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ZODIAC

Found 59 results

  1. Billionaire Roman Abramovich. ? Photo: FileChelsea owner Roman Abramovich is not interested in "bargain" bids for the Premier League club and remains fully involved at Stamford Bridge, according to chairman Bruce Buck.The Russian billionaire is...
  2. "I'm really happy with a lot of our stuff this season, so maybe that means we are slightly ahead of the curve." Photo: Reuters Frank Lampard believes he will learn a lot about his young Chelsea side from how they react to their defeat at...
  3. Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 2-0 to move up to second in the Premier League. ? AFPLONDON: Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 2-0 to move up to second in the Premier League on Saturday, while Tottenham's troubles continued with a draw at home to Sheffield...
  4. Chelsea's Reece James celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Fikayo Tomori, Willian and teammates. Photo: Reuters PARIS: Jorginho scored two penalties as Chelsea came roaring back from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 with nine-man Ajax in a Champions...
  5. Taking charge at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, club legend Frank Lampard faced an uphill battle of marshalling his young troops on the field against more experienced and proven opponents. In the ongoing Premier League season so far, the young Chelsea brigade has impressed everyone with its youthful exuberance as much as it has disappointed with its often silly and immature outings. But, on 6th November, when Ajax came visiting the home of the Blues for the Group H clash of the UEFA Champions League, the two contrasting characters of Lampard's young brigade, which has left fans in awe and disappointment this season, showed a completely different side of a team that many thought was done and dusted for better part of the match. ICYMI, the Chelsea v Ajax game had: - 8 goals - 2 own goals - 2 red cards - 2 penalties - 2 disallowed goals - A 4-1 comeback Absolutely insane game of football at Stamford Bridge. — EiF (@EiFSoccer) November 5, 2019 In what turned out to be one of the most entertaining contests in recent times, a young Chelsea brigade showed great character and fighting spirit to secure a 4-4 draw against Ajax. Going purely by numbers, Ajax had no fans, 11 players and a three-goal lead by the 62nd minute. With 71 minutes gone, Ajax still had no fans, but their numbers had gone down from 11 to nine on the pitch and a three-goal lead was nowhere to be found. © Reuters Akin to their performances this season, the match had passed through two distinct eras. First was the period of a well-grooved Ajax dominance, built on the back of the club's iconic pass-and-move incision and equally aided by Chelsea's terrible performance at the back. After then came the hour of complete madness, one that made the air crackle as the moon shone a strange shade of blue, giving back Stamford Bridge its voice. What a crazy game!!! Beautiful football Chelsea 4-4 Ajax #CHEAJA pic.twitter.com/XLzcEbzqI9 — Hassan #WengerIn ð´âªï¸ ðð» (@magicalcantara) November 5, 2019 Within two minutes from kick-off, Chelsea appeared to look like its usual, reckless self when Tammy Abraham made a hash of his attempted clearance at the bear post, swinging wildly at the ball and diverting it beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga to hand the Dutch champions an early lead. It was sight, something Chelsea fans have endured all season, that had an air of foreboding falling over Stamford Bridge even when the home side found an equaliser almost immediately. Two minutes after conceding an early own goal, some brilliant work from Mason Mount and a darting run from Christian Pulisic had Lampard and the home crowd at the edge of their seats as Ajax centre-back Joel Veltman chopped the latter down in the box, giving away a penalty. Earned by Pulisic, the penalty was eventually taken by experienced Jorginho who casually sent Andre Onana the wrong way to level the proceedings. © Reuters In the 14th minute, Abraham had a goal disallowed for offside but it was Ajax who quickly gained the lead. With Erik Ten Hag fielding an attacking Ajax side, Marcos Alonso undeniably had a tough night before being replaced by James at half-time. The Chelsea wing-back, troubled by David Neres, gave away plenty of space down his flank - something Hakim Ziyech used to his advantage to cross for Quincy Promes who headed Ajax in front again. After setting up the second goal for Ajax, Ziyech, in the 35th minute, played his part in another with a testing free-kick towards the far post from a position deep on the right. The Moroccan's delivery flew over Arrizabalaga and the ball bounced off the inside of the post before going in off the Chelsea goalkeeper for, yet another, frustrating own goal. With Ajax securing a 3-1 lead at half-time, Lampard, like a packed Stamford Bridge stadium, was probably sick of watching the Chelsea centre-backs playing through a mist of confusion and leaving huge untended open spaces for the visitors to exploit. On the other hand, Mount and Pulisic had completed just five passes between them in the opening 40 minutes. And, by half-time, the same pair had given the ball to the opposition players a staggering 11 times, one fewer than they had managed to their own players. © Reuters While Chelsea was looking like its own silly, immature self, Ajax appeared too compact and vigorous in their movements. Thus, going into the second-half, Lampard took Alonso out, put Reece James at right-back position and moved Azpilicueta to the left. But, despite the changes from Lampard, the punishment continued for Chelsea. The visitors pressed hard, looking for errors and Pulisic obliged. Lampard and the Stamford Bridge crowd watched in agony as the American footballer gave the ball away high up the pitch. Thanks to Pulisic's lapse in concentration, Ziyech fed Donny van de Beek who had ample amount of time to pick his spot and send the ball into the corner. And, Ajax romped to a 4-1 lead in 55 minutes. The fourth goal had silenced the Stamford Bridge but there was no booing, no mutiny from home fans who remained defiant. They kept urging Lampard's men to attack and, just when everyone had given up, the far-fetched fantasy became their wildest reality. The game took on a wild dimension when Azpilicueta hauled the Blues back into the match with a 63rd-minute strike to make it 4-2. And, soon, logic evaporated as anarchy took hold. © Reuters Callum Hudson-Odoi's substitution in place of injured Mount injected the fresh urgency Chelsea's attack needed and Ajax felt their poise draining away. Their loss of control was summed up when