Hazard Keen To Make Amends For Poor Performance Last Season

Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard has said that he is determined to make up for his lack of form last season that was one of the contributing factors to the Blues finishing tenth in the Premier League last season.

The 25-year-old was Chelsea’s Player Of The Season during the club’s title winning campaign of 2014-2015 but grossly under-performed last time out. Indeed some Chelsea fans turned on the player when José Mourninho was sacked in December, suspecting that he had deliberately under-performed in order to get the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ out of Stamford Bridge.

The Belgium international scored just four goals last season, with his first not coming until the 23rd of April when the Blues played Bournemouth. He notched up fourteen goals in the 2014-2015 campaign, a return that earned him the Player Of The Year award from the club.

For the forthcoming season, however, Hazard is keen to make amends for his underwhelming display of last year and help the Blues mount a title challenge. He said, “I want to be the best, like I was two years ago. We’ve got to show to everyone we’re Chelsea, we’re big players, a big team and we didn’t finish in a good place last season. No we want to do better and win the Premier League”.

Hazard enjoyed an upturn in form towards the end of last season, scoring an excellent solo goal in Chelsea’s game against Liverpool at Anfield. He also played well for Belgium during this summer’s European Championships, though he couldn’t do enough to stop the Red Devils getting knocked out by Wales in the quarter-final stage of the competition.

The midfielder’s 2015-2016 campaign was interrupted with injury and tainted by rumours of his likely departure to the likes of Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain this summer. The player insists he’s happy at Stamford Bridge, though, and is hoping for an injury free season under new boss Antonio Conte.

Hazard is determined to ensure that his performance last season is not his final one in a Blue shirt. He said, “I said after a season like that, I wanted to stay because I didn’t want to finish like this. If I must leave Chelsea one day, I hope I can finish well here and be a champion again. I played a very bad season. It’s easy to say now I was tired. Even when I’m not at the maximum level I want to play well. It’s not easy to play with a small injury in England as the game is very difficult. But this season I’m ready”.

Fabregas Sent Off During Pre-Season Friendly

Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas was sent off during the club’s pre-season friendly match against Liverpool at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in the early hours of this morning, UK time.

The 29-year-old was issued with a straight red card by the referee following a terrible tackle on Liverpool’s new defensive signing Ragnar Klavan. The game was part of the International Champions Cup, which Chelsea are competing in as part of the club’s pre-season preparations. The Blues won 1-0 thanks to a Gary Cahill goal ten minutes into the game, but it was marred by some feisty tackles from both sides.

As well as the strong tackle from Fabregas on Klavan, Liverpool’s new signing Marko Grujic had to be taken to hospital with suspected concussion after a clash of heads with Chelsea’s Bertrand Traore as the game approached half-time. Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said after the game, “The biggest problem for me in this moment is that Marko Grujic is in hospital, because he cannot remember anything. That’s not too cool. Hopefully it’s not too serious. Injuries after games like this in pre-season is the biggest problem”.

The Reds manager also confirmed that Fabregas had gone into the Liverpool dressing room after the game to apologise to Klavan for his robust challenge. Antonio Konte, Chelsea’s manager, also apologised for the tackle after the match but denied suggestions that it was intentional. He said, “I think that the fatigue sometimes can bring a player to go too late. I know Fabregas is a good man, a good boy and is not a player to have this type of situation. I’m sorry for him, I’m sorry for the Liverpool player”.

Conte was otherwise pleased with his side’s performance and the fitness levels of his squad on display against a Premier League rival. He said, “I was pleased with my team because I saw the right spirit and a lot of positive things, but I know and my players know that we can improve a lot. I am pleased with the attitude today and also that when we played with 10 men we didn’t suffer. Don’t forget we are working very hard with two training sessions every day and it is a good attitude. The most important thing today was to see the right spirit in my team and the will to fight to win a friendly game. This is the right way”.

’Matic Not For Sale’, Says Antonio Conte

New Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has made it clear in no uncertain terms that the club’s combative midfielder Nemanja Matic is not for sale, amid interest from Juventus.

