Chelsea Ready For Stoke Clash – Mourinho

chelseaChelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, on Friday said that none of his players have returned from their international duty with injury, adding that those who have fitness problems have recovered.

The Chelsea boss made known the clean bill of health for his squad at his pre-match media conference.

According to, Mourinho told journalists that Diego Costa who came off in the last league game at Hull City, due to a hamstring injury, will be available for tomorrow’s match against Stoke, adding that a decision is yet to be made on whether the striker will begin the game or be on the bench.

“Diego trained yesterday and today with the group and he is not injured,” Mourinho said.

“I don’t know if I start with him or not because after a muscular injury and then just two days with the group, I need to analyse the situation with him and make a decision.

“His injury was the same as before, hamstring, and he dedicated himself to that with no days off for him or the medical department, working morning and afternoon. We did all the tests and scans to confirm the situation two days ago and at the moment the muscle is fine, but football is more than that, you need confidence, you need to believe you are free to express yourself at the maximum intensity and that is our doubt at the moment. Let’s see in the next 24 hours.

“All the season he works on prevention to make the muscle stronger and at the same time elastic and flexible, recovering well with no big accumulation of fatigue. Myself and the medical department always believe that an operation is the last resort for every injury – so we try always to train and recover to compensate the little problems. I don’t believe we will ever go to the surgery option.”

Speaking about John Mikel Obi, he said the Midfielder is in full training again, following minor knee surgery, but will not be considered for the game.

“Mikel is fine and working all week with the group but he is very tired so he is not selected, but he is not injured,” the manager said, explaining that rehabilitation training differs significantly from training for match action.

The Manager added, “He is tired because he was injured for a month, he had surgery and he was not working with the group, so after four sessions with the group he needs time to adapt and needs time to be in condition.”

The Nigerian’s tiredness is different, Mourinho told the conference, from that attributed to Eden Hazard, following his international action. There is no doubt the Belgian will be ready for action tomorrow.

“Eden was tired because he played two games in three days and he played in Israel. He traveled and he didn’t sleep as he arrived in Belgium at 5 or 6 in the morning. He is tired because he played and we think that he can recover in these couple of days and he starts the game tomorrow.”

“That is football for a player who is important for club and national team. He is a player that I want to play every time and his coach for his country wants to play him every time. He is player who plays with the ball, he creates and dribbles and plays with lots of intensity so it is not a surprise he can be a bit tired – but I believe in him, I believe in the team and I believe in his ambition to play and his desire to play and help the team to reach the season’s objective, so I start with him.”

Speaking on the game against Stoke city the Chelsea boss said,”Everybody knows the way Stoke play but they are difficult opponents and that is why they have no problem staying in the Premier League. They have a manager who is there a couple of years and has a new contract and the same players and they are very stable. Everyone knows the way they play but it is difficult for everyone.”

Mourinho added that the team needs six victories and one draw from nine remaining matches.

Arsenal Set for Barclays Asia Trophy


Arsenal will join Everton, Stoke City and a Singapore Select XI team for the Barclays Asia Trophy Singapore in July 2015.

The pre-season tournament will take place at the newly built 55,000-capacity National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub.

It will be the first time Arsenal have participated in the tournament, and the Gunners’ first visit to Singapore since 1991.

The knockout competition will take place over two matchdays on Wednesday, July 15 and Saturday, July 18, with a final to determine the winner and a play-off to decide third place. There will be two matches on each day.

The Barclays Asia Trophy has been held biennially since 2003. This year will be the first time that Singapore – celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015 – has played host to the tournament.

By winning the FA Cup sixth-round match against Manchester United, Arsenal secured their 28th FA Cup semi-final in a record dating back to the days of Woolwich Arsenal, who reached the semis in 1906 and 1907 – the highest number of semi-finals any club has reached.

Before the match on Monday, both clubs had 27 semi-finals each, but the defeat of Manchester United took Arsenal ahead.

Before that game both clubs had also won 18 and lost nine of their semi-finals.

Of the finals competed Arsenal had won 11 and lost seven – exactly the same as Manchester United.

Arsène Wenger also made history as having had more semi-finals to his name than any other manager (10), the win took his number to 11.

His closest rival is former Manchester United Manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who only achieved nine.

Coquelin Is Mentally Ready – Koscielny

Francis CoquelinArsenal defender, Laurent Koscielny believes Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin are mentally prepared for the high intensity of a North London derby.

The youngsters have featured in each of Arsenal’s last four Premier League wins, helping the Gunners keep back-to-back clean sheets, while Bellerin scored his first senior goal in Sunday’s 5-0 victory against Aston Villa.

