Chelsea Record $130m Loss Despite Abramovich Input

FIFA Hands Chelsea Two Transfer Windows Ban
(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 24, 2015 Chelsea supporters wave flags before the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in London on May 24, 2015. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Chelsea made a loss of almost £100 million ($130 million) last year despite owner Roman Abramovich pouring nearly a quarter of a billion pounds into the Premier League club, their figures for 2018/19 released on Tuesday show.

Amongst their expenditure was yet another payout to a sacked manager — this time £26.6 million to Italian Antonio Conte.

The 50-year-old — who is now at Inter Milan — had a year left on his contract when he was fired just a season after guiding them to the Premier League title.

“Exceptional items in the current year of £26.6million relate to changes in respect of the men’s team management and coaching staff, together with associated legal costs,” read Chelsea’s latest set of published accounts, for the year ending June 30, 2019.

The club has spent £90 million in compensation to Conte and his predecessors since Abramovich took over in 2004.

Conte was replaced by compatriot Maurizio Sarri, who left the club for Juventus in the summer of 2019, one year into a three-year contract.

The club also invested £280.6m in their playing squad during 2018-19, with the acquisitions of Kepa Arrizabalaga, Christian Pulisic, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho all included in their latest figures.

In all Abramovich, who has at times been rumoured to be disenchanted and looking to sell, put in £247 million of his own money over the course of the year — ending in June 2019 — with the club still ending £96.6m in the red.

However, their sale of Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for 100 million euros last summer should make the next set of accounts happier reading, especially as the outgoings of the club in the most recent close season were zero thanks to a transfer ban.

That has since been lifted allowing manager Frank Lampard to invest in the transfer market in January.

Chelsea’s Drinkwater Joins Aston Villa On Loan Till End Of Season

Photo: Aston Villa Twitter Handle

 

Danny Drinkwater’s bid to revive his flagging career has seen him move on loan on Tuesday to Premier League strugglers Aston Villa from Chelsea for the rest of the season.

The 29-year-old midfielder — capped three times by England — moves thereafter an unsuccessful loan spell with Burnley, for whom he made just two appearances since joining them at the beginning of the season.

His career has taken a downward spiral since he moved from Leicester to Chelsea for £35 million in 2017 playing just 12 times in all competitions.

However, Aston Villa manager Dean Smith believes Drinkwater can recapture the form that made him such a pivotal figure in Leicester’s fairytale 2016 Premier League title win.

“Danny was a key member of Leicester City’s title-winning team and has represented England, so he is a vastly experienced player,” said Smith.

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“He will strengthen our squad significantly.”

Drinkwater — whose first test may come when fourth from bottom Villa host defending champions Manchester City on Sunday — has had his problems off the field too.

He was banned from driving for 20 months last year after being found to be 2 1/2 times over the legal alcohol limit when he crashed his car in April.

Drinkwater was sidelined for a stint earlier this season after suffering ankle ligament damage in September during an incident at a Manchester nightclub.

AFP

Liverpool Kids Bury Everton As Lucas Rescues Spurs

 

Liverpool inflicted fresh misery on Merseyside rivals Everton as a superb strike from teenager Curtis Jones sealed a 1-0 win in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.

Jones’ second-half curler sent Anfield in ecstasy as the club’s youth academy graduates handed Everton an embarrassing derby defeat.

The 18-year-old Liverpool-born midfielder was making only his fifth appearance and his memorable match-winner was his first senior goal.

Jones is the youngest goalscorer for Liverpool in a Merseyside derby since Robbie Fowler.

Without a win over their rivals in any competition since 2010 and thrashed 5-2 at Anfield in the Premier League earlier this season, Everton will feel the pain from this defeat against their under-strength neighbours for some while.

Hit by injuries that left him with 12 fit senior outfield players, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had made nine changes, selecting Nat Phillips, 22, and teenage trio Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott, and Jones.

In contrast, Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti made just two changes, fielding a strong team as the visitors chased a first win at Anfield since 1999.

Liverpool’s injury problems mounted within 10 minutes when James Milner limped off to be replaced by another teenager Yasser Larouci.

