Man-U 0 Chelsea 0: Hiddink Satisfied, Van Gaal Rues Luck

ChelseaManchester United ended a run of four straight defeats with a goalless draw against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday while Chelsea continued what looked like a resurgence.

Under-fire manager Louis van Gaal insists he will not quit after Manchester United extended their run without a victory to eight games in all competitions.

Sixth-placed United produced an improved display at Old Trafford, with a goalless draw with champions Chelsea.

“I think it was a very good performance but you have to score a goal and we didn’t. We hit the post twice when the keeper was beaten, then had a big chance in the second half and two penalty cases – one handball, one foul on Mata – but didn’t receive a penalty. So we are forcing the luck but still don’t have the luck we need.

“We were the dominant team, we created chances, we shot on goal and only gave three chances away. Against a team like Chelsea, with such attackers, that’s not bad.”

Van Gaal said that he was aware poor form could force a club to sack its manager, but he had the backing of the players and would fight on.

“I cannot have any influence on that (his future). I can only work with my players and you have seen that my players are fighting for me and that they have given a good performance.

“Even after this result, the fans were applauding, so I cannot say that I am very much concerned but in this football world, you never know. But I have full confidence in the board and in my players. When the players can give such a performance under this pressure, then it is not any reason to resign for me.

“Maybe the media wants that but I shall not do that. It’s not a question of staying, it’s a question of fulfilling my contract.”

Hiddink Satisfied With Draw

On the flipside, Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink is satisfied with Chelsea’s draw at Manchester United.

Diego Costa was suspended for the clash while fellow attackers Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao were side-lined by injury, forcing winger Eden Hazard to occupy a centre forward role.

Hiddink, says the team is still building after months of poor results. “Tactically it was okay, defensively we were well organised,” said the manager.

“We didn’t have full power to hurt Man U – as everyone knows we have some problems in the striker position due to suspension and injuries so we had to think how to solve that problem.

“Hazard has done it before and he is capable of doing it because he’s a very versatile player. I’m pleased because we had some good opportunities in the second half. Man U pressed although they didn’t create a lot of chances.

“The two best chances were tremendous saves from the goalies, De Gea and Courtois. So no win but we have to consider the situation where Chelsea were and are.”

Chelsea Players Have To Be Humble – Mourinho

MourinhoChelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, has identified problems at both ends of the pitch as the primary reasons for his team’s defeat at Leicester City but believes a change of attitude can help turn their fortune around.

The manager was pleased with the fight his team showed in the final half-hour, but lamented defensive mistakes made for the home side’s goals and the wastefulness up front as the two factors that ensured the defending champions left the King Power Stadium empty-handed.

“I worked for four days on this match,” he said. “I prepared everything related to the opposition.

“I identified four movements where they score almost all of their goals. My players got all that information and training in the last three days. From the four types of situation I identified we conceded the first and the second goal. I think they listened and they are good enough, but the mistakes were there.

“I don’t want to focus only on the two goals we conceded, because in the past four or five matches we were defensively good and we had clean sheets,” he continued.

“We also have another problem which is the number of goals our attacking players are scoring, or in this case aren’t scoring. When we make defensive mistakes we are punished because we don’t score enough goals. The team pays for the number of goals our attacking players aren’t scoring.

“The good thing is the spirit – in the last 30 minutes they tried, they gave everything they had, they scored one goal, and they could have scored more.

“That’s the positive thing that makes me leave the dressing room with a feeling that isn’t as bad as the result, because in the last 30 minutes they were a team.

Eden Hazard was withdrawn with an injury during the first half having initially tried to play on.

Mourinho explained, “He made the decision in a few seconds. When he came off he said he couldn’t do it, a couple of seconds later he said he would try, and when he went back on two seconds later he immediately decided to go back off.”

With the January window approaching, Mourinho expressed his faith in his current players, “I don’t think it is right I go to the board and say these players are not good and we need to spend 50 or 100 or whatever.

“We have these players and it is with these players we have to go, and the players that are not performing well must feel attacked in their pride, in their self-esteem and they have to do everything to get results in a humble way.

“I don’t think they can feel they are top players or they are superstars. At the moment they have to be humble, they have to look to the Leicester boys and feel that they are the stars, they are the top players.

“They have to look to Sunderland and Watford and say: we are at the same level as you are. The players have to put their feet on their ground and be humble. We are where Sunderland are, we are below Watford by 10 points. The next two matches we play at Stamford Bridge we have to look to these opponents in a humble way.”

