Monthly Archives: January 2017

Diego Costa returns to first team training with Chelsea

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Diego Costa returned to Chelsea first-team training on Tuesday amidst rumours of unrest with the management staff.

Costa, 28, trained alone at Cobham on Sunday and Monday, while the rest of the Chelsea players were given two days off by coach Antonio Conte following their 3-0 Premier League win over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Rumours claimed that this was punishment for a heated training ground argument with a fitness coach and Conte last week, amid the backdrop of lucrative interest in Costa from Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian.

Still, It was understood that Chelsea is determined to keep Costa in their team — with the Spaniard being an influential figure for the Premier League leaders this season, scoring 14 goals and assisting five in 19 appearances.

Conte, who was repeatedly questioned about the rumours surrounding the player during the post-match conference against Leicester, was adamant that Costa’s future is with Chelsea and denied any knowledge of interest from Tianjin Quanjin.

The Italian added that the striker’s absence was due to a back injury.

Additionally, the Chinese Super League club has reportedly called off the pursuit on Costa, with owner Shu Yuhui saying that his club are now looking to “change signing plans”.

This came after new rules were enforced to the Chinese Super League, limiting all Chinese clubs to three foreign players per game when the new season starts.

Benteke brace saves Crystal Palace against Bolton

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Two goals from Christian Benteke was needed to save Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce from suffering defeat against his former club Bolton wanderers in their FA Cup third round replay.

The League one team inadvertently took the lead when winger James Henry, who missed a number of chances in the first game, had looped over Julian Speroni in the second half to put the visiting team ahead.

With a quick exit threatening last season’s finalist, Allardyce quickly brought on Benteke, and the Belgian equalized not five minutes after coming on from the bench by heading in Mathieu Flamini’s cross.

Less than 10 minutes later, the former Liverpool player doubled the score for Palace, giving the Eagles the advantage. Collecting Andros Townsend’s cross with his back to goal, the striker spun and fired home the winner past the Bolton defense, scoring his 10th goal of the season.

The game then finished at the 2-1 score, with the Trotters having little to show for in attack — aside from a poke by Zach Clough that went just wide of the post.

This was Allardyce’s sixth game in charge of Palace after being appointed as manager, but also his first win. His attention would be needed this weekend in the Premier League as Palace stays just a place above the relegation zone.

Everton, whom they will play against this weekend, defeated Manchester City by 4-0 last weekend. The Manchester club are also Palace’s adversaries in the next round of the FA Cup.

“It is nice to get through and of course when Manchester City come in a couple of weeks it will be nice to play that game, but it is all about Everton in the league now,” he said after the match. “Wins grow confidence, there is no doubt about that. How much confidence we get from this will show on Saturday.”

Jurgen Klopp to seek legal advice over Joel Matip case

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be consulting club lawyers over whether the inclusion of Joel Matip into his squad against Plymouth could expel Liverpool from the FA Cup.

The 25-year-old had already missed Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United after the Reds failed to get him clearance from FIFA to play for his club as the African Cup of Nations kicks-off in another continent.

Klopp said he was not “100% sure” of Matip’s availability.

“I have to ask [Liverpool’s lawyers] but the decision is for me to make,” the former Borussia Dortmund coach said in the pre-match press conference against Plymouth. “I could put him in the lineup. I don’t think the referee is going to say: ‘Stop, stop, you cannot go on the pitch.’ But I will do it when it’s OK from our point of view. Of course I need advice – I’m not a lawyer.”

Matip allegedly ‘refused to play’ for Cameroon after being named in their preliminary squad — and FIFA regulations dictate that a player may be blocked from playing for his club if he refuses to play for his country.

But as far as Liverpool is concerned, Matip was not selected in Cameroon’s final 23-man squad for the African Cup of Nations and has stopping playing for his country since 2015.

With FIFA set to make a decision on Friday whether Matip has a case to answer and, if so, Klopp admitted it could be “another seven or 10 days before we get a decision”.

If that is so, the player could miss six to eight games for Liverpool if he is not made available until the end of the competition.

This includes games against Swansea City in the Premier League on Saturday, the EFL Cup semi‑final second leg against Southampton and an FA Cup fourth-round tie at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers should they defeat League Two club Plymouth.

“I have to ask [Liverpool’s lawyers] but the decision is for me to make,” Klopp said. “I could put him in the lineup. I don’t think the referee is going to say: ‘Stop, stop, you cannot go on the pitch.’ But I will do it when it’s OK from our point of view. Of course I need advice – I’m not a lawyer.”

Ibrahimovic to the rescue as Man United draws Liverpool

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic came to the rescue for Manchester United with an equalizing header as the Red Devils drew 1-1 against bitter-rivals Liverpool in their Premier League encounter at Old Trafford.

Paul Pogba inexplicably handed Liverpool the lead after conceding a penalty. The French international, who was marking Dejan Lovren, resorted to handling the ball in a clearance effort.

James Milner converted the ensuing penalty, while his teammate and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet protected Liverpool’s with outstanding saves, including a brilliant reflex save from a powerful Ibrahimovic free-kick and coming out from his line to make a one-handed block from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

But with seven minutes left to play, Marouane Fellaini’s header against the Liverpool posts prompted a scramble for the ball, which culminated in Ibrahimovic giving United the equalizer they deserved as he heads home off the bar.

The Swede, however was hardly pleased with the result.

“We did simple mistakes. We were not feeling comfortable under the pressure of the opponent and I think we played the wrong way.” he said after the match. “If we would have played like we did in the second half in the first half it would have been a different game.”

The draw would keep United’s unbeaten streak in the Premier League running up to 12 games, but halts their nine-game winning streak in all competitions.

Still, the result is even more damaging for Liverpool – as the Merseyside team continued their winless run in the beginning of a calendar year to four matches – for the first time since 1993.

It also denied them the chance to rise above Tottenham, who overtook them to second place in the Premier League table with a strong 4-0 victory against West Brom, while league leaders Chelsea widened the gap on top of the table to seven points.