Ancelotti’s side threatened early on when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s strike was pushed away from Adrian, who then repelled Mason Holgate’s header and Richarlison’s shot.

Liverpool’s youngsters had been thrashed by Aston Villa while the senior stars were away at the Club World Cup in December.

But they acquitted themselves much better this time and Japan striker Takumi Minamino, making his debut after joining from Salzburg, glanced a header narrowly off-target before Divock Origi’s low drive was brilliantly saved by Jordan Pickford.

Jones’ moment of magic came in the 71st minute when he played a chipped pass to Origi, took the return ball and curled a stunning effort into the top corner.

Spurs held

Elsewhere on Sunday, Lucas Moura kept Tottenham’s FA Cup hopes alive with the equaliser in their 1-1 draw at second-tier Middlesbrough, while Callum Hudson-Odoi got back in the groove as Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

Tottenham haven’t lifted a major trophy since 2008 when current Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate scored the League Cup winner against Chelsea.

Woodgate was on course to dent Tottenham’s bid to end that wretched run when Ashley Fletcher put Middlesbrough ahead in the second half at the Riverside Stadium.

But Brazilian winger Lucas headed the equaliser to send the tie to a replay in north London later in January.

“When we were losing 1-0, at that moment I had the feeling of ‘we are in trouble’,” Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho said.

“We could be out like a few other Premier League teams. But then everyone reacted. I reacted. The boys reacted.”

At Stamford Bridge, there were signs that Hudson-Odoi might be emerging from his sophomore slump.

He opened the scoring against the second-tier side in the sixth minute, just his second goal of the season and his first since September.

Blues boss Frank Lampard had made nine changes, but Chelsea doubled their lead in the 33rd minute when Hudson-Odoi’s shot was parried straight to Ross Barkley and the midfielder poked home at the back post.

“I was particularly pleased for Callum, he has had a bad injury, is getting himself fit and getting sharper. His goal was an early settler for us,” Lampard said.

Crystal Palace became the third Premier League club to be knocked out this weekend as second tier Derby won 1-0 at Selhurst Park.

Jayden Bogle fizzed a cross to the far post and Chris Martin tapped into the net in the 32nd minute.

In a VAR first in England, referee Michael Oliver used the pitch-side monitor to change a decision, sending off Luka Milivojevic after initially booking the Palace midfielder for kicking out at Tom Huddlestone in the 63rd minute.

Sheffield United avoided a non-league upset with a 2-1 win against AFC Fylde at Bramall Lane.

Lucas Rescues Spurs, Chelsea In FA Cup Stroll

 

 

Lucas Moura kept Tottenham’s FA Cup hopes alive with the equaliser in their 1-1 draw at second tier Middlesbrough, while Callum Hudson-Odoi got back in the groove as Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the third round on Sunday.

Tottenham haven’t lifted a major trophy since 2008 when current Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate scored the League Cup winner against Chelsea.

Woodgate was on course to dent Tottenham’s bid to end that wretched run when Ashley Fletcher put Middlesbrough ahead in the second half at the Riverside Stadium.

But Brazilian winger Lucas headed the equaliser to send the tie to a replay in north London later in January.

Keen to win silverware in his first season, Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho had made just three changes, with Son Heung-min returning from a three-match suspension and replacing the injured Harry Kane.

Son twice came close to putting Tottenham ahead in the first half and the visitors should have gone in front when Ryan Sessegnon fluffed his chance from Serge Aurier’s cross.

Tottenham were never completely convincing and, with only one clean-sheet since Mourinho took over, there was a familiar feeling when Middlesbrough snatched the lead in the 50th minute.

Fletcher beat Tottenham’s attempt to play offside, ran through on goal and fired past Paulo Gazzaniga, with no VAR in use to question the goal.

Tottenham hit back in the 61st minute, Aurier’s cross picking out Lucas for a thumping header.

“When we were losing 1-0 without strikers or the power to play inside their defensive line, at that moment I had the feeling of ‘we are in trouble’,” Mourinho said.

“We could be out like a few other Premier League teams. But then everyone reacted. I reacted. The boys reacted.”

At Stamford Bridge, there were signs that Hudson-Odoi might be emerging from his sophomore slump.

