The Blues has suffered back to back defeat to both Bournemouth and Watford respectively – conceding three in the former and four in the latter, and that has made Rooney to suggest that the reigning league champions are in crisis.

The Blues manager though has adduced in recent times that he wanted to stay in Chelsea for the more years has been at loggerheads with the Chelsea Boards over failed transfers last summers.

The transfer melee at the club led to Michael Emenalo, the former Football to resign from his position at the club

And with Conte coming out on numerous occasions to critise the Chelsea Boards, Rooney posited that Conte’s antics might be a conduit to step down from his position at Chelsea.

Rooney believes that there seems to be a ‘big problem’ at the Stamford Bridge as things Conte do say openly are indoors’ discussion.

“Any problem that a team have should be kept behind closed doors,” Rooney said on Monday Night Football.

“It seems like Conte is putting a lot out there. Whether that is because he wants to find a way out because he isn’t getting what he wants, we don’t know.

“There seems to be big problem.”

Also Read: Nistelrooy the best finisher in EPL’s history, Tevez my favourite partner – Rooney

Meanwhile, fellow English International and former Liverpool defender, Jamie Carragher said Chelsea’s display against Watford was the Worst performance from the club in 15 years.

Chelsea’s cause to bounce back from 3-0 defeat to Bornemouth was shattered when Tiemoue Bakayoko received his marching orders for his second bookable offence inside half an hour.

Troy Deeney’s opener from the penalty spot was cancelled by Eden Hazard but goals from Daryl Janmaat, Gerard Deulofeu, and Robert Pereyra respectively in the dying minutes of the game ensured Chelsea were well pounded at the Vicarage Road.

Carragher, who also believed that Chelsea made things looked so easy for Watford said, “I do not think I have seen Chelsea play like this for 15 years.

“Tonight was a bad performance I have seen from a Chelsea team in a long time. Something isn’t right. Maybe they need a change.

“You would like to think that the problems he {Conte} has got with the board are not affecting the players, but as you have seen in the past few games, that was not Chelsea.

“I do not identify that kind of performance with Chelsea.”

Up next for Conte and his boys to redeem themselves will be a league meeting with West Brom next Monday at the Stamford Bridge

Published in International Watch

 

The unbending focus, the resistance to side tracking or distractions, the constant momentum generation; all factors that steered Chelsea towards their cantering league success last season, alongside the mixture of flair and resilience on the pitch, of course. Every game felt like the most important, aside from the opening two months of the season, no defeat felt like a cause for concern, more like mere blips in their inevitable journey to coast to the title.

This season, though, things have been rather different. Sure, Chelsea had no European commitments last term, and the Blues always seem one title challenge away from tumultuous ennui, but that invincibility, as well the feeling that Antonio Conte was building a long-lasting empire that was present last May has vanished. Right from the start of the season, it hasn’t quite been right, from Conte lamenting over the seeming shortage of players, to the disastrous opening day against Burnley, the transfer discomfort that led to the departure of Michael Emenalo, all down to the managerial media spat with Jose Mourinho; that high-level concentration from the Blues, that Oliver Wood-like obsession as in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the rather maniacal level of focus that was so apparent last season, has seemingly vanished.

Conte seems to have gotten his focus pulled by the media war of words between him and Mourinho, current Manchester United and former Chelsea gaffer of course, and the constant speculation of Chelsea being linked with every striker that is just about tall enough has barely helped matters, form has been affected on the pitch, just as their main man up front. The midweek penalty shootout win over Norwich in the FA Cup Third Round Replay was their first victory of 2018, and that was still met with a fair bit of dissatisfaction, they’ve failed to score in three of their five games this year.

Which might just about be a prophesy of a rather dull showing when they visit Brighton on Saturday, the Seagulls haven’t found the net in seven of their last 10 games, but with the Blues missing a few names- Alvaro Morata and Pedro are both suspended after red cards on Wednesday, while Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill are out injured-, the hosts might sense a chance to pounce on the unease at the club and claim a big scalp, a result Conte can ill-afford, not just in terms of growing speculation over his future, but also in terms his side’s top four spot.

At the end of a week where Chelsea launched their ‘Say no to Anti-Semitism’ awareness campaign off the pitch, they have some fighting to do on it as well. Conte has claimed he doesn’t care much for the happiness of the players, but they could all do with a smile.

