

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Young WSL Stars Dominate PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year Award Shortlist

​Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert is among three WSL players who have been shortlisted for both the PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year and the Young Player of the Year gong.

The Scotland international has scored six goals in the league this season to help Chelsea into the top three, sitting eight points behind Manchester City and nine behind league leaders Arsenal.

Cuthbert, 20, is one of three players in the FA Women’s Super League to be nominated for both awards, alongside Manchester City midfielder Keira Walsh and Arsenal goal machine Vivianne Miedema.

Jill Scott,Keira Walsh

Walsh, who has spent over four years in their senior side, has picked up one goal and five assists from midfield this season.

Arsenal’s Miedema has been at the centre of their title challenge this season. Having arrived from Bayern Munich in 2017, the 22-year-old is leading the goalscoring charts having found the back of the net 20 times – a new WSL record. 

Elsewhere on the Player of the Year shortlist for the senior players, Steph Houghton and Nikita Parris make up the hat-trick of Manchester City players in contention. Chelsea forward Ji So-yun, who won the award in 2015, is also shortlisted.

For the Young Player of the Year, Georgia Stanway (another City star) is being considered, as well as West Ham’s Swiss forward Alisha Lehmann.

Sophie Baggaley of Bristol City makes up the nominations for the Young Player of the Year. The 22-year-old is the only goalkeeper who makes an appearance in either of the four men’s or women’s PFA shortlists.


Shortlist: PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year

Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea), Ji So-yun (Chelsea), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal).


Shortlist: PFA Women’s Young Players’ Player of the Year

Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), Alisha Lehmann (West Ham), Sophie Baggaley (Bristol City).


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