Chelsea Can Make Top Four, Mourinho Changes Tune

mourinhoJose Mourinho believes the competitive nature of this season’s Premier League means that if his side can put together a sequence of victories they still have a chance of finishing in the top four.

The manager was speaking to media at Cobham ahead of Monday’s trip to league leaders Leicester City, and this view is a sharp contrast to his earlier concession of the top four finish after the team’s 1-0 loss to AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Mourinho said that there were no fresh injury concerns for Monday’s fixture against Leicester City, managed by Claudio Ranieri, the man he replaced when he first arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2004.

Earlier in the week Ranieri said he thinks the Blues are still more than capable of securing a top-four finish, and Mourinho agrees.

“First of all, it’s nice from him,” the Portuguese said. “Nobody has any doubt that he hasn’t forgotten his time at Chelsea. Everyone who is at this club for a certain period of time likes the club very much and Ranieri is showing the nice feeling he has, but I also believe what he says.

“Before we lost three points against Bournemouth I was absolutely convinced about finishing fourth in the table and I was convinced about a great December for us.

“The reality is that some clubs are doing well and some others are not capable of doing what they are used to. It’s not easy for the top clubs to win three, four, five or 10 matches in a row now, so who knows?

“If we can get a run of four or five consecutive victories, because none of the other clubs are doing that, maybe we have a chance to make up the distance and dream of finishing fourth. While mathematically it’s possible we have to try.”

He also praised the Foxes for their performances up until the moment.

“They deserve to be where they are, let’s be honest,’ said the Blues boss. “I said a couple of weeks ago I didn’t believe they can be champions and maybe I have to think twice because it’s one thing to be top in September after a beautiful start, another is to be top in December, that’s a completely different story, so if they are there and get result after result, it’s because they can win the title.

“It would be something magnificent, something to impress the football world but sometimes these things can happen, so why not?

“They are there because they are doing magnificently well, we are where we are because we are doing badly. We have the same potential as last season, the same manager, same players, so if we are where we are it’s because we are underperforming.

“He (Ranieri) is going to win the manager of the month award and he should win more than that, he should win manager of half-term. If you could give an award for the first six months of the competition everybody is miles away from him and every club is miles away from what Leicester are doing. I know the distance between them and Man United, Man City, Arsenal is only a few points but they are the ones who deserve all the respect and compliments.

“One year ago they were bottom of the league and Ranieri was sacked by the Greece national team for losing to the Faroe Islands, now he is the top manager in the Premier League and their players are top of the league. That’s the beauty, it’s fantastic.”

I was Nervous Before Sunderland Game – Wenger

wengerWenger has admitted that he was “nervous” before kick-off, but later found joy in Arsenal’s 3-1 victory against a robust Sunderland side on Saturday.

Arsène Wenger explained that his fears were because he knew the result would be “pivotal” to their season as victory would give his side confidence going into Wednesday’s Champions League decider at Olympiacos.

“In my mind I was a little bit more nervous than usual because I felt it was a pivotal game,” he told Arsenal Player. “It was our first game without the injured players and we absolutely had to win.

“We played against a difficult team who were well organised and good on the break, so all the ingredients were there for a disappointing result. Because we hadn’t won for three games people would have said we were in a crisis, so it was important to get the win.

“We were a bit edgy, a bit nervous, in the first half but in the second half we played with more freedom, fluency and incisiveness which is how we won the game. It was a tough one and if you look at the results in the Premier League it was like that.

“It’s been a good day for us, because we have won the game and that makes helps us prepare for Olympiacos. Secondly it puts us in an interesting position again and that’s all positive. The squad that was out there for Sunderland – the good news is that we won and that we don’t have any injuries. It makes it obvious for the media to guess who will go to Olympiacos.”

Joel Campbell, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey were all on target in a convincing display at Emirates Stadium, as the Gunners ended their run of three games without a win in the Premier League.

Mourinho Gives Up On Top 4 Finish

MourinhoJose Mourinho has admitted Chelsea may have to accept that a top-four finish is beyond them.

The Barclays Premier League champions slumped to their eighth defeat of the season as Glenn Murray’s header sealed a shock 1-0 win for AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Mourinho, whose side sit on 15 points, 14 behind fourth-placed Manchester United, believes that UEFA Champions League qualification may well be out of the question.

“Before the game I was still thinking we could finish top four,” he said.

“I am very disappointed with this result, not in the performance because in the second half the performance was good but let’s think about the next game and forget the targets because without consistency it’s difficult.”