Elsewhere:

  • From the tethers of European football to being just five points above relegation, Watford have rather taken quite the slump. The Hornets have one win in 10 games, and lost a fair share points late in games. ‘Of course I am concerned (about the form)’ said manager Marco Silva. ‘This is not what we work for’. The Hornets travel to Leicester this weekend, although the Foxes were only side Watford have beaten in their last 10 league matches, demonstrating resolve to come from behind on Boxing Day, the kind of resolve they showed in snatching a point last weekend against Southampton, even though there was a touch of fortune about it. They could do with some more luck here as well.
  • By the time Arsenal step onto the pitch to play Crystal Palace, Alexis Sanchez might well have officially left the club. They didn’t fare quite well without the Chilean at Bournemouth, and Palace have lost only once in 12 games, although that was against the Gunners three weeks ago (where Sanchez scored twice). With Mesut Ozil likely to be unavailable for the hosts as well, alongside the Eagles’ new-found sturdiness and their potency on the counter, this could make for some uncomfortable viewing for the Gunners. Expect the Emirates crowd to get antsy if things don’t go well early on.
  • On the one hand, the game at Anfield last weekend showed Manchester City aren’t impenetrable after all, the league leaders might be under pressure to bounce back, and Newcastle are a better prospect away from St. James Park these days. On the other, City are likely to be wounded and vengeful Lions at the Etihad this weekend, Newcastle’s will-it-won’t-it takeover talks still haven’t abated, and the Magpies haven’t beaten City in the league since Christian Bale began his three-movie venture in the Batman franchise. Good luck, Rafa.
  • With news of Alexis Sanchez’s impending arrival, and Jose Mourinho having signed a new contract, things seem in a rather bright mood at Manchester United, as they travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley. The Clarets lie in seventh, to the surprise of many, but haven’t won in seven outings. Stop that rot here, and the team grabbing headlines by not grabbing headlines will have pulled off another shock.
  • Oh, and after Everton were manhandled last time out against Spurs, manager Sam Allardyce says he’ll set out to make his side more boring. They host West Brom this weekend. If ever there was a screaming ‘DON’T WATCH IT!!’ sign on a game…

Fixtures

Brighton v Chelsea

West Ham v Bournemouth

Swansea v Liverpool

Burnley v Manchester United

Southampton v Tottenham

Everton v West Brom

Arsenal v Crystal Palace

Stoke v Huddersfield

Manchester City v Newcastle

Leicester v Watford

Published in International Watch

Ross Barkley has undergone a medical ahead of his move to Chelsea and the deal could be confirmed by the Premier League champions on Friday, according to Sky sources.

Sky Sports News understand the Everton midfielder and his representatives are at Stamford Bridge finalising the transfer.

Barkley, who has not featured for Everton this season despite recently returning to first-team training following hamstring surgery, had less than six months remaining on his contract at Goodison Park.

The England international came close to joining Chelsea in the summer transfer window after the clubs agreed a £35m fee, but ultimately opted against the move.

Tottenham were also interested in signing Barkley last summer, but Sky Sports News understands they decided against reigniting their interest in the 24-year-old with Mauricio Pochettino focusing on other targets.

Everton manager Sam Allardyce admitted on Thursday that he was expecting to receive bids for Barkley before the close of the January window.

"I would expect there would be sometime in this window if there is going to be any interest from some of the big boys," he said.

Barkley, an Everton academy graduate, has scored 27 goals in 179 appearances since making his debut for the club in August 2011.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is close to securing his first signing of the January transfer window

He was rewarded with a new four-year deal in July 2014 by then-manager Roberto Martinez after featuring for England at the World Cup in Brazil.

Barkley, capped 22 times by England, has previously expressed a desire to play Champions League football and will be eligible to play for Chelsea in their last-16 clash against Barcelona in February

(Sky Sports News)

 

 

Published in Transfer Rumors

The working one" Fidelis Ilechukwu has revealed that he took a leaf each from the books of Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte as he helped steer the performance of MFM FC from relegation strugglers to title challengers in their second NPFL season. 

MFM FC struggled in the regressive water of relegation in their debut NPFL season, barely escaping the drop only for Heartland's indiscipline away at Wikki Tourists on the final game of the season. But the following season, fortunes turned for the 'Olukoya Boys' as they rose from the humbling grass of relegation battle to the grace of title challenge, although they eventually lost the title to Plateau United, Ilechukwu's tweak on this team was mind-blowing. 

