Less than 72 hours before a possible clash with Barcelona for the Champions League semi-final,Chelsea Interim boss Di Matteo and the management has been bitter about the fact that the FA slated Sunday 6pm for their FA cup semi-final clash with Tottenham Hotspurs despite knowing of the international clash coming in matter of days.
Di Matteo accuse the FA of not bothering to aid the Stamford Bridge club in terms of seeing to it as the only English club remaining in the competition they get to have time to prepare ahead of the Champions League.
With a possible win over Benfica in the return leg on Wednesday, Chelsea will be facing either AC Milan or Barcelona in the semi-final
Di Matteo said all discussion with the FA to see some sense in re-scheduling the FA tie has not yielded fruit as they are not considering it.
He said “They have their reasons and we have to respect them. We were not much involved in the decision making. Look at the other federations in Europe. They give their teams the best possible preparation, playing even before Saturdays rather than the day after whether European games are on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. It makes a big difference.
Chelsea, who had originally lobbied for the game to be played on the Friday, was yesterday still locked in talks, but the FA was adamant.
Meanwhile Di Matteo, whose team face Aston Villa today, has admitted five wins in seven games since taking interim charge after the exit of Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed his desire to return to management full-time.
Manchester City Boss Roberto Mancini admitted that he is clueless as to what can happen on the field of play if he allows Mario Balotelli the leading role of his team in final games of the English Premier league as he does not trust the 21 year old.
Roberto Mancini presently has a lot to worry for as Sergio Aguero is down with a foot injury and has been ruled out so is Carlos Tevez who with his level of fitness cannot endure 90 minutes, so the option left for the Italian will be to put on Balotelli or Dzeko’s shoulder the responsibility of leading the squad out for the remaining season to create and score goals for Manchester City and this he is not trusting Balotelli for as he said when asked if he can trust Balotelli in terms of delivering goals.
Mancini is now left with Balotelli and a last option Edin Dzeko as the only fit strikers that will lead the squad against Sunderland at the Etihad stadium admitted that though Balotelli is a top player and can score goals but he can’t be trusted as his game can never be predicted.
He openly expressed his disappointment over Balotelli’s performance in the Chelsea game.
The season has been impressive for Manchester City and the Boss Roberto Mancini who has had about 15 goals to notch up his game plan and on the negative gotten bans, sending off and topping it up with seven yellow cards recorded for the club.
Mancini said he cares less what Balotelli does with his time but admitted he would have to show signs of maturity sooner rather than later if he wants to fulfil his undoubted potential.
Mancini played down the training ground bust up with Balotelli but insisted that the Italian is a key member of Manchester City and his focus own focus is on clinching the league championship and Balotelli has to improve his game somehow.
Mancini also warned his players against complacency against Sunderland as with three points, City will be back to the top of the table ahead of United’s trip to Blackburn on Monday night and Mancini stressed the importance of getting back on track after dropping points against Stoke a week ago.
He stressed further that Manchester City needs to win every game remaining to end the league if they want to emerge the league champion for the season.
The immediate future of Spaniard Fernando Torres will be decided by the summer as to whether he will remain at Stamford bridge or move on.
Torres broke the jinx of goal drought since joining Chelsea after transfering from Liverpool and he is back with the bang that made Chelsea pay so much for his signature as he was made the most expensive player ever transfered from one English club to another English club.
Di Matteo promised after taking over from former sacked coach Villas-Boas,to stand by the Spaniard and give him whatever support he would be needing as a launching pad to regain his former form for he believes that Torres can still bounce back.
By this, Torres has so far started four in seven Blues’matches under the tutelage of Di Matteo since playing second shot to Ivorien Didier Drogba who has always been the top man for AVB.
Torres completely lacked confidence during the reign of AVB as he went 24 hours of football without a goal and as it is right now, the Spaniard might not be allowed to leave Stamford Bridge if his recent form continues.
It could be said from the angle of the players that AVB never gave Fernando Torres a fair chance to bring his game to fore so does Kalou’s situation too, where due to him not signing a new contract,he always was not picked for action but for Di Matteo’s emergence as a temp coach for the club their faiths were restored.
Tottenham Hotspurs’ famous man Louis Saha blew loud horns over table positioning in the English Premier league stating in clear terms that Arsenal should be careful as Tottenham can still knock off the Gunners to third place on the EPL table.