Mourinho also criticised his team’s inability to convert the many crosses that were sent into the opponent’s goal area which his attackers could not connect with.

He considers them big chances that could have changed the outcome of the match.

Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea Welcome Key Players

Premier LeagueArsenal have received a boost ahead of Sunderland’s trip to the Emirates with the news that defender Kieran Gibbs will be fit to return, while Theo Walcott and Laurent Koscielny are also in contention.

There are reports that Walcott and Koscielny could feature, but both will face a late fitness test prior to the game.

Walcott has spent almost two months on the sidelines after picking up a calf injury in Arsenal’s 3-0 Capital One Cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday back in October, leaving Olivier Giroud as the club’s only fit striker with Danny Welbeck yet to feature this season.

Despite being in fourth place and without a win in three games, Arsenal could still go top of the Premier League with a victory, as table toppers Manchester City are just two points ahead of the North Londoners.

Chelsea Boosted By Return Of Courtois

Jose Mourinho is also pleased to welcome back goalkeeper Courtois, after knee surgery and is set to be involved when Eddie Howe’s men visit Stamford Bridge.

“We feel better, we feel safe,” the Chelsea manager said about the Belgian’s return. “He was our goalkeeper all last season and was fundamental for us.”

But Mourinho will be without John Terry (ankle), Ramires and Radamel Falcao (muscular injuries) while striker Loic Remy is available again after missing last week’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham Hotspur,

Hazard stated his confidence that Chelsea can kick on during the hectic match schedule in December.

Aguero And Toure Out For Stoke Trip

Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure are among seven players to have been ruled out of Manchester City’s trip to Stoke City on Saturday lunchtime.

It had been hoped that Aguero would be available for the trip to the Britannia Stadium, where they have only won one of their last seven league matches, but the striker has been ruled out with the heel injury he suffered against Southampton last weekend.

And Toure also misses out after picking up a muscle problem. He joins Captain Vincent Kompany, Samir Nasri, Patrick Roberts and Pablo Zabaleta on the sidelines, while Eliaquim Mangala is suspended after picking up a fifth yellow card on Matchweek 14.

Premier League Week 15 Fixtures

Saturday 5 December 2015

12:45    Stoke v Man City             Britannia Stadium

15:00    Arsenal v Sunderland    Emirates Stadium

15:00    Man Utd v West Ham     Old Trafford

15:00    Southampton v Aston Villa         St. Mary’s Stadium

15:00    Swansea v Leicester       Liberty Stadium

15:00    Watford v Norwich        Vicarage Road

15:00    West Brom v Spurs         The Hawthorns

17:30    Chelsea v Bournemouth               Stamford Bridge

Sunday 6 December 2015

16:00    Newcastle v Liverpool  St. James’ Park

Monday 7 December 2015

20:00    Everton v Crystal Palace

League Cup: Sheffield Humble Arsenal As Chelsea Lose

League CupArsenal were dumped out of the League Cup after a weakened team crashed to a humbling 3-0 defeat at second-tier Sheffield Wednesday in the fourth round on Tuesday.

Ross Wallace put Wednesday ahead after 27 minutes and set up Lucas Joao for the second goal shortly before half-time, with Sam Hutchinson completing victory early in the second period.

It was Wednesday’s second Premier League upset in this season’s competition, following their third-round win at Newcastle United.

Arsene Wenger fielded a relatively weakened squad and also lost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott to injury in the first half.

Asides bringing Arsenal’s run of four successive victories to an end, the loss also means Arsene Wenger’s wait for a first League Cup of his lengthy reign goes on.

The Gunners have not won the competition since 1993, when they were victors over the Owls at Wembley.

Chelsea needed a late Loic Remy equalizer to force their game against Stoke City into extra time but eventually lost 5-4 on penalties in another upset on the night.

With nine well taken penalties by both teams, Chelsea’s hope were dashed as Eden Hazard saw his final spot kick saved in a spectacular manner by Stoke’s Asmir Begovic.

Everton beat Norwich City 4-3 on penalties while Hull City also defeated Leicester City 5-4 on penalties after both games ended 1-1 at regulation time.

Mikel Obi Determined To Stay At Chelsea

Mikel ObiChelsea’s Nigerian midfielder, John Mikel Obi, says he has no intention of leaving the London club.

Signed to the club in 2006 and now second only to Captain John Terry as the longest serving player in the club, Obi says Chelsea has become his home.