Koscielny praised the duo ahead of Saturday’s clash with Tottenham and believes Coquelin’s short loan with Charlton Athletic has helped him mature into an important first-team player.

“I’ve known him for a long time and knew that he has the quality to play for Arsenal,” the France defender told Arsenal Player.

“Now he is ready in his head and you can see that he’s played four or five games and he’s very important because we are stronger in defence.

“He cuts out little balls in front of us and after he has the quality technically to give some good passes for players like Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil or Theo Walcott. Now he has an important role in the team like Bellerin.

“Before, [Bellerin] played well but now you feel he is more confident and has more freedom – that’s good for us. He helps a lot of the team to go forward and puts in a lot of crosses. It’s important to have some new blood in the team and I think they have helped us get some good results.

“To have more confidence and freedom on the pitch, you need to play more games. They did well against Manchester City, Stoke City and also in the game against Aston Villa, so I think they are ready to give 10% of their quality to the team.

“You don’t need motivation when you play a derby. It’s the most important game in your season for the fans and the club. We will be focused, we will try to win because we want to stay at the top of the table and winning against Tottenham is always a pleasure for us, the fans and for the club.”

Chelsea Win More Than Just Three Points – Jose Mourinho

ChelseaChelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, hailed a victory he felt meant “more than just the three points” after his side saw off Stoke City 2-nil at the Britannia stadium to secure the English Premier League Christmas number one spot.

“To win here we must play a very good game,” he said.

“We did it because we adapted well to their style of play, when they had the ball. When we had the ball we tried not to lose our identity and play our game.

“To score in the beginning is important but not so much in this stadium because they are always strong, the crowd is behind them and the team is mentally strong.

“They have good players, a good bench and Mark Hughes can make changes because he has players for that. It was a very difficult victory.

“It’s a victory that means a bit more than the three points, not just because it’s difficult but because to win here you need to put more than just your quality in.

“The players were together, they coped well with a difficult style and were not afraid to have responsibility. Our creative players were not afraid to assume the game and create, our defensive players were very solid, so only with a great team performance is it possible to be successful against Stoke,” Mourinho said of his Chelsea team’s performance.

The league leaders went 1-nil up in the second minute through John Terry’s header before wrapping up the win through Cesc Fabregas’ scuffed effort with 12 minutes remaining.

In-form West Ham are the visitors to Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day ahead of trips to Southampton on December 28 and Tottenham on January 1.

Odemwingie To Face Lengthy Spell With Injury

OdemwingieStoke City’s manager, Mark Hughes has raised fears that Peter Osazie Odemwingie will face a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury that could require surgery.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria striker suffered the injury midway through the second half at the Etihad Stadium as the Potters recorded their first ever Premier League win over Manchester City, on their own turf.

Unfortunately, his worst fears have been confirmed and Odemwingie has been let off the club’s 25-man squad list, meaning he cannot be registered to play until January at the earliest.

Hughes said on Stoke City’s website: “It’s a significant injury and unfortunately it’s a long-term one but Peter has a great attitude to work and life in general – he’s always got a smile on his face – and he’s going to need those qualities. It will be a long road back but we wish him well.

“He’s going to have some kind of procedure but the medical staff are waiting for the knee to settle down.

“We’ll miss Peter around the place. He’ll do his rehab here so we’ll see him in the dressing rooms and around the building but we’ll really miss him out on the training field where he’s a big character.

“But we’ve got a great medical staff here and they will get him back as soon as it’s possible and I’m sure he’ll be as good as new.”

Odemwingie played for Nigeria in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and he scored a goal against Bosnia – Hezogovina as the Stephen Keshi led side got into the second round of the World Cup for the first time since France 1998.

EPL Round-up: Stoke Shock Manchester City At Home

Manchester CityChampions, Manchester City, suffered a shock defeat at home to Stoke City while Chelsea continue their hundred percent impressive start in the 2014/2015 English Premier League campaign.

Mame Biram Diouf scored a sensational solo goal to put Stoke in front on 58 minutes as Mark Hughes’ men held on for dear life in the closing stages, which gave the potters their first top-flight away victory over City since 1980.

Stoke had lost all 12 previous league matches at the Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford and Manager, Mark Hughes, would savour this victory at his former club.

The odds were stacked against the visitors who had not even scored at Manchester City in the Premier League.

By contrast, Manuel Pellegrini’s men had failed to hit the net in just one of their last 70 home matches and the Chilean started up front with Sergio Aguero, who had taken just 23 seconds to score off the bench against Liverpool.