Also Read: I want to be the next George Weah: Stephen Odey

In an Interview with Goal.com, the tactician highlighted the influence of big three of EPL had on his title challenge campaign. 

"I also adopted Guardiola's style of keeping the possession no matter the pressure during the match - the ball must be on the ground and the team must dominate.

"While Conte's philosophy of having fewer defenders and more players in the midfield and the attack was another tactic I used. So when things change, I can change to any of them.

"When I started early last season taking the risk and implementing those philosophies I adopted in our away games, we concede up to four goals. That's one result is different from the other, especially when we play away from home.

"For example in one of our home game against Gombe United, if not for the adoption of Mourinho's style of packing the box, we won't have survived the match because they gave us problems as they were fighting against relegation." He revealed. 

 

 

 

 

Published in Awa Football

 

No one really does victory in the face of adversity like Chelsea. Written off by a few before they made the trip to Wembley on Sunday, some had even boldly suggested that a defeat against Spurs would see them struggle to make the top four, let alone retain the title. But like they did to effect most times last season, the Blues never let their heads drop, and left the national stadium with the spoils, despite facing a barrage from their hosts.

This has become a key feature that Chelsea possess under Antonio Conte- who returned to wearing a suit on Sunday-; that ability to get the job done, win ugly, scrap their way to three points where just one looked like the best-case scenario, never resigning to settle; almost reminiscent of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. They have only suffered back-to-back league defeats on one occasion under the Italian, and on Sunday showed that their loss to Burnley the previous weekend was more of a blip, and less of a sign of decline.

The biggest headlines at the club going into that home defeat to the Clarets were Conte’s displeasure at a lack of new additions and the constant malaise surrounding the issue of Diego Costa; and while they haven’t quite disappeared, the manager did his best to deflect the attention away from all that before this weekend, having a laugh when the Costa case was brought up at his pre-match conference; and his players responded on the pitch by defending every ball, clearing every cross, and eventually nicking a winner at the other end. You’d have expected them to lick their wounds after conceding that late equaliser, but instead they rolled up their sleeves and found a way to claim all three points.

The tumult surrounding the club’s supposed transfer inactivity hasn’t been eradicated by any means, but it has been eased, and the focus seems to have returned to things happening on the pitch.

On Sunday they showed, not just why they’re champions, but also how difficult it will be for anyone attempting to wrest the title from their grasp.

Published in International Watch

 Cesc Fabregas walked off in frustration, trudging down the tunnel after receiving his second yellow card, and subsequently his marching orders from referee Craig Pawson with nine minutes left, reducing Chelsea to nine men, and summing up their afternoon at the Bridge.

The champions had seen their skipper Gary Cahill receive an early bath barely 15 minutes in for a late lunge, as the skipper followed the footsteps of Pedro, who got sent off the previous week in the Community Shield.

In fact, considering last season’s FA Cup as well, Chelsea have had at least one player sent in each of their last three games (although technically the Community Shield was considered a friendly), leading manager Antonio Conte to say they might have to start training on how to play with nine and 10 men. The Italian handed a debut to young Jeremie Boga, highlighting his need for new additions to the team, but will have watched in utter dissatisfaction when Cahill overran the ball and lunged into Steven Defour with just a quarter of an hour played, reducing the team to ten men early on, and in a tactical reshuffle, he took off Boga and brought on Andreas Christensen after 17 minutes. Burnley, who have never won a Premier League game at Chelsea and won just once away from home last season, grew in confidence and belief, and 10 minutes after the red card, Sam Vokes prodded the Clarets in front, a goal Thibaut Courtois won’t be keen to see again.

But for a goal worth repeating endlessly, Stephen Ward provided it on 39 minutes, the Burnley defender thumping home a volley just inside the box to send both sets of fans into different kinds of shock. Then four minutes later Burnley’s elation graduated to delirium while Chelsea supporters just watched in horror, as Vokes headed home his second, with the Chelsea defence in smithereens. The only positive from the first half for the Blues was that they couldn’t play any worse in the second period, and that proved true, particularly with the introduction of Alvaro Morata.

The Spaniard pulled one back for the hosts with just over 20 minutes left, heading home Willian’s cross for his first goal for the club, and only the lineman’s flag denied him a second. Then Morata supplied David Luiz who reduced the deficit even further in the last minute of normal time, either side of Fabregas having his unsavoury moment and Robbie Brady hitting the post for Burnley.

For Sean Dyche’s men, they’ve amassed almost half of the points they won on the road all last season, and continued their record of beating the defending champions in every Premier League season they’ve played.

