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Friday, February 29, 2008

La Liga Football News

Real Madrid protests leave Laudrup "furious"

Getafe coach Michael Laudrup admits the behaviour of several Real Madrid directors - including sports chief Pedja Mijatovic - left him "furious" at the end of Sunday's shock win. "I was furious," Laudrup told Ekstra Bladet, revealing he was confronted by several Real officials at the final whistle over the manner of Getafe's winner.
"What did they expect me to do?" shrugged Laudrup. "It was the referee's decision. The flag went up and so, why couldn't we act quickly in the follow up play?"
On the victory, Laudrup beamed: "It is the biggest I have ever had as a coach in Spain. It brought pride and joy to win at home against Barcelona, but to defeat Real at the Bernabeu I find incredible."

Casillas, Cannavaro call on Real Madrid to stay united

Iker Casillas and Fabio Cannavaro gathered Real Madrid's players together before training yesterday to discuss their current crisis. AS says both senior players urged their teammates to stay calm and resist finger-pointing. All of Real's squad agreed they must be as united as ever if they're to lift themselves out of their current slump.
One unnamed Real player said: "The error against Getafe was unforgivable, but it is already important to leave it behind. The game against Recre is a turning point. If we win in Huelva, we'll beat Roma. We know that in this week we gamble the season and it is necessary to win both games.
"We must be more a team than ever. In the bad times, this is when it is a must. We all must be more hungry, the starters and the substitutes."

Real Madrid coach Schuster: Things are getting difficult

Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster conceded they're struggling after suffering a third consecutive defeat to Getafe last night. Ikechukwu Uche struck for Getafe in a play which was sparked after Real's players were celebrating a goal that had been ruled out by the match officials.
Schuster said: "We have lost by an isolated play. We have celebrated a goal that was ruled out, Getafe reacted very quickly and with their first shot of the game they produced goal and that did much damage.
"The truth is that the things are becoming very difficult. We are finding problems that we have not had before.
"This has never happened to me before.
"Simply we are failing to convert our chances. We are defending far better than our opponents, always being superior and dominating, but with the small details we are losing to our opponents.
"I cannot look to the future. The future is Huelva. It is necessary to motivate ourselves again. We must demonstrate that we are a team at the good moments and now. The dressing room is motivated and I do not have any doubts that we are going to return very quickly to winning ways."

Mijatovic urges Real Madrid not to panic

Real Madrid sports chief Predrag Mijatovic insists they're not wobbling after seeing their lead cut to two points last night. Defeat at home to Getafe, coupled with Barcelona's 5-1 thrashing of Levante, leaves Real with just a two point lead on Barca, but Mijatovic says: "February has not been our month. When we were going very well in the League, with many points of difference with respect to our rivals, we said that there were many games left.
"The Spanish Liga is decided in the final weeks. It is important to have patience.
"It is important to recover our injured players and to resolve ourselves to finish very well. In the world of soccer it is necessary to respect all rivals. It is unnecessary to make ourselves nervous and we still have two points advantage.
"We are leaders. Football is a question of form and in the bad times it is necessary to be calm."

Raul insists no panic at Real Madrid

Raul insists there's no crisis talk at Real Madrid with Barcelona now just two points behind the Liga leaders. The Real captain said: "We were disappointed on Monday (after the defeat to Getafe) and have been reflecting on the slip we've experienced since three weeks ago.
"We know very clearly that we must stick together. We have always been sensible, we always knew that form arrives in peaks and troughs.
"The team is good. Perhaps our effectiveness has dropped, but this is just form. We're working as hard as always.
"Barcelona have recovered some important players and it's normal that they're doing well because they have great quality. But the title will be decided in May, in fact I believe in the final five days."

Rijkaard: Fully fit Barcelona now showing our true quality

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was delighted with last night's stunning 5-1 victory over Levante. The game was dominated by a hat-trick from Cameroon ace Samuel Eto'o and Rijkaard remarked afterwards: "The team always tries to create chances and now that we have a complete squad and players in good physical training condition you can see we are peaking.
"Until now we did not have possibility of having all our players available. The team is recovering and everyone is ready to play. So we can choose to give a rest to some. Before, we did not have this situation."
Messi won plaudits for his mature performance and Rijkaard added: "Messi always is practical; his form always is very complete. Two goals created and in time scoring a very important goal, after the equaliser. It gave us inspiration and desire to obtain the triumph."

Serie A Football News

AC Milan president Berlusconi: Our players are getting kicked

AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has joined the complaints from Rossoneri identities over the fouls that are being committed on their star players - including Kaka.Berlusconi said: "The referees would de better to impose a less physical and dangerous football.
"We fear that our players, who are artists in football, may be forced out of the game because of 'accidents' caused by others."

AC Milan confirm new Kaka deal to 2013

Kaka has signed a new deal with AC Milan keeping him in the Rossoneri colours until 2013. While his previous contract would have lasted until 2011, the fact that the Ballon d'Or winner is willing to add another two years to his commitment will be a relief to a side struggling to qualify for the Champions League.
"Ricky has repeatedly declared that he wants to become a symbol of this side," vice-president Adriano Galliani wrote on the club website.
"He already is that and also the best player in the world and now he has decided to tie himself to the Diavolo.
"This contract is for the rest of his career and I hope that if he is still playing in 2013 that we will be able to get him to sign another one. This is good news for all Milan fans."

Inter Milan president Moratti: Mancini wants Cassano

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti admits they could compete with Sampdoria for Real Madrid striker Antonio Cassano at the end of the season.Moratti revealed: "(Coach) Roberto Mancini has insisted to us on signing several players he's suggested. For example, one of them is Cassano."
The Inter supremo also said: "If it was up to me, Francesco Totti would have won three Ballon d'Ors."

Inter Milan's Crespo would welcome Roma move

Inter Milan striker Hernan Crespo admits he'd welcome a move to Roma at the end of the season. Inter are ready to sell one of their forwards in the summer, says Tuttosport, with Crespo and Adriano, currently on-loan at Sao Paulo, the favourites to go.
Ex-Chelsea striker Crespo said: "Here I am well and I want to stay, but the Giallorossi are a great team and it is normal to dream about playing with (Francesco) Totti in the future.
"You never know."

English Football News

Man Utd prepared to lose Brown

Manchester United aren't expected to budge in their contract battle with defender Wes Brown.The Times says United appear content to risk losing Brown on a free transfer in the summer - possibly to Everton, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur or West Ham United - rather than bow to his demands.

Portsmouth keeper James: Man Utd's Ronaldo free-kicks partly down to luck

Portsmouth goalkeeper David James admits Manchester United ace Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning free-kick last month could have been down to good luck as well as good technique.He told the Daily Mail: "A lot is made of his technique and I thought he must take thousands just like that in practice to hit it so well, until I was talking to Owen Hargeaves about it when we joined up with England and he reckons in training they fly all over the place, apparently. Thanks for that, Owen."

Shearer defends Terry feud

Newcastle legend diffuses training ground tension.Former England captain Alan Shearer believes the type of training ground disagreement had between John Terry and Henk ten Cate is an everyday occurrence at most professional football club's.

Shearer believes scrapes between players and staff are part-and-parcel of the game and the latest incident at Cobham is nothing to be concerned about.
"It happens week-in week-out at every football club," Shearer told Sky Sports News.
"I think it's all blown up more now than it ever has been.

"You have scraps, you have arguments, if you go along to a training ground everyday of the week you will find one somewhere."
The former Newcastle striker believes such confrontation is to be expected when strong and passionate characters such as ten Cate and Terry work together on a daily basis.
"I'm not surprised at all, " said Shearer.
"What you have is people trying to give their opinions and in the heat of the moment they get taken out of context - I wouldn't worry about that at all.
"I only know John Terry and I know him as a great captain and a great football player who cares very much about his team, and I think that's probably been the crossed wires.
"I think every football club has to have a bit of that in it.
"I think Alex Ferguson has had a bit of that over the years and it hasn't done him any harm."

Beckham milestone
Shearer, who notched up 63 caps for England himself believes another former England captain - David Beckham, deserves the opportunity to bring up his landmark 100th appearance.
"I'm sure he'll get it, I hope he gets it and I think he deserves to get it for what he's achieved in his career - when that time will be you'll have to ask the manager.
"I think everyone is different, he has his opinion to carry on - I still think he's got things to offer, there are players pushing him very, very hard.

Carragher cautioned by cops for roadside clash
Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has been arrested and cautioned by police for common assault.

The former England international, 30, was questioned about a roadside bust-up with a man near his Crosby home on Tuesday morning.
Carragher had been on his way to training at the club's Melwood ground at the time.
The assault was reported to Merseyside Police by a witness who saw the tough tackling Bootle-born player arguing with the man.
Later that day the apparent victim reported Liverpool's vice-captain to officers who arranged an appointment to interview Carragher.
He was formally interviewed and accepted his caution.
Accepting a caution is an admission of guilt in the eyes of the law.
Common assault is the lowest form of assault and can include anything from spitting to shoving.
A Merseyside Police spokesman said: 'We can confirm that a 30-year-old man from the Blundellsands area received a police caution for common assault in relation to an incident on Liverpool Road, Crosby, on Tuesday February 26.'
A spokesman for Liverpool FC declined to comment.

Mourinho gets job offer - for one game only
TOKYO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Former Japan international Hidetoshi Nakata has invited Chelsea's ex-manager Jose Mourinho to coach in an exhibition game in June.