This came after Tottenham Hotspurs slided into the FA cup semi-final, setting up Chelsea as their opponent as they walloped Bolton 3-1 on Tuesday at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham has not been impressive for a while as it just got a second win in their last eight games,whle Arsenal has clinched unto their third place position with a seven-match winning run which Saha said he is very sure Spurs can make a change and overtake their neighbours.
Saha scored the final goal which sealed the victory for Tottenham Hotspurs against Bolton saying in football, things can happen quickly as he believes that Hotspurs can equal what Arsenal has in a bit.
Although,Saha admitted that the club has been at optimal performance which is responsible for their sharp drop during the past weeks but the club is making progress in terms of performance believing that interms of experince they have got good players like Vander Vaart,Adebayor and Gallas.
Bayern Munich put one foot in the Champions League semifinals with a 2-0 win at Olympique Marseille and holders Barcelona edged closer after a 0-0 draw at AC Milan on Wednesday.
Barca dominated possession at the San Siro and had a number of chances but Milan, eyeing away goals in the last-eight second leg at the Nou Camp next Tuesday, missed equally good opportunities through Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Lionel Messi’s spectacular run of goal-scoring came to an end amid resolute Milan defending as Barca, who had a good penalty appeal turned down, failed to score for the first time in the Champions League this season.
Striker Mario Gomez put Bayern ahead just before the break when his first-time shot fooled reserve goalkeeper Elinton Andrade and Arjen Robben added the second on 69 minutes.
Marseille’s Stephan Mbia was lucky to stay on the field for a forearm smash on Gomez and the French side, wilting domestically, will have to be even more fortunate to turn the tie around in Munich next week.
Real Madrid triumphed 3-0 at Apoel Nicosia and Chelsea won 1-0 at Benfica in Tuesday’s quarterfinal first legs.
Yaya Toure’s deflected equaliser gave Manchester City a 1-1 draw at Stoke City on Saturday to reclaim top spot in the Premier League but two more away dropped points handed the advantage to Manchester United in the title race. Toure’s long-range blast, which deceived keeper Asmir Begovic after flicking off Ryan Shawcross, rescued his side after Peter Crouch’s magnificent volley had given Stoke a 59th-minute advantage at the Britannia Stadium.
Manchester City joined United on 70 points but edged top on goal difference although the champions will go three points clear if they beat Fulham at Old Trafford on Monday.
Chelsea drew 0-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur – a result that left the Stamford Bridge club five points behind their fourth-placed opponents and eight shy of Arsenal who consolidated third spot with a 3-0 defeat of Aston Villa.
Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and Mikel Arteta secured a seventh consecutive league win for Arsenal.
At the other end of the table, Wigan Athletic gave their survival prospects a boost with a shock 2-1 win at Liverpool who have now won only twice in 11 league games.
Gary Caldwell’s 63rd-minute strike handed Wigan their maiden victory at Anfield.
Bolton Wanderers earned an emotional 2-1 triumph over fellow relegation candidates Blackburn Rovers in their first match since midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest at Tottenham in the FA Cup last Saturday.
Victory for Bolton, secured with two goals from defender David Wheater, lifted them out of the relegation zone above Queens Park Rangers who had striker Djibril Cisse sent off in a 3-1 defeat at Sunderland.
Wolverhampton Wanderers remained bottom after a 2-1 defeat at Norwich City while Swansea City lost 2-0 at home to Everton.
Manchester City have won all 15 home league games this season but their mediocre away form is threatening to deny them a first top-flight title since 1968.
GOAL OF SEASON
They have won only two of their last nine on the road and it could have been even worse on Saturday after Crouch stunned them with a contender for goal of the season.
Cushioning a dropping ball on his left foot 30 metres from goal, the out of favour England striker dispatched an unstoppable volley high over the diving Joe Hart.
Manager Roberto Mancini introduced Carlos Tevez from the bench after 73 minutes but it was Toure three minutes later who brought the visitors level when he let fly from 25 metres, his shot glancing off the head of Shawcross before evading Begovic.
Crouch, who scored for Spurs in 2010 to deprive Manchester City of Champions League football the following season, said he hoped his goal would nudge him towards selection for England’s Euro 2012 squad.
“It’s probably the best goal I’ve ever scored,” he told ESPN. “I always enjoy a volley but they don’t normally fly in like that.