Hudson-Odoi has endured a difficult season as injuries and poor form have ruined the positive impact he had last season.

But the 19-year-old had made his name with a breakthrough display against Forest in the FA Cup last year.

So perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that Hudson-Odoi was more like his old self as he opened the scoring against the second tier side in the sixth minute.

Taking possession on the right, the England winger cut inside and fired into the bottom right corner for just his second goal of the season and his first since September.

Palace stunned

Blues boss Frank Lampard had made nine changes, but Chelsea — wearing a retro home kit in tribute to their first FA Cup final win against Leeds in 1970 — doubled their lead in the 33rd minute.

Hudson-Odoi’s shot was parried straight to Ross Barkley and the midfielder poked home at the back post.

“I was particularly pleased for Callum, he has had a bad injury, is getting himself fit and getting sharper. His goal was an early settler for us,” Lampard said.

Crystal Palace became the third Premier League club to be knocked out this weekend as second tier Derby won 1-0 at Selhurst Park.

Palace boss Roy Hodgson made five changes — a relatively small number compared to most other Premier League clubs this weekend — but the Eagles still went the same way as Aston Villa and Brighton, who bowed out against Championship opposition on Saturday.

Wayne Rooney was in the Derby attack and his side took the lead in the 32nd minute when Jayden Bogle fizzed a cross to the far post and Chris Martin tapped into the net.

In a VAR first in England, referee Michael Oliver used the pitch-side monitor to change a decision, sending off Luka Milivojevic after initially booking the Palace midfielder for kicking out at Tom Huddlestone in the 63rd minute.

Sheffield United avoided a non-league upset with a 2-1 win against AFC Fylde at Bramall Lane.

Brighton Deny Chelsea Vital Win In New Year Fixture

Brighton’s Iranian midfielder Alireza Jahanbakhsh celebrates after scoring during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on January 1, 2020.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s spectacular overhead kick earned Brighton a share of the points against Chelsea and dampened Frank Lampard’s New Year celebrations on Wednesday as Aston Villa secured a vital win against Burnley.

Kicking off a packed day of top-flight action, Chelsea’s 1-1 draw on England’s south coast meant they missed out on the chance to pull seven points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United in the race to secure Champions League football for next season.

Cesar Azpilicueta gave the visitors an early lead, tapping in from close range following a corner in the 10th minute but Brighton were never out of it and pulled level in the 84th minute courtesy of Jahanbakhsh’s moment of magic.

Chelsea were quickly on top from the start of the match but Brighton came into the contest as it wore on, enjoying a spell of possession towards the end of the first half.

READ ALSO: Mane Set To Be Crowned King Of Africa As Troubles Rumble On

Leandro Trossard tested Kepa Arrizabalaga with a powerful strike but the Chelsea goalkeeper parried the shot with his right hand.

Lampard’s team were again dominant after the break. Christian Pulisic came close to doubling Chelsea’s lead at Brighton after 55 minutes while N’Golo Kante and Reece James were denied.

But Brighton kept battling and Kepa was forced to produce an outstanding save from Aaron Connolly in the 80th minute as the home side pushed for an equaliser.

Their persistence paid off minutes later. Lewis Dunk kept the ball alive from a corner-kick and Iranian midfielder Jahanbakhsh acrobatically found the bottom-left corner to give his team share of the points.

In the other early kick-off, Villa beat Burnley 2-1 despite seeing Jack Grealish’s opening goal controversially chalked off by VAR.

Wesley put Villa ahead in the 27th minute and captain Grealish doubled his side’s advantage four minutes before the break as his powerful effort found the top corner.

Chris Wood pulled a goal back for Burnley with 10 minutes to go.

Second-placed Leicester take on Newcastle later on Wednesday, with Tottenham and Wolves, also chasing Champions League football next season, also in action.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are hosting Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton in one of the early evening matches before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United kick off against Arsenal in the late match.

Runaway leaders Liverpool face Sheffield United on Thursday.

AFP

Liverpool Ride Their Luck To Beat Wolves 1-0

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp (R) embraces Liverpool’s English defender Trent Alexander-Arnold (L) at the end of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England, on December 29, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool needed the aid of VAR to re-establish their 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday as a late Chelsea fightback inflicted a 2-1 defeat on Arsenal in Mikel Arteta’s first home game in charge.