Nakata wants Mourinho involved in the game Japan's most recognisable ex-footballer plans to stage in Yokohama on June 7 to raise awareness of environmental issues.
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, Chelsea pair Didier Drogba and Andriy Shevchenko and Luis Figo of Inter Milan are among players Nakata wants to invite, according to Japan's Sports Hochi.
Nakata, who won an Italian Serie A title with Roma in 2001, stunned Japanese fans by retiring after the 2006 World Cup at 29 years old.

"Whether he's better than them now remains to be seen, but I do think he deserves his 100th cap."

Latest Chelsea News

Chelsea players to hold crisis talks

Two of Chelsea's big-name players are set to demand talks with manager Avram Grant following growing unrest within the squad.
Ashley Cole and Michael Ballack were both left out of the starting line-up for the 2-1 Carling Cup final defeat against Tottenham and both are rumoured to be angry at the way Grant handled his team selection.
Reports suggest Grant's decision making is unduly influenced by senior players - most notably Frank Lampard and John Terry - causing conflict with others and further undermining the Israeli coach.
Lampard and Terry were both reportedly told in the lead up to the final that they would not be taking part because Grant did not feel they were fit enough, following respective injury lay-offs.
However, after Lampard held showdown talks with his manager he was immediately reinstated, along with Terry, who allegedly had a training ground bust-up with coach Henk ten Cate over the possibility of being left out of Sunday's showpiece.

Exclusive news Arsenal played a behind closed doors game against Chelsea yesterday

The game was arranged as a chance for Chelsea to look at some of their players who had not featured recently, whereas Arsenal used it as experience and a chance to give run outs to Rhys Murphy, Rene Steer and Rui Fonte who have been injured in recent weeks.
Chelsea put out a strong side, which included the likes of Ashley Cole, Claudio Pizzaro, Andrei Shevchencko, and Carlo Cudicini.
Arsenal’s young side, which included 15 year old Luke Freeman, and other 16,17 year olds were ripped apart by around a £100 million pounds worth of talent, but huge positives for Neil Banfield as it was excellent experience for our youngsters.

Chelsea loan out winger Sinclair to Charlton

Charlton have completed the signing of young Chelsea winger Scott Sinclair on loan until the end of the season. Sinclair, who has previously enjoyed successful loan spells at Plymouth and QPR, goes straight into Alan Pardew's squad for the game at to Sheffield United on Saturday. 'I'm really excited to be here,' Sinclair told Charlton's official website. 'I've come here to get more experience, and I want to keep playing and get some goals for the club. 'There were a few clubs in for me, but I thought Charlton would be the right one for me and I'm sure I've made the right choice.'

Sinclair, who turns 19 next month, has made seven appearances for Chelsea this season and will be available for the Coca-Cola Championship play-off final should Charlton be involved.
'I've had a few starts for Chelsea, but it's been frustrating trying to break though there, with all the good players they have,' he added. 'That's why I've chosen to come to Charlton. It's a club that seems ready for the Premier League, and I think with the squad that we have got we can definitely reach it.'

Chelsea ban Ten Cate from speaking to English media

Chelsea fans are unlikely to hear from controversial assistant coach Henk ten Cate through the English media anytime soon.The Independent says the 53-year-old is forbidden by Chelsea to give any interviews to the English press.

Obi reveals Chelsea crisis talks

Mikel John Obi has revealed Chelsea's players held crisis talks after their Carling Cup final hell. Avram Grant's men lost Sunday's crunch match with Tottenham 2-1 after extra time.
And Mikel, 20, admitted the Blues held a showdown meeting on their return to training on Tuesday.
The Nigerian said: "We had a talk among ourselves as players and we know we could have done better in the cup final.
"It was obviously disappointing but we just have to put what has happened behind us and make sure we move forward and everything from here goes well."
Mikel has also warned that no-one is safe from the axe as they chase Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup glory.
He added: "There is a lot of competition in the team now and you have to know you can't play every game.
"There are a lot of big players, good players.
"Everyone in the team is a good player and you can't keep them out for a long time."

Chelsea players unhappy with Ten Cate

Some Chelsea players believe the rift between skipper John Terry and assistant coach Henk ten Cate is no easy fix, it has been revealed. The Independent says the relationship between certain senior players, including Terry, and Ten Cate is never likely to be smooth, regardless of attempts by the club to play down Saturday's row between the pair. Some Chelsea players believe that the training sessions Ten Cate has put on simply do not compare with what they were used to either with Jose Mourinho or at international level.
While Ten Cate made a conciliatory gesture towards Terry in a Dutch newspaper this week when he said that both of them were "emotional" characters, some Chelsea players believe that the problem is bigger than that. They feel that during Saturday's training session Ten Cate was showing off to the club's owner, Roman Abramovich who was watching on the sideline. When Terry struck a pass a split second after Ten Cate had blown the whistle to stop play, the Dutchman went on the attack and took on the most influential player at Stamford Bridge.
Despite the ruckus, there are many at Chelsea that believe Ten Cate's approach will be a good thing for the famous names and egos on the playing staff.

Cudicini: I stayed for Chelsea fans

Carlo Cudicini has revealed Chelsea fans convinced him to stay at Stamford Bridge this season.The Italian goalkeeper told Chelsea TV: "The supporters are probably one of the biggest reasons. Of course it was difficult at first to sit on the bench every game but when I had the chance, the supporters gave me great confidence and help. Still now when I play and hear them behind me, chanting my name, after nine years I feel shivers and a great feeling to play."

Barcelona coach Rijkaard wants Chelsea talks

Sources close to Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard says he would consider a move to Chelsea at the end of this season. The Daily Mail says a source close to Rijkaard confirmed yesterday that he would consider shelving those plans if the Chelsea job becomes available.
He said: "Frank is leaving Barcelona at the end of the season. That has always been the plan and at the moment it is 100 per cent that he will.
"The only thing that could change his mind is if they win the title or the European Cup again and then there would be a decision to be made.
"He's got a year left at Barcelona but in the past he has always said Chelsea are a big club. Of course he would be interested if the job became available."

Abramovich organises Moscow Champions League party for Chelsea

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich expects his team to reach the Champions League final in Moscow this season.The Sun says Abramovich has already booked hotels and restaurants around the May 21 showpiece in his native Russia. Chelsea's billionaire owner secured Moscow's most expensive rooms and eateries in anticipation of celebrating the club's first Champions League final.
And that means under-fire coach Avram Grant must deliver the Blues to European football's biggest stage.

Chelsea skipper Terry leads players on team-bonding excursion
Chelsea captain John Terry took the players on a team-bonding excursion yesterday.The skipper was the big shot as he led the squad on a day out paintballing in Surrey - just as he had done 15 months ago. But there were two notable absentees - manager Avram Grant and first-team coach Henk Ten Cate, says the Daily Mail.
Chelsea's squad have been involved in a number of tense meetings this week designed to iron out the problems at the club, particularly in the wake of their Carling Cup Final defeat by London rivals Tottenham.

Clarke, Rogers in charge of Chelsea training

Chelsea's fiery assistant coach Henk ten Cate has little to do with the day-to-day training - it has been revealed.The Daily Mail says Chelsea sources revealed yesterday that assistant Steve Clarke and the highly regarded first- team coach Brendan Rogers take most training sessions, while Ten Cate is responsible for "team shape".
In complete contrast to his predecessor Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant simply watches from the sidelines and rarely has any input.

AC Milan coach Ancelotti on Chelsea shortlist
AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti is under consideration for Avram Grant's job at Chelsea.The Daily Mail says Ancelotti and Barcelona's Frank Rijkaard make-up Blues owner Roman Abramovich's shortlist.
Ancelotti and Rijkaard are two of only five people to win the European Cup as players and managers, but the Dutchman is the preferred candidate.
Every other player had to wait until just before kick-off on the day of the game to find out if they had been selected.
Ballack was one of those excluded, and said: "I am not happy that I did not play from the start. It was not explained, it was on the team-sheet shortly before the game and that was it."
The incident involving Terry and Ten Cate was witnessed by owner Roman Abramovich, who attended training sessions for three days leading up to the final.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Premiership News

