Bib Throw “No Issue”, Says Mourinho

Jose Mourinho has played down talk of a disagreement between himself and Diego Costa after the Brazilian born Spanish forward appeared to throw a bib at his manager during yesterday’s London derby.

Costa was Chelsea’s highest scorer last season, firing the Blues towards their fourth Premier League title. He has struggled to find that form again this term, however, and he appeared to be engaged in a heated argument with Mourinho as the first half of Chelsea’s Champion’s League match against Maccabi Tel Aviv reached its conclusion during the week.

Mourinho suggested the pair had been all ‘kisses and cuddles’ during the half-time interval and that there wouldn’t be any problems moving forward, but Costa found himself relegated to the bench for the London derby against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend.

Costa has only managed to find the net once in his last eight appearances for the Blues, with that goal coming last weekend against Norwich City. Mourinho defended his decision to drop the striker, saying, “I think Diego is very privileged. He is the last player to be on the bench. Everyone has been on the bench – the captain [John] Terry, [Branislav] Ivanovic, [Gary] Cahill, [Cesc] Fabregas, Pedro and player of the season [Eden] Hazard. Diego is privileged to have been kept in the team for all these matches and today we thought our best strategy was to play with this. I am happy with my decision and the players. Eden could play the 90 minutes and was so good and dangerous for us, I felt he could have scored a goal”.

Costa was an unused sub in the derby and allowed his frustration to get the better of him when he realised, after 92 minutes, that he wasn’t going to get any game time. He ran back along the touchline after warming up, removed his bib and appeared to throw it at Jose Mourinho. Thankfully for Costa it missed its intended target, but even if it had struck the self-proclaimed Special One he wouldn’t have been too annoyed. He said, “If he wants to hurt me it would not be with a bib”.

Mourinho claimed he was happy to see that his first choice striker still had some fighting spirit left in him. Before the match he claimed he was worried about the damage constantly playing Costa without him scoring could do to him, saying, “He’s playing every match and things are not going really well for his confidence”. Yet after the game the Chelsea boss was keen to play up Costa’s desire and said, “Diego is physically fine, no problems. He works well, every day his mood is positive, he is the positive guy in the team. I do not expect to have a player on the bench jumping and shouting because he is not playing”.

Mourinho will hope to see his side turn a corner after a win against Norwich in the Premier League, a win against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champion’s League and this draw against Spurs. It means that Tottenham are now unbeaten in thirteen games in the top flight whilst the Blue side of London are still languishing at the wrong end of the league table.

Tottenham 0-0 Chelsea Match Report – 29th November 2015

Chelsea picked up a point against an in-form Tottenham side, after coming back from White Hart Lane with a goalless draw. That result saw Spurs go 13 games unbeaten, and they remain fifth in the table, 10 points clear of the 14th placed Blues. Could this be the start of a revival at the Bridge?

The big pregame news was Jose Mourinho’s decision to drop Diego Costa. The forward was left on the bench, while Loic Remy didn’t even make the squad. That left Eden Hazard in a false nine role, with Oscar, Pedro and Willian all in support. John Terry didn’t recover in time to make this one, so Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma started, with Branislav Ivanovic taking the armband.

Chelsea had Asmir Begovic to thank as they went in to the half time break level, after he kept out strikes from Son Hueng-min and Moussa Dembele. The Bosnian stopper looked a little shaky at times, but the players in front of him would hardly have filled him with confidence. That was because Spurs were the better side in the first 45, they just couldn’t carve out a chance to break the deadlock.

The second half saw an improved Chelsea team take the field, and their formation really started to trouble Tottenham. Hazard was a constant thorn in the side of fellow countrymen Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. The midfielder did everything but get himself a goal in this game, and his work ethic will certainly have pleased Mourinho, who seems to have had his faith in Hazard restored after a few good displays.

While they couldn’t get themselves a goal, the Blues will be delighted with their work at the back, which saw Harry Kane kept quiet. After coming into this game with nine goals in six matches, and the fact that he scored twice in this fixture last season, many thought he’d find a way through a Chelsea defence which has been all too open this year. But the champions shut out Kane, as he barely had a chance of note in the game.

That solid defensive display unsurprisingly pleased Mourinho. After the game the Blues boss said, “I am more than happy with the performance. I am happy with the team collectively. It was the best Chelsea performance of the season, against a dangerous team. My players did everything to try and interpret my defensive ideas with the ball.”