Manchester City remain 14 points adrift of the runaway league leaders, but closed the gap on second-placed Leicester thanks to second-half goals from Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne to beat Sheffield United 2-0.

Sadio Mane scored the only goal of a controversial clash at Anfield as Liverpool extended their unbeaten run at Anfield in the league to 50 games.

“It was a tough test and rightly so. We play for big stakes, and try to be successful and be as good as possible,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Mane’s strike three minutes before half-time was initially ruled out for a handball by Adam Lallana in the build-up, but a VAR review overturned referee Anthony Taylor’s on-field decision.

Moments later Wolves thought they had levelled when Pedro Nieto fired low past Alisson Becker, but again the VAR review went against the visitors as the goal was ruled out for a fractional offside against Jonny.

“We feel massively hard done by, I can’t get my head around it. It is ridiculous,” said Wolves captain Connor Coady.

“For me it is not working. Some people are saying it gets the right decision but we’re the players on the pitch and it doesn’t feel right to me.”

Wolves had less than 48 hours to recover from a thrilling 3-2 victory over City on Friday, but still had plenty of chances to secure at least a point after the break as Becker denied Diogo Jota before Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore had shots deflected wide in the closing stages.

Just a second league defeat in 15 games means Wolves fall five points behind Chelsea in the fight for a top-four finish after Frank Lampard’s men staged a dramatic turnaround at the Emirates.

‘Awful’ Chelsea Beat Arsenal

Arsenal seemed set to give Arteta a first home win in the league since October as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener was just reward for one of the Gunners’ best performances of the season.

However, the defensive blunders that have blighted Arsenal’s season under three different managers cost them again when goalkeeper Bernd Leno came and missed a Mason Mount free-kick to allow Jorginho to tap home an equaliser seven minutes from time.

Chelsea capped the comeback four minutes later when Tammy Abraham led a counter-attack from one end to the other before finishing from Willian’s cross.

“We were so awful for 30 minutes; slow, lethargic, nervous,” said Lampard, who made a tactical change to bring on Jorginho after just 34 minutes.

“The second half was nothing to do with tactics, it was all to do with spirit and desire.”

However, Arsenal were furious Jorginho was still on the field to equalise as he escaped a second yellow card at 1-0 for a foul on Alexandre Lacazette.

VAR also had a big role to play at the Etihad where City were again far from convincing but did enough to inflict a first away defeat in nearly a year on Sheffield United.

The Blades had a goal ruled out by a VAR review before half-time for another close offside call against Lys Mousset.

The Frenchman also wasted another good chance when one-on-one with Claudio Bravo and the visitors were punished by a characteristically clinical finish from Aguero as he rifled home De Bruyne’s through ball.

De Bruyne then doubled City’s advantage eight minutes from time with a fine low finish.

Arteta Shows Faith In Ozil Ahead Of Chelsea Game

Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta looks on before the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on December 26, 2019.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta has backed Mesut Ozil to make the most of his fresh start as Arsenal’s new manager prepares for his home debut against Chelsea on Sunday.

Ozil has become a polarising figure at Arsenal after several seasons of lackluster performances from the German playmaker.

He was a peripheral figure under former Gunners boss Unai Emery and looked destined to leave the club in January.

READ ALSO: Ibrahimovic Signs Six-Month Contract With AC Milan

The 31-year-old was left out for Freddie Ljungberg’s final game as interim manager against Everton after reacting angrily to being substituted in the 3-0 loss to Manchester City.

But Arteta restored Ozil to his starting line-up for his first match in charge as Arsenal salvaged a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth on Thursday.

Former City assistant coach Arteta, who was in the opposition dugout on December 15 when Ozil kicked his gloves having being replaced, has been encouraged by the mentality of the German World Cup winner since he took charge.

“To be fair his attitude in training since the day that I walked in the building has been incredible, and I’ve seen this,” Arteta said.

“I said I was going to give a clean slate to everybody and it was fair as well to give it to him.

“When we did the game preparation and we were watching the opponents, and where we could hurt them, we believed that he could be a key point. And we prepared the game like this, with him.