'It's not nearly good enough', vents Gerrard

Steven Gerrard has delivered a scathing assessment of Liverpool's faltering campaign by declaring even winning the Champions League will not make up for the dismal performance in the Premier League.
The Liverpool skipper accepts that only fourth place now is acceptable as they battle to secure entry into Europe's elite competition next term.
But he said: 'You don't get any prizes in football for finishing in second place, never mind fourth.
'I don't think that the fans would accept fourth as an accomplishment and for me it's not nearly good enough.
'We need to improve dramatically and even if we do finish fourth, it doesn't mean we have had a good season.'
Gerrard accepts Liverpool are now involved in a winner-takes-all battle for fourth spot with neighbours Everton and Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Manchester City.
Having regained fourth place on Saturday by beating Middlesbrough, they saw Everton grab it back on Monday with an impressive demolition of Sven-Goran Eriksson's City.
And the battle will rage on this weekend with Liverpool at Bolton on Sunday while Everton are at home to Pompey later in the day.
Gerrard, in an LFC magazine interview, showed his own frustrations and anger at the club's current fortunes.
He said: 'In the position we find ourselves now, fourth is the least that is acceptable. But we have bigger ambitions than that.
'The only way we can fulfil those ambitions is in the Champions League. And I am not going to pretend that even winning that trophy - and we are a long way away from it at the moment - will make up for the disappointment of the league campaign.
'I'm pretty gutted every time I look at the table and see the gap between us and Arsenal at the top, and even the gap between us and second and third.
'We believed we had the players to challenge for the title, and we wanted that one more than any other trophy available to us. I still believe we have the squad to be a hell of a lot more competitive than we are right now.'
And Gerrard, significantly, claims the time has come for the club to stop looking at their long-term potential. The Reds skipper, who has again been linked recently with a summer move to Real Madrid, said: 'I'm getting tired of saying the same thing over and over again.
'We can't keep talking about next season all the time. There are only so many times you can say it and believe it. Sooner or later we have to make one season the season we make it happen and do the talking on the pitch.
'We need to make people believe it. I'm 27 now, I don't want to be talking about 'next season' for Liverpool when I'm 32.
'We've got the stadium, the fans, the manager and the players to compete for the Premier League. But we have no chance of doing that if we are always well out of it by the first week in January.
'And at the moment we have our work cut out fighting it out with Villa, Everton and Manchester City for fourth.'
And he added: 'Only we can make this season a success now. We'd like to finish fourth and win the European Cup again.
'But the demands of being a Liverpool player, the expectations that come with the privilege of pulling on that jersey mean we've got to improve.
'You make your own luck, shape your own destiny. And now we soon have massive games at Manchester United and Arsenal, knowing we can't win the league.
'We are not bothered about whether we have an impact on the title race we're not in. But winning at both those places would send out a message for next season. That would lay down a marker that no-one would ignore.'
Gerrard also expresses a disappointment that a season of crisis off the pitch has given 'those in the media who don't like Liverpool' the chance to criticise.
'We have made it easy for them,' he said.
'It's not been a good situation (the takeover speculation) for anybody. It's sad so much of the club's business has been conducted in public. The club I have grown up supporting always did its business behind closed doors, and that is what we have to get back to.
'It's been a damaging situation for every single person involved with the club, fans, players, bosses, owners, from top to bottom.'
But Gerrard's theme, which should not be ignored by those 'bosses and owners', is the lack of a real title challenge.
He added: 'If you asked most of our fans, they would rather see the title than the European Cup at Anfield. We've not won it in a long, long time.
'Looking at the league table hurts. This time last year we were third and Arsenal were fourth, and that is the way the season ended. It hurts to see where Arsenal are now.'

Everton apply to enter Intertoto Cup

The Toffees are currently fourth in the Premier League, which would be good enough to earn them qualification for the preliminary rounds of next season's Champions League.
Three further teams qualify for the UEFA Cup, with the next highest-ranked side eligible to enter the pre-season Intertoto Cup, which offers an alternative route into the UEFA Cup.
Aston Villa, Blackburn and Manchester City have also applied for entry to the competition.
Everton are still in this season's UEFA Cup, and will face Italian side Fiorentina in the last 16.
Everton chief executive Keith Wyness told: 'Clearly European qualification through our league position or via the UEFA Cup is our main priority.
'However because of the deadline for Intertoto Cup applications, it would be remiss of us not to put our name forward.'

Boro chief fumes at incompetent FA

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has accused the FA of "incompetence" after attacking the handling of Jeremie Aliadiere's red card appeal.Also branding the FA as "amateurs and silly little men

Gibson has described the FA's reaction - upgrading the Frenchman's initial three-match ban for violent conduct to a four-game suspension due to the 'frivolous' nature of Boro's appeal - as "insulting" and "confrontational".
Aliadiere was shown a red card for raising his hand and appearing to make contact with Javier Mascherano's face in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Boro.
But, with the Argentina midfielder seemingly offering provocation, the Teessiders decided to put the decision to an FA appeals panel.
Their findings have left Gibson shocked.
He told Sky Sports News: "We're simply shocked by what has gone on and it tells you everything you need to know about the FA.
"There was a disciplinary panel set up with four individuals on it. None of the four played Premier League football or football at any serious level.
"The system is inherently biased because they are there to protect the FA and the referee. They sided with the referee and we would have taken that on the chin.
"They then said our appeal was frivolous which is very subjective, quite insulting towards the professionalism of our club and the people in it, quite aggressive and confrontational."
Gibson went on to outline his belief that the issue of penalising 'frivolous' appeals had been questioned in the past and also accused the governing body of acting incorrectly in previous dealings with the club - notably when they hired then Boro boss Steve McClaren as the new manager of the national side.
"By itself this is not the greatest problem affecting football but we dig a little deeper and we find an incident some 12 to 16 months ago involving Charlton Athletic which was a similar case (to the Aliadiere appeal).
"What resulted was the FA would review this word 'frivolous'. That review has not taken place, it was brought to the attention of the FA recently and they still haven't looked at it.
"All bodies need a legislature. When the legislature doesn't work properly is is incapable of looking after the people it is there to serve.
"We have had this in the past with how the FA originally approached Steve McClaren, how the FA recently made an illegal approach to one of our coaching staff.
"It's nothing new this incompetence."

Arsenal striker Eduardo released from hospital

Arsenal's injured striker Eduardo da Silva was released from hospital on Wednesday, the Premier League leaders said.

The Brazilian-born Croatia international suffered a fractured left fibula and an open dislocation of his ankle joint after a tackle by Birmingham City defender Martin Taylor during Saturday's 2-2 league draw at St Andrews.
On Monday, Arsenal said the 25-year-old was expected to make a full recovery from the horrific injury, although he will be out for an expected nine months.
'Eduardo would like to once again thank everyone for the overwhelming messages of support he has received,' a statement on the club's website said.
The injury means Eduardo will miss Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria which starts in June.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Latest Chelsea News

Chelsea boss Grant warned he could flunk licence

Chelsea boss Avram Grant has been warned he risks flunking his pro-licence studies - which he needs to continue working in the Premiership. Grant pulled out of the latest coaching class in Tel Aviv on Monday following the Carling Cup final defeat because he was called on to explain his side's shortcomings to Roman Abramovich.
Israel's head of coaching Amnon Raz accepted his explanation but made it clear Grant would jeopardise his chances of finishing the course if he was absent again.
Raz said: "He called me to say he had a busy schedule and could not attend and I imagine he probably had a good enough reason. But he will have to be careful because if he misses many more, it will be the end for him. He has to be here for at least 70 per cent of the classes, or he doesn't get his licence."

Chelsea boss Grant must settle coaching issues

Chelsea boss Avram Grant is facing a battle to keep his coaching staff in-check. The Times says Steve Clarke, the assistant first-team coach, has complained privately that he is left to do much of the coaching on his own, with little input from Grant, while Henk ten Cate, the Dutch assistant who was brought in to crack the whip, has taken his task to extremes by antagonising several senior players.

Grant wants chance to build "his own" Chelsea

Chelsea boss Avram Grant expects to be around in the summer to buy "his own players". The Independent says a source close to Grant claimed yesterday that the manager was not "under pressure" but admitted that senior figures at the club "are not happy" with the nature of Sunday's Carling Cup final defeat to Tottenham. The source urged patience, and pointed out that Grant only recently signed a three-year contract, but also conceded that it's likely an "assessment" will be made at the end of the season.
Grant will plead then that he should be given the opportunity to make changes having inherited Jose Mourinho's squad, save the additions of Nicolas Anelka and Branislav Ivanovic, the �10m Serbian defender who took part in his first training session with the squad yesterday after returning from injury.
Grant has privately admitted that he "blew it" with his team selection and tactics on Sunday - but has told friends that he expects to be given cash to spend this summer and will use it to bring in his "own players".

Curbishley: Chelsea days numbered for Grant

West Ham United boss Alan Curbishley is convinced Avram Grant is battling to hold onto his Chelsea job.Curbs told the Mirror: "It's the life we're in at the moment. Unless you get results and success quickly then you don't get the same time anymore.
"When you get to a high profile club everything you do is going to be looked at - body language, the way you walk onto the pitch, the way you dress, every last detail.
"Everything Avram Grant does is going to be analysed and that is something he has to handle. I looked at the cup final and the start was the most important thing and Tottenham made much the better start. If you are lucky enough to be a manager of a top-four club then that comes with the territory.
"If it's not Avram Grant, it's Rafa Benitez and if Arsenal weren't doing so well it would be Arsene Wenger.
"Being a manager is getting tougher.
"That honeymoon period has gone. You even look at someone like Dave Jones at Cardiff who was under pressure and then he turned it around.
"I think you get applauded over the top when you win, then you get over castigated when you lose. You have to take it with a pinch of salt.
"I've never been under too much pressure as a manager, apart from maybe when I was first at Charlton when I wanted to do things and change things.
"Even Sir Alex had a period where it wasn't going so well, but United showed the foresight to stick with it and I don't know if that is there any more. I managed my last game at Charlton at Old Trafford and I had done 15 years and Alex had done 20 years. I said to him the days of the two managers doing 35 years between them have gone."

Mourinho shuts out Chelsea completely

Former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho decided to skip Sunday's Carling Cup final.The Sun says Mourinho did not choose to watch his former players take on Spurs in the Carling Cup Final on Sunday - preferring to take his son to the movies.
And even when the highlights of Chelsea's 2-1 defeat were shown later on Sunday evening, the Special One preferred to watch two Spanish and Portuguese weekend matches.
A friend of Mourinho, who lifted the Carling Cup a year ago when they beat Arsenal 2-1 in the final, said: "Jose went to the cinema with his son and barely gave the game a thought.
"He was planning to go out at the time of the game anyway. When the Chelsea match was re-run later he switched between a Sporting Lisbon game and a match between Barcelona and Levante.
"Jose loved his time at Chelsea but his interest in the club ended when he left London."

