Willian Warns Chelsea Can’t Afford Slip-Ups

Willian says Chelsea have no margin for error if the reigning champions are to maintain their Premier League title challenge at West Ham United this weekend.

Antonio Conte’s side fell short in their bid to wrap up the opening stage of their Champions League campaign as group winners following a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.

The failure to beat the Spanish side means they risk drawing Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain in the knockout stages of the competition.

Chelsea boss Conte, though, will be anxious his players forget about the European campaign that is now on hold until the New Year, and set about the task of closing the eleven-point gap to Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Saturday’s trip to the London Stadium marks the opening game in this weekend’s round of fixtures and a Chelsea victory would lay down a marker before City meet second-placed United in the Manchester derby the following day.

With Pep Guardiola’s side showing no sign of faltering, Chelsea midfielder Willian is well aware the pressure is on Conte’s team to avoid any slip-ups.

“We have to win,” the Brazilian told the London Evening Standard. “We are playing away. Of course, it’s going to be a difficult game. But I think we can get the three points.”

– No comfort zone –

Alvaro Morata will shoulder responsibility for leading Chelsea’s attack and try to extend a scoring run that has brought three goals in his past five Premier League games.

Morata, 25, who has settled well at Stamford Bridge, says he has no regrets about leaving Real Madrid in the summer transfer window and credits Conte with helping him improve as a player.

“Antonio Conte helps you to grow because you can never get too comfortable or find a comfort zone,” he told the Evening Standard. “He wants every single one of us to give our maximum.

“Last year I wasn’t playing often. Now in every game there’s a real chance of playing — if you train well you are going to play.”

Conte will select from a position of strength against West Ham, with centre-back David Luiz the only player expected to be sidelined with injury.

The Italian was given a clear warning his side cannot expect an easy ride against the Hammers during the east London side’s trip to Manchester City last weekend when they lost out to a late goal.

David Moyes believes he has made progress in the four games since he succeeded Slaven Bilic, even though the club is still mired in the relegation zone.

Adrian, who replaced Joe Hart at City because the England keeper was ineligible to face his former club, said: “We made things difficult for City. I think we should continue with the line of defending well and looking dangerous when attacking.

“It is clear that we have a difficult streak against teams from the top of the table but it is also clear that all Premier League matches are difficult. We have to always play with the same mentality, to get points and go match-by-match.”

Moyes must decide whether to recall Hart and is hoping Winston Reid will be fit enough to return in central defence.

AFP

Moyes Makes Losing Start As Watford Sink Hammers

West Ham United’s Scottish manager David Moyes (C) watches the action from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Watford and West Ham United at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford. Photo: Ben STANSALL / AFP

David Moyes suffered a miserable start to his West Ham United reign as Watford eased to a 2-0 win over the Premier League strugglers on Sunday.

Moyes was in charge of West Ham for the first time following his appointment as replacement for the sacked Slaven Bilic.

But the former Manchester United boss was unable to spark an immediate upturn in his new club’s fortunes.

Will Hughes put Watford ahead in the first half at Vicarage Road and Richarlison’s strike after the interval extended West Ham’s winless league run to five games.

The Hammers remain third bottom of the table, one point from safety, after Moyes got a first-hand look at the problems which cost Bilic his job.

Desperate to rehabilitate his reputation after overseeing Sunderland’s relegation from the Premier League last season, Moyes has accepted a short-term contract with West Ham.

His failures at Sunderland, Manchester United and Real Sociedad have tarnished the fine work he did at Everton and the Scot can ill-afford another flop on his CV.

On the evidence of West Ham’s lacklustre showing on his debut, Moyes has much work to do to lead his side — who have lost three of their last five games — away from the relegation zone.

After three successive defeats, Watford’s comfortable victory showed why Everton have been trying to lure Hornets boss Marco Silva to Goodison Park.

Watford have so far rebuffed Everton’s interest in former Hull City manager Silva, who has only been in charge since the close season.

He has already made a big impact in that time and Watford were quick to take the game to the wounded Hammers.

Hughes opened the scoring in the 11th minute, the midfielder slotting home from Andre Gray’s scuffed shot after West Ham’s defence were prised open far too easily.

Watford threatened a second goal when Gray linked up with Richarlison on the edge of the area.

The Brazilian’s low shot was pushed away by Joe Hart, with Kiko Femenia dragging the rebound wide.

Cheikhou Kouyate had a chance to equalise, but the West Ham midfielder’s drive was repelled by Heurelho Gomes.

Gomes did even better moments later as the Watford keeper kept out Marko Arnautovic’s effort and then blocked his attempt from the rebound.

When Kouyate blazed over early in the second half, Moyes turned away in disgust.

Moyes was shaking his head in frustration again in the 64th minute.

Hughes got away with a handball, triggering the move that ended with Richarlison dancing past Winston Reid and firing in a low shot that beat Hart’s weak attempt to save.

Rubbing salt into Moyes’ wounds, Arnautovic was forced off after landing awkwardly on his arm in the closing stages.

AFP

Yusuf Invites 26 Players For Super Eagles Friendlies

Super Eagles-Salisu Yusuf-Eagles FriendliesSuper Eagles Head Coach, Salisu Yusuf, has called up 26 players for the international friendlies against Mali and Luxembourg in Europe.

The three-time African champions would take on the Les Aiglons of Mali in France on May 27 before flying to Luxembourg to play the country’s national team on June 1.