“He responded, he did what he had to do and we could have put two or three goals because of him in the net.”

Ozil Antics

Given his previous antics, it was notable that Ozil was substituted without protest 15 minutes from full-time at Bournemouth after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had canceled out Dan Gosling’s opener.

Ozil later expressed support for the methods of his new manager, finishing a tweet with the words “Let’s trust the process”.

Now Arteta hopes his faith in Ozil is rewarded with a commanding display in the London derby against fourth-placed Chelsea.

Arsenal is eight points behind Chelsea in the race to qualify for the Champions League via a top-four finish.

A win against Frank Lampard’s side would breathe a little life into Arsenal’s fading bid to return to Europe’s elite club competition.

And they face Chelsea at an opportune moment after the Blues slumped to a  2-0 home defeat to Southampton on Thursday.

It was the latest tepid effort from Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, leading Lampard to again question whether his players have the quality required to break down defensive opponents.

The result was even more disappointing for Lampard as it came just days after Chelsea delivered the best performance of his reign in their 2-0 win at Tottenham.

Callum Hudson-Odoi had been called into the team to face Southampton but, not for the first time this season, the winger was underwhelming.

Lampard retains faith in the 19-year-old, who missed time this season with a heel injury.

“I thought he put in a lot of effort; he was trying things and making runs,” Lampard said.

“It wasn’t quite coming off for him in the first half, and overall in fact.

“He’s coming off the back of a big injury and this is certainly a period where we have to stick with him through that.”

AFP

Premier League: Chelsea Suffer Shock Home Defeat To Southampton

 Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard and Southampton’s Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge in London on December 26, 2019. AFP

 

Frank Lampard said Chelsea had to improve their home form if they were to remain in the top four following a 2-0 loss to Southampton on Thursday.

After an impressive 2-0 win away to Tottenham, Chelsea and their fans probably expected a win against a Southampton side battling to avoid relegation.

But Chelsea rarely threatened before or after Michael Obafemi put the Saints ahead in the 31st minute with the second Premier League goal of his career.

And when Nathan Redmond doubled that lead in the 73rd minute, the contest was effectively over.

The result meant Chelsea had suffered back-to-back home league defeats for the first time since 2011, with Bournemouth’s fellow south coast side Southampton having won the previous match at Stamford Bridge.

“You need a form of consistency to come in the top four in the Premier League,” said Chelsea manager Lampard, whose side are still fourth in the table.

“Everyone is striving for it. We are in it at Christmas and people probably would have doubted that so from that perspective we can probably be happy.

“But to stay there and move onwards and upwards we have to win more than we have recently at home.”

Youthful teams often struggle for consistency, but Chelsea’s problems are especially acute at their west London home, where they have won only four league games so far this season.

“We have to work and we have to do more in an attacking sense,” said Lampard.

“You can’t have 70 percent of possession and control as we did in the first half and not do more, not hit better crosses, make better final passes, get more clear chances at goal.”

 ‘Test of character’ 

And Chelsea are feeling the tension, with their manager admitting: “When you are on the run we are on, there is more pressure because everyone talks about it and we feel it.

“We want to perform well in front of our own fans and give them something to be happy about.”

The former Chelsea and England midfielder added: “People come here and respect us as Chelsea in the way they are setting up but we are not playing like the Chelsea that can break that down.

“I learn about the players particularly in games like that…Games like today’s are a test of character as much as ability.”

Meanwhile Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said that West Ham and Bournemouth’s victories at Stamford Bridge had led his side to think “‘why can’t we do it too?'”

Southampton’s opener came after Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi lost possession, the move ending when Obafemi curled a left-foot shot around Kepa Arrizabalaga from 20 yards.

The Saints, retaining possession well, could now afford to sit back and pounce on Chelsea errors, with a Blues mistake contributing to their second goal.

N’Golo Kante, in trying to dispossess Stuart Armstrong after a 30-pass move, succeeded only in playing the ball into the path of Redmond, who lifted the ball over Arrizabalaga and into the net.

“Sure you have to have a tactical plan but you need passion or it doesn’t work,” Hasenhuttl said.

