EPL

  • Klopp hits back at Conte: They have the ...

    Jurgen Klopp rejected Antonio Conte's claims Liverpool have gained an unfair scheduling advantage before their Premier League clash with Chelsea on Saturday. Chelsea head coach Conte lamented the fact Liverpool had a day more to prepare, while his side made an 8,000km round trip...

    Klopp hits back at Conte: They have the best Christmas schedule

    Jurgen Klopp rejected Antonio Conte's claims Liverpool have gained an unfair scheduling advantage before their Premier League clash with Chelsea on Saturday. Chelsea head coach Conte lamented the fact Liverpool had a day more to prepare, while his side made an 8,000km round trip to Azerbaijan, following their respective Champions League fixtures. Although Klopp stated he understood the difficulty of Conte's predicament, he said the difference in preparation time would not be impactful when the two face each other at Anfield. "I really get what Antonio is talking about, I heard about it, but maybe he forgot they had the best Christmas schedule last year," Klopp said. "Everyone played every two days and they had 12 days to play three games. It is the same situation this year and I don't know how the Premier League will explain it. "I really think recovery for a team is important and he is right, but it will not have an influence on this game. Maybe the next one, that is possible." Although Liverpool have not seen defeat since last month's 4-1 hammering at the hands of Tottenham, their defensive struggles once again came to the fore midweek, surrendering a three-goal lead in Tuesday's 3-3 Champions League draw with Sevilla. Saturday's clash with Chelsea could prove pivotal in Liverpool's hopes for a Champions League spot next season, but Klopp maintained his side do not have the upper hand. "Now they [Chelsea] are already back, they flew back to London and have two days to recover and that is a normal situation," he said. "Three days is never a problem, two days is a big problem but obviously nobody wants to hear that."

  • Wenger not bothered by Ozil transfer spe...

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger dismissed speculation that soon-to-be free agent Mesut Ozil is set to sign for La Liga giants Barcelona. Arsenal playmaker Ozil is out of contract at the end of the season and Barca have emerged as a possible destination for the Germany internationa...

    Wenger not bothered by Ozil transfer speculation

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger dismissed speculation that soon-to-be free agent Mesut Ozil is set to sign for La Liga giants Barcelona. Arsenal playmaker Ozil is out of contract at the end of the season and Barca have emerged as a possible destination for the Germany international. However, Wenger is uninterested in speaking about the possibility of a move during the January transfer window, along with the future of Alexis Sanchez. "What kind of control can I have over that [speculation]? All these people have agents who can talk to anybody," Wenger said. "That doesn't disturb people, that happens all through their career. I have no concerns. I am more concerned about the team performance. "Ozil and Alexis are praised when the team is doing well because of them, and when the team doesn't do well they get more criticism. I'm more concerned that the team performances are strong performances." Arsenal's form has been patchy of late, with last Saturday's Premier League win in the North London derby over Tottenham splitting defeats to Manchester City and Cologne. Now having to back up from Europa League competition away to Burnley on Sunday, Wenger is not fazed with Ozil and Sanchez's transfer speculation. "They are honest. I don't question their honesty," he said. "Nobody knows what will happen when the players reach the end of their contracts. "Our worry is to perform on Sunday. That's it."  

  • Mourinho slams Mkhitaryan for disappeari...

    Jose Mourinho has demanded improvement from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and accused the Manchester United playmaker of "disappearing" during games. Armenia international Mkhitaryan started the season in impressive form, supplying five assists in United's opening three Premier League matc...

    Mourinho slams Mkhitaryan for disappearing in matches

    Jose Mourinho has demanded improvement from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and accused the Manchester United playmaker of "disappearing" during games. Armenia international Mkhitaryan started the season in impressive form, supplying five assists in United's opening three Premier League matches before scoring in the 4-0 win over Everton in September. The 28-year-old's form has tailed off since and he missed out on United's last two matchday squads against Newcastle United and Basel. Mourinho told reporters the former Borussia Dortmund favourite would return to face Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Saturday but left him under no illusions that his standards have been noted as dipping sharply. "I was not happy with his last performances," Mourinho said. "I'm not speaking about one or two, I'm speaking about three, four or five. "He started the season very well and after that step by step he was disappearing. His performance levels in terms of goal scoring and assists, high pressing, recovering the ball high up the pitch, bringing the team with him as a No 10, were decreasing step by step. "That was enough [to drop him] because the others worked to have a chance." Such criticism of creative attacking players have become a theme of Mourinho's management over recent years. Anthony Martial was urged not to "waste" his talent by his boss earlier this year, while Juan Mata – the Spain international who Mourinho sold to United while in charge of Chelsea – has been in and out of the starting line-up this season. "I think they give what they can," the Portuguese said. "I cannot complain about the dedication or the motivation. "They all try to give their best. I think we had an improvement with Martial. He's scoring more goals than last season. "The other players are what they are. They have different kinds of qualities. Sometimes they produce a lot, and we have lots of chances and we don't score enough. "The reality is that in the Premier League by not scoring enough we are still the second team with the [second] most goals scored."

  • Messi: Man City and PSG are Champions Le...

    Lionel Messi believes Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are the strongest teams in Europe this season and the favourites to win the Champions League. Led by Messi's former coach Pep Guardiola, City are sailing at the top of the Premier League with 34 points, eight more tha...

