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.

Chelsea Have Quality To Overcome PSG – Hiddink

ChelseaGuus Hiddink says his team are improving with every game and believes they have the quality to overcome Paris Saint-Germain and progress in the Champions League.

The absence of the skipper, John Terry, who has a minor problem with his hamstring and ligament, is a big blow, but Hiddink feels they are well equipped to cope.

“Well, it was not a decision made by me,” said the Chelsea manager.

“He was having too much trouble to travel. We made a test this morning and it didn’t work out well, so the decision was made to leave him at home. He was, himself, also convinced he could not be of worth to the team at the moment.

“He has a bit of a problem on his hamstring and on the tendon in that area. That’s why we had the test this morning and we decided he would not participate. It will be difficult to say whether he can play this weekend. That’s why we’d prefer him to keep undergoing treatment back at Cobham.

“We’ve practised with other people in at central defence, so it was not a surprise for the players that we had to make some changes. Of course, not having John is a bit of a setback. He’s a leader. But I’m not the type of coach to moan and moan. We have to go on. The players who will replace him I have complete faith in them.”

The current form of the team notwithstanding, Hiddink considers the Champions League a winnable trophy for Chelsea.

“It’s about winning the Champions League, not looking just to get back into it next year,” said Hiddink. “You have so many good teams, though, it’s very difficult. It’s beautiful to win a big, big cup.

“We are growing. Everyone knows the situation of Chelsea in recent months and weeks. We have, step by step, tried to establish more security in the team. To play with the quality of players we have.

“We are not quite where we’d like to be. We’d like to have an array of games where you’ve imposed the way you like to play. We’ve tried to do that step by step. But to give even more security, you need a number of games won where you’ve controlled and been dominant.”

Paris Saint-Germain have been impressive domestically this season, but Hiddink feels the teams are evenly matched.

“It’s 50-50,” he said. “If you see where we are now and where PSG are now, they are building a very strong team and dominating the French league completely. They are 24 points ahead, and are focusing to get this Champions League. A big club has to win the Champions League.

“The league didn’t start well for us this year, and we’ve had some recovery from December up to now, but we’re desperate to get into the next round of the Champions League.

“It’s a big test for us to get into the next round and I hope we can do something to swing it to our advantage.”

Arsenal-Leicester: Wenger Says Both Teams Under Pressure

wengerArsène Wenger says his side cannot wait for Sunday’s top-of-the-table fixture against Leicester City because it is the kind of game they relish.

Arsenal have taken 10 points from four matches against the other sides in the top five so far this season, and won 5-2 at King Power Stadium back in September.

The Foxes have lost only one Premier League match since and go into Sunday’s match five points clear at the top, but Wenger believes his side will rise to the challenge.

“What is important is to find the momentum back and that means that you win a few games,” the boss said. “After, let’s not count too much on the weakness of Leicester because they have not shown too many.

“We want to find a consistency in our results until the end of the season, because we have big game after big game now.

“What I believe is that you do not have to be a super mathematician to analyse that it is a very important game, maybe not a decisive one for the Premier League but it is not far away from that.

“The pressure is on us as well, of course. I don’t deny that but I take that in a very positive way and as an opportunity to show how strong we are.

“I think the biggest pressure in our job is to play games without pressure. This is the kind of game we want – the kind of game we relish. When you play at Arsenal Football Club, that’s what you want.

“(Leicester) are still in a position where they think they have nothing to lose. But once you are top of the league, you can also think about losing what you have.

“That is where the nerves come in a little bit. I do not know how they will respond to that.”

FA Cup: West Ham’s Late Goal Sends Liverpool Out

LiverpoolWest Ham United have dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup in an extra-time thriller at Upton Park.

After a drab goalless draw at Anfield a week and a half ago, both teams produced a more entertaining match.

Michail Antonio had given West Ham the lead on the stroke of half-time before Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick levelled it up just after the break.

The second half saw both teams miss a lot of chances with Christian Benteke guilty of a notable miss in the 56th minute.

West Ham also seemed to have had a valid penalty denied when Tiago Ilori pulled down Valencia in the box.