their centre-backs Daley Blind and Veltman were dismissed in the move that allowed Jorginho to score his second penalty. Just Imagine not being Chelsea......!!!! If after that you don't get on board with this current group of players & Frank at the helm then I've no words for you, that game is the reason we do what we do for our beloved Chelsea, London's first London's Finest #ChelseaFC pic.twitter.com/qzroh2T3QZ — Andy Howie (@ChelsLad66) November 5, 2019 Chaos reigned further as Chelsea, thriving on a newly-found resolve, roared forward to take the fight to the Dutch champions. James, a 19-year-old right-back, scored the biggest goal of his young career when he made it 4-4 for Chelsea in the 74th minute. Four minutes later, the home side thought they had scripted one of the wildest comeback wins at Stamford Bridge when Azpilicueta fired home in the 78th minute, only for VAR to rule it out for Abraham's handball. Chelsea Football Club is on it's way back and everyone knows it... Goodnight ðpic.twitter.com/cyVLxD3KAh — Uber Chelsea FC ð (@UberCheIseaFC) November 6, 2019 It was, above all, a brilliantly entertaining spectacle. Lampard's young side had taken 22 shots at goal and really should have won. But, Ajax were thrillingly reckless too. Despite being reduced to nine men and watching their four-goal lead vanquish in second half, the Dutchmen kept on pouring forward in search of a winner. While the match failed to find a winner, football triumphed and left fans wanting more. © Reuters Slapped with a transfer ban, Chelsea have been forced to persist with the young guns who, despite their torturous mistakes on the field, continue to learn and adapt. For the better part of this season, football pundits and fans have cornered the Blues for their immaturity and lack of experience, but if anyone saw last night's game, they'd have surely noticed the glimpse of a developing soul. One that has eluded Chelsea over the past couple of years. And, one that holds the great promise of returning the Blues to their lost glory. View the full article
  6. Chelsea's Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring against Burnley. Photo: AFPChristian Pulisic hit the first hat-trick of his career as Chelsea crushed Burnley 4-2 on Saturday while Manchester City overcame a sluggish start to beat Aston Villa and...
  7. After a fortnight of conjecture, Chelsea Football Club announced the exit of Maurizio Sarri as their manager through their website. The Italian will now join Serie A giants Juventus, penning a three-year long contract with the Bioncaneri. Unlike predecessors Jose Mourinho and Anotnio Conte, Sarri was never a popular figure at Chelsea. Despite a winning start and going unbeaten for the first 12 league games of the campaign, becoming the first manager in the history of the Premier League to do so, and a home win against champions Manchester City in December; a poor run of form and dip in results in the beginning of 2019 led to discontent among fans and higher level management alike. © Reuters In a club that is used to watching adaptive and reactive football, Sarri's stubborn and tactical approach did not sit well with fans. The Jorginho-Kante situation is a perfect example of this. The brilliant Frenchman was made to play away from his usual defensive midfield position to accommodate Sarri's system that needed Jorginho in the center of midfield to bridge the gap between defense and attack. This did not go down well with the fans. Even after securing Champions League football with a third place finish in the Premier League and the Europa League title, Sarri will not be the manager of Chelsea next year. It has since been debated whether the Italian was forced out of the club or he opted to seek greener pastures at Juventus. But it highlights a major problem for the West London club- the owner and board of the club never bought into Maurizio's philosophy and hiring a manger like him without believing in him is a poor decision, given Chelsea's previous track record with managers. Sarri joins Juventus as part of a clear project, to win the coveted UEFA Champions League trophy and to implement an attacking and possession based style of football while doing so. For Chelsea, however, uncertainty rings throughout Stamford Bridge regarding who will take up the role. Thank you and good luck for the future, Maurizio. ð pic.twitter.com/dGHzekBNPT — Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) June 16, 2019 Former Stamford Bridge hero Frank Lampard is the bookmaker's favourite with former players Jody Morris and Petr Cech set to take up roles as Assistant Manager and Technical Director respectively. It seems likely that Chelsea will be bringing the old guard back but they will be in charge of the backroom operations rather than taking the field. The appointments might excite fans of the club but it also highlights two major concerns, a major change of approach from owner Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board; and the lack of options at Chelsea's disposal to replace Sarri. Only one year into his management career with tier-two side Derby County, Frank Lampard may be a Chelsea hero, but he's a very inexperienced appointment which is uncharacteristic of Abramovich and Chelsea. Petr Cech, having just retired from football, filling the role of Technical Director is another massive risk. © Reuters With a particularly hard dressing room to manage that has gone through 4 managers in 6 seasons, the transfer of star talisman Eden Hazard to Real Madrid and a potential two-window transfer ban from FIFA due to the breaches concerning the transfer of players who are under 18, the problems are piling up for the Blues. Other managerial options such as former blues boss Jose Mourinho and ex-Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri are unlikely to take charge of such a problematic dressing room. Lampard and the old guard look like Chelsea's best option. After a successful campaign with Derby County, very nearly clinching promotion to the Premier League, Lampard has shown a Mourinho-esque swagger in his time at Derby and his promotion of youth and positive tactics are big reasons why Chelsea would consider the Englishman for the job. However, overwhelming questions still remain unanswered for Chelsea. Can Lampard do the job for them? If not him, then whom? How will they cope with the potential transfer ban? How will they balance a problematic dressing room with an up-and-coming academy? All things said and done, however, the appointment comes at a time when a legend like Lampard's appointment could be the bounce that Chelsea fans need to reignite their passion for the club as they will kick-off their Premier League campaign at Old Trafford on 11th August.