“I’m proud of the moments when we win the ball, but we showed we can pass the ball as well.

“We have had some good performances on the road but this was the best.”

AFP

Chelsea Hope To Keep Willian Faith Against Saints

Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Willian scores their second goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match against Tottenham Hotspur at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on December 22, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

 

Willian’s performance at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last weekend highlighted just why Frank Lampard is keen to see the Brazilian’s future at Chelsea resolved.

While much of the focus this season has been trained on the outstanding contribution of the youngsters in Blues manager Lampard’s squad, Willian’s performances on the right of a front three have been consistently excellent.

The winger appeared to have lost his way in recent seasons, particularly last term when he struggled for consistency under Maurizio Sarri and appeared in danger of leaving the London club.

This campaign has been different, though, and Lampard will hope the player can inspire a return to home form when Southampton visit Stamford Bridge on Thursday following Chelsea’s impressive 2-0 defeat of Jose Mourinho’s Spurs.

– Season of transition –

Willian was certainly the stand-out performer in a display Lampard admitted was probably his side’s best of the season after a worrying run of form that had brought four defeats in the previous five Premier League games, included home losses to Bournemouth and West Ham.

There were always going to be frustrating periods for Lampard and his players in what is a season of transition for for Chelsea, who are nevertheless now fourth in the Premier League.

The task of bedding in a number of graduates from the club’s academy against the backdrop of the pre-season transfer embargo has inevitably presented challenges.

Willian, though, has maintained impressively high levels, appearing rejuvenated under the club’s new manager.

Certainly Lampard appears to have found the key to drawing the best out of the 31-year-old whose work on the right has contributed to striker Tammy Abraham making such a significant impact in his breakthrough season at west London club Chelsea.

Willian’s work ethic had been questioned previously, with his failure to track back and support his full-back at times highlighted last season.

This time around, there can be no doubt about his willingness to put in the hard yards.

And he has strengthened his hand in his contract negotiations with the club as he seeks a new deal that will keep him at Chelsea beyond the end of this season.

Willian’s existing deal runs out at the end of the current campaign, along with those of fellow thirty-somethings Pedro and Olivier Giroud.

With Chelsea’s two-window transfer ban having been halved, leaving the club to bring in new recruits next month, Giroud is likely to leave in a bid to find the regular football he believes will boost his chances of being a member of hosts France’s squad for Euro 2020.

Pedro has been reduced to a fringe player and is also expected to move on at the end of the season.

Willian, though, is a different matter and while Chelsea are notoriously reluctant to offer extended deals to players over the age of 30, the Brazilian could become an exception.

For his part, Lampard has made it clear he wants the South American to stay.

And while the manager has no intention of shifting his policy of promoting young players, he knows the value of experience.

“He’s a very important member of the club and of course I want it to be done but obviously both sides have to be happy for that,” said Lampard when asked last month about Willian’s future.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta faces a late fitness test following a hamstring problem sustained at Spurs.

Meanwhile, the Saints, flirting with the relegation zone, could be without Shane Long for the whole of the busy Christmas programme because of a knee injury the striker suffered during last week’s win at Aston Villa.

AFP

Lampard’s Chelsea Beat Mourinho’s Tottenham Amid Crowd Racism

Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on December 22, 2019.
Glyn KIRK / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

 

Frank Lampard out-witted Jose Mourinho as Chelsea powered to a 2-0 win at Tottenham on Sunday that featured a double from Willian, a red card for Son Heung-min and allegations of racist abuse.

Billed as a showdown between Mourinho and Lampard, an explosive London derby showed the student is more than a match for the man who served as his mentor during their time together at Chelsea.

Blues boss Lampard pulled a tactical masterstroke as he cleverly changed his team’s formation, leaving Tottenham manager Mourinho unable to respond as Willian opened the scoring with a blistering strike and increased Chelsea’s lead with a penalty before half-time.

Tottenham’s South Korean star Son was sent off for a needless kick at Antonio Rudiger in the second half as Chelsea swept to a sweet victory over their former manager.

With top four rivals Manchester United losing at Watford earlier in the day, it will be a happy festive period for Lampard’s fourth placed side, who sit six points clear of seventh placed Tottenham after ending a run of four defeats from their last five Premier League games.

