Chelsea Defender Admits Man City Game ‘Will Be Difficult’

ChelseaChelsea defender, Kurt Zouma is expecting a tough match away to Manchester City in their Barclays Premier League Match Day 2 fixture on Sunday.

He is, however, relishing the challenge that awaits the team and this is because of the impressive performance he produced against Manchester City at the end of January, when the Premier League’s top two sides met at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea five points clear at the summit.

Four days earlier, Chelsea had beaten Liverpool to progress to the Capital One Cup final when Zouma shone from the off. It was enough to earn him only his second start in England’s top-flight for the visit of their nearest title rivals.

“It is a good memory,” he recalled in a chat with the official Chelsea website. “And it was an important stage in my development.

“First of all I played the game and I was really proud of that. We drew 1-1 and we defended well. For my part I think I did well against a good attack, helping the team to a draw.

“We know we are playing against a good team on Sunday and it will be difficult, but we have a chance to win. I think it will be a very interesting game.

“It’s a chance early in the season to show why we are champions. We want to defend our title. The season after a very good season is always hard but we have to show we are ready to try and do it.”

Zouma showed his versatility in the 2014/15 season when he lined up in central midfield for certain games, most notably the League Cup triumph over Tottenham at Wembley.

He had grown up as a right-sided defender but both in the pre-season game against Barcelona and the Community Shield he featured on the other side of the back four.

Cesc Fabregas would also make his 50th appearance for Chelsea if selected for the game.

The Spaniard’s 49 appearances to date have come in the Premier League (35), the FA Cup (1), the League Cup (4), the Champions League (8) and the recent Community Shield.

Tottenham Sign Atletico Madrid Star Toby Alderweireld

Tottenham Sign Atletico Madrid Star Toby Alderweireld Tottenham Hotspur have signed Atletico Madrid’s star, Toby Alderweireld, for a transfer fee of about £11.5m.

It was understood that the Spurs signed the 26-year-old on a five-year deal.

The Belgium-born defender will move to White Hart Lane, after spending last season on loan at English Premier League rivals Southampton.

However, Southampton were interested in signing the former Ajax star, but Tottenham had stolen a march on their rivals and landed the stopper.

Townsend Scores As England Draw With Italy

EnglandTottenham winger, Andros Townsend, came off the bench to produce a late equaliser for England in a 1-1 draw against Italy in Turin on Tuesday.

Southampton striker, Graziano Pelle’s header looked to have put Italy on course for victory in the first-half of the friendly against England.

The English side on the other hand, struggled to get to grips with the changes made by manager, Roy Hodgson, after Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier win against Lithuania.

By the introduction of several substitutes, the Tottenham winger’s rising 20-yard drive 11 minutes from time, gave England a draw in the second-half.

Hodgson’s side then ended the game on top and only a fine save from Buffon stopped England captain, Wayne Rooney – who had earlier hit the bar – from adding to his total of 47 goals for his country and closing even further on Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time record of 49.

The experiment of using Phil Jones in midfield failed miserably and he reverted to defence when Chris Smalling went off ill just before half-time.

Correspondingly, Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, was also misused in a forward role rather than on the wing.

Hodgson said after the match, “I’m really happy with our second half, I thought we were the better team. That’s pleasing in the sense that under (Antonio) Conte, Italy are a strong team.

“We’re missing a few players and when they’re available, we have a few more options.”

I’ve Always Wanted To Defend – Gabriel

GabrielArsenal FC defender, Gabriel, says he was always determined to become a defender.

Arsenal’s newest signing has impressed since joining the club and says his “main characteristic” was always to defend.

The 24-year-old began his career at Brazilian side, Esporte Clube Vitoria and, but for a short spell as a right winger, has played his entire career at the back.

“When we are little, we always want to be on the attack, but I realised that it wouldn’t work, so I kept going backwards and backwards,” Gabriel told the Arsenal Magazine.

“The only thing I didn’t try was being a goalkeeper. I stopped there.

“So I started to play in defence and I started to do well, I started to enjoy it. I made my decision, I thought: ‘This it is! I’m not leaving here’.

“I began enjoying it and I started to want to defend, to fight not to let them in, not to let the other team score goals.

“I always have that in my head – to want to defend, and defend well. And that is why.”

The centre back joined a select band of Brazilians when he joined the Gunners in January, following in the footsteps of Sylvinho and Edu.

He was named on Arsenal’s bench for the first time in their 5-0 win against Aston Villa on Sunday, February 1.

Capital One Cup: This Could Be Start Of Something Very Good – Terry

TerryThe Man of the Match in Chelsea’s Capital One Cup triumph, Captain John Terry, has been able to draw parallels with a decade ago as the current crop under the same manager quickly set their sights on more silverware this season.

Ten years after lifting his first Chelsea trophy, a very happy John Terry repeated the success but this time with the added bonus of his first cup final goal.

“This is the first one, it is massive,” he the Chelsea website.

“It meant an awful lot to us in 2004/05 in Jose’s first year here and it could be the start of something very good. Now we have to kick on with the League to focus on next but it’s a great day and a great win.