On Costa, the boss said there were no problems there, despite the forward throwing a bib towards him in frustration. “For me his behaviour is normal. A top player on the bench will not be happy. If he wants to hurt me it would not be with a bib. I have a good relationship with him.”

Next up for the Blues is a game at home to Bournemouth, followed by a huge clash against Porto in the Champions League.

LCN Man of the Match: Eden Hazard

Drogba Wants To Be Chelsea Manager

Chelsea’s former striker Didier Drogba has admitted that he hopes to return to Chelsea as the club’s manager one day in the future.

Drogba is currently plying his trade in Canada but remains one of Chelsea fans’ most beloved forwards, scoring 164 goals in all competitions across two spell at the London club. He is best loved for scoring the penalty that won Chelsea the Champion’s League in 2012, but he also won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups and three League Cups with the defending Premier League champions.

Drogba told BBC Africa, “I want to give back to the club which has given so much to me. I have agreed that with the club directors. Why not manager? Why not sporting director, trainer at the academy or maybe an advising role for strikers?”

The idea that his former first choice striker is keen on the manager’s role might not sit well with Stamford Bridge’s current boss, Jose Mourinho. The Blues have endured a torrid start to the season, losing seven of their first twelve fixtures in the Premier League, with the self-proclaimed Special One coming under increasing pressure regarding the team’s performance. The club sit 15th in the league after their worst start to a top flight campaign since 1978-1979, with a tricky away game in the London derby against Tottenham Hotspur coming up this weekend.

Drogba is certain that the club have made the right decision in sticking by their boss, saying, “If the club has kept him that means owner Roman Abramovich thinks that he is the right man. I think the players trust him and he is giving his best to change the situation”.

Drogba admits that his old team-mates are going through a ‘difficult moment’ right now, but is convinced they have what it takes to make it back to the right end of the Premier League table. Back-to-back wins over Norwich City and Maccabi Tel Aviv are certainly helping with that notion, and the Ivory Coast striker said, “They have quality when it comes to the players, and quality when it comes to the management. This is a club which usually doesn’t have a bad season twice”.

Though Drogba is unlikely to be given the manager’s job any time soon, Mourinho will be hoping that results take an upturn quickly as he fights to get his team back to the top of the Premier League. They are currently closer to the relegation zone than they are to the league leader’s Leicester City, whilst they are also ten points shy of this weekend’s opponents, Spurs.

Costa And Mourinho Kiss And Make Up

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho moved to play down speculation about his relationship with his star striker Diego Costa after the two appeared to have a run-in with each other just before the half-time interval of the club’s Champion’s League match last night.

Mourinho gave the Brazilian-born Spanish striker some harsh words as the game against Maccabi Tel Aviv headed towards half-time, but Costa refused to take it lying down and raged back at the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’.

Many people watching the game were surprised when Costa emerged to play the second half of the match, assuming that Mourinho would substitute him for such a flagrant display of dis-respect. He did play the second half, however, though he didn’t shake his manager’s hand or salute the Chelsea fans after the final whistle.

Mourinho said after the match, “Yes we had an argument. I want him to do a certain movement that he didn’t do. I was disappointed that he didn’t and I reacted. He did too. But at half-time in the dressing room, a few kisses and a few cuddles. No problem”,

Mourinho was delighted with his team’s win, even if Porto’s surprise home loss to Dynamo Kiev means that qualification for the next round will go down to the final group game, when the defending Premier League champions will host the Portuguese manager’s old club. He said, “This was an important win. But with this group, I need a calculator because I don’t know what will happen. I know if we win we finish first. I know if we lose we go into the Europa League. With a draw, I don’t know. “I prefer to think we have to win our final match and that’s it”.

The victory was a much needed one for a manager who has found himself under immense pressure after the London club endured their worst start to a league campaign since 1978-1979. The win followed a 1-0 victory over Norwich in the Premier League last weekend and sets Chelsea up perfectly for their London derby match against Tottenham Hotspur this Saturday.

Tottenham v Chelsea Preview (Premier League) – 29th November 2015

Chelsea head to Tottenham on Sunday looking to continue their recent mini-revival. After back to back wins, can they pull off another huge result against the team who are fifth in the Premier League? As their top four ambitions begin to slip away, the champions need a big result in this one to ignite their push for the Champions League spots.