Daniel Sturridge’s well taken shot also missed the goal by inches in the 108th as the match seemed to be heading for penalties.

Liverpool, however, were left to rue their wasted chances as Angelo Ogbonna headed home Dimitri Payet’s free-kick in the 121st minute.

Klopp made 10 changes from the side that threw away a two-goal lead to draw with Sunderland on Saturday. Only goalkeeper Simon Mignolet kept his place.

Five members of their starting line-up had never previously started a Premier League game.

Firmino Wins PFA Fans’ Player Of The Month

firminoLiverpool forward, Roberto Firmino, has been named the PFA fans’ player of the month in the Premier League.

Firmino enjoyed a superb January, scoring four goals in as many premiership matches.

The 24-year-old, who joined Liverpool last summer in an initial £21.3m deal, scored twice in his side’s 3-3 draw with Arsenal.

Firmino, who also bagged a brace in Liverpool’s 5-4 win over Norwich beat Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney and Tottenham’s Harry Kane to the award.

Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says everyone at the club is interested in finding a solution to arguments over ticket prices to matches.

The club’s U.S owners Fenway Sports Group have proposed new prices for the 2016 to 2017 season and asked for consultation.

On Saturday around 10,000 Liverpool fans staged a protest walk-out at Anfield during the match against Sunderland in response.

Kurt Zouma Out For Six Months, Chelsea Confirm

zoumaChelsea Football Club’s medical team have diagnosed that Kurt Zouma sustained an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament during Sunday’s Premier League game against Manchester United.

Kurt will undergo surgery in the next 48 hours and is expected to be out for approximately six months.

Zouma also tweeted, “Scan today has shown I injured my anterior cruciate ligament. I will have surgery this week and will come back stronger.”

The France centre-back has made 32 appearances for Chelsea this term.

The Blues came from behind to earn a point courtesy of Diego Costa’s 91st-minute equaliser after Jesse Lingard had given Man-U the lead in the match played at Stamford Bridge.

EPL Results: Leicester City Beat Manchester City 3-1

leicesterEnglish Premier League leaders Leicester City’s title challenge have reached unprecedented heights as they went six points clear at the top after beating Manchester City 3-1.

It was Manchester City’s first defeat in seven Premier League games as frailties in their back-line were once again miserably exposed this time by the scintillating Foxes attack.

Robert Huth turned in Riyad Mahrez’s corner to give the Foxes an early lead.

Mahrez made it 2-0 with a step-over and finish, and Huth found space to head home a Christian Fuchs corner before Sergio Aguero’s late consolation.

Riyad Mahrez ended a personal goal drought and was the first player this season to achieve a significant goals mark.

It was also the second time in his Barclays Premier League career that Huth has scored more than once in a match, last scoring a brace in February 2011 for Stoke against Sunderland.

Sergio Aguero’s late consolation for Man City was his first Barclays Premier League goal against Leicester and as a result the striker has scored against 26 of the 28 different opponents he has faced in the competition (Bolton and Burnley are the exceptions).

The defeat was Man City’s third at home this season as they continued their run of failing to beat any opponent in the top six in 2015/16.

Other Results

Aston Villa     2 – 0  Norwich City

Liverpool       2 – 2   Sunderland

Newcastle       1 – 0  West Bromwich Albion

Stoke City      0 – 3   Everton

Swansea City    1 – 1   Crystal Palace

Tottenham       1 – 0   Watford

Southampton 1 – 0   West Ham

Arsenal’s Yaya Sanogo Joins Charlton On Loan

sanogoArsenal’s Yaya Sanogo has joined Championship side Charlton Athletic on loan for the remainder of the season.

The 23-year-old forward spent the first half of the campaign on loan with Ajax, making a total of four appearances.

Last season he enjoyed a successful period with Crystal Palace, with 10 outings for the Eagles in the Premier League.

A former France under-21 international, Sanogo arrived at Arsenal from Auxerre in July 2013. He helped the Gunners to win the FA Cup in his debut season, featuring in both the semi-final and the final.