The press in Italy have linked the Serie A champions with a move for the Serbian following the arrival of N’Golo Kante at Stamford Bridge. It’s believed that the £32 million signing of the Leicester City midfielder has made Matic surplus to requirements in West London and that the club’s former boss might do his old team a favour by letting the 27-year-old head to Italy.

Conte has refuted that notion, however, declaring that Matic is ‘important’ for the future of Chelsea. The Serbia international has three years left on his contract and is keen to remain at Stamford Bridge and fight for his place under the former Italy national coach.

Conte said, “Matic is an important player for me, a very important player. In my idea of football he is an important player and he knows this”. The Italian went on to say that there is a competition for places in the Chelsea squad and that that is important for the club’s chances of success. “N’Golo, Nemanja, Cesc [Fabregas], Oscar, [Nathaniel] Chalobah and [John Obi] Mikel, who is in the Olympics, it is not easy to choose. I want to have this problem”.

The former Juventus manager believes that fostering a good sense of team spirit is important after a fraught campaign last time out. The Blues went into last season as defending Premier League champions but got off to the worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s. Former fan favourite manager José Mourinho was sacked in December and Dutchman Guus Hiddink was brought in to replace him on an interim basis.

Referring to the troubles of last season Conte said, “When you have a bad season like last season for Chelsea I think the blame is a bit with all. For this reason it’s important to create a good spirit and stay together, both if we win or lose”.

Chelsea are currently in America for their pre-season tour and are preparing to face Premier League rivals Liverpool in a friendly at California’s Rose Bowl on Thursday. Conte believes it will give his team a chance to get better and improve their fitness before going into the new season. He said, “In these two days we worked a lot, but we want to play a good game against Liverpool and I want to see improvement of my players”.

‘Chelsea Need To Make Title Bid’, Says Azpilicueta

Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta believes that the West London club need to mount a challenge on the Premier League title in the 2016-2017 season and that the squad understands how important that is to the fans.

The Blues endured their worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s last season, with then manager José Mourinho leading them to the worst defence of a Premier League title by any club. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ was sacked by Roman Abramovich in December and Guus Hiddink came in to replace him on an interim basis, much as he did in 2009 when Luis Felipe Scolari was sacked by the club.

In 2009 Hiddink led Chelsea to an FA Cup win, a third-place finish in the Premier League and the semi-finals of the Champions League. Last season, however, they were knocked out in the last-sixteen phase of the Champions League, were beaten by Everton in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and recorded their lowest league position since 1996.

This summer Chelsea appointed their first permanent boss since Mourinho in the form of Italian manager Antonio Conte and the former Juventus and Italian national team manager has wasted no time in mixing things up in his squad. The Blues have already spent over £65 million on the signings of the Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi and Leicester City’s defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante.

Speaking to Sky Sports News Azpilicueta made clear that the Chelsea squad know what is expected of them in the coming campaign. He said, “Our minimum target is to reach the top four but we have to challenge for trophies and we have to challenge for the title. We are coming from a very low position and we are not happy with that. We want to come back to our real position, which is fighting for the title”.

The Spaniard believes that the new additions to the squad will give the West London club an added strength heading in to the new campaign and that the owe it to the supporters to make up for last season’s terrible efforts. He said, “Last season was very hard for us and our fans also but they were behind us all season. We were suffering but now is the time to start from the beginning. We have to show that we are back and that we can challenge for a title”.

Chelsea’s team got an unofficial boost during the club’s pre-season tour of America when three local children became players for the day. The stunt was done in association with Delta Air Lines, Chelsea’s official airline partner, and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Chelsea have a pre-season game against Premier League rivals Liverpool to play tonight.

Carlos Tevez: Chelsea Want To Sign Me

Former West Ham, Manchester United and Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez has claimed that Chelsea are one of the football clubs chasing his signature, though he’s set to disappoint the London club as he’s happy at Boca Juniors.

The Argentine played under new Chelsea boss Antonio Conte when the Italian was managing Juventus in his homeland before he went on to manage the Italian national side. Now Tevez has told the press that his former manager wants to be reunited with him for the final stages of his career.