There have been rumours linking Mikel with a move away from West London but recent pre-season happenings show that Jose Mourinho might have plans for Mikel in his squad, at least in the 2015/16 season.

The 28-year-old spoke to club website and expressed confident views about his chances in the Chelsea squad.

“I want to stay and the manager wants me to stay,” said Mikel.

“I’ve got two years [on my contract] here and I’m happy.

“I like to be somewhere where I have developed friends and family. It’s like my family here and every day I come to work it is like coming in to see my family.

“I know all the players and all the staff so it’s going to be a hard place to leave when my contract runs out but let’s see what happens. I want to see out my two years.”

Mikel Obi played the first half of Chelsea’s match with New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, leaving the pitch at the break with the Blues 1-0 ahead.

He created an excellent chance for a second with a fine long pass which was latched on to by his compatriot Victor Moses. The winger was unlucky not to score with a dink that hit the post and not the net.

Mikel believes, “Overall it was a pretty good warm-up game but not the result we hoped for.

“We knew we needed to start the game well. I was in the dressing room having a shower at the beginning of the second half so I don’t know how we started but we obviously didn’t end the game well.”

Goals from Loïc Rémy and Eden Hazard could not prevent Chelsea slipping to a 4-2 defeat.

“We are here to work hard, and we are here to train hard leading to the Community Shield and to the league. I think we’re on the right course. That game was just a one-off game and we know we need to go back to training, buckle up and know the season is starting soon”, Mikel Obi said.

Mourinho Confirms Fabregas’ Return Against Everton

FabregasJose Mourinho has confirmed that Cesc Fabregas will return for Chelsea’s game against Everton after missing two matches with a hamstring injury.

Speaking to the media ahead of his team’s clash with the Toffees, Mourinho spoke about Cesc’s recovery and readiness for the match.

“We have only Mikel with a little problem in his knee but he’s the only who is not in conditions to play tomorrow,” he said.

While admitting that he always prefers to have all his players available, he noted that the team got results in the absence of Cesc Fabregas.

However, “to have him back is important for us,” he said.

Chelsea top striker, Diego Costa remains suspended and would be unavailable for the Everton duel and Mourinho maintained that he would be sticking with ageing striker, Didier Drogba and newly signed Loic Remy.

“We need the suspended player but we coped without him, we got results without him,” he stated.

Mourinho, who refused to reckon with the two available strikers’ impressive statistics against Everton, expressed hope that they would deliver the goals on Wednesday night.

On Everton, the manager admitted that the match could be a tough one considering the quality of the team, and the fact that striker Romelu Lukaku is always a difficult opponent.

He also expressed confidence in the Chelsea fans providing a good atmosphere for Fabregas and the rest of the team to flourish against Roberto Martinez’ men.

Everton head to Stamford Bridge unbeaten in four Premier League matches and on the back of three successive clean sheets.

Mourinho Hails Chelsea Team, Singles Out Drogba

ChelseaChelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, has hailed the bravery of his team to see-off the challenge by Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night to maintain their lead atop the English Premier League.

He said that his team played a good game against a spirited Spurs side who should have gone ahead when Harry Kane’s header hit the bar. The attempt brought Chelsea into the game, subsequently taking the lead through Hazard.

The Portuguese also applauded the effort of his aging Ivorian striker, Didier Drogba (now 36) who set up Hazard for the opener and scored the second before Remy made it three.

When asked about what he felt on Drogba’s performance he said, “Yes, it is remarkable. Didier is a team player, one of these with an old school mentality. Not selfish, not vain, a humble guy who plays for the team, fights for the team. Fantastic,” Mourinho said.

“When he is on the bench and comes on for the last few minutes to help the team defend, he does that with the same enthusiasm as when he starts a game against Tottenham.

“We played against him when he was at Galatasaray last season so I could feel the kind of potential he still has and I was expecting exactly this, with not even a doubt about a player who is not playing every game. I knew he would adapt very well mentally to his role.”

However, Spurs Boss felt hard done as his side failed to convert opportunities they had in the opening stages, with the loss now stretching their poor run at the bridge to 28 games since 1990.

“We started very well and made some chances, but they scored with their first chance and the game changed. That is the difference,” Pochettino said.

“I’m very disappointed with the result because 3-0 is harsh but we can take some positives. We were very brave at the start.

“If we scored when Kane hit the bar then the game changes, but we were playing a very good team. Our history here is difficult but we came here with the idea to take three points. That was our intention in the beginning, but in football it’s hard to manage the luck.”