Other Big 4 News

Arsenal teammates demand better from skipper Gallas

Arsenal teammates have demanded better on-field leadership from captain William Gallas. The Mirror says Gunners' players told the Frenchman his crazy antics after Saturday's game at Birmingham were "not the behaviour of a captain". The Gunners skipper lost the plot after his side suffered a major setback to their Premier League title hopes. Gallas broke down in tears, sulked on the pitch and even went up the other end as Birmingham's James McFadden netted a last minute penalty.

And it's revealed that Gallas carried on his behaviour in the dressing room and had to be calmed down by several senior players, some of whom questioned his leadership at St Andrews.
Gallas did not stop ranting, raving and shouting as he showed signs of cracking up. Gilberto, Mathieu Flamini and Emmanuel Adebayor were among the players to step in and calm down the French defender

Atletico Madrid want Liverpool boss Benitez, keeper Reina

Atletico Madrid are planning a double-raid on Liverpool for manager Rafa Benitez and goalkeeper Pepe Reina. The Daily Star says Atletico chiefs met at the Vicente Calderon on Monday to discuss making a concrete approach for Benitez, who has had a turbulent relationship with Liverpool's current owners and may be looking for a way out.

The Spanish club have decided to hand Benitez a £40m transfer kitty should he be prepared to leave Anfield and an Atletico source: "We know it might be difficult to get him here but we will fight for the chance." Atletico also want Liverpool No1 Reina, who has expressed an ambition to play for the club where his Dad kept goal.

Liverpool boss Benitez admits rotations wind-back

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has revealed plans to wind-back his rotation policy for the season run-in.
Benitez told the club's website: "I think so. It will depend on the players in the end, but we can keep some players playing more games now."

Liverpool owner Hicks remains in DIC talks

Despite denials, Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks will continue talks with Dubai International Capital, it has been revealed.
The Times says the Arab investment group is expected to become a co-owner of the Merseyside club next month by purchasing the 50 per cent stake held by George Gillett Jr in the first phase of a takeover process that will test the strength of Hicks's latest denials.
Despite yesterday's statement released by the American, numerous sources insist that his partnership with Gillett is finished and that DIC will start the first phase of its takeover within weeks.

Hicks's latest statement did not deny that discussions are taking place. DIC's interest never went away after it was gazumped by Hicks and Gillett a little more than 12 months ago and, although DIC turned down the Americans' invitation to buy a 15 per cent stake in the club after a meeting in October, discussions have taken place behind the scenes since the start of this year.
Hicks wants to remain senior partner in any coalition with DIC, which is proving a stumbling block in negotiations.

Ferguson wants Saha to convince Benzema about Man Utd

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is leaning on Louis Saha to convince France teammate Karim Benzema to quit Olympique Lyon for Old Trafford. The Mirror says Fergie has spoken to United hitman Saha about sounding out Benzema - his France team-mate - over a possible move in the summer. Money is in place for Fergie to bring a big-name striker to Old Trafford. Saha is likely to make way for the new arrival, a huge irony if it turns out to be Benzema.

Latest Chelsea News

Chelsea owner Abramovich wants Russia tour

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is becoming more involved in the club's summer tour plans. The Daily Mail says Chelsea are considering a proposal to fly to Moscow on their way back from their Far East tour to play in a four-team tournament on the weekend of August 2 and 3.
After posting losses of £75million last year, Chelsea are aiming to join the global gravy train by becoming the first English team to play in Russia as part of their pre-season programme.
It means Chelsea's players could spend nearly three weeks on the road as part of their pre-season preparation. A final decision is unlikely to be taken before the end of this campaign.

CSKA Moscow are thought to be one of the teams involved in the project which will be run along the same lines as the prestigious Amsterdam Tournament. PSV Eindhoven have also been approached.PSV have strong links with Chelsea after Brazilian defender Alex was 'parked' with the Dutch club for three years before he finally obtained a work permit to play in England.

Abramovich increasingly hands-on at Chelsea

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is taking an increasingly hands-on role at Stamford Bridge. The Daily Mail says the billionaire was so dismayed at his side's capitulation against Tottenham on Sunday that he was already in the dressing room to speak to the players before many had even left the pitch.Abramovich's decision to take a much more hands-on approach will serve only to increase the pressure on Avram Grant, chosen by the Russian to succeed double title-winning boss Jose Mourinho.

As if to emphasise that Abramovich intends to keep far closer tabs on team matters, he even stayed behind at Chelsea's training ground to watch those players not involved on Sunday, including Ashley Cole, Andriy Shevchenko and Claudio Pizarro, take on an Arsenal youth team in a practice match.Those who played at Wembley took part in a light session yesterday having been given Monday off. Despite questions over Grant's tactics against Tottenham, there is also a feeling inside Chelsea that too many players simply did not perform on Sunday and that not all the blame should be shouldered by the manager.

Abramovich holds series of Chelsea crisis meetings

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has held a THIRD crisis meeting with club chiefs on Tuesday. The Daily Mail says Abramovich, who witnessed the bust-up between captain John Terry and assistant coach Henk Ten Cate at a Stamford Bridge training session in the build-up to Sunday's showpiece, called the warring pair together for clear-the-air talks.
The embarrassing flare-up between Terry and Ten Cate had also been seen by astonished members of the public who were on a stadium tour.
Tuesday's meeting was the third time Abramovich has flexed his muscles in the wake of Chelsea's humiliation at Wembley. Manager Avram Grant and chief executive Peter Kenyon also were present.

Ten Cate admits effing rage with Chelsea's Terry

Chelsea assistant Henk ten Cate admits he had a furious training ground bust-up with skipper John Terry last week. Ten Cate said: "We are both kind of emotional - but we respect each other fully.
"We just had a discussion about the intensity of the training session. That's a normal part of the game. There have been a few F-words, no doubt. But that's common in England."
The 53-year-old coach also admitted there was tension before the Carling Cup final.
Quoted on the Dutch newspaper AD website, Ten Cate said: "There was a special tension on Saturday.
"We have 27 players and three keepers but only a few of them could play.
"John wanted to have even more intensity in training but I didn't agree as we were just one day before the match. That was all. Me and John get on well. John won't disagree."

Chelsea coach Ten Cate "likes to bully players"

Former NAC Breda star Jeffrey Van As isn't surprised by Chelsea coach Henk ten Cate's blow-up with club captain John Terry last week.Van As was one of Breda's star players until Ten Cate was appointed manager in 2000 and the defender chuckled knowingly when told of Ten Cate's latest row.
Van As told The Sun: "He's always looking for confrontation. He is a strange guy and likes to bully players to make sure they do what he says and think what he thinks. His philosophy is simple: Do things my way or leave. That's what he did at Breda, Barcelona, Ajax and now he's doing it at Chelsea.
"Now that's easy to do with kids who are seven or eight. And it's also a bit easier to deal with lesser players like that. He will scream and shout and the bigger the player the louder he becomes. But big players like Terry, Lampard, Drogba or Ballack have big reputations, have won titles and are entitled to have their own opinions on the game.
"The thing is that Ten Cate does not care for anyone's reputation and to him the bigger the player, the more you are going to have to do what you are told."
Van As has since spoken with Ten Cate and feels he now understands the coach better. Nevertheless, the pain of his experience is still vivid.
Van As added: "He told me that he didn't like me as a player and that he was going to replace me. When I got injured he brought someone else in and I never played again for Breda.
"But I have to say that every club he has coached have performed worse after he left. It is a very all-or-nothing way of operating and it only works for a couple of years.
"There's no doubt he's a great coach but he's also a strange guy."

Kaka headlines £100M Chelsea shopping list

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is ready to bankroll an amazing £100 million summer spending spree - with AC Milan star Kaka and Valencia striker David Villa headlining his shopping list. The Daily Express says Abramovich has promised Grant a £100 million warchest if he can keep Chelsea's rocking ship afloat.
Abramovich has made it clear to Grant that he must win something this season, or at least finish in the top four, and if he can do that then he will handed the money to bring in his own players and build his own team.
A £25 million bid will be lodged for World and European Player of the Year Kaka and £15 million offered to Valencia for their unsettled striker Villa.

Grant wants to buy 'own players' after humbling by Spurs

Avram Grant has privately admitted that he "blew it" with his team selection and tactics for Sunday's League Cup final – but the Chelsea manager has told friends that he expects to be given cash to spend this summer and will use it to bring in his "own players".That would appear to suggest that Grant is aware that he has to deal with the unrest within his squad which exploded in the run-up to the match against Tottenham Hotspur. Sources close to the Israeli concede that he has made mistakes – but argue that he also needs more time before he can be properly judged.

However, it is appearing increasingly likely that the nature of the defeat – as much as the loss itself – will make it extremely difficult for Grant to continue as manager after this season unless he makes amends by winning a trophy. It did not help Grant's cause that he was out-thought and out-manoeuvred by the Spurs head coach, Juande Ramos, who, ironically, had at one time been linked with the Chelsea job.

It had always been club owner Roman Abramovich's intention to give Grant time, money and support. But the Russian will only do so if he believes the manager can eventually deliver the Champions League and improve the style of play that become such a bone of contention under Jose Mourinho. The failure to beat Tottenham, following on from the failure to beat – or even score against – Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool in the Premier League are starting to count against Grant.