  8. The second half of the UEFA Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal has to be engraved in the heart and mind of Eden Hazard for the rest of his life. While teammates Olivier Giroud and Pedro provided a solid 2-0 lead to the Blues, it was the Belgian who put the final nail in the coffin for the Gunners when he scored a penalty and a cheeky grounded shot in the 65th and 72nd minutes, respectively. KING. ð@HazardEden10 ð #UELfinal pic.twitter.com/YwrbcSOYif — Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 29, 2019 After the final whistle blew and the ceremony got over, Hazard decided to make an official announcement about his thoughts of parting ways with Chelsea, a club that not only was a house to him for the past seven years but also helped him realise his dreams of playing in the Premier League. "I think it's a goodbye, but in football you never know," he told BT Sport to confirm what a lot of us were expecting for a long time now. Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri said: "I know he wants to leave and I have to respect his decision." "He is a wonderful player. It took two or three months for me to understand him as a man and now I do, he's a wonderful man." "He's an extraordinary player. He is a strange boy but when he understands it is extraordinary." Hazard has been phenomenal for the Blues ever since joining them back in 2012. He has made a total of 352 appearances for the club and his two Europa League final goals moves his tally to 110 and 92 assists while winning the Premier League (2), Europa League (2), FA Cup (1) and the League Cup (1). He was also honoured with the PFA Player of the Year award and the FWA Player of the year award as a member of the team. Flooded with emotions, Chelsea fans took to Twitter to show their gratitude for the 28-year-old boy wonder for everything he has done for the club and wished him luck for wherever he plays next (we know it's going to be Real Madrid, isn't it?). 132 seconds on Chelsea & Eden mutha-f*cking Hazard pic.twitter.com/aetZhNWDDh — Alex Goldberg (@AlexGoldberg_) May 29, 2019 2012 - Didier Drogba scores to win Chelsea the Champions League and leaves a legend. 2019 - Eden Hazard scores twice to win Chelsea the Europa League and is leaving a legend. The King and the Prince of this club. ð — Mod (@CFCMod_) May 29, 2019 And we love you to @hazardeden10 ð #OnceABlueAlwaysABlue pic.twitter.com/SYTLdw8mXj — Frank Khalid (@FrankKhalidUK) May 29, 2019 Swimming in trophies - So many classics we got to witness over the years & I'm not going to take that for granted. Grateful that this man played for my football club & good luck in Madrid Sir Eden Hazard. pic.twitter.com/CsCTbP9AP3 — Ù (@HazardEdition) May 29, 2019 Eden Hazard leaving the way he started. Will be forever grateful for your service. ððªð» pic.twitter.com/67HL1MHY9z — CM (@CFCJorg) May 29, 2019 Stinks man, for the last 7 years no matter how my week had went, whether I was happy, whether I was down I knew at the end of it I could see Eden Hazard play for Chelsea and now that simple pleasure is gone — Ben (@CriminalCosta) May 29, 2019 Me telling my grandkids how I witnessed Eden Hazard's greatness at the Bridge for 7 years pic.twitter.com/qONJDRsIPx — Rahullð®ð³ (@rrcfc98) May 29, 2019
  9. Arguably one of the best footballers on the planet, Mohamed Salah continues to be a vital cog in Liverpool's title dreams in the ongoing season of the Premier League. For someone who started his career at the left-back position, Salah has thrived as a versatile forward, primarily playing as a winger on the right flank - a position he has made his own ever since arriving at the Anfield. His pace and flair on the ball, decorated with good technique and an eye for goal, was in full display during Liverpool's 2-0 triumph over Chelsea at the Anfield on 14th April. After a goalless first half, the Reds were pushed in front by Sadio Mane whose brilliant header allowed the home side to take the lead in the 51st minute. Liverpool's first goal against Chelsea scored by Sadio Mane. #LIVCHE Cc: @KifsonWhoo, @mkah90 pic.twitter.com/nGgJ26O810 — LineKicker (@LineKicker) 14 April 2019 Two minutes later, Salah worked his magic to double the lead for Liverpool. The 26-year-old picked the ball up on the right of the Chelsea box in the 53rd minute and arrowed a rasping, unstoppable drive from his stronger left foot beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga from 25 yards out to seal the game for the hosts. Mo Salah. The Egyptian King. #LFC pic.twitter.com/R2PSvvutgt — TheKop.com (@TheKop_com) 14 April 2019 While talking to Sky Sports after the match, Salah revealed that he was so far out that he felt he had to go with just "power" in a bid to beat the Chelsea shot-stopper. It was the first goal he had scored from outside the penalty box in the Premier League for more than a year. His brilliant strike powered Liverpool back to the top of the points table with arch-rivals Manchester City currently placed second with a game in hand. The social media was abuzz with Salah's brilliant goal as football fans across the globe lauded the Egyptian for his effort. X @LFC pic.twitter.com/TQ8Ow2tyxJ — Linzi (@LinziLeighton) 14 April 2019 @2JZSteve what a screamer — Chris (@topheurgh) 14 April 2019 Oh wowie!! — Frankieeeeeeee (@frankiemcgill) 14 April 2019 @Alom_M_ im not supposed to like this but its too great a goal — shumel (@shumel10) 14 April 2019 Absolute beauty wow wow — Y'esus Orwin Boanerges (@orwin_y) 14 April 2019 The most beautiful goal you will ever see. Our Egyptian King. Good on you mate. Silence the at RACIST #ChelseaFC. — Gary M Buckley (@GBucks_M) 14 April 2019 Can not stop watching!𤩠— David Beakhouse (@DBeakhouse) 14 April 2019 Mad goal ðð»ðð»ðð»ðð»ðð» — YourWeddingReceptionMC (@remigist) 14 April 2019 He's been trying this all season long and it worked today. Thank God — Dixz (@major_dixz) 14 April 2019
  10. For a man who was left to fill in the void left by Antonio Conte's departure, Maurizio Sarri joined Chelsea last July with a promise and the hope for better and more exciting things for the London-based club. While there were some signs of improvement for the Blues, Sarri's brief term now faces the imminent threat of a sad end. The Blues are currently languishing at the sixth spot with just 15 wins in 26 Premier League games so far. And, their recent loss in the Carabao Cup final, which was eventually won by Manchester City on penalties, has further worsened the situation for the former Napoli manager. If bottling an opportunity to win the Carabao Cup affected Sarri's chances of staying in-charge at Stamford Bridge, his farcical incident involving goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga further highlighted the problems for the Chelsea boss. This could very well be Kepa's last game at Chelsea or the start of a legendary keeper if he wins this for Chelsea, although it doesn't look like Sarri would forgive him either way. Childish act to say the least. pic.twitter.com/RBAHx4OeNy — Mootaz Chehade (@MHChehade) February 24, 2019 The extra-time "misunderstanding" between Sarri and Kepa that saw the Chelsea goalkeeper defying his manager to come off the ground, has been the talk of the town. But, labelling it as a mere miscommunication, both Sarri and Kepa have denied any rift between them. However, Chelsea's latest decision to fine the former Athletic Bilbao goalie a week's wages highlights that the incident was much more than just a "misunderstanding" between the duo. © Reuters Earlier, speaking on Sunday's theatrics, Kepa had said: "Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation. I wanted to take the time today to apologise fully and in person to the coach, to Willy, my team-mates and to the club. I will learn from this episode and will accept any punishment or discipline the club decides is appropriate". On the other hand, Sarri, too, had dismissed the incident following their loss to City. "Kepa and I have spoken about the incident. It was a good conversation. There was a misunderstanding yesterday but he realises he made a big mistake in the way he reacted," Sarri said. "He has apologised to me, his team-mates and the club. It is up to the club if they want to discipline him according to the club rules, but for me, this matter is now closed," he added.