“I’m delighted with my goal and delighted with the team’s performance and lifting the trophy but you have to build on that. You have to set the foundations and we have done that, this is the first one and hopefully we can kick on.”

Terry, who also made his debut in the League Cup back in 1998, spoke about the strong desire among the current Chelsea crop to make history and the way they went about doing so at Wembley on Sunday afternoon.

“It is the start of something and we have to win trophies to be up there with some great sides, but we have won our first one now and in 2005 it inspired us and kicked us on and hopefully this will do the same.

“The pressure was there before the game but that is what cup finals do to you and I thought we handled the game very well.

“It was fairly even in the first half but we controlled it a little better in the second half and we are deserved winners.

“Spurs like to press, certainly in that first phase, so we tried to miss that out and get the ball into the front man a bit sooner which eliminated it a little bit, and I am delighted for Diego, he is in great goalscoring form and it is great to see him do it on the big stage as well.”

One of the game’s big talking points was Jose Mourinho’s solution to being robbed of the services of Nemanja Matic and needing to deal the Tottenham central attacking threat of Harry Kane with Christian Eriksen behind. The manager deployed Kurt Zouma further forward than normal with Gary Cahill and Terry paired in central defence.

“We did a little bit of work on it in the week and we shuffled it, so the manager does keep everyone guessing and on our toes,” said Terry.

“He said in the team meeting everyone has had a part to play in this competition and it is hard to leave some people out, but that is why he is the best because he makes good decisions.

“In this competition he made it very clear from the outset that we were out to win it and credit to the manager and the squad.

“The squad is moving in the right direction with some young players and hungry and experienced players as well, it is a great mix.

“A few teams over the years have written this competition off but it has always been close to my heart, and to be in this great stadium lifting this trophy is a really great feeling.”

It was the Blues skipper who fired his side into the lead against Tottenham to turn the Capital One Cup final tide against North London and in favour of the west, with the 2-0 win sealed when Diego Costa’s strike found the net and the Chelsea defence held firm.

Chelsea Wins Capital One Cup

chelseaJose Mourinho has claimed his first trophy since returning for his second spell as Chelsea manager, as Chelsea emerged winner of the Capital One Cup over Tottenham at Wembley.

Jose Mourinho was delighted after seeing his side crowned Capital One Cup kings, the club’s fifth success in the competition’s history.

Mourinho’s mastery of the big selection decision was also demonstrated again by his deployment of Kurt Zouma, a central defender by trade, in midfield to fulfill the role left behind by the suspended Nemanja Matic to outstanding effect.

John Terry, Man of the Match striked with a goal on the stroke of half-time.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Diego Costa, scored with an assist pass from Cesc Fabregas which deflected off the leg of Kyle Walker.

Speaking to the media after the game, Mourinho started by praising the opposition saying, ”First of all I want to say that in the middle of my happiness is space to think about Mauricio Pochettino, his staff and Tottenham as a team and a club, I met him in Spain many years ago as a player and then when he was a young manager when I was at Real Madrid. He came to England, proved himself, nobody gave him anything for free.”

The Chelsea’s boss added:  ”The second thing I want to say is that now I don’t think about John Terry, Azpilicueta or Diego Costa; I think about Courtois, because without him there would have been no final, we would have lost against Liverpool. I think about Matic, Filipe Luis and Oscar, the guys who didn’t have a chance to play. I think about Schwarzer, Salah, Schurrle, all the guys that started the season with us, they are all winners.”

Despite a career laden with trophies, Mourinho claimed this was the most important final of his time in the game and Chelsea were never seriously troubled once Christian Eriksen’s early free-kick rebounded to safety off the woodwork.

Mourinho also spoke about Diego Costa saying ”He needs the team, without them it’s difficult to do anything. He needs to keep his nature as a person and a player. He played a final at the top of his motivation, there was no yellow card because he did nothing to deserve a yellow card.

Gabriel Ready For Arsenal Debut – Arsene Wenger

Gabriel-3Gabriel is “physically ready” to make his Arsenal debut, according to Arsène Wenger.

The Brazilian centre back joined the Gunners from Villarreal in January and was named on Arsenal’s bench for the first time in Sunday’s 5-0 win against Aston Villa.

Wenger says Gabriel could feature against Tottenham Hotspur but he feels no need to rush him.

He’s ready to start, he’s just not used to playing in our back four and he hasn’t mastered the language at all
Arsène Wenger

“Gabriel can start,” the manager said. “At the moment he’s ready to start, he’s just not used to playing in our back four and he hasn’t mastered the language at all. He’s physically ready.

“At the moment I have no special temptation to switch in the middle of our defence because we are going through a strong spell defensively. But he’s ready to play.”

Wenger also confirmed leading scorer Alexis will not feature at White Hart Lane but he is confident Arsenal have enough quality to continue their fine form.

“I don’t think about the game like that, we just want to play our game and perform,” he said.

“We have enough offensive options, we are not short. I think we have enough offensive power, if all of us perform individually and collectively, we can get above (Alexis’ absence).”