There was little Christmas cheer for Tottenham, who may have to answer for the behaviour of their fans amid claims Rudiger was racially abused and an object was thrown at Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

A fan was seen directing a ‘monkey gesture’ at Rudiger and three announcements over the tannoy that “racist behaviour from spectators is interfering with the game” painted a bleak picture of the latest racist incident to scar European football this term.

Lampard had already beaten Mourinho last season when his Derby met the Portuguese coach’s Manchester United in the League Cup and once again he proved too smart for his old boss.

After a hug and handshake between Lampard and Mourinho, there was a poignant minute’s applause for Tottenham and England World Cup winner Martin Peters, who died aged 76 on Saturday.

Those shows of respect marked the end of the civilities as Tottenham fans booed Marcos Alonso vociferously and chanted about his involvement in a fatal car crash in Spain several years ago.

Tactical Tweak

Chelsea had the perfect response to the cruel taunts as they completely dominated possession in the early stages and took the lead in the 12th minute.

With Tottenham too slow to mark up, Willian took a short corner to Mateo Kovacic and when the Brazilian received the return pass, he adroitly side-stepped Serge Aurier before curling a superb finish into the far corner of Paulo Gazzaniga’s net.

There was an extra edge about Willian’s celebrations given the abuse of Alonso as he sprinted to pose in front of the Tottenham fans.

Aware of Chelsea’s frailties at the back, Lampard had switched to a five-man defence and dropped Jorginho in a move that allowed N’Golo Kante to return to his preferred deep-lying midfield role.

The tactical tweak worked a treat and Tottenham’s only decent chance of the entire match was wasted by Harry Kane, who fired over from Moussa Sissoko’s cross.

With the supply lines to Kane shut down, Lampard’s team deservedly doubled their lead in first-half stoppage-time.

To the chagrin of Tottenham’s fans, Alonso was the catalyst as he chased a long ball into the penalty area and was clattered by Gazzaniga’s desperate rush off his line.

After a VAR review, the spot-kick was awarded, with Willian calmly slotting past Gazzaniga for his fifth goal of an exceptional campaign for the winger.

That made it an alarming 14 goals conceded in all competitions by Tottenham since Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino.

Any hopes of a Tottenham comeback were quashed in the 62nd minute by Son’s needless clash with Rudiger.

Falling to the turf after a collision with the Chelsea defender, Son responded by kicking both feet at Rudiger.

A lengthy VAR review led to Son’s dismissal for violent conduct, sparking an ugly end to the clash as Tottenham fans appeared to tarnish their club with sick racist taunts at Rudiger.

‘I Am Not Mourinho’s Clone,’Says Lampard

 

Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard , 2019. OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Frank Lampard insists he doesn’t want to emulate Jose Mourinho’s unique style as the Chelsea manager plots to out-wit his old boss in Sunday’s crucial clash at Tottenham.

Lampard’s first Premier League meeting with Mourinho is the headline act in a fascinating derby that will determine which of the London rivals spends Christmas Day in the top four.

Spurs manager Mourinho played a key role in Lampard’s emergence as one of Chelsea’s all-time greats during their time together at Stamford Bridge.

Yet while Mourinho’s managerial credentials are well established after winning a host of trophies during his glittering 19-year career, Lampard is still carving out a name for himself in the coaching world.

The former England midfielder is in just his second season as a manager after leaving Championship side Derby to take charge at Chelsea in July.

Lampard acknowledges Mourinho was a big influence on him as a player but, now he is in the dug-out, he will follow his own path rather than copy the Portuguese coach.

Asked to name the most important lesson he took from working with Mourinho, Lampard said: “There’s not one thing, no; he’s obviously a good manager with loads of good attributes.

“But there’s not one specific thing I learned working under him, and I wouldn’t strive to be a clone or anything.

“I’m happy to go up against Jose; for me to play under him, he was a big influence in my career.”

Lampard and Mourinho remain on good terms from their Chelsea days — the Tottenham manager promising a “big hug” when they meet before kick-off and talking of his “love” for the 41-year-old.