It has meant that those in the Abramovich circle are already talking about who will succeed Grant, with some accepting that a change will be made. Inevitably one of the names that has been mentioned is the Barcelona coach, Frank Rijkaard, who was a previous target of Abramovich's. At present it is simply "mood music" around Grant's future but this is also how matters began to unravel for Mourinho before his sudden departure in September.

Affairs will not be allowed to reach the same acrimonious conclusion with Grant, not least because he is a friend of Abramovich, and a far less abrasive personality than Mourinho. If he is replaced as manager, he will be offered the opportunity to return to the role he first took at Chelsea – as the director of football.One source close to Grant claimed yesterday that the manager was not "under pressure" but admitted that senior figures at the club "are not happy" with the nature of Sunday's defeat. The source urged patience, and pointed out that Grant only recently signed a three-year contract, but also conceded that it's likely an "assessment" will be made at the end of the season.

Grant will plead then that he should be given the opportunity to make changes having inherited Mourinho's squad, save the additions of Nicolas Anelka and Branislav Ivanovic, the £10m Serbian defender who took part in his first training session with the squad yesterday after returning from injury.There are undoubtedly some big personalities in the Chelsea dressing room – not least John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack – and even Mourinho found it tricky at times to appease them all. It may be that Grant has in mind to make some radical changes, with Drogba and Lampard the most likely to leave, having already caused friction by refusing to confer on any player the "untouchable" status that Mourinho awarded to the core of his team.

It has not helped Grant's cause that Terry clashed with assistant manager Henk ten Cate on the eve of Sunday's game. The two are understood to have squared up after a training session with Terry frustrated that he did not know whether or not he would be in the team to face Spurs. Indeed several times during the run-up to the game he told friends that he did not expect to feature and claimed Lampard would also be excluded, although, it appears, the midfielder was told he would play.

Ballack was also bemused by his exclusion, while Joe Cole appeared a frustrated figure on the touch-line on Sunday and, at one point, pleaded with Grant to be allowed to come on. Ashley Cole is also believed to be furious at the way he was dropped, while Andrei Shevchenko and Florent Malouda were among those who were told they would not be needed to stay at the team hotel before the match and could travel to Wembley independently.

It may well be that Grant is simply trying to establish his authority, although that is undermined by results such as Sunday's – which was the fifth cup final, from the six he has contested as a coach, that he has lost. His hang-dog demeanour has also not helped his cause, while the fact that he is still to secure his Uefa Pro Licence, needed by all top coaches, has also undermined his credibility. Indeed he cancelled a trip to Israel this week to continue his course.

Grant has always been concerned about the circumstances under which he got the job and whether or not he could, ultimately, call upon the loyalty of the players. That is increasingly becoming one of the biggest issues to be dealt with at Chelsea.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Constant kicks taking toll on AC Milan's Kaka

Constant kicks taking toll on AC Milan's Kaka

The constant kicking from opposition defenders is beginning to take its toll on AC Milan midfielder Kaka.
A bad challenge suffered in the first minute of Sunday's victory over Palermo has Kaka struggling to make next week's crucial Champions League second-leg date with Arsenal.
"I am on the receiving end of many blows," complained Kaka, "and I'm not the only one. The referees must do something about this."
Milan fitness coach Daniele Tognaccini, discussing Sunday's incident, added: "He took a kick that would've grounded a normal person for good."

Galliani: AC Milan could lose Kaka like Van Basten

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has backed Kaka's complaints over the way he has been kicked and hacked this season.
Galliani said: "Kaka is absolutely right because unfortunately the referees continue to allow fouls to be made from behind. I believe they think these fouls can be handled by players, because they see them and should expel or warn, however, nothing happens.
"We have already lost one great, who was called Marco Van Basten at 28 years old and would like to avoid losing Kaka at the same age."

Mourinho already discussing backroom staff with Barcelona 2008

Jose Mourinho has agreed to work with existing Barcelona coaching staff should he replace Frank Rijkaard at the end of the season. El Mundo Deportivo says during talks in Portugal, former Chelsea boss Mourinho spoke with Barcelona directors Txiki Begiristain and Marc Ingla about his backroom staff.

Pep Guardiola (current coach of Barca B), Luis Enrique and Eusebio Sacristan were all put forward to Mourinho as potential assistants - ahead of Rijkaard's current No2 Johan Neeskens.
Mourinho already knows Guardiola and Luis Enrique from the first spell he had at Barca as Sir Bobby Robson's assistant.

Chelsea Latest News

Zola seeks Chelsea return !!

Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola has admitted that he would like to return to Stamford Bridge as manager one day.
The Italian ace is hoping to move into management at the end of the season and has admitted that a return to Chelsea is one of his ambitions.
He told the People: "Everybody was talking about me working with Capello but I was never contacted about it."Going back to Chelsea is one of the things I want to do one day."

Terry: We Have To Pick Ourselves Up

Chelsea captain John Terry has warned his team-mates to not allow their Carling Cup final defeat to derail the rest of the season.
"You hear people say the Carling Cup doesn't mean anything - but you try telling that to the players in our dressing room," said Terry. "You can tell by their faces what it means to them. Every year we put a strong side out.
"We have to pick ourselves up now. It is the last thing the players want to hear - my voice saying we need to pick ourselves up - but we need to.
"We are still in three massive competitions. The Premier League is not over. We go away to West Ham next week; then we have the Champions League and FA Cup after that.
"We can do one of two things. We can dwell on it and get knocked out of another competition, or we take this defeat and pick ourselves up and go again.
"The determination and will to win is still there. We hate losing in training, in small games and big games. There are a lot of big teams still to come to Stamford Bridge, and we will see after that."

Cole insists Chelsea will bounce back

Joe Cole insists yesterday's Carling Cup final defeat to Tottenham won't hurt Chelsea's bid for the Champions League this season. Cole, left out of the starting line-up to accommodate new £15million striker Nicolas Anelka, believes the setback can only help them become tougher.
Cole said: "We are disappointed but we have got to pick ourselves up for the next game.
"We will go away and digest this game but it is disappointing for everyone at the club to lose in the final. We've not experienced that before as a group and it can only make us stronger now.
"We will wash ourselves of this game and concentrate on the next one. Tottenham are a very good side and give them credit for winning. But we have to move on."

Shevchenko unhappy being ordered to play with Chelsea kids

Andriy Shevchenko is unhappy with his treatment by Chelsea boss Avram Grant, it has been revealed.The Daily Mail says Shevchenko is said to be unhappy with Grant after the Ukraine striker was asked to play in a behind-closed doors match against Chelsea's youth team - and ended up, incredibly, on the losing side.

Grant tells Ramos: Chelsea job tougher than Spurs

Chelsea boss Avram Grant insists he has a much more difficult job than Tottenham coach Juande Ramos.Before yesterday's Carling Cup defeat, Grant said: "All the success Jose (Mourinho) had does make my job very hard. Since Roman Abramovich came, Chelsea have won a lot of trophies and spent more money than any side in history. But at big clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal or Man United there is always a commitment to win titles. It doesn't matter that I am the manager or that Jose was.
"It is different coming in at the bottom of the league to somewhere like Spurs, even though they are also a big club."

Abramovich presence at training unsettling Chelsea players

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's increased visibility at training is fueling talk that he is influencing team selection, it has been revealed.
The Sun says the Chelsea squad were shocked to see Abramovich attend training sessions for three days before the final.
Such intense interest from the Russian owner is unprecedented and has raised questions among the playing staff about Abramovich's influence in picking the team.

Chelsea Aftermath Carling Cup News

Chelsea's Terry in amazing Ten Cate bust-up

Chelsea captain John Terry had a furious bust-up with coach Henk ten Cate at training, it has been revealed. The Sun says Terry and Ten Cate had to be pulled apart by stunned Blues players after a furious training ground bust-up. The ugly confrontation - just 24 hours before Chelsea's Carling Cup final defeat by Tottenham - was watched by shocked owner Roman Abramovich.Eye witnesses saw Ten Cate aggressively face up to skipper Terry during Saturday's session.The pair went head to head, hurling a tirade of swear words and insults as players dived in to separate them.

A witness told The Sun: "The session was supposed to put the finishing touches to the final plans for Wembley - but it just descended into a massive row."All the players have become exasperated by the shambolic nature of some of the recent training sessions."And there was a lot of unrest among the squad because no one knew what the team was going to be for Wembley."Everyone was trying to guess what was going on and in the end the frustration became too much. But the intensity of the row took everyone by surprise.
"John and Ten Cate were right in each other's faces and when it became clear that neither was going to back down, other players jumped between them to pull them apart.

"To make matters worse, Mr Abramovich was visiting the training ground and saw the whole thing."

Grant failing to convince Chelsea powerbrokers

Avram Grant is battling for his Chelsea job after Sunday's Carling Cup final defeat against Tottenham. The Daily Mail says amid rumours of serious dressing-room unrest, the Stamford Bridge hierarchy are understood to be hugely disappointed with Grant's failure to rise to the occasion at Wembley.
Owner Roman Abramovich visited the Chelsea dressing room after Tottenham's much-deserved 2-1 victory and is said to share the views of those who thought Grant not only picked the wrong team but then displayed a lack of tactical nous and also failed to inspire his players at key times.
In particular, they were shocked to see him on the periphery when coach Steve Clarke delivered a team talk between the end of normal time and the beginning of extra-time.
The Israeli seemed to have the full support of his employers when they handed him a four-year contract in December and he also had their public backing when the club announced their financial results last week.
Chairman Bruce Buck said: "We judge a manager on results and, to date, his results have been very, very good." Before Sunday, his record was impressive. In 34 games since succeeding Jose Mourinho he had won 24 and drawn eight.
But he has lost key matches - against Manchester United and Arsenal - and failed what amounted to the sternest test of his managerial career at the weekend.