Yaya has featured a total of 20 times in all competitions for the Gunners, scoring once.

According to the Arsenal website, the move is subject to the completion of regulatory processes.

Mikel, Ayew And Kouyate Battle For Player Of The Month

mikelSuper Eagles and Chelsea midfielder, Mikel Obi, will slug it out with Ghana and Aston Villa’s Jordan Ayew and Senegal/West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate, in the January shortlist for the African player of the month in the English Premier League.

Mikel has been impressive in the starting line-up for Chelsea under interim manager, Guus Hiddink, and his club have been unbeaten in 8 games since the departure of former manager, Jose Mourinho.

According to the organisers, the focus is on African players who are making contribution in their own way, in their clubs’ trying times’.

Apart from Kouyate whose West Ham is certainly riding high, getting impressive results, the other two nominees are having a season to forget in their respective clubs.

Walcott, Willian Expect Tough Arsenal vs. Chelsea Clash

Arsenal-chelseaPremier League players from both Arsenal and Chelsea are expressing cautious views ahead of the Sunday clash at the Emirates.

Chelsea midfielder, Willian believes his team has improved in the last few games and Arsenal’s Theo Walcott admitted that indeed, they would face a “completely different” Chelsea during the weekend.

“It is going to be a completely different team we face. They will be up for the challenge,” Walcott said, admitting also that Chelsea remains a threat to Arsenal’s title chances as they are likely to face another big battle on Sunday.

“They are always a threat. They have got top-quality players, even though some of them are not playing to the standards they set last year but in these games, nobody can call it,” Theo said.

Willian Borges da Silva, while describing the improvement in their squad, expressed belief that Chelsea is capable of winning the game at the Emirates.

He said; “Arsenal have a great team, we know that, but we know we can do it and bring back three points to Stamford Bridge”.

The Brazilian warned that he would also be out to score against his former Chelsea teammate and now Arsenal goalkeeper, Petr Cech.

Frank Lampard Says Hiddink Is Perfect For Chelsea

Frank LampardFormer Chelsea midfielder, Frank Lampard believes Guus Hiddink is perfect manager to transform the fortunes of his former club.

Hiddink took over from Jose Mourinho after their woeful start to the campaign saw them lose nine of their first 16 league games.

Chelsea are currently six points above the relegation zone and are up against London rivals, Arsenal in their next Premier League match.

Frank Lampard is, however, enjoying his stint at the Major League Soccer and hopes the new season will be more successful.

With new man Patrick Vieira in charge, Lampard believes the Frenchman’s international experience will have a positive impact on his team.

Former France international, Patrick Vieira, has been unveiled as head coach of New York City FC.

Vieira had been working with the development squad of the Major League Soccer Club.

New York’s first preseason match is a friendly against Florida Gulf Coast University men’s soccer team on January 31.

Beating Chelsea Is Important For Arsenal – Wenger

ArsenalArsène Wenger says Arsenal have the chance to show they have made progress by beating Chelsea on Sunday.

The Gunners have not claimed a victory against their London rivals in the Premier League since their 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge in October 2011.

However, they beat the Blues in the Community Shield last August and Wenger says they further demonstrate their progress this weekend.

“It is another one where we can show we have moved forward,” he said.

“It is another game where people look at us and see how we behave because, even if Chelsea are not in the best position, you look at their squad.

“It is a big game because of the quality of players on the pitch and it has a big importance to us because we play at Emirates Stadium and we know it will be important to win these types of games.

“We have certainly proved our battling potential [this season] through big solidarity, through great togetherness and as well because we are ambitious and we have more experience than in the past,” he continued.

“One of the advantages of having experienced players is that they know that sometimes it’s just about battling and not always only about playing well.”

Gabriel and Santi Cazorla were both sent off at Chelsea in September, and Wenger says keeping cool will be key in this weekend’s game.

“We are convinced that our records against big opponents is linked with discipline,” he said, adding that the team “were a bit unlucky due to the decisions of the referee”.

“Overall, over the longer distance, I believe that we have a very strong record on the discipline front in the Premier League. We want to maintain it.”