But that didn’t stop the student admitting beating his old teacher in such an important game would be a memorable moment.

READ ALSO:I Am 100% Tottenham,’Says Mourinho Ahead Of Chelsea Clash

– ‘Every point is crucial’ –

Chelsea were 12 points ahead of Tottenham when Mourinho replaced the sacked Mauricio Pochettino in November.

That gap is now down to just three after Mourinho masterminded an immediate Tottenham revival with four wins from his five league games.

In contrast, Chelsea are experiencing the first major blip of Lampard’s reign after four defeats in their last five league matches.

“To go up against him for Derby against Manchester United last year was a big deal for me. And that still remains,” said Lampard in reference to last season’s win over Mourinho when they met in the League Cup third round.

“I’ll always have respect for him. The bigger thing is Chelsea-Tottenham, and what that rivalry means to our players and us.

Lampard won two league titles with Mourinho at Chelsea, but they are managerial peers now and the former England star recognises his old boss has a squad capable of denting his ambitions by knocking the Blues out of the top four.

“It should be relatively even when you look at the last four years, where Chelsea and Tottenham have been fighting to get into the top four. It’s always a competitive fixture,” Lampard said.

Mourinho’s impact at Tottenham has surprised some who claimed he was finished as a top manager after his last two jobs with Chelsea and United ended in acrimonious circumstances.

But the 56-year-old never doubted his ability to Tottenham back on track and now he wants to underline their resurgence with a statement win against Chelsea.

“When we arrived we were 12 points distance, we were closer to the bottom than the top,” Mourinho said.

“But of course we knew where we belong and we knew it was a question of time to leave this awful position and to have an approach.

“We know we can end this year in the top four. But this is not just between us and Chelsea. Manchester United are involved, Wolves are involved. Every point is crucial.”

AFP

‘I Am 100% Tottenham,’Says Mourinho Ahead Of Chelsea Clash

 

Jose Mourinho 
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Jose Mourinho insists his loyalties are completely with Tottenham as the former Chelsea boss prepares for an emotional clash with his old club.

Mourinho once claimed he could never manage Tottenham due to his two successful spells with their London rivals Chelsea.

But the Portuguese coach accepted Tottenham’s offer to replace Mauricio Pochettino in November and on Sunday he will come face to face with Chelsea for the first time since taking charge in north London.

While Mourinho earned his place in Chelsea folklore for the six trophies he won at Stamford Bridge, which include three Premier League titles, he made it clear he no longer concerns himself with the Blues because his allegiance is with Tottenham.

“For me, it’s a game. I am 100 per cent Tottenham, 100 per cent my club always, all my career,” Mourinho told reporters on Friday.

“No space at all for my previous clubs. I gave everything to all of them. Everything. I kept nothing.

“I gave everything but they are my previous clubs. I give everything to my club – my club is Tottenham.

“It’s so easy for me to play that game. Difficult because of Chelsea’s quality but not difficult from an emotional point of view.”

Mourinho will remember that some Chelsea fans gave him a hard time when he returned to the Bridge as Manchester United boss, chanting “you’re not special anymore” in reference to his self-styled ‘special one’ nickname.

He is likely to endure more taunts from Chelsea supporters at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend, adding another layer of intrigue to an already explosive fixture.

Tottenham are in good form in the early days of Mourinho’s reign and another win over Chelsea, who have struggled in recent weeks, would take them above the Blues in the top four despite trailing their rivals by 12 points when Pochettino was dismissed.

Mourinho will come up against a familiar face in the opposition dugout in the shape of Frank Lampard, one of the key players his two reigns at Chelsea.

The former Real Madrid boss revealed there will be a big hug waiting for Lampard, but he will not be inviting him for a post-match drink.

“I don’t think so because our stadium is built in the way that our office is completely on the inside our private headquarters,” Mourinho said.

“Until now I didn’t invite any managers to go there and I don’t think I’ll do that with Frank.

“But like I used to say, a big hug before the game and another after the game, that’s for sure independent of results and who is happy.

“I think our feelings will be forever. I’ll always be grateful to him for what he gave me as a player.

“Nothing is going to change that. I love the guy, I will always love the guy. I hope he loses on Sunday.”

AFP