Chelsea's Lampard in heated Grant row

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard had a furious row with coach Avram Grant over his first team future, it has been revealed.The Daily Mail says there has been a heated exchange between Lampard and the manager after Grant told him he could no longer expect to play in every game.
Grant suggested on Friday that the injuries Lampard has suffered this year could be the price he is paying for those remarkable record-breaking appearance runs in the past.
Chelsea's Drogba: Tottenham were better team - February 25, 2008
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba had no complaints over Sunday's Carling Cup final defeat to Tottenham.Drogba told his club's website: "I think Tottenham were the best team. They did well.
"We have so many options, the first 11 need to perform and they need to show they have to be on the pitch, because of the pressure. We all want to play. The spirit is good.
"It's difficult to lose a final, no matter against Tottenham or other teams. There is disappointment because you want to lift the cup, but I'm not worried about the future. We are strong players with a strong mentality."

Chelsea boss Grant: Players right to be angry with ref

Chelsea boss Avram Grant says his players are right to be angry with ref Mark Halsey after yesterday's Carling Cup final defeat to Tottenham. He was furious that a penalty was awarded for handball against Wayne Bridge on a linesman's advice after appeals by Spurs.
Boss Grant also rapped Halsey for blowing the final whistle with Salomon Kalou poised to shoot.
Even though Spurs were already celebrating and Kalou's shot hit a post, Grant moaned: "We're all upset because he stopped the match when Kalou was right in front of goal. How can he decide whether it's one or two seconds more?"
Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry all confronted the officials after the final whistle.
Grant added: "The players were angry and I can understand that.
"The penalty was a rash decision and it wasn't even the referee's. When the ball hits a hand it doesn't mean a penalty if it's an accident."

Chelsea's fringe Cup players upset with treatment

The Chelsea players who were left out of Sunday's Carling Cup final squad are unhappy with their treatment by management.The Daily Mail says Andriy Shevchenko was among a number of senior Chelsea players unhappy at not being invited to stay with the Cup Final squad in London on the eve of the match.
Only those who were in the starting XI or on the bench spent the night at the Landmark Hotel, with the likes of Shevchenko and Ashley Cole told to travel to the stadium in their club suits on the day of the game.

Chelsea skipper Terry shrugs off Cup final team talk

Chelsea captain John Terry insists there was nothing untoward in him giving the team talk prior to extra-time against Tottenham on Sunday.
Avram Grant took a backseat as Terry attempted to rally his teammates, but insisted that this was simply a case of a club captain fulfilling one of his duties - "when the camera was on me, it was my time to speak and I did," he said

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Arsenal And Man U Champions League Aftermath

Arsenal's Toure out for month

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits he expects to lose Kolo Toure for four weeks after seeing him breakdown during last night's 0-0 draw with AC Milan.He said: "A calf injury that rules him out for, from what I've seen after the game, for three or four weeks at least. It was a bad movement, a consequence of the African Nations Cup, too much heat in the calf!"

Arsenal boss Wenger refuses to blame Adebayor

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger refused to blame Emmanuel Adebayor after his last-gasp miss in last night's 0-0 draw with AC Milan. Wenger said: "We didn't take advantage of the chances we created because we were a bit nervous in the final third. We were a bit too forceful and they defended with a lot of experience."Adebayor's wasn't the only chance. We had plenty. Eboue also had good chances, but we were a bit nervous and when we had shots we didn't test the keeper enough.

Most of our shots were straight in the middle of the goal because we wanted to hit it too hard.
"You could see last Saturday against Manchester United that our mind was already on this game."We just wanted to force the decision too much. We weren't relaxed enough in the final third when we had the chances."Wenger added: "We can play at a high tempo for 90 minutes. They will have to come out."

Man Utd furious over Ronaldo laser light

Manchester United were unhappy with a laser light targeting Cristiano Ronaldo throughout last night's 1-1 draw at Olympique Lyon. The Daily Mail says before the kick-off, United staff noticed what seemed to be a laser light being shone into the eyes of Ronaldo from the crowd during the warm-up.

United reported the matter to UEFA but the problem appeared to continue throughout the first half. Boss Sir Alex Ferguson said: "We reported it to UEFA. We noticed it before the game."They tried to deal with it but I don't know how much longer it went on."

Rooney: Tevez strike crucial for Man Utd

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney admitted relief after Carlos Tevez's grabbed a late equaliser in their 1-1 draw at Olympique Lyon. Tevez struck in the 87th minute in France as United claimed a 1-1 draw from the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.Rooney told Sky Sports: "It is always crucial to get an away goal and 1-1 is a lot better than 1-0. It was a crucial goal to take back to Old Trafford."I felt we controlled the game for most of it. They had a few chances and stuck the ball in.

"Lyon are a good team and we know we have to concentrate 100 per cent."United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted his side were caught out by Karim Benzema's opening goal but was pleased with their display.Ferguson told Sky Sports: "I think we showed our determination to try to get back."We lost a goal out of nothing. We were in complete control and it knocked us back a bit."They defended very well and made it difficult for us but I think we deserved it without question."There was an urgency to get back in the game and I think we are best in that situation."

Chelsea And Liverpool Champions League Aftermath

Liverpool's Kuyt: Gerrard refused to settle for 1-0 win

Dirk Kuyt has revealed how Steven Gerrard drove Liverpool onto their 2-0 victory over Inter Milan on Tuesday night. After scoring Liverpool's opener, Kuyt confirmed Gerrard's intention by saying: "We had been patient and worked so hard that when the goal finally arrived I suggested to Stevie that maybe we should try to retain possession and make sure we finished with a clean sheet.

"He just looked at me and said: 'No - we want another one.' Of course, he was proved right, and a good result became a great one when he scored right at the end. We still face a tough night over there, but two goals and a clean sheet against a top Italian side like Inter is something we are all delighted with.

"For me, it was a way of putting a difficult period behind me. I only want to look forward now, and I was so pleased with this."If we can go a long way in the Champions League, maybe as far as last year, it would make up for some of this season's disappointments. It might even help us show our true form in the Premier League

Liverpool boss Benitez admits Euro football easier

Rafael Benitez admits that he finds it easier to influence European games than he does Premier League matches. The Liverpool boss was reflecting after masterminding the Champions League first-leg triumph over Inter Milan on Tuesday, that lifted months of gloom from Anfield. And with his own back firmly against the wall after continued speculation over his future, Benitez can afford a wry smile as Liverpool dare to contemplate a 12th appearance in a European Cup quarter-final if they can survive in the San Siro on March 11.

Benitez said: "In Europe you can approach a game tactically in a different way."In England it is a different style of football and more difficult for the manager to influence what goes on."It is not as simple to influence the game with tactics in England the way it is elsewhere in Europe."

Liverpool boss Benitez: I need to rotate because squad not good enough

Rafa Benitez admits his Liverpool squad still isn't at the level of the top three clubs in England.After victory over Inter Milan last night, Benitez again defended his rotation policy: "I rotate because I want to win. "You can play with the same XI all year long and finish fourth, and that's a bad result. We have to rotate because our squad is not as good as Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United."

Chelsea boss Grant receives death threat

Chelsea boss Avram Grant has been the subject of death threats.The club's training ground at Cobham, Surrey, was sealed off after a member of staff opened the package on Tuesday. A note addressed to Grant claimed the powder was lethal.A police source confirmed that the note to Grant, 52, included the words: "You are a back-stabbing Jewish b******. When you open this letter you will die a very slow and painful death."Death threats of a sexual nature were also made to Grant's wife, Tzofit, a well-known television personality in the couple's native Israel.

A spokesman for Surrey Police said: "We were called to Chelsea's training ground at Cobham at 12.15pm yesterday after they received a suspicious package."A white powder contained within the package was analysed by specialists from Surrey Fire Service and was determined to be a harmless substance."Detectives are continuing investigations to identify the source of the package."At the time Grant and Chelsea were in Athens ahead of Tuesday night's Champions League 0-0 draw with Olympiacos.Chelsea were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

Ballack backing Chelsea boss Grant's selections

Michael Ballack has backed Chelsea boss Avram Grant's decision to start Tuesday's 0-0 draw at Olympiacos with Frank Lampard and John Terry on the bench. The German said: "John and Frank have been injured for a long time and it was a big game against Olympiacos so it was a decision from the coach."I'm not sure if anyone is untouchable now.

I think they are both still very, very important players for us but you have to be careful after injuries."I know this myself, having had eight months out. It's not an easy time when you come back - you can't play every game straight away."The coach has a lot of experience. He knows what he's doing."

Chelsea's Lampard urges Grant to forget rotations

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has urged coach Avram Grant to ditch any thoughts of rotations. "I don't know how much rotation there will be in the future but it's important we get a settled team in the run-in," warned Lampard."Any good team I've been involved in has had a pretty settled line-up and it'll be down to the manager to find that.

"It's easy to talk about fresh legs, which we have at the minute, but we need to perform as a team."The great thing is that we have a lot of strong players fit and ready to play. If we can perform with all the talented players in our squad we can do what we want to do."