  11. The manager is always right. No matter how unfair their decision seems to be at the time, the players must obey and follow their leader with the utmost dedication and sincerity. That is the unspoken code of honour in football and nobody should be able to undermine something so pristine. But clearly, Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga seems to think that he's above everyone else and therefore doesn't have to follow the code. After all, he did sign a grand seven-year contract with the Blues. On Sunday, the 24-year-old Spaniard decided to disobey his manager Maurizio Sarri's direct command during extra time in the Cabaro Cup final against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City when he refused to being substituted with Willy Caballero. Throwing a fit like a baby, Arrizabalaga refused to leave the field and talked, rather argued his way out of Sarri's decision to take him out. Sarri's livid behaviour as soon as the referee let Arrizabalaga stay on the field was not only justified but also validated by the furious Chelsea fans present at the Wembley stadium who booed the Spaniard throughout the penalty shootouts. Alas, despite Sarri's brilliant leadership and coaching throughout the scoreless yet highly engaging match, Arrizabalaga's decision to be the goalkeeper during the penalties backfired as the Citizens scored a total of four goals versus Chelsea's three to bag the win. Letting a Sergio Aguero penalty slip from underneath him was the worst that could have happened to the Spaniard after the monstrosity he had created a few moments ago. Kepa Arrizabalaga refuses to come off the pitch, and then does this... ð¤£#CHEMCI #CarabaoCupFinalpic.twitter.com/nXkZnpDCCA — David Kislingbury (@DKislingbury) February 24, 2019 The fact that in a verbal spat between a player and the manager of a team was won by the player throws a lot of shade at the leadership of one of the most prestigious clubs. The under-fire manager withdrawing from the fight against his own spawn will surely have repercussions on his journey ahead with Chelsea. Arrizabalaga came forward with an explanation for the farce in the post game press conference: "I understand that on television, on social media, they're talking about this but I am here to explain it, to say that it wasn't my intention to go against the manager. We have spoken now, and I was only trying to say I'm fine. He thought I wasn't fine. It was in tense moments, with a lot happening,” said the keeper. “I think it was just misunderstood, and unfortunate, because now people are talking about this… I don't know what to say, other than to say it was not my intention in any moment.” Enraged with Arrizabalaga's shameful act of disrespect, Twitter didn't hold back in giving the Spanish footballer a tantrum-treatment: And the wanker of the day award goes to... Kepa Arrizabalaga Well done, Kepa ððð#ChelseaManchesterCity pic.twitter.com/lClKlWbm8d — Mr Grumpy ð (@mistergrumpysnr) February 24, 2019 Kepa Arrizabalaga should never play a game for Chelsea ever again. What he did today was nothing short of a disgrace, capped off by an absolute blunder in the Aguero penalty. Disobeyed Sarri, disobeyed Zola, and ultimately shot his Chelsea career in the foot. Embarrassing. — EiF (@EiFSoccer) February 24, 2019 Kepa Arrizabalaga suffers his first defeat as Chelsea managerðð pic.twitter.com/xOIwfWFI7k — Arnoldi (@arnoldi254) February 24, 2019 Highlights of the Kepa Arrizabalaga saga. pic.twitter.com/VhUnYx8KZg — Big Fella Yerry (@MainManMina) February 24, 2019
  12. Chelsea´s Italian head coach Antonio Conte lifts up the English Premier League trophy, as players celebrate their league title win at the end of the Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in London on May...
  13. Roman Abramovich. Photo: BloombergJERUSALEM: Russian Jewish billionaire and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich arrived in Israel on Monday after receiving citizenship of the Jewish state, local Channel 10 television reported."He landed...
  14. Chelsea players celebrate with the trophy after their victory in the English FA Cup final football match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Wembley stadium in London on May 19, 2018. Photo: AFP LONDON: Chelsea manager Antonio Conte insisted...
  15. Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte clashed with the club's hierarchy and failed to clinch a Champions League qualification, making his future uncertain. Photo: AFPLONDON: Under-fire Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes his future at the club...
  16. Olivier Giroud sent Chelsea to the FA Cup final with the first of two goals against Southampton in the semifinal. Photo: Getty Images LONDON: Chelsea booked an FA Cup final showdown with Manchester United as Olivier Giroud tormented Southampton...