The Potters had failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 12 league matches but a resolute performance from Hughes’s side saw them do just that and Diouf’s second-half strike capped a perfect day for the disbelieving travelling Stoke fans.

Swansea moved to the top of the Premier League table, albeit only for a couple of hours, with a 3-0 win over West Brom.

The Welsh side made a quick start at home and first-half goals from Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge sent them on their way to a third win in three matches for Manager, Garry Monk.

Routledge’s goal was one to savour as well, as he converted a bicycle kick from outside the box to add to Dyer’s early opener, and Dyer added gloss to the scoreline with 19 minutes remaining.

Their stay at the top, however, lasted only until the conclusion of the match at the Goodison which produced nine sweet goals.

United Draw On Di-Maria Debut

Meanwhile, Manchester United remain without a win after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Burnley at Turf Moor in the lunchtime kick-off.

Louis Van Gaal’s side again produced a disappointing display, despite British record signing, Angel di Maria, having a relatively lively debut before coming off with 20 minutes left.

Indeed, it was Burnley who came closest to scoring with David Jones, a former United trainee, seeing his free-kick bounce back off the crossbar early in the first-half.

Wilfried Zaha, who wasn’t given a chance by Van Gaal at Old Trafford, snatched a point for new manager, Neil Warnock, as Crystal Palace emerged from a 3-3 thriller at Newcastle with something to show for their efforts.

Zaha, on loan at the Eagles from Manchester United, struck five minutes into stoppage time at the end of a dramatic encounter at St James’ Park just as it looked as though the Magpies had secured their first Premier League win of the season.

QPR secured their first win back in the top division with a 45th minute goal from Charlie Austin enough to see them past Sunderland 1-0 at Loftus Road and Morgan Schneiderlin scored twice for Southampton as they battled past West Ham 3-1 after trailing to an early goal from Mark Noble at Upton Park.

EPL: Costa Shines As Chelsea Cruise In Nine-Goal Thriller

ChelseaChelsea demonstrated the full extent of their attacking power in their 6-3 victory over Everton.

Big-money recruit, Diego Costa, assisted by fellow Spaniard, Cesc Fabregas and Nigeria’s John Mikel Obi, scored twice for Jose Mourinho’s side, the first after only 34 seconds.

Branislav Ivanovic scored two minutes after Costa’s opener but Kevin Mirallas pulled one back on the stroke of half-time for Everton before a crazy period of five goals in 11 second-half minutes, as Chelsea pulled clear only to be pegged back.

Seamus Coleman’s unfortunate own goal after 67 minutes made it 3-1, only for Steven Naismith to finish neatly two minutes later.

Nemanja Matic’s low strike had Chelsea 4-2 up in the 74th minute, but two minutes after that, Samuel Eto’o, on for his Everton debut off the bench, headed home his side’s third against his old club.

Ramires stabbed Chelsea’s fifth past Tim Howard a minute later, and Costa finally put the result beyond doubt in the 90th minute, rounding Tim Howard to score after a superb back-heel pass from Mikel.


EPL: Chelsea Go 4 Points Clear As Arsenal Slump To Stoke

Andre Schurrle celebrates at Craven Cottage during Chelsea's defeat of Fulham Photo: AP

Arsène Wenger admitted that Arsenal’s loss at Stoke City was a “massive setback” as the Gunners fell four points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Manager Arsene Wenger had Mesut Ozil back in the squad after injury, but he saw his side beaten by a 76th-minute Jonathan Walters penalty after Laurent Koscielny had been penalised for handball.

And Wenger revealed his concern at the manner of the defeat, although he felt his side were “unlucky” to have been beaten.

“It is a big worry not to win a game like that,” said Wenger, whose side will drop to third in the table if Liverpool win at Southampton. “It’s a massive setback.

“We didn’t produce the performance that we wanted. To win a title, you have to perform when you’re expected to.

“It was a good defensive performance and overall I think we were unlucky to lose this game. Offensively we didn’t create enough. Our offensive game was poor considering our standards. At the end of day we didn’t score.

“I don’t assess our title chances at all. We just have to play well in the next game.”

Meanwhile, an Andre Schurrle hat-trick saw Chelsea stretch their lead in the Premier League on Saturday.

Germany international Schurrle scored three times in 17 minutes during the second-half as Chelsea beat Fulham 3-1 to give Jose Mourinho’s side a four-point lead over their London rivals.

The victory extended Chelsea’s lead to six points over Manchester City, who have two games in hand, while Fulham, who pulled a goal back through Jonny Heitinga, remain four points adrift of safety at the foot of the table.

