Former Chelsea Defender Branislav Ivanovic Leaves Zenit Saint Petersburg

File photo: Serbia’s defender Branislav Ivanovic (2L) vies with Nigeria’s striker Odion Ighalo during the International friendly football match between Nigeria and Serbia at the Hive stadium in Barnet, north London on March 27, 2018. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

 

Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg announced on Wednesday the departure of their captain, Serbian international Branislav Ivanovic, whose contract was due to expire this summer.

“We thank Branislav for his enormous contribution and wish him all the best for the future,” Zenit said on its website.

The 36-year-old defender arrived in Saint Petersburg in February 2017 following a nine-year stint with Chelsea.

He played 125 matches and scored 12 goals at Zenit and led the side to their first double in the club’s history this season.

Zenit signed Croatian defender Dejan Lovren from Liverpool earlier this week as his replacement.

AFP

EPL: Chelsea Set For Norwich, Leicester Loses Kante

EPLChelsea manager, Guus Hiddink, has confirmed Brazilian Alexandre Pato could make his debut soon for his side but that there is competition among the strikers.

The English Premier League champions signed Pato from Corinthians in January on loan until the end of the season but the 26-year-old has lacked match fitness.

Chelsea will face Norwich City in Tuesday night’s EPL clash and Hiddink says he is pleased with the progress of his squad since he took over in December.

Leicester City manager, Claudio Ranieri, says midfielder, N’golo Kante, will miss the night’s English Premier League clash against West Bromwich Albion with a hamstring injury.

Coach Ranieri said that the defensive midfielder would also miss the trip to Watford on Saturday.

Leicester lead second-placed Tottenham Hotspur by two points with 11 games left and Coach Ranieri admits his side still has a lot to play for.

EPL: Leicester Defeat Norwich, Move Five Points Clear

LeicesterLeicester City moved five points clear at the top of the English Premier League with a 1-0 win over Norwich City in the English Premier League on Saturday.

Leonardo Ulloa kept Leicester’s title bid alive with a dramatic late winner to deny Norwich a priceless point.

The substitute fired in his third goal of the season from close range with just two minutes left

Claudio Ranieri’s side had struggled to break down a stubborn Norwich side who deserved a point.

Meanwhile, Chelsea’s resurgence continued as Branislav Ivanovic scored a last minute winner to give Chelsea all 3 points at Southampton.

The Blues fought back from being a goal down thanks to Cesc Fabregas’ cross-cum-shot in the 75th minute before Branislav Ivanovic’s close-range 89th-minute header then secured a victory

Stoke City beat Aston Villa 2-1, while Watford and Bournemouth battled to a goalless draw.

Earlier in the day, Michail Antonio’s 30th minute strike had helped West Ham United beat Sunderland 1-0 in the day’s lunchtime kick-off.

Antonio scored the winner after cutting in from the right and bending in a left-footed effort past Vito Mannone.

Mertesacker Sees Red As Arsenal Lose To Chelsea

ArsenalArsenal lost a chance to return to the top of the English Premier League with an home loss to London rivals, Chelsea on Sunday evening.

The Gunners started the match as the brighter side to the delight of their fans but defender, Per Mertesacker, obstructed a goal chance in the 18th minute, leaving referee Mark Clattenburg with no option other than sending him off.

In quick reaction to the red card, the Gunners sacrificed striker, Olivier Giroud for defender, Gabriel Paulista but before the Brazilian could settle, the Blues took advantage of Arsenal’s nervous defending in the 23rd minute.

Diego Costa scored with an assist from Branislav Ivanovic and the first half ended 1-0.

Arsenal started the second half with more belief and Arsene Wenger’s introduction of Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 77th and 75th minutes further ensured that they remained likely to get an equalizer.

Chelsea, however, thwarted all possible chances made by the Gunners in securing a draw.

The match ended 0-1 and the victory means Chelsea remain unbeaten since Guus Hiddink replaced Jose Mourinho and they have also not lost in their last nine league meetings with Arsenal.

This is Arsenal’s first home defeat since West Ham on the opening day of the season.

Arsenal have moved to the third position on the English Premier League table while Chelsea progressed to the 13th position, their highest position since October 2015.

Leicester City sit top of the league going into February, with Manchester City second.

Van Gaal Admits Sack Fears

Van GaalManchester United Manager, Louis Van Gaal, says that his position is under scrutiny after his side’s 2-1 defeat at home to Norwich City on Saturday.

Speaking in his post-match presser, Van Gaal admitted that he is under pressure because of the recent poor run of form.

He, however, insists that a change in management will not bring immediate success, before urging the club’s hierarchy to back him for the rest of the season.

United have lost their last three matches in all competitions and are winless in their last 6 games.

Manchester United were booed off by their own fans as Norwich earned a shock 2-1 victory at Old Trafford.

English Premier League Results

In other English Premier League matches played on Saturday, Newcastle played a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa in St. James Park, while goals from Branislav Ivanovic, Pedro Rodriquez and Brazilian midfielder, Oscar gave Chelsea a 3-1 victory over Sunderland in front of new boss, Guus Hiddink.