“When I joined Stoke I said if I’m scoring goals then I’d have a chance to play for England again. I hope I get a chance and I’d grab it with both hands.”
In the lunchtime derby at an unseasonally warm Stamford Bridge, Chelsea wasted a chance to cut the gap on Tottenham to two points.
The closest they came to breaking the deadlock was Juan Mata’s free kick against the post while Tottenham would have claimed a first win in the fixture since 1990 if they had taken their opportunities.
Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor should have scored for the visitors while Gareth Bale thumped a header against the crossbar and also forced a fine save from Petr Cech.
“It was a big point for us and it keeps them five points behind us,” said Redknapp whose side have picked up just two points from the last 15. “We had some great chances and their keeper made some great saves.”
Counterpart Roberto Di Matteo argued Chelsea could have been awarded a couple of penalties.
“There was a clear penalty shout for us when (Benoit Assou) Ekotto pulled down Ramires at the far post,” he said. “But we didn’t create enough clear chances to get the goal we needed.
“It won’t be easy (to reach the top four) but we’ll try until the end.”
Carlos Tevez marked his Manchester City return by setting up Samir Nasri’s late winner in a vital 2-1 home victory over Chelsea on Wednesday that kept the pressure on leaders Manchester United in the title race.
The Argentine, an outcast after falling out with the club in September, came off the bench with City trailing 1-0 to Gary Cahill’s deflected shot and his moment of class in the 85th minute lifted City to within a point of their local rivals.
Sergio Aguero had levelled from the penalty spot for City who have won all 15 home league matches this season.
Tottenham Hotspur drew 1-1 at home with Stoke City in their first game since the FA Cup tie against Bolton Wanderers was abandoned on Saturday following Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest.
Rafael van der Vaart scored a late equaliser for Spurs to end a run of three league defeats but they fell below north London rivals Arsenal who won 1-0 at Everton to climb to third.
Thomas Vermaelen’s first-half goal secured rejuvenated Arsenal’s sixth successive league win which took them into the top three for the first time this season.
United have 70 points from 29 games with City on 69. Arsenal have 55 points to Tottenham’s 54 and Chelsea, who host Tottenham on Saturday, are out of the Champions league places on 49.
Liverpool suffered a late collapse in west London, throwing away a 2-0 lead to concede three late goals and lose 3-2 at struggling Queens Rark Rangers who moved out of the relegation zone above Muamba’s Bolton.
City boss Roberto Mancini, who said Tevez would never play for the club again when the striker refused to warm up in a Champions League match in Munich six months ago, called the Argentine off the bench in the 65th minute with the home side desperate for a way back into the game.
This time Tevez needed no persuasion to join the fray as he was given a rousing welcome by City’s fans.
After 78 minutes Michael Essien was adjudged to have handled a shot from Pablo Zabaleta and Aguero stayed cool to beat Petr Cech from the penalty spot.
Seven minutes later Tevez showed why he used to be such a hero at the club, playing a cute reverse pass in a crowded area to Nasri who tucked away City’s winner.
“I’m very happy because he did well,” Mancini told Sky Sports. “I don’t think he’s fit 100 percent but he knows football.
“We deserved to win the game. We won because we had the desire to win. This was more than three points this game.”
Chelsea’s caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo, who gave a rare start to Fernando Torres after his two goals in the FA Cup against Leicester City, looked on course for a fifth consecutive win since stepping in for Andre Villas-Boas after Cahill’s 60th- minute shot deflected in off Yaya Toure.
He said the penalty that got City back on level terms was the turning point.
“We were defending well until that point,” he said. “It was a bit harsh. It was a handball but I don’t think he could have disappeared because he was very close to the ball as well.”
Tottenham fans sung the name of Muamba at White Hart Lane, scene of the dramatic events on Saturday when the Bolton player’s life was saved by medics and doctors on the pitch after he collapsed in the first half of the FA Cup tie.
Muamba is recovering in hospital in the intensive care department of a London hospital and Spurs manager Harry Redknapp was hoping his side would get back to winning ways against Stoke after three defeats in a row.
Cameron Jerome’s tap-in gave visiting Stoke a surprise lead in the 75th minute before Van der Vaart, one of the players clearly distressed by Muamba’s collapse, headed his side’s late equaliser from Gareth Bale’s cross.
“It was a game I thought we would win and we’re disappointed to only take a point but it might come in handy at the end of the season,” Redknapp, whose side now face a scrap for a top-four finish, said.