  17. Barcelona?s Lionel Messi in action with Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger and N'Golo Kante. Photo: Reuters BARCELONA: Lionel Messi scored two brilliant goals and created another for Ousmane Dembele as Barcelona thrashed Chelsea 3-0 on Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals 4-1 on aggregate. Messi opened the scoring after two minutes and eight seconds, the quickest goal of his career, slipping the ball through Thibaut Courtois' legs from a tight angle. The Argentine forward created the second with a blistering run from the halfway line which left three Chelsea defenders stumbling in his wake, before squaring the ball for Ousmane Dembele to rifle home his first goal for the club. Marcos Alonso hit the post and Olivier Giroud was unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty for a tangle with Gerard Pique as Chelsea tried to launch a comeback, before Messi killed the tie with his 100th Champions League goal.
  18. Messi´s equaliser spoilt what was otherwise a controlled Chelsea performance in the first leg BARCELONA: Antonio Conte´s Chelsea will aim to frustrate Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday but they may find an opponent less expansive than they expect. Barca have set the standard in recent years for the most glittering style of football but Ernesto Valverde has instilled a new style this season, built on resilience, organisation and hard graft. With Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez left to their own devices up front, Barcelona´s midfield has become more conscientious and its back-line harder to breach. Atletico Madrid, as much renowned in defence as Barca have been in attack, have conceded only one goal fewer than the Catalans in La Liga all season. Chelsea, however, enjoyed success at Stamford Bridge with a dogmatic approach, when only Messi´s equaliser spoilt what was otherwise a controlled Blues performance. Willian´s opener means Conte´s side take a 1-1 draw to the Camp Nou. "We come to do exactly the same job as we did at Stamford Bridge," Willian said on Tuesday. "Without the ball we have to stay compact like we did at Stamford Bridge, we have to do the same job. We know here the pitch is big and we have to stay together and to not concede goals and go for the counter attack as well." But it remains to be seen how bold Barca will be. They beat Atletico 1-0 at home earlier this month to move eight points clear at the top of the table but it was not an eye-catching display. With Philippe Coutinho ineligible, Paulinho is likely to start against Chelsea, and the midfielder will bring athleticism and energy in place of Coutinho´s creative spark. Barcelona may be happy to play Chelsea at their own game, sustained by their crucial away goal and confident that, given the chance, Messi and Suarez can land the knock-out blow. Iniesta key, Messi well rested Captain Andres Iniesta will be key and the Spaniard appears to have won his battle to be fit after recovering from a hamstring strain. He was included in Valverde´s squad on Tuesday. "We know what Andres brings to the team, not only on the pitch but as a captain," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. "You give him the ball and he always knows what he has to do to create chances." Conte conceded Chelsea would have to play the "perfect game" to reach the quarter-finals and they will need Eden Hazard to deliver too. Hazard has grown frustrated in recent weeks with his lone role up front but when asked to compare the 27-year-old Belgian with Iniesta -- who will soon be 34 -- Conte seemed to lay down a challenge. "We´re talking about two different players with different careers," Conte said. "Iniesta won a lot in his career, Hazard has to start winning important trophies." On the impact of Iniesta´s possible return, Conte added: "I like to compare him with Andrea Pirlo. We are talking about a genius of the football." Barca are still unbeaten in La Liga and Messi will be well-rested, having sat out Saturday´s win over Malaga to attend the birth of his third child. The Argentine arrives with five goals in his last four games. "He will be fine," Busquets said. "In fact he will be more motivated than what we are used to and physically he is going to be great, after having an extra game´s rest. I hope that this is perfect."
  19. Romelu Lukaku Photo: Man Utd Twitter MANCHESTER: Jose Mourinho hailed Romelu Lukaku´s ability to bounce back from a difficult start as the Belgian inspired a Manchester United fightback to beat Chelsea 2-1 at Old Trafford. Lukaku cancelled out Willian´s opener with his first United goal against top six Premier League opposition before crossing for Jesse Lingard to head home the winner 15 minutes from time. "I think he played fantastically well," said Mourinho on Lukaku´s performance. "The team didn´t start well, didn´t start very confident, happened the same to him...he was a little bit lost but then he went together with the team. "He ended the game with the image of a hand in the goal." Victory against his former club was particularly sweet for Jose Mourinho as he got one over on Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, but more importantly moves United back above Liverpool into second place in the Premier League. "It´s a good day for me and we won so that´s the most important thing," said Lukaku. "To get the winner would have been even better for me, but to get the goal before half-time was really important for us. We showed our qualities and our desire in the second half." Defeat allied to Tottenham Hotspur´s late win earlier in the day at Crystal Palace sees Chelsea slip to fifth. The visitors enjoyed the better of the first period but failed to build on Willian´s 32nd minute opener. "For sure we missed by disappointed for the final result," said Conte. "Because when you have this type of situation you have to manage the game better with experience and maturity to get three points." The spectre of another fiery clash between Mourinho and Conte, who have publicly bickered in recent months, hogged the headlines before kick-off, but there was a peace offering when the pair shook hands before the action got underway. Mourinho recalled Paul Pogba to his starting XI after dropping the £89 million (100 million euros, $124 million) midfielder for Wednesday´s stalemate at Sevilla in the Champions League. But it was one of Conte´s two changes from his side´s 1-1 draw with Barcelona in midweek who nearly made an immediate impact. Alvaro Morata started for the first time in six weeks, but saw his side-footed volley from Marcos Alonso´s driven cross come back off the bar just four minutes in. United caught out For all Chelsea´s possession in the first period, it was from a blistering counter-attack they opened the scoring. Willian picked up the ball just outside his own area and drove through the United midfield before exchanging passes with Eden Hazard. The Brazilian then unleashed a shot too powerful even for David de Gea to register his fourth goal in three games. The lead lasted just seven minutes, though, as for the first time in a United shirt, Lukaku netted against one of their top six rivals -- at the seventh time of asking. Aleixs Sanchez fed Anthony Martial and his clever reverse pass was slotted home by Lukaku to muted celebrations against his former club. Lukaku nearly had a spectacular second 22 minutes from time when he caught a Sanchez cross flush with an acrobatic volley, only to be denied by a finger tip save from Courtois. However, the Belgian did make a decisive contribution when he dropped deep and his in-swinging cross was met by a perfectly timed run by Lingard. Conte had surprisingly removed Hazard just before conceding and that decision looked all the more puzzling as Chelsea searched in vain for an equaliser. Willian saw another effort smothered by De Gea at the second attempt at his near post as United held out for just a second win over Chelsea in 15 meetings.