The 32-year-old began his career in England at Chelsea’s London rivals West Ham, making himself something of a cult hero by scoring the goals that helped the Hammers avoid relegation in 2007. He then moved to Manchester United before joining their rivals Manchester City, becoming the first play to move between the two clubs in a decade. He won the Premier League and the Champions League with United and the Premier League and FA Cup with City.

David Sullivan, the co-chairman of West Ham United, admitted earlier in the month that he had considered trying to re-sign Tevez for the Hammers but the Argentine’s wage demands were prohibitive to any move. He returned to his first ever club, Boca Juniors, in 2015 after winning back to back Serie A titles with Juventus under the management of Conte and it appears that his former boss has followed in the footsteps of Sullivan and enquired about taking him to Stamford Bridge as he looks to build a new Chelsea side in his own image.

Speaking to the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport Tevez apparently said, “Europe? Yes, it’s true Napoli and Chelsea seek me, but I repeat what I said before. My desire is to stay at Boca until I retire…I’m fine at Boca. Indeed my idea, my dream is to finish my career as a player in this wonderful club”.

Michy Batshuayi Delighted By Chelsea’s Ambition

Chelsea Football Club’s new forward, Michy Batshuayi, has described how he was blown away by the club’s desire to succeed after only one day with the Blues.

The Belgian, who signed a five-year deal to play his football in West London after a £33.2 million deal was agreed with Marseille midway through the 2016 European Championships in France, recently linked up with his new Chelsea team-mates after enjoying a brief holiday. He has said that he’s keen to win some silverware and believes that the Blues are perfectly positioned to help him achieve his wishes.

Speaking to Chelsea’s in-house magazine the forward said, “Just being at the training ground for one day I can see it’s very big and you feel you’ve joined a club that really want to win. Everything is new and that is exciting”. Chelsea finished their 2015-2016 league campaign in tenth position in the English top-flight, having changed manager’s halfway through the season after José Mourinho was sacked in December for leading the club to its worse start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s.

Antonio Conte, who was managing Italy at the Euros this summer, has been brought in to replace the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ on a permanent basis after Guus Hiddink was brought in as the club’s interim boss for the second time in his career. He previously worked at Stamford Bridge in 2009 when Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, sacked Brazilian Luis Felipe Scolari.

Conte is keen to put his own stamp on the squad and Batshuayi was one of his first signings. Of the manager the Belgian said, “It’s a great opportunity. Conte is a manager who works very hard and likes people to work hard for him as well. I am very pleased to come and play for him here at Chelsea”

The 22-year-old said, “It’s a magnificent feeling. It feels fantastic to be here, it’s a childhood dream for me so I’m very happy”. He travelled out to America with the rest of the Chelsea squad over the weekend as they look to begin their pre-season training programme before the start of what is likely to be another gruelling Premier League campaign. They will face Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool in friendly match stateside as both teams look to break into the lucrative American market.

Diego Costa Is Going Nowhere, According To Antonio Conte

New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has confirmed that the club’s star striker will still be at Stamford Bridge next season and is considered to be of ‘fundamental importance’ to the Italian’s future plans.

Much speculation has surrounded the future of Costa, with his former club Atletico Madrid believed to be keen on re-signing him. The 27-year-old has made 77 appearances for the Blues since signing in 2014, scoring 36 goals. Some Chelsea fans seemed to turn against him when the club’s former manager, José Mourinho, was sacked, with many believing that the Spaniard didn’t try hard enough under the Portuguese’s reign at the start of last season.

The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ was sacked in December, having led Chelsea to their worst opening to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s. Costa, along with Eden Hazard, was targeted by a section of the Stamford Bridge crowd who felt that his performance level dipped in the wake of Chelsea winning the Premier League in the 2014-2015 campaign.

That led some members of the press to speculate that he might be on the way out of West London, with Conte known to be a strict task-master and Costa having had a number of disciplinary issues in the past. He has previously been given retrospective bans for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can, having a run-in with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel and for a clash with Gareth Barry during an FA Cup match against Everton where he also appeared to bite the midfielder, though no punishment was issued by the Football Association for that.