The injury list for this one is quite short, with just Radamel Falcao and Thibaut Courtois out once more. The Belgian keeper seems a few weeks away from a return, while no date has been set for Falcao. Expect to see a couple of changes from Jose Mourinho for this one, as he’s rarely been keeping a settled team of late. Eden Hazard could find himself out of the team, given how irate the manager was at him from the touchline on Tuesday night.

Tottenham head into this game in fantastic form, as they’ve put together a 12 game unbeaten run. They’ve blown a few teams away at White Hart Lane already, and with Harry Kane back to his best they’re a very dangerous prospect. This team has really changed over the summer, as Mauricio Pochettino has built a side full of energy and which is adept at pressing.

The one worry for the Spurs boss here, is timing. This game comes just three days after their involvement in a Europa League game. That game is Spurs’ longest away trip in Europe, and that could well leave them drained here. Of course, Chelsea were in Israel themselves, but they have an extra two days to recover. Will Tottenham be back to their best by the time this game comes around?

The Blues will be hoping to catch the hosts at a good time, but that would require a much better display than we’ve seen in the league for weeks. Luckily, that came the last time they saw off Maccabi 4-0, as they then went on to beat Arsenal 2-0 the following weekend. A repeat of that here would spark a lot of optimism in the Chelsea ranks, and it would take them a step closer to retaining a place in the Champions League.

But, given how inconsistent the champions have been this season, it’s hard to have too much faith in them. Seeing as Spurs have come through tests against Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool in recent weeks, it might be a bit of a stretch to see Chelsea suddenly bouncing back and getting a massive win. It might be more realistic to expect a draw here.

It wouldn’t be incredibly surprising if we saw Mourinho show up here playing a 4-3-3, looking to close down space and frustrate Tottenham. Not only could that work, but a hard fought draw would be a good result, all things considered. Fighting for a point against Spurs isn’t something Blues fans are used to, but right now, they’d probably take it.

LCN Verdict: 1-1 draw

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 0-4 Chelsea Match Report – 24th November 2015

Chelsea moved top of their Champions League group with a big win in Israel against Maccabi Tel-Aviv on Tuesday evening. Goals from Gary Cahill, Willian, Oscar and Kurt Zouma inspired the Blues to victory, although manager Jose Mourinho didn’t seem best pleased on the touchline. With one more game left in the group, against Porto at Stamford Bridge, a draw should be enough to go through to the Round of 16 in first place.

Despite winning on Sunday, Mourinho shuffled his pack for this one, dropping Branislav Ivanovic and Kenedy to the bench, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Abdul Baba Rahman coming back in. Pedro was also left out, with Oscar coming in. That saw Eden Hazard moving back out to the left.

The other change brought the first goal, as Cahill was called back into the starting line-up. The centre half brought the first save of the game with a header from a corner, and he was the first to the rebound, finishing it off to open the scoring. The Blues had been dominant in the early stages, they just needed someone to finish, and lucky Cahill was on hand to provide that.

Former Blue Tal Ben Haim saw red just before half time, making his side’s job even more difficult. He wildly swung his leg at Diego Costa, and the referee immediately went for the red card. Going into the second half, Chelsea looked to be completely in control, with a goal and a man advantage.

Despite that, Maccabi came out fighting in the second period, pushing for an equaliser. The home side’s attackers got free a little too often for Mourinho’s liking, as he seemed furious on the touchline. Given just how badly things have gone for the team this season, you couldn’t blame him if he was worried that they’d throw this lead away.

However, they moved closer to the three points with just over 15 minutes to go, as Willian scored his sixth direct free kick of the season. It was perfectly placed for the Brazilian, and he lifted it over the wall and dropped it in the bottom corner, a goal which his excellent performance deserved.

After that, the floodgates opened. Oscar scored the only goal from open play, as he tucked in Baba Rahman’s cross after a good move. The Brazilian had troubled the defence a couple of times over the course of the night, and he finally had his goal with 10 minutes to go.

The fourth came in a similar manner to the first, with Zouma heading in from a corner to complete the win. Dynamo Kiev’s win in Porto meant that the Blues didn’t qualify on the night, but they can seal it win a point against Porto in two weeks’ time. Before that, there’s the small matter of a clash against Spurs, as Chelsea aim to move up the league table.