Manchester City tackle Sunderland in Sunday’s League Cup final.

Biggest Brand: Bayern Munich Topples Manchester United

It’s no longer news that German club side; Bayern Munich won the Champions League title and the Bundesliga and take away the German Cup to make it a treble win for this season, but it what’s news is that the German side has knocked off English side; Manchester United from its position as the world’s most valuable brand.

In the new rankings done by BrandFinance Football 50, Bayern Munich leapfrogged after a nine per cent rise in value from 2012, moving from second to first after the double success and hopefully would clinch the German Cup.

European Cup finalists Borussia Dortmund also rose one place to 10th, with the Bundesliga’s soaring reputation clear – Schalke are 11th with Hamburg in 15th.

But the division as a whole is only worth two thirds of the Premier League – $1.9billion compared to $3.1bn.

English clubs dominate the list, with several appearing in the top 10; as well as United in second, Chelsea are fifth, Arsenal sixth, Liverpool seventh and Man City eighth.

One of the key factors in United’s drop of two per cent value was their early Champions League exit – turfed out by Madrid at the last-16 stage.

Barcelona, thrashed an embarrassing 7-0 on aggregate by Bayern, are ranked fourth in the list – where they were last time – but their brand value actually depreciated by 1 per cent.

Tottenham came in 12th, but after that a host of sides from Germany and Italy crop up before we reach our next English entry, in 29th, West Ham.

Newcastle follow in 30th – a 10-place drop from last term – with Aston Villa, Everton and Fulham close behind.

Astonishingly, Stoke City come an impressive 41st in the world.

Adidas and Nike dominate the kits of the top 15, the former providing 18 deals with the latter on 14. But emerging brands Warrior and Under Armour pose threats to these manufacturers in the future.

Below is the list of the first 10 clubs.

RankClubBrand value ($)% changeBrand rating
1Bayern Munich860m9AAA
2Man United837m-2AAA+
3Real Madrid621m4AAA+
8Man City332m10AA-
9AC Milan263m-10AAA-
10Borussia Dortmund260m15AA

Aguero sure of early return against Stoke – Mancini

Argentine and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has given a major boost to his teammates and manager Roberto Mancini after he broke the news that he could be ready and fit for the clash between Manchester City and Stoke City, as City will be travelling to Stoke come September 15th.

The injury which the Argentine sustained in Sunday’s EPL match against Southampton which also ended 3-2 in favour of the Blues’ sprung initial fears amongst his teammates and management, thinking it will rule the striker out for the whole of the season.

But City boss Roberto Mancini confirmed after a scan had been done on him and with a period of assessment that Aguero could be back within a month.

According to Mancini, the whole squad has been worried over the injury but they are happy that he will be back after the international break which is obviously fantastic news for them all and the recent development came as a relief for everyone, Aguero inclusive.

There was also encouraging news about two of Mancini’s other injured stars. Gareth Barry and Micah Richards could also see first-team action sooner than expected.

Stoke clash a must win for QPR – Djibril Cisse

QPR major player and striker; Djibril Cisse has decided to gear his team-mates up concerning their mentality before going into the Stoke City-QPR match taking place on Sunday as he issued a must win warning to them all as there is no other choice for them than to win.

With games remaining two each for teams  in the EPL, Cisse said QPR will need to garner maximum points in the clash against Stoke City for the last match for the club will be against Manchester City who will also be struggling with every breath that can be mustered to get maximum points from their last game on order to finally unseat Manchester United and be crowned the league champions, a title they last won in 1968 so their survival is depending on the points that can be gotten from the stoke City game so they must do all to beat Stoke City on Sunday.

Cisse admitted that there is so much pressure though not QPR alone but most of the other teams in the league as every club is fighting to be in a comfortable position so as not to be relegated but for QPR, all players must show that they are ready for the showdown on Sunday to outdo Stoke City.

Rangers have won their last four home games to give themselves a fighting chance but their away form has been miserable, culminating in Sunday’s 6-1 west London derby thrashing at Chelsea.

Sunday’s game is a compulsory one for all of us wearing the jersey of QPR, it is like our final and we must do everything we can to help each other to achieve this feat, Cisse said.

Cisse scored the fourth goal since his January move from Lazio on Sunday but, with QPR having already conceded six, his celebration was one of fury rather than joy.

Cisse said though he was angry all over for his team to be 6-0 down but he has since moved on and his concentration is now on Sunday clash with Stoke City and that’s what he wants his teammates too to concentrate on.

Tevez inspires City to win as Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham slip

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.