Goals from Shaun Derry, Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie in the final 13 minutes at Loftus Road gave QPR a remarkable victory over Liverpool.
“We’ve come back from a situation where we looked dead and buried,” said QPR boss Mark Hughes. “I thought the crowd were fantastic as they never lost faith in us. Once we got a little bit of momentum they drove us over the line.
Wednesday night could be a make or break for Manchester City as they put their Premier League title hopes on the line against a rejuvenated Chelsea side.
Four points behind leaders Manchester United, with a game in hand, nothing short of victory will be good enough for City, who topped the table for much of the season.
With Chelsea chasing third spot after rediscovering something close to top form and with Fernando Torres back on the score sheet, City know they will be in for a tough match at the Etihad Stadium.
And with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson upping the mind games after his own side’s 5-0 win at Wolves on Sunday; City manager Roberto Mancini has it all to prove.
The Italian is considering restoring Carlos Tevez to his squad after the Argentina forward’s bizarre year in which he turned his back on the club only to return.
But City midfielder Nigel de Jong believes the big-spending club can handle the pressure.
“We don’t fear the momentum is with United,” the Dutchman said. “We don’t have any fear.
“Over the last 12 days or so we’ve been in a moment where things haven’t been as easy as they were at the start of the season.
“The next 10 games are cup finals ¬because we have only the League now.”
City goes into the match with Chelsea on the back of their exit from the Europa League and a shock defeat at Swansea in their last Premier League match.
They could be boosted by the return of Vincent Kompany but will be aware of the threat of a rejuvenated Torres, who broke his scoring drought with two goals on Sunday.
The Spaniard was the scourge of Manchester United when he wore the shirt of Liverpool but now could have a say in pushing the title United’s way if he helps Chelsea beat City.
“I needed those goals and I’ve been working so hard to get them,” the Spaniard said.
“This season I have been playing at a very good level but I was not scoring goals. The job of the strikers is scoring goals and if you don’t do that people think you are playing bad. The main thing for me has been the support of the people.
“They are always with me and now I feel the confidence of the manager as well. It’s a good time for me and a good time for Chelsea.”
Four points behind Tottenham and three behind Arsenal, a win for Chelsea would also boost their own hopes of a top-three spot.
Tottenham host Stoke City on Wednesday night while Arsenal travel to Everton.
Liverpool, sitting seventh and 10 points behind Arsenal but who have not given up their own hopes of a top-four berth, are away to Queens Park Rangers.
Bolton’s game at Aston Villa set for Tuesday has been postponed after Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest in Saturday’s FA cup quarterfinal with Tottenham and remained in critical condition in the heart attack centre of a London hospital.
Tottenham v Stoke Man City v Chelsea QPR v Liverpool Everton v Arsenal
The dates for this season’s FA Cup semi-final matches have been confirmed, with Liverpool set to avoid playing on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
The winner of the replay between Everton and Sunderland will play the Reds at Wembley on April 14, whilst Chelsea takes on either Tottenham or Bolton the following day at the same stadium.
A statement released on Tuesday on the Football Association’s official website confirmed the fixture dates, but did not specify a kick-off time.
The Reds booked their place among the last four with a 2-1 win over Stoke City at Anfield on Sunday, but Kenny Dalglish’s men will have to wait a little longer to see whether a Mersyside derby is on the cards after Everton’s 1-1 draw with Sunderland.
Tim Cahill’s header cancelled out Phil Bardsley’s opener to leave the sides needing a replay at the Stadium of Light to decide who will take to the field at Wembley next month.
Chelsea – who saw off Championship side Leicester City 5-2 over the weekend – will play the winner of Tottenham and Bolton, after their match was abandoned shortly before the interval after Trotters’ midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch.
The winners of the respective semi-finals will meet in the showpiece final on Saturday May 5.
The most recent coach butt-kicked by Chelsea owner Abramovich for non-performance in the month of March; Andre Villas-Boas will likely be resuming a new coaching role with Italian giants Inter Milan next season.
AVB will be replacing Claudio Ranieri as Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti has not been able to hide away his admiration for the former Chelsea boss as it was said that the Italian club President will be making a move on the Portuguese two weeks before he was sacked by Abramovich.