LCN Man of the Match: Willian

Chelsea’s £23.1 Million Loss To Win Title

Chelsea Football Club have released their annual financial results and it appears that it cost them £23.1 million to win the Premier League last season.

The London-based club is owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and is considered to be one of the richest in the world, with their improvement in performance on the pitch coinciding with Abramovich’s arrival in England. They have reportedly spent over a billion pounds of his money during that time.

The £23.1 million loss meant they were able to remain within the limits of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, with the club chairman saying that is something that they consider to be very important, “It was a primary aim in the past financial year to be one of the clubs with a continuous record of meeting the regulations”.

The club’s revenues for the last year were £314.3 million, which is less than the record of £319.8 million that they achieved in the 2013-2014 season. Buck expects revenues to improve in the coming year or so, however, with a lucrative shirt sponsorship deal worth £40 million a season due to kick in soon. He said, “These will be powered by new commercial deals, including our record-breaking partnership with Yokohama. They will also be enhanced by revenues related to this season’s Champions League which improve due to entering as Premier League champions and an increase in TV revenue for English clubs”.

With Chelsea struggling on the pitch and their manager Jose Mourinho coming under increasing pressure, Buck is hoping that the club can qualify for the knockout stages of the Champion’s League in order to relieve the financial burden on the club’s owner.

Chelsea 1-0 Norwich (Premier League) – 21st November 2015

Chelsea got back to winning ways as they saw off Norwich at Stamford Bridge. Despite a strong display from the Canaries, it was the champions who took the points here, thanks to Diego Costa’s winner. After such a poor run, returning back to action with a win was a huge boost, especially with a massive week to come for the team.

Mourinho sprung a surprise at the back, as he brought Branislav Ivanovic back into the fold, moving Kurt Zouma into the middle in place of Gary Cahill. On top of that, Cesar Azpilicueta dropped down to the bench, with youngster Kenedy coming in to replace him at left back. Abdul Baba Rahman wasn’t even included in the squad. The manager included both Willian and Pedro, allowing Eden Hazard to take on a central role.

But, despite all the attacking talent on the pitch, Norwich put up a big fight. They started the game brightly, with Robbie Brady looking sharp. As time passed they moved deeper and deeper, as they tried to hold out for a draw. The attacking trio in midfield all worked well, possibly the first time all three have played well at the same time this term, but Chelsea just weren’t clinical enough. They went in 0-0 at the break, with Alex Neil’s side halfway to earning a huge point.

The second period gave us more of the same, as Norwich put men behind the ball, occasionally breaking rank to launch counter attacks. Asmir Begovic was big enough to fend those off, putting the Blues back in control, as they tried to crack through the determined resistance of the visitors.

Eventually they found a breakthrough, after pressing for over an hour. The goal was an incredibly simple one, and it came from a familiar route. Cesc Fabregas took a quick free kick from the middle of the park, which Costa picked up on, and he cut through the Norwich defence to score the opener.

The most promising thing following the goal was that the team didn’t attempt to close up and defend the lead. The team, inspired by a much improved Hazard, pushed forward, and they almost had a second when an effort from Zouma hit the crossbar. In the end, they didn’t manage to find a second goal, but they held on to take the points.

Hazard came off the pitch in the 90th minute for Azpilicueta, and the Belgian was given a standing ovation by the Stamford Bridge faithful. While he played well, it certainly wasn’t his best Blues display. The support from the fans was meant to back the talented playmaker, as rumours circulate that Mourinho could let him leave.

Next up for Chelsea is a game away to Maccabi Tel-Aviv on Tuesday night, before a trip to Spurs on Sunday. It’s going to be a massive week for the Blues, so their return to winning ways was well timed.

LCN Man of the Match: Eden Hazard

Mourinho: Maybe Tom Cruise Could Win Title

In the aftermath of their win over Norwich City this weekend, Jose Mourinho confessed that it’s Mission: Impossible as far as Chelsea’s defence of their Premier League title is concerned.

The Portuguese manager, who was back in the dugout for the Blues after serving out a one match stadium ban during Chelsea’s outing against Stoke City before the international break, still feels as though his side can reach the top four, but thinks that an unlikely title win is a job for Tom Cruise, not him.