Leicester City ensured they will be top of the table at Christmas by beating Everton 3-2 at Goodison Park.

Harry Kane scored on his 100th Tottenham appearance as they moved into the top four with a 2-0 victory at struggling Southampton.

Substitute Lee Chung-Yong lashed home a sensational winner for crystal palace at stoke to put the eagles level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham.

Bournemouth secured their second away win of the season after a 2-1 win over Westbrom.

I Will Not Bite Again – Luis Suarez

Luis-SuarezBarcelona forward, Luis Suarez, has made a promise not to bite anymore.

Suarez admitted he was concerned for his future in the days following his four-month FIFA ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini, but is now putting the saga behind him.

The Uruguay international provoked uproar at the World Cup over the summer after being found guilty of biting an opponent for the third time in his career during the South American side’s clash with Italy.

He was initially banned from all football-related activities for four months, as well as nine international matches, although that did not stop Barcelona from making the 27-year-old their marquee summer signing from Liverpool.

The controversial striker, who said he was “really depressed” after the incident in Brazil, launched an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the ban.

Following the verdict, the former Liverpool striker is still banned from playing in competitive fixtures until late October and must also serve the remaining eight games of his nine-match international ban.

But Suarez is no longer excluded from “all football-related activities”, which allowed him to make his Barcelona debut as a 75th-minute substitute in the 6-0 friendly victory over Mexican side, Club Leon, on Monday.

Addressing a media conference on Tuesday, he said of his behavioural issues, “I am speaking to professionals – the right professionals. But it is a private matter and I don’t want to comment further on that.”

“I know I must accept the reality and have apologised,” said Suarez. “That is something from the past and to be forgotten. When it [the bite] happened I felt very down, then saw I had to apologise. I prefer not to go back over all I have been through. The lesson is clear. It was my mistake. But that is the past now. I say to the fans not to worry as it will not happen again.”

Suarez, who had previously been banned for biting PSV’s Otman Bakkel and Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, initially denied he had bitten Italy’s Chiellini in Uruguay’s 1-0 win, but then issued a statement later confirming his guilt.

Luis Suarez Signs New Long-Term Liverpool Contract

Liverpool striker, Luis Suarez has signed a new four-and-a-half-year contract at Anfield.

Twenty-six year old Suarez joined the Reds in January 2011 and has scored 17 goals in 11 Premier League starts this season. Suarez, whose original deal was set to expire in 2016, will reportedly earn around £160,000 until the end of the current 2013/2014 season and then £200,000 per week over the final four years of the contract.

“I believe I can achieve the ambitions of winning trophies and playing at the very highest level with Liverpool. My aim is to help get us there as quickly as possible.” He said.

In the summer transfer, Suarez was close to joining Arsenal, but Liverpool rejected the Gunners club record offer of £40 million plus £1 in an attempt to trigger a release clause in his contract. Since the new season started, Suarez’s relationship with leading figures at Anfield has improved significantly.

Suarez joined Liverpool from Ajax for £22 million and his time at the club has often been controversial as he has previously served two long-term bans.

In December 2011, the Uruguayan was banned for eight games  for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and again received a 10-match ban in April 2013 for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.

Suarez who is widely regarded as one of the most talented footballers in the world paid tribute to the supporters, citing the ‘special relationship’ he has with them as a key factor in reaffirming his commitment to Liverpool.

United secures controversial win against Chelsea

EPL leader; Chelsea this evening bowed to pressure from the Red Devils in a crucial EPL clash by a goal margin of 2-3 making the defeat the first for the London club since the EPL season started.

No thanks to the two red cards given to defender Ivanovic and striker Fernando Torres which pundits opined is questionable as it culminated into the Blues’ loss at home against their arch rivals.

The league leaders fought to gain control of the game which they lost control of giving after giving United a double lead in a space of 12 minutes but in the 44th minute, Spaniard Juan Mata Chelsea a reason to fight for a win and in the 53rd minute in what looked like a usual Chelsea comeback Ramirez dealt United an unbelievable blow after he secured an equalizer for Chelsea in what brought uproar from Stamford Bridge stands.

As if a defeat was perceived by United and referee Matt Clattenburg because the Blues were looking likelier winners as their performance by now has started generating results with the control of the midfield, the referee who turned a blind eye to the obvious offside by Javier Hernandez before he scored the third and final goal for United, started a move that was purely unknown to Chelsea as he slashed the 11-man team and brought in disarray after sending off Branislav Ivanovic on the hour and Fernando Torres later for an offense not clear to even football pundits as to why Torres got a second yellow card which led to the red card.

Now with this evening’s game, United have succeeded in reducing the difference in points between them and the league leaders to one point, a win the Red Devils have been dying to get at Stamford Bridge since 2002.

Despite the result, there was plenty in Chelsea’s performance to reinforce their credentials as real title challengers, though they were handicapped by a haphazard start.