  20. Barcelona?s Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their first goal against Chelsea with Andres Iniesta during the Champions League Round of 16 First Leg in Stamford Bridge, London, Britain, February 20, 2018. Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers LONDON: Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi finally opened his account against Chelsea with a 75th-minute equaliser to earn his side a 1-1 draw in a fascinating Champions League last 16, first leg duel at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. Willian?s superb 62nd-minute effort looked like giving Chelsea a precious advantage for the second leg in Spain but they undid all their good work by handing Messi an equaliser. The Argentine maestro, teed up by Andres Iniesta after some sloppy play by the hosts, struck a low shot past keeper Thibaut Courtois for his first goal in nine attempts against Chelsea. As expected, Barca dominated possession but Antonio Conte?s Chelsea side were unfortunate not to end with a victory after Willian was twice denied by the woodwork before halftime. The second leg is on March 14 at the Nou Camp. One of Europe?s fiercest rivalries had been dormant for six years ? since Chelsea?s shock semi-final victory in 2012. But the renewal of hostilities did not disappoint in a gripping game of cat and mouse in west London. For all Barcelona?s often suffocating possession it was Chelsea who walked in at halftime feeling hard done by. The hosts spent most of the opening period diligently shutting doors at the back as Messi and Iniesta probed for openings in Chelsea?s blue wall. But when the home side did get the ball they were clinical. Bad luck In the 34th minute Paulinho gave the ball away cheaply and as Chelsea worked the ball to Willian, he shuffled to his right and sent a curling right-footer thudding against the post. Willian could not believe his bad luck again shortly before halftime when Barca again invited pressure and this time his left-foot effort smacked the outside of the other post. On both occasions, Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was a mere spectator. Barcelona had their moments, with Messi, as usual, their chief architect, delivering one cross on a plate for Paulinho who headed wide in front of goal. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte resembled a manic orchestra conductor throughout the first half, going through his full repertoire of gesticulations, while his opposite number Ernesto Valverde was a study in measured calm. Conte was celebrating wildly in the 62nd minute as Willian?s persistence finally paid off. Again Hazard teased the Barca defence and played a pass infield to workaholic Willian who engineered a yard of space before firing a low right-foot shot inside the left-hand post. However, all Chelsea?s great work was undone by a moment of sloppiness that was duly punished. Andreas Christensen?s aimless ball across his own area was seized upon by Iniesta and when it was cut back to him Messi did not break stride as he curled his low effort past Courtois. The goal knocked the stuffing out of the hosts and, although they avoided any more damage, they will need a repeat of their 2012 exploits to keep alive their European hopes.
  21. Photo: Tottenham Hotspur Twitter LONDON: Tottenham´s Christian Eriksen scored within 11 seconds on Wednesday to overshadow Alexis Sanchez´s Premier League debut for Manchester United, while Chelsea crashed to a 3-0 defeat by Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge. Manchester City ignored the carnage around them to march serenely on, widening their lead to an enormous 15 points with a 3-0 victory at home to West Brom with just 13 games still to play. The build-up to Wednesday´s matches was dominated by late moves in the transfer window but Spurs ensured the focus switched back to the pitch immediately, stunning Jose Mourinho´s men with a performance full of attacking verve in a 2-0 win. Chelsea, who earlier announced the signing of Olivier Giroud from Arsenal, conceded three second-half goals while Theo Walcott scored twice for his new club Everton in a 2-1 win against Leicester. "We always try to be aggressive from the beginning," said delighted Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino. "Our aim is to be focused from the beginning. You can win a game if you´re ready to fight. It was massive to be up early in the game. "Three more points puts us in a very good position to fight for the top four. I´m sure new signing Lucas Moura enjoyed that a lot." The painful defeat for United realistically ends any lingering hopes they may have harboured of catching runaway leaders City. Mourinho signed Sanchez this month to bolster his attacking options but Spurs caught the visitors cold at a packed Wembley, Eriksen opening the scoring from the kick-off following a long ball from inside the Tottenham half. The goal, timed at 10.48 seconds, was the first United have conceded in 2018 but despite some bright moments of their own they were 2-0 down just before the half-hour after Phil Jones lashed the ball into his own net. Tottenham, who announced the signing of Moura from Paris Saint-Germain shortly before kick-off, were a constant threat and had multiple chances to stretch their lead. Mourinho threw on Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini in the 63rd minute but bizarrely took Fellaini off just seven minutes later, replacing him with Ander Herrera. The Belgium international took off his shirt and marched straight down the tunnel. The impressive win for Spurs puts them right back at the heart of the hunt for a Champions League qualification spot, just two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea. "It´s a performance that starts with a ridiculous goal," said Mourinho. "That goal after a few seconds has a big influence in the game because Tottenham can play the way they like to play. "In the end we played against a very good team. Both goals were ridiculous goals." Chelsea defeat Pochettino´s men were further buoyed by the defeat for Chelsea, who fielded only Pedro up front, showing their need for more firepower. Callum Wilson, Junior Stanislas and Nathan Ake scored the goals for Bournemouth. "We have to accept it´s a bad result and understand that we have to fight this season -- if someone didn´t understand this they don´t understand football," said Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. "Football is not simple." He said the signing of Giroud would not necessarily solve the club´s problems in front of goal. "In the past with a striker we have chances and still don´t score," he said. "I think now is not the right moment to speak of the transfer market for me. It´s not important, it´s important to work and do best with my players." It was business as usual for Guardiola´s City, who handed a debut to £57-million-pound ($80 million, 65 million euros) defender Aymeric Laporte, who only signed for the club from Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday. City struck through Fernandinho midway through the first half and doubled their lead through Kevin De Bruyne in the second half before Sergio Aguero struck late on. City earlier opted out of a bid for Leicester´s Riyad Mahrez, with reports putting the transfer package at £95 million, after ending their chase of Sanchez earlier in the transfer window, due to slam shut at 2300 GMT. In other big-money moves on Wednesday, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed a move to Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund for a club-record fee of around £56 million. In other results on Wednesday, Newcastle drew 1-1 with Burnley, Southampton drew 1-1 at home to Brighton and Stoke were involved in a goalless stalemate with Watford. On Tuesday, Swansea shocked Arsenal 3-1 while Liverpool beat Huddersfield 3-0 and West Ham drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace.