Yet Conte believes that Costa will be a vital part of his team’s assault on the title next season and that he’s likely to score a number of goals for the Blues. He said, “Diego stays with us. He is working very hard. He is very happy to work with his team-mates and with me. He is a fantastic player, a player with a fundamental importance, and there is no problem. He is an important player, one of the best in the world, and I am sure when he goes into our ideas he will score a lot of goals for us”.

Chelsea Confirm Kante Signing

Chelsea Football Club have confirmed the signing of N’Golo Kante from defending Premier League champions Leicester City for a fee believed to be around £30 million.

The defensive midfielder cost the Foxes £6 million when they brought him in from the French club Caen during the summer. He made 40 appearances in all competitions for Leicester as they went on to become surprise champions of the English top-flight.

The 25-year-old was instrumental in Leicester’s incredible league success and also impressed for France during this summer’s European Championships. The host nation reached the final of the competition before being beaten by Portugal and was part of the French squad throughout.

Speaking to Chelsea’s official website Kante said, “I am so happy to have signed for one of the biggest clubs in Europe. It’s a dream come true for me. The opportunity to work with Antonio Conte, a brilliant coach, and some of the best players in the world was simply too good to turn down”.

Conte’s friend and fellow Italian Claudio Ranieri, who was Chelsea manager during the initial phase of Roman Abramovich’s ownership of the West London club and who led Leicester to title success last season, was disappointed to lose Kante and did everything he could to keep him. An official statement from the club said, “Despite the offer of a substantially improved, long-term contract, it became apparent that N’Golo’s wish was to join Chelsea”. The Foxes received a club record fee for the player.

The Foxes have found numerous members of their title-winning squad come under offer from fellow Premier League teams. Jamie Vardy, the Leicester City striker, turned down a move to Arsenal earlier this summer and the club’s mercurial winger Riyad Mahrez is also believed to be being chased by a number of top teams.

Chelsea’s Technical Director, Michael Emenalo, is delighted that the Blues have been able to sign up Kante who he believes is a ‘fantastic signing with exceptional quality’. He said, “He is a perfect fit in terms of Antonio Conte’s philosophies and the style of football he wants to play. For a player of his age he has already built up a wealth of experience and his exceptional quality will without doubt be a great addition to the team”.

Kante himself confirmed on the social networking site Instagram that it was the chance to work with Conte, along with the Italian’s words, that persuaded him to make the move to West London in spite of the fact that Chelsea have no European football to offer. He posted, “It is a great club, which has just recruited a great coach and want to reach high ambitions I share. The club’s project and the coach’s speech have convinced me to join this new ambitious adventure. I am now waiting to see my new club and give everything for a successful summer… And season of course!!”

The French player also paid thanks to his former club, saying, “This season, I…discovered the Premier League with @lcfc. I want to thank the leaders, my team-mates and Claudio Ranieri for this fantastic season that saw us winning the title of England. Their confidence and also the fans will forever remain in my memory. And I again thank you all”.

The 25-year-old was Claudio Ranieri’s first signing as Leicester boss and has become Antonio Conte’s second major signing of the summer, coming after the Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi was signed from Marseille. He made the most tackles and interceptions in the Premier League last season and was part of the PFA’s Team of the Year.

Chelsea will be the fourth professional club that Kante has played for and he told the club’s website, “My first season in English football was very special and now I hope to go on to achieve even more during my time as a Chelsea player. I am looking forward to meeting up with my new team-mates and helping the club achieve a lot of success”.

Conte Wants Chelsea To Keep Cuadrado

Chelsea’s new boss Antonio Conte, who was appointed by the club as a permanent replacement for José Mourinho after the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ was sacked in December last year, has said that he wants to keep hold of Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado.

The 28-year-old was signed by Chelsea from Fiorentina in February of 2015 and made thirteen appearances for the Blues but failed to score in any of them after his £23.3 million move to Stamford Bridge. He was signed on the back of an impressive performance in Serie A during the previous campaign and some excellent performances in the 2014 World Cup, but didn’t settle in England.