According to report,AVB has been offered the coaching job for the Italian club and if Villas-Boas accepts the offer to be the coach of Inter Milan it counts as the third step the Portuguese will be taking following that of his compatriot Jose Mourinho.
Going by records,Villas-Boas’ first steps in management came at Porto, where he also won domestic and European honours like his predecessor Jose Mourinho who left the Portuguese club to be engaged as Chelsea boss.
With Mourinho leaving Chelsea,AVB was recruited by Roman Abramovich to come over to Stamford Bridge but the difference was quickly noted at Stanford bridge where there was no happiness in the dressing room and his coaching career at Chelsea didnt end like it should.
Mourinho left Milan for Real Madrid in 2010 after winning his second European Cup with the Italain Club and by AVB’s acceptance of Massimo Moratti’s offer means the comparision continues only that a chance of career resurrection is opened again for Villas-Boas as the coaches before Jose Mourinho have all failed to carry the club high. It is now left for Villas-Boas to raise the bar of success and put his name in the record books of the club and world club football as Moratti will be willing to be very patient with the 34-year old coach form Portugal.
Roberto Di Matteo; the interim boss of Stamford Bridge club Chelsea has been speaking on the below-par form of former Liverpool Striker Fernando Torres.
The coach has vowed to continue to give his support in everyway to the striker who drained Abramovich’s pocket £50 million less in 2011,though still struggling to find feet in his new club Di matteo promised to wait patiently with the Spaniard till he comes back to his full form that made the Blues sign him from Liverpool which he feels Torres can still achieve.
There were suggestions from some quarters that the only way the Spaniard can return to full form will be when he signs a new contract with another club which the interim coach didnt support as he would not allow Torres leave Chelsea.
Di Matteo said:”I have total confidence in Fernando Teorres – 100%, 200%, whatever you want to call it”.
Andre Villas-Boas has been sacked by Chelsea Football Club after less than a year in charge at Stamford Bridge.
The 34-year-old Portuguese took over as manager in June 2011.
The statement posted on the club’s website states that “unfortunately the results and performances of the team have not been good enough and were showing no signs of improving at a key time in the season.”
“The club is still competing in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup, as well as challenging for a top-four spot in the Premier League, and we aim to remain as competitive as possible on all fronts. With that in mind, we felt our only option was to make a change at this time” the statement explained.
Former Chelsea midfielder Roberto di Matteo has been put in charge as first-team coach on an interim basis until the end of the season.
The club’s decision comes on the heel of Saturday’s defeat to West Bromwich Albion by 1 goal.
The club has had just three Premier League wins in their last 12 games and faces two tough games in the FA Cup and Champions League in the next 10 days.
The club will be visiting Birmingham FC for an FA Cup fifth-round replay on Tuesday and the following week they will host Italian side Napoli, at Stamford Bridge, where they must overturn a 3-1 deficit to avoid exiting the Champions League at the last 16 stage.
Villas-Boas first came to Chelsea as a scout from 2004-2007 during Jose Mourinho’s tenure, and five major domestic trophies were won in that period.
He also assisted Mourinho at Porto and Inter Milan, and worked in a similar role under Sir Bobby Robson during the former England manager’s spell in charge of Porto.
His first club managerial role was with Portuguese side Academica in October 2009, but after moving to Porto the following summer he won the Portuguese League and Cup double plus the Europa League.
After being recruited by Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich in what was thought to be an attempt to implement a more attractive style of play, Villas-Boas suffered early defeats against Manchester United and Arsenal and questions were raised about his tactical strategies.
Villas-Boas also appeared to have a difficult working relationship with senior players at Chelsea, several of whom were only slightly younger than him.
After Saturday’s defeat at West brom, the embattled coach said, “it’s not been good enough for some time. We’re fifth and if that is the case, something’s wrong. Every defeat piles more pressure on any Chelsea manager. We don’t win enough and that does not make us proud.”
CHELSEA MANAGERS UNDER ROMAN ABRAMOVICH
1. Claudio Ranieri: Sep 2000 to May 2004 2. Jose Mourinho: Jun 2004 to Sep 2007 3. Avram Grant: Sep 2007 to May 2008 4. Luiz Felipe Scolari: Jul 2008 to Feb 2009 5. Guus Hiddink: Feb 2009 to May 2009 6. Carlo Ancelotti: Jun 2009 to May 2011 7. Andre Villas-Boas: Jun 2011 to Mar 2012