FA Cup Aftermath

Cesc, Wenger admit Man Utd rattled Arsenal

Cesc Fabregas and Arsene Wenger admit Arsenal's FA Cup humiliation at Manchester United has hurt them. "We will go nowhere playing like we did on Saturday," said Cesc. "I don't think I left my house at the weekend after that game. I just stayed in, watching the tape of the match and thinking about the mistakes we had made."We all have to realise we are not perfect and that there are still things we need to improve. Individually, everyone must be better.

"Wenger admitted the severity of the defeat by their biggest domestic rivals had hit every first-teamer hard.He declared: "All the players were very quiet on the first day back in training. Who wouldn't be hurt by a defeat like that?

"We want to be the best possible but had a bad day. When you have such a big disappointment, you can sometimes forget just how good you are."When you are at the top level, people always expect the worst of you. So now it is down to us to prove we have the quality to cope with this situation. But what is most important is our biggest targets are still in front of us."We are five points ahead in the Premier League and have a fantastic opportunity in the Champions League."

Gallas blasts Arsenal teammates over Cup humiliation

Captain William Gallas has turned on his Arsenal teammates over their dismal performance in Saturday's FA Cup defeat at Manchester United. "When you play against teams like Manchester United or Tottenham we have to be ready for the fight, and all the games that we have lost we weren't ready," said Gallas, who has seen Arsenal lose at Sevilla, Middlesbrough, Tottenham and now United this term.

"I'm sorry but we just weren't ready. We have to change our mentality. When we are on the pitch we have to fight before we can play good football."When we play away we have to fight, and we didn't fight on Saturday. Winning the Premier League and Champions League are dreams, but to get those dreams you have to fight."Tomorrow it will be different as we play at home and we have to play our game."

Man Utd boss Ferguson: Not just Gallas targeted Nani

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has blasted the roughhouse antics of Arsenal during Saturday's FA Cup victory. He rapped: "There is one law for them and another for everyone else." Wiley missed a kick by William Gallas at Nani and then refused to take retrospective action after seeing a video replay.Nani was also fouled more than once for alleged 'showboating'.

Ferguson added: "I haven't anything to say about Gallas.We kind of expected that.
"Justin Hoyte had a kick at Nani off the ball and their young left-back, Traore, had a terrible tackle on Nani as well."There could have been three or four red cards."The ref had a hard game in the second half. There were so many things happening."

Wenger Slams 'Disgraceful' Old Trafford Pitch - Arsene Wenger was highly critical of the Old Trafford groundsstaff following their FA Cup demolition at the hands of Manchester United, but stopped short of blaming the defeat on the "disgraceful" pitchArsenal were played off the park last night, though the French manager suggested that it was a park that did not deserve to be played on at all.

"The groundsman had as bad a day as us," Wenger sniped."You will see us in a different shape when we come back and a different pitch."The pitch is a disgrace. You have players worth £20-25million and you cannot play a pass without it bouncing."Wenger did admit that they were beaten by the better side on the night, but will doubtlessly be looking forward to more hospitable confines against AC Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday."It is difficult to find any positives from the performance, apart from the fact we do not have any more injuries," he said.
"Even before the sending off we never looked like we could come back.

"It was difficult. We did not seem the have the physical resources that were needed."We were not up to our level. We need to pick ourselves up quickly because we have a massive game on Wednesday and need to be at our best against Milan."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My Champions League Chelsea Preview In TNP 19 Feb Tuesday

Olympiacos vs Chelsea

There is not a shadow of a doubt that Chelsea will win this Champions League Tie.Chelsea has done very well in a difficult group and finish as group leader.Drawing Opponent Olympiacos is what every group leader had wish for as Olympiacos is consider as one of the weakest team in Champions League.

With fully fit Drogba, Essien, Kalou , Mikel back from ACON And Vice-Captain Frank Lampard return to full fitness and back in goal scoring form from The FA Cup against Huddersfield and boosted by the return of Captain John Terry And third-highest Champions League goalscorer in history with 60 goals Andriy Shevchenko and no injury reported.Chelsea is looking in a very strong position to win the tie and qualify for the Champions League quarter-final with ease.

Chelsea rested alot of key players in the victory against Huddersfield in preparation against Olympiacos while Olympiacos was able to rest only a few players in a 1-0 victory against Ergotelis.The result of this match have written in the stars for Chelsea.The Blues Bless with key players back and no injury worries Chelsea will dominate the match and win the tie with style Keeping The Blue Flag Flying High.

My Prediction : Olympiakos 0 - 3 Chelsea

Ng Ghim Pheng, 17, Student, Chelsea Fan

Schalke04 vs Porto

Both team are the sole surviving representative of their own country.Schalke remain Germany’s only survivor in the competition while Porto is the only Portgual sole surviving representative in the champions league.And only one will survive.

Schalke was unable to rest any players in the weekend as they look to secure 3rd place in order to qualify a Champions League place while Porto was able to rest 3 of their first team defenders in preparation for Schalke strong attack at home.

Schalke Winter signings Zé Roberto, Albert Streit and Vicente Sanchez have all been added to the list of players registered for the Champions League.While Porto registered new signings Hélder Barbosa, Rabiola.The one major absentee for Schalke is full back Christian Pander and Porto major lost will be defensive ace Bosingwa but both has returned to training and should be available for selection in the 2nd leg.

Schalke nicknamed The Miners will be working very hard and organise the defence seeking to keep a clean sheet at home and also winning the game in order to have the advantage in the 2nd leg while Porto nicknamed The Dragons will be ready to breathe fire and score as many away goals as possible to gain the vital advantage while trying not to concede any goals.With Porto array of attacking talents Ricardo Quaresma and Lisandro López with Lucho González as playmaker, The Miners will have problems all night keeping The Dragons soaring in attack and an away goal will be inevitable.

My Prediction : Schalke04 1 - 1 Porto

Ng Ghim Pheng, 17, Student, Chelsea Fan

Champions League Schalke Vs Porto And Roma Vs Real Team News

TEAM NEWS - Schalke Vs Porto

The one major absentee for Schalke is full back Christian Pander. The German international has recently returned to training after a knee ligament injury but is unlikely to be ready and was not risked at the weekend against Wolfsburg. Heiko Westermann continues to deputise.Mladen Krstajic, Ivan Rakitic and Rafinha will take their places against Porto having been suspended by the club for Schalke’s final Group match against Rosenborg for a breach of club discipline. Jermaine Jones is available again after being suspended for Matchday 6.Winter signings Zé Roberto, Albert Streit and Vicente Sanchez have all been added to the list of players registered for the Champions League, so should all make the squad.

Probable starting XI: Neuer, Rafinha, Bordon, Krstajic, Westermann, Ernst, Jones, Rakitic, Kobiashvili, Asamoah, Kuranyi


The major loss for trainer Jesualdo Ferreira is that of defensive ace Bosingwa. The 25 year old has not shaken off a knock picked up while playing for Portugal against Italy. Jorge Fucile looks set to switch flanks to deputise. Midfielder Mario Bolatti (leg) and striker Adriano (thigh) both miss out through injuries, but defender Bruno Alves has recovered from the thigh injury he sustained on international duty and should be fit enough to take his place in the team.
Tarik Sektioui is available again after returning from African Cup of Nations duty.

Probable starting XI: Helton, Fucile, Pedro Emanuel, Bruno Alves, Cech, Lucho Gonzalez, Paulo Assuncao, Raul Meireles, Sektioui, Lisandro Lopez, Quaresma


Schalke-Kevin Kuranyi

Although some may say that Schalke are a little predictable with Kevin Kuranyi the target man for the crosses and corners provided by the likes of Rakitic, Rafinha and Westermann, he is still a difficult player to manage. Defenders know where the ball is going, but the German international is very skilled in the use of his size to dominate in the air. He is not unskilled on the ground and will be fired-up by a passionate home crowd as the Königsblauen look for a positive first-leg score to take to Portugal.

Porto-Lisandro Lopez

Lisandro has scored five goals in his last four games, so is certainly in a rich vein of form just now. He is far and away the leading scorer in the Bwin Liga with 16 goals and will be looking to continue that run against Schalke on Tuesday. With Ricardo Quaresma providing the ammunition, Lisandro Lopez could be the one to fire Porto into the quarter finals.


It should be a very close game at the Veltins Arena of Tuesday, with a cagey opening as neither side will want to give anything away. Schalke are going to have to score goals I feel if they are going to get anything from the second leg. That could leave them a little exposed at the back however, which the likes of Quaresma and Lisandro will exploit.

Schalke 1-1 Porto

TEAM NEWS - Roma Vs Real Madrid


Despite being declared fit to play against Juventus at the weekend, central defender Juan was rested by Spalletti and is all but certain to be named along side Mexes in favour of Ferrari this week. Second choice goalkeeper Gianluca Curci is also still out for another four to six weeks, as is Roma’s third choice goalkeeper Julio Sergio. Panucci, who was also rested against Juventus, should reclaim his spot at right-back ahead of Cassetti and ex-Real man Cicinho, despite his training bust up with Aquilani. Totti has had ongoing back pain in recent times, but is set to start despite his poor form of late and his replacement, Vucinic, is also struggling with a slight thigh strain.

Real Madrid

Schuster may have to do without a whole host of key players, as Robinho is still out for another two weeks or so with an abdominal muscle tear. Thankfully, star striker Van Nistelrooy successfully came through 30 minutes against Betis at the weekend and has shaken off his ankle bruise in time for this match. Pepe is also still out on the sidelines with a torn calf muscle while Metzelder has another two months to overcome an injury to his foot, having just started the rehabilitation programme. Meanwhile, fringe player Javier Saviola is out with a sprained knee and ankle and Wesley Sneijder is out for the next month after suffering a fractured rib in training only a few days ago. Marcelo has become the latest casualty to roll up to Real Madrid’s treatment table ahead of this week’s match after he sustained a knock to the calf against Betis at the weekend.