Yusuf, who was installed as interim Head Coach by the Nigeria Football Federation last week, picked a relatively young squad that also includes former U-20 and former U-23 players.

All the invitees in the goalkeeper categories are: Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa), and Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Sunshine Stars).

The defenders invited are: Abdullahi Shehu (Uniao da Madeira, Portugal), Musa Muhammed (Istanbul Basaksehir, Turkey), Elderson Echiejile (AS Monaco, France), Kingsley Madu (AS Trencin, Slovakia), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa SK, Turkey), Leon Balogun (Mainz 05, Germany), Gbenga Arokoyo (Gaziantepspor, Turkey), William Troost Ekong (Haugesund FC, Norway), and Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal).

For the midfielders, players called up are: Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy), John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England), Wilfred Ndidi (KRC Genk, Belgium), Raheem Lawal (Osmanlispor FK, Turkey), and Etebo Oghenekaro (SC Farense, Portugal).

The players invited in the forward category are: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium), Victor Moses (West Ham United, England), Odion Ighalo (Watford FC, England), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England), Aminu Umar (Osmanlispor FK, Turkey), Aaron Samuel (CSKA Moscow, Russia), and Brown Ideye (Olympiakos FC, Greece).

Ranieri, Kane Win Premier League Awards For March

Premier LeagueHarry Kane and Claudio Ranieri have won the March Barclays Premier League awards for Player and Manager of the Month respectively.

Ranieri guided Leicester City to a draw and three 1-0 wins over Watford, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace, to maintain their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

He was voted for the award ahead of a managerial shortlist that featured AFC Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe (W3 L1), West Ham’s Slaven Bilic (W2 D1) and Swansea City’s Francesco Guidolin (W3 L1).

It is the fourth time Ranieri has claimed the Barclays manager award, the joint-most for an Italian alongside former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti. Ranieri is the 15th manager to have won the award four times.

Ranieri won the award in November this season and also was awarded it twice during the 2003/04 campaign when with Chelsea.

No Leicester manager has won the award more than once in one season, although Martin O’Neill claimed it three times in a three-year period from September 1997.

Ranieri has the chance to join Joe Kinnear (1993/94 with Wimbledon) and Sir Alex Ferguson (1999/00 with Manchester United) and Ancelotti (2010/11) to have won the award three times in one season. That feat is also possible for Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino, who was named manager of the month in August and February.

Five goals in four matches won the Barclays Player of the Month award for Kane, a tally that has taken him to the top of the race for the Barclays Golden Boot with 22 goals so far.

He beat a shortlist that also included Southampton’s Graziano Pelle, Swansea City’s Ashley Williams, Leicester duo Wes Morgan and Riyad Mahrez, and West Ham United’s Dimitri Payet.

It is the third time Kane has claimed the award, after winning it in January and February last year.

 

Culled from premierleague.com

EPL: Arsenal, Tottenham Reveal Team Preparation

EPLArsene Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Wednesday night’s home English Premier League (EPL) match against Swansea City.

The Arsenal manager said on the club’s website that he does not think they have any problems from Sunday apart from one or two who have muscular tightness.

He said that apart from that, everyone would be available on the field of play.

The Frenchman also disclosed that Oxlade-Chamberlain would be out for six to eight weeks.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur manager, Mauricio Pochettino, says his side are not feeling pressure as the EPL title run-in gathers pace.

Pochettino dismissed the notion that his side are the favourites to win the league.

Second-placed Tottenham, who are chasing their first league title since 1961 will take on West Ham United on Wednesday night.

Emenike Excited Scoring For West Ham

EmenikeNigerian international, Emmanuel Emenike, is delighted to get his first goals for West Ham United in the English FA Cup clash with Blackburn Rovers.

However, Emenike regretted not getting a hat-trick in the 5-1 thrashing of the Rovers at Ewood Park.

He netted a goal for West Ham in the 64th minute and added his second 20 minutes later.

The Nigerian striker said that he could easily have scored more goals in a sumptuous performance by the Hammers.

West Ham United captain, Mark Noble, had nothing but praise for the way Emenike settled into his new surroundings and took his chances straight away.

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.

West Ham Sign Emmanuel Emenike On Loan

emenike_clubNigerian international, Emmanuel Emenike, has expressed delight to join English Premier League side, West Ham United on loan.

The 28-year-old is confident he will have an instant impact for Slaven Bilic’s squad, having known the manager from his spells coaching in Russia and Turkey.

Emenike, was capped 37 times by Nigeria and spent part of this season on loan at the Arabian Gulf League side, al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates.

The Hammers have the option to make the transfer permanent in the summer and the forward would provide options for Bilic with Andy Carroll side-lined again by injury.

Kane, Giroud Nominated For PFA Fans’ Award

GiroudArsenal’s Olivier Giroud  and Tottenham Hotspurs striker, Harry Kane, have been nominated for the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month in the Premier League award for March.

The France international has enjoyed a productive month, scoring six times in six matches, including a goal and an assist against West Ham United as well as a brace against Newcastle United.

Tottenham Hotspurs striker, Harry Kane, who is in line to make his England debut this week, bagged five goals for his club during March to help the north Londoners keep their top four hopes alive.

The 21-year-old is the joint-top scorer in the Premier League along with Chelsea’s Diego Costa, after netting 19 goals for Maurico Pochettino’s side.

The Tottenham frontman has been in sensational form of late with a hat-trick on Saturday.

Here is the full list of the players nominated:

Harry Kane

Eden Hazard

Jordan Henderson

Olivier Giroud

Marouane Fellaini