Chelsea won their first league game since the 17th of October in a nervy win over the newly promoted Canaries thanks to a 64th minute Diego Costa goal. The victory moved them to 15th place in the league, five points clear of the relegation zone and allowed the Chelsea fans to sing a somewhat tongue-in-cheek rendition of ‘We are staying up’ towards the end of the game.

The Blues sit twelve points away from fourth placed Arsenal and the title favourites Manchester City, thirteen points off Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United and fourteen points shy of the unlikely league leaders Leicester City.

Their woeful league form led Mourinho to tell the press in his post-match press conference, “Fourth position for me is not an impossible mission. If you ask me about winning the the title, I would say impossible mission. Maybe Tom Cruise can do it but it’s complicated”.

History is not on Chelsea’s side. In the last five Premier League campaigns the fourth placed team have managed an average of 72 points. That means that the defending Premier League champions would need to register another 58 points before the end of the season, or 19 wins and 1 draw from their remaining 25 games.

The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ has no intention of bowing to history, however, suggesting that there could yet be some movement at the top of the league table. He said, ‘You have to recover points from four candidates. But one of the teams that go up may also have a little bit of a collapse. The fourth position is a difficult position but a possible target”.

Diego Costa’s goal was his first in his last seven appearances and Mourinho confessed that the Spanish forward has been affected by his lack of form. He had managed eleven goals at the same stage as this in the last campaign, but he’s only notched up four so far this time out. Mourinho said, “You don’t score goals, you get heavier. Every game that you don’t score goals, you get 5kg more. You get heavy and the pressure is there. In the first half he missed two chances. The second one, in the last minute, is really a big one. So it was important for him. He’s working well, he’s a happy guy, he tries everything. He’s positive, so if I had to choose somebody to score the winning goal, I would go exactly with him”.

Mourinho will be hoping that the goal takes some of the weight of Costa’s shoulders. He’s also be hoping that Chelsea can use the victory as a springboard to go on a run as long and successful as Tom Cruise’s career has been, proving that it’s not just the diminutive Hollywood actor who can pull off impossible missions.

Mourinho: Abramovich Still Trusts Me

Jose Mourinho used his pre-match press conference for this weekend’s game against Norwich City at Stamford Bridge to tell the world that Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich, still trusts Mourinho to guide his team out of their current mess.

The defending Premier League champions find themselves just three points clear of the relegation places after back to back defeats against Liverpool and Stoke just before the international break. It means that they have lost seven of the first twelve games in the league, their worst start to a top flight campaign since 1978-1979 when a win was only worth two points.

Yet Jose Mourinho is confident that the club’s owner won’t be looking to change manager any time soon. He said, “Nobody gives a four-year contract to a manager if they don’t trust the person. Nobody gives new contracts to players, as we have in the last couple of months, if we don’t trust the players. There is trust and there are reasons for that trust. The power is with the board and they have shown to me and the players that they trust us. It’s time for us to give a positive answer. I think we are doing this but not in the results”.

The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ has come under fire a number of times this season, owing to things that he’s said either on the pitch or off it. His comments about Chelsea’s former club doctor, Eva Carneiro, led her to resign from her position at the club and could yet lead to individual legal action against the Portuguese manager. He has also been handed a £40,000 fine and a one match suspended stadium ban for his comments about referees after his side’s home loss to Southampton, as well as given a one match stadium ban and a £50,000 fine for refusing to leave the referee’s changing room during the half-time interval in the match against West Ham at The Boleyn Ground.

He has been given the backing of the Chelsea board, though, with the club’s technical director, Michael Emenalo, adding to the official statement the board gave earlier in the season with an interview in the Daily Telegraph. He told the newspaper, “Right now, the statement from the owner and from the board comes from a belief that we are in a position to trust a group of players who have delivered in the last couple of seasons. We are in a position to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and therein lies our confidence that we can get out of the situation”.

Mourinho also told reporters that he doesn’t expect to make sweeping changes to his squad in January. He is boosted by the fact that Radamel Falcao is due to return from a muscle problem within a couple of weeks, whilst Thibaut Courtois – who has been missing for most of the season with a knee injury – is due back within a month or so.

The Chelsea boss said, “I am happy with my players. I trust the players. I don’t need to clean the dressing room – I heard that was written somewhere – and I don’t need to ask the club to spend money in January. We put ourselves in a great situation by being champions, we have to be again together to put it in the right place”.