Roma (4-2-3-1): Doni; Panucci, Juan, Mexes, Tonetto; De Rossi, Pizarro; Taddei, Perrotta, Mancini; Totti

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Casillas; Salgado, Sergio Ramos, Cannavaro, Torres; Diarra, Gago, Guti; Robben, Raul, Van Nistelrooy


Roma – Daniele De Rossi

After another spectacular performance against Juventus at the weekend, De Rossi is emerging as one of Italy’s finest defensive midfielders. He will have a huge job this week against Madrid as he will be a key figure both offensively and defensively for his side. His ability to make and create, while also positioning himself to stop the movements of players such as Raúl and Robben, will certainly be put to the test. It’s a big chance for this young star to prove himself on the big stage. Expect De Rossi to excel in this match once again.

Real Madrid – Raúl: Having had another superb season, the Madrid captain will be called upon to lead his squad to victory this week, in the all important first leg of this two-legged tie. His quality and experience will be essential to his side’s performance, and if he manages to add to his tally of fourteen goals this season against Roma, then that would be great for El Real too. He is potentially the most important figure in this first leg, so it will be interesting to see what eventuates.


These matches are always extremely difficult to predict. In this particular contest, both sides have their issues, however that shouldn’t affect them too much come match time. Roma are certainly are tough side to defeat at home,and their main aim in this leg will be to come away with a clean sheet. Whether or not they can do that against the Madrid attack, remains to be seen. However, despite their poor away form in recent times Real will be confident of achieving a positive result here, to take with them to the Bernabéu in two weeks time.

Roma 1-1 Real Madrid

Champions League Refs And Liveprool Vs Inter And Olympiacos Vs Chelsea News

Champions League: The Referees

Liverpool FC vs Internazionale - Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium)
AS Roma Vs Real Madrid CF - Herbert Fandel (Germany)
Olympiacos CFP Vs Chelsea FC - Konrad Plautz (Austria)
FC Schalke 04 Vs FC Porto - Laurent Duhamel (France)
Arsenal FC Vs AC Milan - Claus Bo Larsen (Denmark)
Celtic FC VS FC Barcelona - Peter Fröjdfeldt (Sweden)
Fenerbahçe SK Vs Sevilla FC - Florian Meyer (Germany)
Olympique Lyon Vs Manchester United - Luís Medina Cantalejo (Spain)

TEAM NEWS - Liverpool Vs Inter Milan


Pepe Reina, Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres were all rested at the weekend and will all start on Tuesday. Rafa Benítez will certainly name what he believes is his very strongest side for this encounter, and only has Daniel Agger (foot) and Andriy Voronin (ankle) out injured. Likely XI (4-4-2): Reina - Finnan, Carragher, Skrtel, Arbeloa - Benayoun, Gerrard, Mascherano, Babel - Crouch, Torres

Inter Milan

Luis Jimenez is injured and will miss out, while Inter's doctors must check on the progress of Luis Figo. Roberto Mancini rested some players during the Livorno game, so the likes of Materazzi, Ibrahimovic and Cruz should all earn recalls. The coach is unsure what to do about Patrick Vieira, however, and might opt to leave him on the bench as he's lacking match practice. Cesar is suspended. Likely XI: (4-4-2): Júlio Cesar - Maicon, Cordoba, Materazzi, Maxwell - Zanetti, Cambiasso, Stankovic, Chivu - Ibrahimovic, Cruz


Liverpool – Fernando Torres has been at Anfield for less than a season, but he’s already one of the key men in Rafa Benítez’ side. It’s simple: when the striker doesn’t play, Liverpool lack cutting edge up front. The Reds smashed in more goals than any other team in the Champions League group stages, but have struggled to find the net of late. Torres’ pace and accuracy in front of goal are vital if Liverpool are to eradicate the recent profligacy which has cost them dear.

Inter – Julio Cruz Former Inter manager Roy Hodgson says he’s the key and so do we. The striker has developed from a bit-part player at the Giuseppe Meazza to one of the Nerazzurri’s star men. Cruz has scored 15 goals in 19 games this season and if Liverpool’s defence show the same indecisions as against Barnsley they can expect the veteran Argentine to pounce.


It should be a fascinating tie, at times more chess than free-flowing football. The ability of each side to put away the few chances they get will be decisive.

TEAM NEWS - Olympiacos Vs Chelsea FC

Olympiacos has been without Didier Domi since 3rd October with a thigh injury, Raúl Bravo since 6th November (Achilles), Michalis Konstantinou since 25th January (groin), Lomana LuaLua since 27th January (foot). But Júlio César returned on Saturday from a thigh problem, while Konstantinou, Domi and LuaLua have all resumed training. The former Newcastle and Portsmouth forward, LuaLua, could feature against Chelsea, Lemonis saying on Saturday that the next training session would determine whether he could play on Tuesday. During the January transfer window, Olympiakos signed Fernando Belluschi from River Plate, Leonardo from Portuguesa and Mirnes Šišic from Levadiakos. All three have all been added to the club's revised list of players registered for the Champions League duty. But 15-year old Kyriakos Papadopoulos has been taken off the list, along with Marko Né and Archubi, who left Olympikos during January.

Squad: Goalkeepers - 1 Leonidas Panagopoulos, 71 Antonios Nikopolidis, 87 Michalis Sifakis Defenders -2 Christos Patsatzoglou, 3 Didier Domi, 4 Leonardo, 5 Júlio César, 14 Michał Żewłakow, 15 Raúl Bravo, 18 Paraskevas Antzas, 30 Anastasios Pantos, 5 Vassilis Torosidis Midfielders-6 Ieroklis Stoltidis, 11 Predrag Djordjević, 19 Konstantinos Mendrinos, 22 Konstantinos Mitroglou, 25 Fernando Belluschi, 28 Cristián Raúl Ledesma, 77 Mirnes Šišić Forwards - 7 Luciano Galletti, 9 Darko Kovačević, 10 Leonel Núñez, 20 Lefteris Matsoukas, 23 Michalis Konstantinou, 32 Lomana LuaLua.

Chelsea John Terry, out since 16th December with broken metatarsals, returned on Saturday. Andriy Shevchenko, out since 26th December with a back problem, also returned as a substitute, but has stayed behind in London to work on his fitness. Didier Drogba, back after African Nations Cup duty, missed training last week as well as the Huddersfield game with a knee problem but travelled to Athens, as did Michael Ballack, who is also carrying a slight injury. The Blues have added Ballack and recent signing Nicolas Anelka to their Champions League roster, in place of Claudio Pizarro and Steve Sidwell. And as well as Drogba, Grant has welcomed back John Obi Mikel, Salomon Kalou and Michael Essien from their exploits in Ghana from the African tournament. Essien played every minute of hosts Ghana's six games, scoring in the victories against Morocco and Nigeria, while Drogba scored three goals in his six matches and netted Kalou three times in five games.

Squad:Goalkeepers - 1 Petr Čech, 23 Carlo Cudicini, 40 Hilário Defenders - 3 Ashley Cole, 6 Ricardo Carvalho, 18 Wayne Bridge, 20 Paulo Ferreira, 22 Tal Ben Haim, 26 John Terry, 33 Alex, 35 Juliano Belletti, 41 Sam Hutchinson Midfielders - 4 Claude Makelele, 5 Michael Essien, 8 Frank Lampard, 10 Joe Cole, 12 John Obi Mikel, 13 Michael Ballack, 15 Florent Malouda, 24 Shaun Wright-Phillips. 42 Lee Sawyer Forwards - 7 Andriy Shevchenko, 11 Didier Drogba, 21 Salomon Kalou, 39 Nicolas Anelka.



Serbian striker Darko Kovacevic 34, is the top scorer in the Greek Super League with 15 goals, including six in Olympiakos' last nine matches. He alo scored three goals in six games during the group stage of the current Champions League campaign. That took his overall tally to six goals in Champions League games, although he has notched 25 in 42 competitive European games throughout his career. Kovacevic, who will be the main goal threat to Chelsea, recently added 12 months on to his existing contract, tying himself to Olympiakos until June 2009.


England midfielder Frank Lampard reached a milestone at the weekend. His first goal in Chelsea's 3-1 FA Cup win was his 100th, and the second his 101st for Chelsea, whom he joined from West Ham United in 2001. He has now made 353 appearances for the Blues, and manager Avram Grant declared: "I don't think there are many midfielders who can score so many goals. More importantly, he's a player who knows how to give assists as well as score goals. He is a very good player. He deserves to score 100 goals and more, maybe he will score 200, I don't know." He is yet to score in this season's Champions League campaign, but has scored 11 in his career (and 17 in all competitive European games).


Olympiakos have enjoyed an excellent Champions League campaign to date - their best for nine years - and will be desperate to give a good account of themselves on Tuesday in the intimidating atmosphere of their own stadium. But they will find Chelsea resolute and battle-hardened opponents. Back in 1998-99, Juventus ended their hopes in the first knock-out round, and Chelsea are favourites to progress this time over two legs.But Chelsea have too much quality and with no injury problems trouble is the word for Olympiakos.

Olympiacos 0 - 3 Chelsea