  22. Manning, now 30, was an army intelligence analyst sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan WASHINGTON: Whistleblower Chelsea Manning, jailed for leaking classified information, is seeking election to the US Senate in the state of Maryland, a document seen on Saturday says. Manning has now gone from prison to US senatorial candidate in less than a year during which she often made headlines, as the fame and infamy she gained by leaking a trove of classified documents follows her after release. The Federal Election Commission document, filed Thursday, lists Chelsea Elizabeth Manning of North Bethesda, Maryland, as a Democratic candidate for the Senate. Manning, now 30, was an army intelligence analyst sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The revelations by Manning, who is transgender and was then known as Bradley Manning, exposed covered-up misdeeds and possible crimes by US troops and allies. Her actions made Manning a hero to anti-war and anti-secrecy activists but US establishment figures branded her a traitor. Then-president Barack Obama commuted Manning´s sentence, leading to her release in May. During her incarceration Manning battled for, and won, the right to start hormone treatment. On Twitter she identifies herself as a "trans woman," and carries the slogan: "Make powerful people angry." The Democratic Senate incumbent is Ben Cardin, who was first elected in 2006 and is the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In elections last year, transgender candidate Danika Roem was elected to the Virginia state House of Delegates, becoming the first openly transgender lawmaker in the United States. No going back US President Donald Trump has labeled Manning a traitor. He also tried to bar transgender personnel from the military but federal courts ruled against that ban. Following her release, Harvard University offered Manning a Kennedy School visiting fellowship along with several other people, including former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook. But the offer to Manning sparked sharp criticism -- including from CIA director Mike Pompeo, who pulled out of a Harvard forum, and former acting director Mike Morrell, who quit the university in protest -- and it was later rescinded. Manning wrote on Twitter in September that she was barred from entering Canada due to criminal convictions in the United States and posted an image of a document. The document said Manning had committed a crime outside the country that "would equate to an indictable offense, namely treason" in Canada and which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. Manning made waves in a different way when she posed in a red one-piece bathing suit for Vogue´s September issue, eliciting both supportive and critical comments. Speaking at the New Yorker Festival in October, Manning said she fears for her safety but does not plan to lay low. "I´ve had people telling me, ´Maybe you shouldn´t be so vocal.´ And that´s the reason why I´m out here," she said, explaining that she "can´t imagine doing anything else right now." "I had this image of going (back) to a life that I had before," she said. "And that´s not possible. And I realize now that that´s OK."
  23. The defender´s last-gasp strike earned a dramatic 2-2 draw in a heated London derby LONDON: Hector Bellerin came to Arsenal´s rescue as the defender´s last-gasp strike earned a dramatic 2-2 draw in a heated London derby against Chelsea on Wednesday. Bellerin looked set to be the villain of the piece for Arsenal after the Spaniard´s foul on Eden Hazard conceded a penalty that allowed the Chelsea star to cancel out Jack Wilshere´s opener. When Marcos Alonso put Chelsea in front with just six minutes left at the Emirates Stadium, Bellerin´s misery seemed complete. But the 22-year-old enjoyed a sweet moment of redemption in the 90th minute as he lashed in only his second goal of the season. The frenetic conclusion to a thrilling encounter actually did little for either team´s prospects in the Premier League. Chelsea remain in third place, one point behind Manchester United and 16 adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City. Arsenal, who have now won only once in 13 league meetings with Chelsea, are languishing in sixth place, five points behind fourth placed Liverpool in the battle to qualify for the Champions League. In an early sign of the drama to come, Alvaro Morata squandered a golden opportunity to put Chelsea ahead when Arsenal defender Calum Chambers completely misjudged a long pass. Morata pounced on the loose ball and sprinted clear but with only Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech to beat, the Spain striker scuffed woefully wide. Foreshadowing the penalty angst to come for Wenger, Ainsley Maitland-Niles had a spot-kick appeal turned down following Victor Moses´ challenge. It looked a good decision by referee Anthony Taylor however and there was more frustration for Wenger moments later. Alexis Sanchez wriggled into position for a powerful shot that Thibaut Courtois pushed onto one post, with the ball rolling agonisingly along the goalline, then hitting the other post before rebounding into the keeper´s arms. If that was a stroke of luck for Chelsea, there was no fortune about Courtois´s next contribution as he produced a fine save to deny Alexandre Lacazette after the Arsenal forward turned Gary Cahill and unleashed a powerful low strike. Arsenal´s Mesut Ozil almost opened the scoring just before half-time with a stinging drive that whistled narrowly wide. Conspiracies Cech was called into action twice in quick succession after the interval as he repelled Hazard´s low shot and palmed away Alonso´s header. Courtois was matching Cech save for save and the Belgian produced another brilliant block to stop Lacazette´s close-range effort. But the Chelsea keeper was finally beaten in the 63rd minute. Ozil picked out Rob Holding on the edge of the area and when the defender´s pass was deflected into Wilshere´s path, he reacted instinctively to drive his shot high into the net at Courtois´s near post. It was Wilshere´s first league goal since May 2015, although he might have been fortune to still be on the pitch after avoiding a second booking for a theatrical tumble just before he scored. Yet the crucial moment in a pulsating clash came just four minutes later. As Hazard twisted and turned inside the Arsenal area, Bellerin rashly stuck out a leg to halt his progress and Taylor pointed to the spot. Hazard stepped up to convert the 67th minute penalty for his ninth Chelsea goal this season. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had ranted darkly about refereeing conspiracies after Arsenal´s Calum Chambers conceded a debatable penalty for handball in Sunday´s draw at West Bromwich Albion. The Frenchman has already been charged by the Football Association for his angry protests at the weekend, but his expression after the decision suggests another blast is in the offing. When Alonso timed his run perfectly to meet Davide Zappacosta´s cross with a cool finish in the 84th minute, it seemed certain Chelsea would start 2018 in winning style. But Bellerin was determined not to end the night as the fall guy and the wing-back pounced on Alonso´s weak header to crash in the equaliser. Even then there was almost a sting in the tale when Zappacosta smashed against the bar in stoppage-time.