Chelsea however, have more problems, particularly in the area of squad depth, as the Blues will be without Cahill and Fabregas, alongside a few others, for the trip to Wembley to play Spurs next weekend. That’s not worrying at all.

Lukin’ good already

Romelu Lukaku has now scored three goals in two games for Manchester United, his double against West Ham sending them top. It’s still just one game played so far and manager Jose Mourinho has said the performance wasn’t perfect, but, as even he noted, United fans have every reason to be optimistic if yesterday’s performance sets the standards. An all-round wonderful display from the players, not least in the shape of another new boy Nemanja Matic- whose seamlessness his former side Chelsea could have used in the weekend- and Paul Pogba, who also found the net for the hosts as the game drew to a close. The thrust United put into attack on Sunday went a long way to removing some limelight on how abysmal West Ham were. Bar a couple of crosses, the Hammers never really looked like troubling United’s goal, and the 4-0 scoreline did quite flatter them. It’s not like Bilic has previously been under pressure or anything.

Rollercoaster at the Emirates.

Early elation, despair midway through, and an impressive end to it all, Arsenal did their best to cram their entire season into a 90-minute reel on the opening night of the season. It took 94 seconds for summer signing Alexandre Lacazette to announce himself to the home fans, his well-placed header giving the Gunners the perfect start. It took just five minutes for opponents Leicester to hit back, however, Arsenal goalie Petr Cech taking an ill-advised trip to No Man’s Land, leading to Shinji Okazaki to head home the equaliser. With half an hour gone, a sense of familiar capitulation hit the Gunners, as they were guilty of overplaying at the back; and Marc Albrighton supplied Jamie Vardy who put the visitors in front with emphatic aplomb. Arsenal would find a leveller on the cusp of half time, with Sead Kolasinac playing Danny Welbeck who would have done well to miss such a gilt-edged opportunity. Vardy headed the Foxes back in front early in the second period; an advantage they held till the final 10 minutes, when substitutes Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud both scored in the space of two minutes to turn impending defeat into much-welcome victory.

 

Elsewhere

  • In keeping with the weekend trend of ignoring any principle that so much as whispered decent defending, Liverpool and Watford equally shared six goals at Vicarage Road. The Reds’ front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah all found net, although they conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to Miguel Angel Britos after Stefano Okaka and Abdoulaye Doucoure had twice put the hosts in front. Attacking brilliance but unable to finish off the opposition, then concede from a set-piece; we missed you Liverpool.
  • Until Manchester United’s devastation act against West Ham, Huddersfield were on course to finish the weekend in top spot, demolishing Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Terriers debutant Steve Mounie scored twice for David Wagner’s men, while Palace and Frank de Boer still have a fair bit to do to get up to speed.
  • Everybody likes a fairy-tale; and nowhere was there a bigger feel of romance this weekend than at Goodison Park. On his second debut after returning from Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney headed home Everton’s only goal in their win over Stoke City. The other new signings were in display at blue half of Merseyside, but it was the old new boy who stole the spotlight, much to the delight of everyone that’s not Mark Hughes.
  • Early in the second half of Newcastle v Tottenham, the game uneventful to put it nicely, Toon skipper Jonjo Shelvey shows he’s a man who feels for the fans and media watching on, and decided to make things a little interesting, stamping Spurs midfielder Dele Alli with the referee three feet away. Things went upwards from them on, if you’re not a Newcastle fan that is, Dele Alli putting the visitors in front before Ben Davies completed the scoring. Harry Kane hit the post and was also denied by the linesman’s flag, which means he still hasn’t scored a Premier League goal in August, much to the ire of more than a few Fantasy Football managers.
  • And in the ‘we-don’t-wanna-sell-our-best-player derby’, Southampton and Swansea were the only teams to play a goalless draw on the opening weekend (selfish). Swansea’s lack of creativity showed, while there’s still work to be done for Southampton and new boss Mauricio Pochet… oh, Pellegrino. That’ll take some getting used to.

Results

Chelsea 2-3 Burnley

Arsenal 4-0 Leicester

Brighton 0-2 Man City

Watford 3-3 Liverpool

Man Utd 4-0 West Ham

Crystal Palace 0-3 Huddersfield

West Brom 1-0 Bournemouth

Southampton 0-0 Swansea

Newcastle 0-2 Spurs

Everton 1-0 Stoke

Published in International Watch