The Colombian was loaned out to Juventus last season and played under Chelsea’s new manager during a campaign in which The Old Lady won a league and cup double. Conte confirmed he’ll be happy to see him return to Stamford Bridge, saying, “I wanted him when I was Juventus coach. He will come back very soon and train and play with us”.

Cuadrado scored four goals in twenty-eight appearances for Juve after joining The Zebras when Pedro arrived in West London from Barcelona, making him surplus to requirements. He left just five days after the arrival of the Spaniard and was a crucial part of Conte’s success with Juventus last term. During this summer’s Copa America Cuadrado helped his home nation Colombia finish in third place.

Conte made clear that, for the time being at least, Cuadrado is not going anywhere. He said, “Now, he’s a Chelsea player and he’ll stay with us. If something changes you’ll know”. The Colombian will be like a new signing for the Blues, given that he already knows and understands Conte’s methods. He will join up with new boys N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi as part of the Italian manager’s new look Chelsea side.

Conte: I’m A Champions League Tailor

Chelsea’s new manager has given his first press conference since being officially appointed at the West London club and declared that he is a ‘tailor’ who will make the ‘best dress’ to get the club back into the Champions League.

Conte, who arrived at Stamford Bridge earlier this week after his Italy side got knocked out of the European Championships in France by Germany, has also confirmed that current Chelsea captain John Terry will maintain the armband for next season. The former England captain looked as though he was on his way out of the club when the Blues failed to offer him a new deal, but they changed their mind in May and he signed a new one-year deal.

Conte confirmed that he was part of the decision making process to offer Terry that new contract, saying, “I repeat, John Terry is an important player for me, the club and the fans. He signed a new contract in May and we took the decision together. We were very pleased and very happy he signed a new deal. I spoke to him at different times and he was very happy to sign”.

With Terry as the club’s captain the Italian believes Chelsea are in an excellent position to push on in the 2016-2017 season, recovering from their disastrous 2015-2016 campaign in order to return to the Champions League. He said, “Chelsea belongs in the Champions League and we must stay there. I know only the road to take the club back to competing and winning the title – work, work, work. The coach is a tailor who must make the best dress for the team. Last season in 10th was a bad season, but we must think to the present”.

Conte, who turns 47 later this month, took charge of his first training session with the Blues on Wednesday. He was pleased with the spirit he saw from his players and believes that they have what it takes to match his work ethic. He refused to be drawn on the notion of the Premier League being a battle ground for the world’s best managers, instead suggesting it’s about the players and teams in the league.

Answering a question about whether he’d like a name similar to how José Mourinho called himself ‘The Special One’, Conte said, “I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing but I have a great passion for football, for my team, for my work. I like to stay with my players in training – to play with them, to lose with them. I have great passion and I want to transfer that to my players and fans. In this tournament it is not a challenge between managers. It is between great teams and great players. These are the most important things”.

Conte won’t be afraid to ask for advice from former Chelsea manager and fellow Italian Claudio Ranieri, who won the Premier League with Leicester City last season. He said, “He is a lovely man and I will ask him for a bit of advice”. He also denied that he would be under any pressure, despite the fact that the bookmakers think he’s more likely to be sacked before the end of the season than to win the title with the West London club.

Conte said, “I suffer during the game and I won’t let my players see this, or the fans see this. I hope there is a small flame flickering that can eventually grow into a blazing inferno. The pressure for me is not important. I was born with pressure. It’s the norm when you are a player or manager of a great club. We must fight for the title, we belong in the Champions League and we must stay there. Every manager has his own idea of football and I want to transfer my ideas to the players”.

Regarding transfers, Chelsea have made one big appointment with the signing of the Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi for £33 million. The youngster signed a five-year contract and Conte thinks he’ll be important for Chelsea’s future. He said, “He’s a young player but very strong with good technique. He uses two feet, a great talent. I am very happy that Batshuayi stays with us. You don’t need to take just the champions, you need to take those who can adapt to our football and our philosophy”.