  24. Marco Alonso's free-kick on the stroke of half-time gave champions Chelsea their second Premier League win of the week with a 1-0 victory over Southampton on Saturday. The hosts dominated but could not find a second against a Southampton team that defended resolutely, and needed a good save from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to deny Saints substitute Charlie Austin. Chelsea's win saw them move into third place, 11 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who were hosting Tottenham Hotspur in the late match. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte -- who after last Saturday's loss to West Ham United all but ran up the white flag on their hopes of successfully defending their title -- resisted the temptation to bring Alvaro Morata into the side even though the striker had recovered from a back problem. Little was seen of Chelsea in attack until the 14th minute when Willian cut inside and exchanged passes with Alonso but shot a yard wide. Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster was not called into action until the 20th minute, when he had to push away a bouncing volley by Alonso and was fortunate a minute later when he could only parry a shot from distance by Gary Cahill but no Chelsea player was close enough to profit. Forster did much better shortly afterwards when Hazard rolled the ball into the path of N'Golo Kante, whose deflected shot appeared to be on its way into the top corner of the net until the goalkeeper leapt to his right to touch the ball away. Pedro went close to breaking the deadlock for Chelsea as half-time neared, forcing his way past a challenge and hitting a low shot that struck the base of the post. Southampton's massed defence was making it hard for Chelsea despite the trickery of the home side's forwards, but one challenge too many proved their downfall. Maya Yoshida was booked for a late tackle on Hazard and Alonso curved the free-kick around the wall and past the right hand of the diving Forster. Courtois kept the hosts ahead on the hour mark, diving alertly to his left as Austin ran onto a pass from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and swerved a shot towards the corner. Chelsea too pressed for a second, with the impressive Forster denying Alonso his second of the match after the left-back had chested down Willian's pass and volleyed with his right foot. Morata, on as a substitute, shot too close to Forster and Alonso headed wide, while Cesc Fabregas caught out the defence following a quickly-taken free-kick, but his shot rolled across the face of the goal instead of into the net.
  25. Chelsea responded perfectly to head coach Antonio Conte's claim their Premier League title hopes are over with a convincing 3-1 win at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday. Tiemoue Bakayoko opened the scoring midway through the first half with a deft clipped finish, offering an answer to supporters who have criticised him for a series of poor performances following his July move from Monaco. Willian headed in a second goal shortly before half-time and Pedro made it three to leave Chelsea level on points with second-place Manchester United, who host Bournemouth on Wednesday. "A good win," Conte told BT Sport. "From the start we played good football." Upwardly mobile Burnley are one place below Chelsea in fourth after edging Stoke City 1-0, while Crystal Palace hauled themselves off the foot of the table with two late goals in a dramatic 2-1 defeat of Watford. Conte, who has cut an increasingly grumpy figure this season, said after Chelsea's surprise 1-0 defeat at West Ham United that his side had no chance of catching leaders Manchester City in the title race. For Chelsea's fourth game of nine in a packed December, Conte was without his 10-goal top scorer Alvaro Morata because of a bad back, but Eden Hazard shone as a false nine and was ably supported by Willian and Pedro. "I have decided for this solution," said the Chelsea manager. "It's not the first time to play with these type of players -- Hazard, Willian, Pedro. I think they are very good technically. They are very fast. They played very well." The visitors thought they had made the breakthrough in the sixth minute, but Pedro was just offside as he ran clear to slot in Willian's pass. But Chelsea made their superiority count as they took the lead midway through the first half. Goalkeeper Jonas Lossl slipped as he cleared the ball and Victor Moses's header was touched on stylishly by Hazard to Willian. The Brazilian fed a pass left for Bakayoko to chip over the advancing goalkeeper and into the net despite Chris Lowe's attempt to clear off the line. Dyche dreams The champions got their second goal two minutes before half-time. Stand-in captain Cesar Azpilicueta's long diagonal pass from inside his own half found Marcos Alonso in space on the left and he had time to cross for Willian to bounce in a header at the far post. A third Chelsea goal took less than five minutes of the second half to arrive and again it came from an Alonso cross. Willian held off Mathias Jorgensen and teed up Pedro to hammer into the top-right corner from 18 yards. Huddersfield, who stay 12th, claimed a stoppage-time consolation when Laurent Depoitre glanced a header into the net from fellow substitute Florent Hadergjonaj's left-wing cross. Burnley provisionally climbed to the dizzy heights of fourth place after Ashley Barnes drilled home in the 89th minute to snatch a gritty win over Stoke at Turf Moor. The modest Lancashire club climb above Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, all of whom are in action on Wednesday. "Football is about realities, but also about dreams," Burnley manager Sean Dyche told BBC Radio 5 Live. "We're having a real go at what we can achieve this season." There was an extraordinary finale at Selhurst Park, where Palace scored twice in the dying stages to beat Watford and leap out of the relegation zone from the foot of the standings. Daryl Janmaat put Watford in front in the third minute, but after Tom Cleverley was sent off, Bakary Sako bundled in an 89th-minute equaliser and Wilfried Zaha teed up James McArthur for a stoppage-time winner. "When you win a game in the last minute, it says a lot for the players' character and it's great for the fans," said Palace manager Roy Hodgson. "We've got an awful long way to go, but we are making a fist of it."
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