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.”

Mourinho Tags Chelsea Team ‘Very Good’ After West Ham Win

ChelseaChelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, has praised the way his team adapted to different challenges throughout the 90 minutes of a comfortable 2-0 win over West Ham United on Boxing Day.

Chelsea maintained their 100 per cent Premier League home record with a goal in each half, the first by John Terry, his second in a week, and the second a clinical finish by Diego Costa, in what can be termed a dominant Chelsea performance.

Mourinho told Chelseafc.com; “There’s no perfection but we played very well against a difficult team.

“We played well in two different versions; the first against a defensive side, and we were very good, we moved the ball, there was a good dynamic and lots of chances.

“In the second half we played against an attacking team that made changes by putting on faster players and playing direct balls into space. We coped well and found ways to counter attack.

“It’s very important for a team to identify different moments of the game and to be able to adapt. Today was a good example of that, the players did very well.”

Mourinho also explained why there was only one change to the side which beat Stoke on Monday.

“My players are human like all the others but the point is that every match is fundamental, there are no better points than others, every match is an important match.

“We played Stoke on Monday and after that we had three days to recover the players well. Everybody was in condition to play. I made just one change, Oscar for Mikel, because I wanted to give a different design to the team.”

Expressing satisfaction that the current season has turned out better than the last for Chelsea, Mourinho said; “Last year we were very strong defensively and very well organised but we lacked a bit of creativity when we had the ball.

“The challenge this year was to bring that creativity and dynamic without losing the defensive qualities of the team… The team is happy to have the ball but also comfortable when the opposition has the ball. I think we are a very good team.”

The Portuguese also had kind words for Captain, John Terry after another impressive performance crowned with the opening goal.

“He’s always had that, normally four or five goals a season. He’s full of confidence. I see my John of 2004, 2005 and 2006 here, I don’t see any difference. He’s playing so well but when the team is playing so well it’s easy for individuals.”

The victory would be the ideal way for the Blues to prepare for two away fixtures over the next week, firstly against Southampton on Sunday, and then at Tottenham next Thursday.

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.

London Derby: Costa Absence Excites Spurs

CostaChelsea will be without their in-form striker, Diego Costa, as they prepare for the London derby against Tottenham in the mid-week games on Wednesday at the bridge.

Costa who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in a feisty match against Sunderland at the weekend will only observe from the stands as his team mates maintain a high spirit.

As Mourinho’s team get set to host London rivals Tottenham, they look to cement their lead at the top of the table after extending their unbeaten run to 20 matches in all competitions against combative Sunderland.

The blues, who are six points clear on the log, would look to sustain the pace.

History suggests Chelsea should have few problems maintaining or improving on their healthy six-point advantage over second placed Manchester City.

Tottenham have failed to win on any of their previous 27 visits to the Bridge in all competitions – a barren run stretching back to Gary Lineker’s late winner in west London in February 1990.

However, Mauricio Pochettino’s team will make the short trip across the English capital buoyed by their 2-1 win over Everton.

With a series of recent disappointing home results having sparked an angry response from the White Hart Lane faithful, Tottenham could have crumbled when Kevin Mirallas put Everton ahead on Sunday.

However, Christian Eriksen and Roberto Soldado scored to give Spurs a much-needed win – their third in a row in all competitions – and Harry Kane is confident the morale-boosting result, combined with the absence of Costa, gives his side a good chance of finally ending their dismal record at the Bridge.

“We’re coming off three wins in a row now in all competitions, so we’ll take that confidence into the game on Wednesday,” Kane said.

Ahead of the crunchy tie, Jose said; “We don’t cry about injured or suspended players. He is suspended so he can rest and be ready for Newcastle at the weekend,”

Premier League Has World’s Best Attacking Players – Wenger

WengerArsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, has taken a swipe at other top leagues in Europe, saying that the English Premier League has the best attacking players in the world.

Wenger, who is preparing his side for an “intense” North London derby at home to Tottenham on Saturday, insisted that the best players play in the EPL as English clubs now have huge financial potential and offensive power.

“We have all the best attacking players in the Premier League,” Wenger said.

“The clubs here have huge financial potential and offensive power. All the best players play here.”

English Premier League clubs spent a record £835m this summer as Alexis Sanchez arrived at Arsenal; Manchester United signed Radamel Falcao on loan and Angel Di Maria in a British record £59.7m deal; Chelsea acquired Diego Costa and Liverpool purchased Mario Balotelli as replacement for Luis Suarez, last season’s top scorer with 31 goals.

Danny Welbeck also arrived at Arsenal in a £16m deal from Manchester United, and his first goal for the club helped secure a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa last Saturday.

Both Sanchez and Welbeck could feature for Arsenal against Spurs in Saturday’s late kick-off.

“North London derbies are always very intense and the players from both sides know each other so well,” added Wenger.

“Over the years Tottenham have always had a good team and for us to be on top of them means we can fight for the top of the league.

“These games are important moments in the season.”

The Gunners, third highest scorers this season with 10 goals, are fourth in the table, two points clear of Spurs.