    Messi: Man City and PSG are Champions League favourites

    Lionel Messi believes Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are the strongest teams in Europe this season and the favourites to win the Champions League. Led by Messi's former coach Pep Guardiola, City are sailing at the top of the Premier League with 34 points, eight more than nearest rivals Manchester United, while they have a perfect record in Europe. PSG are also five wins from five games in the premier club competition and are looking strong at the top of Ligue 1 with Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe in attack. Messi sees those two as the biggest dangers to Barcelona's hopes of winning the Champions League this season. "City is one of the strongest teams at the moment together with PSG," he told Marca. "So far, they have been the two teams that have shown themselves to be favourites, but this is a very long and tough competition." Barca are in fine form themselves and sit top of La Liga with a 10-point gap over main competitors Real Madrid. Although Zinedine Zidane's side have won just two of their last five games, Messi expects them to bounce back and make things difficult for his side in the league and Champions League. "I never rule out Real Madrid because although they're not having the results that everyone expects, I have no doubt that in the end they will be fighting for everything, as they do every year. "Bayern is another big team that will also be there at the end, but it's true that today City and PSG are the best." The 30-year-old was awarded the European Golden Shoe on Friday after scoring 37 goals in the league last season and remains at the top of his game,  As an elite athlete, he has to stick to a strict diet, and he admits there is one thing he misses eating. "Chocolate, it's the hardest thing for me, even now," he said. "I occasionally sin with chocolate."

  • Conte: Courtois contract renewal out of ...

    Antonio Conte admits he has no power to keep Thibaut Courtois, who has made no progress over a contract renewal at Chelsea, but he thinks that the Blues goalkeeper is destined for greatness.  Courtois has just a year and a half left on his contract at Chelsea and recently said t...

    Conte: Courtois contract renewal out of my hands

    Antonio Conte admits he has no power to keep Thibaut Courtois, who has made no progress over a contract renewal at Chelsea, but he thinks that the Blues goalkeeper is destined for greatness.  Courtois has just a year and a half left on his contract at Chelsea and recently said that he will halt any renewal discussions until the summer. He is understood to have asked to double his wages from around £100,000-a-week to £200,000-a-week, matching the earnings of Manchester United's goalkeeper David De Gea.  Chelsea's director Marina Graniskovaia has the final say on whether the Blues will give Courtois what he wants during contract negotiations but the goalkeeper has leverage in the situation with Real Madrid interested in signing him. And Conte thinks this is how it should be, as he explained his role in the situation around Courtois' contract.  "I must be honest I think this question is for the club not for me," Conte said when asked about renewing Courtois's contract. "I like to give my opinion about technical decisions but it is also important for the club to face this issue, this contract with Courtois. "I can tell you he is one of the best, maybe he is the best goalkeeper in the world and he is a very important player for Chelsea but the renewal of contract is a task for the club. I repeat, for me every single player is important and I like to work with these players but as you know very well everyone can take a different decision. "I like to work with these players but I want that they are very happy to stay at Chelsea. I think that Thibaut didn't need my opinion [to decide to stay at Chelsea when I joined the club]. He knows very well what are my thoughts about him. I consider him one of the best. "For sure, he will be the best in the world, maybe he is now the best but for sure the future is for this goalkeeper. He knows my opinion and my thoughts about him." Chelsea got back from Baku after playing in the Champions League against Qarabag just before five in the morning. Some of Chelsea's first team players didn't get to sleep until 6 a.m. and Conte's side have had a day less to prepare for the Liverpool game than Jurgen Klopp's men.  However, Conte did manage to rest a number of key players including Alvaro Morata, who only saw limited action after coming off the bench for Eden Hazard in the 65th minute with the game already won. Conte is likely to recall Morata for the match on Saturday and he responded to questions asking him to compare the forward's impact with Liverpool's star signing Mohamed Salah.  "[Mohamed] Salah start was important because he is scoring a lot of goals and makes a lot of assist during the game," Conte said of the former Chelsea player who now lines up at Anfield. "His start was very positive but the most important thing for Alvaro [Morata] was the same. "To my team and for me it was very important for Alvaro to have an impressive start in this league. He is an important player for us. For me the striker is very important to have a point of reference to do what I want is very important. "In our system, the striker is a figure very important for us and for this reason he is always involved in our chances. Sometimes he scores, sometimes he makes an assist for his team-mate. "To play in this league for a striker is not simple because this league is very tough and also it is very different compared with the previous leagues that he played in, Italy and Spain. He showed great commitment and to be a clever person to adapt himself to this league." Chelsea are currently nine points off the Premier League leaders Manchester City and a defeat in Liverpool might seriously harm the Blues' hopes of retaining their league title.  Conte admits that it is a difficult task to compete with Pep Guardiola's side, who are not only winning but beating teams comfortably in the Premier League. The Chelsea boss thinks City's run compares to his own side's run of last season. "I remember in last season also the other coaches said 'yes, we need to win but if they [Chelsea] continue to win it will be impossible to catch up with them', but at the same time we have to look at ourselves. "[We need to] try to improve every game, improve the new players, try to build something important for the present but also for the future. We are trying to build something important for this club, we changed a lot of players and we are trying to fight for every competition "If I don't remember badly, we start this season and for all the people the contenders for the title were only two teams, the two Manchester clubs. Sometimes people forget this forecast but I think in this league there are six top teams and every team has to try and fight until the end for the title. "At the same time every season there are the favourites and a table of favourites but last season we changed this table and, for sure, Liverpool are a really good team and has the potential to fight for the title. And I am sure Liverpool want to stay and fight until the end for the title. "If Manchester City continues this way it will be very difficult to arrive at the end of the season and fight for the title. If they continue in this way it will be impossible to fight for the title."

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